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Email marketing tools are plentiful so how do you choose the right email marketing software for YOUR business?
What are email marketing tools?
Email marketing tools are are simply online software that takes care of the hard work for you when sending emails to multiple people. That means that they shouldn’t MAKE it hard work.
Email marketing is proven. There is no debate. If you are a new business, once you have a website and social media setup you need to be reaching out to people and engaging them with email marketing – which means either going old school (group email) or you go ahead and choose the best email marketing tool for your business.
The challenge with choosing the right email marketing software:
Google ‘Email Marketing platforms’ and you will soon be overwhelmed – reach out to business owners you know and you will get 10 different responses. There are LOTS of options and it quickly gets confusing. You will see also sorts of lingo like “Native message personalisation”, “Customizable HTML templates”. So in this article, rather than focus on all that technical mumbo jumbo, let’s just discuss some practical things that will make more sense to you as a business owner and which you know are important for your marketing – because let’s face it, to even make it on our list below they will have all that technical stuff covered.
How to Choose the Right Email Marketing Platform for your business:
1) Questions to consider when choosing an email marketing platform:
- Ease of use
- Pricing – What is your budget? Remember that most platforms use U.S. dollars so consider the multiplying factor.
- Will it work with your business website / can an email sign-up form be easily added?
- What’s the learning curve? Will you want to do it yourself or do you plan to engage professional help.
- Can it talk to other online software your business uses (i.e. your e-commerce platform, CRM, Google contacts, Paypal etc.)
- What features does it have?
- What does it NOT do and which of these is a deal-breaker?
- Will it grow with my business?
- Does it have a CRM integrated. Let’s face it, if you are an owner operated business than having one tool is AWSOME.
2) Research and choose the best email marketing tool for your business to trial:
Below are three options you may want to look at. Just THREE out of the plethora. We have experience with many more but these are the three we are willing to write about.
Mailchimp is a great option to get started. They have a free account BUT if you want to do auto-responders (automatic replies to sign-ups) or enter them into a continued automatic conversation then you will need to pay (USD $10 per month at time of publishing). That’s not a big price for what you get, especially if you are effective with your email marketing (just remember that email marketing costs include your time).
The ‘chimp’ guides you through the process of getting setup and ready to send your emails. However, I believe the ‘learning where everything is’ process with Mailchimp is more difficult than it needs to be, with some important things a little too hidden and it is not the best tool for growing with your business. However it is a great starting option and FREE is a great price tag. Mailchimp also integrates with lots and lots of things because it is so widely used.
Active Campaign when we gave this a whirl we were pleasantly surprised how easy it was to get started and to create automated sequences. In fact, we have now moved completely to Active Campaign. From our experience this is a tool that “just works” and one we are more than happy to recommend. In fact, email marketing has become fun (WHAT?????). It makes it more like ‘what can I create next?’. You know those marketing funnels everyone is talking about? Well, Active Campaign just makes it a lot simpler. It has a CRM option but you have to step up from the nicely priced USD$8.99 (at time of publishing) to the USD$49/mth which isn’t a small leap. If you are considering that maybe choose Pipderive as your CRM and integrate it instead as it is just $12/mth. You can choose from some very nice and professional email templates or even a more personalised template that looks like it has been sent from your email client. ActiveCampaign also has some nice integrations like Gravity Forms and Bloom which are both great to help with those marketing funnels.
AgileCRM is an email marketing tool and a CRM tool (customer relationship management tool) in one platform. If you want to do more than just send email newsletters, i.e. enter a new contact that you meet at a networking function and email them automatically plus have the software add a reminder to your Google calendar to give them a call and say “hi” to follow-up then this is your platform. It also integrates with Xero very nicely and there is a Woocommerce integration and Gravity forms. When time is critical to you, having just one place to log into is great and when you don’t have to re-enter contacts in multiple places? Beautiful! Because it is a CRM and an email marketing / automation platform the setup is more complex, as is the learning curve but it will grow with your business very nicely. There is a free option too but you may soon want to step up to the next level USD$14.99/mth (their literature says $8.99/mth but that is only if you pay two years in advance). The paid version allows more integration.
A word about Infusionsoft, Hubspot and Ontraport – their marketing is great and prolific and their name is often at the bottom of emails from those with REALLY BIG EMAIL LISTS. There is a reason for that. These are not starter options. The learning curve is big, the time investment quite significant and you will need to be prepared to pay for it and most likely for professional help too. These guys are really in another league.
Remember there are a lot of choices out there, so if the above aren’t the right fit for your business, do some additional research on specific features you need.
3) Sign-up for the free trial and test drive your new email marketing tool.
Before you import your contact list, or spend a large amount of time writing and crafting an email newsletter in the system, just give it a testdrive. Add one contact that you would like to stay in touch with and try to send an email to them. That may not sound like much fun but a quick testdrive could save an expensive time investment in getting started with a tool that isn’t going to work for you.
- How easy is it for you to add someone to your list or for them to add themselves?
- How are you going to get them to add themselves? Does it help you do that or have integrations to aid that?
Then decide. If you like it, stick with it. Learn it. Import your contacts, design and send out your first email. Learn how to make it work for your business and read up on the free information they provide. If you get stuck, get help.
Some important information on email marketing:
Email has been used as a marketing tool since online marketing first came about and it is still one of the most relied upon marketing methods. It also means there is a tonne of information, resources and ideas around email marketing freely available online. This includes: when to send emails, what subject lines to use, the length of your email and more.
Not all of that advice is applicable to your business. You know your business and your customers (well, I hope you do!) and so trust your instinct, create emails that are useful to them and that they will thank you for sending them. If different customers need different emails – then do that (it is called segmenting your list). One of the biggest myths about email marketing is that every inbox is swamped and people simply don’t read marketing emails. If that was true, they wouldn’t get sent. One of the best things you can do to improve customer service and referral business is to stay in touch with customers (and potential customers) in a way that makes them grateful for your ongoing communication.