Disclosure: This content is endorsed by the reader. So if you click on some of our links we may receive a commission.
What if I told you that there is a single marketing channel that businesses can use to get a 3,800% ROI?
That brings in $ 38 for every dollar spent.
That magical marketing channel is called email. Yes, just plain old email. And that crazy average ROI is one of many email marketing statistics that have been around for years.
The biggest surprise to me is how many companies don't use email marketing.
I hear it's too much work designing newsletters, managing a growing number of contacts, personalizing messages, and driving the campaign forward.
It is believed that email is a time sink but it does not match the statistics.
If it were really too labor intensive to run an efficient email marketing campaign, the average ROI wouldn't even be 1/1000 of what it is year after year.
The key is finding the right email marketing service. Don't wait to create better campaigns in less time.
The top 5 options for email marketing services
- Constant contact – best for e-commerce
- Zoho Campaigns – Best for simple campaigns
- Sendinblue – Best Ease of Use
- Marketo Engage – Best for segmentation and personalization
- Pardot – Best for B2B Marketing
How to choose the best email marketing service for you
Email marketing services have many features that can save you time at every step of a campaign.
With my favorite products, you get minutes back for every task. Professional templates, drag-and-drop email editors, and list management tools make all the difficult parts easy.
In addition, many of the most time consuming campaign processes can be automated with an email marketing service.
The minutes you save quickly turn into hours, especially when you're running large-scale campaigns.
More effective campaigns. Less effort. That is the goal.
Let's go through the key features of email marketing services so you understand which product will get the best results.
Unless your marketing teams are also developers, it's important to find a tool that everyone on your team can use.
As you browse, keep an eye out for the templates and preset workflows offered by each email marketing service. Would you like to use these or do you want to create your own custom templates? Some email marketing services lose their supposed usability if you leave their predefined paths.
It's a definite plus if your solution includes visual design tools for creating emails and workflows. An easy-to-learn editor can be used right away by those who need it. You don't need any training or wait for someone familiar with the editor.
The best email marketing services also offer support, documentation, and walkthroughs to train users and ensure that their product is truly self-service.
If reviews reveal customer support is sluggish or answers are hard to find, that's a red flag.
Integration and implementation
One important question: how easily is your email marketing service integrated with your existing stack?
Solutions that are built into the products you use will speed deployment and reduce future problems. This is especially true for your existing CRM and all other customer data sources.
Some products, such as Sendinblue, come with their own CRM as part of the package. This can be useful for businesses that don't want to buy multiple products as part of their email campaign.
The emails you send must reach your recipient's inbox. End of the story.
Without a high deliverability rate – less than 95% I would worry about – your email campaigns are dead in the water.
All good email marketing services ensure high deliverability in two ways.
In the backend, they authenticate emails with DKIM, SPF and SenderID and at the same time work with Internet service providers to ensure that the customers' IP addresses are not blocked.
In addition, quality platforms offer ready-made email templates that are both visually appealing and comply with data protection and anti-spam laws.
On the user side, email marketing services help you create compelling subject lines and content that will encourage customers to actually open your message. They also provide tools for managing subscribers so you can keep a clean list and avoid the spam folder.
Email automation and customer journeys
One of the most important defining (or limiting) functions of an email marketing service is the level of complexity your workflows can manage.
Using entry-level tools, you can automate series of email greetings for new subscribers and other similarly simple processes.
If you want to add conditional or logical triggers that branch the customer journey into more personalized paths, you need a bigger tool.
You also need to know a lot about your audience. Products with really good list segmentation capabilities capture tons of information about your customers, making your automation more focused.
For example, you can use segmentation to automate personalized emails. You can set workflow triggers that respond to customer loyalty, shopping habits, and other trends to ensure customers only get messages that are likely to interest them.
Good quality email marketing services have numerous tools for managing the subscribers on their list. They will help you:
- Import lists: Integrate contact lists from CRMs and other databases seamlessly.
- Keep a clean list: Identify and remove inactive subscribers and spam traps that are affecting deliverability
- Generate leads: Create new contacts with popups, landing pages and other multichannel tools that start an ongoing conversation.
- Segment your list: Automatically group subscribers based on many criteria, including everything from the time zone they live in to the way they signed up, and everything in between.
Tracking campaign performance
Email marketing strategies need to be agile.
Each service discussed in this article has the ability to track traditional KPIs such as:
- Bounce rate
- Click rate
- Exchange rate
- Forward / Share Rate
- List growth rate
- Open rates
- Unsubscribe rate
By keeping an eye on these metrics, companies can optimize their campaigns accordingly.
Many email marketing services offer A / B tests that you can use to test different versions of email or subject lines to see which is performing better.
Look for it as it is very helpful in tailoring campaigns in the right direction over time.
Advanced email marketing services help you link traditional metrics to sales so you can see ROI per email sent and other business-critical metrics. Plus, you can see how content is doing with features like click heatmaps that show where your customers are spending the most of their time.
You will likely have to spend more on these features, but they can provide vital information that can pay off.
Marketing automation software like Pardot offers multi-touch attribution models that you can use to visualize every touchpoint throughout the customer lifecycle. Marketing Attribution drives business growth and informs your future campaigns by highlighting the key elements of any customer relationship.
The Different Types of Email Marketing Services
Most of the products in this category aim to provide email marketing services to businesses of all sizes. Hence, they offer a range of plans, from a budget-friendly package to enterprise service levels.
Example products: Zoho Campaigns, Sendinblue (Free & Lite)
On the lightweight side of the spectrum, you'll find services that complement your email marketing campaigns with easy-to-use tools for automation, email processing, and subscriber management.
These products are billed as email autoresponders or email automation.
They don't so much change what you do as they help you do it better, faster, and more to scale.
Because they're so simple, the best email autoresponders are incredibly intuitive, inexpensive, and can provide results almost instantly.
Email Marketing Platforms
Exemplary products: Constant contact, Sendinblue (Premium & Enterprise)
Email Marketing Platforms are a one-stop shop that allows you to create, track, manage, and optimize campaigns.
They capture, store, and segment your customer data much better than a standalone email autoresponder. And with the richer picture of your audience, you can create much more complex email workflows.
For example, they can be very detailed when it comes to personalized customer trips. In Constant Contact, you can automate e-mails with shoppable product recommendations based on a person's buying habits.
Doesn't that sound great?
What is really nice is that these products are very easy to use and provide. The features for tracking campaign performance are built right in and offer a lot of visibility and control right away. Some will be integrated with tools like Google Analytics to get actionable data.
You can see what works, what doesn't and make changes on the fly.
Marketing automation software
Example products: Salesforce Pardot, Marketo Engage
Marketing automation software includes email marketing services as part of a broader suite that covers every communication channel.
Businesses can expand their reach to email, SMS, social networks, SEO, websites, webinars and paid media. Information from all of these channels is centralized in intuitive dashboards that enable evidence-based campaign decisions in real time.
Marketing automation software allows you to create multi-store email campaigns and customer trips and track progress at each stage.
These products are understandably a bit more expensive. If you're looking to run simple to moderately complex email campaigns, an email marketing platform is fine.
However, if you are facing large-scale problems or email workflows cannot meet your needs, it may be time to consolidate your processes with a marketing automation solution.
# 1 – Stay in touch – Best for e-commerce
In addition to world-class e-commerce, event hosting, website creation and multi-channel marketing solutions, Constant Contact offers some of the best email marketing services.
They have an average deliverability rate of 97%. It's only possible because the mature platform combines powerful behind-the-scenes features – like block lists, proactive monitoring, and various forms of authentication – with an intuitive user interface that enables teams to create effective messages that won't ricochet.
You can get Constant Contact up and running very quickly and it will take away a lot of the legwork associated with email marketing.
Automate product recommendations by, for example, sending shoppable emails based on a customer's items in their cart, the weather, or the tendencies of like-minded buyers.
Trying to complete this task without an email marketing service would be extremely time consuming. With Constant Contact, the process can be automated by almost anyone.
Some of the other reasons millions of people use constant contact are:
- Unlimited email transmissions
- Custom and branded templates
- Tracking campaign performance
- Subject line A / B check
- Drag and drop email editor
- Extensive e-commerce functions
- Subscriber management, segmentation
- RSVP, poll and poll
Constant Contact also helps with lead generation through landing pages, customizable pop-up forms, and free hosting for a mobile responsive website. This includes a blog where you can use your email content as posts for SEO.
There are three pricing tiers for Constant Contact email marketing services. The amount you pay is based on the number of contacts. The plans are:
- E-mail: From $ 20 / month
- Email Plus: From $ 45 / month
- professional: From $ 195 / month
Constant Contact Email and Email Plus are two of the most popular email marketing services available today.
Constant Contact Pro uses AI-driven marketing automation to provide personalized product recommendations, intelligent subject lines, behavioral segmentation capabilities, and advanced workflows.
I'd consider a Pro subscription if you're thinking about marketing automation but aren't ready to pull the trigger on a heavyweight product like Pardot or Marketo.
# 2 – Zoho Campaigns – Best for simple campaigns
Zoho Campaigns is a lightweight, affordable email marketing service that has all the essentials.
Everything in Zoho campaigns has been trimmed (but not watered down) so you can still get 80-90% of what you can do with an email marketing service that costs three to four times as much.
The user-friendliness corresponds to an agile project management software like Trello. Non-technical users can not only navigate Zoho campaigns, but also master their domain.
Control the following functions intuitively:
- Drag & drop email editor and template creator
- Email autoresponder
- Email automation
- Merge tags
- Subscriber Management
- A / B tests
- work in groups
- Real-time analysis
Note that Zoho Campaigns is also integrated with popular CRM, e-commerce and contact management products.
By integrating these data sources, you can better target and personalize your email campaigns. However, Zoho campaigns remain pretty easy to use.
For example, by integrating with Google Analytics, you can enrich the amount of customer data you collect with every interaction and provide data visualizations so you can better understand relationships over time.
Zoho campaign prices are straightforward:
- Email based plan: from 2 USD / month
- Subscriber-based plan: from $ 4 / month
- Pay-as-you-go plan: from 6 USD / month
The subscriber-based plan is my favorite because it includes email automation that doesn't come with the email-based or pay-as-you-go plans. At $ 263 / month for 100,000 contacts on the subscription-based plan, automation pays for itself many times over.
You can also try the free version of Zoho Campaigns forever. It's limited to 2,000 subscribers, but you get plenty of marketing and content management features, as well as a chance to see if you like the user interface.
# 3 – Sendinblue – Best Ease of Use
Sendinblue is a unified CRM, chat, Facebook, SMS and email marketing platform. It is packed with features that are very easy to learn.
In other words, lots of tools with very little training.
Unlike other options on this list, every Sendinblue subscription (including Free and Lite) has sales CRM, marketing automation, real-time reporting, advanced segmentation capabilities, and much more.
How's that for the out-of-the-box function? But wait. There is more.
With popups, landing pages, and chatbots, you can build your contact list with minimal effort and turn website visitors and Facebook passersby into your next lead.
And once people are on your list, Sendinblue gives you a ton of great tools to use to nurture leads, expand customer journeys, and communicate effectively every step of the way. The main features include:
- Unlimited contacts with any plan
- Mobile friendly visual email editor
- Retargeting Ads
- Tracking campaign performance
- A / B tests
- Customizable registration forms
- Transactional emails
- Email API, SMTP Relay, and other core API functions
- Advanced email automation
Sendinblue offers a free forever version and paid plans at different price levels:
- Lite: From $ 25 / month
- bonus: From $ 65 / month
- Companies: Contact sales
The amount you pay is based on your tier and the number of emails you send each month. You can save as many contacts as you want without affecting the price, which most other platforms don't.
In particular, Sendinblue's Pay-as-you-go plan has the same great features as the tier you choose, with the exception of telephone support. This is also something you won't find in other options like Zoho campaigns.
No prior knowledge or technical skill is required to use Sendinblue, and the forever free plan is one of the best available.
# 4 – Marketo Engage – Best for segmentation and personalization
Adobe's Marketo Engage is a full-service marketing automation solution that supports your strategy across any channel.
Centralize and analyze customer data in an intuitive environment that enables email campaigns with fine-grained segmentation and dynamic personalization.
You can customize complex workflows with behavioral triggers that wouldn't be possible on other platforms because they can't capture as much information as Marketo.
Every feature is full bodied. For example, A / B / n testing allows you to control multiple versions of the same site or email, rather than just binary A / B testing where many other products stop.
There's also Adobe Sensei, which uses AI and machine learning to personalize content. Sensei analyzes the performance of all of your assets, learns which content is best for whom, and updates emails accordingly.
Other great features that come with using Marketo for email marketing include:
- Drag and drop workflow builder
- Lead and account scoring
- Deep engagement and performance analysis
- Attribution and ROI dashboard
- Customer lifecycle management
- One-click campaign cloning
- Champion / Challenger test
- A / B / n tests
You need to contact Marketo to receive a prize. The total cost of ownership is higher than a dedicated email marketing service. However, if you want superior segmentation and personalization, it can do a lot more.
# 5 – Pardot – Best for B2B Marketing Automation
Pardot is Salesforce's marketing automation platform specifically designed for B2B marketing.
Do you need to hear more or are you already sold? It's as good and as deep as you think it is.
Pardot has more than 2,000 integrations, a wide range of functions, and a surprisingly intuitive user interface. To be honest, the platform is a few steps ahead of its competitors in the dedicated email marketing space.
Building the backend will take some time and effort. However, once everything is set up, Pardot gives you unparalleled insight into your campaigns.
If you feel that your current setup lacks the complexity of workflows, or your analytics and data visualization tools don't give you the insight into the campaigns you need, Pardot is the ticket.
Some of the advanced email marketing features include:
- B2B Marketing Analytics
- Engagement history dashboards
- Merge fields
- Visual lead nurturing designer
- Social profiling
- ROI reporting
- Multi-touch attribution models
- Developer sandbox
Pardot isn't a cheap option, but it's money well spent on a high-growth campaign.
There are four price levels:
- growth: from $ 1,250 / month
- plus: from $ 2,500 / month
- Advanced: from $ 4,000 / month
- bonus: from $ 15,000 / month
Other marketing automation solutions like Marketo will be priced in this neighborhood. There are certainly email marketing platforms out there that you can get for a fraction of the cost, but they don't give you the option to ensure the visibility and customization that Pardot offers.
If you're just starting out I'd try one of the best email autoresponders to get a feel for which email marketing features are most important to you.
Zoho Campaigns is another really good place to start. These tools are easy to use, and many have options forever free.
For companies that need more visibility into their campaigns but don't want to struggle with a new platform, Sendinblue is a great solution. It's also not prohibitively expensive, even at the premium level.
Constant contact is another great option in the SMB price range, especially for ecommerce. It includes some of the same features you can find with marketing automation software, but it doesn't lose the ease of use.
If you need the marketing automation and business intelligence capabilities of Pardot or Marketo, plan for them. After a certain point in time, dedicated email marketing services will no longer handle the automated trips you planned.
If Pardot and Marketo are giving you a sticker shock but still want real marketing automation, check out Freshmarketer or one of the other best software solutions for marketing automation.