It was the best of email marketing software; it was the worst of email marketing software: in this post, I’ll be taking a look at four different email marketing strategies you can use to optimize the lead generation tactics that translate into sales. Because when the end goal is reduce manual processes so your time is more your own, it’s important to work smarter, not harder, with your email marketing.
The Big 4 Email Services
The four contenders are (in alphabetical order) AWeber, Constant Contact, iContact, and MailChimp, all veritable experts in their own right. Depending on your needs, each email marketing software product will give your blog a professional feel, disguising the fact that you just might be operating your one-man business from the comfort of your own home.
First up is AWeber, a fairly veteran player boasting of 15 years’ experience. They have professional email signup forms and an autoresponder service that make it easy to build an email list so you can stay in touch with prospective clients. AWeber is awesome for analyzing content for spam, decreasing the chances of your email ending up in the recipient’s spam folder. This makes it far more likely that the important messages you send over will actually be visible—and get read. Unfortunately—and this is a small point, really—AWeber doesn’t let you send or attach videos directly in your email. But with a quick click of the mouse, you can send the links of videos you’ve uploaded onto Vimeo or YouTube.
Personal Rating: 7/10
Next on the list is Constant Contact, an email marketing software product that lives up to its name by being available via phone, email or chat. They’ve just about completely removed the need for technical know-how, making the process of creating professional email campaigns simple and quick.
While it is true that Constant Contact can get costly if your mailing lists grow in size—as well as requiring you to pay more for extra archive space—as well as not having Google Analytics available, this is offset by the more than 400 templates included. Instead of spending precious hours on designing and creating emails from scratch (but you can, if you want, with the option of using HTML or CSS), Constant Contact looks after you by providing tons of layouts and looks.
I will say that I have used Constant Contact for about 5 years now, and their service is pretty solid. Their features and UI may not be as robust, but they are definitely dependable.
Personal Rating: 9/10
Next up is iContact. Their smart design and easy-to-follow campaign management and tools has made it a no-brainer of a choice, with enough integrated social marketing tools thrown in to sway even the most hardened of users. When you sign up, you get personalized training and easy access to help support, making sure the process goes smoothly.
It’s a little irritating to have your image storage capped at 5MB of free space and only being able to store your contact data in a couple of different spreadsheet formats. To compensate, iContact has tweaked their email marketing software in a number of ways to keep it attractive: small and large businesses have separate tools and support, there’s no shortage of resources to help you quickly become a pro, and navigation is super easy—no matter what your skill level is—thanks to the clean and simple design.
I've used iContact a number of times, and in my opinion, they have the best overall package. I have recently switched over to them completely.
Personal Rating: 10/10
MailChimp has 4 million people using their email marketing software, and that number continues to grow. They’re perhaps best known for sending email newsletters to customers, managing subscriber lists, and tracking performances—all done quietly and conveniently. But MailChimp also integrates a lot of userability, too, with the option of composing emails in HTML, as well as hosting the images you’ll be using.
But to know the good means there has to be a measuring stick, and the downside of MailChimp is it doesn’t (yet) have customer support available by phone. Until they change this feature—which hopefully will be soon!—you’ll have to shoot them an email, with a response taking as long as 24 hours.
MailChimp has a really modern flashy UI, by far the best out of any of the other services on this list. It's a bit lacking in features, but MailChip if you are looking for a solid email service, you don't need much.
Personal Rating: 8/10
Cost Breakdown by Service
*MailChimp starts building in prices based on how many emails are sent out. To send out 12,000 or fewer emails is free, and prices are worked into an unlimited package after that.
**Constant Contact offers 15% off each month when purchased annually
Conclusion … and the winner is…
I hate reading comparison reviews where you finally get to the conclusion and the author says “well, the choice is up to you now”. Instead of taking that approach, I will say that if I had to choose, I would go with either iContact or Constant Contact.