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12th October 2012

C.R.I.T.I.C.A.L. questions when comparing integrated email applications

What should I look for in an integrated email application?

There are a growing number of email solutions available which integrate with CRM platforms.  It can be very confusing when making comparisons as they all appear to offer different pricing models and different functionality.

So how on earth do you choose which one is right for you?  Based on years of experience helping salesforce.com customers to ask the right questions and make the right choice, here are most C.R.I.T.I.C.A.L. questions you should ask when comparing integrated email applications.

C – COST

Is there a one off integration / training fee?
What is the pricing model (licence per user, costs per email send, pay as you go)
Do you pay up front based on annual estimates and what if these are higher/lower than anticipated?
What ‘juicy bits’ are available as standard and which cost extra?

R – RELIABILITY

What is their reputation when it comes to deliverability – does the tool assist CAN-SPAM compliance, whitelisting, content optimisation?
How quickly on average will emails take to deliver once you click send now?
What do existing customers say about them in reviews?

I – INTEGRATION

How exactly does the application integrate with the CRM platform?
How does the app affect standard objects and what custom objects and fields will be required?
How are CRM users set up for access to the application and how flexible are permissions around data and template asset visibility?
How do you segment groups to receive emails; campaign members, reports, individually?
How do you map fields for personalisation and are there any limitations?
What level of reporting and analytics are pushed back into salesforce? (bounces, click throughs etc)

T – TEMPLATES

How easy to use and intuitive is the template-builder?
Do you have access to a library of pre-built editable templates?
Can you create email content quickly without .html skills?
Can you preview content to optimise for different devices?

I – INTERFACE

How clunky, smooth is the transition between salesforce.com and email app screens?
Is the screen design user-friendly?
Is the email send process intuitive and simple to follow?

C – CUSTOMER SERVICE

Where is the customer support team based?
What are their hours of availability and standard response times?
What do existing customers say about levels of service?
What professional services are available for design, consulting?
Do you have access to best practice resources or a user community?

A – AUTOMATION

What level of automation is available as standard – single campaign or multi-level drip campaigns?
Can you trigger email sends based on behavioural or event-driven criteria?
Can you easily create custom triggers using an API?

L – LONGEVITY

Is the application scaleable to grow in line with your marketing objectives – for example you may not be looking at social media / web integration today but you may be in the future?
Does the provider have a roadmap for development?
Are there regular planned upgrades to functionality and how are these communicated?
Is there access to code via an open API and how easy it is to develop?
What are the data implications if you switch providers in the future?

The important point to note is that one ESP will not suit every business so you must choose the right one for you based on your objectives and your available resources.  We have a lot of experience helping customers to shortlist and select email solutions so if you need help, let us know.

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