Email marketing is widely considered to be the best channel for B2B lead generation, and it is also essential to the lead nurturing process and a company’s conversion strategy. In order to run successful email marketing campaigns as part of your wider marketing plan, it’s essential to choose the right email marketing software.
Your ideal email marketing software provider and package will depend on factors like your company’s marketing objectives and the type of email marketing campaigns you want to run. Use this guide to help you decide on the best provider for you, based on pricing plan, features and functionality. For price comparison purposes, our pricing benchmark is based on the costs for sending emails to 10,000 contacts.
Best for: Beautifully simple email marketing campaigns, A/B testing and newsletters.
Free plan: Yes, you can send 12,000 emails a month to up to 2,000 subscribers on their Forever Free plan.
Pricing benchmark: $75/month for 5,801-10,000 contacts, unlimited emails.
Probably the best known email marketing software and the one with the most intuitive interface, MailChimp is also the only provider to offer a completely free account.
For more sophisticated functionality, you can pay more (from $10/month) to send unlimited emails, and unlock functionality like email automation, delivery by time zone and CRM integration. You’ll need to upgrade to Pro ($199 subscription fee plus monthly charge) for extra features like advanced segmentation (by purchase activity and demographics, for example), comparative reports and multivariate (as opposed to A/B) testing.
MailChimp’s own signup forms require subscribers to double opt-in (http://kb.mailchimp.com/lists/signup-forms/the-double-opt-in-process) (confirm their email address) before they start receiving your emails. This prevents unwanted emails and increases engagement, but may diminish your contact list. If you’d like to ‘opt out’ of this double opt-in process, go for a third-party signup form instead.
Best for: Newsletters, autoresponders and segmented emails.
Free plan: No, but they offer a free 30-day trial so you can try all of their features on an unlimited basis before buying.
Pricing benchmark: The cheapest package is £38.25/month for 10,000 contacts; for more features like webinars or an account manager, Pro and Max packages cost £42.50/month and £93.50/month respectively.
In terms of affordability and value for money, GetResponse scores very highly. It’s great for contact lists that are set to grow rapidly, because it stays cheap as the numbers get higher.
Included in its low cost plans are a landing page creator and superior split-testing which allows you to test multiple variables. After sending an email, GetResponse also provides you with segments of contacts who, for example, opened your email, didn’t open your email or clicked through without converting. This is a useful feature, as it means you can then send follow-ups and reminders to relevant people.
Best for: All-in-one sales and email marketing.
Free plan: No, but the Basic version is very affordable, starting at just $9 a month (what do you get). Free trial lasts 14 days, with no need for credit card details.
Pricing benchmark: Basic costs $70/month for 10,000 contacts, but for the integrated CRM system, contact and lead scoring, and 25 users (as opposed to 3), their Plus package costs $175/month.
There is also an Enterprise package which includes a dedicated account rep, free design services and more, which costs considerably more ($350/month for 10,000 contacts). Their best feature is their CRM with sales automation, which allows you to manage and nurture your leads in one place, making it a bit of a one-stop shop for sales and marketing for small businesses.
You can check the engagement and interaction history of each of your contacts, for example the emails they’ve opened, pages they’ve visited and more. Then you can segment your list, and send emails to different people depending on what messaging is most relevant to them given their past behaviour.
ActiveCampaign’s reports are relatively basic, and unfortunately A/B testing is not available for automated emails.
4. Constant Contact
Best for: Various campaign types like events, surveys and promotions.
Free plan: No, but there is a 60-day, “no risk, no credit card required” free trial.
Pricing benchmark: For 5,001-10,000 contacts, $85/month for their Email package and $110/month for their Email Plus package which offers advanced features like automation and trackable coupons, and a free custom template.
Their services are a little pricier, but Constant Contact offer all their customers a personal marketing coach to help out with setting up and running your email marketing campaigns. They are a versatile option, in that they also offer event registration tools, feedback forms and customer surveys.
If you anticipate wanting to promote events or conduct surveys, it’s a convenient software provider to use. You also get to track all of your email activity around your events, surveys and special offers, monitoring your campaigns from beginning to end.
Best for: Newsletters and autoresponders (where customisable design isn’t high priority) with high delivery rates.
Free plan: No, but they offer a 30-day free trial.
Pricing benchmark: $69/month for 5,001 to 10,000 contacts.
There are over 700 mobile responsive email templates available to choose from, making putting emails together really simple. If you do want to customise your emails more, you can pay $29 to modify one of their existing templates in terms of layout, font, colours and background, or $229 to have the AWeber design team turn your own PDF template into an HTML email.
AWeber also boasts the best deliverability rates in the industry, promising a 99% rate. They also offer good tracking capabilities and it’s easy to set up autoresponders (a series of nurturing emails a contact receives once they’ve performed a certain action on your website, such as downloading or purchasing something).
Their daily phone, email and live online support sets them apart from many other providers, such as MailChimp, but they do fall a little short on other aspects like design, A/B testing and reporting.
Best for: Sophisticated marketing automation
Free plan: No, just a demo.
Pricing benchmark: $379/month for 10,000 contacts and 50,000 emails a month.
Intrusionsoft is more than an email marketing service. You can also run campaigns via direct mail, SMS, sales team tracking and set up and manage an e-commerce platform. It’s a powerful combination of sales and marketing software.
Their emphasis is on all facets of marketing automation, and email is just one (major) part of this. They offer CRM to track engagement and customise follow-up messages, sales funnel automation so you never forget to send an email or set an appointment, and integrate this together with shopping carts and an online store (with inventory and billing in one place).
7. Mad Mimi
Best for: Easy, fun, reliable campaigns.
Free plan: Their Free plan allows you to store up to 100 contacts.
Pricing benchmark: $42/month for 10,000 contacts and full features.
They receive high praise for their excellent customer service, they put the fun and joy back into email marketing and their themes are streamlined and simple. If it all sounds a little frivolous and lightweight, that’s because Mad Mimi take a different approach to email marketing from many other players.
That doesn’t mean they skimp on support, reporting and list management, though. They just like to keep it uncomplicated and hassle-free. You can still segment your lists, schedule your emails and integrate your CRM platform.
Which email marketing provider is the one for you?
There is no ‘one size fits all’ when it comes to email marketing. Choosing the best and most cost efficient email marketing software provider for your company will come down to the size of your contact list, your marketing strategy and growth forecast, the features you prioritise and the interface you prefer.
For a comprehensive side-by-side comparison, check out PC Magazine’s guide to The Best Email Marketing Services of 2015. Do your homework, test-drive a few options to see how they feel and get stuck in to your email marketing!
If you’re already using email marketing successfully, use our guide to make sure you have all of your automated workflows working to their full potential.