Doing email marketing campaigns properly involves assessing whether your messages work. This week I examine four of the leading services available online for managing and analysing your campaign.

 

Why use email marketing software?

I recommend using online platforms to manage your email marketing. These will process your subscriptions for you, and better than that, they will track and analyse what is working and what is not. Plus they’ll automatically address your legal obligations under the Spam Act.

These applications will tell you how many of your readers opened your message, as well as how many of those readers clicked your calls to action. Having these analytics helps you determine whether you’re effectively reaching your customers.

 

Which platform should I use?

As with all things, the “right” choice is going to be a matter of personal taste. Once you start looking, you’ll find a surprising number of options. Here are some of the most trusted brands to help you get a feel for things.

 

MailChimp

One of the best known names in the business, MailChimp is widely used thanks to its free membership for small businesses. Their free plan lets you sign up 2000 people to your list and send them each 6 emails per month.

Once your business starts to expand, you can increase the size of your plan for a monthly fee. The fee is based on the number of subscribers, but all paid plans allow unlimited emails to be sent.

One of the things MailChimp users love is the natural integration with social media and Google analytics. For instance, it’s easy for people to sign up to your list through Facebook, or pay you through PayPal. Plus, the drag-and-drop interface takes a lot of the hard work out of design phase. Check out the demo video on their home page.

 

Constant Contact

Another well-known name in the field, Constant Contact is thought to be one of the most comprehensive systems available. They currently offer a 60-day trial period for new users.

Like many others, it offers drag-and-drop email design and social media integration. With over 400 customisable templates, you can get going quickly with no coding required. The analytics reports are accurate and detailed.

Constant Contact’s point of difference comes in its ancillary services aimed at event management and surveys. If you’re not using these tools, it works out to be a bit more expensive than some of the alternatives. The basic plan of AU$20 per month will limit you to a mere 500 contacts (twice the price of MailChimp).

 

Campaign Monitor

Here’s a company who picked a very descriptive name for their business; Campaign Monitor does exactly what it says on the tin.

Campaign Monitor’s US Dollar fees are pretty sharp, and the current exchange rates are not favourable towards Australia. But for that money you get top-notch customer support and the ability to automatically filter your subscribers into different categories and campaigns.

Analytics go to the next level with the ability to split a campaign list in half and send a different message to each. You can then compare side-by-side to determine what works best. However, comparing two different campaigns doesn’t seem to be so easy.

The free trial only extends to 5 subscribers, after which the (very) basic subscription is US$9 per month.

 

Emma

With its friendly anthropomorphic name, Emma delivers excellence in analytics. Statistic breakdowns are specifically designed for assessing trends over time.

There is an initial fee of $250 that covers the cost of designing a personalised template, followed by a moderate monthly fee. For the socially minded businessperson, it’s nice to know that a portion of every subscription goes to charitable causes.

Users of Emma swear by its elegance and design. However it is quite an expensive choice, and the short 14-day trial doesn’t offer much time to explore the system.

 

And so much more…

These are only four of the ever-growing number of email marketing platforms. In most cases, you will get what you pay for, although it’s worth deciding exactly what you need before you start. Don’t pay for what you won’t use.

If email campaign management is new for you, try MailChimp for free. When you need more sophisticated tools, shop around and exploit trial periods until you find the system that is right for you.