Here’s a little fun fact: I started sending emails for small businesses in 2014. Since then, I have sent thousands and made millions for companies around the world using lots of different email marketing platforms and techniques.
I’ve tested everything you can think of in a template and I can rattle off benchmarks and segmentation rules in my sleep. (Ask Tom, I might sleep-talk about open rates).
You can say I’m not shy about the expectations I have for the email marketing platform my clients choose. In fact, you could say I’m downright savage. I will transition a brand away from an under qualified platform faster than you can say lead generation.
Why? Because email is a huge part of our holistic marketing strategies because email is how we build true retention into a brand.
I talked about this before, but I’m passionate about the intersection of intimacy and attention in an inbox. And I want our tools to reflect the level of care that we put into every campaign. These are the features I look for.
9 Features of a Great Email Marketing Platform
I want to note here that your platform choice is a bit personal. You should take long term email goals into consideration. I’m personally data heavy and I want my email system to talk to everyone in my audience and be able to send messages to a select few. So I want my email marketing platform to have a lot of segmentation, integration, and testing options coupled with intricate data. This is what I look for in my email platforms.
1 – Platform Integrations
Because Dandelion is focused on sustainable and holistic marketing, our email marketing platform needs to integrate with the important parts of the business – or at the very least, Zapier.
The two platforms to integrate with:
- Payment services. Whether they’re hosted shops or a straight payment platform like stripe, an email marketing platform needs to have access to payment information.
- Website platform. You’d be surprised at how often we come across an email marketing platform that doesn’t integrate well with a client’s website. This is a serious pain – and it’s becoming more common because of data and privacy laws. We have found ways around it using Zapier or code, but nothing is better than a direct integration.
2 – Email Segmentation and List Control
Segmenting campaign sends based on engagement is crucial. If you’re emailing everyone on your list, it’s likely that you’re going to be sending to people that haven’t opened in 6 months or more. To Google, Yahoo, and Hotmail (the big three), this looks like spam/promotion. They WILL demote a domain for this causing deliverability and inbox placement to suffer throughout the brand, not just in email marketing.
Having control over send and exclude segments is also really crucial for me because we use customizable sending everyday. A big part of this is being able to exclude people who are in a welcome automation. This sort of care makes a big difference for clarity and trust.
3 – Choose an Email Marketing Platform that Gives Good Data
I’ve written about email metrics before. Data is how we make strategy decisions – and the proper data needs to be accessible. That said, email data is in a weird place in 2024 because there are so many laws and regulations around internet privacy. So we’re seeing a lot of platforms that aren’t sharing as much as they used to.
At the very least, I want to see click rate, open rate, revenue (if you’re in ecom), deliverability, and link clicks. Some platforms give you a heatmap per campaign, which is lovely for seeing what people click on and how far they scroll – the latter being otherwise hard information to get.
4 – Testing
I gained a lot of my experience and particularity in email marketing through testing what audiences will click on when it comes to their inbox. You would be surprised to learn that a lot of the prettiest looking emails perform the worst!
That’s why I feel adamant that an email marketing platform should be able to test headlines, templates, and timing. Each type of test makes a difference and it’s all worth optimizing in the long term because these seemingly little tweaks can make a lot of money.
5 – Customer Data
This is especially important in ecommerce and in companies that have a large list with a customer support focus. Knowing the history of a customer gives you a really great insight into their buying behavior and their level of trust in your brand.
You should be able to see where they signed up for your list, when they purchased, and how engaged they are with your email list (receives, opens, clicks) at least. For ecommerce specifically, we love integrations that also offer product-specific information. This allows us to build customer segmentation based on very specific purchasing data!
6 – Sign up/Landing page
This is pretty standard now (it wasn’t in 2014) but your email marketing platform should be able to collect data directly.
I hate using third party forms because it’s another opportunity for complexity and lost data. So for me, embedded sign up forms, pop ups, flyouts, and full page light boxes are a necessary feature for email marketing platforms.
7 – Template Builder and Non-html Emails
Templates are another standard issue email marketing feature, but there are a loooot of platforms that give shit templates that don’t convert. People trust them because they think, “if the platform gives it to me, it must be good.” But designers make those, not data-focused people.
What actually works is simplicity and clarity, so the ease of using the builder is a big deal for me. On this same note, non-html emails are very high converting because they most often hit inboxes (not the promotions tab). So I always look for the option to send a plain text email.
8 – Automation Ease
Automations are crucial for any email marketing strategy. You need to be able to create and update them easily because things like voice and colors can evolve overtime.
It’s not the worst thing to send outdated welcome emails, but it’s not the best either. You’re way more likely to keep your automations updated if you can edit them with ease.
9 – An Email Marketing Platform Should have Great Pricing Structure
I am very frustrated by platforms that leave features out of lower tier bundles when they don’t have to.
A lot of email platforms limit basic functionality of their segments and automations to people who pay top dollar. I prefer platforms that give you full functionality and charge based on emails or people in the system. I think it levels the playing field.
What Email Marketing Platform Do I Love?
While I’m always interested in learning more about new platforms, I’m infatuated with Klaviyo.
They offer an incredible amount of data, integrate with almost everything we need (though I’m holding out for a direct Squarespace integration), their customer support is great, and everything is nicely laid out and customizable.
What’s your favorite Email Marketing Platform? Comment your fav platform and feature below!