Email marketing: a beginner’s guide

The 21st century has brought Britain’s SMEs more digital marketing opportunities than ever before, with emerging digital technologies allowing us to reach thousands or even hundreds of thousands of customers at minimal expense.

One of these contemporary opportunities is email marketing, with countless companies around the country reaching out to customers, clients and potential customers alike with the help of an email newsletter.

So, should you undertake an email marketing campaign, too? If so, how should you go about it? We’ve compiled this beginner’s guide to help you leverage the opportunities on offer courtesy of email marketing.

Why email marketing?

Email marketing is a great opportunity for UK small businesses, primarily thanks to its relative lack of expense. Reaching a guaranteed 75,000 contacts a month, for example, would usually cost you less than £500 – regardless of provider.

So it’s cheap and it reaches a lot of people, but is it effective? No-one likes to receive spam emails and advertising circulars, but an email newsletter is a great way of keeping people posted about developments in your industry, reminding them of your company and fostering a lasting sense of brand loyalty.

Most small businesses would be able to benefit from a monthly, bi-monthly or weekly email newsletter campaign.

Which providers can I choose from?

When it comes to email marketing service providers, your choices are almost literally endless. There are countless service providers out there, and some, naturally, are better than others.

Mailchimp is one of the most popular providers on the net, as are iContact, Mad Mimi and Campaign Monitor. If you want to get the most from your email marketing campaign, it’s worth researching your options where providers are concerned first.

How do they differ?

Each email marketing service provider works slightly differently from the other, and the first thing you’ll notice about each opposing company is the variation in price.

For small volumes, Mailchimp is one of the least expensive services available, but tends to cost a little more for higher volumes of email. Campayn is one of the cheapest providers you can find at any volume, while Campaign Monitor offers excellent design and usability.

iContact is widely believed to offer some of the greatest all-around functionality of any service provider, but other providers might offer more flexibility when it comes to managing your contacts and scaling your campaign to suit your growing company. There’s a lot to consider when selecting your email marketing service provider.

What else should I know about email marketing?

No matter who you choose as your email marketing partner for the year ahead, what you need to bear in mind is that your contacts will not appreciate being bombarded with sales material alone.

Forging a positive relationship with your contacts means providing them with engaging contact that they’ll actually want to read instead, so take a look at some already successful newsletters, such as the excellent weekly updates from Innocent Smoothies, for example, for inspiration before you begin, and decide on the tone you’d like to achieve with your brand.

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Ian is the founder of Opportunity Marketing marketing, with over 18 years of experience in successfully setting up marketing departments, creating marketing strategies and implementing these strategies across a wide number of SME companies in both the B2B and B2C sectors through a variety of channels.
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