Email Marketing Tools
Many small businesses could greatly benefit from a good Email Marketing System. The idea is to keep in touch with customers and prospects to give valuable content in an inexpensive medium on a regular basis, so they view you as an authority in the area. This will result in the prospects coming to your company when they are ready to buy the product or service you offer. These systems all allow for targeted messages sent to only those that have shown interest and allow for automated followup.
There are several good low cost systems that are very similar, but have their strengths and weaknesses. We will look at the entry level systems first.
MailChimp – For being an entry level system, it is feature rich and easy to use. It does everything well, but doesn’t have any specific features that put it ahead of the rest of the pack. The one huge benefit is they have a free option. This is very appealing to a brand new start up with a low budget. The free version is fully functional and has a pretty high limit to the number of emails addresses you can store. The paid plans start at $10/month, so it is very competitive in its pricing.
AWeber – This system is a favorite of Internet Marketing Gurus. I am not sure if it is because it has a nice Affiliate program or if it has just been endorsed by so many well respected people that it is now the system of choice. Either way, they seem to really like it, and it has a good set of features. It allows you to get started for $1 for the first month and then goes from $19 and up based on the size of your list.
InfusionSoft – This system does more than Email Marketing. It is a Customer Relationship Manager (CRM) and also offers a Shopping Cart option. The price is higher, starting at $199/month for up to three users, but it gives you so much more. They also have very detailed training (at a price) to help get their customers up and running smoothly. In fact they claim to be able to double your sales with the system. They to cater more to the needs of a company that deals offline more than the entry level systems. Of course they are not lacking for a company based entirely online, but this could be more useful to the non-tech-savvy business owners that could really use a push.
Salesforce Professional – This is a CRM first, but has some email capabilities. The professional version is the first to offer mass email capabilities and it starts at $65/user/month. In this system, the email is an afterthought, so it has some features and capabilities missing.
Silverpop Engage – This system has its strengths but is more for the corporate environment with more complex systems and higher budgets. Pricing is all customized and will likely be too high for a small business. There are mixed reviews for this system from the users. Their Engage B2B system is merging with their core Engage system, which could improve things. I have used the B2B version and found some areas lacking.
Responsys – Again, this will be priced much higher than the lower levels, but has had good reviews from its users. I have not used this system, but have talked to several people that have and they seem to feel like it is a premium system worth the money.
Choosing the system is the first step to a successful email marketing system. The second step is the implementation and configuration guidelines for use. If you need help in making a decision of implementing the system, there are several firms that can help you out including Employee for Free, that will do it at no cost if you allow them to write about your experience with the tool. Another company that could help for a fee is Octonerd.