Best in Show: Native vs. Non-Native Mass Email Solutions
We’re often asked for mass email recommendations; it’s an essential piece of your marketing or outreach strategy, and while we have our favorites, there’s no definitive ‘best in show’. With so many to choose from, it can be hard to figure out which solution works best for your company or nonprofit organization. Just like the Westminster dog show, there are certain ways to measure success in each category (mass email, marketing automation, etc.), but ‘best in show’ often comes down to the needs and preference of whomever’s judging. So while we can’t definitively say which mass email solution is the best, we can show off some of their qualities and let you be the judge.
In terms of working in tandem with Salesforce, email marketing solutions are just like any other Salesforce app and can be broken up into two categories: native and non-native.
Native solutions are built on the Salesforce platform: they don’t count against your API’s since you won’t be calling on an external app; your data never leaves your instance; and if your Salesforce is up and running, so is your mass email solution.
With native solutions you don’t have to learn a new technology or UI, because everything is already in Salesforce. Of course there will be a learning curve to adjust to the tool, but all of your basics are already in place.
Soapbox Mailer is one example of a native mass email solution. It loads directly into your Salesforce instance, and mass emails are generated through the campaign function. Designed by Picnet, Soapbox Mailer caters to the nonprofit sector. With scaled pricing according to the revenue of your organization, it is one of the more affordable mass email tools available. For many NPO’s, working with a B-Corp like Picnet that develops products with the nonprofit sector in mind, enhances the overall desirability of the solution.
Utilizing campaigns in Salesforce for the purposes of email marketing is a common feature of native solutions; iContact also integrates with Salesforce’s campaign functionality. This enables users who already know how to use Salesforce an easy transition to using the tool. iContact is geared towards small to medium sized businesses and has special pricing for nonprofits.
Some solutions, like Emma, integrate natively with Salesforce and have their own tab within the Salesforce interface. Emma also has packages and features that are non-native and exclusive to nonprofits. Check out this video from Emma to learn more about its native integration.
It’s wise for any organization investing in an email marketing tool to clarify with the solution provider what exactly is native and non-native about their tool.
Solutions that aren’t built within Salesforce and must be accessed through an API are known as non-native solutions. There’s nothing wrong with non-native solutions; they just behave a bit differently than native Salesforce applications.
Because non-native solutions run outside of Salesforce, data (think constituent names and email addresses) leave your Salesforce platform in order to be accessed by the external tool. For this reason, be aware that your data may be compromised based on the quality of the security of the solution and the process involved in the transferring the data in and out of Salesforce. These actions may count against your API usage. Also, even if your Salesforce instance is up and running, the non-native solution can be down.
Some well-known non-native email marketing solutions (this is by no means a comprehensive list!) are Vertical Response and Constant Contact. Vertical Response and Constant Contact allow you to do many of the same things as native solutions (email template design, data analytics on delivery and engagement, scheduling and basic automation elements, etc.), except all the data and functionalities are housed outside of Salesforce. This makes sense for users who don’t rely on Salesforce for their database management. If you do use Salesforce, a non-native solution will require an integration or sync, which is something you may be able to do on your own, but which might require a consultant’s help (you’d better double-check!).
Many nonprofits and small businesses are attracted to non-native solutions because they offer free instances, cool templates, or functionality that you don’t already have built up in Salesforce. Just be aware that while your instance may start out free, it could end up costing you in the long run, depending on the number of contacts you have, the emails you send, and if you need a consultant to integrate the solution.
Pro Tip: Make sure to select a solution package based on how many constituents you plan to engage, rather than how many you currently have.
For every solution, look at what features accompany the specific package you’re interested in purchasing. Figure out what features and benefits are the highest priority for your organization, such as template design, analytics, workflow automation, and support, and go with solutions whose strengths speak to your needs. While there are too many variables involved to declare a clear winner, these yardsticks should help you narrow the pool down to the best in show for your organization.
If you’d like more information on specific mass email solutions, check out our blog on what you need to know: