Setting up your email marketing infrastructure

Email marketing campaigns are a very popular way to reach your potential prospects and it is one of the inexpensive ways as well. In the first post, we talked about how, as a marketer, you can get started with setting up successful email marketing campaigns. We also talked about how you need to get your lists ready before you launch into your campaigns. In this post, we talk about the email marketing infrastructure that needs to be ready before you launch any campaign.

Setting up your email marketing infrastructure

What do you need to send out emails? You definitely cannot send out large number of emails directly from your email application (like Outlook). In most organizations, they would not want to affect their reputation or their domain by sending large number of emails in a short duration. An intelligent approach is to use a robust email marketing infrastructure. Most will prefer to use a capable email service provider. Here, there are two options to do this, as you need an email sending tool and you need a SMTP service provider, which will actually be used to send the email out.  If you consider using a desktop tool like SendBlaster, then you need to buy the SMTP provider separately. (Sendgrid is a popular SMTP provider). With a desktop tool,  the PC needs to be on at the time, your campaign is scheduled and it needs to have an active internet connection.

If you prefer using a web based tool, there are plenty of options and typically most of these web based tools combine the list management, campaign scheduling as well as the SMTP part. Some of the more popular ones include AWeber, MailChimp, Mailer-Lite, SendinBlue, iContact, Constant Contact. Each of them have a pricing mechanism which is either based on the number of emails that you intend to send in a month or based on the number of contacts that you have in your list. With online email marketing tools, once you schedule the campaign, it is sent out using their servers and your PC need not be active during that time of the day or night. So if your clients are in the US, and you want to send them mails at a specific time, it is better to schedule them using online email marketing tools.

When you set up an account with any of the service providers, you will have to complete several authentication steps to ensure that your account is provisioned and ready to send emails. Depending on the email service provider, this whole process of provisioning may take 1-3 working days. Some service providers may ask you to host specific files on your website as well to authenticate that you are an owner of the domain.  We will cover some part of these set up mechanisms in a subsequent post, do look for updates at our site www.xenia-consulting.com

Get Whitelisted

While almost all reputable email service providers work very hard to make sure that your emails are not blocked by major ISP’s, they can’t control whether or not your emails hit the inbox or the spam box. Although most will help you by providing a sending quality score to help you determine your deliverability ratios, getting whitelisted is the most effective way to ensure that your emails get delivered properly.

Essentially, getting whitelisted is equivalent to being marked as a friend, and the best way to achieve this is by being added to the recipient’s address book. The best way to do this is by providing instructions to do so at the top of each email, especially on the initial thank you and first follow-up email.

Setting up email autoresponders

As a marketer myself, one of the issues I run into most often is that I forget to talk to or send follow-up emails to my list until I have something to sell. Obviously, this is not ideal. If you have opt-in lists that are attached to different forms on the website, set up auto-responders and automated mail sequences based on subscribers getting into the list. If you have a wonderful campaign, you will receive several downloads a day and responding to each one of them efficiently may not always be possible. If you have set up auto-responders, then you can be relaxed, knowing that your auto-responders are continuing to engage with your subscribers.

These email autoresponders, if planned well can do a lot to move an anonymous user to a sale. It is important to get into the psyche of the buyer and accordingly plan content copy in these auto-responders. Always try and cross-sell/cross-promote other resources that you may have. This way, you are building a strong relationship with your subscribers.

This is where an autoresponder can save you, and why I recommend scheduling content to be delivered on a consistent basis over the course of several days or months, the way you like.

For example, Copyblogger offers a newsletter titled ‘Internet Marketing for Smart People’ and it contains some wonderful pieces on how to market better as an online entrepreneur. I can’t remember when I signed up, but I do know that I’ve received an occasional email at least once per month over the past 6 months.

The benefit of that is when you do need to announce a new product or sale, you can count on the fact that you’ve already been in touch, having built a relationship over several weeks/months, and are much less likely to annoy your readers. Of course, it’s important to schedule your autoresponder sequence on specific days so that you know when you can afford to send an email. More than one per day and you’re probably mailing too much. If you find yourself asking “will this email be one too many?” then it’s probably one too many.

Create Great Opt-in mechanisms

Your emails will possibly get people to a landing page. If you have other elements of the campaign as well, like Facebook Ads, Google Adwords, it is likely that people will land up at your landing page. Make sure you do enough to ensure maximum conversions at the landing page. (we will cover this topic separately, so do look for updates at our site www.xenia-consulting.com)

Opt-in mechanisms help in your list creation as well as in engaging with people at the landing pages (where the CTA from the email campaign will land) It goes without saying that you need to get people on your email list to run a successful campaign. To do that, you’ll need to create attractive optin forms that get attention and encourage people to sign up. Experiment with different types of optin mechanisms on different parts of your site, including: Welcome gates, which appear when people arrive on your site. You can also use a page slide feature so people can get straight to the content when they’re ready. Lightbox popups, which can appear on any page and temporarily blank out the rest of the content to focus on the optin. These convert very well. Opt-in Monster is wonderful paid tool to get some of these opt-in forms done at your site.

They also have exit-intent popups, which appear when people are about to leave the site. That’s a good time to offer your lead magnets and get them to opt-in to your lists as well. For best results, put opt-ins in multiple places and choose how they appear with rules and page-level targeting. That cuts down on the annoyance level while maintaining effectiveness.

As you can see, setting up your email infrastructure is an important step in your email marketing campaigns journey. We will cover several more topics in subsequent posts like :

Stay tuned for further details.

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