Yet, it’s often underestimated – and, resultantly, underused – by businesses in favour of the newer, flashier forms of marketing, such as through social media and the use of influencers. This is despite the fact that studies have indicated that email marketing is still more effective than marketing through social media channels.
Having said this, a huge number of businesses get email marketing wrong, focusing on quantity over quality and bulk sending emails on an all-too-regular basis, causing their subscribers to become irritated by their cluttered inbox and unsubscribe. Worse than this, their once eager subscribers may even mark the emails as spam, hurting the business’ deliverability and their ability to reach their other customers.
However, the days of impersonal, bulk emails are over, thanks to the more sophisticated features available to personalise, track and improve upon email newsletter campaigns.
This is where email marketing tools can help. Online email marketing platforms can aid businesses in creating attractive emails and newsletters that their potential customers will want to read, while targeting these emails to the relevant audiences within their mailing list.
Not only this, but these email marketing tools typically have measures in place to ensure the highest deliverability and provides you with the option to test different emails so that you can learn which are most effective at earning opens and clicks via A/B testing.
Additionally, the reporting and analytics offered as a feature of some these email marketing services allows you to see which subscribers are interested in what, so that you can target your email subscribers with emails, newsletters and promotions that are relevant to them.
With this information, you can avoid clogging up your subscribers’ inboxes with emails that will never be opened, pertaining to products that those customers will never buy.
On the flip side, you can send emails that pique the interest of your subscribers to increase the chance of them opening, clicking and even purchasing through the email. Moreover, by sending emails which are relevant to each of your subscribers, you encourage them to look for your emails, rather than become desensitised to your brand name.
There are a number of things you need to consider when you go to pick an email marketing platform, especially considering the extensive range of options available online, which all seem to offer a similar array of features.
The first thing to consider – perhaps most obviously – is budget: knowing how much you’re prepared to spend on email marketing per month, and whether this aligns with the plans provided by the email marketing platform you’re interested in.
In addition to keeping to your budget, you’ll want to make sure that the email marketing platform you choose has the functionality you need – and has the best features possible to allow you to generate sales and deliver relevant, attractive emails to your subscribers.
Here are some of the things you should be looking for:
Bearing this in mind, we’ve pulled together a comparison of three of the most popular, well-equipped email marketing platforms to aid small to medium UK businesses, to make your choice a little easier.
With around 11 million active users, Mailchimp is one of the most popular and well-known email marketing platforms, easily recognisable by its chimpanzee mascot, which appears on the emails sent by its free plan users.
+ Mailchimp provides one place for businesses to take care of their marketing needs, as – over the past few years – it has developed into a comprehensive marketing platform, in addition to providing email marketing, providing a hub to connect a business’ marketing strategy.
+ One of the more unique features that Mailchimp offers its users is the ability to access comparative analytics, in addition to a comprehensive range of tracking tools, so that you can see how your email campaigns are faring compared to others using the email marketing platform.
+ Mailchimp has a strong set of integrations including WooCommerce, Eventbright and SimpleTexting.
+ Mailchimp provides a decent free plan to get a small business started with email marketing.
- Mailchimp’s biggest downfall is it’s pricing, which is far too expensive for most small to medium businesses who simply want access to Mailchimp’s email marketing tool – not the entire integrated marketing platform that the platform has become.
- While you can create email automations/autoresponders with Mailchimp, it isn’t as intuitive a process as can be found on other platforms, and the platform doesn’t have the capability to create more complex email automations.
Free: Mailchimp has a decent free plan which allows its users to send up to 10,000 emails to a potential 2,000 contacts per month, in addition to providing a marketing CRM and more marketing features.
Essentials: This plan allows the user to send up to 10x the number of emails as maximum contacts provided for by the plan. To send emails to 500 contacts, the plan costs £7.17 monthly, rising to £38.01 for 5k contacts and £193.65 for 50k contacts – the maximum number of contacts catered for by the plan. Essentials allows users to A/B test their emails, the ability to create email automations (autoresponders) and more.
Standard: The standard plan costs £14.99 a month for 500 contacts, rising to £57.37 for 5k contacts and £387.30 for 100k contacts – the maximum number of contacts catered for by the plan – and 12x the number of emails can be sent for the number of contacts. In terms of features, standard plan users get access to send time optimisation, custom journey builders and more.
Premium: Starting at £214.45 for a minimum of 10k contacts and rising to £853.50 for 200k contacts, though more contacts can be catered for if you reach out to Mailchimp and 15x the number of emails can be sent as the maximum number of subscribers. As part of the plan, premium users gain access to advanced segmentation, multivariate testing, comparative reporting and phone support.
Formed in 2010, MailerLite caters to over a million businesses who were drawn to its simplicity, ease of use and competitive pricing, making MailerLite one of the fastest growing SaaS businesses worldwide.
+ One of MailerLite’s most unique and attractive features is that paid plan users can send an unlimited number of emails each month to their subscribers, compared to the restrictive email sending caps of other email marketing tools.
+ In spite of the unlimited email sending potential, MailerLite’s paid plans are very reasonably priced.
+ MailerLite has one of the best drag and drop email builders of any email marketing platform, with a highly extensive range of content blocks to enable every email building possibility, while keeping the design simple and easy to use.
- Compared to some of its competitors, MailerLite’s email automations are a little limited, meaning that creating complex autoresponders may be out of the question.
- Likewise, compared to come of its competitors, you might find MailerLite’s tracking and analysis capabilities lacking, including a lack of CRM, although it has the essentials to keep track of how your email campaigns are doing.
- Since MailerLite allows its users to send an unlimited number of emails per month to its subscribers there is an extensive approval process – but this isn’t such a con, since it allows the platform to keep their deliverability high without putting a cap on email sending.
In contrast to Mailchimp, MailerLite doesn’t hide features behind different paywalls – all the features available as part of the email marketing platform are available to all users with a paid plan.
Free: With MailerLite’s free plan, users can send a maximum of 12k emails to up to 1000 subscribers. Users can also benefit from A/B testing, advanced segmentation, email automation and RSS campaigns as well as the basics – a pretty comprehensive range of features for a free plan.
Paid: A unique feature of MailerLite is that all paying customers can send an unlimited number of emails to their customers, with the price rising only to accommodate for a greater number of subscribers. For $10, Mailerlite users can send emails to up to 1k subscribers, rising to $50 for 10k subscribers and $360 for 100k subscribers.
Founded in 2012 and providing email marketing to around 125,000 businesses, Sender is a newer, comparatively smaller platform – but that doesn’t mean it should be underestimated, as it offers some of the most competitive features and pricing of any email marketing tool.
+ Sender has an impressive free plan that allows users access to features typically kept behind a paywall by other email marketing tools, such as advanced segmentation, A/B testing and email automations, in addition to catering to an atypically large number of subscribers. Moreover, Sender has some of the most inexpensive paid plans of any email marketing platform, offering all of the same features.
+ Sender has a number of measures in place to ensure that their deliverability stays high, resulting in a high IP and domain reputation – more than this, users with over 50k subscribers are given a dedicated IP address for no additional cost to isolate their sending reputation.
+ Sender’s automation builder is super intuitive, allowing complex email automations to be created simply and easily.
- While the drag and drop email builder is easy to use (and can create gorgeous emails/newsletters) the type of content blocks you can use to build your email are a little limited compared to builders provided by other email marketing platforms.
- While the email automation builder is brilliant, the small downside to this is that you have to navigate to a different tab to create an email automation/autoresponder, rather than being able to select an option via the normal route of creating an email campaign.
- While Sender offers a range of integration opportunities including with WooCommerce, WordPress and other e-commerce platforms, compared to its competitors it’s integration possibilities are a little restrictive.
Like Mailerlite, Sender’s pricing is split into two different plans – free and paid. Likewise, Sender’s paid plans differ according to how many subscribers you have to send emails to.
Free: Allowing its users to send up to 15k emails a month to a maximum of 2.5k subscribers, Sender’s free plan is quite unique in the sense that all of the features available as part of the email marketing platform’s paid plans are also available to free users.
Paid: With all Sender’s paid plans, users of the platform can send 12x the number of emails as the maximum number of subscribers paid for. The basic paid plan allows you to send emails to 5k subscribers is £8 per month, with the plans steadily increasing in price to £16 for 10k subscribers, £85 for 50k and £344 for 200k subscribers per month.
When it comes to choosing the right email marketing platform, it should depend on the unique needs of you and your business. Having said this, we believe that some email marketing tools have the capability to advantage small businesses more than than others.
Sender is our favourite. Sender’s biggest selling point is its unbeatable pricing – no matter what budget you have in mind for your email marketing efforts, the less you can spend, the better.
Of course, this is as long as none of the quality of service is sacrificed – and, with Sender, it definitely isn’t.
In addition to a perfectly competent email builder, Sender has one of the best email automation/autoresponder creators of any email marketing platform and a comprehensive range of analytics to track the success of your email campaigns.
Try Sender for Free.
Read our full Sender review.
MailerLite is a great option, with plenty of templates to choose from and a huge assortment of content blocks to create your email, including the ability to directly include social media posts in your emails to your subscribers.
On top of this, MailerLite is decently priced and has a competent range of features to allow great email campaigns to be tested and created, and an extensive catalog of app integrations to facilitate a comprehensive 360-degree view of your marketing strategy.
Try MailerLite for Free.
Read our full MailerLite review.
Then Mailchimp might be the option for you.
Having said this, Mailchimp’s pricing – and the platform’s tendency to hide valuable email marketing features behind higher paywalls – is a drawback, while it's functionality is only on par with its competitors.
If you’re only interested in the free plan, however, then you could do worse than Mailchimp (though, you still get more functionality, more emails and more subscriber potential with Sender).
Try Mailchimp for Free.
Read our full Mailchimp review.