I have great news for you: the perfect email marketing service provider for your business is out there.
Now here’s the tough part: as every princess knows, you might have to kiss a lot of frogs before you find a prince.
Fortunately, like a quickly-smooched-and-set-aside frog, you don’t have to commit to an email marketing service provider until you know they’re “the one.” And there are plenty of strategies that can help you filter out the companies that aren’t the best fit for you. The first step is deciding what you want to get out of the relationship. If you’ve run a business, you already know your time is your most precious resource; you need to guard it carefully. Selecting a single email marketing service provider that can handle all of your needs under one “roof” will save you the hassle of working with more than one company for your email creative design, email list cleaning and validation, another for your email marketing strategies, and yet another for your email deployments.
Make a list of the services your ideal company would offer, and only look at those that fit the bill. Remember, it doesn’t matter if a particular email marketing service provider got a great recommendation from a colleague if they don’t do the sorts of work your business in particular needs.
If you’re new to marketing, ask yourself: does it look like Company X has the resources to guide you from start to finish? If you’re the sort who wants to stay involved at every turn, are they set up to let you make on-the-fly changes to the plan? And if you’re looking for a fire-and-forget managed email marketing experience, does the company seem to be qualified enough to let you be comfortably hands-off?
Next, get ready to dig in; it’s time to research the companies you’ve selected. Investigate their track record online, see what sorts of feedback and reviews they receive from their customers and whether their current customers are happy with their service. Third party review sites and discussion boards where the companies are talked about are great sources for information — as long as you remember such boards have a built-in “negative rant” quotient — and many companies will post testimonials on their own websites from satisfied customers. You might also find other frivolous, poor or negative reviews which are actually posted by competitors. Trying to decipher what’s real and what’s bogus isn’t always the easiest task. A simple way to cut through the nonsense would be to check and ensure they have a good rating with the Better Business Bureau.
Now comes the part where you make contact. With any luck you’ve made your list short enough to start sending emails and making phone calls; explain your business and what you hope to achieve with a new and comprehensive email marketing program. If you have specific needs, are working with a set budget, or have goals that might seem a little abstruse, lay it all out — then start asking questions you couldn’t find answers to from their website alone.
Do they have experience with the product or service you’re trying to market or promote? Are their practices adaptive, ready to change as quickly as technology and the market landscape can? Can they help you not only raise awareness of your company but also generate actionable leads or sales? And do they have methodologies to evaluate and improve their own data — can they ensure your message is well-targeted, is being put in front of the right people and is actually being delivered to the users inbox?
Finally, after you’ve talked to a few full service email marketing service providers, reflect upon the conversations. Did you get the impression that they valued your business? Were you, as a potential new customer, considered a priority? Was there adequate follow-up after you spoke, and did you get the sense they placed a lot of emphasis on delivering great customer service?
Making a thoughtful and educated decision about your email marketing, right from the beginning, can save you a lot of headaches later. More importantly, choosing the right email marketing service provider for your needs can produce more measurable results more quickly — giving your company the shot at greatness you know it deserves.
If you get it right, you’ll be wiping the smeared lipstick off your face with a big, ear to ear smile, as they back the Brinks truck up to your door for your weekly delivery.
The fact that you clicked on this article leads me to assume five things about you.
1. You’re dabbling in the field of email marketing.
2. You are aware of how this marketing avenue can help expose your brand and drive traffic to your website.
3. You have neither the resources nor the manpower to manage a successful in-house email marketing campaign.
4. You’re in search of the best email marketing company out there.
5. You don’t know where to begin.
The selection of the best email marketing company isn’t a gamble. It’s not something that can be determined by chance, but rather an undertaking that requires ample comparison research to sift through those email marketing companies that can talk a load of B.S. and those that are genuinely rooting for your success. If you have a decent head on your shoulders, this shouldn’t come as something new. However, the question lies in exactly how to choose the best email marketing company to suit your specific business needs.
There’s no such thing as a “one-size fits all” email marketing company. If this were the case, we wouldn’t be in this dilemma now, would we? Each email marketing company is different in its own way and each offers a host of different programs and services tailored to the unique needs of your business. When putting each company up to the chopping block in the grueling selection process, take your own selfish needs into consideration and ask yourself what you want out of a partnership? For instance, do you want a close working relationship with your campaign managers, or would you prefer a company who completely takes the reigns of your email marketing campaign with little to no feedback? Are you looking for a company to send a simple newsletter template to your own first-party list once a week, or are you looking for a custom, full-service email marketing platform to generate awareness of your brand among members of your target audience?
As with anything that requires a little research, start with a simple Google search to find the major players in the game. Access the first 20-50 listings that pop up on your search engine results and narrow them down to only those that scream with professionalism. If their website is tainted with poor navigability or full of useless content, don’t even give them the time of day. Once you have compiled a list of potential candidates based on their compelling website presence, can you justify the claims they make online with positive online reviews, ratings, and testimonials from previous clients who can vouch for their credibility? If you can’t seem to find anything else online that speaks volumes about the company’s prior experience and reputable character, how can you really trust them to promote your brand in a positive light and create a powerful brand image among avid Internet consumers?
Just because a certain email marketing company truly blows you away with years of experience and an impressive track record, do you stop there and say, “you’re hired”? If you recruit an email marketing company solely based on their website, aren’t you essentially judging a book by its cover?
Forget the impressive website graphics, the host of valuable, informative content, and the remarkable online reviews for just a second.
Simply pick up the phone and ask questions.
1. What services do they offer? How do their rates compare to those of other companies on your list?
2. How big is the company? How long have they been in business?
3. Do they work with experienced marketers only, or do they have managed email marketing services for companies who don’t have the expertise?
4. How do they manage the entire process? Are they hands off or do they guide you through the entire process giving you expert advice ?
5. Is their email data all optin?
6. What practices do they follow to ensure a high inbox delivery rate in an email campaign launched to the masses?
7. Do they offer email validation services to remove all dead and bad emails, which would increase the likelihood of reaching the inbox?
8. Do they offer live tracking to enable you to review your results in real-time and keep tabs on your progress throughout the entire deployment process?
9. Are they equipped with the resources and technical expertise to launch both small-scale and large-scale email marketing campaigns alike?
10. How do they differentiate themselves from their competition?
Once you put the phone down, take a minute to reflect and ask yourself a few follow up questions:
1. Did they greet you with an unparalleled level of customer service and a genuine desire to get you the help you need?
Related: What is the Cost-Benefit Analysis of Delivering Great Customer Service?
2. Were they knowledgeable about the trends within the email marketing industry? Did they offer unique insight into common unsolved business problems? Or did their answers simply beat around the bush?
3. Do they seem to offer generic programs only? Or do they also offer customized programs that align with your personal business goals and expectations?
4. Did they follow up and provide you with any additional information or a quote as promised?
5. Were they willing to set aside the time to help you through the process? Or were they more interested in getting you off the phone so that they could attend to other seemingly more important matters or push you to close the deal and make a sale?
Companies who truly mean business will respond with a program to fit your needs or give you a call to discuss any and all potential recommendations or concerns in a timely manner. Remember, your money and your time are on the line. The more questions you ask, the more knowledgeable you are about the entire process and the more confident you will feel about the strength of your partnership now and in the future. It is important to make educated decisions based on the company’s experience and track record rather than giving into your “impulse buy” tendencies. Don’t hire someone just because you’re in a rut or pressed for time. Choosing the right email marketing company will help you get off of your feet and equip you with the right tools to unleash your message through the most revenue-generating marketing channel available.
In The Beginning – A Brief History | 2013 – Future
We ended 2012 with the best year we had in our history and 2013 started off barreling full steam ahead. We continued to have month over month growth and our Email List Cleaning and Validation Service was growing at a pace better than I could have ever imagined or expected. A large percentage of our business is from returning, existing customers and customer referrals. We are currently on track to add over 1000 new customers in 2013. Our new customer acquisition rate has exceeded all of our projections and goals. New customer orders have doubled in 2013, as compared to 2012 and our average order revenues have increased over 34% .Our email marketing services and Enterprise ESP Platform, eList Manager have surpassed our annual growth expectations as well, and it’s only September. We haven’t even entered the holiday marketing season yet and were on track for another record year of growth.
Email Answers continues to be a privately held, debt free company. The foundation of Email Answers was built upon trust, honesty, integrity, transparency and putting our customers first. We strive to provide the best possible services, to all of our customers, at a reasonable and fair price. I feel that this alone is what has led to our success and continued growth.
Planning for Growth
For the past 9 months we have been planning a massive consolidation, upgrades and additions to our servers, infrastructure and colocation facilities. Over the Labor Day Weekend, we transitioned into a new, state of the art data center. As part of our consolidation and move, we built out our own private cloud, enabling us to provide quicker turnaround times for customer orders and to virtually double our ability to process concurrent email list cleaning and validation orders. This upgrade and build-out has given us the infrastructure and ability to be able to clean and validate over 1 billion email addresses per year for our customers. Based on the fact that nearly 30% of all email addresses are abandoned, change or become undeliverable on an annual basis, we feel that email list validation will be an ongoing service that every business, that sends emails to its customers, will continue to need on an ongoing basis.
What will The Future Bring?
Planning for future growth and where we think Email Answers will be in 3 years is not an easy task. Although history does not ensure future performance, we have to be guided by these variables. Looking at all aspects of our business enables us to try and design a road map to where we want to be over the next 1-3 years. We see excellent revenue opportunities in all of the current services we offer and provide and are attempting to steer ourselves into the future as the market leader.
Most people assume a successful person or company just got lucky or worked hard and made it successful. I can assure you even unsuccessful, failed ventures had hard working people behind them. What most people don’t realize is that for every one success story you hear about, there are 100 failures that you’ll never hear about and success is not a bee line to the top. The road to Success is actually paved with failures and I can personally attest to this fact.
I think Albert Einstein said it best, when talking about success in one of his more poignant quotes that has stayed with me throughout my career, “Strive not to be a success, but rather to be of value”. No matter what you do, whether its providing a service or selling a product, strive to make it your mission to deliver fanatical customer service, above and beyond any and all of your customers’ expectations. If you do, success will follow.
Check back in 3 years to see how we did and how accurate my crystal ball was. I bet we’ll all be surprised.