The 3 Most Important Things your ESP Needs to do Really Well. No buts.

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…and why extra’s shouldn’t determine your email vendor.

When it comes to email marketing every business needs to get the right message to the right person at the right time. How does that translate into features? It’s nice to have additional tools within your email platform, but there are more important things to take into consideration when selecting your next email marketing company.

But what are the essentials when trying to decide which email platform best suits your business needs and why should extras be treated as complementary?

3 things to focus on

The three essentials that we should focus our attention on are: Segmentation, Automation and Deliverability.

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Advanced segmentation

But what does advanced email segmentation mean?

Speed. Can your ESP process your segment definition in less than a minute? Well, it should, if you can’t, then it’s time to speed away.

Dynamic dates and calculations you say? Automatic messages require dynamic segments that are updated on the fly. A customer’s average order value and segments that adjust to time restrictions are musts. Can’t do that, then it’s time to fly away.

Flexibility for all users. That’s right, all those complex relations between tables should be just as easy to get on top of for business users as they are for a seasoned SQL veteran. That means being able to create very precise custom segment definitions, should you require them. Can you flex your muscles with your ESP?

Email Marketing Segmentation ExampleAn example segment definition for a customer that might be interested in purchasing premium running shoes.

Email Marketing Automation

Email Automation is creating a defined sequence of steps and tasks that automate different business scenarios. This sequence will have strict rules and conditions that will lead your customer down your (their) desired path.

These paths might have any of the following; entry conditions, data switches, data points, delay events and distribution switches. This is what you’re going to require for real personalized and automated customer communication.

What’s best, is that you’ll create these scenarios and they’ll run automatically in the background, letting you focus on strategy and campaign optimization.
It’s advanced automation that will give your business a greater ROI on its marketing investment because, in business, every nuance counts!

Automated email Marketing workflowHow an automated workflow might look for a customer making use of the services of a travel retailer.

Read our earlier article to see what a customer journey down an automated path looks like.

Deliverability

It’s all well and good if you’ve prepared the perfect message for your customer, but that’s not going to count for much if it doesn’t find its way into their inbox. Your ESP’s deliverability prowess needs to be cat-like.

This means that they are going to be able to help with anything related to inbox placement with the most popular ISPs to problems with black listing, IP warming, throttle rates with specific ISPs and IP-routing. All this on top of a sound content strategy – if your customers aren’t engaged and don’t want to receive your emails then you’ll need to work on that too.

How solid is your ESPs deliverability support?

Email extras

So, you’ve covered the three core and most important things your ESP needs to do really well.

Now let’s focus on what can help you enhance your customer experience and achieve other business goals. Elements such as surveys, forms, landing page builders, e-commerce plugins, recommendation engines and lead scoring tools are going to help you do just that.

Lead Scoring systems
Are you selling products or services that have a long decision process that involves multiple visits to your website where a lead’s temperature should invoke a certain chain of messages? Then sophisticated lead scoring might be what your business needs.

Maybe you’re selling lower value products that result in abandoned shopping carts? Then, a robust recommendation engine might be in order.

In both scenarios, you’ll want an API (or at least the ability to import that data into custom tables) that’ll allow you to make use of that data in your campaigns.

Web Forms
Sound form design is a science that’ll allow you to gather data that’ll you’ll be able to leverage in future communications with your customers. It’s a balancing act between asking for the information that you’d like and letting your customers know why they should give it to you (your value proposition). Here’s one way to create the perfect email registration form.

Again, as was the case with our lead scoring systems, you want your form data pushed or stored in your marketing platform via an import or on the fly with an API.

It’s great if you can get some of these tools out of the box, but often 3rd party vendors that specialize in these tools are more than likely going to do it better. You should ensure that your potential platform has all the integration you need; whether that’s through an officially supported plugin or through flexible API integration, your platform shouldn’t limit you in any way.

Work the core and then add those extras

You’ve gone ahead and automated campaigns that go out to the right customers with a sound deliverability strategy. You’ve also enhanced your customer’s experience by ensuring that they’re getting the right content and there’s consistency across channels.
Congratulations, you’ve just selected the best email vendor for your needs and your customers are going to be getting what they want to read in their inboxes.

Adam Ambrozewicz

About Adam Ambrozewicz


Adam Ambrozewicz is the Managing Editor at ExpertSender. As a technology specialist, ExpertSender extends complimentary assistance in all areas of email communication, such as implementing the best practices, leveraging big data and subscriber segmentation rules, and automating one-to-one content on top of ensuring the highest deliverability ratios for Retail, E-Commerce, Social Games and Networks, Affiliate Marketing, and Travel and Publishing projects.

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  • Manos

    That picture for the segment definition is literally the most confusing UI I have ever witnessed.