Which Email Newsletter Provider is Right For You?

If you’re a small business owner or entrepreneur doing endless Google searches and comparisons to find the right email marketing software for your business, we’re here to help you sort through the chaos. There are so many email tools out there, and the list just keeps growing – each showcasing different features, from list segmentation to automation to split testing. How do you know which one is right for you? You need to start with a strategy you feel comfortable with, then review some of the options.

Step One: Start Small

If you’re just getting started and have no email list, it can be overwhelming to pick a platform. If you don’t have clarity on what your business goals are, you won’t know what features you need in an email marketing software. Sometimes, it doesn’t make sense to invest in a more robust Client Relationship Management (CRM) system yet. For our clients who are just getting started in their businesses, we typically recommend starting with a free option and re-evaluating as your business grows. It’s much better to set up something that’s quick and simple to use so you can start growing a list, and escape from analysis paralysis! This also will allow you to focus on the key aspects of list building rather than get lost in fancy features.

Step Two: Dream Big

If you already have a 2,000+ subscriber email list or if your primary product is an online course or offering, you are probably going to need to invest in a paid email marketing software. You’ll need to think about the features you need to get to the next level in your business. How can you provide the most value for your customers via email? What will be most useful for you to nurture the relationships you have built? Think about where you are headed, and choose a platform that has the features you need now and for your continued growth.

Regardless of the stage of business you are in, it pays to have some knowledge of some of the big names in email marketing software so you can make an informed decision. Let’s review some of the options, moving from simplest to most complex systems.

SYSTEMS WHICH ARE SIMPLE + EASY TO USE

Mailchimp

We love Mailchimp because it is easy to set up, it integrates with everything, and it has a lot of features some of the larger email marketing systems offer, at a fraction of the price. The best part? Mailchimp is free for your first 2,000 subscribers, which means there is absolutely no reason why you can’t get it set up and integrated today.
PROS:

  • Easy to use
  • Drag + drop email template builder or text editor
  • Integrates with everything
  • Free up to 2,000 subscribers with up to 12,000 emails per month
  • Unlimited emails on every paid plan

CONS:

  • Cost increases rapidly with 2,000+ subscribers
  • No support for free plan
  • Less segmentation and tagging tools than other options
  • Charges multiple times if the same subscriber is on multiple lists
  • Some features not available on free plan
SYSTEMS WITH MORE FEATURES

ConvertKit

ConvertKit was built by bloggers for bloggers, and has grown quickly in users over the past few years because of its sophisticated segmentation and automation tools. This system features complex automation possibilities, so you can nurture your browsers into buyers based on their behavior and self-identified information.
PROS:

  • Designed for bloggers
  • Easy to create automated sequences
  • Easy to tag subscribers as they sign up based on where they were on your site or their information and what links they click in subsequent emails
  • Conditional content based on tags and segments
  • Fast support and concierge migrations for larger plans
  • Does not charge multiple times for the same subscriber in different segments

CONS:

  • Only text based emails. They offer research that text based emails are more personal and have better open rates, but if your business needs a more visual newsletter system, you won’t find it here.
  • No engagement score for subscribers, like some other options offer. This means you cannot sort your list easily by most engaged subscribers.
  • No CRM function on subscriber profiles
  • No free tier

Campaign Monitor

Campaign Monitor is a lightweight system with a beautiful interface that still offers tons of segmentation features and analytics. This system allows you to dig in to marketing automation and customer behavior data with a low starting cost and several pricing tiers.

PROS:

  • Drag and drop, mobile friendly builder
  • Transactional email design
  • Easy integration to eCommerce for complex segmentation based on browsing and purchase history
  • Custom fields. Subscribers can update their own data for even more targeted segmentation.
  • Hundreds of integrations

CONS:

  • No CRM features
  • No free tier
  • Can only use existing templates (though you can then totally customize) or HTML for emails
  • Limited support for smaller plans
  • Limited emails and automation features for smaller plans

ActiveCampaign

ActiveCampaign combines a newsletter platform with several sales CRM features to help you manage your leads and contacts seamlessly. It also offers features like text messaging and a Gmail integration to give you a broad range of options for contact management and marketing automation. This system is designed for businesses who need to manage many leads in an organized way.

PROS:

  • eCommerce integrations and solutions like abandoned cart recovery, coupons, and incentives
  • SMS text messaging and website popup message options that integrate with email marketing campaigns
  • Flexible and customizable segmentation and conditional content
  • Live chat and phone support
  • Free migration for all plans

CONS:

  • Lite tier does not include CRM tools, sales pipeline, and engagement scoring
  • Fewer integrations than some other options
  • No free tier

Ontraport

The new Ontraport5 has a comprehensive visual campaign builder which allows you to see all possible automation and segmentation with analytics on one map. This makes sophisticated marketing plans which involve online and offline components, online sales, and multiple team members easy to keep track of, measure, and tweak to get the best possible results.

PROS:

  • Advanced segmentation
  • Deep integration into your website to track browsing and purchase history for each customer
  • Works well with WordPress
  • Integrates with membership site software
  • Shopping cart and eCommerce integrations
  • Visual automation and campaign builder with real-time analytics
  • Many native integrations
  • API available for custom integrations and development
  • Several pricing tiers to grow with your business

CONS:

  • Complex system with steep learning curve
  • No easy way to remove duplicate records
  • No free trial (though there is a free demo available)

InfusionSoft

InfusionSoft is great for eCommerce businesses, because it has such deep integration into your website and its own payment gateway. This allows you to easily track and market to your customers in ways that match up with their buying habits and loyalty to your online shop.

PROS:

  • CRM, newsletter, analytics, and payments all in one place
  • Advanced segmentation
  • Deep integration into your website to track browsing and purchase history for each customer
  • Integrated credit card reader
  • API available for custom integrations and development
  • Shopping cart and eCommerce support
  • Marketing and Sales automation with detailed analytics

CONS:

  • Complex system with steep learning curve
  • Initial on-boarding fee
  • No native integrations with other apps (though there is a marketplace of integrations available)
THE BOTTOM LINE

For most business, a simple email newsletter system like Mailchimp is great to get started and will grow as the business does. Some businesses and bloggers need more complex capabilities to deepen relationships with customers and create sophisticated email marketing plans – in that case, your best bet is to determine what features you actually need first, and then find the software best equipped to provide those features. At the end of the day, the best move you can make is to pick a system and start using it, knowing you can always switch if you need to!

Still not sure where to start with email marketing? We are happy to help you develop your business strategy!

want the latest posts from alchemy+aim in your inbox?

we'll hook you up. just enter your details below.

Leave Comment

Instagram @alchemyandaim

credits

Created with Sketch.

Michelle Viljoen

(website design) is a graphic designer and brand consultant who specializes in creating and developing brands. Her core focuses are logo development, website design and brand direction.

Jane Reaction

(logo and original branding) is a graphic design and art director who works with with small businesses and creative entrepreneurs, creating cohesive and interesting brands and websites.

Carrie Coleman

(photography) is a wedding photographer, whose goal is to capture the visual expression of a couple's love through timeless, organic images. She is based in Charlottesville, Virginia.