In my previous blog post I described why email marketing should be a vital part of your online marketing strategy. In the next few posts I am going to help you get started in sending out email newsletters.
For the first step, you will need to choose an email marketing system. What is an email marketing system? It send out emails to many email addresses on your behalf, allow you to set up a nicely formatted email newsletter, track who has received your emails, and much more.
For regular newsletters or marketing promotions, don’t use Outlook or a Gmail distribution list! Not only does this method come across as unprofessional, it also limits the number of people you can send to at any one time.
For example you can only send an email out to a maximum of 500 people through Gmail a day, and for Outlook and Apple iMail it’s only 100 recipients. If you will be growing your list into the hundreds or thousands you will definitely need an email marketing program.
Popular email systems are AWeber, MailChimp, and Constant Contact.
There are many other email systems too, but I’d like to keep things simple to start out. If you aren’t using an email system at all yet, I recommend using MailChimp.
(Okay, there’s a caveat. If you are working with a direct sales company, or you are an affiliate online marketer or working with affiliates, I recommend aWeber instead. MailChimp is not as “friendly” toward online affiliate marketing.)
But if you’re promoting services, are a coach, or a brick-and-mortar company, MailChimp is solid system to use. The rest of this article I will be talking about getting started using MailChimp.
Why I recommend MailChimp to get started
I recommend MailChimp because it is a low-cost solution to get started for most small business owners and entrepreneurs. If your email list is less than 2,000 subscribers and you’re sending a few emails a month, you can use MailChimp for free. It’s what I started with and am still using. Also, it’s a bit more straightforward and intuitive to set up than some of the other programs.
Some people think that MailChimp is only for “newbies,” but it actually has a lot of functionality and automation capability, and they have been adding to their feature set continually over the last few years. There are several “big names” who use MailChimp for their list of many thousands, including the popular online marketing expert Michael Hyatt.
Getting Started – What you’ll need
Okay, so you’ve decided to set up your first email list. Congratulations! Here’s what you’ll need—before you even set up your newsletter template—to get started:
1. An email address.
Well this is fairly obvious. But here’s something else:
Ideally, the email address you use for your “from” address will come from a custom domain you own, not a free account such as a Gmail or Yahoo account.
In other words, an email address like “email@example.com”. In my case, I’m using my “technicallydone.com” email address, even though I also have (and use) a Gmail email account.
The primary reason is to improve deliverability. Your emails will be less likely to end up in someone’s spam folder if you use your own domain.
MailChimp will let you send from a Gmail address, but will give you a red warning message letting you know that fewer people may see your email if you do so.
The secondary reason is it is simply more professional to use a custom domain. So if you’ve been thinking about getting a custom domain but haven’t gotten around to it, do it now before you set up your email marketing.
2. A physical mailing address.
Wait, what? This is supposed to be online marketing. Why do you need a physical address? By law, in accordance with the FTC’s CAN-SPAM act, all commercial emails, whether sent in bulk or not, must include a physical mailing address.
What if you work from home and don’t want people to know your home address? I recommend getting a P.O. Box if you don’t have one already, or here are some other ideas.
In my next blog post I will introduce you to the main parts of an email marketing system, using MailChimp as the example. Stay tuned!