Most people are familiar with CRMs. CRM stands for Customer Relationship Management, with the word customer being interchangeable for members, patients, or constituents. Ultimately, they’re about managing relationships and data on your key contacts and stakeholders.
The term was initially coined by Salesforce in the late 1990s, but the market has exploded since then. There are currently dozens (if not hundreds) of options for organizations to choose from, all with varying target markets and functionality. Some popular ones you may have heard of include Hubspot, Zoho, Pipedrive, and Clickup.
Sending emails from CRM systems
Many CRM solutions offer some sort of email tools, whether that be sending single emails or email campaigns to lists.
The challenge with these email tools is that they’re not the main focus of these CRM providers and as such they lack in the type of email functionality communications professionals need to be effective.
CRMs are about customer data and relationship management, not about engaging stakeholders through email. In this article we’ll explore why you should be using a dedicated email platform – and save time and money along the way – and the key differences between this approach and using a CRM’s email tools.
Why to use a dedicated email platform
One of the main reasons we hear from organizations that are using email tools that are included with their CRM is the reluctance of adding another piece of software. They worry it will add complexity and costs, and wonder why they should do so when a tool they pay for has email functionality.
We understand this concern – many organizations experience internal fatigue from too many disparate systems. But in our experience, the overall cost for the organization (time and money) is far better spent in the medium and long term on a platform dedicated to email communications.
Email tools built into CRMs are difficult to use and lack the functionality communications pros require. Tools like intuitive email editors, list management and segmentation, and compliance aren’t usually included in a CRM email add-on (and if they are, they’re rudimentary). We also find they lack significantly when it comes to reporting – metrics like deliverability, open rates, and click through aren’t readily accessible.
What you should look for when comparing CRMs to dedicated email platforms
Below are the 11 things you should look closely at when considering whether to use a dedicated email platform or to use the email functionality included in your CRM. There are major differences between the two, and it’s important to pick the right one for your needs.
Everything starts with the email editor. With the ever-expanding lists of devices and email clients people access their inboxes from, it can quickly become difficult to manage creating emails that look good across them all. An easy to use email editor is one of the areas most lacking with CRM email solutions we see.
The email editor should be intuitive and allow users to create templates that render well across devices and clients. Envoke offers a drag-and-drop tool, along with a library of email templates to start from, that makes it easy for communications professionals to create professional content for their stakeholders while protecting brand equity.
We live in a world where data and anti-spam regulations are becoming much more stringent and being introduced in new jurisdictions all the time. This can create a complex set of requirements for communications professionals to constantly monitor.
Naturally, this isn’t a focus of CRMs, whereas it is for email providers like Envoke. At Envoke, CASL and other anti-spam legislation is automatically enabled out of the box. This frees you up to focus on the goals of your communication efforts, and not on monitoring legislation in the jurisdictions your stakeholders reside.
Accessibility in this context refers to making emails that are sent to stakeholders can be interpreted by readers of all abilities. WCAG 2.0 (web content accessibility guidelines) is the broadly accepted standard for making web content accessible.
An important distinction here is that WCAG covers the content on the web (e.g. emails), not the tool being used to create the content (e.g. the user interface). Being that CRMs are predominantly used internally, they are largely exempt from WCAG requirements. This too often means that accessibility is not a consideration for their email tools.
At Envoke, we’ve spent significant time and resources ensuring that emails sent from our platform and sign up forms meet the standards put forward by WCAG.
Data in Canada
Where your data is stored is extremely important. Many CRMs leverage data storage all around the world, with many hosting data on the infrastructure of big cloud players like AWS and Azure in the United States.
If you’re a Canadian organization with data residing outside Canada, you open yourself up to all sorts of risk. You may be out of compliance with certain regulations, and you put that data at risk to regulations in those jurisdictions. Envoke stores all data in Canada.
While we do recommend a dedicated email platform, we don’t recommend a dedicated email platform that sits in a silo. It’s important to have your various systems talk to each other – they all have their place, and should be integrated to complement each other.
Most email platforms understand this need and offer a variety of integrations – a focal one being to CRMs. At Envoke, we offer different ways to connect to your CRM. The most basic involves exporting and importing lists, which can work well for periodic emails. We also allow for deeper integrations that connect directly to APIs for automatically updating data in Envoke based on changes in the CRM data.
If you want to grow email subscribers, they need an easy way to join your list(s). Most stakeholders will be used to easy-to-use webforms to do this, but most CRM email tools don’t offer this functionality. Dedicated email platforms understand the importance of forms, and most offer this as a standard feature. Envoke makes it easy to create subscription forms in a matter of minutes.
Reporting is critical to understanding if your communications efforts are meeting the desired goals. Detailed reporting allows you to adjust your approach as needed. Unfortunately, the detailed reporting you need to understand what’s working and what isn’t aren’t offered with CRM email tools.
Email platforms offer granular reporting on things like deliverability, bounce rates, open rates, click through rates, and more. You can learn more about Envoke reporting here.
It doesn’t matter how compelling your content is if your emails never get delivered. Deliverability is so important, as it’s easy to start ending up in people’s spam folders or never getting through at all. Dedicated email platforms take this seriously, as it’s core to the entire platform. CRMs are focused on managing relationships.
Personalization has become an expectation of communications professionals when engaging with stakeholders. Writing compelling content is difficult enough, with personalization adding another level of complexity. And when we say personalization, we mean more than simply addressing the email to the recipient’s first name.
It’s understandable that going beyond the first name personalization wouldn’t be a focus for CRM companies. At the risk of sounding like a broken record, they’re about managing relationships not engaging stakeholders with email communications.
At Envoke, we take personalization to another level. Being able to use a parameter in the email body (first name, organization name, etc.) is one level. Being able to personalize entire sections of emails with different content based on who’s receiving it is the ultimate goal. Communications professionals should be looking to give their readers what they want, and not bog down the email with irrelevant content. You can learn more about how to personalize your emails with Envoke here.
As with the email editor, subscription management may seem obvious, but in our experience, it’s often overlooked. It’s not simply about managing who is subscribed – you want to be able to segment your lists based on a wide array of parameters. Perhaps it’s interest based, role based, or preference based. In any case, being able to slice and dice your lists is a must for effective email engagement.
Many communications professionals are required by law or have a contractual obligation to communicate certain updates to their stakeholders. This could be medical related info that patients require, or critical information constituents need related to an election, membership updates, renewal information and more.
This need is often overlooked and emails are sent or not sent simply based on the recipient’s opt-in/opt-out status. This is why Envoke introduced mandatory messages – messages that are delivered regardless of the recipient’s subscription status to optional content.
If you’d like to explore the benefits of using a dedicated email platform for your communications, you can start a free trial account or schedule a demo.
Envoke is an intuitive and powerful broadcast email solution that helps Canadian communications professionals build and maintain relationships with stakeholders. We’re the top alternative to Constant Contact and Mailchimp in Canada for communications professionals.
With data stored in Canada, full compliance with anti-spam legislation (CASL), and advanced features like mandatory emails and sophisticated list management, you can stop using email marketing solutions and start communicating with Envoke.
Envoke is based in Canada and serves customers across various industries. To learn how customers are seeing success with email communications, check out our case studies page.