There are lots of e-mail marketing services on the internet and it might be difficult to choose because there are lots of options, features and pricing which you may need to consider. People also try to name the best marketing service on the internet, the same as they try to do with the CMSs, but it depends on what needs they have, so instead of looking at each of their features, today we take a look at what is special about each one of them.
This service is maybe the most popular on the internet and is well-known in the e-mail marketing arena due to its focus on usability, design and heavy marketing. However, MailChimp offers much more than a funny mascot and good design. It is actually a powerful tool you can use. It is incredibly easy to use although it offers many high-end features. The main dashboard is optimized and is the place where it all starts – all the web applications can be added, deleted and customized from there.
Many experts in e-mail marketing lack HTML skills and MailChimp gives a helping hand here as well. You can use your own code, but if you don’t have enough knowledge of web design, then you can use the available free templates. They are tested and optimized for MailChimp, therefore using one of them may even be better than creating your own. If you own a MailChimp premium account, you will be able to use all the premium templates for free.
Another advantage of MailChimp is the way you can populate the mailing list, where this great tool offers lots of options. You can even build your form or use one of the available ones. You can even embed a form into your site and MailChimp makes it easy for you to customize it.
There are also iPhone and Android applications you can use for MailChimp and one of their great features is their push technology which lets you know all about the contact you’ve flagged as VIP. This way it is easier to monitor specific clients and get all the information about them in a matter of seconds. MailChimp can easily be integrated with third-party services such as Facebook, Twitter, Google suite, SurveyGizmo, Zendesk, Capsule, Amazon or eBay.
The features that stand out at MailChimp are the sleek interface and design, the premium high quality templates, the “forever free” membership, the third-party service integration and the VIP monitoring of subscribers.
There are many pricing options if you wish to use MailChimp and regardless of your needs, I am sure this service has something for you.
The conclusion is that MailChimp is the most popular e-mail marketing service on the internet for a reason. It offers many useful features that make it unique on the market and it is also easy to use for anybody. The “forever free” plan is also a very good way to start.
This tool is another important service in the marketplace and is well-known for its design and development community. It is not easy to cover all the features it offers, because there are literally tons of them, but we can take a look at the key ones.
Campaign Monitor is very easy to use, thanks to its main dashboard which is optimized for usability and useful users guide. Moreover, all fields that require filling in are accompanied by a brief description, so that you will never fill the fields in with incorrect information.
If you use Campaign Monitor the service lets you save the templates you use in order to reuse them again. You also get two sample templates for free and you can even customize them to fit your needs. The templates are coded and optimized for Campaign Monitor, but they need to be downloaded and then imported into your account. This might not be a problem for the more advanced users, but if you are less experienced it might be a deal-breaker.
Campaign Monitor integrates Analytics among its best features and lets you manage subscribers and do many other things in the same area; not having to jump to separate areas of the dashboard is definitely a plus. Campaign Monitor lets you integrate the service with lots of third-party software, so it is easy to launch your campaign from wherever you want. Testing is also very easy to do and this is important, because it is a crucial part of every campaign. However, you will have to pay $5 for each additional test you want to conduct.
The key features of this service are the pre-loaded templates, free and ready to go, the resale tools, Analytics integration, e-commerce integration (with Shopify and Magento among others), the testing capability and the integration with Content Management Systems such as WordPress, Drupal or Joomla.
Like MailChimp, Campaign Monitor offers a variety of pricing options including monthly, high volume or pay as you go. You can purchase monthly plans for unlimited campaigns or simply pay for each of the campaigns you run.
The conclusion is that Campaign Monitor is another leader in the marketplace and with its reasonable pricing it’s an option you should look into if you need an e-mail marketing service. The system is very easy to use and powerful and it is ideal for everybody, but it might be good to have some technical experience for the most advanced features and modules.
Constant Contact is a bit different from the other two we’ve talked about, because it targets a different market, relying on, and very dependent on, social referrals via Facebook.
Constant Contact is also very easy to use and one of the advantages is the fact that you can phone them for help, real-time chat and the learning center. There are also seminars you can attend to get started with this tool, which is perfect for small business.
Getting started with Constant Contact is not as easy as with the other two, but it is not difficult either once you play with it once or twice. The service is set up for a low-tech approach which is shown by the huge number of templates. However, they do not look fantastic, but pay off in the end through the sheer volume.
You can use the templates even if you are not an expert in HTML, because the editor ensures you will not corrupt them. It is easy to add content (which can be done by dragging and dropping) and to customize it afterwards.
This service targets business owners who require services such as online surveys and event marketing, therefore it offers different features than the first two we’ve reviewed. With the event manager you can promote and sell tickets for events (with Google Checkout and PayPal integrated so clients can pay right there), while the marketing system helps you promote and announce events.
Although online surveys might not sound related, they are a great addition because by creating and promoting them you can figure out what your subscribers are into. This helps because you don’t have to conduct campaigns outside of Constant Contact. This concept is simple to use, very useful and everybody considers it a key feature. Other unique features are the social media integration, template library, e-mail building using drag and drop, help options and spam testing solutions.
Constant Contact has several different payment options, but all of them are monthly fees. The fees depend on the number of subscribers, but there are lots of discounts if you pre-pay, so you might opt to pre-pay to get a better price. They offer a 60 day trial works if you want to see how the service works, this should b enough time to see whether or not this is the right option for you.
Although it is not as visual as MailChimp or Campaign Monitor, it is also a serious and important service in the marketplace, thanks to its unique features and event promotion capabilities.
This service is mainly targeted to professionals with the need for a robust feature set, while not neglecting the basic features every e-mail marketing service needs.
One of the disadvantages of iContact is the fact that the interface is a bit difficult to use and it takes some time to get used to; some people might even feel overwhelmed by the number of options they have on the landing page. However, iContact offers a number of good features, like the integration of an RSS-to-email tool. This allows users to send e-mail to a list of RSS subscribers and iContact is one of the few e-mail marketing services to offer this.
Another good feature of this service is the option to automatically send a series of auto-responses. For example, when someone subscribes to one of your lists, you can automatically send him several e-mails over a period of time, and can include offers and special information, but also call to action buttons in these mails. This will help you work faster and will make the contact with the clients more automatic.
Although it is not WordPress, iContact has its own blogging platform where you can post content and then send it to subscribers. Unfortunately you can’t integrate this platform with another one and API for WordPress would be a very good addition to this feature. iContact integrates Twitter and Facebook very well and allows you to create e-mail sign-up forms on your Facebook page.
You can also conduct surveys with iContact, which is always a good feature because it gives you an insight into what your audience likes and wants.
Some of the key features of iContact are the RSS-to-email service, the spam testing and auto-response options, built-in survey tools and the extensive social media integration for Facebook and Twitter. iContact membership can only be bought on a monthly or yearly basis and the pricing can be seen here. There are several payment options and you can also try the service for free.
The bottom line is that iContact is a service you should consider, but not if you are a small company or are not prepared to take some time to learn your way around the dashboard. iContact targets large companies with a need for premium features and therefore you might not need it for simple tasks only.
AWeber is another top e-mail marketing service on the internet, although it really has nothing that stands out at first glance – however, you might be surprised if you dig in deeper.
The panel is easy to use and it does not take a lot of time to get used to if you have a bit of experience working with other control panels, but it might be confusing if you have no experience with e-mail marketing at all.
AWeber offers lots of tools for creating sign-up forms and helps you run A/B testing and find which form works best for you – quite a unique feature on the web today. All these forms you create can be embedded into other websites and there is also a WordPress plugin that allows you to display the form on blogs running the PHP platform.
The third-party integration is very interesting, because it is unique as well. This allows you to set up e-mail parsers to skim the confirmation e-mails in your payment system, if you have one. The service focuses a lot on growing your mailing list and is optimized in such a way that no other service is. If you dig a bit more into the e-mail parsers options you will find a lot more options and you will definitely start loving AWeber.
Like iContact, AWeber can also send sequential auto-responses. This is one of the key features of AWeber, but also the bunch of e-mail templates (more than 150), sign-up form templates (more than 100), extensive sign-up form optimization tool, the WordPress plugin for embedding forms, blog-to-mail automation and the e-mail parsers.
AWeber can be used with a monthly fee, depending on the number of subscribers you have. The first month you will only have to pay $1. Unfortunately the service can’t be used on a trial basis, which is a bit weird, but the $1 for the first month is not a big commitment either.
The conclusion is that AWeber is one of the most surprising services on the web, offering many unique and useful features, especially the great e-mail parsers.
As you can see, it is not easy to choose the right e-mail marketing service for you business and it might also take some time and money until you find the perfect one. I hope this article spares you some money and time and will make you choose the best option to fit your needs.
Christian Vasile is an enthuziastic Romanian web designer currently living in Denmark. He is passionate for the industry and writes about design, usability, coding and freelancing and is a regular publisher here at 1WD. You can follow him on Twitter at @christianvasile or visit his web portfolio by clicking on the link above.