Where is your data coming from?

This may seem like an odd question however when choosing an email marketing system, different email marketing software uses email addresses in different ways. How you acquire your data makes a big impact on which system would be best for you. For example:

  • Are you building your own mailing list from a form on your website?
  • Do you already have an existing database of customers and prospects?
  • Have you bought in data lists from third party data houses? This is particularly important as some international laws specify you can’t broadcast to third party lists so you would need to use a UK based email software company.

How will you use your email marketing system?

How you use your email marketing system will vary from business to business. Popular ways include:

  • Generating new business leads
  • Staying in touch with customers (for example through a newsletter)
  • Nurturing leads. Transforming prospects into customers
  • Sending a series of autoresponders
  • E-commerce – confirm orders, inform products are shipped etc

What features are important to you?

Most systems do offer similar features; the obvious being web based with the ability to load an email and broadcast it in HTML and plain text. But what else should you consider?

  • Is your system easy to use? Try loading emails into the system (HTML and plain text) and see how you find it
  • How do you know your email is getting through to your recipients’ inbox? It’s very frustrating if your carefully crafted email goes straight to your recipient’s spam box. Check what your potential software company does to ensure your email isn’t treated as spam
  • Do you need autoresponders? These are when emails are automatically sent depending on recipient behaviour. It may be someone signs up to receive a series of emails or that a reply is automatically sent if and when someone responds to your initial email
  • How do you tell who has looked at what? Different systems have different levels of reporting functionality. Identify what reporting you need and what works best for you

How will you be charged?

How email marketing software providers charge should also impact your decision. There are three key ways:

  • Up front set up fee – some systems ask for a set up fee but then tend to charge less per email sent
  • Monthly fees – some charge a monthly fee which will include an allowance; for example 5,000 emails a month
  • Pay as you go – could be more expensive per email but better if you don’t want to commit to a certain price each month. Some providers will charge per broadcast and then per email, others just per email

Our picks

We’ve tested a few email marketing systems in our time and these stood out as far as we’re concerned:

  • Best for autoresponder campaigns: AWeber or Mailchimp
  • Best for permission based email marketing campaigns: Campaign Monitor
  • Best for sending to third party lists: dotMailer or Pure360
  • Best for eCommerce: dotMailer or Campaign Monitor
  • Best for email newsletters: Campaign Monitor

Most email marketing systems offer an upfront trial; sign up, test it, see how easy it is to use and go from there. There’s nothing to stop you trialling every system if you have time until you find the one that is perfect for you.

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