When the company decides to run regular email marketing, one of the first questions they have is how to find a good email automation tool. The answer isn’t that simple as it may seem.
Today, with the Internet giving access to offers from around the world, there is no shortage in supply of any product or service. Email marketing is no exception. Many companies offer to help you with email campaigns, contact base management and deliverability. Now wonder it’s easy to get lost in all this diversity. This struggle can be eased, though, if you make a start with a clear plan in your head.
Before Getting Started with Testing
Many would say that testing is the only way to see whether a particular tool fits your needs. It’s true, but testing takes time and effort. Each platform has its own operation specialties. To be able to test it, you first need to read guidelines, import your contact base, perform all the necessary integration settings. So, before embarking on functionality testing, you need to make sure you’re okay with the rest.
By “the rest” I mean issues beyond the technical capacity of the system. Below there are questions you need to answer to get a clear idea of what email marketing service you’re looking for:
- How big is my contact base? How big is it expected to be in half a year/year?
- How many emails will I send? How often?
- What is my budget?
- What payment strategy is currently better for me: paying for email or for contact?
- What other communication channels (SMS, Web Push, Mob Push) do I have or plan to have? Will I use them for marketing?
- What other functionality beyond communication channels do I need? (Subscription forms, website recommendations, pop-ups, social ads, landing pages, etc.)
- What statistics do I need in reports?
- Do I have my own team of marketers, designers and programmers to be able to work with the system? Do I count only on technical support of the platform?
- How easily can I migrate from other platforms?
Once you’ve answered them and selected a couple of platforms that suit your demands, move on to the testing part.
What to Pay Attention to During a Trial Period
That’s it. You’ve registered for a trial period and are ready to explore the system’s possibilities. You know your needs and what you want from the platform. How to test it in the most effective way and what test is considered passed?
Intuitive Interface and Convenience
The system should be user-friendly. It doesn’t have to require volumes of instructions to make the first steps. All tabs, buttons, and other text should be short, clear and logical. You needing explanations and support at every new move means the design isn’t well-thought.
When switching between sections, see if you understand the language in each of them. Of course, you need to be familiar with the basic email marketing vocabulary, such as template, CTR, deliverability, spam, or workflow. But too sophisticated terms in every phrase signal about a poor UI concept.
Also pay attention to tooltips and links to the corresponding instructions. They should be organically built in exactly where you need them most. Tooltips should be short and brief. They should appear after you opt out for it, without interrupting the working flow. The same applies to instructions. A good UI design predicts where you may need extra info and anticipates your requests with timely provided links.
Convenient interface of a text message editor
If you have complex advanced email strategies (send many emails to a big contact base, import data from external sources, use web tracking or send events via API), the speed of the processing can mean a lot. Email moderation should be as quick as possible, scheduled messages should be sent without delays, events should be registered in the system and trigger the corresponding workflows immediately.
Processing speed gets especially important at holiday season: you need to be sure your sales and limited offers will be delivered before your competitors. Abandoned browses and carts should be also processed as quickly as possible so that visitors can be driven back with the corresponding campaigns before they make their purchase elsewhere.
Today, customer segmentation is a vital component of any email strategies run by both local brands and international enterprises. Companies are trying to make every message as personalized as possible as relevancy has become the holy grail of modern marketing.
And to be able to segment your base, you need data – personal (name, address, location, etc.) and behavioral (clicks, website visits, bought items, etc.). Learn what possibilities for contact collection and storage your platform has:
- How is contact data collected and added to the contact card?
- How are contacts validated?
- Does your platform have a unified contact profile?
- What integrations does it support?
- Is it possible to import data from external sources?
- Will you be able to export data if needed?
- How is data security ensured?
Even if for now your contact list consists of 1,000 subscribers, it will grow. And so will do the amount of contact data. That’s why it’s always better to find out in advance how to take full advantage of it.
Contact card example
Though it may seem more logical to read reviews by other users before registration, I believe studying them after a trial period is more useful. As you know, unsatisfied users are more likely to leave feedback while satisfied ones often keep silent. Some bad reviews are also left or paid by competitors.
But when you’ve tried the system yourself and saw it from the inside, you can compare your experience with other opinions, proving or disproving it. If your expertise coincides with at least 70% of other feedback you come across, it’s most likely to objective.
Choosing the right email marketing platform is an important decision for any business, It determines your sender reputation, the success of your emails and eventual profit. So it’s better to invest time to test several options in the beginning than to waste twice more migrating to another service because of a poor choice.
Iuliia Nesterenko is a technical writer at eSputnik. Her focus is on exploring current digital marketing trends and describing new strategies for email marketers.