There are several email marketing options available to choose from. However, to get the most out of your email marketing efforts, you’ll want to be sure that you find the service that fits your business in all the right ways.
Whether you’re most interested in the template selection, automated workflows, or the user interface as a whole, there’s a perfect email marketing service that will give your business the boost it needs.
Before you decide on one, be sure to explore all the available options in the market. Business owners are known to hop from one email marketing service to another—that’s how most of them end up with the app that meets all their needs. Other times, they switch services based on their business’s current requirements.
With this guide, there will be no need to start from scratch. We’ll go over the most important features of an email marketing service and name a few well-trusted tools that stand out in each of these categories:
Without further ado, let’s dive right in.
Who doesn’t love a bang-for-your-buck product? Many email marketing service providers offer free plans for a limited time or a limited number of subscribers, and they are all worth trying (if you have the time).
However, if you want something that will accommodate an increasing number of subscribers for a longer duration, you’ll want to invest in a scalable plan that doesn’t burn a hole in your pocket.
Does it sound like what you’re looking for? Then consider GetResponse. It offers a monthly pricing of $15 for 1,000 subscribers and an unlimited number of emails. If you want more of their features and greater flexibility around your plan, the next tier is priced at $49. This is already very cost-effective compared to its competitors who charge an average of $30 for a maximum of 100,000 emails with just the basic features.
Small businesses might also like Cakemail – it offers plans as cheap as $8 for 500 contacts and $12 for 1000 contacts:
2. Marketing automation
Marketing automation is the ultimate buzzword for today’s marketers.
Most services offer this feature, but the quality will vary from app to app.
When you think of automation, imagine an email marketing service that fully “understands” each subscriber and their customer journey.
For instance, with marketing automation, business owners can segment their mailing lists and personalize campaigns around specific workflows and customers’ behavior.
A good email marketing service will allow you to send out an automated welcome email for every new subscriber before sending a full-blown newsletter about the business.
Other marketing automation features include:
abandoned cart emails
recent purchase emails
birthday or anniversary emails
One app that stands out in the market because of its great automation feature is Drip.
Known as the world’s first e-commerce CRM, Drip offers interacted automated workflows and a reliable tagging system with effective triggers. Drip is a full-blown CRM suite, so it might be a little too technical for those who are new to email marketing. Nonetheless, it’s worth exploring and many of its users have gone from rookies to experts in no time.
Here’s a sample automated email from a company called Lalo that uses Drip as their email marketing service:
3. Integration with third-party apps
Some businesses encountered issues when Mailchimp’s broke from Shopify, which demonstrated the need for a service that can be reliable enough when it comes to third-party app integration.
Depending on your business, it’s important to research the third-party apps that are integrated with specific email marketing tools. For example, you may want to be able to easily integrate your email marketing service with your email opt-in popups, your website platform, and your CRM.
So, let’s get back to ecommerce. Among Mailchimp alternatives, many Shopify, BigCommerce, and Magento users choose Klaviyo. This software allows you to target various audiences with highly-personalized emails and overall offers more features designed specifically for ecommerce. Unlike many apps, Klaviyo conveniently integrates with Facebook Ads and helps you reach customers on social media.
If you’re a heavy user of third-party apps, you should look for a tool that is integrated with Zapier, too. Zapier is a platform that allows for connecting to 1,500+ cloud apps, so it may come in handy.
4. Thoughtful design
Who doesn’t like a sleek user interface and a set of well-curated templates? If you look up testimonials about email marketing services, chances are you will find reviews that rave about fonts, template builders, editors, and graphic features.
Today’s businesses want to be in on the latest design trends, so they choose email marketing services that offer new and updated templates.
Campaign Monitor is among the favorites when it comes to template originality, creativity, and specifically – to modern designs. The platform also has a mobile-first approach, which means emails are designed to adapt to different screens and apps.
You don’t even have to sign up for a plan to try out Campaign Monitor’s email builder. Simply visit their free email templates page, select a template you want to play with, and start editing. It’s all for free.
5. Ease of use
In the fast-paced world of tech and business, marketers often do not have the time to study entire platforms before they onboard the business. Because of this, they end up choosing simple, minimalistic email marketing services that allow for getting started fast.
And often – especially with small business – you might not even need the bells and whistles sophisticated solutions offer.
When it comes to email marketing services, the fewer clicks you have to make, the better.
There are several contenders in this category, and you might want to take a closer look at each one:
Campaign Monitor offers an easy drag-and-drop email builder
HubSpot solution boasts a very intuitive interface
SendX brings a simple and easy-to-navigate UI
EngageBay is known for its ready-made customizable templates
Many platforms take new users on a virtual tour of its UI when you create an account. So even if you’re completely new to this, you will quickly get familiar with email marketing language and technicalities.
Here is an example of such a tour by Sender – another email marketing service for ecommerce website owners:
6. Data analytics
As a business owner, you already know that data is essential for making sound business decisions. More than anything, an email marketing service should help you monitor how well your emails are doing and whether there is anything you need to change about your campaigns.
With data analytics, you’ll know the right subject lines to use, the email layout that subscribers love, and the types of email that gain the most attention.
Look for an email marketing service that allows you to monitor the following important metrics:
Open rate. The open rate is related to how effective your subject line is.
Click-through rate (CTR). Simply put, it’s the number of times your subscribers click on the links in your email.
Conversion rate. This is the number of people who respond to your call-to-action. Mostly, it’s related to purchases from your email.
Bounce rate. Subscribers who do not receive your emails for a variety of reasons, like an old email address or a spelling mistake in the address.
Number of unsubscribes. This is pretty clear.
Want to know more? Here are other crucial email marketing metrics for your business.
7. Responsive customer support
An email marketing service can have all the above-mentioned features, but it amounts to nothing if the platform does not have dedicated customer support.
As both a business and a customer, you know how important this feature is. You want an email marketing service that responds with a sense of urgency, especially when you’re having issues with an email that needs to be sent ASAP. Ideally, customer service should be available 24/7, whether via a hotline, an email, or a live chat feature.
In this category, ActiveCampaign is a strong player in the market. According to online reviews, the platform has a well-trained technical team that provides highly reliable support on the phone and online. Some packages also include a dedicated manager, for when the usual customer support is not enough.
Cheap, automated, easy to use, and backed by a strong support team. This is a brief list of common requirements for the best email marketing service. Remember, though, that any tool is only as good as its settings.
So you should be ready to perform a lot of casual research and testing. And once you get the hang of the platform, you can focus on building the email list of subscribers excited to receive your newsletters.
Ash Salleh is the Director of SEO at Campaign Monitor, where he works closely with content, copy, and analytics teams to improve site-wide optimization. Prior to his time at Campaign Monitor, he also provided SEO and digital marketing expertise at Zappos and Axiata Digital.Subscribe to our newsletter → Main illustration by Icons8