Picking the Best Email Marketing Service for Your Small Business

best email marketing service for your small business

Finding the best email marketing service for your small business is crucial to unlocking its marketing potential. Email marketing’s high return on investment, with businesses seeing an average of $42 for every $1 spent, underscores its importance in any robust marketing strategy (DMA, 2019).

However, the effectiveness of your email marketing efforts hinges on selecting the right service provider, which serves as the foundation of a successful email marketing program

Choosing The Best Email Marketing Service for Your Small Business

This choice isn’t as easy to make as it may seem. There are dozens of options, and only by evaluating your business’ needs and direction will you know which one is best for your startup. Here’s how to do this:

  1. Define Your Marketing Goals
  2. Review Your Costs
  3. Get Great Analytics
  4. Evaluate Customer Service
  5. Consider Integrations
  6. Scalability
  7. Compliance and Data Security
  8. Template Customization
  9. Automation and Workflow
  10. Delivery and Deliverability
  11. User-Friendly Interface
  12. Community and Resources

1. Define Your Marketing Goals

I’m all about action, but action isn’t effective unless it’s directed. Start off by figuring out what your key marketing needs are and what you need your email marketing to accomplish for you.

Are you at a stage where you want to build engagement and visibility by encouraging signups and sending a newsletter?

Or do you plan to increase sales and conversions by using your email campaign to convert customers and link directly to your sales catalog?

Because all email marketing services have different features and prices, knowing your exact needs will save you both money and hassle.

One important goal is to make sure your email campaign is readable on mobile devices as well as desktops. More and more customers are on the go, and choosing a service that allows you to optimize for mobile is a key part of a successful marketing plan.

If you need more specific help with your campaign development and strategy, some email marketing services offer professional campaign consulting services. While these services can be expensive, they can also help you avoid misusing time and money if you have a small staff or need expert help.

Once you know your needs, review which services can help you meet them most effectively.

Best Email Marketing Service

2. Review Your Costs

As a startup, you already know that costs are an important factor in every business decision. As a result, the costs associated with your email marketing service must be reviewed carefully and balanced against their potential for return.

However, that doesn’t mean that you should automatically go with the cheapest possible service. New entrepreneurs often make the mistake of over-investing or under-investing. The key to right-investing is to choose the product with the highest likelihood of delivering positive returns for your company.

Pricing structures for email marketing services usually use a monthly fee that’s based on the number of subscribers you have. Services typically have plan minimums and plan maximums, but most also offer custom-built large subscriber plans as well.

Regardless, it’s a good idea to choose a service that you aren’t about to outgrow in the near future.

Free trials are another important way to evaluate your cost-to-benefit results with email marketing services. Once you’ve narrowed your choices down to two or three, use the free trials and see if the service seems intuitive, easy to use, and effective for your needs. This will help you avoid spending money unnecessarily on a program that winds up being a poor fit.

Another important cost element is the customer service provided by the company. It’s worth it to pay more for a more accessible, highly rated customer service experience. Consider if you want 24/7 support, and whether email support, live chat, or tutorials are important to your startup.

Best Email Marketing Service

3. Get Great Analytics

Email marketing — like all marketing initiatives — requires extensive testing to see if the templates and copy you’re using are effective. Without great analytics, you won’t have the data you need to run these tests.

Most email marketing services provide free basic self-service analytics on metrics like open rates, which links are clicked, and unsubscribe rates.

That said, those aren’t the only metrics you’ll want to track. Hubspot gives a great list of key email marketing metrics, including conversion rates, forwarding, list growth, leads generated, and overall ROI. If an email marketing service doesn’t give you the resources you need to track these results, it isn’t a great fit for your firm.

Consider whether you want to integrate with Google Analytics, or whether you need professional analytical consulting services included with your plan. Not all email marketing services include these functions, so it’s an important consideration before you make your final choice.

Choosing the best email marketing service for your small business is an important part of any startup’s marketing mix. By considering your marketing goals, costs, and analytical needs, you’ll find it easy to make the best choice for your company.

4. Evaluate Customer Service

When selecting an email marketing service, the caliber of customer support cannot be overstated. A service with round-the-clock support, diverse communication channels like email, live chat, and detailed tutorials, not only enhances usability but also ensures that any issues can be promptly addressed.

Investing in a service known for its accessible and highly-rated customer support can significantly benefit your business, providing peace of mind and reliability.

5. Consider Integrations

The ability to integrate your email marketing service with other platforms—such as CRM systems, e-commerce platforms, or social media tools—can significantly streamline your marketing and sales efforts.

This cohesion allows for a more efficient management of customer data, personalized marketing approaches, and ultimately, a smoother operational workflow across your business tools.

Best Email Marketing Service

6. Scalability

For emerging businesses, the scalability of an email marketing service is paramount. Selecting a service that can grow with your business—capable of handling an expanding subscriber list and increasing email volume without performance hitches—is essential for long-term success.

Ensure the service you choose can scale seamlessly to avoid potential future disruptions or migrations.

7. Compliance and Data Security

In today’s digital landscape, adherence to data protection regulations and the prioritization of data security are non-negotiable.

Opt for an email marketing service that complies with regulations such as GDPR, offers robust security measures (including encryption), and demonstrates a commitment to protecting your customers’ privacy and sensitive data.

8. Template Customization

The availability of customizable templates within your email marketing service enables the creation of visually appealing and brand-aligned emails. Assess the flexibility and variety of templates offered, ensuring you can tailor each campaign to meet your marketing objectives while maintaining a cohesive brand identity.

9. Automation and Workflow

Automation features, such as the ability to set up drip campaigns, send autoresponders, and manage complex workflows, are critical for maximizing the efficiency of your email marketing efforts. These capabilities can save significant time, ensuring consistent communication with your audience while personalizing the customer experience.

10. Delivery and Deliverability

The deliverability of your emails directly influences the success of your email marketing campaigns. Investigate the email delivery infrastructure of potential services, including their ability to navigate spam filters and reach recipients’ inboxes effectively. High deliverability rates are crucial for ensuring your messages are received and can engage your target audience.

11. User-Friendly Interface

A user-friendly interface in your email marketing service simplifies the process of creating, managing, and analyzing campaigns. Look for a platform that offers an intuitive design, straightforward navigation, and accessible features that empower users of all skill levels to effectively execute their email marketing strategies.

12. Community and Resources

Access to a community forum, as well as educational resources such as blogs, webinars, or detailed guides, can significantly enhance your ability to utilize your email marketing service fully. These resources not only provide valuable insights and best practices but also foster a sense of community and support among users, facilitating shared learning and innovation.

Define Your Marketing Goals- Identify your marketing objectives: engagement, sales, or both. - Prioritize mobile optimization for wider reach.
Review Your Costs- Balance cost against potential returns. - Consider pricing based on subscribers. - Utilize free trials for assessment.
Evaluate Customer Service- Assess customer support quality: 24/7, email, chat, tutorials. - Invest in accessible, highly-rated support.
Get Great Analytics- Ensure robust analytics for testing and refinement. - Beyond basic metrics, assess comprehensive analytics. - Consider integration with Google Analytics.
Consider Integrations- Check for integration with your existing tools and platforms. - Streamline marketing and data management.
Scalability- Choose a service that supports your future growth. - Avoid limitations as your subscriber list expands.
Compliance and Data Security- Ensure compliance with data protection regulations. - Prioritize data security for customer privacy.
Template Customization- Assess template customization options for personalized and appealing emails.
Automation and Workflow- Consider automation features: drip campaigns, autoresponders, workflow automation. - Save time and streamline marketing efforts.
Delivery and Deliverability- Investigate email delivery capabilities and deliverability rates. - Ensure high deliverability to reach recipients' inboxes.
User-Friendly Interface- Evaluate the platform's user interface for ease of use. - Simplify email creation and campaign management.
Community and Resources- Check for community forums, blogs, webinars, guides, and other valuable resources. - Maximize the service's potential with available support.

Best Email Marketing Service

Measuring Email Marketing Success

Email marketing is a powerful tool for your startup, but how do you know if it’s truly effective? Measuring success is essential to refine your strategies and achieve your marketing goals. Here are key metrics to track:

  • Open Rate: This metric tells you how many recipients opened your email. A high open rate indicates compelling subject lines and relevant content.
  • Click-Through Rate (CTR): CTR measures the percentage of recipients who clicked on links within your email. It indicates engagement and interest in your content.
  • Conversion Rate: Track how many recipients completed the desired action, such as making a purchase or signing up for a webinar. Conversion rate reveals the effectiveness of your email in driving actions.
  • Bounce Rate: Bounces occur when emails cannot be delivered. High bounce rates can harm your sender reputation. Monitor both hard bounces (permanent delivery failures) and soft bounces (temporary issues).
  • Unsubscribe Rate: This metric shows the percentage of recipients who opted out of your emails. It’s important to manage unsubscribe rates to maintain a healthy subscriber list.
  • List Growth Rate: Measure how fast your email list is growing. A positive growth rate indicates successful lead generation strategies.
  • Revenue Attribution: Track the revenue generated from email marketing campaigns. Link specific sales or conversions to email efforts.
  • Email Client Analysis: Understand which email clients your subscribers use to view emails. Optimize your designs for popular email clients.
  • Device Analysis: Determine whether recipients open emails on mobile devices or desktops. Ensure mobile optimization for a seamless experience.
  • A/B Testing Results: Analyze the outcomes of A/B tests on subject lines, content, and designs. Use data to refine future campaigns.
  • Spam Complaints: Keep spam complaints to a minimum. High spam reports can harm your sender reputation and deliverability.
  • Forward and Share Rates: Monitor how often recipients forward or share your emails. It indicates valuable content worth sharing.
  • Customer Lifetime Value (CLV): Assess the long-term value of customers acquired through email marketing. High CLV signifies successful customer retention.
  • ROI (Return on Investment): Calculate the return on investment for your email marketing campaigns. It measures the profitability of your efforts.
  • Engagement Over Time: Track engagement patterns over time. Identify trends and adjust your email frequency and content accordingly.
  • Segmentation Performance: Measure how different email segments perform. Tailor content to resonate with each segment for better results.
  • Feedback and Surveys: Gather feedback from recipients through surveys or direct inquiries. Use insights to enhance your email strategy.

Integrating and Maximizing Your Email Marketing Service

Once you’ve selected the best email marketing service for your startup, the next step is ensuring you integrate it seamlessly into your current business processes and maximize its potential. Here’s how you can achieve this:

Seamless Integration with Your Business Tools

  • CRM Integration: Connect your email marketing service with your Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system. This integration allows for more personalized and targeted email campaigns based on customer data and interactions.
  • E-commerce Platform Connection: If you operate an e-commerce business, integrating your email marketing service with your e-commerce platform can help automate and personalize transactional emails, cart abandonment emails, and product recommendation emails.
  • Social Media Sync: Enhance your social media marketing by syncing your email marketing service with your social media platforms. This allows for easy sharing of email content on social media and vice versa, expanding your reach.

Maximizing the Potential of Your Email Marketing Service

  • Automate for Efficiency: Utilize automation features to send timely and relevant emails to your subscribers without constant manual intervention. Set up welcome emails, birthday emails, and follow-up sequences to keep your audience engaged.
  • Segment Your Audience: Divide your email list into segments based on demographics, purchase history, or engagement level. Tailored messages to specific segments can dramatically improve open rates, click-through rates, and conversions.
  • Personalize Your Messages: Beyond using a recipient’s name, leverage data from your CRM to personalize email content. Personalized emails resonate more with recipients, leading to higher engagement and loyalty.
  • Optimize for Mobile: Ensure your email designs are responsive and look great on mobile devices. With the increasing prevalence of mobile email access, mobile optimization is no longer optional.
  • Track and Analyze: Continuously monitor the performance of your email campaigns. Look at open rates, click-through rates, conversion rates, and unsubscribe rates to identify what works and what doesn’t. Use these insights to refine your strategy.

Continual Learning and Adaptation

  • Stay Updated on Best Practices: Email marketing is an ever-evolving field. Stay informed about the latest trends, technologies, and best practices to keep your email marketing strategy fresh and effective.
  • Encourage Feedback: Solicit feedback from your subscribers about what they like or dislike about your emails. Use surveys or direct communication to gather this valuable information and adjust your approach accordingly.

Email Photo via Shutterstock

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Sujan Patel Sujan Patel has championed Internet marketing and entrepreneurship for over a decade. His experience, ideas, and strategies have helped hundreds of companies build and strengthen their businesses online. Sujan is the VP of Marketing at thisCLICKS, the makers of When I Work — an employee scheduling software solution for small businesses.