For small business owners, email marketing has become a must-have: it’s how you stay connected to current, past, and future customers and create the kind of engagement that inspires people to buy.
But to do email marketing well, you need to choose a great email marketing tool…Easier said than done.
While there are many good options out there, sorting through them can be overwhelming because they all offer slightly different features and call them by slightly different names. That’s why we did the research for you to come up with 5 great email marketing options for your small business.
How’d we pick our favorites? We made sure they had the “essential” features we’d expect from a great email marketing service, and then we looked at the special extras that made them stand out.
First, here are the essential things we believe a good email provider should do:
- Keep your emails out of people’s spam folders, so they actually get read.
- Help you manage your email contacts effectively and even connect to your CRM system.
- Let you segment your audience based on different variables, so you can send more personalized messages.
- Make it easy to customize campaigns with drag and drop editors or ready-made email templates.
- Let you run A/B tests to figure out which version of your message works best.
- Allow you to set up automated email campaigns tailored to your audience.
- Track and analyze your campaign performance so you know what works and what doesn’t.
- Provide ample support via live chat, email, tutorials, how-to videos, and other resources.
Here Are Our Five Favorite Email Marketing Tools for Small Businesses:
As the world’s largest marketing automation service, MailChimp presents an impressive suite of features. A few of the ones we love most include:
- A great template library built around your campaign goals. Just select a pre-designed theme or template to share big news, showcase a product, or send a tailored follow-up email. You can also custom code your own templates if you prefer.
- Timewarp email campaigns that magically calculate time zone differences and send everyone the same email at the same time—just on their local time.
- Free landing pages for when you want to spotlight a special product, event, giveaway, or sale. Just choose one of their landing page templates and drag and drop the elements you need.
- Custom sign-up forms to attract subscribers from your website. You can even set them to pop up based on specific behaviors, like when a person’s scrolling away to leave the site.
- Ad channels that expand your reach via Facebook, Instagram, and Google remarketing. Quickly put together Facebook and Instagram ads (at the same time, too!) and even target new people similar to those already on your subscriber list. Google remarketing, meanwhile, brings back people who’ve strayed from your site with targeted ads across Google’s Display Network. The best part? You don’t pay anything extra above what you’d normally pay for Google, Facebook, or Instagram ad placement.
- Subscriber profiles that have the look and feel of a simple CRM system (though you can integrate with existing CRM services like Salesforce and Sugar). Use it to view each subscriber’s purchase history, email interactions, add special notes, and even send personal emails from the profile itself. MailChimp can also pull information from your subscriber’s public social media feeds.
Get started: MailChimp’s Forever Free plan lets you send 12,000 emails to up to 2,000 people. After that, plans start at $10/month and scale up to $199/month.
Emma stood out to us, in part, because of its notable customer base: Girl Scouts, NPR, the YMCA, Goodwill, Habitat for Humanity, and Charity: Water. It delivers a lot of the marketing power of MailChimp and GetResponse (below), all in a friendly package. Here’s what makes Emma stand out:
- A click-based heat map that shows you exactly where people are clicking within your email: the more clicks, the larger the heat circle.
- A mailing score metric that sums up how well your emails are performing and benchmarks them against past campaigns.
- Dynamic content that creates a unique experience for each subscriber, all based on a single email. If you run a pet-sitting service, for example, you can send the same email to everyone, but make it so that the dog-lovers on your list see a picture of a pup while the cat-lovers see a kitten.
- The Metric mobile map that makes it fun to track clicks and opens as they come in and even features a campaign leaderboard.
Get started: Emma’s small business packages start at $89/month, and you can request a live demo to see it in action.
GetResponse is a complete marketing platform that bundles email marketing, landing pages, webinars, marketing automation, and CRM. In this way, it overlaps with MailChimp and Emma, and is a good choice for business owners who want a full suite of options. In addition to any feature you could ever want, you’ll also find:
- Marketing automation goals that let you measure your growth over time and nudge you to improve.
Get started: GetResponse comes with a 30-day free trial. Pricing starts at $15/month and increases depending on your needs.
ConvertKit is geared towards online creators like bloggers, course designers, musicians, freelancers, makers and coaches. Even though it doesn’t offer the full suite of “essentials” we listed earlier, that’s actually its biggest selling point: in fact, it pulls this off so well that we thought it deserved a mention here. Here’s what makes it so interesting:
- Text-only emails that challenge the “beautiful template” trend. ConvertKit leaves “fancy email templates” out on purpose, because it believes “multi-column layouts, background images, logos, and all other nonsense” don’t deliver as well as content—plain and simple, in plain text format.
- Visual automations that let you design a “subscriber journey” based on a variety of events, actions, or conditions. Think of it as a sort of branching mind map for your automation funnel: you can easily see what needs to happen next in a customer’s journey, every step of the way.
- RSS feeds that send blog posts to your subscriber list as soon as they’re published or later, as a digest email.
Get started: Try it free for 14 days. Then, pay $29/month for up to 1,000 subscribers, $49/month for up to 3,000 subscribers, and $79/month for up to 5,000 subscribers. Anything above that is priced separately.
5. Constant Contact
Constant Contact is a well-established email marketing service that’s been around for over 20 years (hey, that’s almost as old as the world wide web!). While it reserves essentials like email automation and subject line A/B testing for only the highest-paying plans, it is a solid choice if you’re looking for a powerful but simple email marketing option. Some notable features include:
- A marketing calendar that lets you plan out your campaigns month by month.
- Event marketing features that let you create invites and track event RSVPs.
- Online donation tools that let you send fundraising requests and collect online donations.
Get started: Enjoy your first month for free. After that, pay for a plan that’s $5, $20, or $45 per month.
Need more information? Check out this list of the best email marketing softwares for small business from our friends at G2 Crowd.
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