How To: Select an Email Marketing Service |

Grow Your Business: Step 4

How To: Select an Email Marketing Service

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Email marketing helps you build relationships with customers, get new or repeat business, and encourage loyalty.

Marketing to your customers or subscribers through regularly sent emails -- which usually feature promotions, sales, tips, tools, or advice -- can be a powerful and relatively inexpensive source of business. In fact, email marketing is now increasingly preferred over direct mail marketing due to the proven speed, reduced cost, and the effectiveness and impact of email campaigns on consumers.

An email marketing service (click here for reviews and comparisons of specific products) typically offers the following: 

  • A design interface with email templates that walk you through the process of creating your e-newsletter.

  • A contact management system that stores all of your contacts in one place.

  • Advanced reporting options that let you see who opened and clicked links in your email, who unsubscribed and bounced from your list, and many other statistics.

  • Extra features, such as auto-responders, A/B (split) test campaigns, auto-posting to social sites, and more.

Before you select an email marketing service, you should:

Evaluate your monthly email marketing needs.

Email Marketing Tips

How big is my contact list?

Most email marketing services offer pricing plans based on the size of your contact list. The smaller your list, the cheaper your monthly cost. If you’re just starting up, chances are you don’t have a very large contact list which allows you to take advantage of free plans. Free options tend to be limited though, either by the number of contacts or number of emails you send per month. (You can always upgrade your plan when your list gets bigger.)

A few companies that offer free plans include MailChimp, GraphicMail, and MadMimi.

For our full list of email marketing service providers, click here.

How often do I need to email my list every month?

Email marketing services also typically let you send as many emails as you like to your contact list every month, as your only limitation is the number of contacts in your list. But if you have a relatively small contact list and don’t need to email your subscribers often, we recommend taking advantage of email marketing services that offer plans based on the number of emails you send each month, instead of on the number of contacts in your list. These plans are cheaper in general than regular plans based on your contact list.

Email marketing services that offer plans based on number of emails include GraphicMail, GoDaddy, Benchmark Email, and Campaign Monitor.

Which extra features do I care about?

Email Blast SoftwareSome email marketing services offer extra features that may be important to you, such as:

  • Autoresponder: Autoresponders are automated messages that are sent to a contact (or contacts) based on a specific action. An autoresponder can include welcome messages to new subscribers and an opt-in message requiring users to confirm the subscription.

  • A/B Testing: A/B testing lets you split-test certain elements of your e-newsletter in order to determine the best practices for marketing to your email contacts. Some variables you can usually test are your Subject Line, From Address, and Date/Time Sent.

  • Integration with Google Analytics: Integrating your email marketing service with Google Analytics, a web traffic analysis tool, can provide you with valuable statistics to monitor and improve your email marketing campaigns.

  • Integration with social media: Many email marketing services offer ways for you to easily integrate social media into your email campaigns, such as including social share buttons in your emails and auto-posting your email to your social networks. This integration is an easy and useful way to grow your subscriber list.

Compare email marketing services and sign up for a free trial.

Every email marketing service we’ve reviewed offers a free trial that allows you to test the service for a limited amount of time. After you compare providers, read reviews and select a service, sign up for a free trial of one or more services to ensure that you like it before you buy.

Friendly Tips

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Constant Contact

  • Do you use Salesforce to manage your customer relationships? If so, it will be convenient for you to use an email marketing service that integrates with Salesforce. Check out Top Email Marketing Services that Integrate with Salesforce.
  • Keep track of your email campaigns by using mobile email marketing apps. Several email marketing services now offer mobile apps that allow you to send email campaigns and check campaign stats from your phone. See our list of Mobile Email Marketing Apps.

Fair Warnings

  • Before you switch email marketing services, remember to save your contact lists and update your online subscription forms. Make sure you export your contact lists from the old service to your computer and then import them to the new service. Also, update the newsletter signup forms on your website and Facebook so that they feed your contacts into the new service instead of the old one.