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Buying Guide for Email Marketing Services
Can you imagine doing business without email? Most companies today can't - because email is just that critical to making and sustaining contact with customers and prospects. This makes selecting an email marketing services provider one of the most important decisions you will make for your company.
Today's email marketing services, however, have come a long way from their predecessors. You have access to analytics, reporting, customization tools, market segmentation - the kinds of business-building tools that can help you achieve your goals while at the same time sidestepping the perils and pitfalls of email-based communications.
If you are considering bringing on a provider for your email marketing services needs, this Buying Guide will give you a thorough overview of what to look for and how to choose.
One thing you will notice right away is the sheer variety of different services that you can opt in for today. So how do you hone in on the services your company really needs the most?
Here are some features you want to look for in any provider you are considering:
- Tracking reports. With tracking, you can see in near real-time how your email campaigns are doing. You can view who opened your email, who engaged with it further, who didn't respond, whose email is no good, who unsubscribed and who reported it as spam. Then you can take appropriate action to improve results for future campaigns.
- Maintenance for your list. With maintenance, you can ensure you are always complying with the CAN-SPAM act and also keeping your list "clean" (devoid of emails with typos and other errors).
- List management. Here, you get the benefit of automation tools that allow your customers and prospects to choose how to receive your emails and how frequently. If you have multiple campaigns, customers can also choose which campaigns to receive. This is invaluable to cut down on spam complaints and give your customers only what they really want.
- Segmentation. With list segmentation you can divide your full list into specialized groups. For instance, perhaps you mail to prospects and current customers, but you want to split them into separate groups. Segmentation can do this for you.
- List growth tools. Here, you can use forms and tools to capture new emails from your website or blog that are funneled right into your main list group.
- Campaign personalization. If you want to be able to address each person on your list by name when you send out mass campaigns, this is the tool you will need to use.
- Double opt-in, appending, and other verification services. Here, you can ensure your list is squeaky clean and verified.
- Special services. Some providers will also help you with campaign design, logo and branding, message creation and other services for an extra fee.
Choosing a Seller
Choosing amongst the many email marketing services providers vying for your business is not a task for the faint of heart. This is because you only want to work with a provider who is vigilant about CAN-SPAM act compliance and absolutely avoids controversial clients (such as those who send out adult materials or illegal ads).
So you want to be sure to ask the right questions as you are screening each provider. Here is a list of questions to ask:
- Is your company fully compliant with all CAN-SPAM act requirements?
- Can I get support via email and phone?
- How secure is my data?
- Do you ever sell customer lists?
- What services do you provide?
- Do you offer packages (by number of email addresses, number of emails sent, et al)?
- Can I get references to contact about your service?
- What kind of training and support do you offer?
- How long has your company been in business?
Even if you pick the absolute perfect provider for your needs, there will still be a learning curve on your end as you get familiar with their services and how it works. So you just want to be sure they are a service-oriented provider who will work with you to make sure you are in compliance and are achieving as much success as possible.
Email Marketing Services Pricing
In many cases, you will be offered a "trial period" - this can be up to 30 days. You can use the 30 day trial period to test out the service and see whether you like the interface, the support, the templates and all the rest.
After the trial period ends, you will be asked to sign up for a plan to continue. You will typically be offered three different types of pricing, depending on how the provider prices their services.
Per email address added. Here, you will be charged based on the total number of email addresses in your master list. Industry standards suggest that you will pay nothing up to a certain number of emails (i.e., 100), and after that plans may start as low as $10 per month and increase from there.
Per email sent. Here, you are charged based on the number of campaigns you send each month. For most companies, you can expect to spend around $20 (for anywhere from 100 to 1,000 emails sent per month).
Pay-as-you-go. Here, everything is a la carte. You can expect to pay anywhere from $0.02 to $0.10 per email sent (based on the number of emails in each campaign).
Buying Tips for Email Marketing Services
Before you select a provider, keep these buying tips in mind.
Have your list ready to go before starting your trial. This way you can use the time to test.
Don't bite off too much. Start small and simple and build on what works.