This holiday season 15 percent of consumers in the US plan to buy online, spending an average of $585. That’s 9 percent more revenue for online merchants in comparison to last year’s results.
A recent report estimates that Canadians will spend half a billion dollars online for gifts this holiday season. Even by conservative estimates the total number predicted is double the $282 million predicted for Christmas, 1999.
Whatever way you look at it – doing business over the net is growing at incredible rates and email marketing is becoming a ‘given’ element of many marketing campaigns. It should come as no surprise that tools to help us manage our email lists and distribution are becoming increasingly important.
The challenge in incorporating email marketing into a campaign is determining what type of email service best suits your business needs, today and in the long-term.
There are two main choices when establishing and maintaining email marketing programs: A desktop email marketing application or an email campaign submission service.
Let me describe the two options in greater detail -
Email Marketing Application- Tools such as these allow you to create, manage and distribute your own customized email campaigns. Cost is usually a one-time software purchase. This approach is best suited to those companies with a fairly well defined target market and corresponding email distribution list. This approach can also be used if your target audience is growing and/or change. The software applications available allow the user to build, maintain and change their own email distribution lists, create rich messages and distribute your campaigns.
I would recommend this type of product to those businesses with a pre-identified target audience and an ability to access a distribution list to reach this audience. With a desktop application your original investment provides you with the flexibility to manage and define your own e-mail distribution lists – this is the type of service for you if you’re interested in owning and maintaining your own list and using this list as part of the intellectual property of your business.
Campaign Submission Service – When you use this type of service you are contracting a third-party to provide you with the interface to your customers and/or target audience. The agent will distribute your message to one or several opt-in e-mail lists that have been provided based upon some stated interest on the part of the recipients. These are lists of people who have registered for certain websites, e-zines or newsletters or have asked to receive information via e-mail and have stated their interested in certain subjects.
The agent or submission service will work with you to determine the list that best matches your product, service or announcement – working together you will use pre-existing lists to create a target email audience for your company’s use. The submission service will receive your message and distribute to one or more of the email lists – the quality control element in place is that you are sending relevant information to recipients that have already stated an interest in a related subject matter and most likely the message will not be viewed as SPAM. Cost usually runs on an 8 to 30 cent per email sent charge.
The submission service allows you to work with experts in the field of gathering e-mail distribution lists based on subject(s) interest and the application of this technology in receiving information. Each time you want to distribute a message you rely on these service providers for their advice, lists and expertise in distributing your information. If you’re new to the e-mail marketing forum and your business does not yet have a substantial e-mail distribution list – this service may be able to fill the gap and get you into the game.
A couple of items to keep in mind – the overall cost of your e-mail marketing efforts, campaign tracking reports and the future role of email marketing in your overall direct marketing plans.
There are plenty of choices in the marketplace – educate yourself and make the best decision for your organization.