Who uses email marketing software?
As the name suggests, email marketing is a key function of the marketing department. Depending on a company’s size, this software may be primarily used by email marketing specialists. It may also be used by account managers, content creators and managers, and business development executives to build and manage customer relationships, generate leads, and improve conversions.
Top Picks for Email Marketing Software
- Elastic Email
- Constant Contact
Why use email marketing software?
In 2018, there were around 124.5 billion business emails sent and received each day, and about 111.1 billion consumer emails sent and received each day. While many people have email fatigue, it’s still a very effective marketing channel -- for every $1 you spend on email marketing, you can expect an average return of $32 (PDF) -- so it's one you cannot afford to neglect.
If you want to cut through the noise and take a prime position in your customers’ inboxes, you need to deliver the content your customers want at the right time. Sending out effective, tailored, personalized campaigns manually is almost impossible. Email marketing automates many manual processes to save you time that you can then dedicate to more creative marketing tasks, such as getting to know your customers better and designing perfectly crafted campaigns.
Here are the main benefits of using email marketing software for your business.
Personalized emails deliver six times higher transactional rates than non-personalized messages. With email marketing software, you can collect customer data that will enable you to build specific customer profiles you can use to personalize your email campaigns.
The information you can collect includes:
- Demographic data such as age, gender, and location
- Interests and preferences, such as affinities with brands, or type of content they like to receive
- Past interactions with your company, including source channel and purchase history
Once you’ve built up these profiles, you can send customers more relevant content based on their interests and stage in the funnel.
For example, if you are collecting data on product and category page views, you might spot the fact that a group of customers normally buy one brand of sneakers. You can then create campaigns for fans of this brand tailored to different funnel stages. One email could offer a discount off their next purchase, and one could provide videos that explain the brand’s background and ethos.
Send more targeted and relevant content
In the past, many marketers sent the same email to every single email address they had on their lists. This was known as “batch and blast,” and it should be a thing of the past. Email marketing software helps you elevate your messaging by segmenting your customers based on behavior and their stage in the buying lifecycle.
Using email marketing software, you can automatically send different emails to each segment, instead of to your whole email list. For example, you can create a winback campaign segment with customers who have previously purchased your product or service but haven’t interacted with your brand in the past six months. You can then create emails to send to these customers with the specific goal of reengaging them using incentives such as free shipping or a discount code.
Some email marketing software includes dynamic segmentation capabilities, which automatically move customers in and out of segments based on their behavior. For example, if a customer in your winback segment makes a purchase, they would be automatically removed from the winback segment.
Get deeper insight
Picture this scenario: You’re spending hours creating visually stunning emails, segmenting your audience, personalizing your emails, and sending them to a specific segment you know is interested in this type of content. But your CFO is unhappy because you aren’t generating revenue from these campaigns. You don’t know why because you aren’t tracking their performance.
With email marketing software’s analytics and reporting functionality, you can track the metrics that are important to your business -- these could be as simple as clicks and opens, or more advanced metrics such as revenue generated and time of day the email was opened.
This allows you to get better insight into the true performance of your campaigns, rather than just vanity metrics. From there, you can make important adjustments that will boost your ROI. For example, when you look at your campaign, you find out that most of you your U.K.-based customers aren’t opening your emails. With email marketing software, you can optimize the scheduled send time according to your customers’ time zones.
Build better customer relationships
Not all of the people reading your emails will be in purchase mode all the time. This is especially true if you’re selling a high-value product. That’s why it’s important to send your customers a range of different content according to their stage in the buying lifecycle -- this also makes you useful and interesting as a brand.
With email marketing software, you can track customer behavior to understand what kind of content resonates with them and what they are looking for at the moment. By sending your customers relevant content that’s not all about your brand but is helpful, interesting, and tailored according to their past behavior, you will be top of mind whenever they decide they are ready to make a purchase. This also helps you encourage the all-important second purchase as well as secure long-term customer loyalty.
What are different types of email marketing software?
Depending on your budget and your marketing goals, you can either choose a stand-alone email marketing solution, or either marketing automation software or a customer relationship management (CRM) system that includes email marketing functionality.
Marketing automation software functionality
Marketing automation software includes all the key features you need to create email campaigns, but it also enables you to carry out all of your marketing activities on the same platform.
Some of the extra features you can expect to see from marketing automation software include:
- Lead nurturing, scoring, and management
- Social media marketing
- Landing page builder (although this also comes as part of more advanced standalone email marketing software)
Some CRM solutions also allow you to create and manage email campaigns from within the same software. On the other hand, some email marketing solutions also include advanced contact management functionality that is more commonly found in CRM solutions, such as the ability to track customers’ progress through the pipeline.
Key email marketing software functionality
Email design and creation
The best email software gives you the flexibility to design your campaigns the way you want, and without having to reinvent the wheel each time. Most email marketing software includes:
- Built-in, responsive templates
- Ability to save past emails as templates
- Drag-and-drop email editor
- HTML email builder
- Image and style editing options, such as color, size, borders, and placement
Reporting and analytics
Email marketing is part art, part science, and the best marketers understand the importance of their data. Email marketing software can collect, analyze, and present this data in a meaningful way to allow you to take action and improve your campaigns. This can be in the form of pie charts, bar graphs, heat maps, Google Analytics reports, and exportable and downloadable data.
While basic data such as opens and clicks will meet the needs of new marketers, or companies lacking in resources, experienced marketers can get access to more granular data, such as:
- Open and click rate per device, email client, and demographic data such as location, age, and gender
- Time spent reading the email
- Number of email forwards
- Number of sales and overall revenue per campaign
You can also compare the performances of your campaigns so you can identify issues or tactics that have worked well.
Basic contact management features in email marketing software include the ability to add or remove contacts, upload existing lists, and search for contacts according to basic criteria such as location.
More advanced contact management functionality includes the ability to monitor the growth of your email lists and segments over time as well as create segments by searching your list using more specific criteria, such as date of last email opened.
Automated workflows -- also known as autoresponders -- save you the time and effort of having to manually follow up on emails and customer actions, such as when they sign up to a list. By using automated workflows, you can set up if/then paths your customers will automatically follow based on specific behavioral triggers.
For example, if a customer signs up to your email marketing list, you can set up a path that automatically sends them a welcome email. If they open the welcome email, they automatically receive an email with best-sellers three days later. If they open the email with best-sellers but don’t click on anything, you can then send them an email with a discount code.
This helps you ramp up the relevancy of all communication you send while providing the best experience for your customers.
If you want to get a better understanding of what works -- and what doesn’t work -- in your email campaigns, then you need to test as many elements as you can to see what makes the difference. Some email marketing software lets you test different subject lines, while some only let you test the content of the email.
You can send multiple differing emails to different groups of people at the same time, testing elements such as images, copywriting, types of content (video, gifs, etc.), and styles (colors, fonts, placement of elements, etc.).
In the past, email marketers often adopted a one-size-fits-all approach to customers, sending the same content to all customers. If you want to succeed with today’s customers, though, you need to segment them so they only receive relevant content.
Email marketing software allows you to create segments (essentially groups of customers with similar characteristics) based on certain conditions. These conditions include:
- Demographic data, such as age, location, and gender
- Interactions with your brand, such as likes on social media and email opens
- Website data, such as category and page views
- Past purchase behavior
- Preference data given during signup or in a preference center
The more granular you get with the data you collect, the better your customer segments will be. Email marketing software that offers advanced segmentation lets you combine several of the conditions to further narrow your focus and produce more effective campaigns.
What to consider when buying email marketing software
Time and resources
It’s important to think about how much time you want to dedicate to your email marketing campaigns. Some email marketing software has a lot of advanced features that are useful for companies that place a high importance on email marketing and have the resources to create highly targeted campaigns that deliver results.
If you only want to spend a couple of hours a month creating email campaigns, then a simpler, more straightforward solution without all the bells and whistles is much more suitable for your business. And if you are new to email marketing -- or email marketing software -- then you need a product that is intuitive and easy to use so you can get up and running quickly and get results, even if you can’t spend a lot of time creating campaigns.
Pricing structures: Number of contacts and emails you send per month
Pricing for most email marketing software varies according to how many contacts you have, so be sure to check how cost-effective each pricing plan would be for your business’s situation.
Some plans allow you to send unlimited emails a month, while some cap the number of emails (this is especially common in free plans). Some email marketing products offer the same features no matter which pricing plan you choose -- the only difference comes in the number of contacts you have -- while others include more features in higher-tier pricing plans.
Free trials vs. free plans
Some email marketing products offer a free trial for a limited period (normally 30 days), and some solutions provide free plans with a limited feature set. While free plans are great for businesses on a limited budget, make sure the software you choose ticks all the boxes for your must-have features, otherwise you’ll need to invest in a paid plan.
Marketing automation or email marketing
If you want to create successful email marketing campaigns, you need to make sure you’ve integrated all of your different marketing functions, such as social media marketing and mobile marketing. For this reason, email marketing functionality is sometimes included in marketing automation software, while some software vendors offer stand-alone email marketing solutions.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I use email marketing software for free?
Yes, almost all email marketing software allows you to use it for free, at least for a limited period. Some solutions provide a free trial of all (or most) features for around 30 days, while others provide limited features and support options in a free plan.
What is the best email marketing software?
Like with many things, the answer is, it depends. There’s no one “best” email marketing solution; there is only the best solution for your business. Before choosing an email marketing solution, consider:
- What challenges you want to overcome, or problems you want to solve
- What additional features or services you want to offer customers
- The amount of time you want to spend on email marketing each month
- Your budget
- Number of contacts
- Number of emails you plan to send every month
- Who will be using the solution and how much experience they have with this kind of software
- Must-have and nice-to-have features
What benefits are there to using email marketing software?
As email marketing software automates many manual processes -- including send time, email design, and personalization -- it saves you time and allows you to concentrate on more high-value tasks, such as deciding what kind of campaigns to run.
It also allows you to personalize and tailor content to ensure your campaigns send the kind of highly relevant messages that convert. It also tracks important metrics and allows you to get actionable insights from this data.
What are the different types of email marketing campaigns?
Here are some of the campaigns you can create using email marketing software:
- Regular newsletter
- Cart and browse abandonment
- Product recommendations
- Promotional or price drop
- Follow on social media
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