Keeping your costs low is a good principle. Right now, doing so can mean continuing to fight another day, or having to close up shop. For organizations considering reductions in force, reducing non-staff expenses can translate into jobs saved. Of course, all that cost cutting doesn’t mean you’re expected to get less done. In fact, you have more to do than ever, and likely have fewer people helping now.
The question is: How can we accomplish more with less, get our jobs done, and hopefully stay sane along the way?
We’re going to zoom in on one area that often is overlooked – email marketing costs. Email marketing can be incredibly effective when done well, but it isn’t free. Doing email well takes a great deal of energy, as well as the cost of the email tools themselves. If you’re not doing email well, then you’re just doing email and that’s another story. Executing email well means clearly thinking about your readers, what they are likely to be interested in and then crafting messages that will resonate with them. That’s a tough thing to do once, and even harder to do on a consistent basis.
So, what can we do to reduce email marketing costs while also saving you time and creating a better experience for your readers?
Here are 4 tips you can use to achieve these results:
1. Curate, Curate, Curate It’s not just about you. Yes, your email should be partially about you, but your readers want to hear about more than that. Curating great content from relevant and trusted sources outside of your company can do wonders. It makes it possible for you to broaden the content you send, takes less time to generate the material you need for a great email, and is something you can automate (more below).
Curation does require you to take a leap of faith in one sense. When you curate, you are sending some of your traffic to another website. That 3rd party sure will be happy you’re sending traffic their way, but what about you? Our data, across a wide variety of brands in different industries, shows that emails that have a mix of original content and 3rd party content see greater total traffic to the brand’s website than emails that only contain owned content. Why? Because you have generated more interest overall, showcasing your ability to highlight compelling content that will be valuable. That in turn creates trust and loyalty over time. So, don’t be afraid to send your audience off to various sites. If the content you’re sharing is awesome, your readers will decide that you are too!
2. Flexible “Gig” Workers We’ve all heard about the “gig economy” and its applications in most areas of life from freelance writers and web developers to grocery delivery and virtual assistants. Gig workers who are skilled in specific areas are readily available to jump in and help on a wide variety of tasks. While there are some downsides to hiring a gig worker for content, such as a lack of initial knowledge of your brand or industry, there are many benefits too. Gig workers can scale up and down with your needs and you can hire several to work simultaneously on different pieces of content. With platforms like Upwork and Fiverr you can hire people in various parts of the world to write content targeting particular regions. You might be facing a shortage of in-house team members due to cuts, but spending a small amount on a few articles might work with what’s left of your budget. If you are in a high cost location, you could find a freelance writer outside of your area for less than you’d pay locally.
3. Multiple Email Service Providers (ESP) Sure, if money were no object, using one ESP to do all of your email marketing would be ideal. But, if you are in a crunch and are running into higher costs than you can afford, consider splitting up your email volume across more than one ESP. For example, you could use the free plan on MailChimp to send messages up to 2,000 contacts and another ESP with a free or inexpensive tier to send the rest. Consider splitting your emails by sending a particular category of emails through one ESP, for example, emails targeting one segment such as prospects or past customers, and others through the next ESP. This approach could be scaled to some degree with lower tiers of paid plans where you keep your volume below a certain threshold on each platform.
Be careful with this idea – there are downsides to it. The extra time required to manage multiple tools might offset the benefit. Also, over the long term, you might have sender reputation problems with this approach. In spite of these downsides, for small businesses during tough times, using more than one free or low-cost plan might be worth considering.
4. Automate! Your time is probably more scarce now than in any other time in recent memory. How do you do a great job with your email marketing and reduce the amount of time you spend on it? Most people still do email the same way they did years ago. A lot has changed. Email providers have added automation to reduce manual work. Features like sequences are available with many ESPs that can automatically send smart follow up emails based on rules you create. Sequences can save a great deal of time and improve your results.
This type of automation is just the beginning. Take it to the next level and consider enlisting the support of Artificial Intelligence. rasa.io is a platform that automates newsletters. Newsletters are the type of emails that usually have the highest long term engagement rates, but normally take the most work. Email newsletters are great if they’re done with the intent of informing and educating, but most “newsletters” end up being just a pitch. What rasa.io does is automate the process of curating quality content from a variety of sources you trust. Then, the AI selects specific articles for each reader. Imagine each person on your list getting an email that is truly automated and also completely personalized for their interests. It isn’t magic, it is cutting edge Artificial Intelligence at work. Best of all, there is a free tier of rasa.io for sending up to 10,000 messages per month, more than enough for most small businesses.
Now is the time to find ways to cut your email marketing costs while upping your game. You can do both if you take advantage of new tools and approaches.