Blog > Top 5 Email Marketing Services
Posted By Create
Email marketing to your customer base is a great way to remind them that your services are there for them, let them know about any great deals or sales you are running, to let them know important industry news and company updates or just how valued they are to you as a customer. Yet finding the best email marketing service for your needs can be confusing.
I've reviewed three of the best email marketing services out there below. All are either free or have free trials. Let's take these services for a spin and put them to the test.
Review of Constant Contact Email Marketing
Constant Contact offer a dizzying selection of options and features. If you add in all the other products they offer you would have yourself an all-in-one solution for distance marketing. But what I'm really interested here is sending out great emails to subscribers, so I focused my efforts on their email marketing tool.
You can tell that Constant Contact have been around for a while. The interface looks quite fresh but it feels old, and there are still pages that, when you navigate to them, they look like they're over 10 years old. The odd patchiness in site design can however be forgiven considering how well you can plan out your emails. It really is a very powerful tool.
Out of the many services I tried when putting together this review, Constant Contact was the only one that called me and asked how they could help. It was explained to me that I had been assigned an Account Manager and that if there was anything they could do to help they would guide me through the service. It wasn't pushy and I didn't feel hounded. It ended up just being a very polite and warm phone call so points for that.
I found the customisable email templates understandably generic, but then again you can quite easily add your own HTML and put together something totally custom If you want to.
Your emails can only contain up to 5 images, but if you upgrade for an extra $5 a month you can store 50mb of images within your Constant Contact account and get access to a large library of stock images, which is handy in a pinch.
The email address import, easily one of the most important aspects of the email marketing setup, is pretty straightforward and will deal with your .csv file, Microsoft Outlook contacts and many other formats. Managing your lists feels a little complex though, but maybe that's me being picky.
With Constant Contact you can tell that they have observed and learned from the way people view emails, including adding the ability to remind recipients right at the top of the email why they are receiving it. There are countless times I have signed up to something and forgotten about it, only to become annoyed a few months later when I receive an email out of the blue. I like to know that I've asked for what I'm getting, and I'm more likely to read it.
I've been told time and time again that you get what you pay for and as far as customer support is concerned, I found Constant Contact to be very impressive in that area. When compared to the free alternative I found it a hard sell to those used to paying nothing for something similar, even if there isn't the same level of support with other products.
- Sign Up + Trial - free for 60 days with 100 contacts
- 0-500 contacts - £10 pm
- 501-2,500 contacts - £19 pm
- 2,501-5,000 contacts - £28.80 pm
- 5,001-10,000 contacts - £43.20 pm
- See the detailed pricing structure here
Constant Contact: The Great
- Very detailed metrics
- Great customer service
- Lots more features and products available
Constant Contact: The-Not-So-Great
- Not everyone needs the extra features
- Daunting interface at first glance
- A little dated in some areas
Review of Campaign Monitor
If you are the owner of a larger business looking for a slick way of sending out your emails and then being able to really drill down to discover detailed information, Campaign Monitor might be the service for you. From their website I get the impressions that the service tends to be used by the bigger companies out there, where compromise isn't an option.
Saying all that, the lowest prices could work with a smaller, more exclusive group of people, perfect for when you are just starting out. But be warned, once you are used to Campaign Monitor's powerful features and easy-to-use interface, it will be a painful transition to a cheaper option if you ever need to tighten your email marketing budget!
I would say that as much as I've enjoyed using Campaign Monitor, it felt to me that to make the best use of it I would have to have thousands of subscribers. It's still worth considering, but I would keep an eye on those price plans.
As with most of the email marketing clients that I've been looking at, Campaign Monitor includes the ability to design and then test your responsive emails right there within the web app.
A cool-looking and handy feature, Worldview stands out as a handy way of seeing where around the world your email is being opened and clicked on. It's impressive, although for me it was mostly in the UK as that's where I'd mostly be sending emails to. But if your business is going global and you want to know very easily where to aim your focus next, it could be a valuable addition.
The 'Lists & Subscribers' area looks simple on the surface but opens up to further possibilities with a cacophony of ways for your customer to subscribe to your mailing list. In fact, the addition of highly customisable Facebook and iPad apps makes for the best selection of extra tools that I tested.
From the get-go after signing up, Campaign Monitor looks and feels like a professional tool. It may look basic when you get to the main page, but its focus is on speed and power. There are no gimmicks here, so it's great for lovers of no-nonsense systems and solutions.
Campaign Monitor offers both 'basic' and 'unlimited' plans. Unlimited plans give you no limit to the amount of emails you can send each month, whereas Basic will cap the monthly limit.
What is great is it's initially cheaper than competitors, but when you start to go up to 2,500 subscribers you're then looking at paying up to $29.
- Basic: $9, 0-500 subscribers, 2,500 send limit
- Unlimited: $29, 0-500 subscribers, no send limit
- Prices then continue upwards
Campaign Monitor: The Great
- Very powerful features and anlaysis
- Easy to use
- Great-looking emails
Campaign Monitor: The Not-So-Great
- Pricing gets very expensive very quickly
- No free account option, although free trial is available
Review of MailChimp
This might be me going out on a limb, but I'm surprised to say I literally couldn't find anything to fault with MailChimp. Sure, maybe the free account doesn't have all the features of the higher-priced packages, but everything a small business might want to get started is there, and it's done with beautiful simplicity.
Setup is super easy. I was up and running within a minute (not really 30 seconds as advertised, but very close). A nice touch was being able to subscribe to 'Getting Started' newsletters from MailChimp that would guide you through the various features and also shows you how well MailChimp works as a service, giving you some handy information along the way.
I've got to say that the interface is stunning. It's one of the most beautiful web apps I've ever used. Everything is big, colourful and playful, but at no point did I think it was a toy. MailChimp's statistics and Google Analytics integration give you plenty of power to find out how well your emails are faring when sent out to your mailing list.
Although hardly a one-trick pony, MailChimp does what is does best: email. And although there are handy features that allow you to see what your community are up to, it keeps things simple and that's a good thing.
I really enjoyed the different available templates. They look just as good on mobile as on desktop or laptop and the editor was great to use. I felt a real sense of accomplishment once I'd put my email together. It didn't feel like work at all.
There are also ways to use MailChimp on the go. You can manage your email campaign via a mobile app which shares the ease of use of the website, although you can't edit on the go just yet.
If you have under 2,000 subscribers to your mailing list you can pick up MailChimp for free, and it's a pretty compelling way to get a mailing list going for many smaller, home-grown businesses.
There's a sliding scale upwards in price if you want to be able to send unlimited emails and send them to more people, so it very much scales with the size of your business.
- 0-2,000 subscribers sending 12,000 emails per month - Free
- 0-500 subscribers sending Unlimited emails per month - $10 monthly
- 501-1,000 subscribers sending Unlimited emails per month - $15 monthly
- For more on MailChimp's pricing structure, click here.
MailChimp: The Great
- If you're working to a smaller scale, it's free
- Easy to use
- A great array of apps for your mobile
- Beautiful design
- Recognised and popular
MailChimp: The Not-So-Great
- When you go over 2,000 subscribers, you need to start paying
The Final Word
It's been surprising to find that there is so much competition in this area but the tools available here have had massive amounts of work poured into them, as emails are still one of the best ways to get in touch with customers, despite Facebook and Twitter getting more and more attention from businesses.
I hope you've enjoyed reading about what's available, and if you have yet to set up your own email marketing campaign, check these tools out as they could help you create something that's pleasing to your customers' eyes and allow you to make strong connections rather than spammy ones!
In the search for email marketing nirvana, we've already drummed up quite a conversation on the Create Community Forum, which Create users are more than welcome to join in on. Not a Create user? Sign up for a free 30 day trial and get your business the online audience it deserves!