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Tech Tools and Trends: Part I (Email Marketing Automation)

by in +marketing, +technology

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This is part 1 of a 4-part blog series.

In many ways, marketing in this new age is dependent on technology. New technology tools, CRM, and marketing automation majorly influence how we are able to establish key performance indicators (KPI’s) for the tactics we employ when we work with clients.

And it seems as though new technology platforms emerge daily. In fact, Scott Brinker’s “Marketing Technology Evolution” shows how 100 marketing technology platforms in 2011 exploded to 1,876 in only a 4-year span.

As both marketing + technology experts, we’ve decided to share some tech tricks that help streamline our marketing process. Here’s a crash course on email marketing, plus a few of our favorite tools:

WHAT IS EMAIL MARKETING?

Email Marketing is any email communication sent to clients or prospects with the intent to build company trust or brand awareness. It can be used for growing brand and customer loyalty, acquiring or converting customers, distributing company advertisements, communicating promotional offers, and more. These can be individual sales touches or an ongoing marketing campaign. Email marketing can even be as simple as sending out a holiday greeting to remind your clients and prospects that you care.

There are many fantastic benefits to email marketing beyond instant-delivery, low-cost, and unlimited market reach. Some of the greatest benefits are the ability to create templates, segment your audience and track analytics.

TEMPLATES

Most email platform services offer a template creation feature. There are basic templates where you can drag-and-drop text blocks and images to arrange to your liking, and then plug in your text, images, or video. Often, you can customize these templates with your brand logo, colors and fonts. You can also develop custom HTML emails that allow you more design flexibility.

Once you have created your perfect template you can copy the formatting to reuse time and again. This is an efficient feature for producing email marketing campaigns.

SEGMENTING

Another great feature is segmenting your contact lists. You can now strategically market and avoid spamming prospects’ accounts with promotions irrelevant to their interests. Segmenting your audience improves email engagement, increases likelihood of forwarding messages on, and lessens the opt-out rate.

If your company attends an event, you can target this contact list with a post-show “Nice to meet you!” email along with content or a promotion related to the event. Another way to segment and organize large franchise contact lists is to filter the large number of contacts by demographics and target email marketing campaigns to specific regions. An example could be a nation-wide franchise clothing store. If a week of heavy storms is forecasted for the Midwest, you can send out a 2-day only sale on all raincoats and rain boots to this list. Your Southern California market, which is mid-drought season, won’t have to clear your spam-worthy email from their inbox.

ANALYTICS

This is crucial for purposeful marketing. As opposed to direct mail, you can track the numbers: How many people opened the email? What percentage of these readers clicked through? What is the conversion rate? Remember these emails are a communication channel intended to drive some type of action. You can now measure the effect of your efforts. The best part is, the email marketing services calculate these numbers for you and generate user-friendly charts and graphs to easily compare from month to month.

SOME OF OUR FAVORITE TOOLS

1. MAILCHIMP

MailChimp is a web-based email marketing service. You can design your email campaigns and newsletters, share on social networks, integrate with services you already use, and track analytics. Plus, MailChimp is free! Well it is free for up to 2,000 subscribers and up to 12,000 emails per month.

2. CONSTANT CONTACT

Many of Constant Contact’s services mirror MailChimp’s offerings. The main differentiators are Constant Contact doesn’t have a free version. They do however offer a 60-day free trial and standard price packages range from $15 – $30. Constant Contact is also known for their top tier customer support. While both MailChimp and Constant Contact offer email and chat support, Constant Contact also offers telephone support to step you through any issues you’ve run into.

ENTERPRISE EMAIL MARKETING SERVICES

Although MailChimp and Constant Contact could handle larger lists, they aren’t designed for a Target or Walmart. A better service for enterprise clients with ten thousand to multiple-million contacts would be iContact or StrongView.

3. ICONTACT

iContact is specifically designed to accommodate both B2B and B2C large enterprise customers. In fact Wal-Mart and eBay both use this service. Beyond what MailChimp and Constant Contact offer, iContact also provides 600 free email templates, allows survey creation, and the iContact Premier plans include dedicated Strategic Advisors who help you to get better open rates, better click-through rates, and are tasked with helping to grow your business.

4. STRONGVIEW

StrongView is also focused on large scale marketing campaigns. Their website claims users are so satisfied with their services that “98% of our customers happily renew year over year.”  Some of their notable customers include: AT&T, Fox Sports Interactive, and Netflix.

You can use the Software Insider website to cross compare offerings from the different email marketing services. Or better yet, sign up for a trial and see which system is the best fit for your company!

What’s your favorite email marketing platform or tip? Share in the comment section below.

Look out for part 2 of the 4-part blog series, Tech Tools and Trends: Part II (Social Media Marketing).

About The Author

Kathy Steele
Kathy Steele - View more articles

Kathy Steele is the President and CEO of Red Caffeine. She loves the crazy ride of being an entrepreneur, building brands, simple user experiences and happy employees. She is married to manufacturing, literally. Connect with Kathy on Twitter and LinkedIn.