Email Marketing and AutoResponder Platforms

email marketing and autoresponder platforms

Investing in a reliable email marketing and autoresponder platform has the power to change your business for better – or worse. You’re not only investing your time into building up your email communication, but you’re investing your hard-earned money into one that will need to fit your needs and reach your customers. But with dozens and dozens of email marketing and autoresponder platforms out there for you to choose from, how do you begin to pick the one that is right for you? What should you know about integration and segmentation and autoresponders and all the different elements of an email sending platform? When you are trying to manage your business, it can all seem like too much to deal with.

One of the most critical things a business owner needs is the ability to be in communication with clients at any time. Automated emails provide a fast, easy, and attention-grabbing way to get your message across to your customers on a regular basis.
We took the guess work out of finding the best email marketing platform for you and your business. We compared a number of the bulk email providers, reviewed their pricing, services, and other important issues, and compiled a list of the top five email marketing platforms so that you can feel secure knowing that you have chosen the one that best fits the needs of your business.Before we break down the top five and give you our recommendation, here is a primer of key terms that we will refer to in this article that you might not be familiar with but need to understand when considering what email marketing platform is right for you.


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SEGMENTATION: An email marketing technique that refers to splitting your subscriber list into a number of smaller sub-lists based a variety of reasons or conditions. It is used often by businesses and marketers to ensure that specific people receive information that is particularly relevant to them.
INTEGRATION: The act of bringing together several different components into one system so that they can function effectively together. In terms of email marketing, integration refers to the ability to merge email lists from one email provider or compiled from a signup on a website into the platform for bulk emailing.
AUTORESPONDER: A program that automatically sends a predetermined response to a certain email address.
TRIGGERED EMAIL: A message sent to a subscriber based on an event (i.e. a coupon for a birthday, etc.)

Keep these terms in mind as you read through the data and facts compiled below. These are some of the best email marketing providers on the market today.

SendinBlue

SendinBlue was launched in 2012 and has quickly distinguished itself as one of the better email marketing platform on the internet today. As with any bulk email provider, there are different levels of service available. SendinBlue is unique in that it bases its fees on the number of emails sent per month:

SendinBlue logo email marketing software and autoresponder platform

  • Under 9,000 emails/month – FREE
  • 9,001-40,000 emails/month – $7.37/month (Micro plan)
  • 40,001-60,000 emails/month – $39/month (Bronze plan)
  • 60,001-120,000 emails/month – $66/month (Silver plan)
  • If you send more than 120,000 email messages in a month, you have reached the Enterprise plan and costs for that range from $173/month for 350,000 emails/month up to $1,946/month for 15 million emails/month.

What You Get For Your Money:

  • SendinBlue offers access to over 700 free email templates that you can use for your e-newsletters or email messages. They also offer online opt-in forms as part of their paid packages.
  • Segmentation is offered in all of their plans regardless of cost. They do not have the ability to import email addresses directly from Gmail or your independent service provider, requiring you to create a CSV or XLS list and import your contacts that way.
  • SendinBlue offers easy integration with major e-commerce providers on the market and also has the ability to integrate with WordPress as well, automatically syncing your WordPress contacts with your SendinBlue account to send emails to all of your contacts.
  • SendinBlue doesn’t offer autoresponders but they do offer trigger emails. There are a lot of ways within their system to set up the trigger emails, allowing you to target lots of different sub-groups in different ways at different times.
  • Overall, the entire platform was ranked as easy to use, although not as easy as others on the market. The inability to import from third parties plays a factor in that determination.

Special Features:
One feature that separates SendinBlue from other email platforms is that you can set up unlimited trigger emails. They also pride themselves on being particularly mobile-friendly. They do offer an affiliate marketing program, giving a 30% commission for every lead you generate on your website that turns into a sale.
Drawbacks:
There are daily sending limits with the SendinBlue free plan, although those are lifted if you become a paid subscriber. The same goes for the inclusion of the “SendinBlue” logo on all emails; it is only removed if you pay for your service with them. Some may consider that inconsequential to their email marketing, but for other business owners, that can be a big deal. Finally, while there was a large variety of email templates, there were mixed reviews about their quality.

MailChimp

MailChimp was founded in 2001 and by 2014, it was sending over 10 billion (yes, billion with a “b”) emails on behalf of its subscribers every month.
MailChimp bases its monthly fees on the number of subscribers you have:

mailchimp logo email marketing software and autoresponder platform

  • Up to 2,000 subscribers & 12,000 emails/month – FREE
  • 1,001-1,500 subscribers & unlimited emails/month – $20/month
  • 1,501-2,000 subscribers & unlimited emails/month – $25/month
  • 2,001-2,500 subscribers & unlimited emails/month – $30/month
  • 2,501-2,600 subscribers & unlimited emails/month – $35/month
  • Anything higher than 2,600 subscribers means you need to inquire about the Pro Plan by contacting customer service.

What You Get For Your Money:

  • MailChimp offers many different free templates and also gives you the ability to customize them with their drag-and-drop features. No design degree required! They also offer customizable opt-on forms.
  • Segmentation is offered in two different ways: you can either segment based on preset demographics or you can allow your subscribers to self-select which predetermined segments they would like to be a part of. Like other competitors, MailChimp does not allow direct imports from an independent email provider into its system, but it will allow that to happen through an XCL or CSV file.
  • This particular email marketing system offers easy integration with major e-commerce providers on the market and also has the ability to integrate with WordPress too.
  • Autoresponders are an option in MailChimp, but only if you are a paid subscriber. The same is true for follow-up emails.
  • Overall, MailChimp is rated very easy to use. The challenge reported most often was confusion surrounding their pricing plans. If that’s the worst people are saying about your marketing system, you’re doing pretty well.

Special Features:
MailChimp is known for its great help materials and its funny tutorials. They offer great integration with social media and still have the option to send plain text emails. They do have an affiliate program and offer a $30 credit and three free inbox inspections for each referral that turns into a paying client. (An inbox inspection is where they go through your inbox and analyze previous campaigns in dozens of different email programs to tell you which emails will be successfully be delivered, which will be spam, and what makes the difference – helpful information for future marketing messages.)
Drawbacks:
The drawbacks are the confusing payment structure for paid plans and the fact that autoresponders are not included in the free program.

Constant Contact

Constant Contact was founded as “Roving Software” way back in 1995 and has evolved significantly over the years. They now serve over five million small business owners. Constant Contact charges a monthly fee based on the number of subscribers you have:
Constant Contact logo email marketing software

  • Up to 500 subscribers – $15/month
  • 501-2,500 subscribers – $35/month
  • 2,501-10,000 subscribers – $85/month
  • 10,001-50,000 subscribers – $295/month

What You Get For Your Money:

  • Constant Contact is similar to competitors in that they also offer free templates and free “opt in” forms.
  • Segmentation is an option in all of their plans. You can choose how to segment your subscribers or the subscriber can self-elect to join certain segments. Constant Contact stands out from its competitors in that it does allow direct email address imports from Gmail and Outlook.
  • Constant Contact also offers integration with major e-commerce providers and with WordPress in the form of a plug-in.
  • They do offer autoresponders, but only for new customers who are signing up for your email distribution list. There are no options for subsequent follow-up autoresponders.
  • Overall, the entire platform was ranked as easy to use, but occasionally quirky and a little slower to operate.

Special Features:
Constant Contact is the only email marketing platform in our top five to offer a 30-day money back guarantee. They also offer a free 60-day trial and an extensive library of free images. They do offer an affiliate marketing program, giving you $5/lead who signs up for a free trial, and $105/lead who becomes a paying customer.
Drawbacks:
There is no free ongoing plan in Constant Contact, however you do get a 60-day free trial. Constant Contact is also more expensive than other competitors, and their basic account only has storage for five photos. You will most certainly want to purchase additional storage space for $5/month extra.

iContact

iContact was born in 2003 and prides itself on being a scalable resource for its small- and medium-sized business clients.
iContact follows a similar format to other competitors on this list and bases its fees on the number of subscribers:

iContact logo email marketing software and autoresponder platform

  • Up to 500 subscribers – $14/month
  • 501-2,500 subscribers – $32/month
  • 2,501-5,000 subscribers – $52/month
  • 5,001-10,000 subscribers – $79/month
  • 10,001-15,000 subscribers – $117/month

What You Get For Your Money:

  • iContact offers free templates and free web forms to its clients. There is no limit to the number of messages sent per month.
  • Segmentation is available as part of all iContact pricing plans. They offer three different opportunities to segment: when a contact is added to your account, when a subscriber self-segments through use of a certain field in your form, or when an action is taken on a previous email that you sent. They do not offer the ability to directly import contacts from independent email accounts.
  • iContact promises integration with all major e-commerce providers. It also offers integration with WordPress through a plugin.
  • Like Constant Contact, iContact only offers autoresponders when a subscriber initially signs up. There are no options for subsequent follow-up autoresponders.
  • Overall, the entire platform was ranked as easy to use, especially due to the significant number of “drop and drag” interfaces, allowing those with even the most limited design skills to create great email templates.

Special Features:
iContact offers a widely-regarded survey tool, and also prides itself on integrating well with different social medial platforms. They do offer an affiliate marketing program, paying out $125/paid new user and $5/free trial user.
Drawbacks:
iContact offers a very small storage space for graphics, similar to Constant Contact. You will almost certainly need to purchase additional storage, which will cost you an extra 10% of your paid monthly fee each billing cycle.

Campaigner

Campaigner was founded in 1999 and prides itself on its ability to cater to its clients of all different sizes and all different needs, particularly when it comes to autoresponders.
Like its competitors, Campaigner bases its fee structure on subscribers:

campaigner logo email marketing software and autoresponder platform

  • Up to 1000 subscribers – $19.95/month
  • 1,001-3,500 subscribers – $29.95/month
  • 3,501-5,000 subscribers – $49.95/month
  • 5,001-10,000 subscribers – $79.95/month
  • 10,001-15,000 subscribers – $99.95/month
  • 15,001-25,000 subscribers – $149.95/month

What You Get For Your Money:

  • Campaigner offers free templates and opt-in forms as part of each pricing plan.
  • Segmentation is also available in all pricing plans. You can choose to do static segmentation or dynamic segmentation depending on your needs. They do not offer the ability to directly import contacts from independent email accounts, requiring that it be done through a CSV or XLS file.
  • Campaigner promises integration with all major e-commerce providers. It also offers integration with WordPress through a plugin.
  • Campaigner separates itself from the pack with its autoresponder system. It offers recurring emails on a set schedule but also offers clients the opportunity to set up a significant number of trigger emails.
  • Overall, the entire platform was ranked as easy to use, with a special focus on how attractive the template designs are and how extensive the autoresponder system is when compared to competitors.

Special Features:
One very unique feature of Campaigner is their 24/7 tech support. All of the other email marketing platforms that we ranked and generous tech support hours, but Campaigner is the only one that is 24/7. They do offer an affiliate marketing program, paying out $50 and up per lead that becomes a paying customer. The complete payout depends on what package the lead ultimately signs up for.
Drawbacks:
Campaigner’s logo is on every email message sent out through its system. Unlike competitors, who remove the logo for certain pricing plans, Campaigner’s loco is one every message no matter which pricing plan you have. Campaigner also does not offer an event marketing tool, whereas other competitors do.

RECOMMENDATION

Out of the five that we reviewed, the one that costs the least and offers the most is MailChimp. It was also rated very easy to use, which is important if you’re just getting started in the mass email marketing world. We recommend that you start there, but be prepared to continue to analyze your needs as your business grows, and be prepared to switch providers if you find one that meets your needs more. You may find yourself needing special features that a different one offers because your business has gone in a certain direction. Consider your budget, consider your needs, and consider our extensive research as you make plans for the e-marketing arm of your business.

Now it's YOUR turn!

  What is your favorite Email Marketing software and AutoResponder Platform?

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About the author

Levi

W2 employee in the hunt for #PassiveIncome ! I am covering my journey to create a Boost in my income through: A) Passive Income Online (#AffiliateMarketing, #EmailMarketing) B) Passive Income Offline (#RealEstateInvesting for positive cash flow).

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