Choosing a vendor
A big challenge that all email advertising vendors face is safely getting your message into customers' inboxes. Look for an experienced vendor that has strong working relationships with multiple ISPs. This means they have a proven track record of complying with the CAN-SPAM Act and avoid controversial email content such as pornography or illegal drugs. If they actively manage their ISP relationships and are careful to only send appropriate content through their network, the vendor can avoid getting blacklisted and help ensure a high deliverability rate.
Most email advertising vendors will provide you with a free trial of their software to make sure it's the right solution for you. Take full advantage of this. Make sure that the product works and is easy to use before committing to anything. If it seems like you or your staff will need help deciphering how the email advertising program works, find out what kind of training they offer.
Understand what your goals are and what assistance you need so the email advertising vendor can match you with the appropriate service. If possible, meet the vendor in person to discuss what they offer and how they can get you the best possible results. Always come prepared with questions such as:
- How long have you been in business?
- Do you offer full services or just basic applications?
- Does your company keep up with changes to the CAN-SPAM Act
- Can you guarantee that my list will only be used for my campaigns and that it will be stored securely?
- Do you offer email and/or phone support?
- How many emails should I send and how frequently should I send them?
- What do you do to get on the approved mailer lists for popular email services like MSN, AOL, Yahoo, and Google that have powerful spam filters?
- Do you offer software training for my staff?
- Can you provide "whitelisting" advice to get recipients to add me to their address books?
- Can I get a list of references I can contact about your services?
Finally, maintain reasonable expectations for your email advertising campaign. Success rates vary based on the quality of your list and how compelling your offer or content is. Therefore, vendors can't guarantee a certain amount of responses. What vendors will do, however, is offer their email marketing experience to help you develop offers and create effective content. They should be able show you what has worked in the past and what new methods are effective in the email arena.