Email marketing: how much does it cost?

coins inside a jar and some beside it

Despite the fast rise of social media, email marketing is far from dead!

It’s still one of the most popular and affordable marketing methods available. And it can be a great way to get started on the road to sales and marketing automation.

But just how affordable is it? What does it cost to add email to your sales and marketing arsenal?

The short answer is: it depends. The cost of email marketing varies based on your database size, how often you send emails, how creative you intent to be and how sophisticated you want to be with your data. In this article, I take quick look at what affects the cost of email marketing.

By the numbers

According to the Data & Marketing Association (DMA), more emails are being read than ever before.

This is backed up by numbers from Statista who claim that, in 2017, 269 billion emails were sent and received each day. By 2021 they expect that number to rise to 320 billion.

In 2018, the average email open rate (that’s the number of emails opened vs. the total sent) was 18.1%, up 0.8% compared to 2017. Through ingenious subject lines and offering more consistent value in their content, it seems marketers are doing a better job of encouraging the all-important opening of their emails.

Fast Fact: The majority of email marketing campaigns cost between 0.5p and 1p per email sent.

So what does the price of your email marketing depend on?

When you’re setting out to start with email marketing, one of the first decisions is which email service provider (ESP) you’ll use. This has one of the biggest impacts on your overall cost.

You’ll find ESPs ranging from completely free (for example MailChimpMailerLite and Zoho Campaigns all offer a limited free plan) to services in the £1000s suitable for larger operations. Some providers offer a pay-per-email option for lower volume senders, while many of the most popular plans offer unlimited sending for a fixed price per month determined by the number of contacts in your database.

So remember to do your research when deciding, browse the pros and cons of different ESPs and weigh up whether a pay-per-email or monthly-fee solution is right for your business.

Another factor to consider is the time it takes you to manage the campaign end to end. Could your time be better spent on another channel? For example, if you have a smaller audience size – say, of around 20 prospects – it might be quicker to call these customers directly, and may even increase your conversion rate!

There are other costs to consider too: if you don’t have the skills in-house to write, design and build email campaigns, you’ll need someone who can do this for you. Services like Upwork and Fiverr make it easy to find freelancers who can help.

Lastly, and probably most importantly, do your numbers!

Calculate what return you expect from the campaign. As you would (or should) with every other marketing channel you use, forecast the response rate and return on investment (ROI) you expect. Look back and learn from previous email campaigns to help you improve open rates, click-through rates and, ultimately, your ROI.

Looking for more than just email marketing?

At the start of this article I described email marketing as useful stepping stone to marketing automation, and for many businesses, it’s a great place to start.

If your ambitions go beyond just sending email campaigns, and you’re thinking about adding automation to your sales and marketing in the future, then it probably makes sense to start from the outset with a service that gives you the option to expand your horizons.

For this, two services in particular are popular choices: ActiveCampaign and Infusionsoft by Keap. Both provide extensive marketing automation and customer relationship management (CRM) features that you can use when you’re ready. ActiveCampaign in particularly can be a very cost-effective option: it’s powerful, flexible and easy to get started at low cost. If you’re interested, have a read of our article comparing ActiveCampaign and MailChimp.

What to do next?

Do some digging. Browse the email providers out there and see what packages are best suited to your audience size and how often you want to talk to your customers.

And if you still have questions, get in touch.


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