Can you easily communicate with your members and prospects? Is this an inexpensive proposition? Can you provide a look and feel consistent with the branding and images you want to portray? Can you avoid technical issues and undue stress while doing this?

The answer to all of these questions is yes – with the right Email Campaign Software solution. You can get a long list of available software products and do a comparison of them on the Capterra website. But before you start shopping for a solution, ask yourself some questions to fully understand the problem. In other words, you need to gather your requirements in order to provide a solution.

Items to consider include:

  • How many staff members will be responsible for blasting emails?
  • How many subscribers will be receiving your emails?
  • Do you need to create email templates with user-friendly interfaces? Companies call this a “WYSIWYG” interface, which stands for What You See Is What You Get.
  • How will you load subscriber data into the system – manually enter them; import them from a spreadsheet; or have your IT supplier send data electronically assuming the software provider has an API, or Application Programming Interface – and what fields (name, address, member level, etc.) are important to you?
  • Do you need to create campaigns for subsets of your subscriber data and what are the important data fields to include that allow you to build the lists? For example, if you want to send an email campaign to all subscribers in a given area code, then you’ll need to include that data element in the load.
  • How important is it for you to know what happened to your email and what do you plan to do with that knowledge? Many of these systems can tell you statistics such as: which subscribers received your email (that means a valid address), if/when your subscriber looked at it, and if you included links, who clicked on the link. This last bit of data can lead to some very sophisticated drip marketing campaigns and provide useful marketing intelligence.

Of course, many other considerations might be important to your association. In this day and age, the processing of email is big business. Just like unwanted salespeople at your door, or phone calls from marketers, many people don’t want unsolicited email. Emails are also a great way to spread computer viruses, steal identities, and hack sensitive corporate secrets. In response, agencies are constantly scanning internet traffic looking for SPAM. You don’t want to be identified in this category because you can get “blacklisted.” This effectively blocks you from sending out email in the future until you figure out how to get off those lists. And once you’re on a list, it’s difficult to get “whitelisted” again – keep your eyes peeled for a future blog post. Just make sure you understand the risks based on the software you choose.

To make your decision easier, consider a simple decision matrix like the example below. Narrow your selection down to a manageable number of possible products and then evaluate them on a scale (in this example we used 1-5 with 5 being the best) for each of your key requirements. Then you can add the numbers to see which product meets your requirements the best and then decide if it’s worth the price.

By the way, many of these vendors will let you test drive their software via a free trial and can be very helpful with implementation. Consider including the service they provide and their willingness to help as a key requirement in your matrix.

Effective communications with your members can only strengthen their connection with your association and when you use the software to help market, it can help you grow your subscriber base.

Good luck with your search!

Article written by:

Gary Brown

Director of IT Development