“Email marketing is a tremendously effective feature of digital marketing that sends emails to either existing clients or potential ones. Effective mail marketing will take a one time buyer and turn them into a brand loyalist.”
Email marketing is not just sending out thousands of promotional emails to an email list and hoping that you can turn some of your leads into customers. Experienced email marketers are much more highly selective and targeted. It is a refined process of selecting carefully researched data to attract a specific audience to your products or services.
Done properly by experienced email marketers, it will increase sales and revenue for your business. There are perhaps dozens, if not more, email marketing agencies that offer full service email marketing platforms. So which is the best email marketing service?
They all seem to offer a dizzying array of products and services which seem perfect for your needs. They also all seemingly appear to have similar pricing and basic services. Each one offers free trials, email design, template creation, newsletter marketing, social media integration, and email scheduling. So how do you select the best services that fit the needs of your organization?
First, you need to understand that some services are more important and relevant than others for different businesses. A small company will likely not need the ability to send tens of thousands of emails per month. They may need to rely more upon their sender reputation.
Some businesses care more about having a great email blast service. Some companies want drip marketing, or drip email for the long term. Perhaps your goal is simply to have free email marketing. Every business will have their own unique email marketing strategy.
Perhaps one of your goals is to increase your contact list size. This can be done through opt in email marketing services. Opt in services are basically when a visitor gives you his or her email address and agrees to receive promotional materials.
This is often done with a form where the user will need to click on a couple boxes stating they are OK with receiving the emails and that they agree to the terms and conditions. This will raise your amount of email subscribers and hopefully leave you with a high quality email list.
Pricing is a major component in deciding which platform to select. Most of them will offer ranging prices depending on the quantity of emails or contacts. Another component that is important to many people is integration with Google Analytics. Being able to understand and analyze your data and use it to your advantage is integral to your website’s health.
If your goal for your email marketing campaign is to have customers come to your website, especially to buy products, then landing pages are crucial as a tool to guide them to the right page. Some of the email marketing platforms offer this feature and some do not. Even using specific geo landing pages which are designed to reach out to people in certain areas can be effective.
Many people ask if landing pages are truly necessary for them and their business. The simple answer is yes if you want more conversions. Unique landing pages are almost necessary.
Each campaign is written specifically for an individual audience. The content should be what is most relevant to those people and their purchasing habits. After all, if you are going through all of that work to customize your advertising, why would you not want to create a page for those users to land on that will maximize your ROI?
PPC (pay-per-click) ads
Social media ads
Email marketing campaigns
Drip marketing campaigns
What other features might you be searching for when selecting an email marketing campaign platform? Think about these features when you are selecting the best email campaign website for your needs. From Google Analytics, to cost, to customer service; there are many things to consider.
Email editor and design:
If it is your first foray into email marketing, then it would be important to have good email templates in order to guide you. In addition to the templates, it is equally important to have an easy to use drag and drop editor. These are great to have to make emails more professional looking.
Nothing is more frustrating than purchasing a product and finding out you are unable to produce great looking emails. Most of these email marketing companies will offer email marketing tips to create better products. Email sending platforms can do more than just reach your subscriber’s inbox.
Drip campaigns are also useful when targeting your audience in the long term. You do not want to have an email copy go from user to user.
Customer service and quality:
Anyone that purchases an email marketing platform will have high hopes for its success. The worst thing that could happen would be not being able to create a quality product which suited your needs. With that in mind, an equally important aspect of a good email marketing platform is their service. Good customer service should be all inclusive and provide phone, chat, or email responses.
With these items in mind, make sure that your research includes their quality and service reputation. Along with support, do they provide onboarding?
Email Marketing Integration with current tools and resources:
How well will your new email marketing platform integrate with your existing software and other programs? This should be a concern as well when making your selection. If you have an ecommerce site, you would want your email marketing platform to integrate with WooCommerce, WordPress, or Shopify in order to merge databases.
Speaking of CRMs, it would behoove you to have integration there as well. All of these integrations are not 100% required. However, they will help you become more effective, successful, and streamlined.
Let’s explore some of the more popular platforms:
Emma Email Marketing
Emma is an email marketing tool that does a wonderful job with automation. They also have some advanced features that make their automation more robust. The Emma email system has a reputation of being extremely user friendly and aesthetically pleasing. Many people speak to the ease of the “what you see is what you get” approach.
Emma’s pricing is more contingent upon features than of contacts or emails sent. The cost starts at $89.00 per month with an annual contract. However, in order to take advantage of landing pages or white labelling, one of the more expensive packages would be required. With those features, Emma email pricing begins at $159.00 and $229.00 (all three of these packages come with 10,000 contacts allowed).
Emma Google Analytics
Emma has a number of available integrations and Google Analytics is one of them. It will allow you to track users that go to your website after clicking on a mailing that you sent. The Emma email system also integrates with YouTube to make videos a simple addition to your messaging. Just add the URL and it will play a thumbnail version of the YouTube video.
Emma Landing Pages
Emma’s landing pages have some great features. For example, they use a static URL so there is no issue going back in and changing content. You are able to collect data from form fills. Most importantly, set up is quite simple as they use a drag and drop platform. With the Emma email pricing system, you only pay for the features that you use.
Mailchimp Email Marketing
Mailchimp is one of the most popular email marketing platforms around. It now exists as an all in one platform that has grown from a simple email marketing service to what it is today. Mailchimp offers options like tags which allow a user to categorize contacts.
It also offers social media advertising and posting along with retargeting for some of the pricier packages. Mailchimp is also getting into the web development game as well. All of these functions are great. However, the more that a platform does, the more difficult it becomes to use.
Many believe that Mailchimp uses a very simple user interface that makes creating emails a quick process.
Pricing varies depending mostly on the amount of emails you would like to send along with the number of contacts. The free version caps out at ten thousand emails and two thousand contacts. For 14.99 per month, you can have 100,000 contacts and 1.2 million emails sent per month. Although they have many different tiers at different prices.
Mailchimp Google Analytics
You will be able to synchronize Google Analytics along with a Mailchimp account. It will allow you to track data from your existing Google Analytics account.
Mailchimp Landing Pages
Within Mailchimp landing pages are free to use and create. These landing pages, which will have unique URLs, can be created within your Mailchimp account. They can also be associated with a domain that has been either purchased or connected with one of the paid plans.
ActiveCampaign Email Marketing
ActiveCampaign is the best known for their automation. It has a terribly robust automation system that has seemingly limitless capabilities. This is by far the biggest attraction for the majority of its users, and it is easy to see why. With the ability to customize a great number of automations, it creates a ton of opportunity to see what is working and what areas of your business could be improved.
While the automation seems profound, the setup is simple. It uses a series of yes/no or if/then statements.
ActiveCampaign does offer a free migration from other email marketing services. This is a real time saver as it is quite robust. In addition to importing contacts, it will also import automation workflows and email templates.
Pricing for Activecampaign is quite varied. There are a number of plans. Each one has different options and features included. However, the pricing more greatly fluctuates with the amount of contacts that you have.
For example, the light plan starts at $9.00 per month and that includes 500 contacts. The light plan with 100,000 contacts is $369.00 per month. Clearly there is quite a variety of pricing options.
ActiveCampaign Google Analytics
Google Analytics when associated with ActiveCampaign will allow a user to track email clicks. This gives the benefit of knowing what is and what is not working.
ActiveCampaign landing pages
ActiveCampaign does not have a native landing page editor. You can use a landing page from your own website. Or, you can use a third party program like Unbounce to make landing pages for your website that can be integrated.
Constant Contact Email Marketing
Constant Contact is an email marketing service that has been around since the mid-1990s. They have a lot of experience and have a solid product. It does have great drag and drop editing available, it also integrates well with Salesforce, Shopify, QuickBooks, and WordPress which make for smoother implementation and tracking for your marketing emails.
Constant Contact has email automation included in the higher tiered package. They also boast a great email deliverability rate of 98% for their emails. Live phone support is another bonus for times that you may be stuck. Their emails do great staying out of spam folders or avoiding spam traps which help them to reach the inbox
Constant Contact is a solid MailChimp alternative. It does not have an amazing number of features and benefits. Yet, it does well at everything it offers for the vast majority of their users.
Constant Contact Pricing
Pricing starts at $20.00 per month for the basic package which includes up to 500 contacts. The plus package starts at $45.00 per month and includes features like automation. Both plans include unlimited emails. They have an interactive chart that shows different pricing models.
Constant Contact Google Analytics
Constant Contact does not have integrated Google Analytics available. This may not be important for some people. However, some may find it inconvenient.
Constant Contact Landing Pages
Constant Contact does not offer true landing pages. You can use an email template to mock one up. However, in terms of reporting and true landing page behaviors, it is lacking.
Drip Email Marketing
Drip is known for its ecommerce CRM. Their approach is to personalize what is inherently an impersonal service, which is digital marketing. Its design allows users to collect behaviors from their customers. Drip works by personalizing customers through segmentation, content, and automation.
Drip does a great job integrating emails that target their audience based upon behaviors. They follow this up with social media engagement that reinforces their targeted branding, for example.
Drip pricing is seemingly more straightforward than any other email platform when comparing rates. It is based upon the amount of contacts you have. It starts at $49.00 per month for up to 1500 contacts, whereas 10,000 contacts will cost $184.00 per month.
Drip Google Analytics
Drip makes it easy to add URL parameters in order to utilize Google Analytics. This will allow users to know, not only if their emails were opened and clicked on, but where their site visitors originated from.
Drip Landing Pages
Drip does allow for customizable landing pages which will direct users right to the correct pages. These landing pages are designed to make your users convert quickly.
AWeber Email Marketing
AWeber has been in business since the late 1990s. They are also responsible for inventing the autoresponder, which is quite a feat. The platform is easy to use and the campaigns are simple to build.
They have a reputation for outstanding customer service and even have a responsive 24/7 chat function. In addition, their reputation for deliverability is also top notch. This is a great feature to have. If you are spending time and money creating campaigns, you don’t want to be blocked by certain IP addresses or just not make it into an inbox.
AWeber bases their pricing model upon the amount of contacts. All features are included with every plan so you only need to spend more if you have more contacts. Plans start at $19.00 per month for up to 500 contacts. There are discounts for annual and quarterly billing as well.
AWeber Google Analytics
AWeber does not directly integrate with Google Analytics. However, you can track form performance and link traffic in a similar manner.
AWeber Landing Pages
AWeber does not utilize native landing pages within their software. You can easily use other landing page providers to create a custom page.
Sendinblue Email Marketing
Sendinblue is a wonderful email marketing software platform for businesses that also incorporates SMS capabilities. Based in France, they have become one of the fastest growing platforms.
Their ability to create fantastic looking emails with ease make them a great option for your email marketing campaigns. They use a drag and drop functionality which makes it simple for users who are just starting out and have little experience.
Some other great options are the email timing and automation. The timing uses their software and algorithms to pick the best time of day to send emails in order to get the best results. Their automation is also extremely user friendly.
Sendinblue offers a free plan that allows up to 300 daily emails. Paid plans begin at $25.00 per month for 40,000 emails and go up from there. The paid versions do include features like live chat, CRM, and integrating with Facebook ads.
Sendinblue Google Analytics
Google Analytics integrates seamlessly with Sendinblue. There is an easy to follow tutorial that explains how to integrate them together.
Sendinblue Landing Pages
Sendinblue allows you to direct your traffic to specific pages when they click on your emails. There is an easy to use template builder for creating landing pages which is extremely customizable. You can actually create your own or choose from a number of templates which are available.
There are a dizzying amount of email marketing platforms for you to choose from. We want you to be able to select the one that fits your business’ needs the best. Our experts have selected their favorites:
If you own a business and want a feature rich automation to go alongside SMS, then Sendinblue is the best option for you.
If you are a novice or if you run a nonprofit, then Constant Contact is the solution for you. They are known for their top of the line customer service with their onboarding team. They also offer great pricing.
For those of you that have an eCommerce store, we recommend Drip. It is by far the best eCommerce email software available for the price.
It is also worth considering what an email marketing agency costs. Email marketing agency pricing is often offered at a fixed rate, but hourly rates are not unheard of. Depending on what agencies charge, working with an email marketing agency can be a cost effective solution.
Email marketing software faq
We have helped hundreds of clients choose email marketing and have used a great deal of them ourselves. Over the years, we have received a number of questions about email marketing. We have tried to answer some of the most common questions below:
Of all of the options, which is the best free email marketing platform?
Most of the services offer a free tier for their services. However, most businesses find at least one limitation that is a deal-breaker. The most popular choice for free service would be Mailchimp if you have very basic needs. Sendinblue also offers a robust free tier.
What if I just did email marketing in my Outlook or regular work email?
This would work for a very short period of time. Your email would quickly get marked as spam and would no longer work.
Should I hire an email marketing firm?
This is a difficult question to answer. While the platforms are made so that anyone can use them, it takes a great deal of time and experience to create a great product. Digital marketing firms have the experience to create a great product for you. If you have a lot of free time and can survive some bumps in the road, go ahead and do it yourself. If you quickly need a great product, you should use an expert.
How much does email marketing cost?
There are three basic factors that go into cost: platform, subscribers, and email quantity. I have seen small businesses pay as little as $50.00 and up to $300.00 per month. A professional marketing agency will likely cost $500.00-$750.00 per month.