How We Chose the Best Email Marketing SoftwareFor small businesses, email campaigns are a key piece of a successful digital marketing strategy. When done correctly, they are an efficient, low-cost way to engage customers and clients, attract new business, and build your brand. With its various tools and functions, email marketing software is designed to help you easily manage your email campaigns. However, with so many email marketing companies available, choosing the one that’s best for your business can seem daunting. To help streamline the selection process, we created these recommendations based on three of the most important factors to look for in email marketing software.
Email Campaign Management ToolsA good ECM tool should have functionality that lets you engage with your email subscribers in the most optimal ways. Therefore, we looked for email marketing software that offers the most vital ECM tools, such as list segmentation, A/B testing, mailing list management through integration, tags, and list-building tools.
Marketing Automation ToolsUsing an ECM tool should make your life easier, and automation tools are a key part of making that happen. We prioritized inclusion on this list for ECM software that offers various automated protocols. This includes drip campaigns, which let you send messages to potential and new customers based on their status; auto-responders, for rapid responses to subscribers, and customer surveys, so you know where you stand with your clientele.
Campaign Performance ReportingWith all of the email marketing you’ll be doing once you get your software up and running, you’ll want to know if those emails are actually working. That’s why we also focused on ECM tools that include campaign performance reporting, so you have actionable data to help you make good strategic decisions.
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What is Email Marketing Software?
Email marketing software, also sometimes referred to as an email campaign marketing (ECM) tool, is an application that businesses, organizations, and individuals can use to plan and manage email marketing campaigns.
As a small business owner, email communications are one of the fastest and most cost-effective ways to engage current and prospective customers, promote your products and services, and increase your brand recognition. However, if you are single-handedly managing distribution lists, designing emails, and replying to every customer email individually, the task can quickly become overwhelming and disorganized.
The goal of email marketing software is to help you streamline those tasks, so your email communications are as effective and timely as possible. They offer services that let you automate responses, design and test different emails, and track click-throughs and response rates, so you know how well your emails are performing.
Whether you send a monthly e-newsletter to a small list of subscribers, or need dynamic communications for an audience of thousands, an email marketing software solution exists that will work for you. Many companies offer a range of different services tailored to business’ needs based on the number of subscribers or volume of emails they send.
Benefits of Email Marketing Software
Email marketing software offers numerous benefits that help make this essential form of communication even easier:
- Save money: According to marketing publications, emails generate around $37 billion in sales annually. With a lower overhead cost than direct mail campaigns or advertising, email marketing represents a significant return on investment.
- Deliver targeted messaging: Even if most customers know you’re not personally sending every email they receive, they appreciate receiving personalized, specific communications. You can build stronger customer relationships with the targeted messaging that ECM tools allow, without overburdening yourself or your team.
- Track your marketing performance: Without email marketing software, it’s hard to know who is opening your emails, clicking your links, and purchasing your products. Email marketing software has tools for tracking the performance of your email campaigns, so you know what you’re doing right, and what needs improvements.
- Stay organized and efficient: With so many responsibilities, your time won’t be well spent individually replying to new inquiries or manually entering new subscribers’ contact information. Once you set up your email marketing software, it will handle all of those tasks for you, so you can focus on other aspects of managing your business.
Must-have Features for Email Marketing Software
The email marketing solution that is right for your business will depend on your needs and preferences, but here are some essential features you should consider:
- Message automation: You will want an ECM tool that lets you set up automated responses for situations like new subscribers, transactions, reminders, or even personalized messages like birthday wishes.
- Advanced list maintenance tools: Another automated feature, list maintenance tools handle new subscriptions, unsubscribe requests, opt-outs, invalid email addresses, and more.
- Performance tracking tools: In order to make sure your email campaigns are successful, you need email marketing software with a reporting/analytics tool that lets you see how many of your emails are opened or bounced back, which links customers are clicking on, and more.
- CAN-SPAM compliance: In 2003, Congress passed the Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing (CAN-SPAM) Act. Selecting an email marketing software that is CAN-SPAM-compliant will help ensure that your emails are being sent in accordance with the law and best practices.
- Mobile optimization for email: Statistics show more and more customers view their emails on their smartphones, so it’s essential that your emails are optimized for viewing on phones as well as computers.
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The Cost of Email Marketing Software
The cost of email marketing software is typically based on the number of subscribers you have, the volume of emails you want to send, or the number of users on your team. Most companies offer a range of subscription plans, so you can choose the package that best suits your needs.
Prices usually start around $10 per month for basic packages, and increase to over $100 per month for more robust subscriptions. Free plans are available, but may have limited features and functionality. Enterprise packages, which are usually custom-designed, and can serve clients with huge subscriber lists, may cost thousands of dollars.
For small businesses, especially newer ones, basic or mid-tier level plans will usually suffice, although you should comparison shop several email marketing software companies to make sure you are getting the features you need for a price you can afford.
Taking advantage of free trials and demos is a great way to make sure you are getting your money’s worth before locking in a subscription to an ECM tool. Also, many companies will let clients upgrade, if they find a lower-level plan no longer meets their needs.