Who’s the best email marketing company/software?
This question on a recent LinkedIn discussion thread for the Technology Marketing Community reminded me of when, a couple years ago, I delivered a presentation at the 2008 MarketingSherpa Email Marketing Summit. Titled “Managing the Vendor Selection Process”, it talked about my experience in selecting a new email marketing software for my company. Slides can be seen below.
The Selection Process
As the Director of Marketing, I had been pressing the company to replace our internal, archaic email system with something that was web-based (an “ESP”, or Email Service Provider, as the industry calls it) and that would reduce the time it took us to prepare, send, and evaluate email campaigns. The process we went through is not necessarily the best or the only way to do it, but it certainly helped put some metrics in place that we could use to evaluate each vendor. With so many options out there, having some kind of analytical basis to back your final choice can help get approval for the new system.
The Vendor Selection Matrix
I created an Excel file to consolidate all info from the vendors we selected so that we could do an analytical evaluation. The matrix helped us focus on how vendors compared on each feature and also gave us the ability to rank vendors based on weighted scoring. Why? Well, because there were some features we considered more important than others and so should you. Just because a vendor has a great way to create dynamic content for newsletters, it won’t matter if you don’t usually send out newsletters. You get the point.
Excel Template for vendor comparison: you can download and use my template as a starting point.
Note: if the download link doesn’t work for you, contact me and I’ll email the file to you.
How to score vendors using the comparison matrix spreadsheet:
- List features
- List vendor names
- Decide on a numbering system for each feature evaluation (if you have multiple people helping you select and evaluation vendors, make sure everyone agrees on what constitutes a “meets feature fully” versus “meets feature partially”). This is to help you differentiate between vendors that offer a similar way to accomplish something but one is clearly better (because it’s easier, or gives more options, etc.)
- Decide which features are more important (here’s where the weighted score comes in… give higher numbers for features that are more important)
- Score vendors
The best email marketing vendor?
Ha! Good question! This is a question that only you can answer:
- Decide what is your goal with the email marketing software
- Define key features you really need
- Score vendors
- Chose the one that most closely matches your needs
How about “soft” qualities?
Yes, the excel matrix may help compare features vs. features, but falls short on so-called “soft” features like technical support, quality of service, and the all too common “gut feeling”. Make sure you take those into consideration, especially on tie breakers. Vendors that score very closely may have some clear differentiators that are not easily measurable. The important thing is to lead with the analytics side before throwing the qualitative evaluation into the mix.
Good luck in your email marketing selection process!