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Small and large businesses alike successfully use email marketing campaigns to build loyalty and trust among existing customers and expand brand awareness to new leads. Email marketing campaigns can drive new sales through discounts and special offers, encourage repeat business, and share third-party ads. Because email marketing is a form of direct marketing, companies need a database of email addresses to send to, which can include both customers who have opted into the company’s list and addresses the company purchases as new leads. Because everyone’s inbox is bursting with junk mail, email marketing campaigns must be clever, catchy, entertaining or eye-catching to get read. Most importantly, a successful campaign includes a truly compelling call to action for the reader. While this can be challenging to achieve, email marketing is a less expensive way for businesses to advertise than print, display or TV ads, so the return on investment tends to be high.

Email marketing metrics

Research from the Data & Marketing Association (DMA) shows that for every dollar spent on an email marketing campaign, companies see an average return of $38. Also, several studies show that more than 70 percent of consumers prefer email as their source of business communication. Personalized campaigns are the most successful: Segmented and targeted emails generate 58 percent of all revenue. The statistics show that email marketing works, and it’s worth the expense. According to 75 percent of companies surveyed by Econsultancy in 2016, email offers "excellent" to “good” ROI. But to reap these benefits, it’s important to work with professional marketing consultancies, such as DreamWalker, Inc., in Lexington, Kentucky, Culium in Lewisville, Texas, and AC Digital Design in Northbrook, Illinois.

Creating a campaign

Email marketing has become a standard marketing tool, so many professionals offer their services as a monthly package. Prices vary based on factors such as whether or not the company provides the email address list and how many emails are sent per month.

For example, DreamWalker, Inc. offers two packages: the Blast Package for $80 per month, and the Blast Pro Package for $250 per month. Both also require a one-time $25 setup fee. They each include access to an email marketing consultant, one email message blast per month, and a custom-designed email template. The difference is in the number of subscribers a company can have to its content — the Blast Package allows 2,000 subscribers, while the Blast Pro Package allows 10,000 subscribers.

Other marketers, such as TailoredMail in Bellevue, Washington, charge higher monthly fees, which make sense for customers emailing larger numbers of contacts — 30,000 or more — and those looking for more advanced features. For example, TailoredMail’s $250 monthly pricing includes emails with embedded videos, landing pages and microsites, survey forms, and integration with shopping carts.

DIY Campaigns

To manage its own email marketing campaign, a marketing department needs an email marketing platform. In general, a platform like MailChimp.com can be integrated with an online store, automatically send certain emails to certain customers based on triggers, create custom rules for sending marketing emails, and provide reporting and analysis on the campaign’s success.

Getting started with a service like MailChimp can be free for a small, new business; the service allows companies to send 12,000 emails per month to 2,000 subscribers. As the number of subscribers increases, so do the fees; with MailChimp, marketers can send an unlimited number of emails for $20-$35 a month for as many as 2,600 subscribers. For high-volume senders who want enterprise-grade features, the service costs an additional $200 per month.

Software options

Some email marketing services target small businesses, while others, like Salesforce.com’s Email Studio or HubSpot, target larger companies. HubSpot’s inbound marketing software starts at $200 per month, for example. Email Studio is an easy choice for enterprises that already use Salesforce.com’s cloud-based software.

Hidden costs of email marketing

Email marketing campaigns are most cost-effective for companies that already employ graphic designers and writers. Outsourcing design and content writing for email marketing can be expensive. For instance, the average hourly rate for a graphic designer is $65-$100, and each email can cost $100-$200 each if it’s written by a freelance writer.

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