[Infographic] 10 steps to figuring out your email marketing needs
Finding the right email marketing platform for your business depends on what you want to use it for, but knowing what that is exactly be can hard to articulate, especially if you don’t know much about email to begin with. I feel you.
That’s why I’ve created a 10 step checklist to help you get clear on the things you want to use email for and perhaps even discover some things you never knew were important to you!
Save or share it below, or download the PDF version here. No sign up required.
Let’s break down each step from the infographic and why you may want to consider it when choosing an email marketing platform for your business.
1. Integrates with my website / eCommerce, e.g. Shopify, Woo or Big Commerce etc.
If you’re a product-based business this is a biggy. You want an email marketing platform that speaks directly to your e-Commerce site.
This is for two reasons:
One: there’s less chance of it being buggy (🐞ok, not a technical term). What this really means is that the more pair of hands handling your data, the more chances there are of something potentially going wrong.
Two: Sometimes (sometimes) there’s limitations to what a third party plug in can offer. So you might not be able to get all features than if you went with a direct integration option.
Step 1 verdict: Deal breaker. Get the direct integration.
2. Integrates with my Customer Relationship Management System (CRM), e.g. Sales Force.
If you’ve just thought: What’s one of those?, then chances are you don’t have one and you can go straight to number 3.
If you have an established CRM then I’m guessing you’ve already put in a lot of time and effort to building your database and nurturing leads to make sales. Perhaps you even send emails from your CRM system but are looking for a more robust platform to handle more complicated messaging.
If this is the case then you want to definitely make sure your CRM plays nicely with your email marketing platform. Direct integrations are great, but you may also find options to connect your CRM and email platform via a web integration tool like Zapier.
Step 2 verdict: Try for direct integration. If that’s not an option, thoroughly investigate a tool like Zapier AND always test.
3. Integrates with software that I use for my business, e.g. Facebook, Calendly, WebinarJam etc.
We’ve all got our preferred tools of the trade.
If you’re a Facebook ads Fundi then you might prefer an email marketing platform that helps you build custom audiences or even create ads.
If you’re a service-based business and offer discovery calls then you may prefer an email platform that integrates with your calendar.
Whatever you use remember to investigate how your existing apps/software integrates with your preferred email platform.
Don’t forget to investigate web integration tool options like Zapier.
Step 3 verdict: Not a deal breaker but could make your life a lot easier.
4. Has an easy-to-use template editor where I can drag and drop predesigned blocks to build my emails.
Think of a drag and drop editor as email template designing for dummies (I personally love it!).
If you’re just starting out then an easy-to-understand way to build emails is a must.
Yes there may be limitations, and some email platforms provide you with prettier pre-built templates than others, but overall I’d say most do it well.
You also want to look out for platforms that allow you to build a template once so you can use it over and over again.
Step 4 verdict: Deal breaker (for me anyway). Ain’t nobody got time for coding!
5. Ability to set up email automations for sending multiple messages in a timed sequence.
Really, if you want to claw back time in your day then automation is where it’s at.
Whether you’ve never set one up before or you’re feeling limitations from your current platform, automation features should be a must-have on your list.
My preference is for a visual automation builder where I can see the path/s that people are being led down based on their actions like opening or not opening my emails . I NEED to see it or I don’t understand it. That’s just how my mind works.
Step 5 verdict: Deal breaker if you want to use email marketing to its full potential.
6. Has an A/B split testing feature to allow me to test different parts of my emails to improve my results.
Obviously you want an email platform to send your emails otherwise what’s the point, but you also want a platform that will allow you to test different elements of your emails so that you know you’re sending the best possible versions to your subscribers.
By sending the best possible versions you’re increasing your open rates, click through rates and even conversion rates.
Step 6 verdict: At the very least, look for a platform that allows you to test subject lines, but do consider how awesome it would be to know that sending your emails on a Wednesday at 10am with image A instead of image B gives you a better return.
7. Tags and segments my data so I can identify smaller groups of subscribers for bespoke offers.
Gone are the days of batching up email content and blasting it out to everyone on your list hoping something sticks.
If you want to stay relevant in the online world and tailor content to certain audiences then you NEED the ability to sort data.
Some email platforms allow you to keep multiple lists and others encourage you to only keep one.
When choosing your email platform, make sure that you fully understand how they store your data and what your options are for segmenting and sending emails.
Step 7 verdict: If you want to stay relevant then you NEED data handling features.
8. Includes a form building feature to help me capture email sign ups on my website, e.g. pop ups or embedded forms.
Most email platforms have this function and some do it better than others.
Is this a deal breaker? No not really, because if pretty forms are important to you, and the email platform you’re most interested in produces forms that look butt-ugly, then you can always use a different provider for forms that are compatible with your website.
Step 8 verdict: A nice to have, but easily worked around.
9. Provides real time customer service chat and/or the ability to log a query with a responsive help desk.
You don’t want to be left to figure things out for yourself, especially when new jargon is thrown at you.
You want an email marketing platform that answers your queries within 24-48 hours. Also look out for an in-depth resources library with clear step-by-step instructions, or even better has video tutorials.
Another thing to look out for is a support group outside of the email platform, like a Facebook group. Do a search and see if there’s one and how many people are members.
Step 9 verdict: When the brown-stuff hits the fan you want an email platform that has your back. Definitely a deal breaker for me.
10. Provides a landing page builder to help me promote sign ups if my website isn’t ready or if I need a special landing page for an ad.
It’s nice to have everything in one place and means you get more features for your dollar. If this is important to you – and you don’t have a website set up yet – then absolutely add it to your must-have list.
If you already have an established website then consider hosting your landing pages there.
Whatever option you go for just remember that there’s an art to creating the right type of landing page that converts so be sure to get across that too.
Step 10 verdict: Potentially a breaker if you have no website set up and you want to keep things simple, but not necessary if you can create landing pages on your website.
What are your must-haves? Let me know in the comments below.