Choosing a suitable email marketing software is the first step to starting a newsletter or an email marketing strategy. However, not everyone thinks too deeply about it or does their research before choosing one. While there are many email marketing service providers available today, they all have diverse features and it can sometimes get confusing when you have to choose one for your business.
With email marketing revenue estimated to reach almost 11 billion by the end of 2023, the benefits are numerous. How much you can do with your marketing strategy and how far you can go could depend on your choice of email marketing tool, which can either make or mar your plans. The image below shows how the revenue in email marketing has increased over time.
In this article, we highlight the most important things to consider when choosing an email marketing software. But before you dive into it, ensure you have your marketing goals outlined to guide you as you look through these features.
Ability to Handle Various Types of Emails
If you want email marketing to be a big part of your marketing strategy, you will need a platform that can handle various types of emails. Your choice of software should be able to support functionalities for email types such as:
- Transactional emails
- Direct sales emails
- Newsletter emails
- Lead nurturing emails
- Promotional emails
- Milestone emails
- Survey emails
The software does not necessarily have to support all of these kinds of emails but it should support the ones that your brand intends to deal with. For example, if your brand often collects surveys, you can’t settle for software that doesn’t have that feature. However, if you care less about surveys and almost never use them, you can opt for software that has every other feature but that.
Most brands often use email marketing software for newsletters only. However, the sole purpose of newsletter emails is to keep your audience in the loop by constantly entertaining them. If you want something more to keep your audience and tailor the content to their preference, you will need much more than simple newsletter features.
Lead nurturing emails, for example, involve using a sales funnel to convert your leads to customers. It involves a series of emails that are automatically triggered based on the actions of the lead on your brand. If you sell items on your website, this is a feature to look out for. If a visitor keeps an item in their cart, they could get an email reminding them to make a purchase or offering a discount within a limited time.
Approximately 96% of visitors who come to your website aren’t ready to make an immediate purchase but you can prompt them to take the next action by sending an email. The email sequence keeps them in the loop till they eventually reach a decision. This can be easily done with a platform that provides the drip emails feature.
Milestone emails give you the opportunity to celebrate with your audience through any stage they go through as they interact with your brand. This could be birthdays or anniversaries. A marketing platform with this feature allows you to easily collect the necessary data to schedule these emails. This could help your audience feel they belong to a community and can improve their chances of sticking to your brand.
Decide on what you want your brand to communicate and then look for a software provider that can help you create the type of emails you will need.
Before getting started with email marketing, you need to build an email list. This list will contain all your contacts’ first and last names, email addresses, etc. Some lists have additional features such as the address, date of birth, preferred list segmentation, and more. When choosing your software, consider how your contacts will be managed and the kind of information you can collect from subscribers.
If you have an existing contact list, you need a platform that will allow you to import your data rather than start from scratch. Most platforms already offer this option to let you add subscribers manually, import from an existing file, or allow users to opt-in directly. However, it doesn’t hurt to confirm the options available and how easy or difficult they could be for you. Additionally, consider the ability to download your contact list, should you want to migrate to a different platform later.
Many email marketing platforms readily allow you to personalize your emails with the contact’s first name. You can add this to the subject line or the email body to make your subscriber feel special and connected to you. Personalized emails tend to drive engagement and revenue and you shouldn’t take any chances with this. Emails with personalized subject lines have been shown to be 26% more likely to be opened than those without.
However, while the “First Name” personalization feature is quite common, you can look for additional personalization options to improve your marketing efforts. Some email marketing platforms offer more personalization features such as last name, email address, house address, birthdate, job title, and more.
Basic Email List Segmentation
Email list segmentation allows you to break your email list into segments and send targeted emails to more streamlined lists. Recent HubSpot research shows that subscriber segmentation is one of the most effective strategies for email marketing campaigns. By creating specific lists for different groups, you are increasing the chances of your audience getting more tailored content. You want to ensure you meet every subscriber and provide accurate content to them depending on where they are in your sales funnel. This is an important feature you must look out for in an email marketing platform if you want to be deliberate about creating tailored content for your audience.
Email Templates and Drag-and-Drop Feature
You don’t always have to build your emails from scratch if there’s an existing template. To save you stress, look for a platform that offers diverse templates to choose from. There is also the drag-and-drop email builder feature – a common email marketing software feature today to build your own template. Not everyone is tech-savvy enough to build a decent email outline from scratch. With the drag-and-drop feature, you can simply create something out of nothing by picking various email elements and dragging them where you want them to be. This saves you lots of time and frustration and makes it easy for anyone, regardless of their tech knowledge, to build a decent and aesthetically pleasing email.
Third-party integration helps you connect with other useful apps for your brand outside of the email marketing software. While choosing your preferred platform, opt for the one that can work seamlessly with existing programs. This can be your customer relationship management (CRM) software such as WordPress. This feature allows you to connect the email software to your product or service and as a result, a customer can be easily added to your list once they make a purchase on your website.
It will be time-consuming to manually enter each customer’s data every time they take an action on your website and share their contact details with you. However, a third-party integration feature would help you save time, as you will be able to connect with other solutions and integrate Shopify or Woocomerce or your website directly with the email marketing software. This feature can also be paired with the email ist segmentation feature, as you can easily segment every customer who made a particular purchase on your online store in one category. This list can be different from the general link for subscribers who opted in without making a purchase. This allows for more tailored content.
Look for the apps you would like to integrate into your email marketing and check which of the email marketing platform allows you to integrate these apps.
Automation is another important feature that helps you stay efficient in email marketing. Technology has advanced over the years and you wouldn’t want to spend extra time on something that could have been automated. This is a faster and more efficient way to work smart in email marketing. Look at the automation functionalities offered on the platform. This includes email scheduling options, triggers, logic options, drip and timing options, and more.
For example, with MailDrip, you can create drip emails and times when you want each email in the drip campaign to be delivered to your customer’s inbox. This saves you the stress and luxury of time of doing it manually or sending one email at a time. Many email marketing platforms readily offer templates for workflows to help you get started and you can take advantage of that without building one from scratch.
The image below shows some of the main benefits of marketing automation based on a study conducted by Liana Technologies in 2017. 68.7% agree that it helps improve the targeting of messages.
Ease of Use
How easy is this platform for you to use? Ask yourself this question before signing up. There will be no point if it has all the features but proves difficult to use. This is especially important if you’re a beginner in email marketing and don’t plan to outsource it. Rather than waste more time trying to figure out how the software works, go for a more efficient option that will not only provide the features you need but will also be easy to use.
Email analytics will help you review your campaign and determine what’s working and what’s not. While this seems like a basic feature every software should have, different platforms offer different analytics. You should be able to see how each email you sent out is doing and this includes the number of opens and clicks. Some platforms extend this to allow you to see each customer’s stat, which can help you review your sales funnel, especially if you’re more focused on converting leads to customers.
Pricing is a strong determining factor for most people when choosing email marketing software. You could find a platform with the best features you could ever ask for but then, the price throws you off and you’re looking for the next best thing again.
While it’s best to look within your budget and opt for one that fits into it, you should also consider value over price.
While you might be tempted to grab free and cheaper options, you should take your time to look at the value being offered. Many email marketing platforms have a premium pricing option where you have access to more features beyond the basics. Weigh the price against the value while also considering your marketing budget and long-term goals.
While you have autonomy over your emails, you also want to ensure you are not breaching any law. Opt for an email marketing software with law-intelligent features that can scan your content and alert you when there’s an impending breach. For example, a health business must comply with the HIPPA rules, so you will need a tool that helps you to keep your marketing campaigns within the law.
Another example is the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) created to harmonize data privacy laws across Europe. There are penalties for not complying with this law and it applies to you if you have EU subscribers, regardless of whether your business is outside the EU.
With many email marketing software to choose from, you need to streamline your options by looking at the available features. You might not need all of the features mentioned in this post but you can use it as a guide to determine what will be best for your brand.
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