SHEvooking Secrets: Email Marketing Tools for Small Businesses

A few weeks ago we wrote about our favorite freebie tools for small businesses and within days we started receiving emails from readers thanking us for the post (thank you readers!).

Some of you had particularly strong feelings about email marketing and we decided to take your questions and turn them into our next blog post (since you know we believe in sharing knowledge). We also figured this would be a great time to share with you a few of our favorite email marketing tools for small businesses so you can choose the one that works for you.


So here we go with question #1 from Eli in Jerusalem: Isn’t email marketing spam?


 

Spam-CanWell, technically no (even though as an end user you may think so). While many define spam as unwanted emails, it’s actually used to describe unsolicited emails with the key difference being whether or not you signed up to receive something from the supposedly spammy company. So as long as you get your leads in a legitimate way, you’re good. What are legitimate ways? If you have an email capture form on your website for example (like the one you were probably prompted to fill out on our site), if you have a lead generation landing page that collects emails, or if you have clients willingly sign up to receive information from you.


Question #2 from Liat in Ramat Gan: How can I tell if my email marketing tool is good?


 

This question really got us thinking. Instead of a long winded answer, we want to give you guys a bullet list of things to keep in mind when examining email marketing tools for your small business:

  • Free Trial: This is the first thing you should look for when examining email marketing tools. If they let you test it for free, you know they are confident in their product. Test drive multiple tools until you find the one you like more.
  • CAN SPAM Compliance: worried about spam? Make sure the email marketing tool you select complies with CAN SPAM acts.
  • List Organization and Segmentation: If you have multiple user segments and want to send emails to individuals that meet particular criteria, be sure to find an email marketing tool that lets you segment within your list.
  • Split Testing: We’re huge fans of split testing and you should be too. If you’re email marketing tool lets you split test subject lines/layouts and headers, it’s already better than most.
  • Contract: if you’re in the market, consider the contract conditions of email marketing tools. You’re better off seeking for a tool that lets you pay month to month if you’re not 100% sure you want to commit.
  • Responsive Design: want to make sure your audience can see your email no matter what device? You’d be surprised to discover that some companies don’t automatically optimize your email. That’s why you need to see if your selected email marketing tool is mobile optimized
  • Social Media Integration: have a strong Facebook page? Want to drive more Twitter followers? Be sure the email marketing tool you’re examining can integrate with your social media networks

Question #3 from Mark (somewhere on this earth): What email marketing tools can you recommend?


 

Well, we already recommended mailchimp, but we decided to go ahead and compare a few more email marketing tools we love so you can make the choice for yourself.

MailChimp (you knew we would start with this).

downloadPros: We love the money (ok that’s not a real deal breaker) but the overall UI is fantastic. The site is designed with the customer in mind and that’s really clear with the incredible detail in customer convenience. Everything is easy to use and you’d have to go out of your way to not understand something. We also love the fact that MailChimp integrates with over 100 applications (including our favorite Google Analytics) which is really helpful. Mailchimp is also mobile optimized and gives you tons of free templates you can modify with their drag-and-drop editor.

Cons: The one thing MailChimp is lacking is advanced reporting. While its fun to see who opened your email and how many times, the more you get involved in email marketing an creating a sales funnel, the more you’ll want to know. Mailchimp doesn’t really let you track the life cycle of a lead. Also, it’s difficult to build automated sales funnels in MailChimp (have to integrate to a third party application).

Constant Contact (basically the bigdaddy of email marketing)

Pros: Constnat contact has been around forever. They are basically the go-to name for email marketing and with (pretty) good reason. Constnat Contact has amazing customer support (phone/email/chat 24/7) and they have a really friendly staff on site. The Constant Contact template builder is really intuitive and lets you modify basically anything you want. They also have an easy to use mobile app that gets what you need done on the go; pretty convenient if you’re addicted to seeing reports, sending emails etc no matter where you are.

Cons: For such an experienced company, Constant Contact really dropped the ball in terms of split testing. You can’t test email subject lines (which is the most important thing in email marketing) or email layouts or anything really. Basically an epic fail on their part.

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AWeber (A go-to for lots of companies)

Pros: AWeber has a really great RSS Feed integration which is awesome if you have a blog you want to share in your newsletter. AWeber can automatically push the blogs saving you loads of time. They have a really great quarterly plan which could be a better way to test out their product (beyond their $1 one-month trial). Their social media integration is top notch (and they also let you integrate with loads of other applications like Google Checkout, PayPal andmore). They boast insane deliverability rates which is really what makes them a leader in email marketing (99% is damn near perfect).

Cons: Not being super intuitive is ok, but not having guides along the way isn’t. AWeber doesn’t offer wizards for set up or help-me guides for email campaigns. Also, despite being one of the leaders in their industry, users get the “oops we’re down” message more often than they’d like. Not the most convenient thing in the world (but it happens to everyone).


Question #4 From Jessica in Argentina: Is it better to send an email out from a company or an individual?


 

Untitled2This is a question we’ve heard many times over the years and there is no definitive answer. It really depends on whether the company brand name is easily identifiable to your audience. A super well known company like HubSpot did a comparison and saw slightly higher open and click through rates from emails send from Maggie Georgieva than from the HubSpot brand name.

This doesn’t mean that for you it’ll yield the same results – that’s where split testing companies in. to really know what works best for your brand, A/B testing the sender name is going to help you out.


Question #5 (and our last one because we’ve nearly quadrupled the size of this post from our original intention) from Penelope in Los Angeles: What is a good click through rate?


 

UntitledWell we saved this for last because it’s the most difficult one to answer. There is no “good” rate or bad rate (0% is certainly a bad rate) – it really depends on the type of email, the audience, the number of times you email the list and a dozen other factors. That being said, SmartInsights released an email statistic update this past August with some key benchmarks.

 

We hope this helps you understand email marketing tools a little more! Don’t forget, you can always email us at hello@SHEvooking.com if you’re unsure about something! We’re here for you guys!

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