Updated: Feb 25
Email marketing has evolved since its beginning and the options for tools and technology to support it has grown and become more complex. Doing a search of “email marketing” will provide an overwhelming amount of research and solutions to choose from. How do you begin the selection process to find the right solution for your needs and your organization?
Before beginning your selection process, it is important to identify your email marketing goals, the must-have features to accomplish those goals, and your constraints whether they be budget or in-house skills to manage the email marketing and technology.
Considerations and Requirements for You Organization
Size of your database. How many unique email addresses do you have? Will you always send all of your prospects and customers the same email message, how much do you want to be able to segment the list into different groups for tailored messages?
Types of emails you want to send. Do you want to send mostly promotional email messages and newsletters? Do you want to send email based on transactions such as recent purchases or trigger activity?
In-house skills and resources. Do you (or does your in-house staff) have the skill-set and time available to manage a comprehensive email marketing strategy and solution, or do you need something simple that requires little technical knowledge for creating email messages and campaigns?
Budget. How much can you invest in the technology to support your email marketing? The closer you can align your email marketing needs to your budget, the more successful and better ROI outcomes you will receive from the technology investment.
Growth. Think about your plan for growth and how quickly you expect to grow your subscriber list and need for complex marketing processes. You can start with a simple solution and get increasingly sophisticated solutions as your needs change. However, if you expect to out-grow a simple solution within 1-2 years it may be better to make the investment in the next level up or ensure that the solution and vendor you select is able to scale up and grow with you.
There are several different categories of platforms from simple email marketing to complex marketing automation platforms.
For a small business with a small list, limited in-house resources to manage the email marketing software, and budget constraints – a simple email marketing solution is most likely the best fit for you. PC Mag has a comprehensive review of the most popular email marketing solutions. This is not a complete list of all solutions available in this class, but a good overview of the features and solutions available.
Marketing Automation for SMB
If you have a more complex list with different audience groups and need to support a more sophisticated email marketing strategy, you are ready to enter into Marketing Automation. Marketing automation uses email marketing as its base function, but adds other features and capabilities to help you manage more detailed and complex marketing programs. Take a look at these articles from Chamber of Commerce and Hubspot for reviews on some marketing automation solutions for SMB organizations that need to balance features and cost.
Enterprise Marketing Automation
For larger organizations who have very diverse audience segmentation requirements, complex sales cycles, and have the ability to set up integrated automation processes – a comprehensive enterprise-level marketing automation solution is necessary. This article from Solutions Review provides an overview and evaluation of these marketing automation solutions.
Email marketing technology is an investment in your marketing and sales process. Implementing the technology alone will not acquire customers, but with the right solution and planning, email marketing or marketing automation tools will help support an efficient marketing and sales strategy to acquire and keep customers.