During an ESP selection there is a lot to consider. But most email marketing professionals also secretly want to get WOW-ed. You want to get your socks blown off and impressed by what the email software offers. A level of excitement that gets your heart pumping, just like winning the lottery, a breathtaking view or meeting your true love. Well.. maybe not exactly like that.
But some functionalities do have the Power of WOW. They could make your life easier, better and incredibly awesome. I’ll zoom in on five moments, or rather functionalities you want to be WOW-ed by during the selection process.
1. Drag-and-drop campaign (flow) editor
It saves you a lot of time when creating a campaign using a user-friendly “drag-and-drop” campaign flow editor. No use of complex coding or creating cumbersome data selections. The campaign flow is an important piece of the marketing automation pie. You want to set up a sizzling campaign in 2 minutes.
“Easily set up an impressive campaign-flow in 2 minutes, it’s possible using the right tools”
A great “drag-and-drop” campaign flow editor will save time so you can, for instance, start to optimize and think to make more innovative (multichannel) email campaigns.
A few tools that personally got me WOW-ed on this specific feature are: Dotdigital Engagement Cloud, E-village Clang and Selligent Marketing Cloud. For example:
Dotdigital Engagement Cloud (previously dotmailer) has an intuitive campaign editor. Drag the start of your campaign into the grid, together with e-mails they have to receive and the right decisions when they should receive them. A nice extra is that you can combine your email campaign flow with connections to other channels. You can think of social channels, calling an external API (for example print follow-ups) but also with Google Ads (display).
E-village Clang, ever since they gave their tooling a makeover, it’s very easy to draw complete flows and trigger several emails, notifications and API-calls. Clang stuck more to its core although a lot of the features of that you can find in other marketing automation software are available through extra modules.
Putting your campaign together in Clang by drag-and-dropping elements
Selligent Marketing Cloud is a bit more complex, but on the other hand, it has more standard integrations in their campaign editor. You can drag and drop your campaign elements into a grid. Marketers can easily create a follow-up to all other channels. With an extra module, you can even personalize your website and use web data to make all your other channels much more relevant. They also have interactive dashboard reporting.
Interactive dashboard / reports in Selligent Marketing Cloud
Time to completion is a real important part of email marketing. Get an email out the door quicker and you can do either more, or more intelligent, campaigns. Research by Really Good Emails showed that the time spent producing one email went up 12% from 2017 to 2018. Now it takes on average 5.7 business days and as list size grows, so does production time for each email.
2. Easily personalize your email 1-on-1 with data selections
The more relevant your message, the better your campaign results. I remember doing a case at Travelworld where we’ve set up a complete customer journey where we sent specific emails based on where they are in the customer journey. Those emails were completely personalized on their click and buying behavior. Opening, click and conversion rates went through the roof!
Creating an automatic 1-on-1 personalized email is easier said than done though. In most cases, it remains quite hard to get the entire email to be completely personalized like you had imagined.
“Generate more revenue by making your email campaign more relevant”
Patrick van Wattum
Think coding, complex scripts and business-rules. If, then, else, fall-back, exceptions and those kinds of things. The bigger the “WOW” is if an email marketing tool handles this in 5 clicks without all the complexity.
Example of campaigns in dotdigital engagement cloud
For example, saving your business rules for selections
Most email marketing tools allow you to make a recipient selection, create send-list to determine to who he e-mail should be sent. But once you’ve done that, you have to create the email and put all those criteria in again in your scripting or dynamic content. Why do I need to do that twice?
If you defined the business-rules, some tools let you putting those criteria in a data feed (XML or such), so you already have the right output for re-use in your scripts or dynamic content.
3. A really good and responsive drag-and-drop e-mail editor
A lot of ESP’s are already have a drag-and-drop e-mail editor. Creating email is a day-to-day activity for a lot of online marketeers and email specialists. But many tools only produce optimized code for some of the email clients and not all of them. So you still need to hack the code to get it all perfect.
As a marketer you want all of your clients to see your content rendered well, in the way you intended and not just 80% (or less). If you get a demo from an email vendor, the output code would be something you want to check.
Once you implement an ESP which does optimize and produce code(s) for all of the email clients, it’s like a big relief. Another thing you don’t have to worry about anymore.
Matthew Smith (@whale) from Really Good Emails
“If you’re not creating responsive emails, you’re basically throwing trash at your customers who are reading more and more on their phones. What do people do with trash? They throw it away! Figure out how to be essential to your customers. Responsive is the first obvious step in that direction.
When people evaluate responsive email editors there are three steps:
Does it work period. 2. Does it work for you and your team? 3. That’s it.
I have yet to see an email editor that acted like it was born in the modern era of the web. The only thing that comes close is Revue. Love what they are doing. EVERYTHING else is from the yesteryear of email editing IMO. Where is the CMS of email creation? I feel like I might need to build it 😀 “
4. Powerful pricing
As an email marketer, you can dream about the ideal email platform. With functionalities which make your daily job much easier, and you can build awesome campaigns with. You probably could get all the functionalities you wish for, but the reality is that most of them come with a price.
So it depends on pricing, or better said; on your budget! What do you want to spend on an ESP? Since no-one has an endless budget, it’s important to prioritze the functionalities you actually need and are going to use. You still have to find the right ESP which offers those functionalities for a fair price.
“Choosing the right ESP, comes down to the budget you wish to spend” Patrick van Wattum
But when it comes to ESPs, an expensive ESP doesn’t always mean better and finding a high value for money tool is great. Think of the feeling WOW-moment if you can drive a Roll Royce for the price of an Audi. Once you found the right ESP with a fair enough price, you just can’t wait to get started.
Remember: with (almost) every ESP there is some room for negotiation.
5. Performance is key.
Without high deliverability and performance, you might as well throw in the towel. Stop sending emails and start sending old fashion (post)mail via carrier pigeon.
Is your e-mail not delivered to the inbox?
Is the email send out much later than it was scheduled? Sending speed is especially important once you hit a certain scale.
Is your email marketing software interface so slow you can’t even setup a proper email and send it within 30 minutes?
Then just stop! Think about it, other features might be more sophisticated or impressive, but performance will always be a main concern.
Performance trouble is one of the top frustrations of every email marketeer. In many of the demo’s I’ve seen of email marketing tools I also requested a live test send. That means that I want them to send some test emails while we have the demo.
Once you receive the test mail within seconds you’re just WOW-ed!
Of course, be sure to realize a test environment might be optimized and behave differently than your normal set up, so you still want to do some user interviews or do a real test in a sandbox.
More ways to wow
When I started writing this blog, I thought about these WOW’s. To be honest, I could think of a dozen more.
Here are a few functions that can really impress:
- Integration with DMP / CDP – customer data platform; make your email relevant for the receiver!
- Self-learning interface; e.g. it remembers the list you want to send your email to.
- Subject Line suggestions; the ESP has an algorithm which already determines which subject works best
- Access your ESP through your CMS such as Magento. No need for extra logins.
- Native product recommendation engines; make your email (and your other channels) more relevant by using a native (AI powered) recommendation engine within the tooling
- Having chat abilities in your ESP; extend your email activities by having a chat feature on your website. You can easily follow them up through email!
So, if you are ready for a new ESP or searching for one. Think about what would really WOW you. Determine the budget you want to spend on an ESP and together with the priorities you set will bring you very quickly to a top 3 or top 5 on selecting an email service provider!