Email Marketing Software: Selection Criteria
Updated: May 28, 2018
In this blog post I show the most important features of a professional newsletter software. Email marketing is a little bit like gardening - with the right tool, not only is the job easier to do, it also makes the result better. The selection of the right tool must be well considered, because it is the basis for the successful sending of newsletters and transactional emails. And another reason is that changing provider midcourse usually involves a lot of effort, frustration and costs.
Is an independent newsletter software necessary?
Many will ask themselves in advance whether an independent newsletter software is needed at all. The sending of newsletters and transactional emails has become part of the standard functionality of many ecommerce, CRM and CMS systems.
The answer to this question is simple: a professional mailing solution can do a lot more and much better than software that does not send out mailings as its core functionality.
Many of the features covered in this article are not or only partially offered by the above systems.
Basic Decision: Buy or Rent?
Once you have decided to use a professional e-mail marketing solution, the question is: buying or renting?
For most companies, renting is the better option. Because not only the software is rented, but the operation and maintenance of the server as well as support are usually already included. It also ensures that the most up-to-date software is always used and the mailing technology is up-to-date.
What features does an email marketing solution have to offer?
The following functions form the basis of a professional e-mail marketing solution. In addition, there are many other special features that would go beyond the scope of this
Addresses are the gold in email marketing . It is therefore important that the email marketing software has extensive address management functions. In addition to standard
functions such as the creation, deletion and editing of address data sets by the user, the import and export of address data records are particularly important.
Registrations and cancellations
Proper handling of subscribing and unsubscribing recipients to email disctribution lists is one of the core features of good e-mail marketing software. And there are ways you can reduce the unsubscribe rate a newsletter.
When registering with a distribution list, it is especially important that the software implements the double-opt-in procedure . Because this is, with a few exceptions, the basic requirement for serious and legally secure e-mail marketing.
In addition, professional solutions through forms provided by the software offer easy implementation of login pages.
When deregistering from the distribution list , the single-opt-out procedure is standard. This too is part of the basic functionality of a good e-mail marketing solution.
Another feature of professional solutions is the profile management. The recipients can themselves edit their data such as last name and first name. Registrations and
cancellations to other newsletters can also be processed.
Return detection and bounce management
The detection of unreachable e-mail addresses, the so-called Bounce Management , is another central function of a professional e-mail marketing solution. Unreachable
addresses are removed from the distribution list according to certain criteria. This protects the purse and protects the reputation of the sender.
Special attention should also be given to the subject of deliverability , as for the e-mails to actually all arrive, a lot of technical know-how and organizational effort are necessary. For example, the mail servers must be appropriately certified so that bulk mailings are not mistakenly rejected by spam filters.
The high technical and organizational effort for the whitelisting of the mail server is also one of the reasons why buying a newsletter software and operating on its own servers makes sense only in exceptional cases. For rented software, this is done by the provider of the newsletter marketing solution, ie the company that supplies the newsletter software.
A good e-mail marketing system also allows easy and straightforward creation of mailings with the help of so-called templates . These are templates from which a newsletter
can be created based on the modular principle.
Depending on the provider, however, the term template is used very differently. While some vendors have templates for different types of mailings, such as Christmas or birthday mailings, other vendors use universal templates that are appropriate for each application.
What they all have in common is that templates make it much easier to create mailings because they provide a certain framework.
Above all, professional newsletter templates can be recognized by the fact that they enable the creation of a newsletter without HTML knowledge. At the same time, they ensure
optimum display on various end devices and, thanks to their modular design, offer maximum flexibility.
Another key feature of a professional newsletter solution is the possibility of personalization . For example, placeholders are inserted in the subject line or newsletter text. These are replaced by the personal data stored in the distribution list, such as first and last name. Thus, for example, a personal address can be implemented in the greeting or in the subject line.
Not only can texts be personalized, pictures can also be personalized with information from the recipient database.
Another criterion for choosing a good email marketing solution is the topic of customization. In contrast to personalization, whole elements such as articles or images are
faded in or out depending on the recipient or target group. Thus, a newsletter may look different for each individual recipient.
Extensive test functions are also part of a professional e-mail marketing solution. Because nothing is more annoying (and sometimes more expensive) than a botched campaign.
In order for it not to get that far, the user has numerous options such as display tests as well as spam and phishing tests available. Release processes can also be mapped with
a good e-mail tool.
With extensive A / B or split tests , different variants of a mailing are also played out in order to maximize the success of the mailings.
With a professional e-mail marketing solution, delivery is simple and reliable - as you choose, either immediately or at a scheduled time. In addition, professional solutions
also have the function of resuming delivery cancelled by the user during delivery .
When delivering, attention should be paid to available capacity. Professional e-mail systems reliably generate several million e-mails per hour. However, this can be too much
for some downstream processes, which is why there should also be the option to reduce the delivery speed.
The key figures at a glance: Reporting
Another criterion for choosing an e-mail delivery solution is the topic of reporting. Here, the key metrics in e-mail marketing should be available at a glance and in real time.
The e-mail marketing solution user interface must be designed to make it easy for users to navigate and access important features. An easy-to-use help portal is an advantage.
Trigger mailings and transactional emails
With trigger mailshots and transactional emails, certain processes in e-mail marketing can be automated as far as possible. At the same time, these two types of mailings are of particular relevance to the recipients and thus, as a rule, particularly good indicators.
Trigger mailings are sent whenever a previously defined trigger is activated. For example, this could be the recipient's date of birth, which triggers an automatic birthday mailing.
Transactional emails , on the other hand, are always sent when a recipient actively transacts. This can be, for example, an order in an online store.
Integrations to third party systems
In order for the e-mail marketing tool to integrate as seamlessly as possible into an existing system landscape, extensive networking and integration options are required .
Professional solutions therefore provide an API interface through which the system can be connected to external data sources and systems.
On the one hand, recipient data can be transferred from one system to another via the interface. On the other hand, content can also be added to a mailing before or directly
during delivery. This facilitates the creation of mailings and at the same time enables a high level of automation and individualization.
Security and privacy
Legally generated addresses are the alpha and omega of e-mail marketing. The corresponding data may only be collected, stored and processed with the consent of the recipient - very important criteria when choosing an e-mail marketing tool are therefore the topics of security and privacy.
Special attention should be paid to the server location: The greatest possible security is provided by hosting the data in the country where your operations are based, taking into account all legal requirements.
Reputable providers undertake to comply with the applicable statutory provisions - in particular data protection, consumer protection and competition rules. They have also
signed commitments to legal and privacy-compliant e-mail marketing.
In addition to the newsletter software itself, special attention should be paid to the accompanying services . Basic services such as customer care and technical support
should be available in any case. Especially providers in the lower price segment have strong deficits here. And nothing is more annoying than when a campaign is due, you
cannot get ahead without help and no one can be reached.
In addition, depending on requirements and goals, further services such as user training, workshops, layout design, individual template development or mailing management can
support and advance one's own e-mail marketing.
When comparing prices between different providers of e-mail marketing solutions, you should not just look at the price per e-mail sent. Rather, it is important to realistically estimate the total costs for creating and sending newsletters. If you want to implement a lot yourself, you can cut costs and consider them when choosing the software solution.
It is important to include the cost of any service and support involved and to check what is included and what services are charged extra. At first supposedly cheap offers
can become more expensive due to unexpected extra costs during operation.
Every email marketing solution has its strengths and weaknesses. The criteria for the optimal selection of a solution should therefore meet your own needs.
Nevertheless, the software should be capable of doing the basic functions mentioned in this article.