About to choose a platform to manage your B2B email marketing campaigns? Whether you’re deploying a solution for the first time or migrating off an existing email platform, it’s a decision that carries major consequences.
Make the right choice, your marketing team will look like heroes—bringing your sales team more qualified leads.
But if you make the wrong choice, you will likely create a lot of extra manual work for your team to overcome the deficiencies while also frustrating everyone in sales: they just don’t get the quality leads they need to close business.
Before You Consider Your Options
Before considering your myriad of email platform choices, first develop a vision of what you want to achieve and the key capabilities the platform needs to provide to reach your objectives. Don’t worry for now whether a particular solution can do what you want—just create your ideal scenario.
Here are some of the key factors to think about:
· Budget allocation—how much can you spend? Consider both an upfront CapEx investment (on-premises) as well as a subscription OpEx model (in the cloud).
· Sources of prospect and customer data that feed into your email platform—this can include your website, internal systems such as ERP and CRM, third-party systems, and social media. You will want to make sure your new system integrates easily.
· Applications that will download data from your email platform—such as a BI reporting tool. Some platforms include reporting, but you may need to rely on a third-party tool.
· The volume of emails you project sending–this will impact your assessment of how easily potential platform solutions can scale.
· Functionality your marketing team wants—bring your team into the planning and decision process early. Most likely, they will want features such as segmentation, personalization, and A/B campaign testing.
· Email types and other communication channels—in addition to marketing emails, will the system need to handle transactional emails? Do you want the system to give you the flexibility to send text messages and make phone calls? Do you want to run surveys?
Related: B2B Email Marketing Trends in 2022
· Customizable templates—it’s good to get basic templates out of the box so you don’t have to recreate the wheel, but it’s also nice to have the flexibility to make tweaks according to your specific needs.
· IT requirements—talk to your IT team about the necessary compute resources, integrations with other systems, security, deployment, and ongoing support. Even if you use a cloud solution, IT needs to know what your plans are.
· Compliance—with the prevalence of privacy regulations, compliance will be a major factor as well. You will need to make sure the platform protects personal information and gives prospects and customers a clear understanding of how you will use their information along with the ability to opt-out of your system at any time.
Automation is another key capability—after all, you want your platform to reduce or eliminate manual methods so your marketing team can spend more time on planning and analysis.
Specific automation capabilities to look for include functions such as resending unopened emails with different subject lines, welcome emails for new subscribers, offers triggered by anniversaries of becoming a customer, reminders to anyone who abandons an online order, and recommended products based on previous purchases.
Narrowing Down Your Choices
Once you consider the factors above and come up with answers to your questions, you’ll then have a checklist you can use to evaluate the many email platforms on the market. A great place to begin your search is Gartner Peer Insights, which provides a round-up of 20 email platforms.
After a quick scan of the list, see if you can narrow it down to five or six that look like they can meet your needs. From there, do some online research to reduce the list to either two or three for which you will ask for a demo. The demo should give you a solid idea of which one is right for you.
Your marketing team has likely worked with a couple of these tools in the past and can advise you what they think works best. Perhaps you can also check with a colleague—maybe one with a competitor who faces similar email marketing challenges!
The investment of time you make is worth the effort. When deployed and configured effectively, an email marketing platform enables you to deliver your marketing messages to the right audiences at the right time across their entire journey in connecting with your business. In addition to promoting your brand, you can also provide contextually relevant and personalized communications that talk about how your products and services solve the pain points of your prospects and customers.