If You Can’t Make It Better, Hire Someone Who Can

Published by: Andrew Paul    |   Category: Blog, Email Marketing Agency, Managed Email Marketing    

 

managed email marketing service provider

On a daily basis, I speak with SMB (small and medium business) owners, VP and C-Level marketing and advertising execs about email marketing. They are from widely diverse industries, both B2C and B2B, and want to understand why their email marketing isn’t performing to their expectations and generating better results. Since I’ve been involved in the email marketing industry since 1998 and Email Answers provides consulting services, is a managed email marketing service provider and involved in pretty much every aspect associated with email marketing, we’re their first stop when things are not going well.  By the time I usually receive that call, things are bad – really bad. I feel like Winston Wolf from Pulp Fiction. If you’ve never seen the movie or don’t remember who he was, he was “The Cleaner”. He is the guy who was called as a last resort, when all else has failed, and they need someone to come in and clean up the mess with surgical precision. Winston is a guy who solves problems – usually with brilliant, lucid thinking under pressure and a stylish charisma for galvanizing other people into action.

Once they come to the realization that they are in big trouble and need some help, we get the call. Every call starts out the same. “I need assistance in turning around our email marketing program to make it successful and profitable. Can you help me?”  The main cause of their pain is usually the same in every instance. The person running and managing their email marketing initiatives does not fully understand everything involved in making an email campaign successful. Email campaigns are not as one might imagine. Once the realization sets in of taking the email marketing task away from their receptionist, intern or web developer, they usually get the picture and allow us to help them build a successful email marketing channel that delivers a positive ROI. Where do we begin?  We usually start by analyzing every aspect of their existing email marketing program and provide the customer with two options.

Option 1: Email Answers will develop, design and implement a new email marketing strategy and plan, then train their personnel to deliver and manage it. The entire process takes about 3-4 weeks from start to finish. We also provide ongoing support and guidance when needed.

Option 2: The customer would turn everything over to us and Email Answers would manage their entire email marketing program, strategy and deployments. Most companies don’t realize all of the moving parts and pieces involved in a successful email marketing strategy and what it takes to ensure a positive ROI.

Making the decision, of which option is the right choice, isn’t an easy task. Although, when you understand everything involved in designing, developing, managing and running an effective email marketing program, you might be surprised when you put a pencil to paper and do the math.

Let’s take a minute to run the numbers. I will base this simple example on a medium sized company, for simplicity purposes only.

Option 1: To hire an intelligent, experienced email marketing manager, who actually knows what he or she is doing, will cost you a minimum of $60k per year. Then you have to add in whatever your ESP charges you for a turnkey email marketing platform, which includes bandwidth and IP addresses. For this example, we use a monthly rate of $2500 or $30k annually. Now you will need a graphic design person who can properly code email creatives and has the ability to design and build email ads that don’t get flagged as spam and actually make it to the inbox. You can add another $30k per year, for this person, to the mix. Don’t forget, you’ll need to add in Email Answers consulting services as well. We’ll conservatively add an extra $10k, which includes basic ongoing support.

Option 2:  Everything included above in option 1, but done more efficiently and on time by the expert staff at Email Answers.

Option 1 – Annual Expense: $130,000

Option 2 – Annual Expense: $60,000

Do I need to provide any additional information? Do I need to ask nicely or say “Pretty Please” or “Pretty Please with Sugar on Top”? I didn’t think so.

Is it time to get help? Are you ready for an outside perspective and expert opinion on why your current email marketing strategy is failing or not performing to your expectations? It’s as simple as picking up the phone and asking. We’ll be happy to review your entire program, free of charge, and let you know what we think.

 

If It Was Easy, Everyone Would Be Doing It.

Published by: Meredith Thornton    |   Category: Blog, Business, Managed Email Marketing, Marketing    

When you hear the term, “Online Marketing Guru”, what do you picture?

I bet you are like the majority of us who see a man in his boxer shorts eating Little Debbie’s oatmeal cream pies as he catches the season premier of Duck Dynasty on his TiVo. While he’s laughing with a mouth full of savory goodness, money made from his online business is steadily flowing into his personal bank account.

And you think to yourself, this could be you…

Easy Money Tree - Online Marketing

Sure, this could happen. You can make a killing online – quietly pruning your own private money tree nestled in your 50 acre back yard. You could be making money while you’re eating Bon Bons on the couch, or better yet, as you’re sipping a fruity alcoholic cocktail, with an umbrella sticking out of it, while kicking back at an all-inclusive resort on the French Riviera.

If the first thought and question that crosses your mind and quickly stems from this vision is, “Sign me up – How do I get started?”, I’d suggest taking a minute to recompile your thoughts and come back to join the rest of us in reality.

Not to burst your bubble, but you may be surprised to find out that the majority of new online businesses fail within their first year. Why? The answer lies in the title of this article.

There’s a lot of work involved in successfully starting, advertising, and managing your online business. If you’re willing to put in the blood, sweat, and tears into building a successful website and managing the day-to-day tasks associated with it, you will reap the rewards far beyond what any flavorful treat could do to your taste buds. Before we get ahead of ourselves, let’s recap why most online businesses take a nose dive before they can even get off the ground.

Most common pitfalls that lead to online business failure:

  • Taking action too quickly. When your mind is wrapped around the dollar signs, it is only natural to make hasty decisions without taking the unintended consequences into consideration. Try taking a step back and giving your business the opportunity to reach its full potential. This means investing the initial working capital necessary to make this business venture worthwhile.
  • Lack of experience or Internet knowledge. Do you, like many people over the age of 65, think that “Firefox” is a type of animal? Do you often confuse “MySpace” with your own private space bubble that nobody can invade? To your knowledge, is “twitter” what your heart does when it beats more rapidly than normal? If your answer was “yes” to any of the above questions, you have some research to do. In an effort to maximize your potential for online success, you must know how web tools work (SEO, SEM, social media and email marketing, etc.) and what your competitors are doing to cut through the Internet clutter and generate website traffic. If you don’t know the Internet frontwards, backwards, sideways, and inside out in this business, you’re equivalent to the ugly kid in a beauty pageant. You just won’t win.
  • Poorly designed website. When you see an unattractive, overweight, single lady sitting alone at a bar, is your first thought, “I bet she has a great personality”? I didn’t think so. Human beings are extremely judgmental in nature and generate first impressions of others within the first 7 seconds upon meeting them. What does this mean for your online business? When your website is the face of your business and the first consumer touch point to your brand, a positive first impression is a no-brainer. If you want those who browse your website to disregard their ADD tendencies and concentrate on your website for an extended period of time, you better believe it has to be aesthetically pleasing and easily navigable.
  • Lack of focus. I know you are trying to be the best. We all do. However, being the best doesn’t involve selling anything and everything under the sun. When you claim to be an expert auto mechanic, don’t try and sell tools used exclusively for the home. Anything you can do, Home Depot can do it better. To add salt to the wound, you put your credibility on the line when you lose focus and stray too far from your primary business objectives. Exploit your own unique industry strengths to appeal to a select target market of those who value and benefit from your specific products and services. As the saying goes, “If you’re not first, you’re last.”
  • Putting too much on your plate. When you load your Thanksgiving plate to the point where it reaches eye level when you are sitting upright, chances are you won’t finish it. Even if you force the last bite down your throat like you’re competing at the Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Competition, you will most likely suffer the effects of a food coma that your husband or wife will NOT thank you for later. Building an online business is a heavily involved process that comes with a laundry list of different skills and “to-dos.” When the load gets a bit too heavy to take everything on yourself, consider outsourcing items that you are not quite familiar with or simply don’t have the time to successfully implement in its entirety. To outsource or not to outsource? That is the question.

Once you have built the infrastructure of your business, researched the inner workings of the Internet, created a killer website, and mapped out a cohesive business plan, you may be antsy to set a launch date and get the show on the road.

However, just when you think it’s time to go live is when you must go back to the drawing board. You aren’t going to experience success and online recognition without developing a database of future users and loyal customers. This is where email marketing comes into play. With potential to reach hundreds of thousands of avid Internet users that fit your demographic targeting criteria, your message will circulate among the masses and generate a “buzz” to bring new traffic to your website.

How to effectively use Email Marketing to kick start your website.

If you are a novice in the field of email marketing, research how managed email marketing services can help jump start your business. With this service, you receive one-on-one guidance in all stages of the email marketing process, from the design and development of your email creative to the execution, evaluation and deployment of your email campaign.

If you have already gotten your feet off the ground but just need to streamline your offer toward a specific subset of the population, consider how targeted email marketing services can take your business to the next level.

Lastly, if you have a general B2B or B2C offer and are looking to get the most bang for your buck, unleash the power of the Guaranteed Opens Program to generate mass exposure, all while being assured that your emails are being delivered to the inbox and opened. With access to a live tracking link monitoring your results in real-time, you are able to set a benchmark for constant improvement.

The opportunity is out there. The majority of entrepreneurs are misguided into thinking it’s an easy business venture, and this accounts for the exponential rate of business failure.  If you educate yourself on what to avoid and are able to overcome the hurdles in the process, you could be sitting on a remote beach right about now. Think about it.

Rememeber, You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take. –Wayne Gretzky

 

How to Choose the Best Email Marketing Company

Published by: Meredith Thornton    |   Category: Blog, Email Marketing, Email Service Provider (ESP), Managed Email Marketing    

Best Email Marketing Company

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.