Comparing Email Marketing Services
After your business has launched and your website is up and running, your next priority for online marketing is building a great email list. Yes, even in 2015, your email list might be your absolute best channel for driving interest. So how do you get started?
Why You Need an Email Marketing Service
You might think, “hey, I can do this myself with Outlook or Gmail, no problem. Why would I need to pay for a service to send emails?” Really? Don’t try this at home.
A few reasons why you don’t want to use your regular email account for sending marketing messages:
- You probably aren’t “CAN-SPAM” compliant, so you’re breaking the law. Don’t do that.
- If you send more than a couple dozen emails, your internet provider will probably start marking you as a spammer and block your email.
- Email servers will also start marking your email address as spam, so you’ll have real trouble sending emails to them.
Do You Have an Existing Email List?
You probably don’t need to start from scratch building your list. If you have worked in your field for a while or have an existing address book, look through it for contacts to add. I’m not saying to spam, but certainly send them an invite for your list (which they can confirm or decline) or “opt in”. Don’t just take all of your existing email addresses and dump them into your newsletter list – that’s bad form.
So Many Choices – Who Do I Go With?
There are literally dozens of options for email marketing services, so many that we can’t list them all here. I’m going to try to compare the most common services here to help you decide which ones works the best for you.
We’re comparing the following email marketing companies here:
Figuring out what each email provider costs is a little harder than it should be. Even though all of them have pricing charts on their sites, sometimes it’s not an “apples-to-apples” comparison. Here’s how they match up for a basic email list of about 1,000 contacts, ranked in order of least expensive to most expensive.
- MailChimp: Free(Can send up to 12,000 emails per month)
- AWeber: $29/Month
- Campaign Monitor: $29/Month (Can send up to 12,500 emails per month)
- Constant Contact: $35/Month
There’s a lot of variation here. I’m not sure whether AWeber or Constant Contact have monthly send limits, but the limits for MailChimp and Campaign Monitor are listed right up front with the pricing. AWeber divides their fee into two parts, one a monthly fee and then an additional charge for how many subscribers you have on your list.
Ease of use in building emails used to be a large distinction between email providers but not anymore. Gone are the super clunky and hard to deal with editors that we had five years ago All three of these have upgraded their interfaces quite a bit over the years and now have a nice, drag and drop style editor for creating and updating your emails. Some of them, like AWeber, have extra niceties like a library of free stock images to drop into your message. I’m going to call it even on this count.
Integration with WordPress
If you’re a small business owner you probably have a WordPress based site. And if you don’t, go get one. It’s by far the most commonly used system out there, and has a world of plugins and add-ons that let you customize your site for just about any purpose. One of these areas where you might need an add-on is for putting an email form for list building right on your site that works with your email provider.
All of the email providers we’re looking at have several WordPress plug-ins available from third-party developers. MailChimp, AWeber and Constant Contact are about even in the number of available plug-ins, while Campaign Monitor only has a few, so it falls a short compared to the rest.
The Bottom Line
We’ve covered the basics of the most common email providers and which features they have.
So which did I choose? I chose MailChimp because:
- It’s free until you grow a large enough list,
- It’s well supported. There were tons of WordPress plug-ins available. Lastly,
- The built-in features for building forms are great, and the interface is very friendly.
Which one is the right fit for you? I hope this post helps you decide!
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