Choosing email marketing software for the first time can seem daunting, sometimes more so when selecting a new ESP. If you want another more detailed post, we recently published about how to choose an email marketing platform in 2020.
If 2020 is the year you finally invest in an email marketing platform or switch Email Service Provider as a result of outgrowing Constant Contact, Aweber, MailChimp or similar then there are many essential things to consider. Using email to build your brand loyalty and increase your business is undoubtedly a great investment, however some platforms will be better suited to your needs than others.
It is crucial you know which features to look for when picking a provider. The more features you have at your disposal, the more likely you’ll’ be able to take advantage of the power of email outreach to grow your company.
However you should beware choosing email marketing software solely based on a bunch of bells and whistles you don’t understand let alone will never likely use. This is especially the case if those features come at a premium in terms of price or usability. If you want help choosing the best email marketing software for your business, then consider the following 10 fundamental ‘C’ features and how important they are to your business before investing in any new email marketing software subscription.
This post is by no means an extensive list of things to contemplate when selecting a vendor you could be concerned about all manner of other things from split testing capabilities to automation functionality outside the scope of a single blog post.
If you want to increase your email marketing ROI (return on investment), it is imperative the email outreach software you choose offers detailed campaign analytics. You want to not only have access to campaign management tools, but the ability to perform deep-dive analysis on your past campaigns. This can be one of the hardest things to evaluate when selecting an email service provider or email marketing platform. Carefully consider what kind of aggregate reporting you want as well as what kind of per campaign drill-downs you would like to have.
Every reputable platform will provide you open rates. But in 2020 and beyond you may want to consider how appropriate it is to track opens (Hey.com are dead against this behaviour for example). You may want to consider a platform like SensorPro who allow you to turn off this behaviour or having subscribers opt-in to it specifically.
Speaking of open rates, click monitoring is another essential ‘C’ feature you should look for when choosing an email software provider. Whilst this feature really does belong to the Campaign Analytics section, it is often (probably mistakenly) considered the most important email metric.
There is no doubt that the monitoring and reporting os subscriber clicks in your email marketing activity is incredibly helpful. There are issues with bots and antispam, security, phishing and virus protection applications generating false clicks and you might want to consider what your email marketing vendor shortlist does in respect of minimising false reporting in this respect.
Another important factor to consider would be the ability to integrate with your own click tracking and user activity platform, for example Google Analytics, Piwik, Adobe Analytics, MixPanel or similar. This can be done through the support of UTM tags and similar for platforms other than Google.
Similar to click monitoring but taking it even further is proper conversion tracking. Whilst one way integration with Google Analytics or similar may well be a good solution for many in terms of conversion tracking from email campaigns, sitting outside your chosen email marketing software platform may not be enough.
If you want to be able to trigger the start or end of campaignsbased on conversions, and have it fully automated then native activity conversion tracking could be a critical ‘C’ feature you should look for when investigating your next email service provider.
Regardless of the complexity of your requirements here, accurate ways to monitor and report on true conversions and ROI from your email marketing efforts is essential. If you can’t monitor your email conversions with ease, you’re going to find it difficult to prove the ROI of email marketing to your team members.
Identify if these dashboards will be provided outside your email platform by software and tools you already use, and whether your new ESP will support them. Otherwise you likely want your company’s email KPIs (key performance indicators) to be easy to analyze within your email software. If so then consider whether having the ability to create charts and reports to share your conversion tracking analysis with your team.
Contact management features are crucial when choosing the best particular email marketing software for your particular business. Contact management features should include the ability to perform basic segmentation of your contact database as an absolute minimum, as well as as providing contact history tracking including engagement and delivery, non-delivery records.
This is becoming an increasingly important concern for many email marketers. The growing accessibility and affordability of quality CRM (customer relationship management) software means more and more business are looking to utilise these data stores as their source-of-truth about their customers and prospects. If this describes your business, or you plan to invest in a CRM in 2020/21 then this is an important ‘C’ to consider.
When you are shopping for email software, make sure the email outreach software you choose integrates with your existing CRM (customer relationship management) software. If you have not yet selected a CRM platform then ask which CRM platforms the email marketing software service provider works with. If you have a shortlist see whether the provider you’re considering offers detailed customer support to help you integrate your new email marketing interface with your existing or shortlisted CRM platform.
Things to ask would include what the limitations are of the integration, if there are known bugs, the integration roadmap, whether the data-flow is one way or flows between both CRM and ESP freely.
It is also incredibly important to consider what features your CRM already offers. It may well be that many of the Cs are already covered in your CRM and you will only be looking to plugin to an SMTP relay or connect to a simple but highly cost effective email marketing sending platform like PepiPost or SparkPost.
Another ‘C’ feature to look for when you’re contemplating an email marketing subscription, is the ability to manage your company’s email marketing calendar. Many consider this a vital component of their vendor selection process. So do take note when choosing email marketing software.
Any email marketing platform you plan to use for client outreach likely needs to include a fairly feature rich calendar management system that helps minimise the stress, fuss and hassle involved in scheduling campaigns, configuring recurring campaigns and date triggered email marketing activity. Look for calendar management tools that help you manage your email drip campaigns, view upcoming schedule and allow for follow-up scheduling on your email campaigns.
Customization capabilities of forms is another essential feature to investigate when choosing email marketing software that is right for your company.
Your marketing team may well benefit from having easy access to a variety of forms to embed within your website and maybe even social media sites like Facebook. If so you also want to be able to customize those forms to your business’ needs, ensure they are compliant with things like GDPR and similar.
Your email marketing software tool being able to generate customised Being able to tweak your email marketing forms means you can drive attention to the KPIs that matter to your business and increase the efficiency of your email campaigns.
You may wish to go the next step beyond your email marketing software Depending on your organisation size, workflow and capabilities you may want the ability to design, create and host landing pages from within your email marketing platform.
If the email marketing team does not have simple and unfettered access to create web pages then the creation and customization of landing pages might be important to you.
You may want to be able to create custom landing pages for many email marketing campaigns as opposed to simply directing them to pre existent webpages. These can be used to support squeeze page offers like PDF downloads.
Speaking of customization, having access to custom email marketing templates may well make your professionally delivered digital marketing efforts much cheaper to achieve and easier to manage.
Depending on your business and brand templates provided by your selected vendor may work perfectly well for you and save you hundreds or thousands of dollars in custom desin fees.
Email software companies offering custom templates to their customers understand how important it is for business builders to maximize their productivity. When you can use custom email marketing templates to reach potential customers, you can decrease the time you spend on campaign creation while optimizing your efforts for measurable results.
The 10th ‘C’ feature you should look for when considering an email marketing software subscription for your business is the ability to offer real-time customer support to your team. Whether this is by phone, or live chat online, if you believe you need a high level of support make sure your selected vendor offers the levels of support you need. Many vendors only offer email based support options.
You can significantly minimise on any frustration by being clear about your support needs and expectations and identifying what vendors can meet your needs and at what cost. You may be prepare to sacrifice responsiveness and real time support for a lower subscription fee.
There are a number of consultants and agencies that offer assistance with vendor selection. Depending on your location, vertical and size there are specialists and email experts best placed to advise you and help you work through an email vendor RFP process if that is appropriate for your organisation.
emailexpert have provided these service to a variety of enterprise organisations and work regularly with the licensed financial sector.
If however a professional full vendor selection process is not the right route for your business at this time, then paying attention to these top 10 email marketing features when shopping for email marketing software for your company will get you moving in the right direction. ,
Email marketing can provide incredible returns on your investment but making smart decisions in the selection process will save you time, effort and stress in the long run.
Make informed choices when selecting an email lifecycle messaging, nurture or outreach software for your business will greatly increase your chances of making the right choice.. We hope this post helps you with what to consider when you next find yourself choosing email marketing software.