For many business owners, email marketing represents a huge opportunity they know can build their brand and engage customers. For both B2B and B2C businesses, the average $1 spent on email marketing brought a $43 return in 2016—yes, that’s a 4,300% ROI.1 Even if you’ve never considered email marketing before now, that’s a number no savvy small business owner can afford to ignore.
However, like any effort to grow, your email marketing strategy has to be supported by the right tools. There are a lot of email marketing tools available to businesses, and understanding what makes each one unique can be time-consuming. As you begin comparing options, consider the costs and capabilities that fit your business's needs. Below you'll find a list of some of the more popular options on the market.
When it comes to email marketing tools, MailChimp is one of the best-known and most widely used. That’s likely due in no small part to the fact that it’s free, but it also has generous features even compared to some paid plans, including sending as many emails per month as you want. Users can also perform A/B testing, trying out different subject lines or content to see which one gets the most opens or leads to the most clicks. Since 33% of email recipients open the message simply based on subject line alone, this feature can help you learn a lot even from sending just one email.2 Mailchimp also makes it easy to import existing contacts from Gmail. For those just starting email marketing, MailChimp is a good place to start developing your strategy.
Subscription Details: Mailchimp does offer their service for free, but limits free accounts to 2,000 subscribers. If you pay for a subscription starting at $10 a month (plus a $30 startup fee), premium templates are included, while those using the free plan might need to make their own template, which can take time. More expensive plans are necessary for larger subscriber lists, or access to features like “inbox preview,” which lets you see how your content will display on more than 40 different devices.3
Campaigner is a good option for business owners who want lots of data about their email campaigns.4 Campaigner’s features go beyond email to include customer relationship management (CRM) tools. These analyze data from your email campaign to help you understand how recipients interact with your messages, and how that plays into your customer life cycle. You can even send different emails to a subscriber based on how they’ve engaged with your business before—for instance, if they bought online versus in a store. If you need help, there’s 24/7 live chat support—and also 24/7 reporting capabilities, for night owls and early birds who just can’t wait to see how their campaign is doing.
Subscription Details: Campaigner’s starting price point of $19.95 makes it easy to consider committing after the 30-day free trial. However, Campaigner’s subscriptions are month-to-month, meaning you can’t get a discount by committing to more time in advance. But, because you aren’t locked into a contract with their service, you can switch to something different at any point.
GetResponse’s basic plan is pretty similar to a lot of others on our list, but where they really stand out is in their commitment to expanding digital marketing beyond an email newsletter. With their Pro plan, you’ll get access to webinar hosting for up to 100 attendees, plus the opportunity to create more advanced landing pages to capture lead information. The basic plan doesn’t include webinars, but it does offer a robust suite of analytics tools, including integration with a website’s existing Google Analytics. There’s also an album of over 1,000 free iStock images available for subscribers to use, including an in-program image editor in case you want to make a few adjustments to the picture. In all cases it’s important to include images: When people hear information, they’ll only remember 10% of it three days later, but if a relevant image is paired with that same information, people retain as much as 65% three days later.5
When people hear information, they’ll only remember 10% of it three days later, but if a relevant image is paired with that same information, people retain as much as 65% three days later.
Subscription Details: GetResponse offers a month-long free trial with access to most features.6 Subscription begins at $15.00 a month for continued access, and there are no caps to the number of monthly emails you’re allowed to send. However, once you have more than 1,000 subscribers, you will need to upgrade to the Pro plan at $49 a month.
Constant Contact’s interface has been reported as one of the most user-friendly, but you don’t have to take others’ word for it. Their free trial for a list of 500 subscribers lasts 60 days.7 The trial is an example of their Standard plan, which includes an image library, social media integration, and audience segmenting. You also get the ability to A/B test both content and subject lines. In addition to these features, Constant Contact offers a Plus plan that allows users to conduct polls, automate the timing of email sending, integrate event marketing with email, and even add coupons and online shopping offers to keep customers clicking through after they open the email.
Subscription Details: The cost of a baseline plan is $20.00 a month for 500 subscribers. Paid plans can host up to 10,000 subscribers at $99.00 for a Standard plan and $125.00 for Plus.
Benchmark is another free tool, one that has a simple drag-and-drop editing interface. This means that if you’re new to design or just don’t have a lot of time, creating your email here might be less time-intensive than some other tools. Benchmark’s dashboard also places a high priority on allowing users to segment audiences, meaning you can send different emails to different groups of subscribers that you know are interested in different things. That might seem minor, but emails sent to segmented audiences get almost 15% more opens and more than 100% more click-throughs than those sent to an entire list at large.8 Benchmark has a very well-reviewed live support team that is available by chat 24/7.9 The tool has plans that allow for bigger email lists once your email marketing has really taken off, making this a good choice for a business owner seeking wide scalability.
Emails sent to segmented audiences get almost 15% more opens and more than 100% more click-throughs than those sent to an entire list at large.
Subscription Details: Benchmark offers a free plan for email lists of up to 1,500 people, though users can only send a total of 14,000 emails per month (which means you could email a 1,500 person list nine times.)10 Subscriptions begin at $11.95 a month for those who want to be able to send unlimited emails, and those who need larger lists.
Selecting the right email marketing tool for your company, whether to begin a campaign or expand your existing approach, can make all the difference between success and frustration. Features like transparent and informative data analytics, the ease of A/B testing, and responsive customer support are probably among your most important criteria. Sample services that offer free trial plans until you’re sure you’ve chosen the best email marketing tool to meet your needs. As you grow your list and see traffic to your website or landing pages increase, you’ll know you’ve found the right fit for you.