This is from an original post I made way back in April 2008 on my technology blog but its still as valid today.
The flippent answer would be one that generates a definative and repeatable return on investment! There is going to be a cost for any email marketing, whether it be the design of the layout of the email if you need to make it look enticing, or using a third party service which charges a subscription fee. Before you do anything though consider;
- How targetted are the prospects on the list?
- How well written is the copy? Are you starting with a compelling, benefit oriented headline?
- How compelling is the actual offer?
Always remember to do small scale tests first. if you have a list of 10,000 prospects why not come up with two different emails (same offer, different copy in the email) and send email A to 100, and B to another 100 and compare the results.
If you are going to use a third party service then check they offer costs on a ‘per subscriber’ and not ‘per email’ basis. If you are being charged per subscriber it means you can email the list several times for no additional cost. One great service which does that and offers a whole lot more besides is mailchimp.