Email marketing is an extremely powerful way to engage an audience. Most small business owners would testify of its awesomeness. But, like everything in life, email marketing requires tools to be effective. Here is a list of 17 great email marketing tools for e-commerce businesses (most of which are free).
But, what’s the rate of email marketing effectiveness? Why should e-commerce business owners care about running email campaigns? The Direct Marketing Association (DMA) UK provides some insight. It says email has an average return on investment of £38 for every £1 spent. Now, that’s huge and a strong pointer to the fact that you should prioritize email marketing if you have not already done so.
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Choosing the best email marketing platform
There are nine factors to consider when choosing the best email marketing software for your business. From each of the tools we have presented to you above, we will analyze the following points:
- Email marketing features: We can assume that all the tools in this article offer you the standard features you expect from such platforms (pre-designed email templates, multiple contact lists, a visual builder of email campaigns). But some go further with A/B tests, automatic optimization of the moment of sending (to maximize your opening rates) and small extras such as the option to insert emojis in the subject lines.
- Cost and value: Some email marketing tools may seem affordable when you only have a few thousand contacts, but they become more expensive quickly as the list grows. Let’s highlight the prices of these providers so you can predict price increases and avoid tools that will eat your profits.
- Ease of use: With some email marketing tools it has taken me almost 3 hours to make an email marketing template look acceptable on a mobile device. While all email marketing tools advertise visual email creators and easy-to-use interfaces, some are better than others. We’ll review some of the best below with screenshots to compare them side by side.
- CRM and marketing automation features: Unless you have a large company, it probably makes sense for your CRM and email marketing tool to be the same. This will save you time by connecting them to each other and make sending automated emails to the right people at the right time very easy. As such, we’re also going to buy CRM automation and marketing functionality from the platforms we’ve presented to you.
- Analytics: The faster you can know what works (and what doesn’t) and adjust your actions, the better. Unfortunately, reporting is where many popular email marketing tools fail.
- Support: The paradox with customer service is that the better the tool, the less support you need. But we will also analyze the waiting times when contacting support.
- Security and regulatory compliance: If your mailing list includes European citizens, you better hope your platform is adequate to the GDPR. If you collect particularly sensitive data, you may need to consider higher security standards. In this article, we will compare the security offered and the compliance standards (such as HIPAA, GDPR, ISO).
- Deliverability – What good is an email marketing tool if 15% of your emails end up in the spam folder? Fortunately, none of the providers mentioned in this article are so bad, but some are better than others. We’ve compared them all in a deliverability test.
- Integrations: If you want to save hours of repetitive tasks that don’t add value, it’s important that you can automatically connect your email marketing platform to the other tools you use (from your accounting software to your CRM). In this section, we compare which email marketing tools have the best combination of quality and quantity of integrations.
Suffice to say, email marketing is a part of the marketing mix which e-commerce businesses just cannot overlook. So, what are the tools for running productive email campaigns?
Email Marketing Tool: Sendpulse
Sendpulse is an all-in-one platform for email marketing, free web push notifications, and SMS marketing. You can engage subscribers with all three forms of marketing messages through the platform. It’s free to use for online retailers who have less than 2500 subscribers (and send a sum of 15,000 emails every month).
With hundreds of free-to-use email templates and an editor that makes creating HTML campaigns a breeze, SendPulse comes highly recommended. There are paid plans if you decide to upgrade but the free account is a good starting point for beginning online retailers.
Email Marketing Tool: Mailerlite
Mailerlite has the forever free plan for marketers who have 1000 subscribers and below but you can upgrade as your list grows. The free plan allows you to send unlimited emails monthly.
Want to create fantastic newsletters but lack HTML design skills? This email service provider (ESP) has got your back with a drag-and-drop editor that is simple to use.
Email Marketing Tool: Mailrelay
Gain peace of mind by using this email marketing platform as there are no bills to pay for having up to 15,000 subscribers. Mailrelay also allows you to send up to 75,000 emails for free forever. You have to follow them on Facebook, Twitter, and Google to qualify. You must already have a basic Mailrelay account (which allows you to send 15.000 emails and grow up to 3.000 subscribers for free).
You can upgrade to the higher free forever plan once you reach the 3000-subscriber threshold. Mailrelay currently has the most generous free account in the email marketing space.
You also get to use their email templates to create beautiful newsletters without learning a single line of code! This service also provides information on the online behaviour of subscribers. This basically helps you to analyze their behaviour and tweak your email campaigns to boost conversions.
Email Marketing Tool: Campayn
You can use Campayn service free for 500 subscribers. You get to send 20,000 emails on a monthly basis and designing email newsletters is as easy as pie. You can choose to design from scratch or make use of their free newsletter templates that empower you to simply create professional-looking emails.
Easily import your contact lists and get detailed reports on how subscribers are interacting with your content. This information alone is priceless as it enables you to create successful campaigns based on the insights you garner. This email marketing platform offers both pay-as-you-go and monthly plans for marketers who decide to upgrade.
Email Marketing Tool: Freshmail
Freshmail offers both paid and free accounts: you can send 2,000 emails to 500 subscribers for free. You also get to create awesome email newsletters without coding skills, automatically follow up on people who subscribe to your email list and track their behaviour on a real-time basis. Tracking helps to tailor your content towards their needs and convert them into life-long customers and fans of your business. Freshmail also offers both monthly and pay-as-you-go plans for online retailers who decide to upgrade.
Email Marketing Tool: Mad Mimi
Creating, sending, and tracking email campaigns with Mad Mimi is as easy as it comes. You can start with the 100% free plan which caters to 100 contacts and allows you to send unlimited emails.
You have three monthly upgrade options: the Pro, Silver, and Gold plans. The Pro plan costs $42 and allows you to store up to 10,000 contacts while the Silver plan costs $199 and allows you to store up to 50,000 contacts. The Gold plan, which is more suited to larger businesses, on the other hand, costs $1,049 and allows you to store up to 350,000 subscribers.
Email Marketing Tool: ActiveCampaign
This is an integrated marketing solution which powers email marketing, marketing automation, and customer relationship management (CRM) activities. It doesn’t have a free plan but the paid plans start for ActiveCampaign from only $9 a month. This qualifies you to send unlimited emails to 500 subscribers. The more subscribers you have, the more you’re expected to pay. It is highly recommended if you want your marketing and sales activities on the same platform. There’s a 14-day trial for first-time users.
Email Marketing Tool: Sales-Push
You can start with the ‘almost’ free plan which allows you to send 15,000 emails per month to 2500 subscribers. It’s not entirely free as you’re expected to pay $1. Sales-Push offers premium analytics, follow-ups, over 700 email newsletter templates to customize to your taste, list segmentation, and other features. There are two types of paid plans: the subscriber-based monthly plans (which allow you to pay based on the number of contacts) and volume-based plans (which allow you to buy email credits to be used within a 90-day window).
Email Marketing Tool: Benchmark Email
Benchmark is one of the best options for marketers who don’t know about technology.
Benchmark may not be the most powerful email marketing tool out there, but it is incredibly easy to use. They also ranked #1 in PC Magazine’s Best Customer Service award in 2015.
Benchmark is the kind of tool I would recommend to that friend who doesn’t have much of a computer idea. It’s easy to use, has great support, and covers all basic needs very well.
It´s drap & drop email builder is quite standard, but also very simple to use. Creating a campaign is like a game.
If what you’re looking for is something simple that allows you to send massive emails, Benchmark can be a good option.
Email Marketing Tool: Moosend
You can get started with the Moosend free account which allows you to send 2,000 emails free. This trial includes all the features like fast email delivery, drag-n’-drop editor for designing beautiful newsletters, detailed reporting of subscriber behaviour, etc. The latter helps to get your marketing on steroids as it empowers you to send appropriate messages to the right subscribers at the appropriate time. To upgrade, you can either go for a subscriber-based monthly plan or a pay-as-you-go plan.
Email Marketing Tool: Reachmail
Reachmail’s free account allows you to send up to 15,000 emails to 5,000 subscribers. Upgrade options include the Bronze, Silver, and Gold plans. The bronze plan costs $10 a month and allows you to send up to 30,000 emails to 7,500 contacts every month. The silver plan costs $40 monthly, which allows you to send up to 70,000 emails to 10,000 subscribers.
The gold plan, on the other hand, allows you to send up to 120,000 emails while storing 25,000 subscribers and costs $70 monthly. Paid accounts enjoy premium features like customizable email templates, detailed analytics, email previews, and prime sending. Messages sent from paid accounts don’t carry the Reachmail branding.
Email Marketing Tool: MailChimp
This popular email marketing platform currently offers 3 plans for your e-commerce business. There is the New Business plan, the Growing Business plan, as well as the Pro Marketer plan. The New Business is the basic plan which is forever free. It allows you to send up to 12,000 emails every month to 2,000 subscribers. Gain access to premium e-commerce marketing features when you sign up for the Growing Business plan which starts at $10 a month. The Pro Marketer plan starts at $199 a month and offers enterprise-level features.
Email Marketing Tool: Getresponse
The best email marketing software based in the European Union.
For some time now, GetResponse has been lagging behind other providers. ActiveCampaign, Drip and other email platforms are outperforming this company, and GetResponse has not been able to keep up.
Although GetResponse has finally launched its own functionality for email marketing automation, it still has a long way to go to achieve what other platforms offer. Even so, GetResponse is a valid option: It is used by more than 350,000 customers, so something has to be done right.
You have a free 30-day trial of GetResponse, if you want to see if it suits your business.
Email Marketing Tool: Mailjet
Mailjet currently offers a free plan which allows marketers to send 6,000 emails per month. You can also try premium features as a free user for 30 days. You can either upgrade to the Bronze or Crystal accounts. They’re both monthly plans. All plans allow you to keep as many contacts as you want, enable fast email delivery, live reporting and analytics, as well as personalization features.
Email Marketing Tool: MyBizMailer
You can start with MyBizMailer’s forever free plan and upgrade (as your business grows) into any of the three upgrade options. There are send-based, list-based, as well as pay as you go plans. All plans allow you to brand your emails, gain access to premium reporting and contact management at no extra charge.
Email Marketing Tool: Hubspot
The best for high-value B2B marketers who need advanced analytics and tracking capabilities.
HubSpot went public in 2006, becoming the first email marketing automation platform to launch this new challenge. Its software is used by some 50,000 companies, most of them small.
What’s good and what’s not good at HubSpot?
At HubSpot they are pioneers in inbound marketing. In addition, they built their own all-in-one CRM, as well as their email marketing automation functionality, a CMS and their landing page platform.
Hubsot is quite complex and touches many points (sometimes staying a little half-hearted on certain things). However, the advantage of having it all in one place is that your reports are excellent. Do you want to see the conversion rate of an email campaign of leads captured at the conference you sponsored last year? No problem.
One of Hubspot’s main drawbacks is rising prices. Hubspot may seem very affordable to start with, but prices are starting to increase rapidly.
You can start using HubSpot for a very sensible price, about 50 euros a month. However, as soon as you start adding features and expanding your contacts, you can joke about 2,000 euros per month (which also has to be paid annually). For many small businesses, this investment is unbearable.
Wrapping It All Up
Take charge of your email marketing by signing up for one of these platforms. Most of them offer marketing automation services that power business growth. You’re better off choosing the platform that fulfils your business needs so you can make the most of your email campaigns.
So, which platform are you going to choose? If you’ve been on the scene for a while and have experience with any of these services, tell us below or tweet us!