“Thank you but we use our list management software to send out emails and it works for us.”
If we had a nickel each time we heard this! The CRM system is already in place, it has bulk email sending capabilities so that’s what’s used.
You’re missing out!
In this article we’ll explore why it’s not a good idea to send bulk emails from CRM softwares and how using a dedicated email tool helps.
Using a mass email communications platform alongside your CRM:
- saves lots of time
- also saves money
- provides a better experience for your contacts
- gives you compliance out of the box
- helps with business decisions
Need evidence? Continue reading.
It’s cheaper to pay for email software than to send bulk emails from CRM systems
The priceless benefits from happier contacts alone should be worth it. More engaged, more loyal and happier contacts, members and staff should already be one of the primary goals of your email communications program. How exactly will an email software cause so much bliss? The benefits are so numerous there is an entire section about this in this article below.
And of course there are the savings directly measurable in dollars. Even though paying for new software in addition to paying for a CRM costs more money, the email software will result in greatly reduced overhead. Would you say a subscription fee of $100 or so per month to manage 10,000 contacts is more or less than what you pay for staff to send bulk emails from your CRM?
Using an email communications platform drastically reduces overhead
“We reduced production time significantly – it only takes a couple minutes to set up an email campaign!”Doina Strusievici, University of British Columbia
Message creation: Email platforms have built in drag and drop, visual email editors. This is at the heart of these products and therefore creating nice looking emails is not a chore. Layout and formatting can be updated with ease. An image library allows for storage and editing of all images that accompany your emails.
CRM systems are primarily for managing contacts and the email component often isn’t easy to work with. Put it a bit more bluntly: email editors in CRMs tend to suck and working with sucky software takes up a lot of time.
(Some list management software doesn’t have bulk email sending capability to begin with and people end up sending emails from Outlook, 20 at a time, BCC-ing people in each message. If this is what you do then just having access to a decent email editor where you can send 1000s of emails in one go is already worth it.)
Subscription management and profile update: Tagging contacts in list management software is mostly painless. You can tell apart members from staff, leads from customers and so on. You can assign people to various lists that receive newsletters, event invites or internal memos. But keeping this all up to date is where the process becomes a chore. Sometimes the updates are manual (John Doe asked to be unsubscribed) or too rudimentary (they can either subscribe to all content or unsubscribe from everything).
Automating all subscription management by providing your contacts with a customizable and fully self-serve “preference management” page frees up staff time and eliminates errors stemming from manual updates. A preference management page can also be used to allow contacts to update their profile (email, address, phone, etc) on their own to eliminate even more manual labor.
“Envoke opened up a way to mass and target communicate with our members that we hadn’t been able to do before, except in a very manual way.”Kelly Clemmer, Encompass Credit Union
How about event invitations? Here’s a basic workflow: Send an email invite, track RSVPs, send registration confirmation emails with links and other details, resend the invite a few days later to anyone who didn’t register, send event reminder emails a week and a day before the event. This simple workflow maximizes registration and attendance. An email communications tool can track registrations, send emails automatically to the correct group based on their registration status without having to update a single contact record manually.
When event invites are sent from a CRM system, more often than not, only the initial invitation is sent, then registrations are tracked manually and staff won’t send follow ups and reminders simply because it is too much work. The result is more time spent on the invite with fewer registrants and fewer people showing up.
CASL automation: If you’re in Canada then dealing with the Canadian Anti Spam Legislation (CASL) can be a real time suck as you need to manage consent expiry dates for contacts with implied consent. This includes ensuring contacts are no longer emailed after a certain amount of time and sending them expiry reminders. As you can imagine, managing expiry dates that can fall on any day of the year for every contact (and keeping track where expiry doesn’t apply) is a task that begs automation. CASL compliant email platforms can solve this challenge in an instant.
Stay compliant with your email marketing software instead of sending bulk emails from CRM or Outlook
Adhering to stringent privacy and security practices such as HIPAA, PHIPA, PIPEDA and GDPR is part of most email marketing tools. Data storage, encryption, data ownership and data purging, server and physical security and a myriad of other items make up the overall security of any given software. There is enough variance that your best course of action is to ask vendors. For companies like Envoke who deal with the public sector and high profile customers, security is their bread and butter.
For Canadian organizations CASL compliance is not only time consuming as we wrote in the previous section but, you guessed it, it’s a compliance issue along with keeping data stored on Canadian servers. Choosing a Canadian bulk email software is the way to go. You can read more about CASL compliant email marketing and check out a handy comparison chart of CASL functionality among relevant providers.
A dedicated mass email software is better for your contacts than bulk emails from CRMs
Contacts are happiest when they receive relevant and personalized content, they are in control of what type of content they receive and the emails look good on any device they use. Let’s have a closer look:
Relevancy is primarily achieved by list segmentation; to send content to the most appropriate audience. This is something list management apps can do well.
Personalization: List management apps can, for the most part, add merge fields such as “Hi <fname>” to emails. But few offer dynamic content that makes entire blocks of content personalized for recipients. From an email tool you could send a generic email but anyone that’s tagged as a new member also sees a section about resources for newbies. Or people who opted in to receive surveys will see a section about the latest survey in their email. This level of personalization increases engagement level and decreases unsubscribes.
Responsive content: Emails sent from an email tool will be by default mobile friendly and display well in a wide variety of email apps on any device. This is a big deal that is taken for granted and expected by all consumers of content. You don’t want to manually attempt to modify the HTML code of non-responsive emails to make them responsive – take our word on this one! And sending emails that aren’t responsive are from a practice from the last century.
In control of content: As discussed in the previous section, subscription and profile management is self-serve and instant with dedicated email platforms. People like “self-serve” and expect “instant”.
Make better decisions: tracking and reporting in email marketing software
So far we’ve established that dedicated email communication software makes life easier for people who publish the emails and manage lists and there are multiple benefits for your audience, too. What about the management team? What’s in it for them aside from staff time savings? The answer is tracking and reporting.
By having access to reports that show clicks, opens, unsubscribes and bounces:
- You know which content generates the most – and least – interest and therefore can write content that is relevant and sought after. Content creation is expensive and you don’t want to be shooting in the dark.
- You know which group of your contacts are the most (dis)engaged so you can reach out to re-engage folks who have lost interest and follow up with your engaged audience.
- You see where technical issues prevent emails from reaching inboxes so you can fix them. Dealing with errors is unavoidable and knowing what needs fixing beats having no clue why or why not some email campaigns garner more or less response.
Do I need to integrate our CRM to an email tool?
Data will be out of sync in short order if you keep the same contact list in two different systems so you need to integrate them. Once integration is configured, you have the best of both worlds: Your CRM and an email platform working in unison, synced automatically, allowing you to manage contact relations and email communications.
You have three choices to go about this:
Option 1: Don’t integrate
That’s right. You don’t have to integrate. Your CRM can be the source of truth for all contact details while the email tool is the source of truth for anything subscription related. Since you don’t send emails from your CRM and don’t use the email tool to manage contact details this is a perfectly feasible approach.
Each time you want to send an e-blast you can export a list from your CRM, import to the email tool and send away! The downside? Manual export/import needed before each email send. If you don’t send email daily this may just be a decent option because exporting/importing typically doesn’t take too long. But it is manual and therefore error prone and takes up somebody’s time.
Option 2: Integrate one way only
Each time a new contact is added or updated in your CRM, insert or update the matching contact record in the email database. This integration ensures that any time you send an email blast all contact details are always up to date so the email is sent to the correct group of people. Since you don’t send email from your CRM at this point it’s not critical to sync subscription settings back. Integrations like this are commonly achieved using APIs (APIs allow two applications to talk to each other) or via third party integrations apps such as Zapier.
Option 3: Establish a two way integration
Two way integration may be required if you still send occasional emails from your CRM in addition to your email tool or if you simply like everything to be always in sync. Much like one way integrations, APIs or other apps are used to create two way or bidirectional integrations.
How to switch to using an email communications platform?
OK, so you’re convinced it’s the way to go. But don’t have the time to do it and don’t want to change existing processes, don’t want to deal with IT and [insert excuses here]. You’re basically dreading the very idea of changing software.
You need to set up subscriptions, custom fields, forms and users. You need to create email templates and train staff on usage after you learn to use the software yourself. You need to deal with unforeseen technical requirements. And sometimes, before you do anything, a privacy impact assessment (PIA) or similar security and privacy review needs to be completed.
Who wants to deal with all this? Nobody, that’s who.
This is exactly why full service setup was invented by software companies. And it costs an arm and a leg. Or the setup service doesn’t exist and you have to figure everything out yourself the hard and long way. Which do you prefer? Pay lots of money or throw a ton of resources at setup?
At Envoke – a mass email communications software company whose website you’re on – we provide a comprehensive account setup and one-on-one training to alleviate the headaches of getting started with new software and don’t charge a penny for it. This way clients start out happy and stay longer. We also help with privacy and security assessments and can work with privacy officers and IT.
“Envoke provides excellent training resources – Exceptional customer service and technical support.”Shelly Dornian, Tall Tree Health
The million dollar question: Which email software to use?
There are hundreds of email marketing platforms and choosing the right one is no simple task.
You can read our Buyer’s Guide to Choosing an Email Marketing Platform to help and we suggest you check out Envoke, which is a bulk email platform that checks all the boxes for both communications and privacy officers.
Envke includes robust and customizable subscription management with great ongoing support and a comprehensive and free account setup program. The software supports single and multi-account environments, it can integrate with just about any CRM system and can also accommodate unique Canadian requirements such as data storage on Canadian servers and compliance with CASL.
“Such a fantastic experience using Envoke. It’s easy to use, easy to navigate and is well supported by amazing customer service representatives. Also has meaningful statistics on sent emails which help to analyze how well communications are or are not working for you. I would highly recommend it.”Leanne Draksler, Mohawk College
What about Mailchimp? Mailchimp is of course the largest email marketing platform out there but it’s not for everybody. They have no doubt rich functionality but their sheer number of customers mean they can’t give much personalized attention to users and their subscription management options aren’t customizable enough for larger organizations. See how Envoke compares to Mailchimp.
Using an email software alongside your CRM is cheaper than you think, greatly reduces manual processes and you get access to features you don’t get when you send bulk emails from CRM systems. Starting up or switching to an email platform can be daunting but after the one-time setup work is completed you enjoy benefits for years to come. Learn more at Envoke.com