Choosing an Appropriate Email Marketing Service

Diane Buzzeo of Ability Commerce on Choosing an Appropriate Email Marketing Service

Much like the Web-based businesses that rely on them, email service providers are often quite different in their client focus. One vendor might be appropriate for small-scale newsletter publishing while another might cater to large merchants with immense product catalogs. Website Magazine spoke wtih Diane Buzzeo of Ability Commerce to gain some understanding into how to choose an appropriate email marketing service for web-based businesses. 

Tell us a little about Ability Commerce, its history and the type of clients to whom you provide services.

I've been helping retailers increase their sales for over 25 years.  It used to be that the most powerful tool for retailers was direct mail.  In the mid 90's I saw the potential of the shift to the Internet.  In 1999, I assembled a team of talented software developers, business analysts and merchandisers to create software solutions specifically designed for the needs of ecommerce retailers.  Our software focuses on giving merchandisers the tools they need to market their products online, without having to be dependent on their IT or programming staffs. Our clients are retailers in the 5 to 60 million dollars range with an online presence that need software that while sophisticated in functionality, is simple to use. Many of our clients started out as catalogers. Those companies are particularly drawn to use because of our history in traditional catalog marketing. 

What are a few of the considerations a company needs to make when selecting an email marketing service provider? 

There are a lot of email marketing programs out there, but they aren't all designed for retailers.  The most important thing in selecting an email program is making sure it fully integrates with your web store and your back-end system.  Ability Connect works seamlessly to send order confirmations, abandon cart reminders, backorder arrival emails, wish list promotions, upsell/cross sell emails as well as the newsletter type emails. It's even more powerful when used in conjunction with Ability SmartSite.

Should the type of company influence which email marketing service provider they select? 

Yes and no.  If you are an ecommerce retailer with a lot of inventory sold directly from your website, then your most effective email marketing software is going to be one that integrates effectively with information from your order management system and your web store.  If your business does not sell merchandise directly from the website or if you are selling services rather than merchandise; you may not need as robust of an email system. 

What is your best advice for achieving success with email?

Three things determine your success with email: deliverability, timeliness and integration.  The most important is effective delivery.  If your message isn't getting through, it doesn't matter what it said!  Our IT Administrators keep up with the latest developments to make sure our Ability Connect software delivers e-mails to the in-box--rather than the junk box.  The second is timeliness.  It's important to send the right message at the right time.  Your email software should react quickly to new information from both the web store and the back end so you can respond to customers within minutes of new information.  The final element to any successful campaign is integration.  The more information you can gather about your customers shopping habits and demographics, the better targeted and more successful your email campaign will be.