Exploring the world of email service providers (esp) is usually an afterthought for most new business owners.
It is easy to start out by using your personal email address. With just a handful of clients, why invest time and/or money in figuring out this email thing, right?
This approach might seem to make sense, but it is not forward thinking and it really does come back to bite you.
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You Need an Email Service Provider to Capture Email Addresses
In the beginning, you will send email to your existing clients, friends, family, colleagues, and generally people that you know.
But think about it – if you only communicate with people that you know then you are preaching to the choir, so to speak.
Your future customers are people that you don’t know yet.
This is very important.
How do you plan to reach them?
Well, the way to do it is to have sign up to your “list” via a sign up box on your website, a sign up sheet at speaking engagements, sign up links on social media etc.
When these people – who you don’t know – give you their email addresses they are also giving added responsibility.
They are handing over their email addresses with the expectation that:
- you will send them the information they requested
- you will communicate with them regularly
- you will protect their email address from spammers
- you will protect their privacy – ie, not share their email address
- you will give them a convenient way to unsubscribe from your list
If you use an email service provider, you can easily accomplish all of the above.
If you use your personal email address, it is not really possible.
Using an Email Service Provider Will Save You Time
When you use an email service provider, you are also saving yourself a lot of time.
When someone signs up using a form on your website or on social media, they are automatically added to your list.
When someone clicks “unsubscribe” from within one of your emails – they are automatically removed from your list.
No further work required on your part.
How easy is that?
You Will Be Able to Segment Your Email List
Email service providers make it easy for you to segment your lists too.
What this means is that you can keep track of people by different categories.
For example, let’s say you own a pet store.
You might want to send a one newsletter to dog owners and a separate one to cat owners.
This can happen automatically or with minimal effort, if you use an email service provider.
An ESP Makes Composing Email Easy
Many email service providers provide templates that you can use to create decent looking emails and newsletters.
You can also add information to a draft daily and send it out once weekly after you’ve put on the finishing touches.
You Can Measure Your Email Effectiveness
Once you send out an email blast to your list – it is really nice to know a few statistics about your effort.
How many people opened it? What items did they click on? Were all the addresses valid? How many people shared it? How many unsubscribed?
All the data is good to know and can help to craft future emails that really meet the needs of your audience.
You Will Comply With the Law
This one is a biggie.
In 2003 George W. Bush signed the CAN-SPAM Act of 2003 into law.
The gist of this law is that you must provide an “unsubscribe” link that people can use to opt out of your list, you must provide a physical address in your emails (PO boxes are acceptable), your subject lines must be relevant, and more.
If you use an email service provider, they take care of the compliance by adding the required elements to each of your emails automatically. They also stay up to date on laws in regards to email – so you don’t have to be on top of that stuff.
It is good practice to offer a double opt in process to your subscribers (find out more about opt in options here) and an esp can handle that easily.
Why You Should Not Wait To Use an Email Service Provider
The ideal time to set yourself up with an email service provider is before you start your business. It really should be step number one.
Far too many people get stuck on making the switch if they wait.
Because it is really tedious to pick sort through the contacts in your personal email and move the business related ones into an email service provider. Especially if you have a lot.
It is far easier to get set up when your list is short.
Are You Ready To Get Started?
So, are you ready to give it a go?
Here is a list of a few email service providers that you might want to explore. They are not all created equal.
Some use lists, some use tags, some use a combination of both. Some charge by each contact, some have a cap on the numbers of emails that you can send … just suffice it to say that there are differences.
You really need to do your research on the features of each one to figure out which is right for your business.
Many people start with MailChimp or MadMimi because they both have free plans that you can use when your list is small. But keep in mind that moving to a new provider can also be tricky – so it’s best to be forward thinking and try to pick a service that can grow with you and handle your future needs as well.
- Constant Contact
- MailerLite (see why I think this is the best email service for new bloggers here)
What Service Do You Use?
Do tell us what email service you use. And if you don’t use one yet, what are your thoughts on getting started?
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