A quick Google search for email marketing tools will show you there are literally hundreds of options to choose from. They all claim to be the best. Many offer a free or low-cost version of their systems. And some even connect with larger sales and marketing software suites to
Who knew sending emails could be so complicated?
The bottom line is, many of these tools are so similar in cost and functionality that you could probably throw a dart at a list, pick the system it lands on, and start sending emails to your list. To be clear, we don’t recommend this method as a viable business software research strategy. But we can’t promise you won’t want to pull out your dartboard when you start looking into all the options available on the market today.
Ultimately, the best tool for you is one that meets your business’s needs without costing you too much money or being too complicated to use. Since every business is different, there’s no “one size fits all” email marketing option. But to help narrow down your search, we wanted to highlight some of the most popular tools of 2020.
Read on to find out what features a good email marketing tool offers and to get a shortlist of systems to look into to get your email marketing campaigns off the ground.
What to look for in an email marketing tool
There are a million reasons why your business needs email marketing. But the foundational reason is to reach your customers.Any email marketing system you consider should offer tools that help you create, design, and send emails your potential and existing customers actually want to open, read, and act on. Click To Tweet
Below are several of the most important features email marketing software should include to help you send those stunning, compelling messages.
A template library
Especially if you’re new to email marketing, you’ll want access to a variety of email templates. Using templates can help you follow email design best practices. They can also save you time in the design process and help you focus on the content of your emails rather than their layouts.
A drag-and-drop (WYSIWYG) editor
Drag-and-drop editing functionality allows you to create professional-looking emails without using code or third-party designers. You might also see this drag-and-drop functionality described as WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get). These editors help you see what your email will look like to readers as you design it.
Especially when using these types of editors with templates, you create highly engaging emails in a relatively small amount of time.
User segmentation or list management
Subscribers to your email list will likely subscribe for different reasons. You’ll want to create different lists or segments within your list so you can send subscribers relevant emails. You might want to send existing customers your monthly newsletter, for example, while promotional emails might be better content for a potential customer.
Segmentation or list management through tagging or categorization helps you get the right content to the right customers.
Basic marketing automation tools
The ability to send autoresponders or even personalize emails with subscribers’ names fall under marketing automation capabilities. Triggering emails based on subscribers’ actions—like sending a thank-you email to someone who subscribes to your list or an abandoned cart email to someone who hasn’t completed a purchase—will help you keep potential customers engaged.
The CAN-SPAM Act governs rules relating to commercial emails. The most commonly cited rules of the CAN-SPAM Act are:
- Providing a physical postal address for your business with each email
- Giving readers the option to unsubscribe from your emails
- Honoring unsubscribe requests promptly.
Violations can cost over $43,000 per non-compliant email. So it’s important that your email marketing tool helps you follow those regulations.
The ability to play nice with your other marketing tools
You’ll want to make sure your new email marketing tool integrates with software you’re already using. If you run an e-commerce site, for example, you’ll likely want to find a solution that is compatible with your online store. Ensuring all of your tools work well together will help create a seamless user experience for your customers—and will help prevent headaches for you.
5 best email marketing tools of 2020
To create this list, we considered the features each system offered, the cost for their basic plans, and reviews left by actual users on software review sites. (You can check out these reviews for yourselves, as well as get an idea of the larger email marketing software market by heading over to G2, Capterra, or TrustRadius).
ActiveCampaign is a robust system that offers tools for email marketing, CRM, sales and marketing automation, and social media marketing. Support teams can also use ActiveCampaign to assist customers.
With ActiveCampaign’s email marketing software, you can create email campaigns triggered by site visitors’ actions, send targeted emails to segments of your audience, and create email funnels that help keep customers engaged.
Cost: ActiveCampaign starts at $9 per month for up to 500 contacts. It does not offer a free version, but you can test it out before committing with a two-week trial.
Who is ActiveCampaign for?
If you know you’re looking for an omnichannel communications platform or know your business will eventually scale up to use its advanced features, ActiveCampaign is worth a look. Since it doesn’t offer a free version of its system, even for a relatively small list, it might not be the best investment for startups or companies looking to send the occasional newsletter.
ConvertKit is getting a lot of buzz lately as an email marketing tool for creatives, bloggers, and those trying to work a side hustle.
ConvertKit focuses on helping you create plain-text emails, but you can also add images, buttons, and HTML code to each message with its drag-and-drop editor. It has a direct integration with Unsplash, a free stock photo site, to help you search a wide library of images without figuring out Photoshop or other design tools.
Cost: ConvertKit offers a free account for up to 1,000 subscribers. Its paid plans, which offer premium support and free migration services from other tools, start at $29 per month for up to 1,000 subscribers.
Who is ConvertKit for?
If your focus is on your creative projects or running your niche small business, ConvertKit is worth checking out. Its free solution for lists under 1,000 subscribers and free two-part email marketing course make it a low-risk option for those just starting out with email campaigns.
HubSpot is to serious marketers what Mailchimp is to small business: its name is everywhere. HubSpot offers a full suite of marketing automation tools (CRM, a content management system, and software for sales, marketing, and service).
With HubSpot’s email marketing tools, you can create custom campaigns that serve targeted, personalized content to your subscribers. And its A/B testing tools allow you to test which emails result in the most leads. All of its tools integrate with its larger marketing hub, which also allows you to create landing pages, ads, and blog posts.
Cost: HubSpot offers a free email marketing tool for under 1,000 contacts. Its marketing tools start at $40 per month starting at 1,000 contacts.
Who is HubSpot for?
Despite its suite of free tools, HubSpot can get really expensive, really quickly. If you’re planning to get serious about your marketing, sales, and service strategies, HubSpot’s tools could be worth the investment. Overall, HubSpot is likely a more viable option for medium- or larger size businesses looking for marketing automation software that will scale with them as they grow.
SendinBlue markets itself as an all-in-one digital marketing tool. In addition to its email marketing capabilities, you can also run campaigns through SMS, create landing pages, and create ads to send visitors back to your site.
SendinBlue also provides a sales CRM for users, even in the free version of its system. So you can start driving sales with email campaigns—and connecting how those metrics work together—right away.
Cost: With SendinBlue’s free version, you can send up to 300 emails per day to an unlimited number of contacts. Its paid solution starts at $25 per month and allows you to send up to 100,00 emails per month.
Who is SendinBlue for?
Since SendinBlue charges based on the volume of emails you send, it might be a good fit for you if you have a lot of contacts but send a relatively low number of emails. You should also consider SendinBlue if you want to manage communication with potential and existing customers on various channels (email, SMS, and chat) in one place.
I challenge you to find a list of the best email marketing software that doesn’t include Mailchimp.
Mailchimp’s free version (for a limited number of subscribers), drag-and-drop editor, and extensive template library make it a really attractive option, especially for beginning email marketers. It also offers more advanced features, like a marketing CRM, landing page designer, and social media ad posting, that your fledgling business can use right away or grow into.
Mailchimp is a viable option for any business that wants to run email campaigns. However, many businesses looking for an email marketing tool hear of Mailchimp, realize it’s free to start an account, and never look at other options.
If you find that Mailchimp is the right tool for your business, great! But test out a few other tools before you invest time or money building out your campaigns there.
Cost: Mailchimp offers a free version of its tool for one list of up to 2,000 contacts. Its paid solution starts at $9.99 per month for up to 50,000 contacts.
Who is Mailchimp for?
If you’re just starting out in your email marketing journey and have a smaller contact list, Mailchimp’s low- or no-cost solution could be a good choice. Its easy-to-use drag-and-drop editor will help you create and send professional emails quickly.
Build a solid strategy, then pick a tool to match
With so many email marketing options on the market, you’ll want to make sure to do your research and pick the tools that are right for your business.
But the best possible tools can only do so much for your organization. Before investing time and money in tools and tech, you should make sure your email marketing strategy is solid.That’s where email marketing services can help. Sign up for your free consultation call with Capital Consulting Group for help crafting a marketing strategy customized for your business.