Email Marketing on a Limited BudgetPosted on May 25, 2012 by Greg 1 Comment
When times are tight marketing budgets come under increased scrutiny, like every other expense in the company (i.e., employees). But email marketing doesn’t have to be a budget buster. There are ways to keep email marketing as a justified and profitable element of the marketing mix.
Email’s ROI should help insulate it from budget cuts
Email marketing still boasts an impressive return on investment. The Direct Marketing Association conducted email marketing research that reported an average of $42.08 return for each dollar spent. If your organization hasn’t yet measured ROI for its email marketing program you’ll probably be pleasantly surprised, and so will your CFO.
Using an ESP
I work with a variety of clients at growing companies. Some have existing relationships with an email service provider (ESP). Others are revamping and taking a fresh approach. But using an ESP is the most economical route. Purchasing email marketing software and trying to to “roll your own” with an in-house tool can prove to be a daunting task. When you weigh all of the costs, including time, it’s less expensive to use an ESP and it’s the most mature route.
- Most ESPs have affordable monthly plans, and some offer pay-as-you-go plans.
- Web-based software means no in-house applications to manage
- ESPs keep up with the ever-changing complexities of penetrating email gateways
- Customer support from professional email marketers
Once you’re set up and have templates, you can send an unlimited number of email campaigns to up to 10,000 subscribers for only $100/month. That’s less than buying lunch for a marketing team meeting!
Wait a second, do you have to use an ESP or email software? Can’t you just BCC and use a normal email system, like Microsoft Exchange, Yahoo Mail, or Gmail? In short, yes, you need to use dedicated email marketing software. If you don’t use an ESP and you’re sending out a sizable volume of email you’ll likely get blocked and maybe put on a spam list. It could get ugly.
ESPs have relationships with the major email gateways and take measures to ensure their outgoing email can be authenticated as genuine and “non spam.”
Getting all of the technical stuff taken care of is the easy part. The greater challenge unfolds when you have to create the email campaign content.
Most companies have an idea of what they’d like to publish in an email campaign. But many growing companies don’t have a full-time employee who’s dedicated to managing the email marketing campaign. If that’s your story, it may be more economical to farm out the email marketing to a digital marketing agency.
- If you do the math, an email marketing campaign can easily consume 20% of a marketing employee’s time. If that employee is being paid $5,000 a month you can see how much email marketing is costing right off the top. So if you can have an outside agency take care of everything for less than $1,000 you’re already freeing up valuable full-time employee time.
- Guest writers can be a valuable resource. If you’ve already got a blog you can ping the people who are producing that content. Those same people may be able to contribute to the email campaign.
- Existing content can provide great email fuel. For example, if you have a blog, there may be existing blog posts that you can link to from your email campaign. Use “teaser” copy to entice people to click through.
- Video performs especially well in email campaigns. Take screen shots of existing video and use them in the email campaign.
Email Marketing Supports Other Initiatives
Email marketing is also cost effective and justified because it supports other marketing initiatives, like the company Web site, advertising campaigns, employee (HR) relations, and is a direct complement to sales. Email marketing should, therefore, not be viewed as an isolated cost.
Less expensive than Marketing Automation
A sophisticated email marketing campaign can be a low-cost alternative to so-called marketing automation software, like Eloqua, Marketo, SilverPop, and others. the marketing automation companies won’t like me saying this. But, ultimately, marketing automation is advanced email marketing disguised as a separate application for “lead nurturing.” The big difference is the price tag. We’re talking thousands of dollars per month just to subscribe to the SaaS software. Also, it requires that you have a proper and mature installation of a salesforce automation software (SFA), like Salesforce.com.
That doesn’t mean that I’m against using marketing automation software. I think it’s effective, and I’ve used it. But many growing companies don’t have $15,000/month to dedicate to their email marketing program.
Free Email Campaign Software
Yes, the lines between professional and personal can be blurry. When it comes to inviting people over for a barbeque you may very well invite a mix of professional colleagues, personal friends, and family. You’ve started to appreciate all of the practicality and effenciency that comes with using email marketing software. But maybe you’re trying to remain budget conscious at home, too. What’s a professional marketer to do?
I’ve been experimenting with TinyLetter and I like it. It’s made by the folks that are behind MailChimp, a noteworthy ESP. And, it’s free! Well, it’s free for sending to fewer than 5,000. But that should do the trick for your summer barbeque email, right?
TinyLetter is bare bones, but it’s probably all you need for personal use, or maybe for managing email communications for a casual private club. One of the features that makes it easy to use is the editor. You can easily crank out an email and not worry about templates, HTML, and all of that other stuff.
Like all good things that are free there are some limitations:
- It’s not so easy to insert a picture unless you have the image hosted somewhere (requires using the URL where the picture is hosted).
- Analytics are not included. TinyLetter simply tracks replies. So it’s not the best for marketing campaigns where you need to track performance (i.e., did recipients open, click, etc.)