For most small firms, your best potential customers are the ones you already have. New clientele is always nice, but repeat customers will make your business sustainable. Cultivating those relationships, while simultaneously reaching out to new prospects, is an ongoing challenge that can quickly overwhelm your marketing budget and bandwidth.
In this digital age, e-mail is the most cost-effective way to alert previous customers about special offers, promotions and new products. But sending out a personalized, attractively designed mailing to a large number of people via the tools in Outlook or with an Excel spreadsheet as your database is frustrating at best. Fortunately, a host of online services have sprung up to meet this challenge.
Online Services to the Rescue
Typically, such a service will let you upload your contact list, segment customers into appropriate groups (by location, interests, age whatever makes sense for your business), build various types of correspondence (newsletters, promotions, press announcements and so on), and send personalized bulk e-mail.
Even more valuable, most services include reporting tools that show you not only who received the mailing, but also who opened it and who acted on it. More advanced services offer very granular reporting; for instance, showing you how far into your Web site a given recipient navigated after clicking on the link in the original e-mail.
Search for the phrase "e-mail marketing," and you'll come up with literally dozens of choices. The trick is to find a service that suits your needs, your budget and your level of expertise. Plans range from $15 a month all the way to hundreds of dollars per month. Typically, the more expensive solutions target the marketing departments of larger enterprises. They offer more control over list segmentation, advanced delivery options and very granular reporting.
With Constant Contact, constructing a newsletter or other e-mail communication is an easy cut-and-paste affair.
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Smaller firms will want to focus on e-marketing companies such as Constant Contact, IntelliContact, Sparklist or Vertical Response. These services offer relatively affordable pricing plans, as well as enough communications and reporting options to keep the owner of a growing business satisfied.
Keep in Touch with Constant Contact
One of the most affordable services is Constant Contact, with plans starting at only $15 per month