Peripheral Visions

a blog from SuppliesGuys™ -- Good Guys. Great Buys.

Knowledge Bytes – How to Choose an Email Service Provider

Communicating with potential and active customers has changed drastically throughout the years. If someone said 20 years ago to me that we’d be sending 140 character messages called “tweets” to our customers to respond to questions or concerns, I would have probably laughed and said first off, who would name something a “tweet”. Either way, on top of all the Social Media channels, there’s still email marketing which is a staple in any marketing plan. Email Marketing can be very simple with maybe just a monthly newsletter or very complex with rules, A/B Testing and more. This article should help you with understanding how to choose the right Email Marketing Platform for you and your business. First you must know the base features you want, secondly you will need to know how many emails you plan to send and third you will need to understand what your budget is.

When it comes to knowing what features you’d want, I’d say your best bet would come up with a feature list, and segment these into three groups; Must haves, Not Needed and Desired. Those are pretty straightforward, but you may be wondering what these “features” could be, and I’ll give you a quick list and explanation of some that you could be looking for:

  • API Connectivity to CRM System – instead of importing excel lists, you can directly connect the email platform into your CRM
  • Scheduled Events – Ability to schedule events at certain times/dates
  • Triggered Events – Ability to schedule events based on certain actions. Example: A customer signs up for a newsletter and the platform automatically sends them a welcome email
  • Segmentation – Ability to segment your list on attributes in your customer list
  • Personalization – Ability to personalize emails with the use of data in your lists
  • Reporting/Tracking – The ability to have in application reporting or also just export of reports
  • Easy to use Interface – A lot of more affordable versions have worse interfaces but a developer or someone with high expertise can easily navigate

All of these may seem like “Must Haves” maybe minus the API Connectivity. But regardless there are still plenty of other features that could be included that may not be necessary, some include:

  • Landing Pages – ability to create dynamic landing pages for emails
  • Ability to send Text messages – Some platforms can send emails and text messages
  • Custom Scripting Language – Some platforms allow for you to write in a scripting language to create formulas and add different fields

Once you go through and define what you’re looking for, you’ve accomplished probably the hardest part. Next step is to take a look at the number of emails you plan on sending for the next year. Although not all platforms require a yearly contract, in fact, many allow for a monthly contract, I’d recommend planning ahead for the whole year. Signing a year contract can really help with negotiating a better price, and realistically, do you want to switch platforms more than once a year?

Estimating email sends, can sound daunting, but a simplistic formula can accomplish this pretty quickly;

(Number of Email Subscribers * (1 + X)) * (Y * 52)

X = expected growth rate in % of subscribers

Y = Number of emails you send per week

Ok, so now you have the features list and the estimated number of email sends per year. The last thing now is understanding your budget and how it fits in line with your must haves, desired and not necessary features. I’ll take three different vendors that I’m familiar with and breakdown their offerings and pricing points from a very broad approach. By all means though, if you’re in the hunt for a platform, I would recommend taking a demo on each platform. The three platforms I’ll talk about today are Marketo, Exact Target and Mail Chimp. Marketo is. Exact Target Mail Chimp is a stripped down version of Exact Target… All in all, it sends email, and allows for personalization but is lacking in a few other areas.

Marketo: Has all the features you could ever ask for, includes an easy to use interface, allows for marketing automation based on a number of triggers and manages multiple lists of customers and email templates in an organized fashion.

  • Pricing: Although can be expensive, for the functionality you get and competitors it’s very reasonably priced. Seems to be highly dependent upon subscriber lists, less worried about email sends
  • Features:
    • API Connectivity to CRM System – Yes
    • Scheduled Events – Yes
    • Triggered Events – Yes
    • Segmentation – Yes – Very Extensive
    • Personalization – Yes
    • Reporting/Tracking – Yes
    • Easy to use Interface – Yes
    • Landing Pages – Yes
    • Ability to send Text messages – Yes
    • Custom Scripting Language – Yes
  • Ideal Customer:
    • Service oriented businesses that have long selling periods
    • Highly sophisticated e-commerce business who understands when/how/why to contact their customers and can use that to drive their marketing
    • Dedicated Marketing team to manage

Exact Target: They do not share much about their pricing strategy and has the ability to become an all-in-one application except you have to purchase each feature separately. Now that they’ve been purchased by Salesforce, they easily integrate with a lot of systems, except, can get pretty expensive.

  • Pricing: Not shared on-site but from experience can be pricey.
  • Features:
    • API Connectivity to CRM System – Yes – Additional Cost
    • Scheduled Events – Yes – Additional Cost
    • Triggered Events - Yes – Additional Cost
    • Segmentation – Yes
    • Personalization – Yes
    • Reporting/Tracking – Yes
    • Easy to use Interface – Yes
    • Landing Pages – Yes – Additional Cost
    • Ability to send Text messages – Yes – Additional Cost
    • Custom Scripting Language – Yes
  • Ideal Customer:
    • Tech savvy marketing team who can use the Data Extensions features to their benefit to combine lists and segment

Mail Chimp: They advertise their pricing on their site and are very open about it. They have an easy to use system for sending out emails, but lack a lot of the features of Exact Target.

  • Pricing: Check out their website: http://mailchimp.com/pricing/ (they do offer a free version)
  • Features:
    • API Connectivity to CRM System – Yes
    • Scheduled Events – Yes
    • Triggered Events – Yes
    • Segmentation – Yes
    • Personalization – Yes
    • Reporting/Tracking – Yes
    • Easy to use Interface – Depends on user
    • Landing Pages – No
    • Ability to send Text messages – No
    • Custom Scripting Language – Not Fully Built Out
  • Ideal Customer:
    • Businesses or people looking to send to small lists of customers, perfect for newsletters for small local businesses.

Overall when choosing an email service provider, you need to do your due diligence, plan, and make sure you are not going to regret your decision. If you have any specific questions, feel free to leave a comment and I’ll get back to you as soon as possible.

Categories: Knowledge Bytes

Xerox ColorQube 8580 Solid Ink Printer

The Xerox ColorQube 8580 printer series is the newest release from Xerox in their solid ink printer line-up. Xerox’s Solid Ink technology is known for bringing a consistent high level of quality, reliability and efficiency to its printers. The Xerox ColorQube 8580 does not skimp when it comes to those three areas, with a 2400 Xerox FinePoint ® resolution the image quality will be up to par. The reliability is synonymous with the Xerox® brand and the 8580 series continues that tradition and to back it up, comes with a One-year On-site warranty. Additionally the ColorQube 8580 uses the same solid ink sticks as the ColorQube 8570 printers, so if you’re already using the 8570 and looking for an upgrade to a new machine, the 8580 could be a great fit.Xerox 8580DN Printer

The Xerox ColorQube 8580 follows in line with the rest of the solid ink printers in the past and offers three varying versions to suit every office’s needs. All three models offer a fast printing speed of 51 pages per minute (PPM) both monochrome and color with a first-page-out Time of only 5 seconds. Each model also has a large paper output tray of 350 sheets and has a monthly duty cycle of 85,000 pages/month, which allows it to handle workloads of all sizes. The ColorQube 8580N and ColorQube 8580DN come standard with two trays; Tray 1 (Multi-purpose tray) which can hold up to 100 sheets and fits to many custom sizes, and Tray 2 which can hold up to 525 sheets and can alter in sizes as well if needed. The ColorQube 8580DT offers an additional 525 sheet tray, Tray 3, which allows for users to have multiple paper types in the printer at one time, perfect for those who print regularly on legal and letter sizes. Additionally the ColorQube 8580DN and 8580DT both have duplexing capabilities which allows the user to do their part in saving the environment and print on both sides of the paper. All three 8580’s offer built in networking with an Ethernet port so you can easily hook into any network and print from any location.

As for supplies, as stated earlier, the Xerox 8580 ink sticks are the same ink sticks as its predecessor the Xerox ColorQube 8570. There are five different packs of ink you can choose from when purchasing ink as well as two options for a maintenance kit which is detailed out below:

SKU Description Page Yield Compatible Available
108R00926 Cyan, 2 Pack 4,400 Pages Yes
108R00927 Magenta, 2 Pack 4,400 Pages Yes
108R00928 Yellow, 2 Pack 4,400 Pages Yes
108R00929 Black, 2 Pack 4,300 Pages Yes
108R00930 Black, 4 Pack 8,600 Pages Yes
109R00783 Extended Capacity Maintenance Kit 30,000 Pages Yes
109R00784 Standard Capacity Maintenance Kit 10,000 Pages No

If you are looking for any of these supplies feel free to visit our Xerox 8580 Supplies Page, here.

As you can see above, for the majority of the 8580 ink and accessories there are compatible solutions available which can help with the real expensive cost of these supplies. The compatibles on average are about 35% less expensive than the Xerox OEM Inks and can still offer the high quality and service guarantee if purchased from a reputable supplier or manufacturer. Many retailers even offer bundles of the ink sticks to help give discounts when you purchase all the products at once, which can really help with the cost of operations as well.

Overall, the Xerox ColorQube 8580 printer series is a great addition to Xerox’s prestigious line up of printers. The ColorQube 8580 lets users remain environmentally and price conscience while still having high quality outputs from a machine.

 

 

 

 

Categories: Product Reviews

Supplies Guys – Knowledge Bytes for the Small Business

As many of our customers may know, and for those who do not, The Supplies Guys is a small business located in Midland Park, New Jersey. We offer a large selection of Office and Printer Supplies for thousands of customers throughout the United States. Our first and most important goal as a business is to always provide our customer with the highest level of customer service and support. Throughout the past 15 years of The Supplies Guys we’ve had the honor to really get to know a large number of our customers while providing this level of customer service. Through these relationships we have realized that a lot of our customers are similar to us; they too are small to medium sized businesses. In a way to further our level of customer service and support, we wanted to help our customers learn more about everyday topics that should help you grow your businesses in a free and un-intrusive style.

We bring you “Knowledge Bytes for The Small Business”, our plan will be to go over a new topic every month in the form of Webinars, Informative Articles, or even a 1 to 1 Comparison of Vendors/Services/Solutions we’re familiar with. We have a lot of experience between everyone in The Supplies Guys from all aspects of the business, and we’d like to share that with our customers to help them succeed. To kick off the Knowledge Bytes for The Small Business, we’ll be hosting our first webinar on Thursday, December 18, 2014 at 2:00 PM to go over the The TOP 7 Reasons Why Your Small to Mid-sized Business Needs to Understand the CLOUD”.

Feel free to leave comments or email blog@suppliesguys.com with any future topics you’d like to learn about. We will be coordinating with industry experts on all sorts of topics and will be bringing these informative articles/webinars as often as we possibly can.

 

Categories: Knowledge Bytes

Low Toner Notifications – When You Need Them, Not When Someone Remembers

Ever get that frantic email on a Monday morning, “Our HP LaserJet Pro 200 Color M251 Printer is out of toner and I need to print out 500 pages today!”, well with SG Print Manager you will never get that email again. SG Print Manager is a FREE application that The Supplies Guys is offering its customers, which monitors your printers, faxes and copiers in your office and can notify you of anything you need to know about those machines.

Our customers who have been involved in the beta program of this have commented on the helpfulness of these notifications. Some of their favorite notifications are; % of Toner Life Remaining, New Cartridge Detected and Estimated Days until empty. There are plenty of other notifications available to fit any users’ needs, with over 50 options of notifications, you can pretty much be notified of anything from a paper jam to surpassing a limit of pages per month.

Some other helpful notifications from Print Manager include:

-          Toner Low
-          Toner Empty
-          Maintenance Required
-          Printer Status – (Service requested, offline, Jammed, Door Open, No Paper, Low Paper)
-          Waste Toner Level
-          All other parts on printer – (Maintenance kit, Fuser, Drum Kit, Belt, etc.)

Utilizing these notifications can make anyone’s job that much easier, we had customers of all positions find value in this application. For our customers where they are the person who orders all the office supplies for the office, you now won’t need to rely on everyone else to let you know when they need toner. Or if you’re the type of person that always has extras available, next time someone replaces a toner, you can easily be notified.

For the customers who own the business and make all purchases, well, you can easily ensure that toner is not wasted. Monitoring the usage of each machine will help you understand who/why your employees keep running through toner each month. Also, if you’re the owner of the business and need to know what to order, it can all easily be monitored from an easy-to-use dashboard. Instead of having to always check the printer to make sure you’re not going to run out, get notified ahead of time, so you are not stranded without toner.

If you have any questions about how this works, please feel  to call us at 888-722-0390, or email us at sgprintmanager@suppliesguys.com

Categories: Business Tips, Knowledge Bytes

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