Recently, we set out on a venture to analyze, evaluate and select the best advanced email platform for our middle market e-Commerce clients. We wanted a platform that would allow us to fully personalize the content of emails and drive more intelligent segmentation.  Here are the pro's and con's of each of the top 6 platforms, and our final recommendation.

Email accounts for more than 7 percent of all e-commerce user acquisitions, making it the second most effective acquisition channel – only behind search. As such, email marketing is always part of the marketing mix for our e-commerce clients.

Historically, e-Commerce email success focused on driving higher open rates and clickthrough rates through promotions, incentives, catchy subject lines and enticing calls to action. More recently, welcome email series, abandoned cart emails, and incentivized sign-ups have helped drive more results from email marketing.

All the while, the focus for email has been solely on the content and promotion strategy to support what I call the “spray and send’ mentality. We kept asking ourselves:

  • How can we be smarter with email?
  • How can we be more personal with email?
  • How can we segment our email lists more intelligently?
  • In short, how can we continue to drive more revenue and more value for the customers that are receiving our client’s emails?

We needed a solution that enabled us to be smarter with our email tactics by helping us get to know our customers, their purchase habits and what content they want to see. A quick search uncovered lots of platforms that claim to make you smarter and more effective with your e-commerce email strategies.

So we set out on a venture to analyze, evaluate and select the best advanced email platform for our middle market e-Commerce clients that would allow us to fully personalize the content of emails and drive more intelligent segmentation.

 

What Did We Want An Email Platform To Do?

We had a short list of features and requirements that we wanted a new email platform to accomplish. This included:

  • The ability to integrate purchase data from Magento
  • Segmentation capability. For example, can we segment all of the customers who live in warm climates to send them a specific email? Can we segment all customers who have purchased more than $5,000 to reward them or who have only purchased a specific product to cross-sell other product lines?
  • Automation and workflows – Based on how a customer interacts with an email they receive, can we place them into a pre-built workflow that targets them with specific content and paths based upon their action 
  • Intelligent handling (smart content) for abandoned cart emails
  • Easy interface for use by multiple users
  • Impactful reporting that integrates with Google Analytics and provides insights into engagement and revenue by email and by segment
  • Offer additional or notable functionality of which we may not be aware
  • A price that the client could afford (ideally no more than $2,000/month or $24,000/annually)
  • A platform that we could grow with, and wouldn’t have to migrate from long term

 

Which Email Platforms Did We Evaluate? 

The platforms we evaluated focused on the middle market email and marketing automation platforms.

  • Bronto
  • DotMailer
  • HubSpot
  • Kevy
  • Klaviyo
  • Remarkety

We did not assess enterprise email solutions (such as Salesforce ExactTarget, Oracle Responsys, Silverpop or Zeta Interactive) for this project. We were specifically focused on middle-market providers.

 

Analyzing The Top 6 Email Platforms for Mid Market e-Commerce

Bronto 

Their description: Bronto is the #1 email marketing provider to the Internet Retailer Top 1000. With an advanced marketing automation engine and solutions for shopping cart abandonment, post-purchase campaigns and powerful e-commerce integrations, Bronto is the premier commerce marketing provider.

Pros

  • strong focus on deliverability
  • have geolocation abilities to send targeted emails, even though we’re not collecting the data
  • Magento extension for easy integration
  • advanced segmentation (both dynamic and static)
  • offers automation and workflows
  • includes transactional emails
  • intelligent abandoned cart emails

Cons

  • interface is a little clunky, not extremely intuitive
  • we couldn’t get actual pricing without spending a lot of time on the phone with the sales reps
  • appeared to be out of budget as there were many add-ons that we would want that didn’t seem to be included in the base price

DotMailer

Their description: An email marketing automation platform for over 70,000 users. By marketers, for marketers.

Pros

  • offers a more consultative approach with strategy support
  • Magento integration (Magento’s only Platinum partner besides PayPal)
  • highly granular segmentation
  • comprehensive automation and workflows
  • integrates directly with Google Analytics
  • intuitive, simple and easy to use interface (easily supports non-technical users)
  • includes transactional emails
  • intelligent abandoned cart emails

Cons

  •  a little bit more costly (around $36,000/year for our needs)

HubSpot

Their description: HubSpot gives you all the tools you need to attract more site traffic, convert visitors into customers, increase repeat purchases, and analyze how your marketing dollars are contributing to the bottom line.

Pros

  • highly granular segmentation
  • comprehensive automation and workflows
  • impressive integrations with Magento via 3rd party extensions (also in the con list though)
  • 3rd party extensions offer intelligent, pre-built workflows
  • combines more marketing data beyond just email for a more holistic picture of your customer
  • intuitive, simple and easy to use interface (easily supports non-technical users)
  • includes transactional emails
  • intelligent abandoned cart emails
  • specific to our agency, we already know the HubSpot platform on the lead generation side

Cons

  • required to use a 3rd party extension (either through Eyemagine or RevenueConduit) which means an extra cost and support is not provided by Hubspot

Kevy

Their description: We help you increase revenue and retention through powerful tools like: email marketing, cart abandonment, dynamic popups and trigger-based emails. Every day your users are giving you data points that tell a story. Take action on their story to create a dialogue that counts.

Pros

  • behavior-based pop up offers
  • advanced segmentation
  • handles abandoned cart and transactional emails

Cons

  • no integration with Magento. Would have to be built by their developers which is a red flag for us
  • lack of advanced workflows
  • interface is not as user friendly as others

Klaviyo

Their description: Built-in Best Practices Make You More Money. With a single click, you can activate best practice emails that are proven to work in ecommerce. Cart reminders are just the beginning.

Pros

  • easy integration with Magento
  • very cost effective
  • easy to use interface

Cons

  • potential issues with deliverability
  • not as sophisticated of an offering as other platforms
  • segmentation but not advanced
  • workflows but more basic

Remarkety

Their description: Ecommerce email marketing simplified. An email marketing platform for retention, re-engagement cart recovery and more.

Pros

  • easy integration with Magento
  • advanced segmentation
  • dynamic product recommendations directly in email based on set criteria
  • very cost effective

Cons

  • lack of true workflows and automation
  • ideal for smaller e-commerce businesses
  • unsophisticated interface

The Email Platform We Recommend for Mid-Market e-Commerce

Ultimately, we realized that not only did we want to accomplish the existing requirements on our list, but we also wanted the ability to expand beyond what we weren’t thinking of currently.  Flexibility of the platform, and the company behind it became important consideration points.

At this point, we have decided to move forward with HubSpot as it’s a platform that supports all existing requirements, plus many more, and it’s a tool in which we are already familiar which allows for quicker and easier implementation.

Our second runner-up was dotmailer as we believe it was the closest in functionality to HubSpot as well.

It’s exciting to see that great options exist for advanced email platforms that focus on the middle market e-commerce retailers. Our analysis and evaluation revealed that each of these platforms can drive success for an e-commerce retailer. Having clarity around exactly what you are looking for in the platform is key to making the right decision.

Have you invested in one of these platforms? We’d love to hear your thoughts or experiences with any of these platforms in the comments below.