Contrary to popular belief, email is alive and well. In fact, email marketing remains the largest driver of ROI for small businesses.
“RESEARCH SHOWS THAT OF ALL MARKETING ACTIVITIES EMAIL MARKETING DELIVERS THE BEST ROI. MANY SMBS USE EMAIL MARKETING AS A LOW-COST METHOD OF STAYING IN TOUCH WITH THEIR CUSTOMERS AND POTENTIAL CUSTOMERS. USUALLY, COMPANIES WILL ADVERTISE AN EMAIL OPT-IN ON THEIR SITE AND BUILD THEIR DATABASE THAT WAY. AS NEW OFFERS AND PRODUCT UPDATES ARISE, RELEVANT SEGMENTS OF THE DATABASE WILL BE SENT EMAILS.”
Why does email marketing works so well? For starters, frequency. At least 91% of consumers check their email daily! But, more importantly, email opens a new and valuable channel that helps businesses engage with customers.
Effective email marketing engages with existing and prospective consumers organically. To kickstart any email strategy, consumers must create and build a distribution list based on customers opting into the communication. Yes, as a business owner, you own your distribution list (not a third party platform). For example, over the last few years, companies relied on Facebook for communication. Yet, when Facebook changes their algorithm, their visibility suffers and their business frequently fails. However, a business owns (and works hard to obtain) their distribution list. As a result, take pride in your contacts and reap the rewards. Email converts better because people choose to stay informed!
As a result, email marketing remains the dominant customer communication channel. But, only if an effective strategy and approach occurs.
How do I start email marketing?
First and foremost, start with a plan. Any effective email marketing plan must include a desired outcome, along with action-oriented tactics that help grow your email list. Although services sell distribution lists, this tactic remains ineffective at delivering a high ROI.
“PURCHASED LISTS ARE INEFFECTIVE. IF YOU SEND EMAILS TO A LIST OF PEOPLE WHOSE CONTACT INFO YOU BOUGHT, MANY OF THE EMAILS WILL GET IDENTIFIED AS SPAM. SOME SPAM FILTERS WILL FLAG A CAMPAIGN IF ANYONE WITH THE SAME IP HAS SENT SPAM IN THE PAST. WHEN YOU USE [AN EMAIL PROVIDER, SUCH AS MAILCHIMP], YOUR EMAIL IS DELIVERED THROUGH OUR SERVERS, SO IF ONE PERSON SENDS SPAM, IT COULD PREVENT OTHER USERS’ EMAILS FROM REACHING INBOXES.”
Next, realize that a successful email strategy requires time. Why? Building an email list from scratch takes time and patience, but ultimately yields exceptional rewards. For example, customers or potential customers “opt-in” and want to remain informed about your company, services and products. Additionally, email campaigns build trust over time. For example, many companies think about the next sale as the most important step. Yet, effective email marketing typically starts with a “get to know you” period through a Welcome series. These provide an authentic way to share the story behind the brand and the why you are in business.
Email Template Design Tips
Finally, create an email template that reflects your brand, voice and strategy. Fortunately, many
- Deliver Clean & Concise Content – the most effective emails deliver a clean and concise message.
- Include the Right Call to Action (CTA) – understand why you are sending the email and be sure the CTA aligns with the purpose of the message.
- Personalization – personalization relies on obtaining real customer information because eventually enhanced email options, which drive results, rely on accurate information.
- Ensure Responsive Design – always preview the email on desktop, mobile and tablet views and keep in mind people read emails on different devices during the design phase.
Fortunately, most of the most respected and comprehensive email marketing software provides offers a plethora of design options, along with free-to-paid plans.
Are there any free email marketing services?
Like all software services in the digital age, email marketing companies offer freemium models. For companies growing their email distribution list, then many of the following email service providers offer a tremendous opportunity.
The best email marketing software providers include lots of easy-to-use design features that help any novice marketer create an amazing email template and manage distribution lists. Additionally, the most useful email software providers create widgets that work with CMS tools and easily fit into websites built on common programming (like WordPress). As a result, marketers can simply add an email sign up form to their site, which obviously helps generate more email opt-ins.
Also, the best email providers enable customization as well. Therefore, as your email campaigns develop, marketers can work with their development team and make custom features that work within their existing operations. From offering basic necessities that jumpstart an email campaign to advanced features and customization, look for an email provider that grows with your ambitions.
What are the top free email marketing service providers?
So, where should new marketers begin? Start with a quick search and start reviewing the most well rated email providers. Review the initial pricing plans and think how your email strategy will grow. For example, certain offerings charge per email, so if you plan to start slow and send monthly updates, then this might be an option. Conversely, for some businesses, sending weekly (or possibly daily) email updates mean a fixed monthly cost makes sense.
Therefore, while reviewing email providers, think about your strategy and how you’ll send email (and who will send the emails). For example, think about the user interface and the intuitive nature of building the email template or updating each email campaign. Finally, sign up for free trials and test the functionality prior to actually kicking off your customer campaigns.
So, what are some of the top email providers?
“We make email marketing easier, faster, and, well, funner. Awe-inspiring templates. Easy-to-use editor. Powerful list-building tools. Expert advice and live support. Constant Contact delivers everything you need to connect with customers, grow your business, and watch big-time results pour in—in real time. So pop some popcorn. It doesn’t get more fun than that.”
Constant Contact remains one of the most notable email platforms because it works. In particular, for anyone looking to get started, the free email marketing plans allow teams to build their distribution list without worrying about monthly costs.
“Design for the business you want to be. You don’t have to be a designer or tech whiz to use Mailchimp. Our design tools make it easy to create sophisticated campaigns that shine a light on the best of your business. With millions of customers come millions of insights. Mailchimp puts your data to work so you can gather insights on your most successful campaigns and get personalized advice for your next move.”
Mailchimp remains one of the primary options for any team starting their email marketing program because the software remains simple and intuitive. Plus, Mailchimp includes all of the main features as part of the free email pricing option as long as the distribution list remains within the free tier.
“Simplify the way you drive customer engagement and achieve your business goals with email marketing campaigns. Enjoy powerful, yet straightforward segmentation, flexible and frustration-free campaign editing, and actionable analytics, all powered by a leading email marketing services. Additionally, understanding email marketing campaign performance is critical to optimizing engagement and demonstrating results. With our email marketing service, key metrics are at your fingertips.”
SendGrid continues to gain in popularity because the platform offers enhanced analytics. Again, setting up an email campaign is pretty intuitive, which is vital to any teams new to the email space. Ultimately, SendGrid stands by their service because it is trusted by developers and marketers for time-savings, scalability, and delivery expertise.
“MailJet is an easy-to-use all-in-one e-mail platform. With our transactional and marketing e-mail solution, it’s never been easier to get your emails into the inbox! That’s why we created Mailjet in 2010, to build simple email experiences with a powerful impact. Today’s best teams thrive on collaboration, which is why our technology brings Marketers and Developers together on one platform to accelerate their business growth with email.”
MailJet, which operates in over 150 countries, provides a comprehensive email solution for any marketing team. Additionally, MailJet stands out by offering unlimited contacts (including in the free email services) and allows up 6,000 emails per month. However, some of the more advanced features are only available in the paid plans.
“SendPulse offers a drag and drop email editor allows you to quickly and easily create professional email templates. You do not need technical skills or HTML knowledge to create a template. Also, with Automation 360 you can set up email send-out, web push notifications, and SMS flows depending on variables, events, and the actions your users take. Analyze the activity of your subscribers, segment your mailing list, and use a personal approach in working with them. Plus, address your customers by name, inserting any information you have about them into your emails. Finally, create a unique subscription form using your corporate colors and style. Place it on your site, collect subscribers, and send emails to them.”
SendPulse is relatively new to the email marketing. As a result, it includes some generous options within the free email marketing plan. For example, the free plan includes up to 15,000 emails per month (up to 2,500 subscribers). Additionally, SendPulse includes some advanced features like SMS texts and push notifications (however, these are part of the paid plans).
“SendinBlue empowers businesses to build and grow relationships through marketing campaigns, transactional messaging and marketing automation. Our platform combines a robust suite of email and SMS messaging services within a single, user-friendly solution. Plus, no technical skills required because users simply drag and drop the design blocks you want to build a sleek and well-designed newsletter in just a few clicks. SendinBlue allows you to collect the email addresses and contact information from prospective customers and subscribers with ease. Go further with SendinBlue with advanced features like marketing automation. Optimize your contact management with personalized workflows: SendinBlue offers out-of-the-box 8 automation workflow templates to improve your user experience with just a few clicks. Try everything from welcome emails, abandoned cart reminders, and more; the possibilities are endless.”
SendinBlue offers more than email marketing software because the company also offers SMS marketing software. As a result, SendinBlue provides an intuitive and comprehensive platform with drag and drop tools that allow marketers to create highly-engaging emails, build automated workflows and segment users.
“MailerLite started as a web design agency, but soon discovered email marketing and fell in love with it. Additionally, MailerLite was born in 2010 to give businesses a simple yet powerful email solution to help them grow. MailerLite provides all the latest email marketing features designed to help you grow subscribers and build stronger relationships. Sign up for a free account to try everything including our Drag & Drop Editor and Automation features. Forget about hiring a designer. Our Drag & Drop editor allows you to build professional and beautiful newsletters on your own. No HTML skills required!”
MailerLite focuses on complete email solutions that help novie email marketers. For example, MailerLite offers unlimited emails within their free email marketing plan (up to 1,000 subscribers), which means new marketers have ample time to learn the ropes prior to requiring a paid plan. However, MailerLite does limit some of the advanced features of some other email marketing providers.
“With ConvertKit, it’s easy to customize and embed forms on your website to turn casual readers into subscribers. Don’t have a website? You can build a landing page to start growing your list today. Additionally, ConvertKit helps marketers understand their audience through tags and segments. This helps organize your subscribers based on their interests, activity, and more. Finally, ConvertKit helps teams increase conversions with automated emails that feel personal. The software includes visual automation tools that make email marketing simple. With your funnels laid out on the screen you will always know where your subscribers are and can start to understand how they act.”
ConvertKit helps novice email marketers get started with an easy to use product, which includes advanced features that allows campaigns to expand through customized automation.
“GetResponse offers a complete suite of simple-yet-powerful solutions, scaled and customized for small and large companies. Our tools are designed for organizations that want to implement effective, high-impact campaigns that drive marketing ROI. GetResponse email marketing and online campaign management platform helps entrepreneurs build targeted subscriber lists and send high-impact newsletters, video emails, and follow-up campaigns. It offers marketing automation, responsive email design, hundreds of ready-to-use email templates, landing page creator, and useful statistical analysis tools.”
GeResponse stands out from the crowd based on their technology and customer service. For example, GetResponse take pride in their consistent 99% deliverability rate and 24/7 chat help. Plus, the platform includes all of the essential building blocks any marketer needs to run a successful email campaign.
“Beautiful email marketing is only the beginning. Send newsletters and messages targeted to each contact’s interests. Make every campaign you send feel personal. Plus, ActiveCampaign helps marketers make meaningful connections with your customers and answer questions, recommend products, offer sales, or ask for feedback at the exact moment they’re most engaged. Additionally, ActiveCampaign includes automation tools that make it easy to run your marketing. It allows teams to set up a welcome series with email automation, segment your contacts, or use simple workflows to automate the marketing no one has time for. Finally, a CRM with email and sales automation keeps all your customer data organized in one platform so you can manage your pipelines, update deals, and always follow up at the perfect moment.”
ActiveCampaign provides a tremendous platform for small businesses that want a meaningful email marketing strategy. The tools help teams save time, connect with customers and grow revenues.
“As the first and only e-commerce customer relationship manager (ECRM), we have some explaining to do. In short, we’ve built a platform that brings people closer to their customers than they’ve ever been before. The CRMs you might’ve seen around focus on managing relationships between businesses. Interactions are steely, monotone, overly automated—pretty much the opposite of what most businesses want to come off as. Embrace true marketing automation with our visual workflow builder. You’ll easily design comprehensive, custom email campaigns and simplify your sales funnel.”
Drip differs slightly from the other email marketing services because the technology targets e-commerce companies. The automation includes intuitive tools that help manage the headaches of customer interactions throughout the buying process.