by Michele Nachum
Published on 21 November 2012
Email campaigns first became popular over a decade ago and since then this favorite marketing tool of both large and small businesses has evolved. What was once a one-sided campaign - you sent email, your customers read - is now more collaborative like everything is in this "Web 2.0″ world where feedback is crucial to the success of any marketing campaign worth its salt. Today, email campaigns are not just pretty looking brochures or newsletters sent in email form. Email campaign applications such as Pinpointe allow you to send out surveys, links to your website where customers can input their information; have tools such as autoresponders, split tests, and a whole lot more to help you maintain a more dynamic campaign that can align with your marketing and sales goals.
Pinpointe is an email campaign management application that is designed to help your company to promote your business to customers and clients. That said, Pinpointe offers a feature rich end-to-end solution designed to not only send out email campaigns but to provide your company with insight about customer demographics, behavior and more. Given the robust nature of this solution, Pinpointe is for companies that depend on email campaigns as a key marketing tactic and have a subscriber/customer list into the thousands and up.
Pinpointe is a robust email campaign product and while it offers a clean interface with large buttons entitled CREATE LISTS or CREATE EMAIL CAMPAIGN that you can click on and begin work immediately, it is quite clinical in design (and considering that design is such an important aspect of email campaigns, Pinpointe really does not spend much time on the frills) . That is not a bad thing - but it does belie the many features and tools of this application. That is why when you start, watch a few of the videos to get a sense of all of the tools you have at your disposal. What Pinpointe lacks in aesthetics it makes up in both content and support.
Creating an Email Campaign List:
Like any email campaign tool, Pinpointe is going to request that your email "contacts" are opt in. This is especially important. Since I was using the software for purposes the review only I didn't go through this particular step and was notified by the Pinpointe team via email that my account would be disabled if I didn't get the proper permissions. This is good because it prevents your emails from ending up in the junk box and ensures a better rate of delivery.
Once you get past that you can go ahead and create your lists either by data entry directly into the application or by importing a list. Pinpointe allows you to import your list using a spreadsheet in 'Comma Separated Value' ("CSV") file format. The file format must be CSV, not Excel (XLS). If you have never done it that way, save a list in Excel and then do a "save as" in CSV.
You can create a number of lists and store it in Pinpointe.
Creating an Email Campaign:
Creating the actual email campaign is relatively straightforward and there are many ways to do this - from using one of several templates from Pinpointe or creating your own using a myriad of editing tools. Those who know HTML programming might want to go the custom way. There are many design tools from importing code to adding in tables, copy from Word documents, code, URLs and more.
You can also create custom fields within your email subject line and in the text of your email to personalize the messages. For the subject line you can add the correct field name such as '%%First Name%%' and they will be replaced with the data from your list when the email is sent.
When you are ready to create your custom fields in the body of the email, move your mouse over the "Contact Lists" tab at the top of the page and click the "View Custom Fields" menu option. Any custom fields you create will be shown here. Click the "Create a Custom Field" button to add a custom field.
Another nifty tool is the ability to brand your email template or auto-responder to look like your own business website. You can do so by first using the option to 'Import a file from a web site' when you create your email. This will draw your information from your site and make your email look exactly like it. found this feature incredibly useful as it ensures that all correspondence from your company is aligned perfectly within brand guidelines.
Pinpointe also allows you input forms on your business website to generate customer information. Pinpointe provides you with the code that you can copy and paste onto your site and from there, if you want to know where your customers live for instance, you can create a link from the email that sends customers to your website form. You can customize this form so if you want to understand the location of your customers, you can ask that they input their name, city, and other helpful pieces of information.
Auto-responders, Spam Scores, Split Tests, Surveys and More:
An email campaign might be a great way to alert your customers of a sale or promotion, but using email campaigns in a vacuum is not to take advantage of what it can do for you. A number of standard tools have become popular these days - and Pinpointe includes a number of them including the very popular Auto-responder. These are canned responses such as "thank you for your interest" type of emails when someone responds to your campaign. Auto-responders can be more than just "thank you's" and can also include information and a call to action to bring your customer to your website or request information. You can suggest a URL they might go to for a white-paper, or how to continue to receive emails without their spam filter throwing the email into the junk box.
Split Tests offers users a way to test which email campaign works - you can literally send two types of worded emails to ascertain which one resonates with your clients.
Spam Score - Checking for spam "words" is another tool that Pinpointe provides to check the level of deliverability of your email campaign. Pinpointe will check for certain words that most likely will send your email into oblivion and these features can help you word your subject line and your copy to ensure your message gets out.
Surveys are a terrific way to get to know your customers and gage their point-of-view about - well - anything. They can be fun for your customers (if it is not too long) as well as helpful for your marketing team. Pinpointe offers a number of tools to help you design your survey such as voting buttons to ascertain the viewpoints of your customers and more.
Like all good email marketing campaigns, Pinpointe has a number of reports to let you know how well your email campaign went - how many opened the emails, how many of the emails were considered spam and much more. This will help you gauge the success of your campaign and build from there.
Pinpointe offers an in box preview tool to preview and optimize your email campaigns. This is a very unique feature for an email marketing app. It previews your campaign exactly in 20 email clients - including top mobile clients. This way you can improve response rates, verify email appearance and avoid errors. More on this by watching this video.
Behavioral targeting is also an advanced feature offered by Pinpointe. It allows you to segment and target you prospects based on their previous behavior. For example you can send a campaign to only those who opened a specific previous campaign or you can automatically send a follow up product offer to contacts who clicked on a specific product link on your website. Advanced segmentation also lets you select and target based on your custom fields like demographics, product interests as well as behavior.
Pinpointe allows for dynamic personalization so you can personalize emails with fields like first-name, or company. It also includes 'dynamic content' - which allows you to drop in a block of HTML design based on the value of a field. For example - sending an email to recipients based on their stated interest. For those interested in computers- you might include a special offer on computers and an image of a notebook; however those that are interested in iPads would receive a special offer for iPads and an image of an iPad.
Pinpointe takes support very seriously and offers a responsive and knowledgeable support to its client with many options such as:
Pinpointe has a number of different pricing options depending if you pay month-to-month or six months in advance. The pricing goes up depending on how many subscribers and emails you have. While Pinpointe is by no means the least expensive of the email campaign applications I have reviewed, I will say that given the rich features of the product - the pricing is fair. You can also get a 15-day free trial. Pricing starts at $72 months for 10,000 subscribers (paid 6 months in advance and $79 on a month to month) and the limit is 60,000 emails. The pricing goes up to 25,000 subscribers at $152; $420 per month for 75,000 subscribers and onward and upward.
Thanks to its breadth of features, Pinpointe is for serious emailers. Companies whose business models depend on direct communications with customers (retail and hospitality industries come to mind and there are many others as well) will enjoy the product. If you are a business with a subscriber list of 250 to 500 - Pinpointe may not be the solution for you. For businesses that have thousands of subscribers and lots of email campaigns to send out then I say that Pinpointe is definitely worth a try. It has a robust feature-set and is easy-to-use - you cannot go wrong.