In this digital age, the need for a business to keep a unique and compelling conversation going with their customers is more prevalent than ever. Not only do businesses need to have a strong email marketing strategy to have this conversation, they also need to be comfortable enough with that platform to trust it, almost implicitly, to handle and home their marketing needs.
However, regardless of whether the business is just opening its doors, or has been around for generations, finding an email marketing platform that synchronizes well enough with the business that the owner is willing to invest this kind of trust is hard. There are many factors to consider and while there are leading platforms, there isn’t one that is perfect for every business.
So, here is a comprehensive list of the best and the worst aspects of 6 top email marketing platforms, so that every business owner can decide what is the best option for their business.
Founded in 2001, MailChimp started as a side project for a variation of web developer but has grown into a trusted ally among millions of businesses, worldwide. With the businesses (and individuals) that utilize this platform ranging in size, experience, and email marketing need, MailChimp covers the scope of the market and has become a leader in the industry. This platform is known for having a welcoming, fun, and engaging atmosphere, while still being able to lend a serious advantage to businesses; especially those that are just starting out.
MailChimp is extremely easy to work with, having a simple design and a cute disposition. (Who doesn’t like a monkey wearing a hat?) Yet, the whimsical nature of this platform does not dampen the pros for their professional function ability.
Two of the best pros going for MailChimp is their awesome freemium plan and they're thorough, yet easy to comprehend reporting methods for tracking the success of a company’s email marketing campaign.
The first is the ample amount of free content that is available to users with under 2,000 email subscribers. Complete campaigns to this number of subscribers, sending 12,000 emails per month is an exceptionally large girth for businesses who are looking to build up their marketing. There is a limited amount of options that require users to upgrade to the fee-based subscriptions, so long as the business stays within the free-subscription requirements.
The second, piggybacking off the first pro is the depth and ease of reporting that comes with MailChimp’s service. Garnering reports on how a campaign is doing, or did, especially in terms of the free subscription is extremely useful and user-friendly on this platform.
Unfortunately, while simple design is great for learning and exploring a platform, it doesn’t bode well for creativity and while the platform is functional, the more in-depth features are lacking.
One of the two major issues with MailChimp is the lack of originality in their email templates. For a savvy email subscriber, it is easy to spot an email created on this platform. While there is a host of templates to choose from, the ability to truly customize an email template is a difficult feat to overcome.
The other major issue with MailChimp is the high price point for fee-based plans, versus the low quality of email automation. When a subscriber upgrades to a service, they expect to get better more than what they had before. While the freemium plan is generous and with it, people don’t seem to care so much about the lacking email automation, when businesses start to pay for MailChimp, they are disappointed to find that they still cannot accurately automate their marketing strategy.
Constant Contact, founded in 1995 under the initial name, Roving Software started out as something of an early social media platform. Initially, it was simply a way for friends to keep in contact with one another online. However, instead of becoming the initial Facebook, this company utilized their platform to help small businesses compete with large corporations in terms of marketing and communication.
Constant Contact is the father of the email marketing platforms we have today, while continuously developing to keep up with their ever-evolving predecessors.
Constant Contact is easy to navigate, it is tried and true with over and has a lot of niche features that other platforms do not offer. One feature is event management. This feature is extremely useful and as easy to navigate as the rest of the platform. Therefore, if such a unique feature is a good fit for your business, this platform might be a good fit for you.
Secondly, the physical approach that Constant Contact takes to helping businesses learn about their email marketing is unique for their niche market. Constant Contact employs the use of seminars and training sessions that have experts touring the country, speaking in different venues to spread information. This direct link to a company, especially a digital company, is extremely rare and people respond well to this tactic; especially their constituents, considering business owners are not always tech-savvy. Therefore, having the ability to talk to a real person, during an event close to their home or business is important.
While being revolutionary has its benefits, eventually, what was once novel becomes commonplace and with a reverence that Constant Contact deserves, the cons of this platform stem from their age.
Two major cons for this platform include the fees for Constant Contact being vastly overrated, for service that has become the status quo for most of the other companies and the virtual customer service.
The first is the price point that Constant Contact is working with. While they do offer a generous 60-Day free trial of either tier of their service, once that time is up, the fees are top heavy, compared to the service that is received. Based entirely on the number of email subscribers the packages start at twenty dollars per month, for up to 500 email subscribers and goes up from there. However, the basic plan, regardless of how many subscribers, doesn’t offer email automation at all.
The second issue with Constant Contact is their virtual customer service. While their physical customer service tactics are on point with what business owners want, their virtual customer service leaves much to be desired. Unfortunately, customers have often found the service they received to be completely unhelpful; that is if they can even find the link to get to the service desk they are trying to reach. It has even been reported that people have encountered links that don’t work, or lead to an error screen.
Drip was started in 2013 by a man named Rob Walling, who was trying to create a better email marketing platform. Along with co-founder, Derrick Reimer, Drip grew into the first, self-proclaimed, ECRM (E-commerce CRM). This means, that instead of focusing completely on the inner-workings of the business, this customer relationship management (CRM) system also integrates the e-commerce of the business. This is meant to smooth the transaction between customer service and e-commerce. The website is colorful, eye-catching, strangely 90’s sitcomish, meets millennial but it is also clean enough to be professional. The appearance of Drip’s marketing is unique, but it works.
Drip is known for having excellent automation capabilities and marketing collectivity, which is what Drip set out to do when it was created.
The automation capabilities are excelled and the information sharing that is available on the platform is enlightening. The ease in which different automation can be executed, based solely on how the individual customer reacts to an email is unmatched. The setup for this automation, as well as the rest of the platform, is straightforward and since the automation is so in-depth, the reports that it works from are exponentially useful to the business owner as well.
The second major pro for Drip is the marketing collectivity and connectivity. Instead of simply being able to set up email campaigns, this platform takes marketing to a new level by truly integrating different facets of marketing strategy. Instead of having to force the social networking, the email subscribers, and the website contacts to work together, Drip’s platform allows seamless connectivity and the sharing of information. Once it is set up, the CRM portion of the ECRM connects customers while the E-commerce portion individualizes those customers, based on their spending habits.
Drip is, by all accounts a solid email marketing (ECRM) platform, but that doesn’t mean it exists without faults; after all, this platform, like all platforms, isn’t for everyone. Two major issues users have with Dip is the price point and the complexity of the platform.
The first con is the price point. While there is a free option to use Drip, if the platform reaches over 100 contacts, which is easy to do, the minimum paid fee is $41. That fee is undeniably heftier than the other top email marketing platforms. However, if you are utilizing all the functions instead of having an email marketing platform and a CRM system, this price point can possibly be rationalized. Yet, if this price point isn’t in your budget, especially for new businesses, then it doesn’t matter what the ECRM can do for you because you won’t be able to use it.
The other problem is the complexity of the platform. While on the surface Drip is simple to use, there are a lot more cogs to this platform than others. With the integration feature, as seamless as it may be, still brings the baggage of depth that some beginning email marketers might be overwhelmed by. Additionally, considering the amount of the integration this system can do, businesses could end up overpaying for a service they don’t even know they’re not using to its full capacity.
In summation, email marketing platforms are as vast as the businesses they serve. These three email marketing platforms are the most reliable, affordable, and versatile on the market today. Ultimately, the decision can only be made by the business owner, as it is important that every business finds the email marketing platform that is right for them.