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Thursday 23 October 2014

How to Choose an Email Marketing Vendor

There will be a day when you will need to choose an email marketing vendor. Either it would be launching a new business or your current provider doesn't satisfy your growing needs. With email vendors today able to streamline your email marketing efforts to ensure that you are compliant with spam laws there is little issue with the various available options out there in the market.

But the big question is, with so many available options, which do you actually choose?

There are web-based vendors that make it easy to put a daunting campaign together. While, every business and marketing department is different, I have compiled a probable common attribute that can be used generally for comparison purposes.

What to expect in an email marketing vendor?

Templates: Some vendors have templates that are already ready to go and this really helps businesses get up and running quickly. This helps marketers who just want to change a few basic things and immediately fire out their content. Templates are a great way to jumpstart email marketing communications.
Ease of design: Having a template is great, but if editing it is a pain then it wouldn't be a good decision, to choose that particular email marketing vendor. Although not necessarily the designs provided as a template may fulfill your every desire, but with a template that is easy to tinker with is a definite must.
Customization: Templates not your thing? If you want to upload your own personal brand or design, make sure you keep a look out for customizable features embedded into the email marketing vendor's service. You would ideally look for a feature that allows you to upload your own HTML and CSS.

Connection options build your list

Social Icon Integrations: It would be surprising and rather unusual to see an email marketing vendor that does not integrate social media. Considering that it is a must nowadays. Additionally pay attention to whether there is a Facebook integration, choosing a vendor that does this is an added bonus, because most businesses have Facebook, and tapping into an existing user base can be very beneficial.
Web Forms: Most vendors offer forms, but choose a vendor that allows you to customize your forms easily.

Look for automation features

List Management: Add to manage your contact list so that it is current. Having this part automated really saves valuable time for marketers.
Contact Upload or Sync: Your contact list can be in a different place, because you were using a different vendor before this, and having your new/current vendor automate the transfer process saves you a lot of time.
Trigger-based Autoresponse: Having multiple campaigns running at the same time would require for you to have a certain level of automation to have flexibility in your campaigns, from sending out a response when customers reach a milestone, to a note on their birthday, etc.
A/B Testing: Small changes can be either easy or hard to make, and having a vendor that allows you to do split testing easily could make a big difference in your email marketing efforts.
Analytics: Most vendors provide free reporting tools, that allow you to make key decisions based on automated data collected to keep you well informed of the performance of your campaigns.

The stumbling blocks of pursuing email marketing

Education: Although email marketing has many perks that most conventional methods don't it does require an investment of effort to learn. There can be a learning curve involved, but fear not, because the internet is readily available to teach you basic to advance techniques of email marketing. Additionally, ensure that your vendor has a fairly decent education page that teaches you what you require to effectively use their system.
Pricing: Most vendors offer monthly subscriptions or yearly with a small discount. Pay attention to the finer payment options, because some features that is on offer for more monthly may not be necessarily needed for your business. 

Again identify what you need and what actually would benefit you. Ensure some of the key features listed above are satisfactory and you should be good to go.

A quick tip would be to create a comparison sheet to see which services you have found to be fulfilling your own needs plus the general requirements stated above.

Email marketing can be a powerful tool for most businesses, as exampled by some of the major global brands, that use it to their advantage to ensure that their customers are always kept within the loop of things.

Please share with us what you think:

What are your recommendations for a good email marketing vendor?
What is your experience with browser-based email marketing vendors?

Email designed by Martha Ormiston from the Noun Project


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