For every broker, there comes a time when it needs to choose an email marketing platform.
You may think it’s a minor issue, a technicality or something to be left for your technical guys or web master to deal with. In short, – not something you would want to be bothered with…
But the truth is, this is actually a matter of importance, if you want to establish an extensive and long-term email marketing campaign for your brand.
I believe email marketing should be looked on as an investment. This is the ultimate tool to both grow your clients, improve your conversion rates and maximize your full retention potential. In our business, you simply cannot survive without them.
So today I would like to take a closer look at the basic step of establishing your email marketing plan: choosing your platform provider.
There are several important aspects and issues related to your platform provider you need to look into prior to making your decision:
The company’s reputation and deliverability are obviously the first thing we all look into before purchasing a product, but in this case there are several other things you need to take into account.
If you think of your email platform as a car, deliverability and reputation are basically just the fact that your car can ride, while the other aspects are the ones differentiating a Mazda from a Chevy, BMW or a Jaguar.
I mean, they will all get you from point A to point B, but your driving experience and abilities will be a whole lot different when you drive a Chevy, right?…
On the other hand, if you own a Chevy but only drive 15 minutes a day or don’t have where to park it, it will also not be very optimal, (although you will obviously enjoy the ride…) so you do have to consider your available resources as well.
There are lots of emails companies and platforms out there, and while they all provide email solutions, some are packed with additional features and twists that will be great for some brokers but utterly useless and expensive for others.
For example, there are companies, like Sendgrid, which you can use if you wish to funnel emails through their servers, but that`s it. You won’t be able to upload creative, lists or schedule campaigns. So if you only wish to use the email system as a vessel, this is a viable option, not to mention the cheapest one.
Companies like Smartfocus, Mailchimp and Constant Contacts will allow you to integrate your CRM in order to upload your data (or, alternatively, upload it by yourself). They also enable you to manage all the creative, schedules and sending directly from the platform, with proper reports available for every campaign sent, showing the open rate, clicks and all other vital variables. Here the prices vary a little between the platform companies, as some charge per a specific number of emails sent, while others for the number of contacts uploaded.
And then, of course, you have the email marketing giants, Silverpop, Cheetamail and Exact Target. These billion-dollar-companies offer a complete solution for all your email marketing needs, which usually consists of emails, SMS, push messages and an integration of third party companies like lead collection companies, CRMs, eCommerce sites and basically almost any service you can think of. You could basically reach your client by any media channel there is.
On top of that, they also offer the most dynamic emailing ability, in terms of creating the emails, creating the calendar, automated sending triggers, relational databases, multi brands, and so on.
These companies obviously cost the most, both in the fixed yearly cost and in the cost per email. But if you’re looking to drive a Chevy – or have the utmost email marketing abilities, in this case – you will need to pay more. And you know what you’re paying for.
Then, of course, you just need the proper drivers to drive it…
Make sure your marketing team is up to the task of managing your valuable platform, so you will indeed make the most out of it and get your money’s worth.
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Just to give you some perspective as to the approximate costs, for every 100,000 emails you send, you would pay $20 USD with companies like Sendgrid, $150 with companies like Smartfocus, or $300 with companies like Silverpop (and that is without taking into account the fixed costs). The prices will go down with volumes, but the spread will usually be around the same or will even expand.
Cut to the chase: So which platform to go with?
Well, at the end of the day, the choice is still yours and I cannot make it for you. I can only say that you need to carefully evaluate your available resources and consider the costs involved, while also taking into account your own return on investment, which in this case is your email marketing platform.
So what are the things you need to take into account prior to choosing your provider?
To make the optimum choice, you need to examine the following aspects, and be sure you have the answers to them before, and not after you choose a platform:
- What is the main purpose of the email platform? Who will it serve? Will it be used only by the internal marketing team or will the sales team should be able to send out emails via the system as well?
- Where are the emails initiated from? Will the platform be used only as a sending vessel, while all the triggers and content resides within the platform or in a different location? Or will the creative, data and triggers be implemented inside the email platform?
- What are your creative needs? Will you need dynamic content, where the emails change according to specific parameters like the client’s country or languages?
- Are there any special interaction needs to be made? For example, if you are using Microsoft dynamic CRM or Salesforce, you might want to maximize their value by integrating the email platform and the CRM and then enjoy a unified system.
- Will the email platform need to send data back to the database, for example by adding notes for clients that have received the emails, create bonuses for clients etc?
- Is there a need to integrate any CRM or third parties?
- Is there a need for a system that will be able to send out SMS and push notifications?
These are all very important questions, and we could definitely add more and more to them…, not to deter you or make you think it’s too complicated! But because you, as a broker, must fully understand the complete email marketing flow you wish to have in your company.
Once the questions above are answered, it will be much easier for you to make your choice between the available options and platform providers.
Choosing the wrong platform may cause a waste of time, money, and a lot of headache for the tech department, the marketing department and probably for the legal department as well.
Planning ahead will not only prevent all of that, but will also result in the best possible ROI for you.
Remember, email marketing is a key element in increasing conversion rates and ultimately maximizing your trader’s value. If that is something you desire, then yes, go all the way. If you want to succeed, that’s the only way.
Ready… set… retain and convert!