How Much Does Email Marketing Cost?
First, the good news: email marketing is not as time-intensive or expensive as social media marketing. But it does require time, and time equals money. So let’s break it all down and figure out how much email marketing costs.
EMAIL MARKETING PLATFORMS AREN’T NECESSARILY FREE
Setting up an account on an email marketing platform like MailChimp is super fast and super free. And you can use it for free for a while. But once you start building your list or want send out more than one email a month, you need to pay for it.
So what kind of emails can you, an awesome small business owner, send?
- A monthly newsletter. Or maybe you want to email your main list twice a month. If so, more power to you.
- Automated emails. If you’re offering a free download (like an ebook), running a promo, or want to follow up post-sales, then you’ll want to set up an automated email marketing campaign. And hopefully, you’ll be sending out a lot of emails because people want the ebook, are excited about the promo, and are buying like crazy from you.
- Special promo emails. Think sales, events, TV appearances — anything that is fun and valuable.
Of course, this only plays a small part in how much email marketing costs.
EMAIL MARKETING TAKES TIME (OF COURSE)
Email marketing is definitely not as time-consuming as social media marketing. But you do need to devote time to it.
You need to write and organize the content. You need to write a stand-out subject line. You need to think about the call-to-action and add a button (and a link to the button). You need to format it and add photos so it looks pretty. You need to preview it and test all the links.
If you really want to make email marketing work for you, you will segment lists so you can send your audience the information they care most about. You’ll also try A/B testing to see what subject line, call-to-action or format works best.
Finally, you need to track results — at least if you want to see a nice return on investment. Track your open and click-through rates. Look at your Google Analytics to see what people are doing on your website once they click over from your email. Pay attention to A/B testing results.
Again, all of this takes time. And time is not free.
SO HOW MUCH TIME DOES ALL OF THIS TAKE?
This will vary from business to business, so I’ll just tell you how much time it takes to do it for my company and the average it takes for clients.
Monthly newsletter: I have a quick and easy format, so this only takes me about 30 minutes. For clients, we budget up to two hours, but the average is about one hour.
Automated emails: One automated email campaign of three to five emails takes around two to four hours to write, edit, and set up, whether it’s for Jansen Communications or a client.
Special promo emails: We typically write one announcement and one reminder email. But sometimes three emails is better (like for a big sale or offer). Between writing, editing, formatting, and scheduling/sending, it takes an average of two hours to for two to three emails. A big time saver here is creating a “promo” or “announcement” template.
During each quarter of the year, let’s say you send three email newsletters, set up one new automated email campaign that consists of three emails, and one promo email series consisting of three emails.
That’s three hours for the newsletters, three hours for the automated campaign, and two hours for the promo emails — a total of eight hours. Not too bad when spread over three months.
HOW MUCH EMAIL MARKETING COSTS
A lot of small business owners handle email marketing themselves, so we’ll look at two options: DIY and outsourcing to experts.
If you go the DIY route, how much could you make by billing eight hours? If you sell products, how much can you sell in that time?
If you outsource it, ask professionals (freelancers and agencies) for a proposal. Compare that to how much it’ll cost you if you DIY.
And let’s not forget about the cost of stock photography. It’s always a good idea to add high-quality visuals to your newsletter. Depending on your promo emails, you might want to add them there too. (For automated emails, I always recommend using plain text, a format that doesn’t allow images.)
NOW YOU CAN CALCULATE ROI
We just figured out how much time email marketing takes and how much it costs to DIY versus outsourcing it. How many new clients or customers would you need to make back (or exceed) your investment?
That’s it! Not super hard to do. Now go get ‘em!