DM News' Essential Guide to E-Mail Marketing: On-Demand or Desktop? Two Options for E-Mail Marketing

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E-mail marketing is an effective, low-cost option for communicating with clients and prospects. When evaluating e-mail marketing solutions, companies have two options: support e-mail inhouse with a desktop solution or subscribe to an on-demand service accessible via a Web site. Both are viable. But which option is better for your business? Where should you start?


The answer depends on the importance of e-mail marketing for your business and an assessment of your resources. Consider the reasons for both options:


When to use a desktop e-mail solution.


• Small list. For businesses with small contact lists under 200 and whose e-mail marketing effort is just beginning, using an application such as Microsoft Outlook to manage initial efforts makes sense. It's free, the marketer already knows how to use it and a small list doesn't take much time to manage.


• One-time purchase. Unlike some on-demand e-mail marketing solutions, desktop solutions allow hands-on control of costs because the marketer isn't charged based on the number of messages sent. In addition to Microsoft Outlook and similar e-mail programs, you typically can find desktop bulk e-mailing software for a one-time cost of around $100.


When to use a service provider.


• Limited resources. Using an e-mail marketing service frees up resources for organizations by requiring minimal staff support. Since there's no software for the organization to install, maintain or update, marketers can focus more time and money on growing the business and less on IT resources.


• Maximized delivery and security. On-demand e-mail marketing providers have staff dedicated to maximizing the deliverability of your messages by maintaining close relationships with major Internet service providers and e-mail vendors such as AOL, Yahoo and Microsoft. Also, service providers have substantial security measures to protect and back up your data.


• Flexible investment. Subscription rates vary depending on the number of e-mail addresses, number of e-mails sent and other features. Mid-tier offerings ideal for small to midsize businesses start around $100 a month with no additional hardware or software requirements.


When choosing a provider, check out reference sites for vendor listings and best practices information. Assessing your resources and evaluating the importance of e-mail marketing in your strategy will help you make this choice. No matter which option you choose, remember that targeted messaging, accurate tracking, professional appearance and opt-in lists are key elements to e-mail marketing success.


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