(This article originally appeared in Forbes)
The makers of most mainstream customer relationship management applications like to say that their products can also do email campaigns. They can. But they’re really not very good at it. So my advice is not to listen to them. That’s because CRM systems are generally lousy for email marketing campaigns. And for three reasons.
Reason 1: There’s a big difference between email and email campaigns.
The CRM systems we sell either have email built in or integrate with popular email services like Outlook/Exchange and Gmail. This is very helpful. When I send and receive my email I can do it right from within my CRM system and all the emails are stored in a contact’s history, which can be shared with my team. I can create templates and setup workflows for automatic replies and routing. I can search through old emails and use that data for more outreach and engagement. This functionality increases my productivity and helps my team better serve our clients.
But when it comes to sending out more than a few hundred emails at a time — at most — I use an email marketing platform like Constant Contact,Mailchimp, Sendinblue, AWeber or any of a dozen other great services. Why? Because if I were to send out thousands of emails I will likely cause wrath with either my internet service provider or email service provider. My emails will likely be flagged as spam by recipient systems, which are now smart enough to know when an email is coming from an unknown sender or server. My campaigns will be ineffective and I could be blacklisted. I will also have less useful tools and metrics that I can find in an email marketing campaign application.
Which brings me to Reason 2.
Reason 2: Email marketing services are better suited for email campaigns.
The better email platforms have tests. They monitor for potential spammers. They question customers who are sending out emails that fail their internal tests.
I admit that my own email marketing provider has shut me down on multiple times and forced me to answer questions about my marketing lists, my opt-in policies and my content. Believe it or not and even though this is inconvenient, I’m happy to play this game. Why?
It’s because most email systems will recognize an email that is coming from a recognized, approved sender and will generally let those emails through to their recipients because they know their senders have been through some level of due diligence. Which is why your emails are more likely to get through to its recipients by using an email marketing campaign service then directly from your CRM system.
Those same email service providers also offer templates, training, resources, testing and metrics for you to run your campaigns. And they all integrate with most mainstream CRM systems. So you can transfer those results to your CRM for further analysis and follow-up.
Reason 3: CRM applications differ from email campaign management applications.
A CRM application is essentially a database with features wrapped around it. Your job is to make sure your data is as accurate and complete as possible. You can use the most reliable and common features of your system to manage contacts, activities, forecasts, opportunities and services. But marketing campaigns are more complex and need more specialized tools. Which is why when it comes to email campaigns you should outsource that function to an application that’s equipped with these tools. They’ll do a better job.
These applications will do a better job than a CRM system because that’s their only job: to make sure your emails get delivered to the intended recipients. Their entire business model is built around this objective.
The takeaway: don’t use your email marketing application as a CRM application. And don’t use your CRM application for email marketing. Both of these roles are distinct, complicated and specialized. So choose an application that does each one well and integrate them together. You’ll find yourself getting a lot more bang for the buck…and much better marketing results.