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Choosing the best email marketing software for a small business

Email marketing is one of the most cost-effective ways to communicate with your customers meaning it can also produce a very high return-on-investment (ROI) when used correctly. According to HubSpot, 99% of consumers check their emails every day. However, with lots of companies offering email marketing software, which one is the best for your business?

What is email marketing?

Have you checked your inbox recently? It’s quite likely there’s an unread email from a business promoting their brand. What they’re doing is email marketing. 

Whilst other forms of communication have emerged in the last decade – instant messaging and social media – email remains one of the predominant ways in which we share and receive information. That’s why billions and emails are sent and received every day. 

For businesses, it’s a highly popular marketing channel because it’s cheap, quick, converts well, and allows us you to communicate at scale. Whatever your business, it makes sense to make the most of email.   

However, given our inboxes are already rammed, it’s not just a case of telling the world about your products and hitting send. 

How can email marketing software help to grow my business?

There are lots of different ways to use your email software provider (ESP) to grow your business by generating interest and sales.

Grow your database

Unlike your social media channels, you own and can manage your database of contacts in your ESP.

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The more subscribers you have, the better, provided they are relevant and interested in what you have to say. Grow your database with tools like dedicated website landing pages and pop-up forms. Tell people what to expect to receive from you to incentivise them to opt-in and then deliver it.

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Share content

Send emails that people look forward to receiving with information that is useful and interesting to them.

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Yes, there are spam filters and yes, inboxes are crowded places but you’re not relying on algorithms and high spends for your emails to appear in front of your audience.

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Integrate with your other channels

Email can (and should be) easily integrated with your other digital marketing channels so that they can all work to complement each other.

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For example, paid ads can drive sign-ups to your database, social media supports your communication with your customers, email drives traffic to your website. Your branding, tone of voice and messages should be consistent across all channels.

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Test and track

You can’t get better at something unless you try and you can’t improve on your results if you don’t know what they are in the first place.

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You can find lots of advice about best practice but there are going to be elements of trial and error. Finding out what works and what doesn’t for you and learning from it.

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What makes a great email software provider?

To answer this question we should first look at what makes a great email. Think about what functionality you require from your ESP based on what you want to use your email marketing for and achieve with it.

  • Well designed
  • Tailored to the audience 
  • A catchy subject line and preheader text 
  • Interesting content 
  • An effective call-to-action 
  • Sent at the right time 
  • Works across email providers and for mobile
  • Complies with GDPR

Checklist: What to consider when choosing an email marketing platform

With so many companies out there all offering a wide range of features, here are some of the things you’ll need to consider before choosing the best ESP for your small business.

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The 10 best email marketing tools

There are lots of ESPs out there, but here’s a quick run through of some of the most popular. 

  • Campaign Monitor

    Best for delivering to large databases without needing any technical expertise for design and reporting. 

  • Mailchimp

    Easy to use and with a vast selection of marketing templates and guides. It’s best for start-ups and has good integration with online shopping websites like Shopify.

  • Send In Blue

    Send In Blue is brilliant for automated, transactional emails (giving customers information after they have taken a specific action) and you can also send SMS messages from the same platform.

  • Drip

    Drip is best for e-commerce businesses with very good automation and personalisation features.

  • Constant Contact

    Perfect for small businesses, non-profits and bloggers. They have a great onboarding and support team to get you started and for ongoing help.

  • ConvertKit

    With its advanced segmentation and funnels, it’s great for bloggers and content creators.

  • HubSpot

    Best for B2B service-led companies who are focused on driving high-value inbound leads. Their email marketing tool is free but beware of steep price hikes if you want to add other marketing tools.

  • Moosend

    Best for beginners, small agencies, travel companies, publishers and not-for-profits (they offer a generous 25% discount for non-profits). They have lots of features but a limited level of analytics.

  • Get Response

    Good usability and affordability. Its best feature is the workflow builder tool allowing you to create automated email funnels.

  • Autopilot

    Best for working out marketing automation and workflows in a fun way with team collaboration and it has great reporting.

What do email marketing tools cost? 

Let’s look at the pricing structures of each of these email marketing tools and how much they give away for free. 

ESP

Price 

Free package or trial? 

Best for… 

Campaign Monitor 

£9/mo – Basic (up to 2,500 emails a month)

£29/mo – Unlimited 

£139/mo – Premier

Free to set up an account and send to up to 5 subscribers. 

Affordability for large databases. 

Mailchimp

From £9.99/mo (50k contacts)

From £14.99/mo (100k contacts)

From £299/mo (200k contacts)

Free for up to 2,000 contacts.

Easy of use, affordability and marketing guides. 

Send In Blue

£15/mo – Lite (40,000 emails a month)

£23/mo – Essential (60,000) 

£39/mo – Premium (120,000)

Free for up to 300 emails a day. 

Affordability, automation and easy of use. 

Drip

From £40*/mo and climbing to £1166*/mo+ depending on the number of contacts. (Approx. based on exchange rate on 13/05/20).   

Free trial for 14 days. 

Automation and personalisation. 

Constant Contact 

From £15/mo to £215/mo depending on the number of contacts (up to 50k).

The first month is free.

Affordability and support. 

ConvertKit 

£24 – £3183/mo (scale from 501-1m contacts).

(Approx. based on exchange rate on 13/05/20).  

Free for up to 500 subscribers. 

Managing contacts. 

HubSpot

Free CRM software. 

Free CRM software.

High-level reporting. 

Moosend

£7-£487/mo (1000+ to 200k subscribers). 

(25% discount for non-profits.)

(Approx. based on exchange rate on 13/05/20).  

Free for up to 1000 subscribers. 

Affordability for small businesses. 

Get Response 

£12-£465/mo depending on list size (>100k) and features required. 

(18% and 30% discounts for 12 or 24-month sign-ups.)

(Approx. based on exchange rate on 13/05/20).  

Free 30-day trial for any plan. 

2-months free for Enterprise custom price package (100k+ contacts). 

Automation and affordability. 

Autopilot 

£40/mo – 2,000 contacts

£120/mo – 5,000 contacts 

£200/mo – 10,000 contacts

(10%/20% discount for committing to/paying for a year up front.)

(Approx. based on exchange rate on 13/05/20).  

Free 30-day trial for any plan. 

Work-flow automation and collaboration. 

Choosing the best email marketing tool for my business

Email is an essential marketing channel that’s easy to use and to control. Email isn’t dead but outdated practices are. Emails need to be beautifully designed, GDPR-compliant with thought put into the content and funnels. Take advantage of all the training and support that is on offer and keep learning as you go by looking at your analytics. 

When choosing an email marketing provider, think not only about your needs now but what your requirements might be for the future in terms of features and contact numbers and look at how this will affect pricing. It might be difficult to change providers once you’ve got used to one.

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