It’s hard to think of a digital channel that’s been a more common subject of debate than email. Despite the recent discourse over where the channel fits into marketing methodologies, email remains one of the most widely used channels for organizations to reach their audience. Of course, there are a lot of different efforts that go into email marketing. The design, copy, distribution, and analysis of email efforts all get lumped under the umbrella of “email marketing,” despite how different all of those things are. Email deliverability tools exist to optimize and streamline email marketing. Ultimately, email deliverability tools improve the results and increase the value you get from your email marketing efforts.
The Options for Email Deliverability
What makes the “Email Deliverability” category particularly interesting is the varied ways that products in the category attempt to answer the question: “How do I get results from email?” Some products use a single function to support email efforts, while others could be considered full-scale marketing automation platforms (MAPs). And everything in between. To make things easier, you can break the “Email Deliverability” category into “Email Distribution” and “Email Optimization.”
If you aren’t sure if it’s an Email Deliverability tool or a MAP, you can probably group it with “Email Distribution.” These are products that literally distribute your emails to your audience. Their value comes from reducing the friction of doing email. They’ll often have features to help analyze email campaigns, but if the tool isn’t actively doing something to improve results from email, it’s in the “Email Distribution” group. These tend to be more recognizable brands like MailChimp, ConstantContact, and SendInBlue. You can even consider HubSpot’s marketing email functionality to be an email deliverability tool that checks the boxes for “Email Distribution.”
What sets these tools apart is that they tend to supplement the products that facilitate email outreach (MAPs and Email Distribution tools) by adding some kind of functionality. These tools create value by increasing the “juice for the squeeze” that you get from your email efforts. Part of what makes a great “Email Optimization” product is creating value with minimal additional effort on your part; these products tend to involve some kind of automation. Some examples of these products include:
Email Deliverability Must Haves
Whether it be by reducing the friction of conducting email campaigns or doing something to improve email results, implementing an email delivery tool should increase the value of your email efforts. It can’t do that if it doesn’t at least have these features:
Email deliverability and engagement analytics: How are you supposed to measure the impact of email or an email deliverability tool without analytics for the performance of your email? Seriously...how? You can’t.
Mechanisms for managing email outreach: Can you build emails in it? Can you choose your audience? Can you send an email? Can you make changes to email distribution? If a product’s answer to all of these questions is “no,” stay away.
Enables email optimization: There are lots of ways to optimize email, but most are centered around personalization and experimentation. Tools should facilitate one, if not both, of these.
Integrates with a CRM (if it doesn’t have one itself): You only need one source of truth for your data; don’t give yourself tech debt by using an email tool that doesn’t integrate with a CRM.
Our Choice: Seventh Sense
You should already have a MAP facilitating your email distribution. So, you’re probably looking for a way to increase the value of your email programs beyond making it easier to send an email blast. There isn’t an email product on the market that delivers results as quickly or tangibly as Seventh Sense. And chances are, you’ve probably never heard of it.
Seventh Sense adds an AI application layer to whatever tool/product you use for email distribution, and uses the data from that outreach to identify the time(s) at which individual members of your audience are engaging with their email inboxes and your emails. The application then automates the timing of email delivery to each specific contact on your distribution list based on the time that specific contact is most likely to be checking their inbox. Your email ends up at the top of your contacts’ inboxes exactly when they’re looking at them, and engagement rates increase naturally while the chances of ending up in a spam folder or on a bounce list decrease in kind. This whole process is called “send-time personalization.”
Because Seventh Sense staggers the distribution of email across the best times for each of the members of the distribution list, it enables some of the greatest features ever to come to email marketing. Ever accidentally send an email and realize there was a typo, but since you’re sending a blast it’s too late? Never again, Seventh Sense has a pause button. Realize your email is bouncing? Now you can suppress contacts likely to bounce, because Seventh Sense segments your audience for you and gives you a mechanism to do that. Don’t trust the Seventh Sense AI to pick the best times? You can also instruct Seventh Sense to randomize send times and even test the engagement with emails sent at random times against ones sent at personalized times.
Unfortunately, you can only use Seventh Sense if you send email through HubSpot or Marketo. And while it integrates with those systems, it falls short with its integration into CRM functionality. Seventh Sense’s segmentation is really only available within the Seventh Sense UI, so it’s difficult to use it to inform anything other than email decisions. Their addition of a custom HubSpot workflow action was a step in the right direction here, but again that extension just enables the functionality rather than integrating the data. The custom workflow action also helped make up for their difficult UI and UX native to the tool. It’s hard to find the functionality you need, and at the same time the UI can be confusing and overwhelming. The support documentation is helpful, but intuitiveness is king in today’s SaaS landscape.
With most of the products we review, we always want to make it clear that it isn’t the product that drives results. It’s how you use the product. Seventh Sense is as close to being the exception to that rule as someone could get. If your emails suck, they will probably still return bad results. However, it’s really difficult to deny the correlation between send-time personalization and the impact on email open and engagement rates. Every time we’ve implemented Seventh Sense, we’ve seen a meaningful increase in email engagement compared to prior engagement. It’s one of the only pieces of technology, other than HubSpot, that we implement across our client base. It seems that an email that shows up at the top of a user's inbox right about when they’re checking it is always more likely to be opened. After all, no one in your audience is going to open an email at the same time as someone else in your audience. So, why are you delivering your emails to all of them at the same time?