11. What type of email campaigns do you intend to run?
This is one area where you may want to think of future needs. As example, are you planning to do A/B split or multivariate testing? Do you want to do email surveys or allow web sign ups? Many firms provide code that you can use that allows you to capture and store this information.
You should also involve your technical people such as your webmaster or system administrator. They may want to ask the vendors specific technical questions about deliverability or security. A couple firms even provided their own APIs if you needed to integrate systems.
12. Do you plan to reuse your content?
Aside from sending emails, some email-marketing vendors allow you to republish email content as RSS feeds or static web pages. For example, you might archive previous versions of your newsletter that people could reference online. A few vendors allow you to import RSS feeds and redistribute the content as email.
One area that poses problems for vendors is file attachments. You should be aware that many firms don’t allow these, but will request you use a link to the file. In the case where they do allow files, not all file formats are supported.
13. How good is the email provider’s deliverability?
You can have the best email campaign, but the value is diminished if your emails aren’t delivered. Ask the sales people about the steps they take to ensure your email is delivered. Some firms provide info from third party auditing services with deliverability stats.
Although the vendor has responsibility in delivering the email, so do you. Sometimes the email won’t be delivered based on your content. Your email may trigger spam rules that either an ISP or the recipient uses. This is one reason why some email-marketing vendors have a built in spam checker. Before you send your email campaign, you can test it to see if certain rules are triggered.
14. What about campaign stats?
Getting the email out the door and into someone’s email inbox is one part of the process. For many marketers, a lot of work goes into determining the effectiveness of the campaign, which requires vendor stats. All the firms I looked at provided aggregate stats such as:
# unsubscribe requests
The reporting features varied considerably. You could tell with some firms that they provided the minimum. Others offered graphics or industry benchmarks to accompany drill down reports. Even though some firms allowed you to view test reports, you’ll still want to test with your own data.
Many marketers will want to do more analysis on the effectiveness of a campaign. This is true if there is a sales or conversion component. If so, make sure you can export or download the data you need. If you plan to join this data with another data file, you should consider having a unique internal identifier that is common to both files.
One last stat you should track is the number of complaints. If you read the vendor’s Terms of Services, there is usually some reference to complaints. While these firms won’t tell you who complained, they will act if complaints are too high.
I think hosted email-marketing solutions are getting more sophisticated and easier to use. The last time I looked at these services was 18 months ago for a political campaign. I was pleased to see new companies and new features. Targeted emails are still very effective and economical, especially if you have your reader’s permission.
Last Updated (Friday, 18 June 2010 20:27)