Email marketing is a cost-effective online marketing solution for small businesses that want to cut back on other forms of more costly advertising via TV, print, or radio. But there’s such an abundance of companies that offer email marketing solutions – how can you determine which one is the best?
When searching for the best email marketing partner, it mainly depends on what you need. For example, are you looking for aesthetically pleasing email templates, social media integration, contact management systems, ease of use with drag and drop functionality, or maybe just something simple for low to no cost?
Whatever your business needs may be, there are plenty of email marketing tools available. Here’s a list of the top five email marketing services that money can buy.
Mailchimp has been active since 2001 and is known for blending humor with its email marketing services. Humor can be a great way to generate interest in your business and if it’s an angle you’re willing to work with then MailChimp is a good choice. One of the great things about MailChimp is that it can be used by small niche companies, like a mortician school, to huge Fortune 500 companies.
For startups, you can create a list of 2,000 contacts and send 12,000 emails absolutely free. The best part is this: you don’t have to sign a contract or provide a credit card at this stage; just simply sign up and start creating emails. For businesses with a larger subscriber list, they have some of the most competitive prices on the market.
The only drawback to Mailchimp’s service is the lack of a support hotline in case you have questions. While you’re able to email them directly from their website, there’s no number to call to get a quick response. This could be frustrating for some users experiencing difficulties, but it’s a minor flaw in the versatile and efficient machine that is MailChimp.
A bit more complex than MailChimp, Campaign Monitor offers powerful versatility for their email-building technology, letting you see what your design will look like on both a computer and a mobile device as you’re working on it.
They have many templates you can work with in their email-building program, Canvas, and you are able to drag and drop everything into your email, from pictures to text to banners and anything else you need. Campaign Monitor can also host your images absolutely free on their server, helping them load much faster when opened by an end user.
Unlike MailChimp, there is no free service option from Campaign Monitor, but for smaller businesses you can expect to pay as little as $9-$89 a month depending on the features you need. The biggest con about this service is that, for their smallest package at $9, there’s a limit to how many emails you can send – you can have up to 500 subscribers, but you’re only allowed to send 2,500 emails a month, total.
Run by an award-winning team of marketing experts, iContact is very much there to help you. In 2011 they won a “Global Call Center of the Year Award,” which goes to show that they are dedicated to ensuring that their customers get all the help they need.
iContact’s pricing also suits beginners: $10 a month is their lowest rate, for 250 subscribers, which is fair. The rate goes up to $109 a month for 15,000 subscribers. Meanwhile, you get your own strategic advisor to help build your email campaign, taking you through all the motions to ensure that you launch a successful campaign.
The company’s biggest flaw is this: they only allow up to 5MB of free storage space. That’s practically nothing, especially if you need to upload all of your own images and banners for use in email blasts. However, for a 10% additional monthly fee you can up it to 10MB of storage space; and 20% for 25MB. But in today’s digital age, if you’re creating your own high-quality graphics, this is still nowhere near enough space.
At present, GetResponse is one of the best email marketing providers in the industry. They offer a very stylish, yet simple, interface which is straightforward and easy to use; boasting loads of features. GetResponse is free for 30 days, after which the lowest monthly rate is $15 per month. Considering the number of features, the price is appropriate.
Whereas MailChimp and Campaign Monitor don’t offer much in the way of telephone tech support, GetResponse has award-winning support that is more than likely to help you figure out any problems you run into. Their site is also full of hundreds of tutorial videos and user guides, including a blog that consistently illustrates tips and strategies to make the most of your email marketing campaigns.
The primary setback of GetResponse email services is they lack event management features, which are important if your company participates at expos, etc. If this isn’t an issue for you, however, then GetResponse is one of the best options available.
AWeber is another highly-praised company that offers very useful features for just $1 for your first month. For that you receive an autoresponder, so you can send emails to different groups of your subscribers for different reasons (i.e., welcome and thank you emails, etc.). And after a month, your monthly fee increases to $19, which is a decent price for the services they offer.
Aweber’s resources are also great for those who lack email marketing experience and want to learn more. Within one month – and for just a dollar – you could be well on your way to creating a successful email campaign. Although their services are worth considering, their biggest con is the lack of mobile apps to tweak and create pages while you’re on the go.
This article has been edited and condensed.
Simon Crompton is a freelance journalist and entrepreneur, who spends the majority of his time blogging about business startups and consulting on web development. He has launched multiple online companies. He is also a dedicated follower of fashion, and has written for the Financial Times and GQ. Connect with @PermanentStle on Twitter.