Emma has tons of email templates to choose from, as well as drag-and-drop editor for custom designs. This is their main value proposition (superior design qualities). You can integrate this software with lots of other programs such as Google Analytics, Aviary and several social media sites. Reporting features are very easy to use and give a good overview of results.
Please forgive me if I missed this in some of the comments and replies, but I saw nothing on Infusionsoft or Marketo. I was expecting to see both in your analysis, but nothing was mentioned, save for the remark early on that Active Campaign has rocketed past Infusionsoft in the marketplace. Is it because you consider them outside the “Email Marketing” space which was the subject of your analysis?
Keep the subject line and pre-header short: The subject line is crucial. Keep it short so the reader knows exactly what the email topic is about. And the pre-header text (also known as snippet text), don’t let it go to waste by using “To view this email in your browser…”. Instead, summarize the email or include a call to action (i.e., Use “FREESHIP” to get free shipping).
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)
Active Trail is an automated communications platform that focuses on SMS and email marketing campaigns. It has a user-friendly newsletter and email editor with a drag-and-drop interface as well as an advanced image editor. Additionally, Active Trail includes predictive delivery which helps users predict the optimal time to send emails to their recipients. It also includes ready-to-use sign up and lead forms, A/B testing and Personalisation tools.

Did you see that? Did you see it move? Pretty cool, right? This small bit of animation helps to separate this email from Tory Burch from all of the immobile emails in their recipient's inboxes. They also leverage exclusivity by framing the promotion as a "private" sale. Often times, this type of positioning makes the recipient feel like they're specially chosen, which encourages them to take advantage of the special opportunity they've been presented with. 
Thanks for this article. It is super helpful. I have used quite a few different ESPs (Bronto, MailChimp, Constant Contact, dotmailer, Listrak and now Informz) and have my opinions about all of them. But I have always worked for e-commerce companies. I now work for a non-profit association and we need an ESP that integrates with our database, which is run on Aptify. The only ESP I have found that claims to integrate with Aptify is Informz (Higher Logic) and lets just say, the integration doesn’t actually work and the platform itself leaves a lot to be desired. So I was wondering if you knew of any other platform that might integrate with Aptify or be able to build an integration?
Here's another great example from Litmus of animation being used to create more interesting email marketing design. Unlike static text, the swipe motion used to provide recipients with a look "under the hood" of their email tool is eye-catching and encourages you to take a deeper dive into the rest of the content. Not to mention the header does an excellent job of explicitly stating what this email is about.
Your campaign can be completed once you select your recipients and other campaign-specific details. In the Content section, you’ll find an incredibly useful WYSIWYG editor used for HTML content. Add images, drag and drop items, format text and copy/paste any text you want in your email. Want this layout and format to be used by default for every campaign? Save to Library and you’re covered.
Mailgun is a transactional email API integration—a cloud-based service to send, receive, and track emails. It has excellent features for intelligent inbound routing, storage, and email validation. It simplifies the process of sending transactional or bulk emails. It has searchable logs. You can scale quickly. You can A/B test data. You can use tracking and analytics feature to manage emails.
Purchased lists are ineffective, and they impact everyone else who uses Mailchimp, too. If you send emails to a list of people whose contact info you bought, many of the emails will get identified as spam. Some spam filters will flag a campaign if anyone with the same IP has sent spam in the past. When you use Mailchimp, your email is delivered through our servers, so if one person sends spam, it could prevent other users’ emails from reaching inboxes. But by forbidding Mailchimp users from using purchased lists, we increase deliverability for everyone.

Pricing is computed in real-time and depends on your selects. Geographic selects are included in the base price. All additional demographic selects are priced per record. When ordering a mailing list, you must select how you wish to retrieve the file. We offer three methods for mailing list retrieval: 1. Download, 2. CD, 3. Labels. You may always download your file from within 'My Account.'
Reach Mail is great for business just starting out with email marketing. It offers a free package that enables users to create, schedule and send emails, as a well as a paid version that provides users with more customisation options. The free version is quite unique in the email marketing world as normally these types of tools are only free for a certain period. Reach Mail also includes a nice testing feature which enables users to test their email campaigns on a percentage of their subscriber list.
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.
Activation: A new user creates an account but, they do not use your product within the first 7 days. Create an  “activation” campaign that sends an automated email with their login information, steps on how they can get started and include a video demonstration for additional support. You can also invite them to a one-on-one meeting to walk them through the product and answer any questions they may have.
×