With 2020 coming into view, it’s a good idea to assess whether your email marketing software is equipped to handle the challenges that are coming your way.
Connecting with your audience is already getting harder, especially with consumers regularly engaging with brands on everything from smartphones, tablets, laptops, smart TVs and, more recently, wearables.
And each of them wants an individualized experience from you, according to Adobe’s Experience Index. Their No. 1 ask from brands?: “To know me and respect me.”
For marketers, that presents an ongoing frustration, especially if you have more than a few hundred consumers you’re trying to target. And if that number runs into the thousands, it may sometimes feel impossible to connect with each of them.
Email marketing continues to be a communications strategy capable of keeping you connected through a personalized experience with your audiences. And it manages to do it all with a great ROI.
With the right email marketing software, one that has evolved through technological advances, you will be able to stay ahead of the next wave of disruptions caused by changing consumer behaviors. You’ll be able to make the personal connections that they want from you.
15 things to look for in your email newsletter software
Some are basic, meaning every email marketing platform should have them as a minimum. Others are advanced features that will help you gain efficiencies, streamline processes and help you deliver a more personalized experience to connect with each of your subscribers.
1. User-friendly platform.
One of the most important features of an email marketing platform involves your team’s ability to feel comfortable using it. If it’s too cumbersome, it’s unlikely your business will get the most from your investment in the email marketing software.
When testing email marketing platforms, make sure that, with training and customer support, it will be one that your team will be able to use intuitively.
2. An extensive selection of apps/integrations.
Another area that’s important to compare is the availability of built-in integrations, which can streamline your process by automatically transferring content from the programs directly to your email marketing platform.
Most email marketing software will include the most popular applications, like your CRM, WordPress, Google Analytics and Shopify. However, it’s important to understand the email providers’ process for adding apps, as well as reviewing the selection of apps that you may not be using now but could possibly use later.
Also ask about whether you’re able to integrate any custom integrations into the provider’s application programming interface (API). Even if you don’t currently have a custom integration, you want to keep open the door to that possibility if the need arises in the future.
3. Content builder.
Many email marketing software providers are now offering a streamlined process for building your email newsletter, with drag-and-drop features that allow you to quickly move content blocks, buttons, images, headlines, and other email design elements around to design your email.
This feature can result in significant savings for your team, cutting down on the amount of time it takes to create a professional email newsletter that engages your audiences. Also, check for additional features like a library of images that you can use to develop your messaging.
4. Custom email templates.
Your email provider also should provide you with the option of building a custom template specifically for your brand, including fonts, colors, and other design elements.
Even if this is not important to you now, it could become more important in the future as your business grows or as your marketing goals evolve.
Some email marketing providers may only provide this option for your internal team to take on, while others may offer it as a service that they will carry out on your behalf.
5. Responsive templates.
It’s also important that your email software provider has features that automatically optimizes the email experience depending upon the device your subscribers are using.
It should seamlessly scale the presentation of your email newsletter to fit the screens of smartphones, tablets, and laptops of various sizes. With consumers’ behaviors becoming increasingly complex in how they interact with brands on various devices, it’s critical that you have this feature on your marketing platform.
6. Segmentation tools.
With the focus on delivering a personalized experience for your subscribers, segmentation tools give you the ability to automatically hyper segment your audiences based on demographic factors and consumer preferences.
Most email marketing providers offer some type of segmentation. Compare the options. With advanced segmentation features, you can go much further than segmenting based on a name, geography, job titles and other generic information.
Make sure the email marketing providers you’re considering give you a comprehensive view of how this feature can work to your advantage. With a personalized experience among your top goals with email marketing, it can be key to your success.
To get a better understanding of segmentation technology, think of it as paying attention to all the cues that can help you better understand each of your subscribers. It captures data based on your user’s interactions to ensure that you’re delivering email experiences that are increasingly personalized to reflect their interests, behaviors, and preferences.
That means you can start customizing email newsletters, promotions, and other messages through automation. Instead of sending the same email to each of your subscribers, the automation features can dynamically switch images or other content elements to fit specific interests, depending upon who is receiving them.
7. Deliverability features.
In addition to capturing details about the types of products and services each of your subscribers are interested in, more advanced email marketing platforms can give you insights on the best times to deliver your newsletters and messages. This feature allows you to go beyond preferred time zones and days of the week.
With these extra insights, one of your subscribers may be receiving an email from you at 1 p.m. on a Monday, the precise time that they usually have down time to review their emails. That same newsletter may go out to another subscriber at 9 a.m. on a Saturday to coincide with their schedule and how they typically review emails.
The right email provider will be able to provide you with options for ensuring that your email marketing campaigns are primed to receive maximum exposure each time a campaign is launched.
8. Behavior-triggered campaign features.
You can further deliver on a customized experience through marketing automation that sends messages based on the interactions your subscribers have with your site.
For instance, if they download an ebook, purchase a blouse or browse certain items on a page, the behavior-triggered campaign features on your marketing platform will deliver a relevant email experience based on those actions.
Lack of behavior, such as subscribers not opening your emails for long periods, also could signal that it’s time to be more proactive about re-engaging this group. Your email marketing platform could receive it as a signal to send the subscribers a survey for feedback on their experience with your brand.
Through automation, your platform also could be set up to eliminate emails from your list after a certain period of inactivity.
9. Drip campaign.
Marketing automation that enables you to automatically send emails as part of a customer’s journey is another feature that leads to a more personalized experience. This drip campaign feature acknowledges that each of your subscribers is at different point in their relationship with you.
As part of a B2B experience, for example, a new subscriber who is not as familiar with your offering may not be ready to hear about advanced features that could lead to upsells. Drip campaign features give you the opportunity to naturally lead subscribers through a journey with your brand.
10. SMS text messaging.
Your subscribers are unlikely to stick to one device when engaging with you. According to a recent study by OMD, a communications firm, the average person is switching among devices at a rate of 21 times per hour.
With the right email marketing software feature, specifically, SMS text messaging, you can create an experience in which you’re seamlessly connecting with them. You can use the SMS text feature to announce limited sales, reminders about events and other special offerings.
11. Social sharing.
This is another feature that can streamline your ability to get your message across. Through automation, email content can be sent directly to your social channels, such as Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, with one click.
12. Real-time analytics.
With the right email marketing platform, it’s easy to gain real-time feedback on the performance of your campaign — identifying the areas where you’re doing well and the areas that could use some work.
It also provides insights into what is resonating with your subscribers based on how certain categories are responding to your promotions and messaging. The more insights you can gain, the more you can tailor the next experience to enhance performance.
13. A/B testing.
This is another tool that should be offered by all email marketing providers; it allows you to optimize a campaign (open rates, click-through rates) by testing out two different versions. You could send out two test emails using different subject lines, times, images or messages.
When shopping for email marketing providers, make sure that this feature is user-friendly. You should be able to easily execute an A/B testing campaign, quickly identifying which one is most likely to resonate with your subscribers.
14. Customer support.
One of the most important decisions you can make when choosing an email software provider involves the customer support you’ll receive. Even if the platform is user-friendly, you want to make sure you understand the level of customer service you will receive for training, troubleshooting and responsiveness. Check to determine if you can reach out by phone, email or chat.
Also, make sure you’re confident in the amount of training materials that you’ll receive about updates to the software.
15. Flexible pricing plans.
When comparing email marketing platforms, look for providers that are providing different pricing plans. You want to be able to choose a level that currently fits your company’s email marketing needs.
You don’t need a plan with more features than you currently need but you want to select a provider with options that can accommodate your company’s needs as it grows.
With advances in email marketing platforms, companies are able to successfully navigate the challenges in meeting consumer demands. To find out how you can better connect with your subscribers, talk to our Delivra team. We’ll show you a demo of how automation can work for you.