Among so many new social media channels, email marketing might seem a bit old-fashioned. But this tactic, the old tool in the marketing toolbox, plays an important part in building a strong content marketing or inbound marketing plan. Email allows you to nurture new leads as well as communicate in a timely manner with existing customers. And, in general, email marketing, compared to the cost of print and broadcast advertising is extremely cost effective.
According to eMarketer, email is also the preferred method of communicating with businesses, according to 69.7% of U.S. internet user. AND, people who receive product offers through emails spend 138% more than people who don’t receive email offers. (Source: Convince and Convert)
But even if users want your emails, you must still create emails they want to read.
Emails should be responsive. According to Forrester, 72% of U.S. online adults send or receive personal emails via smartphone weekly. That means if you aren’t creating emails that can be easily read on mobile devices, your open rates could see a significant decline.
Emails need compelling subject lines. 69% of email recipients report email as spam based solely on the subject line. However, the subject line alone is the number one element that increases email open rates so there is a fine line between “spammy” and compelling.
List segmentation matters. By focusing on specific contact segments and sending messages targeted to those groups, you create emails and campaigns that are more relevant to recipients and are thus more likely to produce results.
Social media integration improves your clickthrough rate. According to MarketingLand, adding a way to share your emailed content can double your click-through-rate (CTR) when read by users of Facebook and Twitter.
That’s a lot to think about when creating your email.
Fortunately, email marketing services offer features that help address the above challenges. Many offer free customizable mobile-friendly templates, A/B testing of subject lines and other content, list management and segmentation tools, social media integration and, finally, reporting tools to analyze it all.
We compared the features of services with which we are very familiar: Constant Contact, MailChimp, Zoho, Vertical Response and iContact. For the most part, as you can see in the comparison chart, these all offer many of the same basic features.
Constant Contact and iContact do not offer a Free level of pricing. And, some of the more advanced features such as Drip Campaigns/Workflows and Event Management are part of their “pro” or “plus” systems that are more costly.
Mailchimp, Zoho and Vertical Response all offer Free plans for accounts with a limited number of subscribers and limited number of monthly emails. Advanced features in these plans have additional fees or require upgrades.
The least robust of the systems is Vertical Response unless you purchase their “Classic” addition which has been in existence for the past 13 years and is a more fully developed email marketing solution.
Zoho and Mailchimp are nearly identical in their features and integrations. However, a great feature in MailChimp is their image editing tools. MailChimp’s integration with Aviary allows users to crop, resize and rotate images easily while creating their emails rather than switching to PhotoShop or other image editing software. There are also more advanced tools for image enhancement and photo effects.
As with many services and software solutions, your needs must be carefully evaluated against features and pricing. And even, at times, your comfort level with a particular interface. The nice thing about the free services and the trial for Constant Contact and iContact is that you can test drive each without any financial commitment.
Have questions about which system might be best for your business? Let us know and we can help you navigate through the sea of email providers.
What do you think? Share your favorites with us in the comments below?