Choosing an Email Marketing Service? Read These User Reviews First

Choosing an Email Marketing Service? Read These User Reviews First

Researching email marketing tools for your team? Don’t choose one until you’ve read what these users have to say

Picking an email marketing provider is a little like standing in the toothpaste aisle. So many options and they all do more or less the same thing. Where do you even start?

The good news is that, much like toothpaste, most email marketing services out there that will do what you need.

The bad news is that it’s not easy to switch. Once you choose an email provider, it’s in your best interest to pick one and stay there. It’s a huge hassle to switch companies and migrate subscriber lists.

The challenge then is to find out which one is the best fit for you and your team.

To make this easier, we’ll look at some of the popular email services and learn what prominent users of those services have to say.

A BRIEF NOTE
Broadly speaking, there are two tiers of email marketing services. We’ll call it “Normal” and “Enterprise”. The Normal tier will suit most companies and is the focus of this article.

If your team’s email volume is high – your list is over 100K – then you’ll want to consider Enterprise email marketing plans, which start at a few hundred dollars a month and can easily go into the thousands.

MailChimp

mailchimp-review

MailChimp is easily one of the most popular email marketing tools out there, and for good reason: they’re the only service on this list with a free tier, making them the first choice for many teams just getting started with their email program. Any early-stage startup following lean methodology is likely using MailChimp.

I asked Ryan Hoover from Startup Edition and Sylvain Gauchet from Apptamin for their thoughts on using MailChimp:

What do you like about MailChimp?

ryanhoover

The product does an excellent job of offering advanced functionality without making the core experience overly complicated. It also gradually introduces you to new features through its login messages and unlock of features (e.g. A/B testing) after using the product for a few weeks.
— Ryan Hoover, Startup Edition

sylvain

I like the new UI; I can now go through the whole process pretty fast, especially using the ‘duplicate email’ function (we send monthly emails and tend to keep the same format). I also like the reports on each campaign, which allows me to analyze all my stats. Their iPhone app also allows for a quick view on how the email list is growing.
— Sylvain Gauchet, Apptamin

I’ve recently switched over the Growth Hero newsletter to MailChimp, and I strongly agree with Ryan and Sylvain. MailChimp’s UI is very easy to pick up and learn and the onboarding process is intuitive.

What don’t you like about MailChimp?

ryanhoover

MailChimp’s automatically created permalink pages (example) are very useful; however, they cannot be edited in the event that a link is broken or typo is missed before the newsletter is sent.
— Ryan Hoover, Startup Edition

sylvain

More and more, I’ve been wanting to send simpler emails with MailChimp, like the ones I get from people using other tools. I feel like email campaigns should be more personal – a classic email, as if it was written to a friend, sounds more engaging. That would be the sole reason for me to change tools.
— Sylvain Gauchet, Apptamin

Advanced users will need to do a bit of tweaking and digging through menus to ensure they’re getting the most out of their MailChimp accounts.

AWeber

aweber-review

Bloggers Benny Hsu (Get Busy Living Blog) and Adam Connell (Blogging Wizard) use AWeber to operate their mailing lists. Let’s see what they have to say about AWeber:

What do you like about AWeber?

bennyhsu

– Easy to send out a broadcast
– Can setup an autoresponder sequence easily
– Can create segments for my readers.
– Can tell me if my email will likely be marked as spam and where I need to change it
— Benny Hsu, Get Busy Living Blog

adamconnell

Ease of use. No other system makes it quite so easy, especially to people without experience of mailing list systems. The way Aweber is designed and with its wizard setup, it is just super straight forward. When you set up mailing list responders with other pieces of software and scripts – for example, WordPress plugins – finding your code is extremely easy. Other providers seem to make it a bit of a mission to find.

Apps – there’s a number of different apps that you can get working alongside AWeber, and there’s an API for some rather advanced stuff and easy integration with other tools

It just works – I never have any issues, everything just works
— Adam Connell, Blogging Wizard

Fully agreed with Benny and Adam about being able to set up AWeber in a short amount of time. Though in my experience, once you get past the setup stage, it can get a bit hairy for people who are new to email marketing or can’t hack some HTML.

What don’t you like about AWeber?

bennyhsu

– Difficult to segment by countries. Even when Googling the answer, still had no idea.
– The new text editor is confusing at first.
— Benny Hsu, Get Busy Living Blog

adamconnell

The price – AWeber’s pricing seems to be a bit more than everyone else. It would be cool if it was more in line with other services, but the saying ‘you get what you pay for’ rings true here.

Templates – they’ve added some updated templates recently but they just aren’t all that good, it’s like a trip back in time back to 1999. Although, that being said, I actually never use templates so it’s never been too big of an issue.
— Adam Connell, Blogging Wizard

Benny and Adam touch on my earlier point about running into difficulties with the AWeber UI. At some point, you’ll want to customize your AWeber sign up forms and confirmation pages, which is not as straightforward as it should be. Either the editors are confusing, or as Adam says, the built-in email templates are ugly.

GetResponse

getresponse-review

Look up reviews of GetResponse and you’ll find that users rave about their UI and how easy it is to use. Peep Laja from ConversionXL echoes this sentiment, as seen in his review below:

What do you like about GetResponse?

peeplaja

GetResponse is superior to any other email marketing software I’ve used. Its UI is awesome and super fast. In terms of features, it’s ahead of everyone; it’s also super easy to set things up. It’s also cheaper than MailChimp, which is an inferior product in comparison. Support is also fast.
— Peep Laja, ConversionXL

When Peep says that GetResponse is “cheaper than MailChimp”, he’s referring to MailChimp’s paid tiers. Note that MailChimp caps free accounts at 2,000 subscribers.

What don’t you like about GetResponse?

peeplaja

I wish they’d add automatic email remarketing capabilities.
— Peep Laja, ConversionXL

 

Remarketing is a tool that allows you to engage with users that have previously interacted with your company. It’s typically available in the “Enterprise” tier of email marketing solutions. It’s tedious work when done manually – especially if you have a huge list – which is why I’m sure Peep would love to see this feature 🙂

Campaign Monitor

campaignmonitor-review

Campaign Monitor has a history of serving design agencies, hence their strong focus on the look and feel of emails. They’re also the only service on this list that openly offers a private label service. I reached out to Jay Eckert from Parachute Design for his thoughts on Campaign Monitor:

What do you like about Campaign Monitor?

jayeckert

We can brand client accounts residing under our own account.
We can control pricing for client controlled campaigns.
We can customize URLs.
It’s very easy to setup and mailing list, registration form and run a campaign.
It’s easy to upload custom HTML layouts.
— Jay Eckert, Parachute Design

If you run an agency and offer email marketing as a value-added service, then you’ll need to consider Campaign Monitor.

What don’t you like about Campaign Monitor?

jayeckert

I find the editor to be somewhat restrictive. Would be nice if we could allow clients with little HTML knowledge to create more customized layouts within the template builder.

Don’t like that there must be at least one editable field when uploading a custom HTML template that we have no intention of using in the editor.
— Jay Eckert, Parachute Design

Some frustration around using Campaign Monitor’s editor tool. Surprising, seeing as how they brand themselves as the solution for designers.

Choose wisely, but don’t overthink it

There are so many other email marketing companies out there, and I couldn’t possibly list them all here. I’ve only included the ones I personally see the most in my inbox.

If you’re doing research on which service to choose, don’t get caught up reading reviews trying to make a perfect decision. It’ll eat up tons of your time, and there is no perfect decision anyway.

I wrote this article because doing this research is so difficult – most email marketing companies have generous affiliate programs, so it’s hard to tell which reviews are genuine and which are incentivized. For the record, this review has no affiliate links.

Whichever email marketing company you choose, make sure to deeply explore their feature set to get the full value of the service. And don’t be shy with contacting them – these companies often have whitepapers or webinars that help you squeeze the highest possible numbers with your emails.

[Note: see the comments below for follow-ups from some of the companies mentioned above.]

Photo Credit: Claudio Gamboli

David Fallarme

Hi, I'm David Fallarme. I've been doing marketing in companies big and small. I like learning new things, so I'll share what I know with you.

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