“What’s important is that you have faith in people . . . and if you give them tools, they’ll do wonderful things with them.”
— Steve Jobs
If you work in the industrial sector (and even if you don’t), you know how important it is to equip the right people with the right tools to ensure productivity and profitability. This truth is apparent in the B2B digital marketing world as well.
In this quarterly column, we’ll be looking at important tools for every aspect of your digital marketing mix. As new tools come out, we will revisit channels and may even have some “best of” lists down the line, so get your nominations ready!
Since this is the first installment of this column, I’ll be going through some foundational email marketing tools that aren’t new by any means, but that everyone in the industry should be familiar with to some degree. Email is a vital part of the marketing mix, especially for industrial companies, so having an easy-to-manage solution is very important. Let’s begin!
Leading Email Marketing Services
Whether you are a large corporation or a small industrial business just looking to stay in touch with your customers, the Emma email marketing platform is a great place to start. Emma is one of the better-known email marketing services and that popularity is definitely no accident.
Aside from their plethora of features and tools, one of Emma’s big draws is their increasing interest in marketing automation, a rising trend that we’ve discussed in our here. Emma is expanding their base of tools to be friendlier with all the major marketing automation systems and incorporating practices such as birthday wishes, welcome emails, contact follow-ups, and more.
Like the others platforms on this list, Emma offers pre-built templates (but will also let you design your own), mobile-friendly emails, CAN-SPAM compliance, and contact management to ensure your business’s email marketing program gets off to a successful start.
For those who are completely new to email marketing or who don’t have much of a budget, we like MailChimp because it’s free if you have fewer than 2,000 contacts and send fewer than 12,000 emails per month. The MailChimp interface is extremely easy to use and the service is very mindful of the federal CAN-SPAM Act regulations, which means you won’t have to worry about being blacklisted if you use MailChimp.
Probably one of the biggest advantages of MailChimp is its simplicity. Even if you’ve had zero experience dealing with email platforms, MailChimp’s friendly design and tutorial videos will help you feel like an expert in no time.
Aside from their spectacular user experience, MailChimp also offers integrations with other platforms such as Mandrill (MailChimp’s transactional email system), Facebook, Twitter, Google Analytics, Eventbrite, Salesforce, FreshBooks and more, so you will have no problem integrating a MailChimp-reliant email marketing program with your current systems if you subscribe to any of these other services. MailChimp may be a bit quirky in how it presents itself, but it is a good bet for any business.
In terms of customer numbers, Constant Contact is the largest of all the email platforms mentioned in this article. The company focuses on working with people who are new to email marketing or who work at small businesses. (One thing to note: In recent years, Constant Contact has expanded to include more website and discoverability tools. This section will only focus on the email platform.)
While Constant Contact’s user interface isn’t as slick as some of its competitors, it has added a lot of tools to help businesses start email marketing programs, including 5 MB of storage, pre-made templates, auto-responder workflows, contact management, and reporting. To be fair, the other platforms offer these features as well, but Constant Contact’s basic set of tools includes everything a small business starting an email marketing program needs.
This list wouldn’t be complete if it didn’t include ExactTarget, the email marketing platform purchased by Salesforce. Through this affiliation with the CRM giant, and like many of the other companies on this list, ExactTarget has grown from simply focusing on email marketing to include a much wider array of features that address a variety of digital marketing needs. For the purposes of this article, we’ll only look at their email platform.
The main advantage of the ExactTarget email platform is its connection with Salesforce. Users benefit from built-in stability factors when integrating with ExactTarget’s sister CRM. So while other platforms are compatible with Salesforce, ExactTarget has the most seamless integration with it.
While the features of the ExactTarget platform are similar to those of the other platforms mentioned in this article, Salesforce loyalists will like keeping everything “in-house.” But even if you don’t use Salesforce, ExactTarget is a major player in the space and should be on your list of platforms to consider when starting an email marketing program.
Email Marketing Honorable Mentions
The following tools, while not reviewed in this article, are also good email marketing platforms to research if your business is seriously thinking of starting a program:
With dozens of other options available, there is no shortage of tools for starting and developing an email marketing program. We hope this column has helped point you in the right direction for your business.
Future installments of this column will look at other tools and technologies that help industrials and other B2Bs facilitate digital marketing. If you have any tools you would like us to cover, please email them to us at firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject “Tools of the Trade,” or contact us directly.