Find & Compare the Best Email Marketing Software
Check out our easy 7 step guide to email marketing campaigns.
Email marketing software is any tool that makes reaching your customers through email easier.
They often come with many useful features, from scheduled sending of mail to content-builders that let you make visually-stunning messages without any technical skills.
If you’re just starting out, though, it can be hard to know where to begin.
This guide will outline the basics of email marketing tools, their features and how they can help your business.
Any business with a digital presence should consider using these tools to improve their advertising online.
Email is one of the easiest and cheapest ways to reach large numbers of people, and is a baseline for any marketing campaign.
While it’s possible to manage your emails in-house, it’s usually inefficient and unnecessary.
Sending out tens of thousands of emails takes time and effort you could spend elsewhere, and it’s hard to get good analytics without specialised tools.
While most email marketing systems aren’t free, they usually offer trial periods so you can make sure you’re using one that’s right for you.
In addition, the returns they generate in conversions and click-throughs more than make up for their asking price.
There are many different kinds of email marketing system, but they all try to make reaching your customers easier and more effective.
Let’s go over the most common features and explain exactly what they mean in concrete terms.
Most packages come with ‘builders’ that make it easy to create professional, impressive emails without any coding knowledge.
Often called ‘WYSIWYG’ editors, meaning ‘what you see is what you get’, these tools let you drag and drop images, video and other media features onto a canvas, which represents how your email will look on the user’s screen.
Being able to use different fonts, styles and images and see how it changes the final email in real-time makes it easy to create marketing material that stands out and conveys your brand image.
This feature alone can be a game-changer for boosting click-through rates.
Once your contacts list reaches into the thousands, it becomes impractical to send out all your emails by yourself.
Thankfully, automated batch-sending is something offered by virtually every marketing tool out there.
It’s often as simple as loading up your contacts, choosing a message from one of your templates, and hitting send.
This saves you massive amounts of time and ensures you don’t accidentally miss anyone off of your mailing list.
A bonus to automated emails is that you can choose when they get sent.
This means you can tweak a message weeks in advance to make sure it’s perfect, then schedule it to fire off by itself at the right moment.
HubSpot, for example, lets you schedule emails according to the customer’s timezone, meaning they can arrive at the prime time of day wherever your contacts are.
With features like this, you can plan out an entire campaign ahead of time—imagine getting your Christmas marketing locked down by July and the stress that would save.
Some tools, like ActiveCampaign, even offer ‘predictive sending’, which uses AI to automatically send mail when it’s likeliest to boost engagement and conversions.
Automation is great, but sending the same email to every customer won’t get them engaged.
That’s why most email marketing software lets you personalise your messages to include a customer’s specific information.
Features like Mailchimp’s merge tags, for example, can insert someone’s email, name or even their recent purchase history into the message.
Using personalisation features is an easy way to make your marketing more directed and personable than stock newsletters, and it’s not feasible to do manually.
Email marketing is only as good as your audience. People regularly change their addresses, meaning that over time, your contacts list will grow stale and less useful.
That’s why most email marketing tools have features for managing your contacts.
This means things like organising them into groups—maybe you only want to contact people who’ve recently made a purchase, for example—or pruning inactive contacts, so you don’t waste time and money sending them any more messages.
Some, like Sendinblue, even use analytics to determine unengaged contacts that might not be worth your time and automatically prune them.
Email metrics like click-through rates, unsubscription numbers and A/B headline tests are one of the deepest sources of analytics available to a company, so it’s natural for email marketing software to support tracking them out of the box.
Tools like GetReponse, for example, offer integrated analytics that presents its data in easy-to-read graphs that clearly show the impact your campaigns are having.
A related feature you might not expect includes being able to target contacts based on actions they’ve taken.
Want to send a follow-up message to someone who opened your last email but didn’t click the link? That’s not only possible—it’s easy.
No. The companies that make email marketing services target them towards marketers and business-owners, not coders and engineers.
Most are simple to use and require no technical skills.
It’s often possible to set up complicated systems of automated sending through a visual interface, where you can drag and drop elements that represent your plan.
Because these tools are so powerful, it can take a little time to figure out how to use them properly.
But the companies that make them usually put out detailed tutorials to help people get started—Sendinblue has a page on making your first campaign, for example.
It’s always tempting to go with the cheapest offer, but there are other things you should consider when choosing email marketing software for your business.
Email marketing software is usually priced based on the number of emails you send or the number of contacts you have.
If you only have a few hundred contacts, you might not have to pay at all. Mailchimp, for example, offers a free plan for up to 2000 addresses.
This is a useful way to try out a product before committing to a purchase, or a way for small businesses to build up their base.
But generally, the more contacts you have, the more you’ll be paying. Actual prices vary between products, but there are three common price points.
For this price you’ll usually only get the basic features of your software.
This can still include things like visual email builders and scheduled sending, though, so you might not need anything more.
Naturally, this is often the best choice for small businesses.
Plans in this range, like those offered by Infusionsoft, generally go one step beyond and add more powerful features like enhanced automation and analytics.
Another common bonus is access to on-call support teams, which can be very useful for businesses new to email marketing.
Tools in this range, like Salesforce Pardot, are meant for massive B2B operations.
They focus heavily on advanced features, like predictive sending and hardcore analytics.
While undeniably powerful, these plans may not be suitable for small or medium-sized businesses.
Once you’ve decided on a service, you’ll usually have to sign up for an account on their website.
Depending on the features you want, you might have to pay right away, or after a free trial.
Some services, like Mailchimp, are web applications.
That means you can run them entirely in your browser and don’t need to download anything.
Others are software that you have to download and install on your computer.
After that, you need to set up your contacts.
If you already have a list of addresses, you’ll be able to import them directly, either from an Excel spreadsheet, a database or what’s called a CSV (comma separated values) file.
But if you’re just starting out, the service will likely have a piece of code for a signup form that you can put on your website.
When customers use that form, you’ll automatically save their details to build up your database of contacts.
From there, you can start to create message templates and plan out your campaigns.
Each piece of software does these things differently, though, so at this point it’s a good idea to look around on their website for tutorials.
Need some help with Email Marketing?
Check out our easy 7 step guide to email marketing campaigns.
Once you’ve decided which email marketing software you want to use, make sure to go through its company’s website to read their guides, tutorials and FAQs.
Every piece of email marketing software is unique, even if they share common features. Use our compare function above to find the best email marketing software deals for you!
Storing customer data for email marketing? Make sure your business complies with UK data protection law. Check out this easy guide to see what you need to do!
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