Last week’s article discussed the benefits of using email marketing as part of your marketing mix. Today, as promised, we’ll cover how to pick the best email marketing company, one that’s right for you and your business.
But first things first…
When it comes to email marketing, there are a few terms you must understand. They include:
- Email marketing company or platform
- It’s a software application designed to acquire, grow, and store a list of email subscribers. Amongst other things, it facilitates writing, scheduling, and sending emails to your list. Email marketing companies vary by features, services, and subscription plans they offer to their customers.
- Email list or mailing list
- It’s a list of people who have agreed to subscribe to a newsletter or a website to receive ongoing communication.
- Autoresponder… autoresponder email
- It’s software that makes it possible to schedule and send individual emails, or a sequence of emails to subscribers. People also use the term when referring to actual emails set up in the software.
- Broadcast email
- Broadcast emails are usually one-off emails, not part of an email sequence. They are sent to subscribers to make announcements or to reach specific segments of a list.
Perhaps now you’re wondering…
Why do you need to use email marketing software? Why can’t you use your business website to send out emails? Or why not use a service like Gmail or Outlook to send them?
While technically you could do it, it’s not a good idea.
Sending emails from your website or an email client to every single subscriber will work as long as you have just a handful of people on your list. But as soon as more people join, and your list grows, it becomes difficult to manage. And, without email marketing software, there is no real list automation possible.
Best Fit For Your Needs…
Now let’s talk about how to pick the best email marketing company for your practice.
Where do you start? Picking the right email marketing company can be challenging. And it doesn’t matter that all you want is a company that’s easy-to-use, offers certain features, and fits your budget.
Because what’s best for your practice, may not be right for the clinic down the street.
It all depends on your budget, your needs, and the size of your list. It comes down to your goals and objectives. What is it you’re trying to accomplish with your email marketing?
- Do you want to collect the names of your patients so you can stay in touch with them?
- Do you want to find and attract new patients for your practice and stay in touch with them… aka lead generation?
- Do you want to build a long list of subscribers so you can sell them products and services down the road?
For our discussion, I will assume your goal is to stay in touch with patients and generate new leads for your practice. Chances are you won’t be building an enormous email list, nor will you be sending tons of emails.
Next is a list of the critical points to consider when choosing an email marketing company for your business.
- How user-friendly is the platform interface? Is it easy and intuitive to find your way around the platform? Or is it a struggle to figure what to do next?
- What type of support is provided: phone, chat, email, or ticket system? What are the support hours, and what are the typical wait times? Support is an important consideration. I prefer phone support; however, not all companies provide it with every subscription. Be sure you know what help is available to you down the road.
- Is there platform training available? Some companies offer onboarding only; others provide onboarding and ongoing training to help users maximize the platform. You’ll find most platforms also have corresponding videos listed on Youtube, created and uploaded by users of the platform.
- Are landing pages, opt-in forms, email and newsletter templates available? How do people become subscribers to an email list? Most come across an offer, such as a free report, and enter their email in exchange for the offer. Reports and other “bribes” are advertised via landing pages and opt-in forms. All companies offer some opt-in forms; not all include landing pages.
- What type of tracking and reporting are available? While this is more of an advanced type of use, it’s something to keep in mind for later. When marketing your practice, you want to keep track of what works and do more of it. At the same time, you want to know what doesn’t work and stop doing it. Tracking and reporting features are there to help you do just that.
- What automations are available? Welcome & thank you emails, tagging, birthday emails, segmentation, drip campaigns, timed delivery options, etc.?
- Available integrations? Webinars, funnels, surveys, forms, eCommerce, payment processors, WordPress, Shopify?
- How many subscribers are allowed per subscription level? Many companies feature plans that include so many subscribers per subscription level. For example, with 500 subscribers on your list, you will pay X amount of dollars.
- How many emails can you send per subscription level? Some companies offer unlimited emails, while others cap the number based on subscription level.
- What is the price per subscription? Is there yearly pricing available? Costs vary greatly, between $20 and a few hundred dollars per month. However, you can get started with an email marketing company for around $20 to $50 per month for the minimum number of subscribers and basic features.
- How well established is the company? How long have they been in business, and what is their reputation? Read up on the company… look for reviews, ratings, and comparisons. Also, get on the phone and talk to sales and support to get a feel for the company.
- And lastly, do they have a free trial so that you can test drive the platform? Many companies offer a 7-day, up to a 30-day free trial to give you a feel for their platform. Take advantage of these offers. Get into the platform and see how it works for you. Take it for a test run; it will give you some idea if it works for you.
Email Marketing Companies…
Now how do you select the company that’s right for you?
I’m afraid there is no magic answer here. You’ll need to take the time to research different companies and match them to your needs. Once you’ve narrowed down the search, take advantage of free trials, if they’re available.
Unlike a few years back, today, we have a wide range of email marketing companies to choose from. Some of the more popular and well-established companies include:
- Constant Contact
- Convert Kit
- Active Campaign
- Keap (formerly Infusionsoft)
- Kajabi; an all-in-one solution, includes a website, email marketing, course platform, and shopping cart
These are just a few of the companies on the market today. Please note, they are not in any particular order, nor do we endorse any of the companies listed above.
It’s up to you to do the research and find the company that’s right for you. Chances are it will take some time to accomplish, but it will be well worth the effort.
Trying to find the company that best fits your needs is vital for several reasons.
- There is a learning curve involved, no matter which company you go with. Some platforms provide all sorts of bells and whistles, while others are more basic. Some offer an easy to use interface, while others are far more complicated to use.
- While switching email providers is possible (it’s done all the time), it’s cumbersome. People must re-subscribe to your list, and it’s not uncommon to lose subscribers when switching between email providers. So if you can pick a company, you feel comfortable and can grow with, all the better.
- Once you pick a company, chances you will stay with them for some time. Do consider ease of use and cost over time.
A range of considerations go into selecting an email marketing company, and while the price is important, it should not be the only consideration.
Go with a company that offers what you want and need: basic email marketing! Resist the temptation to subscribe to plans that offer too many bells and whistles; chances are you won’t use them, at least not in the beginning.
Do you have experience with email marketing? Join the conversation by leaving a comment below…
By Johanna Hofmann, MBA, LAc; regular contributor to the NPBusiness blog and author of “Smart Business Planning for Clinicians.