Email Marketing Systems are very expensive. Go check out Active Campaign, Marketo, Sales Force or Infusionsoft. The more affordable options like Mailchimp or Mailerlite are very limited in function unless you open up your wallet to unlock the features you need.
Here is how to create an Email Marketing System that is super powerful, for free, or very close to free.
Before we get stuck in, it important to understand the building blocks that make up an Email Marketing System.
Building block 1 - The Email Marketing software
This the software tool that you use to create your emails, store your mailing list and build out your marketing automation journeys. If you use lead capture forms this is where you would create those forms as well. This is the mailchimp / Active Campaign / Infusionsoft block.
Building block 2 - The Email Sending Service.
Once you have created your email in your email software you need to be able to send that email out. That requires connecting to a email sending service. Think of it like writing a letter and then going to the post office and asking them to send it for you.
Building block 3 - A Website
This could be considered an optional block but not really. You will most likely already have a website that you use to market your service, sell your products and grow your email list. We will want to connect your website to the email marketing software so new subscribers get added to your email list. We want to be able to track when anyone on our list visits our website. This lets us send the right emails to the right person at the right time.
Building block 4 - A Web Host
A web host is a company that hosts your web services like your website. We will use the web host to host the email marketing software as well.
Companies like Active Campaign pull all these blocks together and present them as a single package. We are going to the same when we build our Email Marketing System. We are going to create our very own version of Active Campaign.
Let's get building.
For the purpose of simplicity, I going to keep things pretty high level. These steps can get pretty technical. For now I just want you to understand the basics of how to pull an Email Marketing System together so you can decide if this is for you or not. If you want to go ahead, my team and I can set this up for you, or you can dive into the deeper guides on how to do this yourself.
Email Marketing Software
Mautic is a super powerful open source (that means free) marketing automation tool. Mautic will allow you to create lead generating forms that you can host on your website. Anyone one who completes one of those forms will have their details added to your mailing list inside of Mautic.
You can segment your list into smaller lists. You could have a segment for customers, abandoned carts, blog subscribers, you can segment the list however you want.
Mautic has an email builder to create beautiful HTML email, or simple plain text emails. It comes with a host of pre built templates you can use.
The real power of Mautic comes with its marketing automation features. You can create simple or complex marketing funnels to convert anonymous traffic to known leads to interested shopper to happy customers to profitable referrers. This is one seriously powerful piece of software.
A word of caution. This is open source. This means no one owns it so there is no help desk. You will have to rely on the community for support, or hire an expert if you get into trouble. Visit mautic.org to get a copy of Mautic and find the documentation on how to install to your web sever and configure. We can help with this step if this looks a little too complex for you.
Connecting Mautic to an Email Sending Service
There are many, many email sending services out there. Sendgrid, Elastic Email, Send in Blue to name just a few. But the best and cheapest by far (often free) is Amazon SES. Yes, the same people who run the world's biggest online store also have an email sending service.
If it's so cheap why is not everyone using it? Well many, many people are but setting up Amazon SES is rather complicated. Many people just prefer to pay (a lot) more and use a service like Sendgrid or Mailchimp.
The good news is Mautic has a built in integration with Amazon SES. But that still means we need to set up an account with Amazon SES, prove to them we are not spammers and then connect the account to Mautic. This is quite a complicated process. There are many resources on the 'net that will guide you through the steps.
If you send a lot of email and you are tired of paying a big bill each month, then push through and get this set up. Your email marketing bill will likely be less than $5 per month and you will be able to send hundreds of thousands of emails per month. If you want the power of Amazon SES but not the hassle of setting it up, we can do that for you. It is so worth it once set up and running. My email marketing bill last month was $0.63!
Getting your emails into the inbox.
There is not much point in sending out emails if they are going to get blocked as spam and not end up in the recipients inbox. The great news is the Amazon SES email servers have a great reputation with the spam cops so we are off to a good start. But we will still need to mess with a few settings on your web server.
Basically we need to give Amazon SES permission to send email on our behalf. Email from your domain is usually sent from the server your web site is hosted on. The Spam cops check this. If they pick up an email address that contains your domain (that's everything after the @) but it did not originate from your server, they will block it thinking it's spam, or more accurately, a spoof email. To stop this happening when we send email via the Amazon SES servers, we need to edit a few DNS records in the DNS editor on your web server. That's actually really easy to do and is a simple cut and paste of a set of records Amazon SES will provide you when you set up your account.
Is this for me?
By now it's probably plain to see why every marketer out there is not running their own email marketing system. Most prefer to pay significant sums each month to a service like Active Campaign because services like that are already set up and ready to go. They also come with dedicated support that you can lean on.
But if you push through the technical hurdles of setting up your own email marketing system you can save plenty every month, and over time that really adds up.
In this how to guide I have purposefully not dived into the detailed steps of exactly how to set this up. My goal is to help your understand what goes into building your own email marketing system.
My hope is this will let you evaluate whether this is the route for you or not before you waste a ton of time learning how to set this all up and then finding it's not a good fit for your business.
If you want your own Email Marketing System what are your options?
- Search the internet for the how to guides on Mautic, Amazon SES and DNS configuration (over the coming months I will create a complete guide on how to set this all up).
- Get someone who knows how to set this up for you and show you how to use it.
Drop your details below if this might be something you want for yourself. I will send over a pro's and con's list to help you evaluate the set up as well as direct links to the best guides on how to do this yourself or how to get us to set it up for you.