How Email Marketing Automation can save you time: it’s in the Data

The typical marketing team is super busy. So an Email Service Provider that can save time, is welcomed with open arms. How can Email Marketing Automation help to relieve the time-pressed email marketer?

In this series of posts we will answer exactly what features to look for in a real timesaving ESP. Starting off with the marketing automation of email data tasks.

Efficient use of email marketing can be a real cost and time cutter. An efficient e-mail marketing system can create the same quality of e-mail campaigns while increasing productivity.

Because preparing and sending email newsletters are steps within each and every campaign, those tasks can add up to a lot of hours. Yet, this time investment is often overlooked when calculating the the true costs of an email marketing system.

Automated synchronization, subscriber data imports and exports

Ideally you want all your data to be handled automatically. All customer profiles, even when living in different systems being accessible and up-to-date. Unfortunately, this is often not the case.

Getting your data from one to another system can be a real pain if it needs to be done manually. The ETL process is something that Email Marketing Automation tools can be very good at.

ETL is short for the steps in data handling:

  • Exporting the data from the source database
  • Transforming (getting your data into the right format) and
  • Loading into the target system

Automation of ETL can be a real time saver. It will also improve the workflow and flexibility of your email creation process. No more waiting for IT to import and check your lists and less chance of human errors. Automation decrease the time spent on tasks but also the need to multitask or switch tasks, which are both massive productivity hacks.

ESP and CRM Plugins and connectors

Some ESPs will offer a plugin or connector that can synchronize the data with popular CRM systems like for instance Salesforce, Sage ACT! or Microsoft Dynamics. But not all plugins are created equal.

Especially the transforming or validating / synchronizing data might not be that easy as it sounds. What is the most current or most trusted data? Which system has the updated permission info? Systems can get complex, and more complex to the point where nobody really knows what actually happens between systems.

The extra bonus consideration: Legacy systems

An extra element is introduced when working with legacy systems. A legacy system is an old system that is no longer up to date and can cause a lot of hindrances. Modernizing legacy systems is seen as one of the biggest challenges in IT. The decision isn’t per se to re-invent the wheel though. If you would like the benefits of home branded tools (for your clients to use), but not the maintenance, there are quite some benefits to a white lable app vs a custom app.

The decision to keep or phase out a legacy system is very relevant when choosing a new Email service provider.

Reasons to keep a legacy system can include the return on investment, there simply wouldn’t be a business case to justify the costs. or an email vendor lock-in (you are simply not able to leave). It can also be a lot of other reasons that have little to do with functionality. A legacy system can really get in the way of an efficient and productive workflow.

Often marketing automation systems also have an email marketing API that can be used to execute data management tasks. That often also asks for system integration work.

Tips when looking at email data synchronization

So when your email system and data environment is complex, the way a new vendor can integrate with other systems is a real focal point. Not saying that it is scary to switch Marketing technology providers. But even if your systems are simple, make sure you let the data synchronization to the machines. And check if any plugins can actually do what you have in mind. If you let your vendor do the integrations, ask them to work out the details and give a precise price quote.

About Jordie van Rijn

Jordie van Rijn is an independent email marketing consultant and analyst. He is the founder of Email Vendor Selection and specializes in smart email marketing, online marketing strategy, software selection, campaign management, optimisation and RFP / vendor selection. He tested, reviewed, and wrote about 100+ business software including email marketing services, CRMs, ecommerce platforms, and online course creators. Published in-depth email marketing guides for financial service, ecommerce, travel, restaurant, and fashion industries.
Named one of "50 Online Marketing Influencers to Watch" by Entrepreneur magazine. Companies like Scania, KLM, Unilever, AEGON, CZ, FNV, NRC Media have asked me for advice.

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