Starting Email Marketing Campaigns

I’m getting ready to start working on having an email list, but I’m not really sure how to do it. Do you guys use a program to manage this, or just have them all entered into an Outlook folder?

I’d also love to hear what you vets have found to work best and things to avoid doing.

I do mine myself. I use a distribution list in Outlook and just send to the entire list.

There’s a program called Send Personally that you can find here:

That program will put a new button on your Outlook message under “Send” that says “Send Personally.” It will make a separate message for each contact in your distribution list and then send them all - that way your customer gets an e-mail with just their address on it and not your entire list.

The only roadblock I’ve run into is my ISP (Comcast.) I send these from my web hosts e-mail accounts, but Comcast requires you to (in their TOS) to send all mail through their servers. The first time I sent them out Comcast blocked my outgoing mail port. I now send them through my restaurant’s internet connection which is business class.

So just make sure your ISP will allow you to send that much mail.

We use MailChimp - people do have to opt-in but you significantly reduce the chance of being labeled a spammer. It has templates to make your emails a little prettier and quicker to make and lets you segment your list based on any of the criteria entered (eg. zip code, preferences)

icontact is what we use. pretty easy to get going and its very affordable. Constant Contact is another popular one but after researching/googling I went with icontact but you can’t go wrong with either.

If you want a more hands off approach I would recommend murgent. They can can custom design all your emails for you, set up your database and schedule the drops.

Personally, I don’t like the “hands off” approach as I like to do my own thing on my own time/schedule. I’m pretty sure with most services you can have a custom template created to work with.

A service will also give you some marketing tools to work with as well. I’d advise you going to the to sites I mentioned and read up on what they do.

We use for $35 per month I can send 2500 emails. They maintain the list, and provide custom links and forms for the customer to opt in to our list from my website directly to the list. Campaigner then sends them a confirmation email, requiring them to double opt-in.
They offer many templates to develop your own email. I find them a bit restricting, but I have always found a way to get my message across.
They also offer a nice dashboard when you log on giving you all the details of each campaign, who and how many were opened and when, who unsubscribed if any, etc. All my previous campaigns are in easy access, so i can see what I did last year.
Good luck on your email campaign. It can be a very cost efficient way to reach your customers.
Also, make sure when developing your emails, you provide plenty of links so its easy for customers to find what they need…like a direct link to your website, and your menu, maybe your facebook page, and a link to unsubcribe to your emails.

Hey Indie,
I use constant contact, they have a lot of templates and you can upload all your own pics. All opt out features, cool links to put on your website so they can sign up themselves and get a cool auto-respond email that I use to arm additional information. It’s 35 a month, but worth it, you can concentrate on just blasting out your URl address to your website and they can do the rest. I placed mine on top of my front page so it’s easy to find. If you want join my list at my sire from my link below so you can see what I use it for. I actually created a “VIP” email group which I use very creative and strategic pricing promotions. If you want to get into more detail about that send me a private or email me at . Like I posted a lot before, this feature has definitely saved my business. Once you reach 1000 plus members and get 30% + to open them (Which is tricky) then the number grows automatically from people forwarding them to their friends. Also I started giving food prizes away to my list members fro just opening the Emails, if they don’t open them they aren’t worth anything. You must use every opportunity from links to your website, plastering your phone number all over and so on, it’s a strong tool, good luck!


Does that include unlimited e-mails? At that price I’d have to drop doing it myself. The $35/month would be worth it to get some metrics back, which I’m currently lacking.

But I send 3 per week right now, so if there’s a per-email charge it could get pricey for me.

Edit: You know, nevermind. Instead of being lazy I just went to their website and looked :slight_smile:

Looks like they charge you ONLY on the size of the list and you can send unlimited e-mails with no additional charge. Going to look further into this…

Oh, and a 60-Day free trial. I’m on board.

Yes you are correct in all your thoughts. I too tried the free trial, got over 500 very fast went right to the next level. You’ll get very good at designing your emails to look very professional. I know its a pain to take pics of your food but do it! Also put in pics of your employees and even guests if they let you! Most are hams and love it! They also send their friends the emails then they join too. I have a ton of tricks and ways to get people to join now over and above the picture ideas. I guess I should design a master post on this topic, it really is the way to go. One last thing, if you have a bunch of… lets say fresh chicken tenders that are about to go, just slash the retail price by 30 even 40% your still gonna make 10 20% and move the whole thing with one FREE email! Again, I’ll post all the things I do with it, there is limitless possibilities. Good luck man, lets network on this, I’m sure you’ll figure out something I’m not doing as well!


Well I signed up and I’ll try my first one tomorrow.

I couldn’t do the free trial because it’s only good for up to 100 contacts - I already have a list of about 2,500.

I’ll have to play around with the design a bit. I already have an HTML template that I’ve been using when doing it myself, but it’s time for a change. It’s going to be nice to see some statistics on how many are getting opened, forwarded, etc.

You are going to want to avoid sending them from your internet provider as mass emails will quickly find themselves on the blacklists of popular sites such as hotmail, yahoo, and gmail, resulting in no delivery to your customer. Constant Contact is one that provides a good solution, but there are many to choose from. Searching the net should yield you several sources for an affordable price.

While fancy pictures are a neat feature, there is a growing group of people opening emails on their phone which often result in pictures showing as attachments…which we all know get opened much less than a plain text message. In the beginning and more for test purposes, I would offer something outrageous in a given specific time period to see what kind of response you get. Something else to keep in mind is that emails have a higher open rate the earlier in the day. An email sent at 8am has almost a 10% greater open rate than one opened at 5pm…Something to keep in mind.

If you have more questions just shoot me a message and I’d be happy to discuss further with you.

One of my requirements for receiving VIP pricing is to print my emails or show them on I-phones. No one has issues with my emails. I have started creating my emails in advance and setting the send times at 3am, you can set the time whenever you wish in advance.


Is there normally a lag on reporting with Constant Contact? I had my first e-mail go out two hours ago, but all the stats are reading zero across the board. I know that isn’t right because of course I opened one.

Edit: Duh, nevermind. I hit refresh and that stats popped up.[/i]

Also, I agree that you should make a tutorial post about this. I’d love some more ideas on how to make this more successful. I’ve been doing e-mail advertising for 2 years, but I think I have a lot of room for improvement.

I’d love to see a tutorial as well.

How do you guys store your email addresses? Do you keep it in Outlook, your POS, back pocket?

I’m surprised this topic is getting attention. We’ve been talking about email lists and newsletter services etc on here for several years.

Piper, I’d be surprised if you do NOT see an increase in people looking at your email. Sending 2500 of them from your normal ISP 2 or 3 times a week is probably causing a lot of them to never get to your clients. This should be increase people actually being able to GET your emails.

Aweber is another company that does these emails for you. They also have an autoresponder program though that I think is really neat. So instead of just having a monthly newsletter that goes out once a month. You could setup a series of emails that goes out to ALL new subscribers. That way you get multiple impressions on people in a shorter period of time. If you only send out your newsletter once a month, then they might have to wait 30 days to get the next newsletter. With autoresponders, you can set it up to send 3 emails, one a week and offer new specials, introduce your online ordering or loyalty program etc. - Full disclosure - I get a kick back from them if you sign up using this link. I wouldn’t suggest it though if I didn’t believe in the product.

Have you looked into anything we have discussed so far?

Do it on your own - then keep it in your contacts in whatever program you are using.
Do it with a company and they store it for you.

Technology changes pretty fast, I didn’t want to assume that what people were using last year would be the same now. Either way, most of what I found in a search was people saying that you should do email, not specifics.

Yes, I’ve narrowed it down to Constant Contact and iContact based on what I’m hearing from you guys and the importance of stats reporting. I’ll be involved in some events the last two weeks of the month that will allow me to get a couple thousand emails signups from new/returning college students, who are my toughest demo to get sales from.

I’d be interested in reading a tutorial some time from someone who has been doing this for awhile. How often to send, what days, formatting, text vs. graphics, typical response rates, good practices, bad practices, etc.

Constant Contact is what I use and like…

They have a user forum and 100s of support documents…

Whatever service you choose, make sure they offer social media tools so you can share content easily to Facebook and Twitter. The university demographic you’re after lives on Facebook and MySpace. I would assume iContact and Constant Contact would have that capability, but if not – check out MailChimp.

I’d also second Scott’s suggestion about autoresponders. They can save you a lot of time and energy – and work really well if done right. The series of emails you get from iContact if you sign up for their demo are autoresponders. Aweber and MailChimp also support this. Constant Contact didn’t in the past, but they may have upgraded since I was last evaluating email services. Constant Contact’s newsletter is great, though – tons of tips and case studies.

I will post everything on Monday, just curious though bud. What was your open rate? I’m learning more about the subject line and how to get them to open them. It’s a real challenge to make them unique enough yet not spammy. I’ll post my contest that I run which has boosted my % to the mid 30s. also, did you run the anti spam filter before you sent it? I’m setting a goal for myself to get a constant open rate over 40%. Gotta get back to the grind.

I sent the e-mail on Monday morning and have an open rate of 20.4%.

That was an eye opener, because I would have thought it would be higher than that. Also, I generally send out a “special” that is valid for that day only. But at by dinner time on Thursday I only had an open rate of 15%.

I also only had 1 forward so I’d like to find ways to get that number up.