If you search Google for E-mail marketing software you will find a lot of services and I’m sure a lot of them have great features and are worth the money. The pricing for 1000 mail messages is often very similar and most of them offer a back-end which makes it easy to setup a mailing list and marketing campaigns.
If all of them have similar features, how do choose the right one?
Some important features
- Creating a mailing list takes a lot of time and might be essential for your e-mail marketing success. While collecting subscribers and sending e-mail messages, it’s important that as many messages as possible have to reach the subscribers mailbox. Bigger companies are more trusted and invest more time an money to prevent that their mail servers are getting black-listed.
- If your list is not very big (~1000 subscriber) and you don’t have a lot of campaigns, your partner should offer pre-paid plans. If you take a monthly plan, check that the maximum amount of subscribers is not to big.
- If you’re not able to create all the forms and templates, you need a service provider which offer these features out of the box. If you have an international list or campaigns, multiple languages should be supported.
- A better service provider let you follow strict usage policies. If you need to create campaigns for your existing list, check if the list is fully accepted (before you start customizing forms and templates). On the other side, if the service provider accept any kind of mailing list and or campaign, it might be possible that their mail servers are black-listed frequently.
- All services should offer double opt-in features for your subscriptions. Check if you are able to send an auto-respond message to your subscribers.
In the past year I was able to try three of the bigger services; iContact, MailChimp and CampaignMonitor. AWeber looks pretty good and earns a lot of trust and I’m sure you will not waste your time if you try them as well. They don’t offer a free trial, but at the moment while I’m writing this review they offer the first month for only $1 ($19 for the following months).
iContact – E-mail marketing simplified
I tried iContact first a year ago and actually it works as they offer the service on their website. You can open a trial account to setup your mailing list and templates/forms. If you want to import a bigger list you need to pay first. They offer only monthly plans, “pay as you go” options are not possible. They have all the features like other professional companies, but it looks to me they didn’t update their control panel for the last 3 years (the WYSIWYG editor is very ugly). Every mail message I send, got the iContact branding in the footer, which you can’t remove. I have the idea that they don’t have a strong usage policy because I got NEVER complains for high percentage of un-subscriptions, high bounce rates or complains. They offer a survey function (I never tried) and they support several 3rd party plugins (WordPress, Joomla, Drupal, SalesForce…)
MailChimp – Email Marketing and Email List Manager
MailChimp is the best service for a beginning mailing list, because they offer a free plan for lists with less than 500 subscribers. They offering great and easy to use tools for creating lists and campaigns. With a lot of 3rd party plugins (Facebook, SalesForce, Magento, Paypal and many more) they are one of the biggest email marketing partners. Using MailChimp you can go for monthly pricing or “pay as you go”. The last option is for people sending less frequently a newsletter to their members. Another features are: Custom responder messages, complete forms for your website, powerful API system (offering complete example code), Google Analytics integration, advanced reports and much more. They have a very strict policy on abusing their system, will say don’t use them for a mailing list you have bought somewhere on the Internet. Very unique is their affiliate scheme, if someone has joined MailChimp via your affiliate link and the user has upgraded to a paid account, both parties getting a $30 bonus (new user and the affiliate). You can’t turn this bonus into cash, but maybe is an opportunity to run your (bigger) mailing list for free.
CampaignMonitor – Email marketing software for web designers
The first thing you will notice after free trial sign-up is that you login into some kind of reseller area. With CampaignMonitor it’s possible to create mailing lists completely white-label (even for the user of the back-end). Against MailChimp the back-end has less features, but you’re able to create your campaigns with custom templates or using the premium templates offered by CampaignMonitor. They offer monthly and “pay as you go” plans and their usage policy is somewhere between the one from iContact and the policy from MailChimp. While their back-end is very modern and functional, they don’t offer enough features for lists in languages other than English. If you need to setup your list in a different language, you should try the API which is powerful as well.
If you start a new mailing list, most of the products or services should work for you, but if you need a provider for your existing list you need to test them first.