This isn't going to be a look into any kind of list building. That's for a different discussion altogether. This is going to be a look at the various tools and tactics we can use as affiliates, to maximize in-boxing and return from our email marketing.
Over the years I've sent 100's of millions of emails, both while working for brokers and as an affiliate. I've worked for some of the biggest forex brokers in the industry, did a stint with one of the main binary options platform providers and one of the biggest gaming software providers. During that time, my best email campaign (forex) took in €540,000 the first day and over €1,000,000 in a week in net deposits. You could say I know my way around email!
Essentially we need two things for email marketing. A list to send to and a way to send the emails. I'm going to concentrate on the way to send.
Email servers can be broken down into 2 different broad categories.
- Self Hosted
- Email Providers
Self Hosted Email Marketing
Self Hosted is essentially an SMTP server (Simple Mail Transfer Protocol) or a standard server connected through one of the SMTP providers (Amazon, MailGun, Mandrill, etc). SMTP servers come with port-25 open, which is the email sending port.
I typically use SMTP servers for my "grey" lists. Depending on your list size and sending volume, specs can vary. My typical setup is as follows:
RAM : 4096 MB
64-bit Centos 6 or 7
A server like that will come in at around $50 a month and have enough grunt to send millions of emails a month.
Since this is for "grey" lists, I use a provider that accepts BitCoin. Same for domain registrations.
Once the servers and IPs are deployed and connected it's a matter of installing the actual email software and setting up lists and campaigns.
I tend to stick to what I know so as far as email software is concerned, I use MailWhizz and InterSpire. MailWhizz is more user-friendly and has better automation features. InterSpire can be a bit clunky and the automation isn't as good.
For a setup on a standard server and use of SMTP provider, depending on the software you'll be using, costs will be lower, around the $20 a month mark, plus of course the SMTP cost. That's down to sending volume with typical costs around 10 cents per thousand email ($0.10 per 1,000).
Benefits of one over the other? SMTP server is yours to use as you see fit. You need to warm up the IPs before you can send anything in bulk. SMTP provider can block you at any time but their IPs are warm so your in-boxing will be higher. Some niches will get your accounts banned.
I use both. Horses for courses.
This is simple. A company that provides email services for a fee. You don't need any servers, IPs, SMTP. Most offer shared IP accounts as well as dedicated IP accounts. Shared IPs are already warmed up and tend to have better in-boxing. Dedicated will require IP warm-up but will allow larger volumes. I use SendGrid and GetResponse which has, for my money, the best email automation tools. Personal preference of course.
I've mentioned IP warm-up a couple of times. This is basically a sending sequence where sends are scaled proportionally over a period of time to increase IP reputation and deliverability. Take a brand new IP and try to send 1,000s of emails from it and the IP will hit every blacklist out there. Your emails won't even be delivered, let alone go to the Spam folder.
The sequence is pretty simple.Double your volumes daily till you reach your max. For me (and this is a slow warm-up) that looks like this for a single IP setup. I didn't invent the wheel here - this is from SendGrid best practices which are good enough for me.
Day - Volume
1 - 25
2 - 50
3 - 500
4 - 1,000
5 - 5,000
6 - 10,000
7 - 20,000
8 - 40,000
9 - 70,000
10 - 100,000
Warm-up is essential for any kind of email deliverability. The image below is SenderScore of one of my IPs which is currently classed as "Very High" sender volume. I do close to 500,000 emails a month from this particular server. The IP took a slight hit around the 25th of April after a send to a pretty c****y list and went from a 99 to an 89. I did some controlled sends to Openers and Clickers and its now back to 99.
This particular IP has been sending for around 6 months and went through a complete warm-up cycle.
With email providers, you don't have to worry about any of the settings for your email such as SPF, DKIM, Bounce Servers, which are all essential to deliverability. I tend to use email providers for my white lists and move openers and clickers to email provider accounts from SMTP accounts.
I won't add any links here but below is a list of resources I use to create emails, check IP reputations and any blacklist issues. Google has the answers!
Email tester gives you an email address to send you campaign to. Once delivered the email is checked against spam filters for any issues and gauges deliverability.
Checks IP and sender domain reputation. Pretty much my first daily stop before any sends. Free account gives limited but very valuable information.
Checks in-boxing. You get a list of emails to send your campaigns to and GLock measures where your emails are ending up. Main or spam. Invaluable.
You can setup a free account with an alert of any IP blacklisting issues. Lists pretty much all the known blacklists out there.
HTML email editor. Free level available.
HTML email editor. Free level available.