Interview Jordie van Rijn: “Selecting Email Marketing software, how hard can it be?”


27. 8. 2016 | Martin Halama | Nezařazené

Interview Jordie van RijnJordie van Rijn will be presenting a keynote presentation at the emailing 2020 conference on the topic of Emailing like Amazon. Smarter email marketing is not his only specialism however, so we took the chance to ask him more about Email software selection.

Jordie van Rijn will be presenting a keynote presentation at the emailing 2020 conference on the topic of Emailing like Amazon. Smarter email marketing is not his only specialism however, so we took the chance to ask him more about Email software selection.

I think that a lot of email marketers already can do a lot more with their current ESP than they are. And against popular belief that doesn’t always take more time, it might even save time. It is very tempting to for instance try to get all the data with all the exceptions to then segment. Say mother’s day, are you mailing the mother, daughter, grandmother? No way to know, so you can better change the message so it applies to all of them, rather than trying to find out and creating multiple versions. Increase the email-hit ratio so to speak.

Do different split tests that you can reuse, some automated send time optimisation and that can usually be done in your own email system or with some external addons.

Last year you published "The Email Marketing Software Buyer´s Guide" together with 3 other experts. Did you feel any pressure from some ESPs? Were all 111 vendors satisfied with analysis?

ESPs have grown accustom to pay for being in a selection guide, pay-to-play. An example for that is the Forrester Wave Email Vendors guide. We didn’t want to do that model, because however you say, it creates expectations. Also it excludes a bit smaller vendors or ones that might be perfectly suited but don’t agree with the philosophy of paying to be in there. We wanted to do something different, so no vendor paid to be included.

If you want to see how 111 vendors look like:

Also the focus was on features and facts instead of opinions. So there no real debate – you can either do something or not. Of course there were some ESPs that overqualified themselves saying “yes” to almost every question– but we anticipated that Just ask them to show proof :) Also we added some questions to identify it – after asking feedback mistakes are easily corrected.

We created the guide that we wished that was already there. And I must say, I often use it myself to look some things up.

So, continuing on that, I´d like to know, which ESP you would choose in this situation: a) big client, b) small budget, c) intensity and quality of bringing innovations.

Ha, trying to trick me there. :) Good try, we had this conversation before.

Way back, I decided never-ever to answer to a „This is our context, can you give me three names?“. This was after I already did over 12+ RFP based selections. You see these question on Linkedin and Quora all the time, and when people answer I am like “really?”:


Especially vendors trying to jump in and try to push their own solution (while knowing they are unqualified). I understand the motivation, but they should know better. I’ve seen the problems people get when picking the vendor that is wrong for them, because some months later they come to realise they have wasted a lot of time and effort and better had asked for some real advice.

If you haven’t done a real selection before, you might assume that from some simple parameters you can get to a list, it is not true by a mile.

Can you explain how that would that relate to the profile asked for: big client, small budget, innovative?

Ok, from your (trick)question for instance. Let me dive into some explanation:

A) Client size actually doesn't matter. Some small companies need quite some sophistication, big senders (Enterprise or in email volume) can have a solid but less sophisticated tool and be happier because it is easy to work with. Ability to handle big email volumes isn’t tied to other functionality or user-friendliness for instance. Instead of assuming anything from client size, it is rather their needs to look at.

B) Budget is a restriction to deselect some vendors, not select. You might have a budget ceiling, everybody starts off wanting to spend little if possible, but it is more often a matter of the ROI of your email marketing program. Some campaigns like abandoned cart are instantly paying off their investment, so that has to be weighed in. A pro – cons thing.

In the end you might want to pay a little extra for one Must Have feature, to avoid custom integration and the risks that come with that, getting started quicker, better customer service or strategic help. To name a just a few :)

And last one C) Innovation: No matter your company vision or how nice it is to work with an innovative company. You‘d be much happier have a vendor that can deliver to your real needs Now and for the coming 2-3 years already - than one that is producing innovative fancy things.

So if that is not it, what should they look for in requirements?

I keep a list of topics and requirements that I use to define requirements in detail. It is 400+ questions, but that is not what you need to ask the prospective vendor. Many are sub questions to get to the level of detail you need.

As a process: First you want to know what you are going to do with the tooling (marketing plan), then the current set-up and other technology, go through a list of detailed requirements and score them, feedback from the users / company, then longlist to shortlist.

What can we expect to see from you at emailing 2020?

My presentation is called Emailing like Amazon, that is more of a metaphor for being selective and smart on improving your email marketing program. I won’t be talking about selections during the keynote, but visitors are free to walk up to me and ask some questions about that during the day. As long as it not “What is your favorite ESP, can you give me three names?“. :)

Jordie van Rijn, Email Marketing Consultant

Jordie van Rijn is an independent marketing consultant with more than 13 years of experience under his belt. He is the founder of the international platform for Email and Marketing Automation Software selection
Brands like Unilever, EndeMol, KLM and Heineken turn to him for advice. Next to helping companies improve their marketing results he is often asked as a trainer and speaker in the field of online marketing. His practical and enthusiastic approach is contagious and will have you improving your business the next day.

photo credit: Jordie van Rijn