x close
Nothing to display...
9 min read

Email tech stacks

Membership content

This article is based on a B2B Big Shots panel discussion that took place earlier this year. Since this discussion, Patrick Edmonds has taken on a new role as Chief Marketing Officer at Finexio. Congratulations Patrick!

About our panelists

Div Manickam: Hi, everyone, and welcome. I’m super excited to have my fellow panelists here with me today – we have Mila, Patrick, and Neha joining us.

I'll kick it off with a short intro about myself and then pass it over to the panelists. I'm Div Manickam. I'm your moderator and host for today, and I’m a mentor, author, and product marketing influencer, living a portfolio life at the moment.

Radmila Blazheska: It’s so nice to be here. My name is Radmila Blazheska – please call me Mila. I'm the CMO for SecurityHQ; we are a global managed cyber security provider. I've been in B2B for almost 20 years now, in the tech space and the market research industry.

Patrick Edmonds: I’m Patrick Edmonds, and I’m the former Chief Marketing Officer at a company called Proposify, which provides B2B online business proposal software. I was involved in building the marketing tech stack in that organization, and I learned a lot there. I’m hoping to share a little bit of that with everyone here today.

Neha Pujari: Hi, everyone, Neha here. I’m based in the UK at the moment, and I have 12-plus years of experience, mostly in field and partner marketing initiatives. I'm so excited to be here and share the panel with you all.

Choosing the right email tech stack

Div Manickam: Today, we'll be covering the key elements of the marketing tech stack, specifically email marketing.

So we'll kick it off with our first question. What email tech stacks do you use today within your organization?

Radmila Blazheska: In my current company, we use HubSpot. Prior to that, I've used Marketo, I've used Pardot, I've used ExactTarget, I've used ActiveCampaign, I've used MailChimp, I've used Eloqua, and probably a few other pieces of email software.

So I've had the experience of using different marketing automation software, from basic startup programs to the most complicated software out there.

Div Manickam: And going from a small business to a large company, do you see differences in the tech stacks?

Radmila Blazheska: Absolutely. It also depends on your business’ growth and what you already have in place, as well as the size of the company.

When I talk about the size of the company, I mean the data that you hold and the team that works for you. There's no interest in buying complicated marketing automation software like Pardot or Marketo if only three or four team members will be using it – that’s like buying a Ferrari when you're only using it to drive a few miles down the road from the farm.

It also depends on whether you just need to send out emails, store data, and do some basic nurturing programs, or whether you want to use it for more sophisticated and complex programs like ABM, intent data, or personalization. It's also tied up with your demand generation, how you nurture leads, and so on.

So you need to ask yourself why you need this email software. What are you going to use it for? Who’s going to use it? How do you predict that you're going to use that program in the future? These are important questions to ask because usually when you buy marketing automation software, you use it for at least three years. Sometimes even longer because it integrates with all the other tech stacks you have in the company, so it's a critical decision.

I've seen examples where you buy something that is too basic, and then six months or two years down the line, you need to buy more add-ons and features. Then it gets pricier and more complicated to run.

And also, you need to think about whether you’ll use a partner when you're onboarding. If you're working for a big company and you have multiple data layers and sources of data, you need to look into having someone who has the expertise to train you. So the post-sales process is another important consideration.

Div Manickam: Awesome. I think that covers the end-to-end spectrum of an email tech stack. Neha, what would you add? When you think about which tech stacks to use, what goals would you have in mind?

Neha Pujari: When we’re choosing a tech stack, we’re pulled in all sorts of directions. There are times when there are certain business requirements, and we need to close urgent gaps through the tech stack.

I'll give you an example. We’ve all seen that slide from Scott Brinker, who showed that there were around 5000 marketing tech stack vendors in 2017. Around 2020, he confirmed that about 2000 more vendors had been added, so there are 7000 MarTech vendors all fighting to get our attention, which makes it really very difficult to choose.

Whatever tech stack you go for, your strategy has to come first, and then the tech stack should follow. We have to keep in mind that strategy is the powerhouse; the tech stack is only a vehicle that will help us achieve our goal faster.

So it all depends on your goals. What are your marketing goals? Are they aligned with your company goals? And then how big is your marketing team? If it’s only two or three people, I don't think you need a big tech stack like Marketo or Aloka – something like MailChimp or HubSpot can work. So it all depends on what goals you have, firstly, and then how you proceed and try to achieve those goals.

The second point to think about is whether they are short- or long-term goals. Our tech stack won’t necessarily be with us forever. Technologies change, they become obsolete faster than anything else, so we have to make sure that we choose our tech stack around our mid-term goals.

The last point I will make is that tech stacks are often overpriced, over-complex, and underutilized. So whatever tech stack we choose, we have to make sure that we won’t have to spend a lot of time figuring out how it works. We’d rather spend that time understanding our audience because the tech stack only helps us if our strategies are strong.

Enhancing your email experience

Div Manickam: How do you enhance your email experience and make it awesome? Are there any other elements that you can bring into the tech stack?

Patrick Edmonds: There are a bunch of tools that can help enhance your mail experience. Especially if you’re running into problems, these tools can help you address certain pain points. You’ve got your marketing automation tool, like the ones that Mila was talking about, whether it's your Pardot, your HubSpot, or your Marketo. But then there are things you can layer on top to enhance that experience.

Common issues are things like email deliverability, and how emails look on different platforms, like whether they look good in Gmail or Outlook. Litmus and Email on Acid are two well-looked-at tools for making sure that your emails are deliverable, readable, and passing spam scores. All of those things are really important and usually, they’re add-ons above and beyond what your core email or marketing automation platform will offer.

I've also seen a trend lately of decoupling the design and execution parts of the marketing automation or email platform, especially for the big ones like Marketo and Pardot, which don't necessarily have the best UI or email builder. So there are tools like Knak, BEE Free, and Jeto that are for creating emails and campaigns, and they layer on top of your marketing automation system.

These tools democratize email and allow non-technical people to design and put campaigns together, while still leveraging the automation and technical robustness that comes with a more sophisticated enterprise-level marketing automation system.

And then there are data platforms for making sure you can segment your audience better, based on data that you might not have. Tools like Clearbit and ZoomInfo will enrich your email database so you can send targeted emails to certain verticals within your industry, or just people with certain job titles, regardless of the data you've ingested from your customers already.

The last one I'll share is AMP. A few years ago, Google opened up AMP for email, and it helps you create accelerated mobile pages. It’s not open to all clients yet, but it allows you to build interactive emails. You could have a checkout cart or an interactive quiz directly within your email. That's another new thing I've seen that can be layered on top of your existing tech stack.

The importance of email personalization

Div Manickam: Neha, when we talk about enhancing emails, what do you think about personalization? You and I have spoken before about video marketing and bringing that into our emails – could you shed some light on that?

Neha Pujari: I think Patrick made a great point about segmentation. We need to first segment our email list in terms of who our subscribers are. Are they new subscribers? Are they old subscribers and already consuming our content? What are the engagement rates? Are they clicking or are they not engaging with our content at all? Once we have those segments and insights in place, if we send targeted emails, we’ll get better results.

In order to enhance our email experience, personalization is so important. Personalization by video content could be a great way to reduce the inbox fatigue of your customers or prospects. It’s also hard to hold customers’ attention, so what we generally require is some kind of video.

These videos could be in the form of infographics or testimonials or even thought leadership pieces where we talk about a particular topic. What we really want to do with this video is either just say hello or talk about a complex problem. That's how we can increase our personalization and make our email experience better.

One last thing I’d like to add is that we should also check how optimized our emails are for all the different channels we use. The majority of our customers and prospects read emails on the go, so we have to ensure that they're fully mobile optimized and customers don't see a distorted image because that's the image our company's carrying. Always ensure that whatever experience you’re delivering, big or small, is 100%.

Overcoming common challenges of email marketing

Div Manickam: I'll pass it back to Mila now. What are some of the challenges of email marketing and how can we address them?

Radmila Blazheska: First of all, when you're adding a new tech stack, what you need to look into is integration. How does everything that you’re looking into buying integrate with the rest of the tech stack that you have? That's the first challenge you’ll have to overcome.

The second thing is to look into the features you already have. For example, if you’re already using marketing automation software, check on the features. Does it give you the ability to check browser settings or mobile optimization? Those are the basic steps you need to take.

Next, what you need to look into is email security because at the moment 80% of our emails are blocked by various bits of email software. Most companies use endpoint security software – that means your emails may not even reach your customers.

You need to be aware of the fact that when you’re getting creative with your emails, sometimes your spam tester won’t be able to read all the images, videos, and links you’ve added, and it will say they passed the check. However, your client’s email software might block it because it thinks that spamming them.

It’s also important not to overlook the fact that sometimes if you want to reach a certain audience, you have to layer the messaging. It's so important to know the persona that you're targeting. For example, with my team, I always tell them to send out different types of messaging because different people will respond to different formats. If someone’s not responding to basic messaging, maybe they’ll respond to video messages.

Now, another thing that you should be aware of is how you work with everything related to email marketing. Let's take lead generation, for example. How are those leads sourced, and how do you automate these messages?

Certain companies, if they notice that you're visiting their website, target you and immediately send an email. Now, is that intrusive? You might want to think about data privacy in this case. It's easy to say, “Oh, great, I can add this to my email marketing,” but will that really work for you? You need to look into whether it’s more beneficial to reach out to this person right away or to wait until they click or download something from your website and then approach them.

The future of email marketing

Div Manickam: Patrick, I'll kick it back to you to talk about the future of the email marketing tech stack. What does the future look like for you?

Patrick Edmonds: One thing that I see evolving in the email space is email not just for marketing, but across the organization. Right now, you've got salespeople sending lots of emails; you have customer success and customer support sending a lot of emails; you’ve got product reaching out to customers trying to interview them and that sort of thing, too.

I would like to see some disruption in the emails space, where all team members can benefit from well-optimized automated emails. That’ll give companies a more cohesive branding experience. Also, the data can be shared across all teams. That's something I’d love to see in the future of email.

Div Manickam: Awesome. We’ll wrap it up there. Thank you, everyone, so much for joining.

This post was a collaboration between

Div Manickam, Neha Pujari, Patrick Edmonds, Radmila Blazheska

  • Div Manickam

    Div Manickam

    Div has led product marketing in B2B SaaS startups and Fortune 500 technology companies for 10+ years. She enjoys sharing experiences on authentic leadership and evolution of product marketing.

    More posts by Div Manickam.

    Div Manickam
  • Neha Pujari

    Neha Pujari

    Neha is the Head - Field and Partner Marketing of a Cloud Services provider called Blazeclan Technologies.

    More posts by Neha Pujari.

    Neha Pujari
  • Patrick Edmonds

    Patrick Edmonds

    Chief Marketing Officer at Finexio - AP Payments as a Service.

    More posts by Patrick Edmonds.

    Patrick Edmonds
  • Radmila Blazheska

    Radmila Blazheska

    CMO for SecurityHQ, a global managed cyber security provider.

    More posts by Radmila Blazheska.

    Radmila Blazheska
Email tech stacks