The Best Email Marketing Platforms For Small Business (and How to Choose Yours)
If you are serious about growing your business then having an effective email marketing strategy is a necessity.
In order to implement an effective email marketing strategy, you will need an email marketing platform.
The platform you chose should check certain boxes for your business. I will let you know what they are later on in the blog post.
First, I want to show you four of the best email marketing platforms for small business. These are all platforms that I have used so I can vouch for each one of them.
Let's get stuck in.
You have likely heard of MailChimp. It is one of the most popular platforms amongst small business owners.
There are many reasons why this is the case but the main one is that they offer a completely free plan. You are limited to 2,000 contacts but this is more than enough to get you started.
One of the things I love most about MailChimp is it's deep integration capabilities with some of the leading eCommerce platforms like Shopify.
This allows you to grab data from your online store including; purchase amount, products purchase, abandoned cart info, and much more.
They also don't limited the features of the free plan, so you have complete access to all the tools that make MailChimp a great email marketing platform.
Facebook, Google, and Instagram ad management
However, to use the free plan, you will have to put up with sending MailChimp branded emails. This isn't the worst thing in the world as their logo features at the very bottom of the email.
Another drawback to MailChimp is a lack of a visual email automation flow builder. This is the thing that allows you to see the flow of your emails that are being sent to your leads.
This makes MailChimp more challenging to use when you building more complex email automation workflows.
MailChimp can also be difficult to use when it comes to segmenting your audience. They recently released a tagging feature to help with this but the platform is still behind some of it's competitors.
If you just want to set up some basic automations and send regular newsletters then MailChimp has the goods. For anything more complicated, check out some of the other options on the list.
I also recommend using MailChimp if you have an eCommerce store using Shopify, WooCommerce, or BigCommerce. The level of integration it offers will allow you to easily create email automations that increase your sales.
GetResponse is more than just an email marketing platform. It also has an armoury of other marketing tools to help you grow your business.
This is the platform that we use at marketpreneurs. The reason why, we don't have to worry about it integrating with other marketing tools as it has everything we need in one platform.
Unlike MailChimp, GetResponse has a visual workflow builder that is really helpful when creating more complicated email automation workflows.
They also have very powerful segmentation features that allow you to easily group your audience for specific email targeting.
Here are some of the other features of GetResponse:
Landing page builder
As you can see, GetResponse is more than just an email marketing platform. However, it does have a few drawbacks.
One of them is it's limited integration with eCommerce website platforms. I know they are working on improving this feature but in it's current state, it is more challenging to use than some of the other platforms on the list.
If you have an eCommerce store, I would recommend using either MailChimp or ActiveCampaign.
It also doesn't have a free plan. They do offer a 30-day free trial and plans are very affordable, starting from just £10 per month for up to 1,000 contacts.
If you are serious about lead generation and email automation, then I would highly recommend using GetResponse. It's an all in one marketing platform that is incredibly affordable.
ActiveCampaign is has some of the most powerful automation features out of all of the email marketing platforms on the list.
It's visual workflow editor is one of the best I have ever used. It makes building complex workflows easy. It is also much more intuitive and cleaner than any other visual workflow builders I have used.
They also offer contact forms for lead generation, however the functionality is a little limited. I would not recommend them if you are getting into some serious lead generation.
They have also recently released a deep integration with Shopify that is comparable to MailChimp. You can pass a lot of data from Shopify to ActiveCampaign.
One of the benefits to this integration is the abandoned cart information that is passed over. This makes it incredibly simple to create an abandoned cart win back automated email series which, if done well, can help you convert 30% of your cart abandoners.
Apart from the limited lead generation features, which is understandable as they are an email marketing platform, the only major drawback is cost.
However, it is still very affordable. The only reason why I mention it is that it is the most expensive email marketing platform to get started with on the list.
Licences start at $17 per month for up to 1,000 contacts. However, to really get all the great features they offer, I think you need to get the next plan up which costs $49 a month for up to 1,000 contacts.
ActiveCampaign is a really great email marketing platform if you are interested in complex automation workflows. I would also recommend it if you are using the Shopify eCommerce platform.
Wix is a website building tool that also has built in marketing tools. If your website runs on Wix then it might be worth exploring its email marketing capabilities.
You can create and send one off emails or build basic automations. The reason why I have included this on the list is for a reason I have alluded to previously...
It is very important to be able to integrate your email marketing platform with your lead generation tools and CRM system. And if, like many small businesses, you use Wix, then this is already taken care of for you with its email marketing tools.
However, the functionality is a bit basic. I have found myself getting frustrated at the lack of control in the email builder. The automations are also pretty basic.
Pricing starts from just £3 per month for a Wix licence and you receive basic email marketing features with that.
It's very basic but if you are using Wix and don't want to mess around with integrating another email marketing platform then this is a good option for you. However, Wix recently released a direct integration with MailChimp, so this might be a better option.
What to look out for in an email marketing platform?
Now you know about some great email marketing platforms to use, you might be wondering which is best for you.
Let me help you by talking you through some of the features that you might need.
For me, this is the big one. Does the platform integrate well with the other tools you are using?
As a small business owner, you don't want to spend a lot of money getting a developer to integrate your email marketing platform with your marketing stack.
All the tools mentioned integrate with other marketing tools, but you will need to check if they integrate with the marketing tools that you use.
This is usually pretty easy as they will have a list on their website that you can look for. If this isn't obvious, try typing 'integrations' into the search bar or check out their FAQ page.
If they don't offer a direct integration with other tools in your marketing stack, you can always use a tool like Zapier.
This acts as a bridge between many business tools on the web. Just search from hundreds of "zaps" to see if the two platforms that you want to connect are supported.
Email marketing features
The next thing to think about is the email marketing features that you need. If you don't want to use any automation, any of the platforms I mentioned will work for you.
Even if you want some basic email automation features then all the platforms will work. An example of this could be if someone signs up to your newsletter, you can automatically send an email thanking them.
Or, if someone fills in your contact form, you can send an email letting them know that you received their message and you will be in touch shortly.
If you own an eCommerce store, you will want to use some more advanced automation features. This could include, sending an email when someone purchases or abandons their cart.
For eCommerce, I would also recommend sending multiple emails in a sequence as this gets much better results.
Another important email marketing feature is segmentation. This is how you divide your list into targeted groups. Again, for eCommerce, this is essential.
If you are not in eCommerce, you might not need to segment your list, though it usually does help get better results from your email marketing.
This really comes down to how much importance you place on your email automation. If you want to use it to automate your sales process, then you will want a platform that has decent segmentation features.
This is so you can understand where people are in the customer journey and the area of your business they are interested in.
Lead generation features
Do you have a lead generation strategy in place? If you do or are planning to create one, you want to consider the lead generation features of your email marketing platform.
Traditionally, email marketing platforms have not contained lead generation features but many of the platforms now feature them.
If you want to choose from the above list, I would recommend GetResponse as they have the most developed lead generation tools.
You can split test forms to easily optimise for lead generation.
Even though it is easier to use an all in one platform, you can also use a purpose built lead generation tool like OptinMonster.
OptinMonster and other similar tools directly integrate with MailChimp, GetResponse and ActiveCampaign, to allow use to easily pass lead information.
Using a specific lead generation tool will also give you a lot more features to help you maximise the number of leads you are generating.
Depending on your budget, this might be an important factor for you. The tools I have listed are all very competitively priced.
Something to look at is how much these platforms cost when your contact list starts to grow.
Some email marketing platforms will increase their costs exponentially the more contacts you have. So, make sure you keep an eye out for this when making your decision.
If you are serious about email marketing, I would suggest investing in a good platform.
Not only will you have the additional features that comes with higher cost software, you often also get better support.
Even though I love Wix as a platform, I have to say that the support is not fantastic. The same goes with MailChimp if you are using the free licence.
Both GetResponse and ActiveCampaign have great support features. If I were to rate them, I would say the GetResponse support team is slightly better.
Time to choose
This list contains email marketing platforms that I have used in the past and know work well. However, there are many more options available.
Your decision will really come down to what you want to do with your email marketing.
By following my above advice, you will be able to make a more informed decision and pick the right solution for your business.
If you would like any help with this decision, please feel free to get in contact with me here.
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