A couple weeks ago I promised a deeper dive into some of the email marketing options available. Here’s the first:
Emma is all about style. They produce beautiful and vibrant email marketing stationary. You fill it with your message.
While other email marketing sites have easy to build stationery blocks you assemble yourself, Emma is about having your stationary custom designed for you. Then you can use your design with their 30 or so templates and you’re off and running. All you do is insert the content. The advantage with their model is you invest time making business decisions not design decisions. The result is a more intricate and interesting shell for your email marketing message.
Easy, yes. Professional looking, yes. Hands off, not completely.
Once you sign up for Emma there’s a design questionnaire to complete where you give them your logo, your current website, some quick questions and links to other sites you like the look of. The form took me about 30 minutes to complete. Design of the stationary is done by Emma’s graphic design team for a one-time $99 fee. After the designer has pulled together your look, it’s loaded into your account. You approve or offer suggested changes like tone down the color or change the logo placement. When I used it, the design was simple, only needed a couple tweeks and then I was ready to roll. (Here’s my latest version)
One downside – you still have to manually insert your logo onto other forms for sign up and thank you. It only takes a few minutes, but I was surprised that wasn’t part of the service. And each form has to be done individually. You remember how “plug and play” used to sound like it would be simple with no software to install? Then you opened the package and there was still a disc to install before the component would do anything. The only company to really do plug and play well is Apple. Emma’s more like Microsoft, in a great outfit.
Pricing model: Monthly subscription based on the volume of emails you send. Gobs of storage space is included for your images and documents you want to link to within emails. An online version of each sent email so you can link to it in an email archive on your website or blog. (The archive builds a library of what you’ve shared with customers over time and can be drawn on as a resource. If you’re just sending coupons, and special offers, like Staples, you may not need it.)
Really attractive, graphically layered designs, they are coming from a design team rather than coming from prefab building blocks. If you need distinctive visual texture and complexity to reinforce your branding, Emma is for you. Think of the difference between pictures in a photo album vs. a scrapbook page containing your photo as part of a story.
Graphic designers both design and upload your layout design, not you. Their pros likely have a better design eye than you – it let’s you have “Wow,” instead of “Nice.” It’s a big time saver so you can work on compiling your address list and building the content of what you want readers to know.
Emma functionality includes automatic emails based on trigger events – there is a feature where an email automatically is sent to a specific user based on rules you set up. For instance, you can send a birthday email if you’ve collected that information about your mailing list. Or send an email 12 months after their wedding date.
Emails can be scheduled in advance. So if you typically send your emails on Thursday and you’re booked solid, finish your content on Tuesday and schedule Emma to send it on Thursday at your regular time. The consistency of delivery is appreciated by your customers.
Reporting – it’s a graphic interface instead of just numeric percentages of open rates, etc. If you are a visual thinker like me, it is nice to see a graph instead of the raw data. There is also the ability to compare up to 5 mailing’s responses side by side. As you experiment with your message, this is valuable. If you’ve done a March newsletter in 3 formats to experiment with which subject line your audience responses better to, this is a great feature. If you never take time for that, the feature would be wasted on you.
Images – Image sizing is a little different in every platform. Emma gives you 5 sizes to pick from: Original, Small, Medium, Large and XL. The advantage is it is simple and easy to compare one to the other before you insert it in your template. The down side is it may not look exactly the right size compared to the space available in your email.
Cost – You’re paying $99 for design set up services in addition to monthly subscription for email functionality. When you’re on a tight budget $99 is a big number.
Design – Your business may not need the “Wow” element. When you sell cleaning supplies to gyms and hotels “Nice” is just what you need.
Limited – If you need to use an email template for something beyond your current business you have to have more stationary designed. Unless you speak HTML and can modify yourself. That’s not me. For instance, if you are helping with a carnival at your kids’ school you might want to use an email marketing template to promote the event to the parents. With Emma all your emails are on the designed stationary, with your logo. You would need to have another design done by their team to have the school colors on your carnival email. That’s a bummer.
Keep in mind these are my observations. They are based on what I picked up when working in Emma for SocialPie. Other clients’ needs are different, and I’ve used different tools based on the client. What they need also gives me a point of comparison between vendors. I’m sure I missed some great features; drop a note in comments so everyone can share your insights.