Yes, there is an advantage in going with Responsys, Exact Target or other such large scale email platforms. To list a few; you get (in order of importance): deliverability, scalable infrastructure (uptime), dedicated resources, some pretty nifty tools (particularly with the Responsys drag and drop lifecycle marketing programs), deeper reporting, account management and more. However, this does usually come at a not unsubstantial investment of time and capital. Let’s face it, if you are sending over a million emails a month you need something like Responsys, but what is surprising is that for lower volume senders you can get some pretty advanced features with old faithful Mailchimp. And I don’t want to talk about the boring stuff, I want to open your eyes to the whiz bang cool stuff under the hood! But first..
What You Should Know About Large Email Service Providers (ESPs)
Get ready to have your accounts managed! If you are into that stuff, well you will be in email marketer paradise. You can expect (depending on your spend of course to talk to a real person, have tech support (of varying competency in my experience), and receive flavoured popcorn, go-carting events and other “relationship management” perks. On the serious side, you can generally get decent guidance on email strategy, attend workshops, events and build out some nice life-cycle marketing campaigns.
Be Weary Of
Setup fees, hidden integration costs (such as hooking in with your CRM or database), clumsy APIs, unreasonable CPMs, and the level of technical support you are signing up to.
Before I get too off topic, let me jump back to some awesome stuff Mailchimp can do!
Awesome thing mailchimp can do number 1:
You can create templates that you can use across multiple campaign and autoresponders – that way you do not have to code a new template every time. But, what is super cool about Mailchimp templates is that they have easy conditional logic rules which you can apply to display different things to different people depending on whether they meet your criteria or not. e.g. people in Melbourne can see one picture and people in Sydney can see another. Simple, but extraordinarily powerful once scaled properly in to subsegments.
Speaking of segmentation
Awesome thing mailchimp can do number 2
.. introducing a desktop tool (WHAAT?!) that lets you do some pretty awesome stuff…. hairball. You can filter by engagement, by interaction with the site (if you have your APIs set up right), email address and more!
Awesome thing mailchimp can do number 3
Populate the APIs man! You can literally set up as many autoresponders as you can imagine (and I can imagine a lot!). Here are some; someone abandons cart, someone looks at a specific category of a product on your site, someone of a particular demographic in your database, someone who has not bought in x amount of time, someone who has bought product a, and product b, but not z. The list can go on! What is also awesome, is that these API feeds are expressed as “mergetags” which are easily understandable and very user friendly.
Awesome thing mailchimp can do number 4
You can get SPF and DKIM authentication. This you will need if you are sending more than a few emails 😉
Awesome thing mailchimp can do number 5
This one was tough, but I have to give it to pretty decent email support. Sure the tech team could use a kick in the but for lazy answers, but generally pretty awesome for what you are paying on a basic plan.