Email is a crucial channel for modern business communication. The software you use to power your email strategy makes all the difference— not only in what kinds of communication, personalization, and reporting you can set up, but also how easily you can do it. If you’re researching, evaluating, and/or implementing a new email platform, make sure you have a handle on your organization’s needs.
The templates in this post will give you a head start on formulating your requirements and your questions for vendors. Whether you want an email marketing tool, or a fully-fledged marketing automation system, the TrustRadius community’s insights will help you find the right email service provider (ESP) for you.
Email Platform Requirements Template
Here is a sample list of requirements for an organization with 1,001-5,000 employees in the Information Services industry, which is an affiliate of a company with over 10,000 employees in the Financial Services industry. It was created by a real buyer in the TrustRadius community. Their marketing department was evaluating ESPs for their own use, as well as for use by other divisions of the parent company.
The list includes all of their must-haves and a few nice-to-haves for a new email marketing or marketing automation system. It covers:
- User requirements
- Volume requirements
- Tracking/Forms requirements
- Email functionality requirements
- API requirements
- Reporting requirements
- Integration requirements
- Customer support requirements
- Testing environment requirements
- WYSIWYG editor requirements
- SLA requirements
- Workflow/Segmentation requirements
Download a free copy of the email platform requirements template here.
How a requirements document helps
The lead buyer who created this template wanted to make sure she knew exactly how well their first-choice product met these requirements. She also wanted to record which requirements their second-choice product met, and which it did not. That way, she could make an effective case for the budget they needed to meet all of their needs. If leadership decided to go with the backup product, she could prepare stakeholders for any limitations or tradeoffs they’d made.
You can use the template as a starting point to develop your requirements. You can also use it to create an apples-to-apples comparison of products on your shortlist, based on the factors other organizations have found to be important.
RFI Template for Email Platforms
Here is a sample list of questions to send to email marketing or marketing automation vendors you might be considering. It was compiled as an RFI (Request for Information) template by the same buyer who shared her requirements for a new email platform. That way, she could pose the questions to any new email service providers with which her organization might want to work, and keep all their answers in one handy place.
This list includes topics related to specific product functionality as well as business policies. It covers:
- Overall company information
- Contact management
- Customer support
Download a free copy of the email platform RFI template here.
How an RFI helps
The RFI helps answer important questions about the capabilities, limitations, and technicalities of an email platform. It also helps buyers evaluate the vendor as a potential business partner.
A vendor’s willingness to provide written answers to these questions demonstrates a certain level of transparency. This, in addition to the actual substance of the answers provided, may give the buyer’s organization more confidence in the relationship.
Not all buyers send an RFI. But for those who do, answers to an RFI typically determine which vendors make it to the next stage of evaluation—which may be a demo, or may be an RFP (Request for Proposal).
You can send these questions to the email vendors you’re considering, and organize the responses you get in a spreadsheet. Or, use them as a starting point to inspire your RFI questions, based on the specific concerns and policies of your organization.
If you’re just getting started learning about the category and don’t know what you don’t know, you may find this primer on marketing automation software useful. If you already have a good sense of your use case and want to quickly narrow down the list of options, check out this flowchart. If you’re ready to dive into product evaluations, another buyer in our community has got you covered with this scorecard template.
No matter where you are in the buying process, it’s always helpful to read reviews. The people who use these email platforms day in and day out are often the best sources of information. Read reviews of email marketing and marketing automation products to learn more from experienced users in our community.