Many small business owners have heard that email marketing is a great way to keep in touch with current and prospective clients. They’ve heard that it provides a great return on investment. It is targeted and direct and yet to most recipients, not a burden. (Subscribers have, after all, signed up to receive the emails.) Yet despite all this, some owners remain on the sideline. They think that they will have to subscribe to an email marketing service (e.g., Constant Contact) and pay for every email they send. Others struggle with the idea of having to create new content. They are worried that they won’t be able to come up with anything to say on any consistent schedule.
I’m here to tell you today that it is actually quite easy to host your own email newsletter. By “host” we mean you will do everything yourself. There is no third party service provider needed. If you or a member of your team has solid computer skills, a true “opt-in” email list, and you value the ability to customize your communications, hosting your email newsletter is more than just easy, it’s smart. (It’s also free.)
Let’s go through each element to see if this might work for you…
1. Computer skills.
If you can surf the internet, type an email, and follow directions, you qualify. Once you have created a template for your email communications (more on this later), all you need to do for each new edition of your eNewsletter is input new content through a web browser. Words are often enough. And we’re not talking about anything mind-boggling or insightful. For most businesses, a simple “Hello”, “Thank your for your past business” and “Here is a special we’re offering now” is sufficient. The idea is to remind your client you exist and give them a reason to do business with you again. If you’ve provided good products or services to your clients in the past, why wouldn’t they visit again? They may just need a little pull.
2. A true opt-in email list.
If your website or in-house sign up sheet allows clients to subscribe to receive offers and other communications from you, you’re probably good here. However, requiring subscribers to click on a link in an email to confirm their eNewsletter subscription is even better protection. If you purchased your email list, your recipients can’t be considered to have opted-in to getting anything from you. And the concern here is that, if you’re sending email from your own domain (rather than from a third party service), and any of the recipients feel you’re spamming them, you’re going to cause big problems for your business and your domain. Our opinion: if you purchased your email list rather than growing it, you are a spammer! Take the time to grow your list the right way and it will pay you back in a big way.
3. The desire to customize.
A self-hosted solution offers you the ability to completely customize the look and feel of your communications. You aren’t stuck using a tired old template provided by a third party service. No, you’re creating your own fresh look from scratch. Emails are sent using simple html code, so even if you can’t design your own template, it’s a small price to pay to have a beautiful one designed for use in all of your future enewsletters. We may even know somebody who could handle the design work. 🙂
As I said in a prior post, our preferred self-hosted email marketing software is PHPLIST. This is the software we use to configure all of our clients’ eNewsletters. It is a free, open-source software. You pay nothing, and it can be configured to do just about anything you’ll need with your email marketing. We can even set up your email marketing system for you for a reasonable fee.
Questions about email marketing or email newsletter templates? Feel free to ask below.