As a creative agency, we’ve used a lot of email marketing tools and so have our clients. In this post we want to share with you a little insight into these and what to consider when looking for an email tool.
People’s inboxes are overflowing these days but email is still a proven strategy to promote your firm. It’s even more important to make sure you stand out, so your email gets opened!
When done correctly, email marketing still does lead to bringing in new prospects and helps build on your relationship with existing clients.
Here’s what to look for in an email marketing system. (If in doubt, use Mailchimp. It’s easy to use and is free! We explain more at the end of this post.)
Your email database: management settings to check within the tool
Whether you have a database or are starting right at the beginning with an GSheet, you’ll be able to use an email tool. You can continue to build your database within most tools. If you want to export this data in the future, make sure that’s an option before signing up.
Almost all of the tools comply with legal requirements around data but make sure you double check. One example of what to check on is you must give people who want to unsubscribe an option to do this within every email. Does the tool you are looking at comply?
Building an email campaign: options for all levels of experience
The best tools allow you to import your own HTML email, start from scratch or customise a template within the tool. Most allow you to drag and drop so you can add an image, video or text in your chosen layout – without needing to code.
Auto responders: drip feed emails
A lot of email tools offer customised auto-responders so you can automate reminder emails, or thank you’s. This is a nice touch to build your relationship with clients, and very little effort.
The top end of email marketing tools will let you design custom workflows based on the client’s behaviour. Certain actions will triggers emails, and sequences automatically.
Tracking and reporting on email campaign activity: from basic to advanced
Tracking your campaigns is critical to improving your marketing and this is where email tools really shine! If you start a campaign, make sure you look at where it’s working, and not working – then adjust! Every tool provided some level of tracking, from very basic detail such as opened, clicked right through to advanced details that link into your website tracking. It’s so interesting to see what’s happening, and who’s opening your email where in the world.
You can also view reports on the success of your campaign through mosts tools, useful if you need to share results. This can vary between a spreadsheet or charts on each element of a campaign.
Keep in mind that although you may be able to view click throughs and numbers of opens, it’s important to look what people are actually doing following the email. This will depend what your goal for the email was, but could include replies, sign up for your webinars, downloads of your content or signing up as a client.
CRM: built in or add on?
As we mentioned you can manage your database yourself but a CRM solution is the next step for a growing business. Some of the advanced email automation tools offer good CRM built in, but if you’re on a basic tool you may need to look for an add on.
Email marketing and CRM go hand in hand and save you a lot of time in the long run, as well as hold vital intelligence for your team.
All of the tools we’ve highlighted below will allow you to segment data, provide reporting, allow email automation, set up follow up and let you personalise templates – to varying levels!
Mailchimp is one of the easiest email tools to use – it’s intuitive and well designed. You can build an email campaign without having any previous knowledge. Importing and exporting your list is also made really easy.
Mailchimp is free so it can be the perfect starting point, even for a larger accountancy firm! Be aware though that the free account only gives you the basic features. These are suitable for your initial needs, but you may want to upgrade to a paid account for features such as auto responders or integration tools.
(If you have a large database, the free option may not be an option for you, but most firms who have a large database are also not as troubled about whether it’s free or not!)
Mailchimp also offers a huge variety of integrations. LeadPages and WordPress are two really useful ones. Any email address captured on your landing pages within these tools will automatically be added directly to your MailChimp email list. The Facebook integration is also handy: you can link up a subscribe form to your Facebook page and it keeps your audience from having to leave you page, or Facebook to sign up to your email list.
Because so many people use Mailchimp, it’s possible that your newsletter template may look very familiar! You can customise them, but they’ll always look similar in style. This is not necessarily a bad thing, as simplicity is key in email marketing – you don’t need to be too clever.
Branding and style is important to make Mailchimp your own, and in getting people to engage with you. We would encourage you to have a few custom templates designed and uploaded so that your templates look like your firm – not any firm at all.
If you don’t know where to start, then start with Mailchimp.
Designed specifically for bloggers, ConvertKit includes a range of unique tools to make it easy for bloggers to build their list and promote their content.
You’ll see it’s extremely well-designed, with a lot of attention paid to the small details. For example, one thing I particularly like is that the bar chart that displays how many new subscribers you’ve received is broken down into chunks to show which blog posts or traffic sources are driving your list growth.
ConvertKit has a range of web forms, emails blasts and automation but what makes it a little different is it has a dedicated area for building email campaigns and web sources.
It’s very easy to use, with simple steps to set up automation and segmented campaigns.
ConvertKit isn’t cheap but is very targeted and works very well alongside content marketing.
If you’re needing a powerful and advanced marketing automation system then you should definitely add Infusionsoft to your shortlist. We use it here at The Profitable Firm, and put a lot of our lead generation success down to this system..
Be clear this is another level from the likes of Mailchimp, it’s far, far more than an email marketing tool. It’s not only a full sales and marketing automation tool offering, but it can be used for every step of your entire business from onboarding to delivery to team members! James Ashford and Karen Reyburn explain more in their 7 Systems webinar.
Infusionsoft is extremely powerful. You can spend a lot of time setting up sequences, campaigns and automating your sales and marketing based on customer behaviour: and ideally we’d recommend that you do that!
There is a cost associated with Infusionsoft that is higher than most of the simple email marketing systems you would come across, but you need to weigh up what return you’ll generate for your firm. We find that the hungriest, most keen accountants want to use something like Infusionsoft because it can turn the simplest of systems into a lead generation machine.
Also, it’s critical that you personally, and some others within the firm, will also need training on how to use the features. If you simply outsource the entire thing, you will get something out of it; if you’re personally involved, it can change your business forever.
If you’re just starting out with email marketing, and you don’t have the time or financial investment to put in, Infusionsoft is likely not the right fit for you yet.
Hubspot is also a full sales and marketing automation tool, an alternative to Infusionsoft.
It’s fairly easy to use and their support team are excellent, and as you sign up you’ll be offered full on-boarding. This isn’t cheap but is worthwhile to fully understand all the features, and how to get the most from them.
Building emails is straightforward, as is creating content pages. Manage all your email content from one dashboard, and get insight into how emails are performing.
Hubspot is expensive but offers everything you’ll need as a large firm. You can fully segment your database , tailor your emails to each recipient so the message is even more relevant. There’s also various features which can help you attract new subscribers. All email metrics are fully integrated into the rest of your marketing analytics. There’s lots of clever features such as ‘Smart Send’ where you can deliver an email at the same time across the world.
Hubspot have a fantastic blog, often sharing useful marketing collateral which you can adapt for your firm’s marketing.
Hubspot and Infusionsoft are heavy duty, cost more and you need resource to use them. The results are amazing if you’re ready to put a lot of effort in initially.
So.. in summary
There are so many email marketing tools available: but more important than the shiny new tool or system is the content you are going to share. You can have the most powerful system in the world, but have nothing to say or no one to say it to.
We encourage you to begin with addressing your content marketing strategy before you do anything else. Know your audience, what they care about, and what you’re going to say. It’s easy to get carried away with the fancy features. But why invest in a tool that you aren’t going to make the most use out of ?
We recently ran a webinar 7 Systems: How to deliver maximum value on autopilot where we highlighted the extra value you provide to clients, and prospects by drip feeding content and automating systems. View the recording here.