Email is, without a doubt, the fastest, easiest, most cost-effective way to reach your customers. Deciding to use email for your marketing efforts is the easy part. But the next decision becomes a little more challenging: How do you manage your email marketing efforts? Before you decide what’s best for you, you’ll need to take a few things into consideration:
1. How big will your mailing list be? And maybe a more important question is: How much do you expect it to grow over the next one or two years? You’ll want to choose a management tool that will be appropriate for the size of your list.
2. How many design options do you want to have? At the beginning, plain text emails may be all you’re interested in sending. But it’s hard to grab your customers’ attention with plain text. Chances are you’ll want to produce fancier emails at some point in the future.
3. How often will you send out emails? How frequently you send out your emails can have an impact on the price you’ll pay for a management tool.
4. What “extras” are you looking for in your management package? You may want to track how many people open your emails or conduct surveys from time to time. Or you may want to integrate your marketing emails with social media.
Once you take all this into consideration, you’ll be ready to decide on a management tool. Although there are countless packages available, the five listed here provide a variety of features at different price levels (even free!).
Whether you’re an email marketing expert or a newbie, the iContact email marketing service has something for everyone. The service includes an easy-to-use interface, reporting and tracking capabilities, social media integration, 500 design templates to choose from and a Spam checker. iContact provides a lot of help along the way, including a marketing guide that helps you make the most of your email campaigns, a tutorial and live help over the phone. Prices vary from $14 per month (for a mailing list of 500) to $239 a month (for a mailing list of 35,000).
This service would work no matter what your size business or knowledge level. Constant Contact is simple to use and offers 400 design templates. It features social media integration, a WordPress plug-in and reporting capability. Surveys are available at an additional cost. Customer support includes live chat, tutorials, forums, blogs and a user manual. Prices range from $15 a month (for a maximum of 500 addresses) to $150 a month (from 10,001 to 25,000 addresses). If your mailing list is over 25,000, you’ll need to contact them for a price estimate. Constant Content also offers a discount for nonprofits.
This user-friendly service offers features for every size company and skill level. Capabilities include reporting features, social media integrations and a Spam checker. You can import your own design or use one of their templates. Benchmark also gives you the capability to import contact lists from spreadsheet programs or text files. If you don’t have the time to set up your own email campaigns, they’ll do it for you—up to two per month. Benchmark support includes tutorials, FAQs, a glossary, blogs, user manuals and 24-hour help. They offer three payment options—Budget, Professional or Enterprise—and a discount for nonprofits. Prices range from $9.95 per month to send 600 emails to $375 per month to send 100,000.
The Mail Chimp service provides what are possibly the most impressive help features available, including live webinars, a forum and live chat. The service is easy to use and offers social media integration AND the ability to track social media activity. The Mail Chimp “Delivery Doctor” scans your emails for Spam flags prior to mailing. It also offers a preview of what your email will look like for different email clients (Yahoo Mail or Outlook, for example). Mail Chimp also has a free service available with a maximum of 2,000 subscribers and a 12,000 per month send limit. Prices for other packages (for monthly plans) begin at $10 a month for an unlimited number of sends and up to 500 subscribers, up to $240 a month for unlimited sends and 25,001 to 50,000 subscribers.
Designed for larger companies looking for a B2B email management solution, Pinpointe offers many of the features that other services provide, but on a bigger scale. Features include a customized “From” field that allows the email to come from any individual in the company, survey capabilities, email preview function, Spam checker, reporting capabilities and multiple formats and templates to choose from. Support services include FAQs, user manuals, a blog, webinars and tutorials. Pinpointe is designed to manage bulk emailing campaigns, and the lowest-priced package available begins with 5,000 contacts. Price varies from $42 a month for sending 5,000 emails to $1,799 a month for sending over 1 million.
Pam Drayton is a content writer for EmailFinder.com, a leading email search website.