I hear it all the time. “I just keep a list of email addresses, and do a blast-send from Outlook.” There are some compelling reasons to re-think this strategy, especially for small businesses and nonprofits.
First of all, and worst of all, you’re breaking the law. Really? Yes. The CAN-SPAM act regulates the use of email by commercial and nonprofit enterprises. What it boils down to is this: Mass sends of email are OK as long as they comply with the law. What determines compliance? You must be easily identifiable: Your company name, address, and phone number should be displayed. You must have a 100% compliant means for “opt-out” of receiving future emails. You must avoid the use of “spam-speak” and believe it or not there is actually a list of words and phrases that will not pass through most spam filters on the Internet.
Deliverability. You send your stuff out through Outlook. It gets delivered, right? Wellllll…..not so fast, Lucy. Here’s what actually happens: Email from New York to Scranton doesn’t take Route 80 through New Jersey, a quick ride up Rt. 380, and arrive at the inbox of your recipient. It may leave New York, travel to Iceland, then through France, then through China, Los Angeles, Chicago, Detroit, and finally to Scranton. Along the way, there are an array of filters that are used to check for email that may be “junk”. It gets dumped and never delivered. When you use a service such as Constant Contact, email becomes more likely to be “trusted” and therefore there is a high rate of deliverability.
Another problem with Outlook is that your ISP or domain-server may limit how many “sends” you can do per hour or day. Mine is 250 per day. My contact list is in the thousands. Can you see the problem?
An email service company (again…Constant Contact) will give you trackability. You’ll be able to see who opened your email, when, and what they clicked on. You’ll also see how many “bounced” and can correct the obvious things like a mis-spelled name, wrong domain name, or even just leaving the “o” out of “dot com”.
Professional Appearance. A well-designed template can incorporate your logo, your company colors and a pleasing format that is mobile responsive. With the devices we use today, we thrive on visuals. Outlook, gmail, Yahoo….they just can’t compete with a service like Constant Contact.
The Good Stuff…..Video links, document downloads, links to registration for your events…all can be handled properly by a service such as Constant Contact. Additionally, using a tool called Simple Share, links to your email marketing pieces can be redistributed through social media such as Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter.
Autoresponders. If you don’t know what these are, you are missing probably the most magical part of using an email marketing service. As new contacts are added to your database (whether directly added by you, or by some kind of sign-up form on your website) autoresponders can kick in and begin sending pre-written emails at specified intervals. This gives you a silent marketer who is there working away for you. What can you do with autoresponders? Greet new subscribers, then begin telling them about your company. Share tips and ideas with them. Nurture your relationship with them. Give them links to your website, links to videos….you’re only limited by your own imagination. The beauty of it is that once it’s in place, you don’t have to touch it. It just goes to work and your recipients receive a pleasant, steady stream of emails from you. By segmenting your contact database, you can send one series of autoresponders to one group, and another series to a different group of contacts.
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