The Top 10 Email Marketing Services (2015 Edition)
Email marketing is one of the most effective ways any business can communicate with future and existing customers. Even with the increasing popularity of social media, email isn't going anywhere.
Regardless of the size or type of business you have, you'll want to keep in touch with your contacts. Email marketing allows business owners, bloggers, podcasters, etc. inform your audience of upcoming posts, deals, promotions, and events.
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But there are so many options to choose from. From MailChimp to AWeber to Infusionsoft, it's easy to get confused and jump into an email marketing service that isn't a good fit for you, or your business.
When it comes to the best email service for your blog or business, where should you start?
When I started my blog, I had no idea the part email marketing would play in my blog's growth. I didn't know what tools and resources were out there and I didn't know where to start.
To help you grow your business or get it started in the first place, I've created a comparison list evaluating some of the most popular email marketing software available. I've included over ten areas of evaluation to consider before deciding which service to use – things like whether or not the service has a free trial, or whether there's a mobile app or if it integrates with your landing page software.
I've tried to include what I look for when deciding which email marketing software to use so you can make the best decision for your and your business.
The Top 10 Email Marketing Software Services
When I started my blog in 2012, I began with the subscription option built into WordPress. It does the job, but poorly. I soon realized I needed a better solution and began searching for free options. I found MailChimp and used it for two years as I transformed my blog into a business.
Once I started generating sales on a regular basis and my list started to grow, I started looking into other options.
At first, I did what most followers of Pat Flynn and Jeff Goins do; I signed up for AWeber. I looked at the communities I was involved in and found AWeber as the logical choice. About two weeks after using the service, I discovered that the logical choice wasn't the best option.
I soon found AWeber's system to be restrictive and outdated. Features I had in MailChimp weren't available in AWeber, and the flexibility I was used to wasn't even an option. After giving AWeber a try for a month, I learned about GetResponse which I used for about four months.
In all three systems, MailChimp, AWeber and GetResponse, I looked for features which they didn't offer. I wanted to be able to trigger emails, tags, and automated actions based upon the actions my subscribers took. I wanted to be able to treat people differently based on their opens, clicks, and interests.
A few months later, one of my mastermind members told me to look into ActiveCampaign. All of the previous email marketing services I'd looked at left me wanting more. The more I dug, the more I learned they couldn't do for me. ActiveCampaign is the first email marketing services that will grow with me and is powerful enough to allow me to do what I want to do with my lists.
While ActiveCampaign is a great place to start, it shouldn't be the first place you go for your email marketing software.
MailChimp, AWeber, GetResponse, ActiveCampaign, Mad Mimi
When you're in the startup phase (0-50 subscribers), there is no reason you should pay
big bucks anything for your email marketing. I recommend every beginner start with a MailChimp account. You won't need features like automations and autoresponders when you have no emails to send and no one to send them too. Figure out what you want to do, and have at least an idea of how you want to do it, before you start spending money.
Consider cost and ease of use.
For Growing Blogs & Businesses:
MailChimp Paid, AWeber, GetResponse, ActiveCampaign, Mad Mimi, Constant Contact
If you have 51-250 subscribers, you've probably started thinking about autoresponders, newsletters and taking your email marketing to the next level. Regular communication with your audience will help you grow your influence and your bottom line. Services like GetResponse and MailChimp (Paid) and ActiveCampaign will allow you to automate follow-up emails to your subscribers.
The best services offer free trials. They allow you to get into a dashboard, import a part of your list, and test the features of the service. Before migrating to a new service, I highly recommend you take full advantage of any trial period offered. Only two services, Infusionsoft and Ontraport, don't offer a free trial; oddly enough, they offer the least value for the dollar and rank among the bottom of my Top 10 List.
Consider cost, time to ROI, scalability, and capability to meet future needs.
For Established Blogs and Businesses:
ActiveCampaign, Infusionsoft, Ontraport
As you start generating revenue with your blog or business, you'll want to incorporate a client relationship management (CRM) component to your system. (Click here to see other tools you need) To streamline the process of email, relationship management, and to eliminate the need for multiple pieces of software, look at email marketing software which incorporates both.
Depending on who you ask, Infusionsoft is the main player in the small business space. Infusionsoft is an established email marketing software company. They incorporate many advanced features into software like shopping carts for e-commerce and affiliate management if you have a network of affiliates promoting your products. If you want to get started with Infusionsoft, you can hire an expert like my friend Molly Richardson and her company to help get you set up.
If you don't need the affiliate management or the shopping cart features of Infusionsoft or don't want to use them, ActiveCampaign is your best bet. With a free 14-day trial and plans starting at under $10 a month, ActiveCampaign is the only email marketing software that fits a beginner budget as well as the demanding needs of a profitable business.
When I look for email marketing software, I want to make sure it's easy to use. I want support available when I need it; I prefer chat support over email or phone. I want a system that will send autoresponders to my contacts and can change what I send those contacts based on the actions they take on my site and with emails. I want a service that will scale with me. And, I want a service I can grow into.
If you haven't chosen a service already, consider the cost of implementation, the cost to switch services down the road, and whether you'll use the service to the fullest.
How Email Marketing Systems Work:
Most systems are based on an If, Then formula. If someone subscribes, then send them email #1. For beginners, that process works like a charm. This basic system allows you to send a downloadable resource, or a “bribe”, to someone who signs up to your list.
The next step is still an If, Then formula. If someone subscribes, then send them email #1, then wait three days and send email #2, then wait one week and send email #3, etc.
When you grow to the point when you want to include marketing and sales automation, and want to segment your list based on the actions your subscribers take, these basic systems no longer work. Most basic systems limit the If part of the equation to If someone subscribes, and that's it. More advanced systems like ActiveCampaign have several actions that can trigger an If event.
For example, here's a look at the available triggers within ActiveCampaign when you create a new “automation”:
Here are a couple of ways you can implement these advanced triggers.
- If a subscriber opens and email and clicks a link… then send them additional resources.
- If a subscriber visits a specific web page (ie a “Thank You for Purchasing” page)… then subscribe them to a customer list.
Or, if you want to go crazy and really segment your subscribers and customer based on the actions they take, try this:
- If Jason subscribes, then add him to the Prospects list. If Jason opens an email, clicks the link inside, and also has visited the Thank You for Purchasing Page, then unsubscribe Jason from the Prospects list, tag him with “ebook buyer” and subscribe him to the Clients list and send him emails about products he might also like starting a week later.
Pretty powerful stuff. From my experience, ActiveCampaign's automations are only limited by the creativity I'm able to bring to the system.
Don't pay for an email service from the start. Begin with MailChimp and figure out a system while it costs you nothing. When you're ready, read this post about knowing when to make the move to something more advanced.
Question: What email marketing software do you use, and why?