There are plenty of reviews out there for all different types of email campaign providers. We wanted to approach it from a very realistic standpoint and review 3 key components for each mailing provider. Chances are, if you’re looking for a lot of complex features, you already have an email provider in mind. This is more geared towards companies that are just getting their email marketing campaigns off the ground.
We’ll approach each review with a certain type of company in mind:
• Small to Medium Size Business
• < 50 Employees
• Up to 1000 Contacts to email
• No dedicated employee or team to handle the email marketing
In my experience – this is the average customer profile that could really use this type of information we’re providing here.
We’re going to review each provider on 3 different aspects:
• Price per contact/email: Budget is important for smaller businesses
• Ease of Creation, Use, and Management: Without a dedicated employee to handle the email marketing, you need to be able to create emails fast, beautiful, and flexible for maximum deliverability
• Customer Service Response Time: Sometimes, you’re going to need help – and you need a customer service team that will walk you through any troubles.
In choosing the companies to review, we decided to do 4 companies that all offer free trials (without credit cards). It’s important that you’re able to see what we’ve written, and try the services out for yourself.
$29.00 up to 2500 subscribers
o IContact has a lot of templates to choose from – however the customization of them after selection is a little more difficult. The UI isn’t as user friendly as some of the other providers we’ve listed here.
The customer service at iContact is actually some of the best I’ve seen. This might be a little biased because we’ve been using iContact for quite a awhile, but they’ve always been extremely responsive in answering any questions we have. I’ve experienced very little issues with their system at all, if ever.
iContact is a solid platform to send emails from – but it’s not the most beginner friendly. If you have a lot of experience with sending HTML emails to multiple platforms, and know how to check for compatibility yourself, I think you’ll find iContact a great tool. At the time of this article posting, OneVoice uses iContact for all of our marketing email needs.
$35/month for up to 2500 contacts
The UI/Dashboard for Constant Contact can be quite overwhelming when you first login to it. They seem to have a lot of extra features included that you may or may not use – and as such it can make the dashboard appear a bit cluttered. They didn’t have a lot of templates to choose from. Their drag and drop features and editing UI is almost identical to MailChimp’s
With live chat support, it’s very easy to get your question answered quickly. I asked the same question, whether constant contact was integrated with SalesForce – and I was provided with a prompt answer in a few minutes.
It’s clear to see why Constant Contact is a very popular choice
Free to send up to 2,000 subscribers and 12,000 emails per month
For added features like email automation, it costs $15/month for 1,000 subscribers – and unlimited emails per month
The setup for mailchimp was extremely easy – including a nice walkthrough for setting up your account. They don’t directly point you towards “how to get started” but there isn’t a lot of clutter on the dashboard for you to figure out where to click. Starting a campaign walks you through a wizard on what you need to do to send your first email.
There are a TON of templates. Not only predesigned ones with colors, but templates that give you general layouts, and then you can fill in the rest.
Once you have the template selected, it’s really easy to drag and drop text boxes and images right into the template
There is also a way to edit pictures directly in MailChimp – so if you need to resize or crop a photo – you can do it right there – no special photo software required
I asked mailchimp if they had any Salesforce integration – they responded with an email, less than 12 hours later with the answer (and yes they actually do have this integration, with an app on salesforce). They provided a link and an explanation of what I was looking for. They came across friendly and helpful. They didn’t have a live chat – but I believe MailChimp might just be a little too large of a provider for that at this point.
The Bottom Line? I was thoroughly impressed with MailChimp – and in fact, there’s a good chance I’m going to be switching our email marketing platform over to them. Today, I edit all of our marketing emails in Dreamweaver, because our current provider’s editor isn’t really all that great. I find that what actually gets delivered is quite a bit different from what I’ve designed – which is why I use Dreamweaver to have full control over the code.
1000 contacts is going to run you $17/month for the basic package
The UI is extremely clean and straightforward
There isn’t really any walkthrough to creating your first campaign – so if you don’t understand how these work with lists, contacts, campaigns, emails, etc – you may have trouble getting started.
I chose to use a template to try and fit our message into – as with all of the tests – since this is most likely what someone would do who isn’t extremely experienced with writing HTML newsletters. I found that the template was extremely restricting – and I couldn’t really put everything I wanted into it. It was also a bit difficult to navigate, and to get it to really all work properly. It uses a drag and drop feature, so you don’t touch the HTML at all. The template choice was quite limited, only a select few to choose from. I think this WYSIWYG editor could be great once it’s polished more. But even for someone, like myself, with years of experience in email marketing – this was difficult to work with.
Chat window in the bottom right corner
Accurate response in less than a minute
Active Campaign comes with a ton of extra features that you’re most likely not going to use out of the gate – including a ton of integrations with CRM tools, form builders, etc. More integration than I think I’ve seen really anywhere. I can’t comment on how well the integrations work, as it was outside the scope of this review.
It also comes with a built in CRM tool, so if you’re not using salesforce or a cheaper alternative, this may be a good pick for you – you’ll just have to get used to the email editor.
Overall I see a lot of potential with this in the future, as soon as some of the UX is cleaned up a bit.