Email marketing is a great investment for your small business. For each dollar you spend, you can expect to get about $38 back — not exactly chump change.
To send those money-making missives out into the world, however, you need some help. Specifically, you need email marketing software.
Email marketing software helps you manage your contacts, email lists and templates. It also provides insights on how your messages are being received, how many people are opening them and other tracking analytics. And although all of the services have similar features, they’re definitely not created equal!
So how do you choose the best one for your small business? We’ve got the scoop.
What Do You Need?
The first step in choosing your email service is knowing what you need it to do for you. How many emails do you send out each week? (Most fee-based services use this number to calculate your rates.) What kind of messages do you send? Do you need a program that can handle newsletters or e-zines? Do you need a program that tracks your customers on their journey along the sales funnel?
Once you have your basic needs in mind, it’s time to ask yourself some harder questions. Are you sending everyone the same email, or do you need a program that offers segmentation and customization? Would you like to be able to send “milestone” emails to individual customers for their birthdays or other special occasions? Do you need to send emails triggered by Google Analytics goals?
How confident are you in your email marketing skills? Some services offer far more support than others, so if you’re just starting out and aren’t quite sure what you’re doing, you may want a service that lets you do more than just submit a support ticket and wait until someone gets back to you.
Choosing an Email Marketing Service
Now that you have your needs laid out, it’s time to find a service that meets them. You have plenty of choices — some better than others.
Constant Contact: Does your budget have a bit of wiggle room? Paid services generally (but not always) offer bigger and better features than the standard free plans. Constant Contact is a well-rounded service that offers a bit of everything: built-in social media tools, tracking and reporting, an image gallery and some of the best support in the business. This last bit includes live chat, forums and a huge resource library. Try it free for 60 days; if it’s working out, plans start at about $20 a month.
MailChimp: Looking for a service that plays well with your existing platforms? MailChimp integrates seamlessly with WordPress, Shopify, Magento and many other content management services. Their “forever free” plan allows you to have 2,000 subscribers for the lifetime of your account and send 12,000 emails monthly; paid services start at $10 a month.
iContact: Want to know what your subscribers are thinking? iContact, one of the top email marketing services, allows you to create and send custom surveys in addition to the more common features. At $32 for 2,500 subscribers, it’s one of the pricier plans on our list, but the professionalism and value-added features of the site justify the cost.
Benchmark: Is price a sticking point for your small business? How does free sound? Benchmark gives you 14,000 emails a month (which is even more than some of the paid services)! Track statistics, use templates and do (almost) everything the paid services offer, all for the low, low price of nothing at all.
The service you choose will depend largely on your needs, numbers and budget. Most email marketing services provide some sort of free trial (anywhere from 14 to 60 days), so take advantage of that and make sure it’s working for you before you shell out your hard-earned cash!
Need some help deciding which service you should use? Send us an email and let Mischa Communications guide you in the right direction!