Published on 19/05/20 by Bradlie Houldsworth
One of the oldest forms of digital marketing is the email channel. This has improved immeasurably with technology over the years and can still be a highly effective method for driving sales in certain industries.
As the system for creating campaigns and sending the emails, email marketing platforms are incredibly important to any eCommerce business or retailer.
There are 3.8 billion email users worldwide, so although there are many more internet users in the world than this, the best way of directly marketing to them is via their email address. When it comes to acquiring a new customer, email is 40X more effective than Facebook and Twitter combined.
What is an Email Marketing Platform?
An email marketing platform is the technology used by a retailer to send emails and campaigns out to their previous/potential customers. These systems are typically licensed under a SaaS (software-as-a-service) model, and a retailer will sign a contract for a fixed length of time to use the software.
There is a scale of how advanced and powerful email marketing platforms are, starting with lower-end – often cheaper – systems which allow the /retailer to send basic campaigns. All the way up to high-end, enterprise-grade solutions which are fully automated, include large amounts of A.I. (artificial intelligence) and are very expensive.
However, although A.I. is still relatively ‘new’ in eCommerce, it has been reported that companies who send automated emails are 133% more likely to send relevant messages that correspond with a customer’s purchase cycle. Over 75% of email revenue is generated by triggered campaigns, rather than one-size-fits-all campaigns. Automated email campaigns account for 21% of email marketing revenue.
What are the benefits of Email Marketing?
When a retailer is looking to scale and grow their sales, marketing (both digital and offline) is the driving activity which enables this. Email marketing has many benefits, which are applicable to almost all sizes of retailers. The key benefits are:
💰 Easy to measure ROI
Like most forms of digital marketing, it is relatively easily easy to measure the ROI (return-on-investment) for campaigns and activity that is generated and managed by systems and platforms.
Email marketing activity itself normally includes a set of tracking settings, which allow for both the ESP itself and other systems (like Google Analytics) to track the performance and measure how much revenue has been generated for each campaign or email send.
👋 Personalisation & connecting with your customer
Born from the ancient world of “Mail merge”, where a customer or prospect’s name would be dynamically inserted into a piece of marketing or communication – personalisation is simple in theory; give each recipient unique content based on known factors or data.
Modern day personalisation is comprehensive and normally includes recommended products based on the customers previous buying behaviour or viewing data. This type of data can then be used to personsalise each email to include graphics/banners that are relevant, and even the language/tone-of-voice is often tailored and personalised.
📱 Mobile devices allow people to check their email constantly
It is common for most of us to turn-off notifications on our phones for apps like our Email, so we are not bombared with a “ding” every few minutes with yet another spam email. So although emails are opened in a slightly less ‘reactive’/’instant’ manner, consumers still believe that most emails should be read. Mostly because of FOMO.
🔁 Closing the marketing cycle
Companies spend vast amounts of money generating traffic for the website. Email is a great way of re-engaging these customers, ensuring you are getting the most out of other marketing campaigns.
What to ask when considering an Email Marketing system
Like any other piece of technology or software, due-diligence is important when selecting a new provider. These are the common questions which we recommend asking your shortlist when you’re going through a procurement phase:
- What functionality do you offer, that your competitors don’t?
- How often do you release new features and how long is your current roadmap?
- What type of campaigns do you recommend we setup?
- How do you track performance and do you measure our ROI?
- Can you send us a selection of case studies?
- Could you introduce us to an existing client, so we can get a reference?
- Do you have any other clients who are similar to us?
The above are questions which we suggest to our clients to ask, before they commit to a provider. At Remarkable, we have integrated well over 30 different ESP (email sending platforms) over the last 20 years, including the three systems we are comparing in this article. Bronto – the Oracle-owned platform is a well-tested tool used by many mid-to-large retailers, Ometria – a high-end platform focused on customer engagement and content interaction, and Emarsys – a powerful and comprehensive system, perfect for larger direct marketing teams.
Our other ESP integrations include Smart Focus, Pure 360, Mapp, Mailgun, Mailchimp, iContact, Communicator, Sailthru, RedEye, Klaviyio, Marketo, DotMailer/DotDigital and many, many more.
Ometria was founded in 2013 and since 2017 have raised several rounds of funding to develop their technology into a leading ‘marketing experience’ platform. As of early 2020, Ometria have 200 clients across a range of sectors.
Ometria have grown their market share and this is a result of marketing themselves as a ‘Marketing Experience Platform’ with cross-channel capabilities. So the technology is not just for coordinating email sends, but instead of orchestrating marketing activity for email, social, SMS, push notifications and direct-mail too.
- Ometria can work with most platforms, including the Vybe Commerce Cloud, Magento and Salesforce Commerce Cloud and is easily integrated with them.
- Ometria is retail-specific, and focus their functionality on consumer behaviour and purchase activity.
- The Ometria email building visual editor is really easy to use and allows for teams with little-to-no coding knowledge to fully design campaigns.
- The journey creator is fully drag-and-drop, yet the validation is not particularly great from what we’ve heard.
- Personalisation is out-the-box and can be integrated with other systems too, like Dynamic Yield or Optimizely for cross-channel personalisation.
- Technically, there are few issues. However, we’ve heard reports of how proactive their sales team are and their focus is new business rather than account management.
- That said, the support team are fantastic if there are any issues.
- Slow development of new features and there is little movement of their roadmap.
Labelling themselves as an “omnichannel customer engagement platform“, Emarsys have several thousand clients across most territories and in most industries too.
Although Emarsys has many competitors, they are still predominantly known for their strong “crowdsourcing” strategies – where known campaigns and activity can be used as a template to give a retailer a “head start”.
- Although we cannot attest to this, Emarsys claim onboarding and setup can be completed within 1 day. Which if true, is a lot faster than their competitors.
- Automation has been a big focus for Emarsys, with most of their functionality allowing for logic and automated activity to be created.
- CDP (customer data platform) is part of the solution and provides extensive insight for digging into particular customer behaviour.
- Customer Loyalty is tied to the Emarsys CDP
- “Instant deploy” capabilities for launching a campaign or message to a segment of customers, on a particular channel, almost instantly. This is powerful for reactive retailers who focus on price and availability as their USPs.
- Training is often not included in the package and is charged on-top of your license fee. This is typically negotiable, but be sure to include training with your contract.
- Although automation has been developed extensively in the platform, there are still key issues which retailers run into – for example, emails campaigns cannot be used in more than one automation flow.
In June 2015, cloud ERP vendor NetSuite acquired Bronto to combine Bronto’s industry-leading email marketing system with their omnichannel marketing platform. Then in November 2016, Oracle acquired NetSuite, and therefore Bronto became part of Oracle.
Since that point of ownership, Bronto has been seen as a high-end player and has focused their efforts on their ecosystem of technology, rather than their email marketing system itself. (Fun fact – did you know, one of the Oracle board of directors is the former Director of the CIA!)
- Analytics, data and tracking – with API capability for getting under the bonnet when required.
- Deliverability and transparency of it are good once a retailer has been through a process of warming their email servers and Bronto applies their special magic dust.
- Easy to use interface with reliable, yet limited drag and drop functions for building complex layouts or attempting to add UX effects.
- Workflows are powerful and defaults can be set up for all new campaigns or email designs to flow through the same workflow.
- Dynamic content is available to be used, which is a step towards personalisation but certainly feels a little out-dated.
- With Bronto’s Oracle US-based ownership comes a corporate attitude and approach, with their communications known to be formal and considered – this often means they can be slow to reply.
- For smaller retailers, it is worth remembering that Bronto charge based on the number of emails sent, not the size of your email list. This may limit how many emails you want to send.
Choosing the best email marketing platform for your business will hugely depend on your current position in the market and your business strategy for the foreseeable future.
The best ‘all rounder’ email marketing platform is…
In general, we would recommend Bronto as a good ‘all-round’ ESP – especially for medium sized businesses (including B2B sectors). If you have less than 200 staff, it is probably overkill. If you’re larger, it won’t have flexibility of some of the enterprise-level ESPs.
The best email marketing platform for B2C retailers is…
Ometria certainly is not just another email system and merchants fall in love with the insight that this gives them on their customers. Retailers are able to engage with their customers, rather than just firing emails their way.
If you’re looking for an eCommerce platform that seamlessly integrates with your current third party software, our Vybe Commerce Cloud integrates with a wide variety of Email Marketing Platforms including Ometria, Emarsys and Bronto. Give our experts a call for more information.