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Thursday, June 3, 2010

How we rank: Email Vendor Features & Functions Guide, 2010

Email Vendor Features & Functions Guide, 2010 by Red Pill Email (John Caldwell)

All Web Email was included among 23 other email vendors in last month's in-depth review by a seasoned independent and hands-on email marketer; John Caldwell. Email vendors were asked 127 questions in 9 different categories with each of the 24 participants capabilities listed side-by-side in easy to read charts and graphs. Vendors range from small market vendors to high volume MTAs. The purpose of this guide is to provide marketers a clear, concise and independent review of email vendor features and capabilities to help them locate a new or replacement provider. View the Guide's Table of Contents HERE. Read more about the Guide and buy your copy HERE.

How All Web Email stacks up against the competition

All Web Email was listed each of the 15 'alphabetically' listed tables. Kidding aside, we were thrilled to be considered for such an in-depth review but standing side-by-side with large deep-pocket peers like Exact Target, Silverpop, PowerMTA and many others, we were anxious to see the results and secretly hoped we hadn't shot ourselves in the foot for being scrutinized in such a rigorous comparison. In the end, we are very pleased with the results. We offer clear advantages in some areas and while there is room for improvement in several categories, none of these areas affect our typical client's marketing objectives. Phew!

The guide is clearly "Features & Functions" heavy and explores virtually all technical areas of interest to email marketers. While it can't possibly highlight all of the experiences, ethics, capitalization or passion that are also considered when evaluating a new business relationship, if you've done your homework and have a relatively clear idea what your email marketing requirements are, this guide will help you arrive at a short list of contenders very quickly.

The following lists areas we do well in, and areas that we feel could stand improvement. In an environment of nearly constant change, this guide will serve as a valuable tool to All Web Email as we map out our plan for the next rounds of new features and improvements.

Our Strengths

  • Full service or a la carte combination of services.
  • Support for all commonly accepted authentication schemes.
  • Data and data tables (control of table and index structures, SQL queries, User-defined fields).
  • Strong standard deliverability & list hygiene capabilities.
  • Rendering tools. While not integrated into our systems, we regularly use Return Path's Campaign Preview tool to test rendering among the top email clients.
  • Redundant list seeding using both Return Path's Delivery Monitor and GreenArrow's Monitor programs.
  • Training & Support (we do offer on-site and video-on-demand support so we sold ourselves short here).
  • Not listed specifically in the guide as a capability or feature, but among our core and unique strengths is software customization. Our systems are 100% customizable and we specialize in providing custom solutions to marketing requirements not available "out of the box".

Our Weaknesses

  • No Self Service option. Although our systems support self service, we have chosen to position ourselves as an extension of our client's marketing departments rather than just the email delivery tool.
  • Our custom content is driven by custom field variables and not by defined sets of rules.
  • No support for SMS/Text messaging.
  • We offer automatically triggered messages based on subscription date, previous emails rendered and links clicked. However, this could be more robust.
  • No directly integrated support for analytics programs like Google Analytics, Omniture or Coremetrics.
  • No CRM Integration.
  • Reporting - With the steadily increasing sophistication of email marketers, the demands placed on reporting systems never end. While we're always looking for ways to enhance reporting and provide our customers with actionable data, there is always room for improvement. Last month, All Web Email officially became one of the first ESPs to fully implement the reporting standards set forth by the Email Experience Council's Email Measurement Accuracy round table. The purpose of these standards is to provide a uniform framework for the reporting of email metrics across all Email Service Providers to facilitate comparing results from multiple ESPs and results from other direct marketing activities. Click HERE to learn more about these standardized email marketing terms and definitions.

Our Next Steps

Apart from the usual ongoing improvements to infrastructure, personnel, training and education, the following software system improvements are being planned for the coming months.

  • Incorporate dynamic content based on statistical analysis using a third party solution like or tools developed in-house.
  • Encrypting communications between client and server (ex. secure importing & exporting of mailing lists).
  • More reporting improvements...then some more.
  • Google Analytics integration.
  • Support for sending SMS messages to mobile phones.
  • Consider option to integrate third party suppression list.

What we learned

  • All Web Email deserves to be included in Red Pill Email's "Email Vendor Features & Functions Guide" based on our relative strength across many areas.
  • Email marketers should select their email service provider based on their capabilities and not their market share.
  • The other 23 ESPs reviewed will likely be using this guide as a tool to map out areas to gain some competitive advantage between now and release of the 2nd Edition of the Guide.

To see exactly how All Web Email compares with 23 other email vendors in 127 different ways across 9 areas of competence, read more about the guide and get yours HERE.


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