Why email marketing.
Email marketing has long been recognised as an effective and relatively inexpensive method of communicating with a served community – be it customer base, contact list, membership group etc. In more recent years, probably as recognition of the rapidly growing percentage the population using the internet as the prime means of purchasing develops, organisations increasingly see e-marketing as the principal marketing tool. Business to business and business to consumer selling lends itself to e-marketing and the growth in email marketing service providers is significant, particularly in the UK market – one of the most ‘internet intensive’ markets in the world.
The issue now presented to organisations already sold on the concept of email marketing is which email marketing service provider to choose.
Choosing an email marketing company.
Interrogate any search engine with the key words ‘email marketing uk’ or just ‘email marketing’ and a sizable number of choices of email marketing service providers will be listed. Obviously, this list will encompass organisations that will cover a broad spectrum of competence, quality of service, reliability, geographic location even legal prudence and financial soundness. And the order of listing will not provide much significance in correlation between search engine ranking and the suitability of choice. To enter into a supply agreement – even for a single campaign, with an email marketing service provider should demand careful consideration of the merits and demerits of a potential supplier. The difference in effectiveness between the best and the average email marketing service provider can be enormous and is paramount to the quality of result achieved and, indeed the reputation of the sender. Remember that it is your organisation’s name on the bottom of the emails and a poor quality delivery and/or content will reflect on you not the email marketing service provider.
So what should be the key points of differentiation in making a choice of which email marketing service to use? Below is my list of differentiators to apply, remembering that the important action is to ask the questions, don’t just scan the website.
- Where are you based?
If you’re operating in the UK market then there are significant benefits in dealing with a UK based email marketing company. Of course we all know that the internet is global but consider the benefits of a UK located supplier; governed by UK law, registered in the UK, likelihood of being fully signed up to anti spamming laws and protocols (this is important to the reputation of the email originator), logistics of delivery, product support and contactability. Email Blaster UK by example is located in South Northamptonshire adjacent to the Silverstone F1 circuit and technology park.
- Where are your servers located?
An important point if the answer to question 1 is UK, are you just dealing with a UK sales office. Where is(are) the data centre(s)? The data centre will contain the servers that physically transmit emails via a fibre optic line to the internet. A sizeable email marketing service provider will have multiple racks of servers – by example Email Blaster UK have over 50 servers with associated network hardware all wholly in-house owned and maintained. This represents a massive investment that by itself says something about the substance and permanence of the company. Whilst it may be true that the location of the server makes little difference in this world of global internet, this is a technical point. When it comes to delivery reputation, anti-spam and firewall status and relationships with internet service providers, server location address is significant. It is the server location that appears on trace reports and a Central England-note address carries weight when assessing the credibility of a bulk transmission than does some worldwide locations with reputations for spamming or other nefarious internet activities. The email marketing provider’s office may be in the UK but where are the servers located?
-note; Email blaster UK’s principal data centre is located in Central England.
- Is your software licensed from a third party or an in-house product?
Some UK providers use email bulk marketing software licensed from a company located outside the UK – often the USA. Whilst there is no reason why this should indicate an inferior or inadequate product, it does indicate that software development staff will not be easily accessible and that help desk services will be provided by trained support staff. Companies that offer in-house developed software will be able to offer flexibility and adaptability to the user that has special requirements – for example an unusual template or a response feature not routinely offered, as well as fast response to problems. Technical support other than routine will be immediate when all of the software development and help-desk staff are co-located, whereas difficult technical issues presented to a UK help-desk with an overseas licensor could involve 24-48 hour turn round.
And the more important factor is the continuous improvement of in-house product that may be difficult to access for a licensed product. Email blaster UK offers software entirely developed in-house and subject to continuous improvement. The V3 version of Email Blaster will be introduced later this year. All software development staff are co-located with the help-desk.
- Do you offer complete contract flexibility?
Users may be looking for easy in, easy out contracts, a single campaign sign-up or the financial benefits of a longer term contract. It is important to determine the flexibility of contract and the up-front charges that tend to tie in a user; non-returnable set up fees, long term contracts, heavily loaded single campaign charges. Ideally you want; no tie in charges, no set-up charges, contract flexibility.
- Do you provide a full range of support software email products?
Basis email marketing software offered by service providers will collate, prepare and transmit bulk email campaigns but little else. More advanced services will provide list cleaning and content polishing systems that filter an email list to remove corrupt and false addresses and improve the layout, text and general appearance of an email to improve both its appearance and likely delivery performance. Also, a large library or user friendly templates to use for the best email content quality is a vital component of a good email marketing service.
In summary, when making a buying decision for an email marketing system for the UK market, contact candidates and ask the 5 questions;
- Where are you based?
- Where are your servers located?
- Is your software licensed or in-house?
- Do you offer contract flexibility?
- Do you provide a full range of peripheral email products?
Email Blaster UK