In an era when giant retailers and mega-corporations are pouring millions of dollars into Internet marketing and advertising, owners of small - and medium-sized can become easily discouraged. With limited marketing budgets, can smaller businesses compete in the high-cost world of Internet marketing and advertising?
The answer is a definitive "yes." Indeed, one of the best ways to leverage limited marketing budgets is to use email marketing, which can be used to streamline, organize, and enhance customer relationships and communications. Email marketing is the perfect vehicle for distributing a company newsletter, contacting potential clients, sending offers to existing customers, or simply keeping in touch with an audience about updates and changes to the business.
At first glance, it may seem that email marketing is a good idea in theory, but difficult to execute in practice. Compiling and maintaining email lists, composing and keeping track of email messages and offers, and sending out the emails manually or using rudimentary email blast software is difficult and time-consuming. It's also a gamble, since so many blast emails are caught in spam filters and are never delivered to the recipients. The only way to truly get the message to the customer is through sophisticated email marketing software.
Historically, email list management software has had limited features, was unreliable in terms of assuring delivery of emails, and has been cost prohibitive to all but the largest companies. The good news is that new products have entered the marketplace that not only overcome these limitations, but that also offer enhanced affordability.
As a small or medium-sized business, shopping for email list management software can be tricky. Look for the following features:
* Affordability - Email list management software should allow you to send up to 50,000 emails a month for under $100. There are even some email list management software systems that periodically offer introductory rates of $1 for the first month.
* An intuitive, Web-based interface - Web-based software is the wave of the future; a Web-based email list management system means you never have to worry about software maintenance or upgrades.
* Limitless email lists - You should be able to maintain as many addresses as you wish and as many lists as you want without incurring extra expense. Beware of companies that charge based on the number of database entries you have!
* Rollover credits - If you don't use your allotted number of emails during a given month, a good email marketing package will allow you to roll unused credits over into the next month, or to purchase additional credits on the fly, in real time.
* Importing lists - You should be able to import entire mailing lists into the online system with a few clicks of your mouse. You should also be able to rent or buy opt-in email lists and migrate them into the system.
* Sequential mailings - The best email marketing software systems allow you to import a series of messages and set up sequential mailings to be sent at the day and time you desire. In other words, you should be able to implement a six-month email marketing campaign in one sitting.
* Flexibility - Look for software that allows you to edit your lists and messages right up to the minute your mailing is scheduled to be sent.
* Automated list management - Email marketing software should automatically handle bounced emails, bad addresses, and requests for removal. It should also allow you to remove any blacklisted addresses and build opt-in email lists.
Great email marketing software can be the great equalizer, allowing small - and medium-sized businesses to compete with the corporate giants in the world of Internet marketing and advertising.
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