Do I Really Need Email Marketing Software?

by Tim Francis on August 24, 2012

There are a number of email marketing programs out there.  They vary wildly in price from $20/mo – $250/mo (and more).

Initially I started with Aweber, but then I outgrew it.  Now I’m using Infusionsoft.  I now use Infusionsoft with my clients – it blows away all of the basic programs.  But it’s also way more work to learn and use.  So if you’re just beginning, go with Aweber.

A Few Bits of Terminology

To make sure that everything is easy to understand here, I will need to explain a couple of terms.

What is an “email broadcast?”

Any kind of mass email that goes to all of your contacts simultaneously.  Also known as “email blasts”, “mass email”, “bulk email”, and other names.  This does *not* include personal, 1-on1 emails that you send personally to clients in a conversation with them.

An example of an email broadcast would be your monthly newsletter.

What is an “email follow-up?”

It’s when you setup a sequence of emails (in email marketing software) to automatically go out when a person joins a list or sub-list.  You get to choose what emails go out on what schedule; for example:

  • Email #1: immediately when someone joins your “Three Free Tips” list
  • Email #2: The First Tip, 7 days later
  • Email #3: The Second Tip, 14 days later
  • Email #4: The Third Tip, 21 days later

The sequence of emails goes out on a schedule customized to each person in your database.

What’s the difference between an email broadcast and a follow-up?

If two people join your list at different times, they will receive the follow-ups at different times.  When they receive the follow-up(s) depends on when they joined your list.

These same two people, however, will receive broadcasts at the same exact time.  That’s because broadcasts go out to everyone on a list at the same time, regardless of when they joined your list.

For example, your monthly newsletter.  You would want everyone to receive that at the same time.  Or a special Christmas promo.  You want everyone to receive that at the same time too.

Why Not Use the “Bcc: Trick?”

Recently I saw a business email their database of contacts using the ol’ Bcc trick.

What I mean by “Bcc trick”…

They wrote their promo email like it was a normal email.  Just opened up Gmail and started typing away.

Once the body was completed, they addressed the email “To” themselves.  Then they took their entire database of contacts (leads, customers, etc) and pasted them ALL into the “Bcc:” field (so that their email addresses wouldn’t be shown when the email went out).

I Cringed!

There are some HUGE issues with this.  Not the least of which is…

1. It’s Illegal.

From: http://fightspam.gc.ca/eic/site/030.nsf/eng/00221.html (email marketing laws Canada)

“Generally, the sender will need to obtain consent from the recipient before sending the message and will need to include information that identifies the sender and enables the recipient to withdraw consent.”

…so if you’re sending an email that is to yourself and BCC’d to your list, there won’t be an opt-out link at the bottom of the email.

To comply with government standards, recipients need be given an automatic opt-out option on any email broadcast (or follow-up) you send them.  (Personal, 1-on-1 emails are excluded from this.)

To see a sample of what I’m talking about, just opt-in (register) for the free info I’m giving away in the sidebar of this page.  Once you’ve successfully entered your name and email address, just look at the email that automatically gets sent to you.  At the very bottom of the email will be an opt-out link… it is a link that says “update email options” (or something to that effect – you’ll see what I mean).

 

2. It’s Restrictive

Email marketing software allows you to schedule email broadcasts to go out in the future.  So you can write your email, program the date to go out, and Presto!  Set it and forget it.

Don’t think that’s a big deal?

What happens if you’re going away for a week on vacation, and it happens to conflict with your monthly promo going out?  Do you really want to track down a computer while you’re on vacation, just so you can email your monthly promo on time?  I don’t think so.  And it isn’t necessary.  Just use the email scheduling feature of any email marketing software, and your problem is solved.

 

3. It’s a Hassle to Opt-Out people Manually

If a recipient clicks on an opt-out link and chooses to opt-out of email marketing, Infusionsoft (or Aweber, etc) automatically stops all emails (of all types) of going to that person. Completely automated.

No one has to do anything extra…. no logging in anywhere, no updating anyone’s contact info, updating spreadsheets, changing a contact’s record on Outlook or anything…. it’s all automatic.

 

4. It’s Makes People Mad When They Keep Getting Emails…  After They’ve Opted-Out!

If you aren’t using email marketing software…

What if you receive a manual opt-out request, but you forget to process it?

Or maybe you have a heavy load of emails on a particular day, and the request gets buried in your inbox and you never see it?

…make a mistake like that and you could land yourself in some hot water.  The next time you send a mass email (using the Bcc trick of course), you will infuriate the recipient that already asked you once to opt-out.

By using email marketing software, most people will opt themselves out (using the automatic out-out link at the bottom of each email), and you will likely avoid a very heated, upset (ex-) customer!

 

What if You Get a Manual Request to Opt-Out?

Once you’re rolling with email marketing software, it’s possible that you might still get the odd person who emails you to manually opt them out (instead of them automatically doing it themselves at the bottom of one of your emails.)

If you’re using a more basic program like Aweber, you may just want to do it manually.  Might be faster that way.

But if you’re using something substantially more advanced like Infusionsoft, where a person might be on multiple lists, on a customized set of Follow-up Sequences, and segmented in a specific way based on tagging, you may want to think about things more carefully, especially if you have a staff member, VA, outsourced rep or otherwise handling your customer service emails.

Possibly write the customer with the following…

Hi (contact),

The way our system is setup, the best way that will absolutely guarantee that email marketing messages from us are stopped, is if you open up the last promotional email you received from us, and click the opt-out link. To find this link, simply scroll to the bottom of the email; you should see a link that says “update email options”.

When you click on “update email options”, a new window will open up, allowing you to stop all email marketing from us. Just click the appropriate button (there are instructions on the screen) and everything will be taken care of.

By following this method, you are directly telling our system to stop emails – no chance of human error or mistakes. If you could go ahead and do that now, it would ensure that you stop receiving emails from us immediately.

I just want to make sure that this matter is handled for you accurately, professionally, and quickly, and the above method is the best way I know of to accomplish that.

If you have any other questions, please let me know.

Regards,

(Your Name)

P.S. after you opt-out, if you ever want to personally write me you’ll still be able to; you won’t be blocked from emailing me.

Of course you could personally, manually go into Infusionsoft and change their opt-in status.  But if your staff is handling it, and they do not have Infusionsoft access, the above text will limit the number of times you personally end up dealing with doing this kind of work.

Hopefully that helps.  Once you get rolling with email marketing software to handle your broadcasts and follow-ups, you probably won’t look back.

Hope that helps!

Tim :)

P.S. I think Aweber has a promo going on right now if you want to give them a try: just click here for the promo.

 

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