Email marketing is an essential tool in your business. Finding the right email marketing provider for you will ensure that you gain the most from sending emails.
There are many email marketing providers, also called email service providers (ESPs) to choose from and in this article I will give you my recommendations.
Once you know the possibilities that the ESP can open to you, you’ll have so many ideas on how you can use the features to grow your business.
Why do you have to use an Email Service Provider?
I’ve been asked before “why can’t I just use my gmail to bulk send to everyone?”. Well, email marketing can collect a lot of data about subscribers and we have to be mindful of GDPR and other local laws to protect this data. Email service providers make it easy to do this.
One feature you must have on every marketing email is a unsubscribe link, a link you don’t have if you are using Gmail or another internet email service such as Outlook.
Plus, there is so much an ESP allows you to do to give subscribers a great experience and to help you make sales that just isn’t there in an internet email service.
What to look for for in an email marketing provider
One of the main uses of email marketing is to send a regular ‘newsletter’. The tech needs to be simple yet allow you to create and send well-designed campaigns. I find a drag and drop editor is best for this.
To grow your list, people add their email to an opt-in form. Ideally a good email marketing provider lets you create multiple forms easily, without the need for a third party tool.
Automation is where email marketing really works for you and so you need a provider that gives you the ability to create multiple email sequences with ease.
Deliverability is key otherwise no-one will see your campaigns. You need to look for a provider that has a high success of delivering emails.
Let’s have a look at my favourites and why I suggest using them.
Rather than list a whole load of email marketing providers, I’ve mentioned the four that I like working with.
Mailerlite is one of my favourite platforms. Ideal if you are just beginning to use email marketing but robust enough for some more advanced needs.
The interface is the most modern of all email marketing platforms I’ve looked at recently. Their drag and drop editor makes campaign building a breeze.
When you are sending a campaign, it’s straightforward to choose tags and segment to send to.
Mailerlite gives you the ability to build multiple opt-in forms with their beautiful forms builder, along with landing pages too, that easily integrate with your list. Unlike some providers, landing pages are available on the free plan. No coding knowledge required at all.
In terms of deliverability, Mailerlite recently topped the deliverability charts with 97% of emails reaching people’s inboxes.
You can integrate Stripe and use Mailerlite to sell digital products and subscriptions.
Mailerite has a free plan for up to 1000 subscribers. Pro plans starts at $10 per month. Support is excellent with quick responses via online chat on the pro plan.
If your business is ecommerce then I do recommend Klaviyo as your first choice for email marketing.
Whilst other email marketing providers do a good job at integrating with ecommerce platforms, it’s Klaviyo’s reporting that’s makes it the ESP for ecommerce.
The data that Klaviyo providers on your customers allows you to create detailed segments to send to. Segments are crucial in personalisation. You may be sending to hundreds or thousands of people but each email needs to speak to the individual subscriber.
The platform is relatively easy to use and provides users with a wide variety of nicely designed templates for emails and opt-in forms.
With Klaviyo you can also send SMS text messages. Text marketing is used widely in the US and although not as popular in the UK, it’s use is growing.
The team at Klaviyo host regular interactive trainings to help you make the most of the platform.
Klaviyo offers a free plan up to 250 contacts with 500 emails and 50 SMS sent per month. Pro plans start at $20 per month.
A very robust platform but probably not for complete beginners to email marketing.
ActiveCampaign is actually more than just an email sender; it encompasses a solid CRM system available on the higher plans.
The email editor is a little dated (I write this in Nov 21) although I understand a new modern editor is rolling out soon which would be most welcome. Opt-in forms are not very pretty and they do not provide you with templates. Some CSS knowledge could be useful to make them prettier, but not essential.
Where ActiveCampaign wins is with automations, with its extensive library of ‘recipes’, enabling you to build advanced email automations that allow your business to run on auto-pilot.
ActiveCampaign offers site tracking which is a powerful way to link your webpage activity to your emails. When contacts visit webpages, you can have highly personalised emails sent out to them automatically.
I tend not to recommend ActiveCampaign as my first choice but it’s definitely a provider to consider if your email marketing and CRM needs become more complex.
There is no free plan but plans start at only $108 for the year.
ConvertKit advertises itself as the email marketing provider for creators including bloggers, authors, course creators and musicians. In truth, any business can use make good use of ConvertKit.
Like Mailerlite, ConvertKit uses a tag-based system rather than having multiple lists. As with the other providers mentioned above, you can create broadcasts and automations.
ConvertKit has some lovely opt-in forms and landing page templates to help you grow your list or sell digital products. They’ve recently introduced pre-built visual automation templates that can help you achieve a specific goal.
With their automations, you create email sequences separately and then build the automations using those sequences. This makes it super easy to build similar automations using those sequences, where actions and rules may be different to other automations.
ConvertKit offer a basic free plan for up to 300 subscribers. Costs then start at $9 a month for the pro plan.
Whilst there is a cost to email marketing, try to think of it as an investment rather than an expense. Campaign Monitor reports that $1 spent can return $42, a ROI of 4200%!
My winner is Mailerlite but I recommend checking out the free trials that all these ESPs offer and see what works and feels right for you.
There is a learning curve to any ESP so do try them out. You’ll find one that you feel more comfortable with and has features that are most suitable to your business.
If you are yet to get going with email marketing, or if you’d like to change providers, and need some assistance then get in touch.