Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Email Marketing platforms for Small Business, that you shoud know!

Verbuzz_Email marketing platform
As a small business owner, there are few things that you need to focus on:

a.    How to spread the word about my business.
b.    How to make people subscribe to my list or blog.
c.    How to keep my subscriber list, stay interested.

Although there are million ways to achieve these goals, email is one of the classic and most effective. If you are still thinking about direct mailings, you should think again! Most people I know have stopped subscribing for paper bills and subscribe only to online bills and posts. Why waste time with the hassle of printing information and shelling out money for direct mail campaigns?
Statistics reveal that communicating through email is more personal and has a higher success rate of influencing a person compared with social media. This is one of the few (comment: do you mean to say many? If not, just say “one of the reasons.” The word few emphasizes the wrong thing) reasons that email marketing is still very sought after and will never die.

Based on my experience, I have classified a few email marketing platforms based on factors like price, free usage (comment: price and free usage are kind of the same category so maybe just use “price”, email campaign creation, campaign reporting, ease of use, support and feature set (comment: what is support and feature set?).

Free Usage:


If you are a small business with a limited number of subscribers, you might want to take a look at using Mail Chimp. I like Mail Chimp for their beautiful designs, creativity and ease of use. They have a huge collection of pre-designed beautiful templates, embedded with social and reporting features. For the first 12,000 mailings? and 2,000 subscribers, it is free. It is even better with a Wordpress site, as there are ready-to-install plug-ins (comment: you might want to flesh this out ... someone like me wouldn’t know what you mean that Mail Chimp is better with a Wordpress site ... i.e. do you mean “it is even better when used in conjunction with the Wordpress website ... and then elaborate a little more on that).

If you are looking for a service that allows your Facebook fans subscribe to your newsletter, you might want to take a look at Campaign Monitor.  A imitation with this service is that in free usage there are only a few design template options . If you’e a designer, you’re in luck -- customized designs can be uploaded and can also be created with their API (comment: your audience probably knows what API is?). Basic plan starts from $9 a month (2500 emails, limited account). It’s worth a shot to create a free account and try out their features.

Elite has a collection of well designed templates (300+ for a premium account?), social sharing, analysis features with Geo reports (comment: they know what a geo report is, and does it need to be capitalized?), personalized account manager and a live chat feature. With a premium account, you also get access to live reports (comment: what kind of live reports? .  A ree account lets you send an email to 500 contacts. In a free account, campaigns can be created from a set of 40 pre-designed  templates. Designs are not unique (comment: what does that mean?).
Snapshot of Features at a Premium Level (comment: what about “Snapshot of Features at a Premium Level”?:


Based on research done by TopTen REVIEWS, I have put together a list of features offered by leading email marketing service providers.



Newsletter
Service Provider
Pros Cons
IContact Rich library of tools for designers, marketers or beginners. No statistics on conversion rates.
Benchmark Video, image and customization that is unique for the company can be done Though conversion tracking is not available, it is integrated with Google Analytics to give an idea about how Email campaigns are influencing purchase decisions
Constant Contact Integrated with applications to create by using CSS, Designer mode or XHTML. The Google Analytics report is not integrated in Constant Contact emails.
PinPointe Manages your subscriber list and helps in sending out the most effective marketing pieces. Provided with telephone support. Emails are responded to very quickly by customer service.
Get Response Easy to understand reports with graphs and pie charts are available and help in optimizing marketing campaigns. Auto responder emails can be sent out to follow-up with subscribers. Automatic emails cannot be sent.
Mailigen Emails can be posted to social accounts automatically. Better target marketing campaigns can be sent using dynamic content feature, detailed reports, easy-to-use templates and lists. No automated split testing is available.
Vertical Response Marketing materials can be created using creation wizard, HTML code or plain text. Vital information does not show up until the end of the process.
Mad Mimi Good technical support and is integrated with an option to create emails using a template or HTML code. More basic design features.



Features:


Email Campaign Creation:


If email campaign creation is your priority, you might want to consider the providers that offer the services below:
Let us look at our next feature, Campaign reporting

 Features like:
  • Opened emails
  • Forwarded emails
  • Bounced emails
  • Unsubscribed contacts
  • Export reports
  • Social media integration
  • Click through tracking
  • Delivered/ undeliverable
  • Comparison of message reports

are available in all email marketing service providers such as iContact, Benchmark Email, Constant Contact, Get Response, Mailigen, Vertical Response and Mad Mimi.


Ease of Use:


In terms of Ease of Use, iContact and Benchmark Email appears? to be the best option.

Contact Management Options:

Managing a huge subscriber list is one of the biggest challenges in email marketing. One of the core functionality of these newsletter providers is to simplify this complexity. Let us take a look at a few of these features, available in these five newsletter service providers mentioned above.

  1. Import mailing list – from excel spreadsheet, text file or CSV
  2. Remove unsubscribed contacts
  3. Group email contacts – nothing works better than categorization
  4. Custom demographic fields – target to a particular group based on their demographic
  5. informationSaves the time
  6. Require opt-in – Lets people unsubscribe from the list. This feature is not available in PinPointe service

Email Sending Features:

  • Email sending features such as:
  • Email job scheduling
  • Email alias creation
  • Test Email
  • SPAM test
are provided by the above-mentioned newsletter service providers

Let’s not forget to take a look at the help and support features. If you have a subscriber list that exceeds a few thousand, it gets cumbersome to manage. It is best to go for a newsletter service provider who hasunique of customer service.

Some of the features offered by above mentioned newsletter service providers:
live chat
email/ online form
phone
articles / resources
online community


Monthly Pricing Options:

 

Up to 500 contacts:






IContact
- $14.00
Benchmark
- $9.95
Constant Contact
- $15.00
PinPointe
- Free
Get Response
- Free
Mailigen
- $10.00
Vertical Response
- $7.50
Mad Mimi
- $8.00




Up to 1000 contacts:






IContact
- $19.00
Benchmark 
- $12.95
Constant Contact
- $30.00
PinPointe
- Free
Get Response
- $15.00
Mailigen
- $25.00
Vertical Response
- $15.00
Mad Mimi
- $10.00




Up to 2500 contacts:






IContact
- $29.00
Benchmark 
- $19.95
Constant Contact
- $30.00
PinPointe
- Free
Get Response
- $25
Mailigen
- $25.00
Vertical Response
- $32.50
Mad Mimi
- $14.00




Up to 5000 contacts:






IContact
- $47.00
Benchmark Email
- $35.00
Constant Contact
- $50.00
PinPointe
- $49.00
Get Response
- $45.00
Mailigen
- $40.00
Vertical Response
- $90.00
Mad Mimi
- $24.00




Up to 10,000 contacts:






IContact
- $74.00
Benchmark email
- $60.00
Constant Contact
- $75.00
PinPointe
- $79.00
Get Response
- $65.00
Mailigen
- $60.00
Vertical Response
- $120.00
Mad Mimi
- $36.00




Up to 25,000 contacts:





IContact
- $149.00
Benchmark
- $112.00
Constant Contact
- $150.00
PinPointe
- $150.00
Get Response
- $145.00
Mailigen
- $120.00
Vertical Response
- $300.00
Mad Mimi
- $75.00

 


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