The need for a email marketing solution usually presents itself in one of two ways:

1) You’ve started to accumulate a list of prospects and need a way to mass-communicate with them.

2) You want to build or grow your list of prospects, and finding a platform to manage them is your first step in doing so.

Regardless of your motive, there are critical questions you should ask yourself when deciding on an email marketing solution:

1. Are you sure you don’t need a full-fledged Marketing Automation platform?

The need for an email marketing solution versus a more robust marketing automation platform is dictated by your lead volume and sales process. If it takes multiple touches or communications to convert a prospect into a customer, marketing automation is worth considering. Marketing automation also applies to businesses that generate so many sales leads that they have trouble keeping track of follow-ups. These platforms help sales representatives prioritize their calls and automatically nurture prospects through the sales funnel. If those needs resonate with you, check out a small business marketing automation package like Spark from Marketo.

2. What list management capabilities do I need

If you use a CRM (customer relationship management) software (such as SalesForce) to manage your leads/prospects, it will likely remain your go-to customer database, regardless of the email marketing solution you choose. If you don’t have use a CRM, however, your email marketing solution can serve as simple version of one. A nice feature to look for is a form builder that allows you to embed a form on your website that automatically feeds the captured information into designated email lists. Segmenting your email lists is also good practice to adopt. With segmented lists, you can separate contacts based on acquiring campaigns, regions, or other characteristics, such as existing customer versus prospect.

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3. How much will your list grow in the next few years, and how much will that cost?

Even if a prospect opts out or unsubscribes from your marketing emails, you’ll probably never want to delete their information from your database. With that said, your list could grow significantly over time. Most email marketing providers will start you off with a free package up to a certain number of contacts. What you want to review is the pricing tiers after you exceed that “free” threshold. Make sure you know what to expect down the road so you’re not blindsided and faced with the choice of deleting prospect information or breaking your budget.

4. How does it integrate with other systems you use?

First and foremost, make sure you can easily export all information that accumulates in your email marketing solution’s database. You’ll need easy access for backing up the lists, as well as importing them into other solutions should you ever have to transition. As for integrations, you may be able to save some time if your email solution speaks to your other system, including but not limited to your CRM, accounting software, Blog, and Social Media monitoring service.

5. What are my email design resources?

If you have an in-house designer and someone that can code HTML, this may not be as pressing of an issue. For everyone else, however, look for an email marketing solution with plug-and-play email templates, where at the very least you can just upload your logo, adjust some colors and be ready to go. You’ll want multiple template options that fit the content of your message. A newsletter, for example, will take on a much different design than a promotional email.

Now that you’ve asked yourself these questions, it’s time to hit the web to weigh your options and make a confident decision on your email marketing solution. If you want some suggestions on specific services, of whom we’ve worked with plenty, post a comment below and we’ll try to point you in the right direction.

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Matt Rushing

Matt Rushing

My name is Matt Rushing and I joined the PaySimple team at the beginning of 2010. In 8th grade, a career test forecasted that I would go on to become a cheese maker, but that has yet to come to fruition. Until it does, I assume I’ll continue my career in Marketing. Having lived in Colorado for 75 percent of my life, I think I’m as close as it gets to “native” status. When I’m not at work, I enjoy golf, skiing, writing and spectator-sporting. You can find him on

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