Email Service Providers offer a multitude of features such as reporting tools, testing tools, preview functionalities and more integrations than you could possibly need.
As an email marketer, you have to ask yourself: “Are these essential for my business?”
Having a multitude of functions seems great, but if it doesn’t help you forward, they block the point of an email service provider. A most recent Econsultancy Email Census study found that over 60% of companies don’t use half the features offered by Email Service Providers. Which means that companies are not only paying for something they don’t need, but they might be wasting valuable time and resources. They chose an ESP with regard for functionality that turned out to have little to no additional returns!
Focus on real ESP performance
It is far better to work with Email Marketing Software that focuses on performance and reliability of the functions vital to your specific situation, rather than a thousand new functions that you’ll realistically never use.
Parry Malm, Director of Howling Mad Marketing sums this up pretty well in my opinion:
“It’s no surprise that the majority of email marketers aren’t using the majority of ESP features. Most features are built with specific use cases in mind and deliver marginal gains. New features may make technology look shiny, but they won’t necessarily translate into all important revenue acquisition.”
It’s an often overlooked aspect of email marketing software – simply doing what it needs to do. It should be uncomplicated to send out an email campaign. The last thing you need is the tool to get in the way of your job and its primary function – some just end up confusing users. This simplicity starts with the user interface, that needs to be simple and easy to navigate.
Take Care of your vital email marketing Needs
To identify the vital functions and judge their performance, ask yourself what you need and what functionalities of the Email Marketing Software you will use regularly. In order for email marketing to be effective you need to ensure the basics are in place, visible and efficient.
To identify how efficient a function is to a user, keep track of the average time and knowledge of the system it takes to get a simple task done. The Bare Basics of an Email Marketing Application is where you start.
Mass email Send Functionality
I think this should be the primary criteria when when judging an email service provider. Is it able to properly send out mass email? Seems like every ESP should be able to do this, right? But start by examining downtime, send speed and if your ESP is willing to guarantee it and you will notice differences. If the service often isn’t operational, then neither will your marketing campaign!
For your campaign to be effective your email has to be appealing. You need to be able to create it without technical knowledge or experience in the devil’s language (coding and HTML). A responsive email creator and email editor tool (WYSIWYG) and email templates needs to do the heavy lifting. Athough there are a lot of free email templates available, you want them to be inside the tool. Without them you’d probably waste too much time or lack responses from recipients.
Good Delivery Rate and Reputation
You can send a million emails a day, but if they keep getting bounced or blocked by ISPs, you’ll never see results from your email marketing campaign. Good Email Service Providers have exceptional delivery rates and maintain their reputation above all else – after all, their business depends on it! This is hard to measure up front, but the practises they use in handling deliverability and response rates will give you a good indication.
Support is often overlooked, especially in self service email marketing tools… until you need them. In general, free Email Service Providers aren’t the best Email Service Providers in terms of service.
They often don’t offer support teams and leave you high and dry when your email service is not working – especially when you need to get that email out. How can they? Nobody is paying for it. You want them to have phone support, start a call center to handle your question if you speak to someone.
Same goes for if you are struggling to find out how to perform a certain action. It’s not just nice to have someone looking out for you, it is essential if you are serious about your email marketing.
Measurement and Analytics
The Econsultancy Email Census reported that 77% of businesses identified reporting and analytic tools to be the most valuable – and they’re right on the money! If you’re not tracking how your email marketing campaign is doing, improving it will be based on guess work – which will leave people guessing what your marketing department actually does. The tool must give you the email marketing statistics you need, in the format that best suits your organisation.
Personalization and Segmentation
One marketing study found that personalized email show results with great benefits such as 29% higher unique open rates and 41% higher unique click rates! In addition, 63% of businesses state that personalization is a must-have feature in an email marketing application.
The ability to target specific groups in your mailing list is a valuable one to have in your quest to market your product. 42% of businesses reported that they use segmentation tools to garner results from their email marketing campaign.
Segmentation and personalisation inside the email tool also allow you to act on profiling data to finely tune your content and offers for the best results.
While mobile marketing is on the rise, SMS has always struggled to compete. With the popularity of Smartphones, people are using their phones to open their emails just as easily as opening their text messages.
A mobile optimized email is able to include detailed pictures, attractive call to actions as well as all important links to landing pages. Email is just better today on a phone that it was in the past – and it would seem companies would agree!
SMS through email marketing applications were only used by 8% of companies, making it an unpopular choice for marketers who use email marketing service providers. Lickily, the best sms platforms, can integrate and will fill that gap, and plenty of tools that combine the two now.
Social Media Integration
Despite its popularity, social media marketing has not been all it’s cracked up to be. Email marketing is nearly 40% more effective than using Facebook and Twitter combined and only 26% of companies used social media integration through their ESP.
Social Media is strictly a personal space while an email inbox is seen as personal or professional depending on the email. This means that when a user opens their inbox they’re not surprised when they read about propositions. Realistically though, you might be heavy into social media marketing, but the integration of tools are often not that thing that makes the difference.
You want control over your email marketing campaign. Taking that control away, while convenient, is not an ideal position to be found in. Automated Campaigns were only used by 30% of the participating companies. The effort involved in setting up an automatic campaign indicated little reward for the 70% of the companies. This can mean two things, companies don’t use it enough because the tooling is too difficult or they aren’t using it because they don’t see the added value of the more difficult campaigns.
The Biggest Bang for your Buck
If too many features are clogging up your interface and distracting you from your job of actually sending mail, you should probably evaluate if your email service provider has lost the plot.
Rather than spending valuable time and money, make sure you have a good sharp eye on the features you need and that will assure maximum return on investment. Focus on the essentials and make sure these are top notch. The features that are almost guaranteed to make you money in the long run.
The Email Marketing Software functionality you need
In conslusion, this is the software functionality you’d be looking for:
- Higher performance and reliability is better than more features
- Features should never get in the way of the application’s primary function
- Additional tools should always be user friendly and not clog up the interface
- Focus on tools that have proven to provide results