Email marketing is an essential part of any successful business plan—when it’s done right. Today, there are many email marketing programs that also come with a number of bells and whistles, such as allowing readers to share your information via their social networks, and including analytical data that can help you see how, when, and where people are reading your messages.
While the decision to use an email marketing platform is fairly cut and dry, deciding which platform to use isn’t quite as straightforward. Whether you’re creating your very first direct email campaign or revamping an old system that just isn’t cutting it, there are many companies to choose from. To help you make the right decision, we’re highlighting the three of most popular direct email campaign platforms out there. Chances are, one of these will work for you.
Founded in 2001, MailChimp has over 7 million users that collectively send over 10 billion emails through the service each month. In other words, that’s one busy chimp! One of the reasons MailChimp is so popular is because it’s really easy for beginners to use, comes with pre-made templates, and allows you readers to connect to their social networks and share your content with the click of a button.
MailChimp is free if you have less than 2,000 subscribers, but they don’t provide support to those users. So if you’re using a free account, you’re on your own. While this normally isn’t a problem, it’s not a guarantee that you’ll never need help. In a similar vein, the pre-made templates are great at first, but there’s no way to create something unique that will set your newsletter apart from the other 7 million other people using the same service. Then again, it’s integrated with hundreds of other apps and services, including Twitter, Facebook, and Survey Monkey, which can be quite handy.
VERDICT: Great for the small business that doesn’t have a lot of time to devote to email marketing, but wants to get it right.
Constant Contact has been offering email marketing, social media marketing, and online surveys since 1998. In 2014, they boasted over 600,000 customers. Like MailChimp, Constant Contact offers pre-made templates that allow users to upload images and link to social networks. Unlike MailChimp, Constant Contact also allows users to completely customize templates, which means it has more options for unique, one-of-a-kind email marketing campaigns.
Constant Contact doesn’t integrate with other apps or sites, and some users complain that the interface is clunky. And while you do have to pay for the platform (it’s only free for the first 60 days) the prices are reasonable, beginning at $20 a month for 500 contacts and going up to $85 a month for up to 10,000.
VERDICT: If you’re tech savvy, creative, and like to be in control, this is a worthy investment.
Like MailChimp, VerticalResponse was founded in 2001. It also provides an easy, user-friendly way to create, send, and track emails and social posts, and they offer a flexible pay scale. For the low price of $0, you can send up to 4,000 emails a month to 1,000 people. After that, VerticalResponse offers monthly and pay-as-you-go plans, which are great for businesses that experience a busy season.
With free templates that are easy to customize (just drag images and text blocks around and drop them where you want them), and support by phone, chat or email, this platform is very user friendly. On the other hand, while VerticalResponse offers plays nicely with a number of apps, but they aren’t as well known or common as the ones you’ll find at MailChimp. If integration is a deal breaker for your business, you may want to look elsewhere.
VERDICT: Easy to use, scalable, and great support. If you think your business will grow over the next few years, this is a platform that can grow with you.