How to Choose an Email Automation Tool

I have been lucky enough to work with most email automation tools out there, large and small. From the entry level tools such as MailChimp and Campayn, to the more "robust" systems of Eloqua and Marketo, and those in between like Silverpop, HubSpot, Pardot  and Manticore (now Sales Engine), I've used them all. And from all that self-taught knowledge, I gained one basic understanding; they all do the same thing, which is empower your marketing strategy. With that said, the answer to "Which email marketing tool should I choose?" is very simple: the one that fits your strategy (and budget). Simple enough, right? Maybe. Do you know what your marketing strategy is, and what type of strategy you intend to achieve? If so, then close your browser, have a beverage of your choosing and go on with your already booming business. If not, keep reading. If you don't have a fully structured campaign, the best email automation tool will do absolutely nothing for you other than sending email blasts one at a time. The first step is to think of what you want to accomplish with the email campaign. These are the questions you need to ask yourself before you sit and "strategize" about your email nurturing/automation tool decision: Do you need to educate the market before they purchase? How many emails do you estimate would take to engage in a conversation? How long is your sales cycle? How much are you willing to spend on each lead? How many Digital Marketing formats will you use? How long are you willing to wait before your first email goes out? How big is your company and your pockets? You should also think about and prepare the following: A specific segmentation of your database (hopefully you [...]