Social media may be the king of lead generation but email rules over conversion rates and sustaining relationships with customers. Marketers are using email to drive sales, woo potential customers and maintain a relationship with existing ones. The magic of marketing via email is made possible with the use of email marketing platforms.
Email marketing platforms are the vehicles that make it possible for marketers to send thousands of emails with the push of a button. Can you imagine manually typing each address in your email list by hand whenever you want to send an update to your clientele? This was the norm before email marketing software became commonplace.
Like we explained in our Email Marketing Guide, email marketing platforms are software that enables you to plan, perform and track any ongoing email marketing campaigns. These applications automate most of the processes involved in email marketing like list segmentation, sending emails, generating analytics reports and more. They ensure you get the most of your email lists.
Features found in most Email Marketing Platforms
Before you even consider choosing an email marketing platform, become familiar with the features you should look for. Some of them include:
- Email builder: This feature enables you to see how your email looks before you send. It also comes with drag-and-drop function, built-in templates and photo editing. You can customize/design a layout with this tool and save the design for future use.
- Merge tag: This is another cool feature that allows you to personalize your email with the recipient’s name or to send special offers to specific customers especially on birthdays. Customers respond well to personalized emails from their favourite brands.
- List management: This tool lets you manage and segment your list into smaller and easily targetable categories based on analytic reports. Subscribers can belong to different categories that match their personas. And you can run separate campaigns for each group as we discussed before in our email marketing 101 guide.
- Analytics: All email marketing software sends reports that provide insight into the campaigns you’re conducting. Metrics like open rates, click-through rates, average time spent reading your email etc. tell you how well your campaigns are received.
- Auto-responders: This is another indispensable feature found in most, if not all, email marketing platforms. This is used to send specific emails to your segmented groups based on a metric or action you have previously set. For example, when someone signs up to your newsletter, this feature sends them an automatic email thanking them for subscribing and may ask them to further explore your website. Usually, you pre-set these responses and people’s actions on your site trigger them.
- A/B testing tool: For email campaigns, you want to put your best foot forward. This tool allows you to do just that. You send emails with different content to a small group to test which performs the best based on feedback from the test group. Armed with this information, you can send the best performing email to the rest of your subscriber list.
- CAN-SPAM law: Because of the prevalence of emails, it is easy to receive unwanted emails. Because of this, many countries have anti-spam laws. All email service providers (ESP) like Gmail have spam filters that make it hard for you to receive unwanted messages. Because of this, email marketing platforms use their spam tool to inspect any emails you send to ensure it doesn’t get flagged by your subscribers’ ESP.
- Integrations: A good deal of email marketing software integrates with Customer relationship management (CRM) software to combine both your marketing and sales effort into one platform. This makes it easy to include potential customers from your CRM into your marketing activities. Other software takes it further by also offering social media integration. Social media integration offers you a unique chance to expand your reach and grow your email list. You can ask your social media followers to sign up to your email list or ask your subscribers to follow your social media accounts.
Overview of some Email Marketing Software
Many popular email marketing software has different pricing and features. Here are some of them:
- Reply.io offers the core features of most email marketing campaigns, but has recently added a few additional contact tools to help you make the most of their system. With this comes a slightly higher price tag, and a slight learning curve. Absolutely worth it if you’re looking to get your hands dirty and make the most of an email marketing program.
- MailChimp offers basic features like email builder with cool templates, merge tags, segmentation and email list management. Perhaps its best feature is its “Time Warp” feature that delivers your emails to your subscribers when they are awake regardless of time zone. The pricing for this software is based on the size of your email list. This starts at $10 monthly for up to 500 subscribers.
- QuickMail.io is known for its ease of use, connecting right into your own SMPT or custom email account, and scheduling b2b emails with ease.
- ActiveCampaign is known for its powerful integrations. Apart from having everything you expect to find in email software, this tool gives you the ability to track on-site events. Pricing starts at $9 monthly for 500 subscribers.
- Drip is one email software tailored to e-commerce sites. It enables online shop owners to customize messages for customer behaviour like an abandoned cart. Pricing starts at $49 monthly for up to 2500 subscribers.
- SendinBlue is unique because it is both an email and SMS marketing software. Its uniqueness also extends to its pricing options. This email software lets you pay based on the number of emails you send. $25 gets you 40,000 emails monthly.
- Constant Contact is geared towards small businesses and email marketing beginners. It has unparalleled support with live chats, emails and forums. Pricing starts at $20 monthly for up to 500 subscribers.
This list doesn’t cover all the great email software on the market. HubSpot Marketing, GetResponse, AWeber, iContact, Vertical Response, ConvertKit, Mailgun are examples of good marketing software.
How to Choose a Platform for Your Business
Now you know what to look for in an email marketing software, how do you choose one for your business? There are things to consider:
- What features does the email marketing software come with? Does it cover all the basics like email builder, analytics and others? Does it come with a responsive design to ensure that mobile users can read your emails? Getting the most out of your marketing software is the best aim.
- You should consider the size of your email list. For a good deal of email marketing platforms, the size of the email list determines how much you pay. Choose a platform that enables you to grow your list without breaking the bank while giving you the best possible features.
- How easy is it to use the marketing platform? The goal is to create and design the best emails in a short time. Once you have mastered the learning curve, it shouldn’t take you hours to craft an email for your subscribers.
- One of the most important factors to consider is the delivery rate. The delivery rate is the percentage of emails that the software sends that get delivered to your subscribers. Imagine paying for a platform and 20% of your emails end up in spam folders. This means their spam tool doesn’t work well. Choose a platform where the delivery rate is 100% or as close to it as possible.
- Integrations let you automate many of the mundane tasks in your email marketing process. An email marketing software that gives you the ability to integrate other software like CRM, social media and other web automation tools is the best to choose. This is because you can cut down on the time you spend performing tasks since the software already integrated an automation tool that does that for you.
Your email marketing platform is your vehicle and partner in your email marketing journey. Choosing the platform that offers you the best in features, prices and ease of use will make your email marketing process so much easier. And remember, if your current email marketing software doesn’t serve you well, you can always shop around for one that does.
Before you start sending content, make sure to review the cold email academy!