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How to Choose an Email Marketing Automation Platform for Your Business

Choosing the right email marketing automation platform (MAP) can serve as a launchpad for growth and customer relationship development. The wrong choice, on the other hand, can leave you stuck in the mud, searching for where you went wrong and how to get moving again.

The problem is that there are plenty of wrong choices out there. With more than 400 email service providers to choose from –which may or may not play nicely with any of the remaining 7,500-plus marketing solutions you may also use – how are you supposed to know which platform is the right one for you?

Fortunately, a little patience and self-examination can lead you to the path of marketing automation glory. Because we're routinely helping businesses find the right solutions for their email marketing efforts, we've distilled our more complex process down to a smattering of questions and action items that will help you build a shortlist of qualified email marketing platforms.

Questions to Ask When Choosing an Email Marketing Automation Platform

There are plenty of platforms available, so it’s essential to determine what your needs are first. Before you start searching for a new MAP, here are a few thought-provoking questions to ask:

  • What features do you have and use with your current MAP?
  • What features do you wish you had with your current MAP?
  • What problems will be resolved if you have access to features that you don’t currently have access to?
  • What are the limitations of our current platform in terms of scalability?
  • Are there specific marketing channels (like SMS, social media, etc.) we want to explore that are not supported by our current MAP?
  • What is the quality and availability of your current platform's customer support and how important is that aspect when deciding on a new platform?
  • What is our budget for a new MAP, and what are the financial implications of switching platforms?
  • What are your deal-breakers, should-haves, and bonuses in a MAP?

Key Factors to Consider When Choosing a Marketing Automation Platform


Of course, money matters. Knowing your monthly, quarterly, or yearly budget for a MAP and ensuring that it aligns is important before running off and starting your search. Below are a few things to consider while looking for marketing automation platforms that match your budget.

  • Increasing prices. Many platform costs will look good at first because they’re hoping to get you to become a customer. Once you sign up, you may notice that the low price you saw on the landing page doesn’t come with all the bells and whistles you wanted. Do some research and investigate each MAP’s pricing structure. Many platforms start at a low monthly price that increases depending on your usage, users, and desired features.
  • Initial costs. Some marketing automation platforms may also have setup and onboarding fees. Be sure to pay attention to this because it can be a significant upfront cost.
  • Growing costs over time. Consider your business’ potential growth over the next few years. As mentioned above, some platforms charge based on usage and number of contacts – as your business and contact lists grow, so will your MAP expenses.


Features are one of the most interesting factors when it comes to choosing a MAP. They’re also a major reason why businesses need to change their platform.

Simply put, you’re going to have certain needs for any new platform, whether they’re reporting tools, testing options, or something else. Make sure you consider the following criteria before you make a decision.

  • Features you currently use and need. If you’re currently using a MAP, make a list of the features you actively use that can’t be replaced. The last thing you want to do is migrate to an entirely new platform and find out a key feature needed for day-to-day operations isn’t available.
  • New features that you want. What features are you currently missing that need to be available in your next marketing automation platform? Make a list of the features that, if you had them, would allow you to expand your current efforts and have a bigger impact on your audience.
  • Features that you currently have, but wish were better. Investing in a new MAP is a great opportunity for improvement. List out specific features your frequently use that could use a boost For example, you may want more robust reporting features than you currently have.
  • Features that improve your work. Your MAP can and should make your email marketing efforts better. Features like A/B testing, mobile optimization, and in platform previews and testing options are a huge plus in a marketing automation platform.
  • Features that can help you grow over the next few years. What features could you use in a few years that you may not be able to use now? You may not be able to use features like content personalization, SMS, and more now, but you could grow into them as your business grows.

Scalability and Growth

Growth and scalability have been mentioned before, but their importance should not be overlooked.

As your business grows and your marketing campaigns become more complex, your MAP will need to be able to grow with you. You may not need to worry about content personalization or sending more than 1,000 emails a month currently, but a lot can change in a couple years. You want your MAP to accommodate your needs as you grow.

Choosing a scalable MAP is about more than just accommodating more emails or contacts – it's about ensuring that your marketing infrastructure can support your business’s growth in size, sophistication, and scope without needing to continually invest in new solutions. The last thing you want to do is outgrow your new platform in a year and have to switch, which is costly and disruptive.

Customer Service

Good customer support and technical support are key to an ideal MAP. As your marketing automation campaigns evolve and become more complex, you’ll run into questions and technical issues that you need answered. There may also be times where you run into an issue with a scheduled campaign the evening before it’s scheduled to deploy. Having a good and reliable customer service outlet to rely on is key here.

When considering MAPs, look to see if they have live online chat for customer support and technical support. Some may only offer email support, which can sometimes have a 24-hour response time. Issues such as campaign and automation bugs, service outages, or integration problems can halt or severely disrupt your marketing campaigns. Having solid customer support ensures issues like these are fixed quickly, minimizing the potential negative impact on your marketing efforts.

Gather Your Thoughts and Make a Decision

Now that have a solid understanding of why you’re choosing a MAP and what you need in one, you can start your search. As you analyze each MAP, do it through the lens of your answers. You most likely won’t find a platform that ticks all your boxes, but you can get close.

Of course, it can still be tricky to weigh all your different options even after you consider all your questions and desired features. The following tips can help you organize your search, test out different candidates, and get the information you need to make the right call for your business.

  • Create a comparison chart. As you review and demo different platforms, use a chart to help track how each one measures up to your 'deal-breakers', 'should-haves', and 'bonuses.' This will help you keep the details clear and aid in your decision-making process.
  • Take advantage of free trials. When possible, sign up for free trials offered by platforms. This hands-on experience is invaluable for assessing how well the platform's features and user interface meet your specific needs. It also allows you to gauge the overall user experience in a real-world setting.
  • Search for peer reviews and feedback. Reach out to your professional network and online reviews from other users who might have similar business needs. First-hand experiences can provide insights that aren't always apparent in product demos or promotional materials.

You Narrowed Down Your Platform Options – What's Next?

You've put innumerable platforms through the wringer and come out the other side with your shortlist of possible solutions. At this point, you're left with a big decision. Sometimes it's as simple as figuring out which platform checks the most boxes, but it's often not so straightforward.

If you're struggling to decide which platform is right for you, let us know. We work with more than a dozen of the industry's leading email and marketing automation platforms and would be happy to help you move into the right platform for your business. Reach out today about how we can support your email marketing efforts.