If you’re looking to upgrade your email marketing software the following breakdown is going to save you a lot of time and money.
When it comes to email software I have a fairly unique perspective. Firstly, I’ve used email marketing for the last 24 years to build 3 businesses of my own. Secondly, as the owner of Serchen a marketplace of more than 30,000 software providers, I’ve tested pretty much everything out there when it comes to marketing automation.
3 Features your email marketing software MUST have
When buying email marketing software there are 3 must-have features. Capture, Storage and Send. If you’re missing one of them then you’re either going to need to upgrade down the line or integrate additional software.
Now being software companies, they insist on using buzz words in an attempt to differentiate themselves from one another. So don’t expect to see these features labelled exactly the same on each website you visit. You need to dig down through the jargon when reviewing their features to see under which of the three headings they sit.
Don’t worry, I promise you, all their fancy terms are still focussed on solving the same 3 problems.
To make things hopefully easier for you, I’ve attempted to break through the jargon and highlight the features to keep an eye out and where they sit under the three top-level headings.
How to get people into your email list efficiently. When we’re talking about capturing email addresses, we’re really talking about one of 3 methods of transferring an email address from a web page into your database. Landing pages, Inline forms & Pop up forms.
Landing pages are standalone web pages that don’t require you to have a website of your own. They usually come with templates you can modify and don’t require much technical knowledge to use.
Inline forms are blocks of code that sit within a web page or blog post. If you’ve ever seen a “subscribe here” block on a page, thats most likely an inline form.
Pop up forms get a bad press, but used correctly can serve a purpose. Grabbing a readers interest at a critical moment can dramatically increase email address capture. Having the feature available will save you from having to pay for additional software later.
How to store those names safely. 3 things to consider here are Trust, Segmenting & Cost.
Given the value of your email list, you need to do some due diligence before handing over a list of names. New tools can often mean no track record in the trust department. So be sure to balance new features with reputation. At the very least look for a provider who allows you to back up your data by download at regular intervals.
Segmenting offers you the ability to personalise emails sent to your database. This is normally done by the use of tags or labels with you can attach to each name on your list. This is a future proof feature you may not use from day one but will be vital in future months.
When it comes to costs. Email software is normally priced by the number of names on your list. But keep an eye out that all the features you want are included in the plan you’re buying.
How to message the people on your list effectively. Two key things to watch for here are Delivery & Automations.
Not all software has the same reputation. Bad reputation impacts how your email is delivered by the internet service providers. All Spam comes from somewhere, you want to make sure your messages aren’t tarnished with the same brush. If your email software has a bad reputation then the percentage of email that reaches your recipients will be greatly reduced.
Automations are where things get interesting. Especially when combined with tags and segments. Contrary to how they sound, automations actually help improve email personalisation as they allow you to tag and email subscribers with content that’s of most interest to them.
When you’re looking at software features lists, automations are often hidden behind terms like “sequences, nurture or drip campaigns” (see what I mean about buzzwords)
My top 3 choices
As much as I’d like to recommend a single tool for the job, I’ve yet to find one size that fits all. And honestly, that’s probably a good thing. Competition generally increases creativity. Which means more features for us.
Been around forever. Has millions of customers and a solid reputation. Integrates with more software than anyone else. Offers a large range of design templates. The easiest option for most people.
Confusing interface. Clunky reporting. Limited automations (improving lately). Horrible landing pages! Can be expensive if configure incorrectly due to its charging model. Slow and “corporate” feeling support team.
Impressive automation functionality. Visual design tools for email sequences. Higher than average deliverability stats. Includes CRM functionality on higher-tier plans. Suited to the creative marketer who has time to invest.
Templates are not great. Design tools are lacking. Can be expensive as you move up the tiers. Confusing reporting interface.
Limited templates. Limited reporting. Not the cheapest if you’re using simple broadcast/blast emails (which you shouldn’t be)
Now don’t worry if you’re currently using a different solution to the three I’ve mentioned above. The brand of software won’t matter as much as its ability to capture, store and send your email reliably.