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Email Marketing Solutions for Salesforce.com (Updated!)

Email MarketingUnless you have all the customers you need, some level of marketing is necessary and important. Despite the proliferation of spam, email marketing continues to be a key weapon in the marketer's arsenal. For our clients which use Salesforce CRM as their enterprise CRM system, we often have the conversation about the extent of the native capabilities of Salesforce CRM as it relates to email marketing, mass email, email tracking, etc. The goal of this article is to provide a high-level look at the difference between using the native capabilities of Salesforce CRM vs using a specialized email marketing or marketing automation application. We also highlight a number of third-party Email Marketing and Marketing Automation applications that are pre-integrated with salesforce.com.

Because this is a really large topic, we will be updating this article on an ongoing basis. At the bottom of this article is a "Last Updated" stamp that will let you know when it was last modified.{jcomments on}

Native Salesforce vs. Add-On Marketing Applications

When considering if you should use the native functionality of Salesforce CRM marketing or an add-on, here are some of the issues to consider:

  • Included with Salesforce.com - you've already paid for salesforce.com, so if you can live within salesforce.com's limits, you might want to do so.
  • Leads vs. Contacts - salesforce.com can send mass email to both Leads and Contacts, but you must do so in separate blasts; external programs often allow a single blast to a combination of both leads and contacts, simplifying your marketing process.
  • Volume Limits - salesforce.com limits the maximum number of mass emails you can send to external addresses to 5,000 per day per org. In some cases, Salesforce may be willing to increase these limits. Talk to your account executive if you have questions.
  • Templates - salesforce.com offers text, HTML (with and without using letterhead) and Visualforce templates as options.  The user-friendly text and HTML w/letterheads are clean and easy for any user to create, but are somewhat limited in layout capabilities.  The HTML without letterhead and Visualforce require extensive knowledge of HTML or Visualforce respectively, but can expand layout options significantly.
  • Merge Fields - Salesforce.com allows you to include fields on the Lead/Contact record as well as any parent account or master-detail relationship; however, if you need to fields from a number of other objects (tabs), you will be out of luck unless you create Visualforce templates.  We recommend the Conga products if you have more complex field merge requirements.
  • Email Sender - Using salesforce.com to send mass emails, all emails in the blast will come from the sending user.  With third-party applications, you are often allowed to have it appear that each email is coming from the owner of that particular record.
  • Limited Automation - if you need the system to automate a multi-step campaign or automate mass emails, you will have to look to one of the third-party applications described below as the native mass-email capability of salesforce.com requires a user to manually trigger an email (although you can schedule it for future delivery).
If you find that your needs are complex or you can't live within the capabilities provided natively within salesforce.com, have no fear, there are more than a dozen third-party applications that are pre-integrated with salesforce.com and can significantly expand your email functionality. If you visit the Salesforce.com AppExchange and search for the term "Email Marketing" you will find 3 pages of solutions including some of the ones listed below. When deciding which application is right for you, other than price, you should consider if you are looking for a basic Email Marketing application or a Marketing Automation application.  While there is overlap between these two categories, the basics are as follows:
 

Email Marketing

The basic function of an Email Marketing application is to send mass email messages to your targeted email lists. Email Marketing applications are less expensive than full Marketing Automation solutions (see below) and are most often priced on a per email basis.  If the 1,000 email limit is your primary concern or constraint with the native salesforce.com marketing functionality, then an add-on Email Marketing application may be all you need. The following are some of the additional features, enhancements and bells & whistles to look for from Email Marketing applications:
  • Mass Email - volume is a key consideration; how many names in your list; how many names to mail in a single blast.
  • Opt-Out/Opt-In Management - all good programs should have the ability for uses to opt-out of mass mailings and many offer opt-in solutions as well.
  • Deliverability Management - includes deliverability tools that can analyze your content in order to minimize your message being treated as spam; bounce management handles the ability to auto-remove bad emails from your list or identify why a message was bounced
  • List Cleansing - ability to identify and remove duplicates and invalid email addresses
  • Reporting & Tracking - expect basic functionality to include tracking of open rates and click through rates. More robust reporting is available on more powerful solutions.
  • Survey Capabilities - some of the applications offer the ability to create email surveys.
  • Template & Content Creation Functionality - ability to easily create template-based emails with various styles, layouts and features 
Email Marketing Applications Pre-Integrated with Salesforce (prices shown are entry level pricing disclosed by vendor; consult vendors for volume discounts and other pricing considerations based on volume and features desired):
 

Marketing Automation

The differentiating feature of a Marketing Automation application vs. an Email Marketing application, is automation as the name implies. No longer do you have to be present to click the "send" button to fire off hundreds or thousands of email messages. Additionally, you may not even have to manually select which names to mail to as a Marketing Automation application can dynamically add and remove names from a distribution list based on segmentation formulas that you pre-establish. Most Marketing Automation tools include most all of the functionality found in Email Marketing applications described above and provided enhanced capabilities through many of the following features:

  • Campaign Automation - replicate successful multi-step marketing campaigns and have them run on auto-pilot. For example, set-up a campaign that will automatically send a save-a-date email 180 days before the event, invitation 90 days before event, reminder 30 days and 5 days before event, and sorry-we-missed-you and thanks for attending messages 1 day after the event. Campaign automation is the core functionality that differentiates Marketing Automation applications from Email Marketing applications.
  • Dynamic Content - automatically provide alternative content based on segmentation parameters. For example, a recipient in California could receive content on events in California while a New York recipient could receive events in New York all through a single automated emailing.
  • Event/Webinar Management - manage invitations, registration, reminders and post-event correspondence; integrate with popular webconferencing programs like WebEx.
  • Forms and Landing Page Management - Many solutions can create dynamic landing pages that can be pre-populated with personalized information on the user, greatly increasing clickthroughs and form completions.  These PURLs (personalized URLs) increase open rates in emails as well. Completing personalized forms can also be supported by auto-responder functionality provided in some applications.
  • Lead Nurturing - ability to manage leads overtime that aren't ready to buy today and monitor for changes in interest.
  • Lead Scoring - ability to apply formulas to leads based on behavior and visit patterns.
  • Social Marketing - integrations with Twitter, Blogs, etc.
  • Website Monitoring - enable your teams to see individual companies visiting the website, often in real-time. This is not the same thing as website analytics like Google Analytics. Some vendors refer to this as website caller ID.
Marketing Automation Applications Pre-Integrated with Salesforce.com (prices shown are entry level pricing disclosed by vendor; consult vendors for volume discounts and other pricing considerations based on volume and features desired):
 

Other Considerations

  • Agency Model - If you are a marketing company and send mail on behalf of clients, you need to find a solution with an Agency Model; additionally, so providers may provide a private-label version that can be re-branded in your name.
  • AppExchange App Integration - most of the applications noted above can be easily integrated by having your system administrator install their AppExchange application. Find out from the vendor what is involved in set-up and configuration and who will do this for you (vendor, you or a salesforce.com partner like akaCRM)
  • Contract Model - contract terms vary from pay-as-you-go to annual contracts
  • Cost Model - the various applications have models that range from charging per email, per name on your contact list, per user in your salesforce.com org. or a flat monthly fee. Some employ a combination of these models or provide options. 
  • Database Segmentation - the key to good marketing is targeted marketing.  Consider how well each application allows you to segment and target your message
  • Ease of initial set-up / Ease of ongoing use - if it is hard to use, it won't be used. Some of the solutions are easier to configure and use than others. More power doesn't always mean easier to user. When in doubt, go for the keep it simple rule.
  • iPhone and Mobile Apps - some of the applications have an iPhone app or other mobile integrations which can be useful if you need to monitor your campaign from the road.
  • Integration - understand how the application utilizes the salesforce.com database and stays in sync with salesforce.com; for example, if you change the owner of a Contact record in salesforce.com, does your third-party application know this too?
  • Nonprofit Pricing - Salesforce was one of the first SaaS providers to offer free licensing and deeply discounted pricing to qualified 501(c)3 non-profit organizations.  Many of the application partners in the Salesforce ecosystem have followed in their footsteps.
  • Outlook/eMail Plug-Ins - ability to send template-based emails from within your email programs 
Have questions?  Give us a call.