With a plethora of new and innovative marketing channels available for ecommerce and a focus on omnichannel strategies, it can be difficult to know where to start and what to prioritize.
A good place to start is good old-fashioned email marketing. Because while many people have been busy writing it off in favor of cooler and more dynamic channels like social media, email marketing continues to produce $44 for every $1 spent– the best ROI of any channel.
Email marketing has come a long way in recent years, with detailed strategies encompassing automation, segmentation, and personalization replacing the ‘hit and hope’ dump campaigns of yesteryear.
To maximize the potential of your email marketing campaigns, it’s important to choose the email marketing tool that best fits your specific requirements. This article discusses the basic, minimum features that you should expect from any email marketing software provider, and checks out the various pros and cons of seven of the best on the market.
A user-friendly email builder that offers things like drag-and-drop functionality, built-in templates, and photo editing is a must. You want to be able to quickly build attractive, eye-catching emails, and be able to view how they will appear to the recipient before sending. Best-performing designs should be easily accessible for use in future campaigns.
Keeping a clean list of contacts who find your messages relevant means that you approach only those subscribers who are signed up for your newsletter and are still engaged with your brand – these are the people who bring value. Look for a provider that makes it easy to keep your list streamlined and targeted – some platforms will offer automatic segmentation based on metrics like demographics, location, engagement levels and more so you can send more relevant, personalized campaigns
Email A/B testing allows you to send out different email types to a small percentage of your recipients so you can see which one worked best, measuring things like the subject line, copy, and sender name. This way, you can fine-tune your campaign so only the best-performing version is automatically sent to the rest of your recipients.
Comprehensive, real-time reporting enables you to find out exactly what is working and what needs a few tweaks. Look for reporting tools that offer key metrics like CTR, open rates, demographics, and trending content so you can quickly and easily adjust your campaign as the results come in.
Ideally, you should be able to set a workflow based on key metrics and allow your campaign to send precisely targeted content at exactly the right times. Drip campaigns, designed to nurture leads, welcome customers, and answer frequently asked questions can be set on either a predetermined schedule or act according to certain triggers, like a visit to your website or a click on a particular link.
You should be able to seamlessly integrate your email campaigns with other channels like various social media pages and SMS, as well as easily connect with things like ecommerce platforms and Google ads to extend your reach and keep your audience engaged. Because while email works great as a standalone channel, it’s even better when part of an immersive, omnichannel experience.
As a platform that has been designed specifically for ecommerce businesses, Omnisend is packed with exactly the kind of features that a growing business needs.
This is most obvious with its seamless integrations with a variety of ecommerce platforms including Shopify, BigCommerce, and Magento. And, as the name suggests, it offers multiple channels from which you can run your automated workflows at the same time – from automated email and SMS to push notifications, Google Ads, Instagram, Facebook Ads, and Messenger. Quite an impressive list!
Despite the focus on multichannel marketing, attention to detail for individual channels does not suffer. Omnisend’s email tools feature thoughtful and innovative email templates that are specifically designed to reduce cart abandonment and drive repeat purchases, and creating your content is a cinch with a drag-and-drop content editor offering cool little ecommerce-specific extras like gift boxes, scratch cards, and birthday discounts.
Other useful features include:
• An attention-grabbing Welcome Series
• Detailed Cart Abandonment strategies for lapsed customers
• Post-Purchase Messages for building loyalty and encouraging reviews
• Simple and detailed segmentation for creating personalized messaging
• Comprehensive, real-time campaign reports
Omnisend offers a basic free plan, but to access its more interesting and useful features you’ll need a plan, starting at $16/mo. Most ecommerce businesses choose the $99/mo Pro plan- giving complete access to all features and including free monthly SMS credits equal to the amount you spend for the plan.
When it comes to email or newsletter-based marketing, MailChimp is likely the first thing to spring to mind. These legends of the game have been around forever, and have built their reputation on a user-friendly interface, comprehensive free features (such as their in-built CRM), and an intuitive reporting system.
With so much experience to fall back on, MailChimp has built up an unbelievable integrations list over time – it works seamlessly with pretty much any ecommerce-related platform on the market. It has recently moved towards a more complete marketing platform, offering many of the innovative automation features that we’ve come to expect such as abandoned cart messaging, retargeting tools, and easy segmentation of audiences based on a variety of metrics.
With its email and newsletter marketing focus, MailChimp might seem a little old-fashioned compared to its ‘omnichannel experience’ competitors. However, its in-depth knowledge and understanding of email campaigns, alongside an embrace of modern automation innovations, make MailChimp a serious player that will only continue to evolve with time. It’s perfect for small businesses that are just starting out with automated marketing software, and need a competitively-priced option for running in-depth email campaigns.
MailChimp’s free plan is legendary, offering up to 10,000 emails each month to 2,000 different subscribers. From there you can step up to the Essentials plan, which starts at $9.99/mo for 500 contacts and 500k emails. Next is the Standard plan, which comes with advanced automations for $14.99/mo, while Premium enables full access to all features for $299/mo.
ActiveCampaign is best-known for its strong emphasis on the customer – offering unique solutions for ecommerce businesses that identify target audiences using innovative contact and lead-scoring algorithms. Customers are given a special rating, based on the quantity and quality of their interactions with your business, which triggers specific workflows based on their precise requirements.
This kind of hyper-segmentation makes for excellent personalization potential, a must for any business looking to build a loyal and engaged customer base. ActiveCampaign offers plenty of useful email templates, but you’ll find yourself using the drag-and-drop editor often when constructing highly personalized content based on the comprehensive data you’ve received, as well as the split-testing features they offer.
While not the quintessential omnichannel experience – you can reach customers through email, SMS, Facebook, and on-site messaging, ActiveCampaign offers an in-depth email marketing package and integrates well with popular ecommerce apps such as Shopify, Magento, and WooCommerce.
You can sign up for the basic version of ActiveCampaign for just $9/mo and test out its unique features. If you like it and are ready for the fully-stocked version, you’re looking at $129/mo (paid annually) for starters, increasing with the number of subscribers you have.
HubSpot offers a complete marketing platform, with everything from sales to customer service and CRM software. With HubSpot Marketing you can bring all your marketing tools under one umbrella and take advantage of features that help to increase website traffic, convert website visitors into leads, and much more.
While the sheer scale of HubSpot might seem a little intimidating to the newcomer, it’s quite simple to quickly create and modify your content with the drag-and-drop editor and start sending out automated campaigns. With a free CRM offering personalization potential, list management, and excellent deliverability, HubSpot’s email marketing capabilities are formidable, especially when combined with other aspects of their marketing platform.
Because that’s the biggest advantage of HubSpot – its one-size-fits-all nature. It is a single platform that can take care of every aspect of your marketing needs, giving you complete context over all of your activities in one place.
HubSpot is available in Starter, Professional, and Enterprise packages starting at $40/mo, $800/mo, and $3,200/mo respectively. However, with a free CRM with email as well as Facebook, Google, and LinkedIn Ads tools, it’s definitely worth giving it a try before scaling up if you like it.
Similar to Omnisend, SendinBlue is an ecommerce-focused marketing platform that provides affordable solutions to small and medium-sized businesses.
With easy integration to platforms like Magento, PrestaShop, WordPress, Drupal, and SalesForce, SendinBlue offers a highly customizable editor that is optimized for both desktop and mobile use. Strong testing and reporting capabilities mean that you’ll be able to find out exactly which email is the most popular with your audience, automatically segmented by metrics such as declared interests, previous engagement or socio-economic and geographical characteristics.
SendinBlue promises the kind of marketing tools that big companies use but without the big cost. With a strong focus on customer relationships, their intuitive and powerful marketing software platform can adapt to business needs, big and small. As well as email, they also offer SMS and chat.
Email plans range from the Free to Premium, which starts at $66 or €49/mo. Pricing largely depends on the number of emails each month you can send – 300 emails per day on the Free and up to 350,000 emails a month on Premium. All plans allow for unlimited contacts – a notable difference between SendinBlue’s plans and its key competitors. The Premium plan includes send-time optimization, a landing page builder, unlimited automation workflows and a free dedicated IP.
Klaviyo is a complete email marketing platform that offers the full set of automation features, including advanced segmentation, email campaigns, SMS, automated workflows, email capture and popups, and more
Creating campaigns with their drag-and-drop editor is a breeze, with some innovative, and also slightly odd, features. For example, rather than integrating a column into an existing content block, you are instead required to set up a pre-split block and edit that. A minor detail that could cause inconvenience to those customizing large numbers of emails, but the editing process is otherwise smooth and intuitive.
While allowing SMS marketing and incredibly detailed testing tools, email automation is Klaviyo’s true strength, offering complex workflows that are easy to set up. For the beginner, you are presented with a variety of popular flows to play with, for example abandoned cart and browse abandonment, to get familiar with the features available and adapt them to your needs.
Klaviyo, like Omnisend, has an ecommerce focus, offering integrations with WooCommerce, Magento, BigCommerce and other smaller platforms. However, it is most popular with Shopify users – Klaviyo has been designed to maximize the Shopify user experience. If you are big on Shopify, Klaviyo is definitely worth a try.
You can choose a free plan with all features included, however, this allows for only 250 contacts and 500 email sends per month. You are also required to show Klaviyo branding in your mails. For those just starting out this can be a decent option, but upscaling gets pricy quite quickly.
For example, over 1000 subscribers costs $45/mo, and over 2000 jumps to $60. Expect your subscription to increase by around $25 for every 1000 subscribers you add.
Privy is all about engagement, helping you to increase your conversion rates with things like pop-ups, banners, and spin wheels for attracting attention and rewarding customers with discounts. This is supplemented by an automated email marketing platform that works hand-in-hand with engagement tools to give ecommerce businesses real visibility and better ROI.
Designing custom emails, pop-ups, and banners is easy with a simple drag-and-drop editor – there is also an abundance of ecommerce-specific templates to choose from to save you time. In order to deliver your messages to the right people at the right time, Privy offers campaign triggers and audience targeting so you can approach selected visitors with specific display campaigns.
With a focus on eye-catching engagement, collecting emails is a more intuitive process. Email campaigns are easy to execute, with a comprehensive welcome series and features like timed coupon reminders to keep potential leads interested and engaged.
Integration is another major strength of Privy, with seamless links to any ecommerce platform on the market. You can also import your contacts from other providers like MailChimp, and connect with other popular platforms like Slack and Salesforce.
Privy has different plans based on onsite displays, email marketing, and SMS marketing. Email starts at $10 a month and includes things like newsletters, abandoned cart emails, order follow up emails and welcome series. Prices then increase by roughly $5/mo for every 1000 contacts added, with nice bonuses such as a dedicated Customer Success Manager when you pass 50,000.
Choosing the perfect email marketing tool for your business can be tough – there are plenty on the market each with various pros and cons and unique features.
The best thing you can do is avail yourself of a free trial to get a feel for the interface and features because ultimately, it all depends on the overall needs and goals of your particular business.
We hope that you find this short list helpful in your search, and you now know exactly what you should be looking for.
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