Groups are an easy way to organize your list into categories so that you only need to maintain a single list in your account. Let’s say you have an e-commerce store and use your Mailchimp account to communicate with sales representatives, retail locations that sell some of your products, and customers. The logical step might seem to be creating separate lists to track these three audiences, but adding them to groups on one list is a similar concept that can save you money. You can then build segments for these groups and send campaigns that are relevant to them.
Next up is building an email newsletter. The best services offer several ways to do this; you can import your own HTML, start from scratch, or use a predesigned template. Most of these services have drag-and-drop UIs that let you choose exactly the elements you want to include, as well as image libraries in which you can store assets such as your logo or company photos. Tools that let you test your emails for spam are also essential since there are some seemingly innocuous terms that may send up red flags and drop all of your hard work into your subscribers' junk folders or, worse, get your emails banned before they ever reach their recipients.
In 2002 the European Union (EU) introduced the Directive on Privacy and Electronic Communications. Article 13 of the Directive prohibits the use of personal email addresses for marketing purposes. The Directive establishes the opt-in regime, where unsolicited emails may be sent only with prior agreement of the recipient; this does not apply to business email addresses.
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.
Starting at $49/month for 2,000 contacts, Autopilot is far from the cheapest option, particularly considering that Autopilot does not offer an in-built CRM. However, Autopilot is extremely intuitive and great for teams that need to collaborate on powerful email automation sequences. If we had to move from ActiveCampaign, this is likely where we’d go.
For example, if you see that the majority of your signups are being generated from forms you’ve shared on Facebook and Twitter, then you might want to focus on connecting with your customers—and potential customers—through social media. You can even create segments to target people who joined your list through a specific method, whether it’s an integration like Facebook, an app like Mailchimp Subscribe, an e-commerce integration, or a hosted form. And if there’s a specific page on your website you want to track signups from, you can add a hidden field to your embedded form and place it on multiple pages.
HubSpot offers a reliable and feature-packed email marketing tool that’s suited for growing businesses — for free. You can create professional marketing emails that engage and grow your audience with the easy drag-and-drop email builder. With the drag-and-drop email builder, you don’t need to wait on IT or designers for help. On top of the free email tool, you can use the HubSpot CRM for free to create tailored touch-points for your customers. HubSpot Email is automatically connected with the HubSpot CRM, so you can tailor relevant emails based on any details you have — such as form submissions and website activity. Using the CRM, you can include personalized content in your emails, like first name and company name, to ensure your contacts feel like they are being personally addressed, all while tracking
We suggest sending an email at least once a month to keep your subscribers engaged, but don’t feel you need to commit to this immediately. And be sure to look ahead and plan accordingly if you think your sending frequency will change for special events and holidays—you don’t want to surprise customers if you typically send once a month but suddenly start sending a stream of emails leading up to a Black Friday sales event.
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.
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.
An email blast is a single email message that is sent to a large group of recipients. Email blasts are no longer an email marketing best practice. Email marketers should segment their lists and send targeted messages to their subscribers. All email blasts need to follow the CAN-SPAM Act, include an unsubscribe link, and accurately identify the person or business that is deploying the email.
As soon as they’re added to your list, subscribers start providing a lot of useful information about their interests and buying behavior. With our signup forms, you can customize fields to collect everything from age and gender to interests and subscription preferences. Maybe you have customers who are only interested in receiving emails when there’s a sale on a specific group of products, or subscribers who would prefer biweekly updates to weekly ones.
But while automations are designed to take some of the work and effort out of engaging with your customers, your emails should show that you care. You should take time to research what your customers like to help make your emails sound human and personal. Above all, marketing automation is an opportunity to deepen your relationship with your customers.
For example, Fjällräven sends a simple, beautifully designed welcome series to seamlessly introduce new customers to their brand. And when customers get distracted while they’re shopping and leave items in their cart without making a purchase, Topo Designs sends an abandoned cart email to remind them what they left behind and offer a discount on their cart. If you’re not sure how to get started with marketing automation, we have a guide that will introduce you to the different ways you can use automation to connect with customers and sell more stuff.
Sample review: Optinmonster “has various forms you can embed on your site to help with email conversion but one of the most interesting ones is the popup. You can set the popup only to appear on ‘exit intent’. This means that your website visitor can browse all they want and when they are about to exit the website you can have a popup appearing tempting the visitor to leave their email address.” — RazorSocial (World)
Now that you know who you’re writing to, it’s time to think about your content. What do you want to say to your audience? You’ll want to send emails with purpose, that really speak to your subscribers, so always keep in mind what they signed up for. It might be helpful to outline some general content types you can include in your campaigns, so you can refer to it when designing your emails.
The primary purpose of a transactional email is to convey information regarding the action that triggered it. But, due to their high open rates (51.3% compared to 36.6% for email newsletters), transactional emails are an opportunity to introduce or extend the email relationship with customers or subscribers; to anticipate and answer questions; or to cross-sell or up-sell products or services.
Social media – the undisputed king in the marketing domain… And then there’s email. Think of it as a grandparent to social media marketing. Don’t be fooled, it’s still reliable if used the right way. Today’s marketers may not be as email savvy, nor do they consider it to be a “cool” way of contacting clients, however, it has stood the test of time and proven itself to be an effective method of communication.
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.
In addition to linking to Letter Shoppe's designs (available on merchandise that is ultimately sold by RedBubble), the email campaign includes an endearing quote by the Featured Artist: "Never compromise on your values, and only do work you want to get more of." RedBubble's customers are likely to agree -- and open other emails in this campaign for more inspiring quotes.