Editor's note: Stacey Marone is a social media marketer who has joined us today to explore the best tools for managing an email marketing campaign.
Social media is often portrayed as the ultimate marketing tool for small businesses. But before there were social networks, people relied on email to stay connected. In fact, everyone on a social network has an email address, but not everyone with an email address is on a social network. It stands to reason that you can reach a lot more people with email marketing than with social media marketing alone.
Even with a strong social media strategy, email marketing opens your business to many leads and opportunities you might otherwise miss. Furthermore, the two strategies can be combined to create more powerful campaigns.
What is email marketing?
Email marketing is a kind of targeted marketing.
If you’re like most people, you sometimes open your mailbox to find brochures and invitations from different companies offering product information, samples, free seminars and other promotional material.
Email marketing is something like that, except in digital form. In both cases, you need contact information to promote your business. When it comes to email marketing, this information takes the form of an email list compiled from your existing customers, or email addresses you got from site registrations.
There are many ways to obtain a list of email addresses. But once that’s taken care of, you have a new challenge on your hands: turning them into customers. In order to make the best use of your leads, it's essential to have a versatile email platform that will help you to send the right information where it counts.
To help you find what’s right for you, we’ve compiled a list of the best email marketing tools for your business. Let’s get started!
In spite of its humorous style, MailChimp is a very serious email marketing tool, and one of the most popular and user-friendly ones around. It is especially useful if you are just starting out on your email marketing journey.
MailChimp will do much of the work for you, including product follow-ups and stock availability updates. It will track what your customers are buying so you can target them with related product offerings. You can also integrate MailChimp with your Twitter and Facebook account, allowing you to bring social media and email marketing together.
If you have an e-commerce store, MailChimp has a lot of great options for you; it will connect directly to services like WooCommerce, Shopify, Magento, or BigCommerce. This integration allows you to create email campaigns directly from your store.
Beginners will appreciate the intuitive drag-and-drop interface in MailChimp’s email builder, and the dashboard is also very simple to navigate. To track success, you can easily generate reports of your campaigns to learn how many people opened their emails, which links got the most clicks, and what customer segments respond best to different offers.
MailChimp is also very fairly priced, with a free plan to send up to 12,000 emails to 2,000 subscribers a month. This is usually a great place for small businesses to start. Once you gather steam paid plans start at $10 a month.
Next up on our list is Litmus, a versatile platform that takes analytics to the next level. Litmus specializes in testing and tracking emails with advanced features to help you fine tune your email marketing strategy. It’s a step up from MailChimp, but still quite easy to use, and makes a great supplement to email campaigns that you might be running on another service.
Litmus not only tests email optimization for PCs and laptops, but also mobile devices. Since the market is increasingly going mobile, this is an important strategy for success. If you test your emails before sending them out, you will see exactly how they look to your recipients. By refining the look and load time of the emails you send, automatically removing broken links and streamlining design elements, Litmus will ensure you get the most bang for your buck.
Litmus will also track your emails so you get important information such as what devices were used to open emails, when they were opened, and how much time recipients spent on them.
As a testing and tracking tool, Litmus takes the cake. Beginning with a 7 day free trial, using Litmus permanently will cost you a cool $79.00 per month. Given how much it can improve your results, the investment can be well worth it for those with a medium to large email marketing list.
For those with smaller budgets who would still like to benefit from email analytics and optimization, Reach Mail is a good, affordable option at a mere $10.00 per month.
Like Litmus, Reach Mail offers message testing and tracks email performance. It also has a Spam Checker, which tests your emails to see whether they might be flagged as spam. A nice feature of Reach Mail is that it considers your emails as entire compositions, taking into account both subject lines and content in its analysis. This is important for determining how successful your campaigns will be ahead of time.
Like MailChimp, Reach Mail offers hundreds of attractive templates for creating your emails, so you won't need graphic or layout chops to send a professional-looking email. And if you do want something a little more unique for a special occasion, you can easily request custom design directly through the service.
Formerly known as TargetHero, ActiveTrail is an email marketing solution which specifically targets the growing population of users who read emails on mobile devices.
Aside from the usual email composition and sending features, ActiveTrail will automatically send targeted emails to people on your list who perform certain actions on your website, such as registering for a newsletter, or entering a particular campaign. These auto responses can be a “Thank You” or verification email which include product offerings and other promotional information relevant to the target user - you do your marketing every step along the way!
AvtiveTrail’s pricing comes in tiers. For $7 a month, you can manage up to 500 subscribers, and it goes all the way up to $55 a month for 10,000. This range of options makes it easy to start small, and expand according to your means. If you’d like to give this tool a spin, there’s also a free trial, so take advantage of that before committing!
There are many other options in the world of email marketing to help you accomplish your goals, but these are great choices for beginners; even simple tools like MailChimp are used by very large corporations to manage their email marketing needs. There’s no better way to learn than by doing, so pick one and give it a try!
Stacey Marone is a freelance writer and a social media marketer. She creates magnetic content optimized for search. In her free time, she also does volunteer work and organizes some activities for children. Her passions involve painting, reading, and writing. You can follow her on twitter.
Learn more with these related OMI classes:
Using Social Data to Improve Email Marketing
How to Create Mobile Friendly Emails
Successfully Measuring Email Performance
Visit the Online Marketing Institute to browse over 400 classes in the digital and social media marketing space.