If you’re one of the many companies going through the process of selecting a system to manage your outbound email communications, this article is written for you. There are several factors involved in selecting an email system – here are some of the key things to consider:
- Do you want to use your internal resources to manage your email campaigns or do you want to have this managed for you?
- If you are using your resources, who will be using the system (what skill sets do they have)?
- What quantity of emails will you send?
- What is the nature and frequency of the emails (eg newsletters, ad hoc emails, email campaigns etc)?
- What future uses or applications may you have for email marketing?
I have met many companies who have looked at a number of email systems and are trying to make a decision on which to use. My recommendation is to bring it back to YOUR requirements. Start by defining what you need from the email system and then use this information to match the solutions you are considering back to your specific situation. There are many different systems on the market and they all have subtle differences in their setup, how they need to be used and what they can deliver for you. When considering your requirements, it’s useful to consider them in the following categories:
- Setup requirements (account access, interface, overall requirements)
- Database requirements (where does your data sit, integration requirements, managing bounces and unsubscribes, segmentation and targeting)
- Email setup requirements (creative requirements, email templates, subject lines, sender details, personalisation and features such as dynamic content, RSS feeds etc)
- Email Broadcasting (scheduling in advance, selecting databases to send to, approval processes etc)
- Reporting (What is included, how is the report presented, what can you do with this information)
After considering all of the elements in these 5 steps you should find yourself with a reasonably comprehensive list of requirements and you can even prioritise this list by selecting a mandatory or desired status. Once you have a strong framework and criteria in place it makes it a lot easier to select a suitable vendor and to be sure you are getting the best solution for you.
Of course if you don’t feel comfortable about making the right decisions to define your requirements, you can always bring on an objective consultant to document these for you (this is one of the things I often help companies with!)