3 March 2022
How to start nailing personalised experiences
If you’re looking for a channel that delivers, look no further than email marketing.
We’re here all week…
All joking aside, email marketing is big business, and one of the most powerful tools you can utilise for your company. It can help drive customer retention, build your brand, and deliver more ROI (up to 4,200% more ROI, or $42 for every $1 spent) than any other marketing channel.
As James covered in his latest article, many companies often overlook their email marketing strategy, when the truth is; a well-planned campaign can go a long way. But, before you can start sending emails, you need to choose the right email software provider (or ESP) for your business.
It is tricky to find (air quotes) “the best software in 2022”, particularly with so many options and products available, and even more particularly when everyone has a preference and is looking for different things.
However, If you aren’t looking to read this whole blog **spoiler alert** – in our experience, MailChimp or Klaviyo take the biscuit. But if you are willing to go the distance, don’t worry – I’ll get into why those two are particularly tasty options.
Right up top, let’s first outline a few different terms that seem to confuse this topic. An email client or service provider is the software that enables us to send emails, like Gmail (yay) or Outlook (yuck). Email marketing software also sends emails but provides a bucket full of other features that make it about marketing products or services through using email.
Individuals, businesses and marketing agencies use an EMS tool to build, design and schedule your company’s lovely email marketing campaigns – though that isn’t to say that building and running a campaign is a simple undertaking.
Like many marketing channels, email marketing is a rainbow of complexity, starting with simple newsletters and monthly updates, through to detailed ecommerce-based campaigns, specifically designed to drive revenue.
Similarly, your approach to email marketing can be as simple or complicated as your business needs it to be. Some companies might consider the best approach is a value-added newsletter, sent to customers who have opted in to hear more about what you have to say.
Other businesses will want to link their email campaign directly to transactions and revenue, leveraging email to make tailored offers, promote discounts and feature specific products. What’s more, integration with back-end systems for ecommerce is becoming increasingly necessary, so making sure your EMS syncs to your site’s CRM or stock management system may be essential.
Check out our previous post on the state of Ecommerce in 2022 to see how integral linking all channels (including email marketing) really is.
Choosing the right email marketing software will entirely depend on your campaign goals, and whilst this article is by no means an exhaustive list, we’re going to focus on those we’ve used recently (for better or worse). It’s also worth pointing out that the majority of software platforms offer very similar things at a base level, so we’ll try to pull out the key features below so you can make an informed choice!
Okay so, we may be biased, but MailChimp isn’t one of the most well-known software systems in the industry for no reason. Feature-rich, providing businesses (and agencies) with everything they need for email marketing, without being overly fussy or complicated.
The Free-forever plan is bursting with tools for running your own campaign. From building and scheduling to A/B testing and performance analytics; Mailchimp offers a bit of everything within their freemium version. Here’s a rundown of what’s in the baaax:
If your mailing lists are over 2000 Customers, or your subscribers slip past 10k, Mailchimp offer three paid variants of their software platform; Essentials, Standard & Premium. Follow the links to see costings and what each increment offers for your buck.
MailChimp is a solid and dependable software platform, widely used by businesses and agencies to create engaging and successful marketing campaigns to reach their customers. The drag-and-drop functionality makes designing accessible for the majority of experience levels, yet the flexibility of the platform also allows for more intricate designs using code. Campaign analytics are clear and simple, making reporting on open and click-through rates a breeze. The popularity of Mailchimp means that there are a host of CRMs and CMSs that integrate with this software (hurray!), but if you have a custom site or are looking for an email marketing software solution that is very specific – you may need to look elsewhere.
Say it together; Kl-ay-v-ee-o, Kl-ay-v-ee-o. It took us a hot second to get it right. As previously mentioned, there is an unavoidable amount of crossover when comparing email marketing software. But one area that Klaviyo thrives in when compared to other platforms is granularity, let’s take email segments as an example.
Where Mailchimp offers two forms of list segmentation; ‘Groups’ and ‘Segments’ (segments being new subscribers or recent purchases, groups being segments of segments, based on behaviours like buying something in the last week) – Klaviyo lets you go in with real granularity, breaking up lists with a sack full of defining features, behaviours and characteristics. In addition to obvious demographics like age and gender, we’ve also broken out by:
Klaviyo also offers some impressive data science tools that are really insightful, providing valuable clues into which customers are most likely to keep on spending with you. The granularity doesn’t stop at segmentation though, their reporting and analytics functionality offers a customisable dashboard, real-time customer behaviour analytics, crazy-detailed A/B testing, as well as state-of-the-art customer lifetime value calculations. That’s a lot to take in, so here’s a digestible table to make things a little easier:
Klaviyo are also ‘on it’ with customer support, providing a help centre that is rammed with advice on everything from building and sending to segmenting and reporting. You’ll need to be a paying customer to be able to actually speak to someone, though free users can email or get on their live chat – they’re really responsive. Which is more than can be said for other email platforms we’ve used in the past!
Klaviyo offers everything you’d expect from your everyday email marketing software sandwich, but that extra money spent to get double cheese, gherkins and fries on the side? So worth it. This is a piece of kit for businesses who want advanced automation, predictive analysis and incomparable segmentation. For those who need advanced reporting, detailed split testing options and unparalleled integrations. But it’s also for those who have some spare time to learn how to make the most of Klaviyo’s granularity, and for someone with (relatively) deep pockets.
Before we begin, we’re not saying that Hubspot’s all-in-one marketing suite is no good, it certainly can be.
Providing users with a myriad of tools to employ across multiple campaigns and as many channels, this is a perfect option for someone starting out, looking to have everything under one roof, to simplify what can quickly get quite confusing.
Anyone who has worked within marketing for a while understands the different channels and the industry-standard tools within. You’ll know that having everything together isn’t entirely necessary, and could be a hindrance when working with multiple clients who want and need different things.
Let’s take a look at the pros and cons:
A great resource for someone working in-house, or for an independent looking to work on a variety of different channels, including email. But relatively expensive and quite constrictive if you’re working across clients, across channels, across CRMs and across CMSs.
It really depends on what you’re looking for. This article aims to reveal which email marketing software we found the most effective for email campaigns. The Hubspot product is an entire CRM that take the multi-channel approach and tries to market itself to everyone, from the novice marketer to a seasoned pro. In our experience, that isn’t achievable. Just like a carpenter uses multiple tools to build a bookshelf, a marketer needs many tools to build a cross channel campaign – and there are better email marketing tools out there than this. But that’s, like, just our opinion.
Dotdigital is another platform that bridges the gap between opposing marketing channels, which will be a bonus for some, and feel restrictive for others. Designed for mid to large-scale businesses, Dotdigital is a marketing toolkit that helps businesses through trackable links, A/B testing, landing page customisation and responsive email templates. Great, ticks all the boxes then. How you’d wish it were so.
This exclusively cloud-based platform does offer quite a lot out of the box, similarly to Hubspot, and is marketed as the system to use for integration with CRMs like Magento, Salesforce and Shopify. However, we found that the system does not have the same intuitive UI as MailChimp, and does not offer the same level of granularity that Klaviyo offers.
Whether this is down to the fact that the others mentioned are dedicated email marketing platforms – thus focussing on providing tools and features that email marketers really need – well, that’s up for debate. Here are the ups and downs of Dotdigital from our perspective:
Dotdigital seems to work well for businesses who are using one of the popular ecommerce platforms, so may offer a solution for agencies who adhere to one specific CMS. We found that the analytics and reporting metrics that came out of Dotdigital didn’t provide us with enough granularity, meaning we were restricted on how to optimise the ongoing campaign without the useful insights offered by other software platforms.
I’m sure that many people have had great experiences and success using Dotdigital, but for what we need from our email marketing software – we found this one lacking. The pricing structures and contractual agreements are off-putting (2 year contracts don’t fill you with confidence), we found that the templates included are great, but if your clients have a coded, specific design to use – the template builder is clunky at best. Not to mention that when compared against Klaviyo from a reporting and insights standpoint, Dotdigital just doesn’t provide enough information to properly test and segment your campaigns.
As we’ve already alluded to, which software platform you choose will largely be driven by your needs and circumstances. If you’re an individual or start-up with a relatively small email list, perhaps looking to keep costs low; MailChimp is likely the platform for you. Similarly, if you’re new to email marketing, the simple functionality of MailChimp will appeal to those who don’t have design and development resources to hand.
If you’re a larger ecommerce business, or work in a multi-channel agency, then we’d recommend looking into Klaviyo. The eye for detail that this software offers is incomparable to the other platforms we’ve mentioned, even against other email marketing software we’ve used over the years that didn’t make the cut for this post. In particular, the segmentation options alongside the program’s intelligent predictive analysis make it stand out in a sea of competitors.
The most important thing to remember is that whatever your needs are as a business or agency, email marketing still offers one of the best ROIs out there, and as such; there is a software platform out there for you. If you’d like to find out more about how we can help create an engaging and profitable campaign for your business, give us a shout.
3 March 2022
How to start nailing personalised experiences