By Joe Dysart
The Top Five Solutions Available
Marketers looking for a reliable, state-of-the-art e-mail marketing solution have a ready resource: Capterra’s (www.capterra.com) 2015 list of the top five solutions on the market. Capterra specializes in advising businesses on the best software to buy. Heading the pack for e-mail marketing solutions is MailChimp, one of the pioneers in the industry, followed by Constant Contact, Vertical Response, Campaign Monitor and Get Response.
“E-mail marketing has proven itself to be not only a great way to reach customers old and new, but also a cost-effective marketing tactic, with an impressive average return of $40 for every $1 spent,” said Katie Hollar, director of marketing for Capterra.
Key features of the top five solutions include:
- The ability to preview and tweak how marketing e-mail will appear in popular e-mail clients such as Gmail, Hotmail, Outlook and the like.
- The convenience of predesigned e-mail templates that can be used to quickly drop in text and images and then e-mailed.
- Advanced analytics that enable tracking who’s opening your e-mails, who’s not, where they’re clicking in your e-mail, if they’re forwarding that e-mail to friends and more.
- Social-media integration, which enables you and the recipients to whom you’re sending to seed Facebook, Twitter and other social networks with your marketing promotions.
- User community forums—both company sponsored and independently operated—where you can trade tips and tricks with other users of your e-mail marketing solution.
A stalwart tool since the dawn of the web, e-mail marketing continues to be the go-to medium for companies looking to connect with customers and/or turn leads into sales, according to the “2015 State of Marketing Report” released by Salesforce Marketing Cloud (www.salesforce.com/form/marketingcloud/2015-state-of-marketing.jsp). Specifically, Salesforce researchers found that 73% of marketers see e-mail as a core component in their marketing toolboxes, and 20% cited e-mail marketing as their number-one source of revenue.
Salesforce also found that e-mails optimized for mobile—also known as responsive design—are becoming ever more important, given that 72% of U.S. adults now send or receive e-mails via smartphone at least once a week. Indeed, only 24% of marketers surveyed by Salesforce said that they rarely or never use responsive design. Most are already using e-mail designs that automatically configure for optimal viewing, depending on screen size.
Interestingly, researchers also found that the top uses of e-mail marketing are e-newsletters (66%), followed by general promotions (54%) and then welcome e-mails (42%).
The most effective e-mails, according to the survey, were mobile e-mails seeking an opt-in of some sort, such as an offer to subscribe to an e-newsletter (76%), followed by birthday e-mails (75%) and transactional e-mails (74%). Meanwhile, a similar study by BlueHornet (http://resources.bluehornet.com/bh/2015-consumer-views-report)—“2015 Consumer Views of E-Mail”—also uncovered a number of encouraging insights.
“We found that consumers are very digitally connected, checking their e-mails throughout the day and across devices, yet are surprisingly a bit unwilling to purchase via mobile devices,” said Mike Biwer, vice president and general manager of BlueHornet.
For example, 71% of consumers in the BlueHornet survey said that they do not maintain a separate e-mail address for marketing e-mails—indicating that marketers are reaching the inboxes that really matter to most recipients. One caveat: 44% of younger survey respondents (34 and under) do keep a separate e-mail address for marketing messages.
Consumers have also become “hyper-connected” to their e-mail and digital devices, with 34% of those surveyed saying that they check their e-mail continuously throughout the day and that they use their mobile devices for some sort of interaction 150 times per day.
Interestingly, despite the nonstop growth of mobile, 93% of those surveyed owned a laptop or desktop and used those same devices to check e-mail, although many of those same people also use mobile devices to check their e-mail as well, according to BlueHornet.
Equally surprising was device use among 18–24-year-olds. Often portrayed as growing up with a mobile device fused to their palms, 64% in that group nevertheless said that they use a laptop or desktop most often to check their e-mail, followed by smartphones (29%) and then tablets (7%).
While Capterra’s top five list of e-mail marketing solutions will probably be more than adequate for companies trying to reach consumers and or other businesses, firms with specialized needs can check out user reviews of more than 200 e-mail marketing programs at Capterra’s home page. Essentially, if there’s a highly specific e-mail marketing solution you need, chances are you’ll find it in Capterra’s tracking system.
Here’s a closer look at the Capterra’s top five most popular e-mail marketing solutions:
MailChimp (http://mailchimp.com): Free trial; $10 to $2,650/month, depending on the number of e-mails sent. Salient feature: If you send 12,000 e-mails or less per month to fewer than 2,000 recipients, you’re in luck: You can use MailChimp for free, forever. Downside: For small businesses, MailChimp can get expensive very quickly. You can send e-mails to 2,000 subscribers for free, but after that, the price jumps to $30 per month—a bit pricier than other services.
Constant Contact (www.constantcontact.com): Free trial; $35 to $8,235 per month, depending on the number of e-mails sent. Salient feature: Robust, excellent all-around solution. Downside: Constant Contact lacks the ability to do A/B testing, which enables you to send out two versions of the same marketing e-mail to see which works better.
Vertical Response (www.verticalresponse.com): Free trial; $22 per month and up, depending on the number of e-mails sent. Salient features: Successfully designed to integrate seamlessly with Salesforce. Also offers powerful surveying. Downside: Some users complain that access to Vertical Response’s social-media tools is not included in the entry-level plan—you need to subscribe to a premium plan for those.
Campaign Monitor (www.campaignmonitor.com): Free trial; $9 per month and up, depending on the number of e-mails sent. Salient feature: Strongly optimizes e-mails for viewing on mobile devices. Downside: Campaign’s $9 basic package enables you to send only 2,500 e-mails per month—a bit on the low side compared to many other solutions.
GetResponse (www.getresponse.com): free trial; $15 to $4,450 per month, depending on the number of e-mails sent. Salient feature: Extremely user-friendly dashboard, including large fonts and eyestrain-reducing design. Downside: GetResponse comes up a little short on tools specifically designed for organizing, promoting and managing live events.
Joe Dysart is an Internet speaker and business consultant based in Manhattan.