Thinking of Going It Alone - Please Think Again

If you are thinking of launching your own email campaign in order to save a few bucks please consider these things.

  • Why deliverability is a growing concern and how you can overcome it. As your email list grows, can you deal with the technical requirements and bandwidth needed?
  • How will you know what your emails are doing for you?
  • Can you measure them the right way?
  • Developing message content, making each email and customizing parts.
  • What about a great design?
  • Do you have the time and technology?
  • Why you need to consider SPAM, and how to deal with it.
  • Managing all of those names, opt-outs, email address changes … do you have the time and technology?

Where did it go?

Deliverability of email is a growing concern on a daily basis. Major ISP’s are blocking anywhere from 15% to over 50% of their incoming email. Assurance Systems, a digital marketing services firm, estimates that about 20% of legitimate, permission-based email is getting blocked as a result of increased spam monitoring.

If you have a deliverability problem, as most go-it-alone email marketers do, your emails will never get delivered, or you’ll be faced with threatening spam “blacklists” and blocks. Many organizations have even had their ISPs shut them down.

The rules are changing daily. The ways to “play nicely” and navigate through spam woes are time intensive, continual, and costly. Additionally, federal email regulations have created specific guidelines for sending email messages.

Just a few methods of ensuring deliverability

Create relationships with ISPs and verify that you are a legitimate marketer. You will usually have to sign contracts and follow certain rules and procedures and stay on top of them as the landscape changes. After the dozen or so major ISPs there are literally thousands of mid-tier ISPs.

Bottom line: TIME

Create a partnership with an anti-spam program like the “Bonded Sender” program. You’ll have to put up a cash bond and be willing to forfeit the money if you are reported as a spammer. In return you will get “whitelisted” by over 9,000 ISPs.

Bottom line: $$$$

Make sure that your mailing list is continually cleaned. Do you have the time to insure that people who choose to unsubscribe are removed, manage bounced names, and insure that you are not offending anyone who did not give you permission to mail them. This could lead to lawsuits from Federal anti-spam laws.

Bottom line: TIME AND POTENTIAL LAWSUITS

Work with an organization to monitor your email delivery. Companies offer services for message delivery and statistics, blacklist reporting and spam rankings for messages. Services like these deliver sophisticated and useful tools, but they come at a price.

Bottom line: $$$$

How big are your pipes? Email campaigns can place significant technical “loads” on your network. If you send a message to a few thousand names, depending upon your mail server, you’ll eat up a fair amount of your organization’s bandwidth. As your list grows, this will become more and more of a burden. What about all of the bandwidth that everyone forgets about? As your email list grows, can you deal with the technical loads and bandwidth needed?

Bottom line: TECHNICAL HEADACHES

Can you manage your list easily? How will you import your customer’s names and email addresses? Will you be able to segment or organize names? How will you manage people unsubscribing? How will you handle email address changes? What if you have the same address twice? Will they get the message twice?

Sure, sending an email message to a few colleagues is pretty easy. When you start to market using email however, things change. For instance, if you are providing permission-based messages to clients and prospects, you absolutely need to give them the ability to have their name removed, or “unsubscribe.” This is the law, and if you don’t, you are breaking Federal anti-spam laws. How will you handle removing these names from your next mailing? Wait until your list gets to be a few thousand names … you’ll be sure to get dozens or even hundreds of people unsubscribing each time you send a message. Will you have an easy process of “flagging” them?

People change email addresses. How will you handle address changes? Can you enable people to modify their addresses without your intervention, or will you have to manually edit names as they notify you? One of the biggest misconceptions about email marketing has to do with the time spent on list management. Some email marketing services have spent countless hours and lots of money to develop technology and processes to help you easily manage lists of hundreds or even thousands of names. Features like auto-removal of unsubscribes, and making sure they stay removed (even warning you if you try to reinstate them as a subscriber) are very difficult and costly to develop if you are “going-it alone.” Managing all of those names, opt-outs, name changes … do you have the time and technology?

Bottom line: Time, $$$$, and Technical Expertise

You need to make it before you send it. Developing HTML emails is pretty simple, on the surface. You just create an HTML page, fit it into email dimensions, and you’re ready to go. Not exactly. Successful email marketers need to consider many aspects of email message creation.

Bottom line: Creativity and Design Expertise

Sophisticated email services have technology that can determine the email client, and deliver the message in a correct format, or the best format to fit their technology parameters. Some services will even create text and other versions (AOL) automatically for you.

Why do people complain that my messages look weird in AOL? AOL treats HTML differently than most browsers. Smart technology will automatically create a different version of the message optimized for AOL clients.

Bottom line: Technical Knowledge

Do your messages accurately reflect your brand? Email messages are important to your brand. Think of an email message as an electronic brochure – the design and level of professionalism will be a direct reflection of your brand. Do you have the design and technical talent to create stunning messages – every time?

Bottom line: Marketing Expertise

What about analyzing reports? Once you send an email message (and assuming it actually gets delivered), do you know what happened to it? One of the most powerful aspects of permission-based email marketing is the ability to instantly track many aspects of the message. Measuring the success of your message is commonly overlooked, yet it is crucial to email marketing.

Consider gathering and analyzing the following data if you decide to “go-it-alone.”

Will you be able to view?

Who opened your email messages?

How many times people opened it?

What people clicked on?

How many times people clicked?

If people forwarded the message to anyone?

If people unsubscribed?

If people are no longer at an email address?

Compare the success of one message to another?

Combine messages to understand success of a series of messages?

View trends in your list growth and mail volume?

How will you know what your emails are doing for you?

Can you measure them the right way?

As you can clearly see reporting is an extremely valuable part of email marketing. Having the opportunity to see exactly what happened to a message gives you the ability to make better decisions on future messages and offers. Email reporting is also “real-time,” providing data minutes after you send a message. Will you have a complete suite of reporting tools if you “go-it-alone?”

Bottom line: Analysis Ability Equals Greater Success of Future Campaigns

What’s Next?

As email technology evolves, will you be able to stay ahead of the curve? Email messages are starting to incorporate animation, video and other rich media to further enhance the user experience. How will you incorporate new technology into your messages?

In Conclusion

Whether or not you decide to “go-it-alone” or work with an email marketing service, the areas of email delivery, list management, message creation and reporting should be of significant concern to you.

Bottom line: A Truly Successful Campaign has many aspects and you should decide if you can do-it-yourself or should you do-it-right by relying upon experts.

 

   

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