If you’re new to internet marketing, there’s a few conclusions you will quickly come to. First off, email is still the best marketing resource in 2017. Second, sending emails manually to your leads and customers is not an option. Third, there is a wide variety of email marketing tools out there to choose from. So many, in fact, that you can spend days debating on the best one to choose.
We’ve decided to help you out and save your time and money. We will go over three of the most popular email marketing options at the moment, weighing their pros and cons… So that you can make an easy choice, and use your precious time to get more leads and more business.
There are hundreds of email platforms out there, and we’ve chosen three major players: MailChimp, Constant Contact and Aweber. These three heavyweights have been around the block for a while and have a proven track record. There are plenty of alternatives (listed at the end of the article), but these are the most widely used options.
Let’s get the big one out of the way first. If you want to invest in marketing, email software is only one of the tools you need to have at your disposal. You will be spending hundreds of dollars monthly on marketing, so you need to make sure that your money is spent well.
When things seem too good to be true, most times they are. However, this is not the case with MailChimp’s Forever Free plan. It is indeed free for an unlimited period of time, but it comes with some limitations. You can have up to 2,000 subscribers and send out 12,000 emails monthly. Note that this plan does not have an autoresponder.
The paid options start at $10 monthly and go up depending on how many emails you need sent. The enterprise Pro Marketer option is $199 per month and comes with a range of options such as split testing, tracking and targeting, monitoring your metrics and so on.
MailChimp offers each plan with a Pay as you go option. This means that you can pay for the exact amount of emails you send, besides paying a fixed monthly subscription fee. This is a great option for those businesses that need to scale and don’t know exactly what their email marketing needs will be. This can give you peace of mind so you don’t need to worry about upgrading or downgrading in the future.
Everyone loves a freebie, so Constant Contact also offers a free 30-day trial to their new clients. Once it runs out, you can purchase a plan based on your number of contacts. For example, for 0 to 500 contacts, the monthly fee is $20. The most expensive option is 35,001-50,000 contacts and it is priced at $335 per month. While it is somewhat simpler than MailChimp, the pricing model offers very little flexibility for the user. The pricing plans are best suited for already established businesses with a steady number of contacts.
At Aweber, the plans are extremely simple. They too have a free 30-day trial so you can give them a test drive. Regardless of your number of subscribers, you get all of their features in their paid plans: unlimited emails, automation, email segmenting, stock photos and templates and much more. The only difference in plans is the number of subscribers.
For 0-500 subscribers, you will pay $19 per month, for 5,001-10,000 the price $69 per month and so on. If you already know your email marketing needs, you can have a fixed amount that goes to email marketing monthly with Aweber. However, it is lacking in flexibility which smaller businesses do require.
In the battle of MailChimp vs. Constant Contact vs. Aweber, all three email marketing options are priced similarly at a glance. All three offer free trials. However, the clear pricing winner is MailChimp. Although it will take some time to figure out how much you’re precisely going to pay, it is the most flexible of the three. With pay-as-you-go, you don’t have to worry about fluctuations in subscribers. What’s more, if you run a small business, you may never even have to upgrade from the forever free plan.
For the most part, the three candidates are priced similarly. Obviously, the easiest way to decide on the best alternative is to delve into their features. Of course, each service is going to deliver emails, so we will explore other vital features. All three offer list segmentation, contact management, mobile app support and other key email marketing tool features. We will focus on the main differences.
When crafting your ideal email, you can use MailChimp’s customization and let your ideas go wild. You can drag and drop content in their editor with ease. Images are one of the most important email elements, and you can store an unlimited amount on MailChimp, for free.
An autoresponder is one of the core features of every piece of email marketing software. Unfortunately, you only get the basic autoresponder in the free MailChimp plan. If you want more advanced autoresponder features, you will have to pay for this option.
The best way to find out what works and what doesn’t is by split testing. MailChimp allows for split testing with four variables. You can test for subject line, ‘from name’ (whether the email comes from a company or a person), content and send time. However, you can only run one automatic split test in the free plan, and you can run up to 8 at a time as a paid user.
Plain text is boring, so Constant Contact also allows for a range of templates you can use while writing. These are separated into different industries and uses, making it easier to select. You can go to great lengths when customizing templates, but you will need a solid grasp of HTML for more substantial editing. You also get unlimited storage for images, for free. What’s more, Constant Contact has a free stock image database you can use for your emails.
Constant Contact has an advanced autoresponder feature with a number of great uses. You can set it to send out coupons, promotions, series of posts or articles or set up reminders for appointments. However, it is only available as a paid option.
Split testing is made easy with three different variables. You can test for best send time, design choice and subject line effectiveness. Automatic A/B testing is available for only one test.
User interface is a big deal at Aweber – you can tell this from a glance at their editor. At your disposal are 700 different email templates, all mobile responsive. For the more tech-savvy user, you can create and edit templates using HTML.
Autoresponder is a piece of cake in Aweber. You can work on automating your emails in a simple-to-use editor that will take minutes to learn. Just drag and drop action elements and you can set up an automated sequence within minutes.
Of course, Aweber also has split testing. You can test for subject line, design, content, and much more. You can even grab a free ebook on their site with split testing essentials to get you started.
An experienced marketer knows that a good email list is worth solid gold. However, it is not enough to guarantee success at any rate. For this reason, your ideal email marketing tool needs to have integrations to other marketing tools to make your job easier.
Given its market presence, it’s no wonder that MailChimp has plenty of integration possibilities. You can easily integrate it with social media platforms such as Facebook or Twitter, and use it with CMS platforms like WordPress. Most importantly, it integrates with a myriad of marketing tools: ZenDesk, WooCommerce, Salesforce, Shopify and many others.
This tool also integrates with content management systems such as WordPress and Wix.
Since it is an established player on the market, Aweber also offers plenty of options for integrating. For social media you’re limited to Facebook. However, for marketing purposes, the list is quite large: LeadPages, Instapage, Unbounce, Clickfunnels, Sumo, ConvertFlow and many, many others.
When it comes to integrations, the winner is not as obvious. If your main aim is to have an email marketing tool for everything, MailChimp is undoubtedly the better option. However, if your primary purpose is marketing, Aweber’s integration list is nothing short of impressive.
Choosing the best email marketing service out of these three is no easy task. MailChimp, Constant Contact and Aweber all have faithful user bases and businesses that swear by their name. However, in order to be as comprehensive and objective as possible, we can say the winner is… Well, it depends.
For a company that needs to send out an occasional email blast, set up a basic autoresponder and requires lots of integration options, MailChimp is the clear winner. It’s the best possible solution for small businesses that need to scale. The free plan is enough for a startup, and pay-as-you-go ensures you don’t get trapped into paying for more than you need.
On the other hand, if marketing is your primary focus, Aweber is the best choice out of the three. The pricing plans are easy to understand and cater to already established businesses. Split testing is made super simple so you can maximize your marketing strategy. Finally, the integrations are largely focused on other marketing tools, so you can create a marketing match made in heaven.
Maybe you’re not convinced by these three offers and you want something less popular and perhaps more functional.
ConvertKit is a great tool that offers a bit more than email. It allows for easy marketing automation and it can be used to create landing pages. Its slick design and user interface are sure to win you over from the get-go. However, it does not have a free trial, and plans are on the expensive side, with $79 for 5000 subscribers and $119 monthly for 10,000 subscribers.
If you like having a ton of features, ActiveCampaign is the right tool for you. In fact, if you’re new to email marketing, you will feel like there’s too many features.
ActiveCampaign has incredible marketing automation possibilities. However, the learning curve will be steep for less advanced users. Pricing kicks off at $9 per month for 500 contacts and you can get a free 14-day trial.
Another option you may have heard of is iContact. Starting at $14 per month, it has most of the features of its candidates. Its analytics capabilities are the most advanced of all the mentioned email marketing tools, but you only get them with a Professional plan, at $99 per month.