Molly K. McLaughlin is a New York-based writer and editor with more than a decade of experience covering technology. She has tested and reviewed all sorts of software, mobile apps, and gadgets. Before launching her freelance business, she was an editor at PC Magazine, covering consumer electronics, followed by a stint at ConsumerSearch.com, a review website. Molly also runs About.com's Android site and contributes to DealNews and other online publications. Follow her on Twitter @bloggingmolly.

Fantastic article, thank you! I was wondering if I could ask some advice — we are only a small company that doesn’t need automation or a CRM, we just want to be able to send out monthly emails to 6000+ subscribers that can be categorised into industries or groups. We don’t need bells & whistles. Due to our industry, the chunky CRM doesn’t integrate into a.n.y.t.h.i.n.g. so it’s all very labour intensive but lucky for them I do love a spreadsheet. Thanks in advance for the advice.


For anyone new to creating an email marketing strategy from the ground up, creating and optimizing all of these potential emails can feel overwhelming. And it’s true that within each category, there are many variations to the emails you can send—even a cursory glance at the campaigns run by established businesses reveals just what variety is possible.
In our email marketing software review roundup, we test the top email marketing tools available based on how easy it is to create emails, build subscriber lists, set autoresponders, and pull in other communication-based tools, such as social media management, and web analytics software. To that end, we selected Campaigner and Mailchimp as the best pure-play email marketing services. If you need a more complex tool that can build comprehensive workflows designed to automate the email marketing process, then we recommend HubSpot and Salesforce Pardot, which are better served as marketing automation tools.
While email is the most mature (that sounds better than “old,” right?) form of digital marketing, there’s no shortage of marketing technology innovation in this area. Both startups and established vendors continue to develop new capabilities for formatting, targeting, sending, and monitoring the impact of email messages, as well as functions like list building, inbox management, video email, deliverability, branding, custom email signatures and more.
And that leads us right into understanding service pricing and packaging. The email marketing services we reviewed range from about $3 per month to send out 500 emails per month in Zoho Campaigns to as much as $1,250 per month for up to 10,000 contacts in Pardot. Many email marketing plans include unlimited email sends each month and bill you based on the number of subscribers. If you have a small list, then look for a company that offers a free plan, a low-cost plan for several hundred subscribers, or even a pay-as-you-go plan. On the flip side, many of these services also offer high-volume plans with up to 100,000 or more contacts. Sometimes this requires a custom plan that has to be arranged directly with a sales rep. If you're willing to commit, then look for the companies that offer discounts if you pay yearly rather than monthly. A few also offer money-back guarantees.
Sample review: “See what happens to your emails after you press send…you’ll know exactly when they opened your email and whether or not they clicked on your link. BananaTag will even tell you whether they’re on their desktop or mobile device. And best of all, your email appears NO different to your contacts. All of the tracking is done seamlessly without any change in the user experience.” — BuzzBlogger

Customer.io is an email marketing tool that can be used by various different roles within your business including marketers, product managers and of course, growth hackers. Users can send targeted emails to your visitors on your website or to mobile app users depending on their activity. You are notified when they have read your email and/or if they click on one of the links. It also includes A/B Testing capabilities.
On a more basic level, AI improves email marketing mechanics such as A/B testing and smarter audience segmentation. This can have immediate benefits in terms of optimizing your marketing strategies for different customers and sending the right content to the right people. On a more advanced note, AI can actually optimize email content for specific audiences and product campaigns. Additionally, it can help with personalizing email content right down to the individual customer level, depending on how much information you can feed it from your CRM and sales systems. AI delivers strong capabilities, which means determining exactly how a potential email marketing service has implemented AI should be key criteria for most marketers before purchasing.
I wondered, what are your thoughts on solutions like Mailigen, Vertical Response, Mad Mimi, and Campaign Monitor? I know there’s a never ending list of possible email software companies that you could compare, but these ones in particular interested me as they seem to offer many similar services to those that you mentioned. Have you come across them before, and if so would you advise using them over GetResponse?
Confession: We have a serious email marketing crush on JetBlue. And they continue to deliver their lovable marketing in this cheeky email campaign that aims to humorously reengage customers. Every element from the header, to the three witty points, to the actionable, contrasting CTA work together to create a lovable campaign that's promotional without being pushy. 
The full-blown version of ActiveCampaign offers an all-in-one solution for a business to house it’s CRM, email marketing, deal flow, sales automation and more. With the offer of one-on-one training and onboarding, without the 4-figure fee that InfusionSoft requires, it’s a great alternative if you want to automate the way you keep in touch with your customers both new and old.

As a growing business, you may also be looking for a CRM solution, and you'll find that the more advanced email marketing services have begun to crossover into CRM. It makes sense: Both types of software deal with managing and communicating with customers. A handful of these services are one-stop shops, either offering both email marketing and CRM out of the box or as add-on services.


First of all, BuzzFeed has awesome subject lines and preview text. They are always short and punchy -- which fits in perfectly with the rest of BuzzFeed's content. I especially love how the preview text will accompany the subject line. For example, if the subject line is a question, the preview text is the answer. Or if the subject line is a command (like the one below), the preview text seems like the next logical thought right after it:
Dynamic content is an area that you may not currently be aware of, but which you could certainly be using. Your sign-up process provides you with plenty of user data that allows you to segment them by interest, location, or demographic. With this data, you can send out a single email where content blocks populate with a variety of dynamic content depending on the user that you’re sending to.
Use your real email signature: Just like using a real reply-to email address, you want to use real contact information within the email and the best way to do that is to include your contact details in the email signature. Giving your readers the opportunity to contact you or connect with you online is a great way to be personal and build a relationship with them.
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