With the rise of the importance of email marketing in recent years, a lot of online businesses have sprung up to help customers connect with brands through email marketing campaigns. And, since most businesses are now operating online, it’s only natural that they would turn to digital tools to help them market their businesses and communicate with customers.
But, what kind of tools should you be looking for when considering email marketing campaigns? What are the most useful and cost-effective tools for sending the occasional email to customers? What do experienced marketers use to consistently grow and maintain healthy email marketing lists?
MailChimp is the industry standard for email marketing software and is one of the most popular free tools for email marketers. Its user-friendly design and simple features make it an ideal choice for budding email marketers who are just starting out. If you’re looking for a tool that doesn’t cost much to keep up and is simple to operate, MailChimp is the go-to choice for you.
What makes MailChimp special is that it can connect with services like Mailgun and Mandrill — the two other widely used email marketing tools — to provide a fully-fledged email marketing platform. Plus, it has a large and active community of users who are always happy to lend a hand through its “free training” portal. In short, with MailChimp, you get all the basic features you need to get started — including a free “mini” plan — and then you can choose to upgrade to a paid plan as your needs grow.
Benchmark is another tool that can be used to create and run email marketing campaigns, though its main focus is on inbound marketing, attracting, engaging, and delighting people to grow business. With Benchmark, you get a completely free tool with features similar to those of Marketo (see below).
You can use Benchmark to establish a connection with website visitors, analyze traffic sources, and track opens, clicks, and conversions — all essential metrics for any marketing campaign. What sets Benchmark apart from others is its integrations with various services and tools. For example, you can use Benchmark to import contacts from LinkedIn, analyze website engagement using Google Analytics, and gain access to digital marketing tools like HubSpot and Marketo.
Marketo is the enterprise-level version of Benchmark and offers pretty much the same features, though it is more complex to use and has a more advanced feature set. One of the biggest selling points of Marketo is its “closed-loop marketing” feature, which serves as a fully-integrated email marketing platform, complete with landing pages and automated email campaigns. Marketo also has a large selection of third-party integrations, including email marketing software such as HubSpot, Thunderbird, and MailChimp. In other words, if you’re looking for a tool with a large community of users and a feature-rich design, Marketo is the way to go.
HubSpot is also another viable option thanks to its well-known success in the marketing automation space. Its email marketing features are decent but nothing extraordinary. What sets HubSpot apart is its integration with other business tools, like Salesforce, Gmail, and Microsoft Office — which gives you the ability to collect and analyze all the relevant data that matters to your business. If you’re looking for an email marketing tool that is relatively simple to use and doesn’t cost a fortune, HubSpot is the answer.
And, for the best part, you can try HubSpot for free for up to 10,000 emails per month. It’s also worth noting that HubSpot integrates with various software packages like MailChimp, Salesforce, and Google Analytics — so even if you decide to pay for the service, you’ll be able to use the tools you need to improve your email marketing efforts without having to spend a fortune on separate subscriptions.
Convio is a simple to use email marketing tool that is completely free. Its main focus is on automated email campaigns and establishing a connection with potential customers through email. Although Convio has limited email marketing functionality, it is a popular choice among users because of its beautiful design and minimalistic approach to marketing. What makes Convio different from other tools is that it doesn’t require you to have a website to get started (i.e., you can use the free version to send emails to existing customers via your email address).
Additionally, Convio offers two-way email communication, PDF attachments for email campaigns, A/B testing through email, and mobile-optimized landing pages — all of which make it a complete solution for marketers who want to get their work done quickly and simply.
6. Mad Mimi
If you’re looking for a tool that is simple to use and doesn’t require you to have a technical background to get started, Mad Mimi is what you need. It is especially geared toward beginners who want to get their feet wet with email marketing and for those who don’t have the time to dig into complex systems. What sets Mad Mimi apart from other tools is that it is completely free and gives you access to a curated list of pre-made email templates.
For example, you can create a landing page and then use the templates provided by Mad Mimi to send out a press release, organize a webinar, or create a discount code for a product or service — all without having to code a single line of HTML.
SendGrid is the cheapest of the bunch, offering a free plan with limited features and a pricing structure that relies on the number of emails you send out per month. What makes it different is that it is a high-performance, open-source email delivery platform, meaning it is the product of highly-skilled software engineers who put in a lot of effort to provide a better user experience.
As a result, you get a tool that is reliable and secure, though the features are a little basic, especially for professional marketers.
8. MailChimp (formerly Campaigner)
If you’re looking for a tool that provides an all-in-one solution for creating and executing email marketing campaigns, without having to spend too much money, then you can’t go wrong with MailChimp (formerly Campaigner).
What sets it apart from other tools is that it was designed with marketers in mind and offers a streamlined experience when it comes to creating and sending out emails, so it can be used by anyone, even those with minimal tech knowledge. Campaigner was also one of the first email marketing tools to offer A/B testing through email, so you can experiment with different subject lines and design variations to see which ones perform best.
9. Constant Contact
It seems that every tool on this list is an email marketing tool, which should come as no surprise. Constant Contact is the industry standard when it comes to email marketing, boasting an average user rating of 4.7 stars out of 5 and over 950,000 users as of January 2020.
What makes Constant Contact stand out is that it was designed with privacy and security in mind. While most other email marketing tools store all its users’ data on their servers, Constant Contact offers the strictest privacy policies among the tools reviewed here and is PCI-DSS certified, which means it adheres to the highest security standards.
Last but not least, we have Campaigner, which is essentially the older brother of MailChimp. While MailChimp is a great choice for beginners and non-techies, Campaigner is ideal for power users who want a more robust platform.
What sets Campaigner apart from similar tools is its versatility. Not only does it provide a robust marketing platform with all the necessary features for creating and executing inbound marketing campaigns, but it also has a highly-specialized marketing research tool called Feedback Explorer, which gives you the ability to ask users for their opinions and receive actionable feedback.
As you can see, there are many viable choices when it comes to sending emails to customers. Which tool should you choose? That depends on your needs, budgets, and existing ecosystem. If you’re looking for a tool that is simple to use and doesn’t require a lot of tech knowledge, then go with Mad Mimi. If you’re looking for a tool that offers a robust marketing platform, then choose between Constent Contact and Campaigner.