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Chris Bliss

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FREE Gmail as an Email Marketing Tool? No Way!

There’s heaps of amazing marketing tools these days for just about any budget – from MailChimp to Constant Contact and beyond, there’s no shortage of ways to stay in touch with prospects and spread your brand. That said, sometimes freelancers or very small organizations don’t have the time or means to learn new systems.
Believe it or not, Gmail’s robust email service includes some features that can enhance your email marketing, and at no cost to you. Are you ready to be enlightened?

Here is a list of the top 5 ways that plain old Gmail can serve as your email marketing tool:

1. Organizing/Labeling Contacts

Gmail has a fairly advanced Contacts feature that allows you to organize your contacts based on the criteria of your choice. Since the creation of Contact Groups is completely customizable, you can tag different groups of contacts based on their stage in a sales cycle (lead, appointment set, client, etc), the person’s relationship to you (friend/family, networking contact, vendor, etc) or in any other way that your business needs. Since you are able to label a contact from within the body of the email, it is easy to track your contacts and bucket them into the right contact groups.

What’s even better is that once you have contact groups built out, sending a mass email to a specific group (or groups) is simple! You can blast all your unconverted leads, reach out to potential investors, or follow up with vendors on invoices, all with one mass email. All of this is easily accomplished through Gmail’s Contact features.

2.  Labeling Messages

Do you have an inbox filled with different messages, from different people, and with little organization? Does it take you forever to search through your history to find a specific message or chain of emails? Well Gmail lets you label messages so you can sort your inbox by these labels at any time. The labeling feature is another way to slice up the Contacts that you have; you can have correspondences with one contact that are labeled as “Initial Inquiries”, “Proposals Sent”, or “Payment Received”, to provide some examples. Using this feature you can then reference all of the “Proposals Sent” over a given time period if you want to locate a specific correspondence.

3.  Integration with CRMs

One of the newest, and most valuable, aspects of Gmail is its integration with some major CRM systems. One example is Gmail’s integration with Solve360; users of this CRM can update contacts, assign tasks, and schedule follow up emails, all within the Gmail window. There is no need to sign into the CRM in a different window, or locate the contact in the CRM dashboard; anything that you need to do in your CRM system can be accomplished within the Gmail window.

4.  Gmail Labs
A relatively new feature of Gmail is its Labs, which was created as a way for Gmail to take feedback from its customers and test them out with other users. Under the Settings menu in Gmail there is a tab called “Labs”; here you will find a list of experimental new features that can enhance your email experience. You can choose to enable or disable the features however you like, and there are constantly new ones being added.

One of the best features of these labs that can help with your email marketing is the ability to create canned responses. If you have a standard message that you send to any of your contact groups at a certain time, you can easily blast the entire group (as outlined in #1) with a canned response. No need to re-write the same message over and over; Gmail equals efficiency. Welcome to the cloud.

5.  Mark Messages As Important

Another relatively new feature of Gmail is the ability to mark certain messages as “important”; this is similar to the “label” feature as you can do it from the body of an email and it instantly marks the message as important. You can then easily filter your inbox to only view these messages, and you can remove the “important” label once the urgent task or follow up has been completed. Prioritize your follow ups!

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More Stories By Chris Bliss

Chris Bliss works at VM Associates, an end-user consultancy for businesses looking to move to the cloud from pre-existing legacy systems.