No matter what kind of digital business you run, you need an email list of your prospects and customers. Email marketing generates $38 for every $1 spent, according to Hubspot, – which is an amazing 3,800% ROI! If you’re not emailing your prospects and customers, you’re missing out on alot of potential sales and revenue. But, there are so many different services to choose from – all offering different features at different prices. How can you cut through the clutter and confusion to find the best email marketing service for your digital business?
There are several things you need to consider, and I’ll share those with you in this post, as well as the email marketing services I’ve personally used.
Deliverability Is Priority #1 For Any Email Marketing Service
The best email marketing services have a high deliverability rate. It’s pointless to create emails and hit the send button only to have your emails get stuck on a server or end up in the spam box. And since, at some point, you’ll be paying for whichever email platform you choose, you need to know your emails will be delivered.
There are many factors that can affect deliverability. Some – such as your subject lines – are your responsibility. Good subject lines get people to open your emails, and higher open rates mean better deliverability.
But there are other factors that are not in your control, such as other email users who are sending spam. If the platform you choose has alot of spammers using it, your deliverability rate will suffer. This is because the internet service providers (ISP’s) will recognize emails coming from that particular platform as spam – even when they are your emails and not the spammers’. The ISP’s will then block your emails from getting to the inbox of your subscribers.
So how can you know whether any email marketing service has a good deliverability rate? The easiest way is to check with EmailToolTester. They regularly test many of the most popular email platforms and offer the results in an easy to read chart where you can compare them.
You can also use Google to find reviews of any platform you’re thinking of using.
One final thought on deliverability – it’s always in a state of flux. This means any platform’s deliverability rate can go up or down at any time. But, if your email doesn’t get delivered, check your provider’s deliverability. If it’s gone down, and it’s been down for a while, you might consider getting a new provider.
Is The Email Platform User Friendly?
Another thing you’ll want to consider is whether the email marketing service’s platform is user friendly for you. While deliverability is the number one consideration, if you can’t use the platform in the first place then deliverability doesn’t matter. Your experience would be a very frustrating one.
Every email platform is different. They all have different interfaces from their competitors. Some have minimal interfaces that hide most features. This is great if you prefer a minimal interface with little distraction. Others have all or most of the feature icons displayed. This makes it easy to find your way around because you won’t have to remember where everything is.
Most platforms try to make it easy to write an email and add photos, but some are better at this than others. With some platforms, you can edit the actual email as you write it. With others, you edit in a separate box that has a copy of the email in it. Both ways are pretty straight forward, but it seems a little less confusing to edit the actual text rather than editing duplicate text in a box.
Many email providers also offer drag and drop capabilities for adding photos and logos.
Most of the best email marketing service providers offer either a trial or a free plan so you can test their platform before you buy. It’s a good idea to take advantage of these offers. If you’re strongly considering more than one platform you can try them all at the same time to compare them. Then you can choose the one you’re most comfortable with.
Does The Email Service Have The Features You Need?
The main feature you need from any email platform is the ability to write emails and deliver them. But beyond that, features can vary greatly from one platform to another. This is because different email marketing platforms serve different markets.
Some email platforms are best for small businesses while others are geared toward large corporate entities. And some work better for bloggers while others are more for e-commerce businesses that sell physical goods.
Some email platforms serve more than one market. They’ll offer smaller plans for solopreneurs and small businesses with some basic features, and larger plans with more bells and whistles for larger businesses.
When you’re considering using an email platform, look at the features they offer for each of their plans. If you see features listed in the smallest plan that you don’t know what they are, that’s a clue that this platform may not be for you. You can Google each of the features to find out what they are, and then ask yourself whether you really need them. If you don’t, you can move on to the next platform.
Most platforms today offer a robust set of features, so it’s easy to find one with the features you need. That said, you may not find a single plaform with every feature you need, so decide what’s most important for your business.
Does The Price Fit In Your Budget?
There are several ways you can be charged for using an email marketing platform.
One way is by the month. This is the way most providers will charge you. You choose one of their plans, and whatever the price of that plan is, that is what you will pay every month.
Some providers will also offer a yearly payment where you can pay for a year up front. Although you will often save money buying a year up front I don’t recommend this. If you decide you need to switch to another provider two or three months down the road, you may not be able to get a refund for the unused portion remaining.
This happened to me. I bought a full year with a platform up front, and after a few months I found their support severely lacking. So I decided to switch providers. But, I was out my money for the rest of the year.
When I paid for the plan, I was sure I was going to be happy with the company for years to come. But that wasn’t the case. Lesson learned. You can’t know for sure whether you’ll like a company until you try them for a while. You can start out paying by the month and later switch to a yearly plan.
If you do decide to buy a plan and pay for a full year (or longer) up front, be sure to check the refund policy the email service provider has. That way there won’t be any surprises later.
In addition to paying by the month (or year), most email marketing service providers will also charge you by the number of subscribers you have. The more subscirbers, the more you’ll pay each month. And often you’ll be limited as to how many emails you can send, according to how many subscribers you have.
As if all that weren’t enough, I’ve also seen some companies (MailChimp) allow you to pay by the email. This is fine if you don’t send much email and you don’t send regularly. But for most people, the monthly plans will be best.
If you’re business is new and you’re a solopreneur you’ll probably want to search for a platform with a free or very low cost plan to start. Once your business is booming you can upgrade or switch to another email provider you like better if you feel the need.
Free plans often come with less features, and you may be restricted to a lower amount of subscribers, or how many emails you can send, or both. But it’s a great way to get started without having to pay out of pocket when you’re starting out.
A Word About Support
Support is one of those things that often gets overlooked – until you need it. But if you’re in the middle of a big sales campaign and something goes wrong, and your emails aren’t getting delivered… or if you wake up one morning to find 1,000 new susbscribers all from the same town (bots!), you need to know your provider has your back.
It’s easy to get caught up in all the bells and whistles that so many providers offer, but when you’re in a jam you need support that’s quick to respond and help.
One way to find out about a company’s support is to email them before you create your account. You’ll most likely be emailing their sales support team rather than tech support, but it will still give you an idea of their responsiveness. Ask any questions you have about the platform or even about their tech support and see what kind of answers you get.
Also be sure to check reviews as you will probably find many that talk about a given provider’s support.
Email Marketing Service Providers I’ve Personally Used
The following email marketing service providers are the ones I’ve used personally. My comments are based on my own, personal experience with each company. If you choose one of these companies as your provider, your experience may differ from mine. Things are always changing in the digital world.
Aweber – This was my first email marketing service. I used them several years ago. Once I became acquainted with their platform I found it relatively easy to use (and I’m no techie!). They’ve probably updated it since then, so I bet it’s even easier to use today.
Their starter plan is one of the more expensive at $19.00 a month, and you can only have up to 500 subscribers for that. But, their support is outstanding. I loved using this platform, but then it was my first.
MailChimp – Since it was the only email service that integrated with my new coaching platform, I said a tearful goodbye to Aweber and signed up with MailChimp.
It took me a solid year to get comfortable with the platform here. It’s a minimal interface, or it was when I used it, and icons were hidden. I had a hard time remembering where to find things.
Also, support was hit and miss – and I was using a paid plan.
As my list grew, I found the platform limiting. I wanted to be able to send my subscribers down different paths based on their behavior, but all I could do in MailChimp was keep people from getting further emails once they opened or clicked. My frustration with this platform finally caused me to look for a new provider.
ActiveCampaign – This provider is well known for it’s marketing automations, and I was very excited to sign up with them. At last I would be able to create different paths for my subscribers to go on, based on many different criteria.
Their interface seemed very dated and that was a disappointment. Whenever I wanted to create an email, for example, I was taken to screen that, I thought, looked like something out of the late ’90’s.
Icons weren’t always easy to find and often the ones that did show weren’t obvious to me as to what they were for. I had to do a lot of clicking to find my way around.
But I did get the hang of it after a few months and my list was growing again. And the deliverability was good.
And then it happened. I needed support. And they weren’t there. It took them a week to respond to my first email. A week! After that I’d get responses every couple of days. And sometimes they didn’t answer my questions, so I’d have to re-write to them. Then I’d wait a couple more days for a response.
Finally I’d had enough. I was losing alot of time. It was frustrating. I decided to find another provider. The only thing was, I’d paid for a year with this company. And there was no refund for the unused portion of that year. Time lost. Money lost. Not a good experience all the way around.
MailerLite – These guys get my vote for the best email marketing service. I’ve found them to be better, by far, than any of the others I’ve tried.
For starters, at the time of this writing MailerLite comes in #1 for deliverability according to EmailToolTester.
Also, you can’t just sign up with them. You have to apply. And then, they check you out! Spammers beware! I got a favorable response from them within about an hour. Very impressive.
Once I was in it was easy to set up an account. It was easy to find my way around. I think a four year old could send emails from this platform if they wanted to!
The layout is simple, but pleasing. Icons are easy to find. Some things are labled rather than just having icons. But oh, it gets better!
You can actually create a website with this company – no extra charge! And if you’re on the free plan (yes, they have one! And it includes almost all the bells and whistles too!), you can still create a website. Or a landing page. It’s not quite as obvious how to do this, but it’s pretty easy. You just create several landing pages and link them together through the menu at the top of each page, like you would any website. I’m not a techie – AT ALL – and I did it. So can you! (Here’s the link to my site so you can see!)
Of course, I already have a website, but it’s nice to be able to create mini sites and landing pages with MailerLite because I can see all the stats there together. I’ve used the landing page feature and it’s beautiful and has so much flexibility. And dare I say – it’s fun to use!
Another great feature MailerLite offers is their automated email marketing, which lets you send subscribers down different paths based on their behavior. The layout for this is so much nicer than what they had at ActiveCampaign. You can even add photos to the layout chart if you need to. And, once again, it’s super easy to figure out and use.
MailerLite is a dream come true for the solopreneur or small business owner – especially if you’re just getting started. They offer so much in the way of features, and their pricing is fair. And their free plan is the best I’ve seen anywhere. I can’t recommend this company highly enough. At the time of this writing, I’ve been with them 6 months and they’ve been great all the way around. I haven’t needed their support for any major issues, but they’ve been quick to respond when I had questions.
MailerLite offers so many more features than what I’ve included here. Check them out and see for yourself. You’ll be glad you did!
As you can see, there is alot to consider when looking for the best email marketing service for your business. Remember that any platform you choose is simply a tool to help you achieve a goal. If you choose a platform and it doesn’t work for you, you can always change it. The important thing is to make a choice so you can get started building your list of prospects and customers.
And once you have an email service provider, your next step is to create a lead magnet!
I hope you’ve found this post helpful in your search. Leave me a comment and let me know!
With you every step of the way,
PS: I love MailerLite so much I decided to become an affiliate for them. This isn’t something I do for just any company. MailerLite has earned my trust. I have found them to be a truly outstanding company. Therefore my links to MailerLite on this page are affiliate links.