Chances are if you’re a business owner, you use email in one way or another to interact with your audience. After all, no matter the size of your business, your industry, or your tech savvy, email can be one of the most basic ways to connect with the masses. Customer inquiries can be addressed by email; you can share promotional coupons and news; even email reminders of invoices and payments can greatly improve business performance. Email as a communication tool is largely ingrained in today’s consumer culture. Even if you personally aren’t the biggest proponent of email marketing, chances are that a large number of your customers depend on email. And you don’t want to ostracize those who support your company, right?!
Despite the prevalence of email, I can’t count how many business owners I’ve met just don’t know how or where to start their email strategy. Often the task is simple choice the right email platform for their business is complex enough to stop all progress. And it just sucks. Choosing the right email platform is critical to the success of your email marketing life!
Yes, it sounds a little dramatic, I know. But email marketing can affect customer trust in your brand. And where there is trust, there is often customer loyalty. Email is a big deal guys!
Understanding Email Marketing Platforms
So today, let’s move on to the list of features you need to consider if you’re looking for an email marketing platform or aren’t sure if your current tool is right for you. Remember that no email platform is right for everyone, so consider your team’s skill set as well your unique marketing goals.
Your shopping list by email Key features and functionality
DESIGN OF ELECTRONIC MARKETING:
This first feature set is about customizability and the need for this will vary from team to team. Perhaps you run a small store and need basic drag and drop design features. Or you run a huge enterprise and would like to have complete control over the design of your email. Take a look at some features to consider:
If you don’t want to create your emails from scratch, this feature might be a must for you. Many platforms have ready-made templates for newsletters, advertisements, or important notices ready for you to simply insert your own content and photos. This is a great feature if your team lacks email design experience.
Most email marketing platforms have an HTML editor that gives you way more control over email design, especially when none of the templates are right. A prerequisite, of course, is knowledge of HTML.
WYSIWYG Editor (“What You See Is What You Get”)
It is a visual editor that is available on most platforms. A simple drag and drop feature helps you remember your long-forgotten HTML skills while maintaining control over your email design. It also makes it easier to manage different media (like YouTube videos or images) and manage custom formatting (like font colors or column alignment).
Some platforms allow you to upload and host email images on their server. Unfortunately, some providers require you to host them elsewhere, regardless. Consider how big your image library should be for your emails; you may need a platform that gives you more space.
DATA MANAGEMENT AND PERSONALIZATION:
Personalizing your emails should be high on your to-do list if it isn’t already. This allows businesses to use compelling, personalized headings, subject lines, or paragraphs based on customer data fields or past customer interactions. Similarly, data is needed to segment and personalize your campaigns. An email platform should help you get the most out of your customers’ data. Fortunately, almost all platforms support this.
It is the act of extracting a data field (or multiple data fields) from your mailing list. For example, you can frequently ask for customer names to personalize your email greeting. Basically, you can use any field in the data merge to personalize your message; for example, using the DOB field for timely birthday greeting emails. Note that more reliable email platforms will have data merge services that include logic to show something specific if the field is empty!
If you want to improve your email personalization and streamline your email creation processes, check out this feature. This allows you to display different email content based on different criteria, such as a data field, or any number of other conditions, such as click-through interaction with a past campaign. Dynamic, custom content requires if/then statements (for example: IF client “A” clicks on the registration link, THEN sends the next triggered email).
List segmentation and grouping
Segmentation allows you to stay relevant to your audience by delivering the right message at the right time. Bombarding your customers with emails that are not relevant to or of interest to them is the kiss of death when it comes to your reputation as a sender; this is a surefire way to provoke unsubscribes and spam complaints. You must match the interests of the customers with your message. Some platforms allow you to segment by data fields or by past customer interaction (like open rate). Subsequently, many platforms also have grouping features, which can be thought of as more individualized segmentation based on demographic or psychographic data. For example, your company may be faced with the need to group customers by their membership level, bonus points level, etc.
I’m happy to report that the features in this section are very easy to find. Modern email platforms focus on maintaining a high level of deliverability as it benefits both their reputation and that of their customers. While you will be responsible for email design, copying, bounce and spam complaint management, there are some additional tools your platform of choice will likely offer.
This tool scans your email before you click Send. It will flag elements that may not pass spam filters, such as spam keywords or subject lines, or text-to-image ratios. The spam checker will also give you tips on how you can improve your email.
Bounce and spam management
I recommend having this feature as one of your top must-have items on your shopping list. This feature automatically deletes emails that have been rejected or marked as spam in the past. Platforms that automatically suppress the list of unsent messages save you time, money, and further damage to your sender reputation. Attempting to resend an email to anyone who has already marked you as spam or rejected you is one of the worst things you can do to your submission score.
Another feature synonymous with most email platforms is analytics and reporting. However, some of them provide more reliable features than others. Here’s what I recommend you look for in the platform:
You’ll most likely get basic reports on sends, returns, opens, clicks, and more. Some of them can give you even more useful information, such as the recipient’s geographic location, device usage, interaction time, and more. The information you get is there, the better you will be able to compare.
Of course, sharing your successes or identifying issues with other team members or stakeholders is much easier if you don’t have to log into your email platform every time. Exporting analytic reports is common across platforms, and you can usually export them to PDF, .csv, or an Excel spreadsheet. Some of my favorite platforms even let you export easy-to-read charts.
You won’t find this on every email marketing platform, but it’s essential if you’re planning to beef up your marketing automation efforts. Advance platforms provide tools that allow you to rate leads based on their past participation in your campaigns. So if finding leads is a key element of your marketing and sales strategy, ask your email solution provider about this feature.
It can be difficult to weigh the pros and cons of each email marketing platform. Whether you’re looking for the right platform or looking to upgrade, we can help guide you in the right direction.