With platforms changing fee structures and policies, some of which daily , and censorship occurring over the last several years, Pullman Marketing continues to push for clients to use Email Marketing. Email Marketing is still one of the highest ROI rates in terms of efficiency, total cost, and risk.
While we work with more than 10 email marketing platforms, it becomes very difficult to recommend a platform that works for small business startups and established businesses grossing $10M+. Additionally, Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems, sales automation tools, project management, and even browser extensions will boast the results, feature sets, and equivalent price values.
How We Evaluate
We’ve been using multiple email marketing platforms for more than 14 years and while some parts of the industry have changed, the way that emails get structured and delivered has stayed practically the same for nearly 30 years.
When evaluating email marketing platforms, we look at:
- Price per subscriber and account users
- Email deliverability
- Design tools
- Organizing data tools
- Marketing Automation
- Customer Support
Pricing is often difficult because the more subscribers, emails, and users you have, the sliding scale can move in and out of affordability. For example, a vendor named has features and customer support far above what Mailchimp (considered the #1 platform); however, the price goes from Free to $290-$360 per year the moment you have more than 1,000 subscribers.
Email Deliverability is the ability for emails to be accepted into an inbox while passing internet and desktop firewalls, spam filters, inbox filters, and more. , started in 1998, has one of the highest deliverability rates due to positive relationships with Internet Service Providers, ensuring no spammers or unsolicited emails are sent from the system, and they demand validation for every subscriber opting in. These restrictions can be limiting for newer businesses and becomes costly above 500 subscribers.
Design Tools are measured by the ease of use for the end-user to build the emails and how well it looks on the receiving end. Most platforms have a Drag-and-Drop builder that allows “simple” building of emails and templates. What often happens though is that images and stylings don’t always translate well to some email desktop clients. An email that looks perfect in Gmail Web may have issues displaying properly on the Apple Mail App and Outlook Desktop App. While the design might look amazing when you build it, it doesn’t mean it will always reflect accurately for the subscriber.
Organizing Data Tools are extremely important. These features typically take the form of tags, list segmentation, custom fields, and lead scoring. Each platform takes a different approach, and some are better than others. CRMs tend to do these features the best and allow for additional profile information while being 10x the cost.
Marketing Automation allows for subscribers to receive emails based on tags, lead scoring, and even if a previous email was opened or not. This can be an extremely powerful tool but may take a user 10-40 hours to create and optimize a single funnel. This can overwhelm new businesses and become costly to new and established businesses alike.
Customer Support has become a premium feature and as we all know, it’s not always helpful even when paid for. Many platforms have been switching to providing free chat and even phone support but may charge additional money for “priority support queues.”
For overall use, we have liked MailChimp and may still recommend it in some instances. It is free for under 500 subscribers. While MailChimp has traditionally been firmly focused on Email Marketing, in recent years they have begun to implement CRM features, web page builders, social media tools, and censorship policies that delete accounts without warning resulting in total loss of data and subscriber information. We expect more changes with them being acquired recently by Intuit.
Our current favorite is due to their:
- Forward-thinking email designer
- Flexible data tools
- $10/mo price point
- Basic automation feature set
MailerLite is a newer company in the industry but they have kept their focus and have provided a wonderful product that we use regularly for ourselves and now several clients. It has been delightful to watch my staff and even some business owners feel equipped and comfortable in the platform.
Our plan moving forward has been to find a platform that we use ourselves, recommend to clients and potentially join a Vendor-Partner Program. We take being a partner agency very seriously and have walked away from two previous Vendor-Partner Programs. MailerLite is a rare group that we may approach in 2022.
Below is a chart to help evaluate these systems from an Agency perspective in contrast to the typical “alternative” sales pitch found on many platform websites, on a scale of 1-10, 1 being poor or non-existent, 10 being delightful to use.
|Email Deliverability||Organized Data||Marketing Automation||Customer Support||Other Notes|
|MailChimp||$$||8||7||7||5||MailChimp is a powerful program worthy of its current position but is losing market share.|
|ConvertKit||$$$||9||9||8||9||Premium product made by Content Creators for Content Creators.|
|AWeber||$$$||10||8||3||7||Focused and does its job well but may prove difficult for beginners to use.|
|Mad Mimi||$||7||2||1||2||Platform with a great story and was purchased by GoDaddy. Great for absolute beginners.|
|Active Campaign||$$||8||10||10||6||ActiveCampaign is just a step below CRMs like KEAP and Hubspot.|
|Mailerlite||$||9||7||7||8||Recommended for entry-level to intermediate users for growing and scaling.|
About Pullman Marketing
Pullman Marketing synchronizes strategy, design, and technology to increase profits for small businesses as an outsourced marketing department. With our unique approach to providing strategic marketing, we adapt to individual niches and provide focused solutions. We believe in educating our clients to help them make the best decisions for their businesses.
To see an email created within MailerLite, here is a real world example that we send out for our Monthly Business Networking Meet-Up Event: Incredible Business Meet-Up Last Thursday 🚀 (mailerlite.com)