Email marketing is still the most effective way to connect with your customers. Social media and pay per click advertising can only go so far. Email marketing is still the way to connect with and engage customers new and old. So which email marketing tool is best for you? There are a lot of them out there, but we are going to focus on two of the most popular: Constant Contact and Mailchimp.
Constant Contact is pretty cheap, but MailChimp has the edge in pricing. Constant Contact will run you $15/month for up to 500 subscribers and unlimited emails. They also offer a 60 day free trial. I recommend taking it for a test drive and really trying it out. I set up my account in minutes, and the free trial doesn't require a credit card. It has a lot going for it and it does many things very well, but its feature list is slightly less impressive than MailChimp. That said, it is still a viable option for a number of reasons.
Getting set up with a new program can be a pain, and importing contacts sounds like a pretty big headache. Luckily, Constant Contact is pretty good at getting your contacts into its framework.The import tool is easy to use, and you can import contacts directly from your email, through a spreadsheet, through a comma separated list, or even from other email marketing apps. They have made it simple and effective. Once your contacts are in it is super easy to create your first campaign.
Constant Contact has a lot of templates to choose from when making your first email. They also allow you to create your own custom email layouts if you’re feeling creative. Don’t worry, you don’t have to know HTML to create a great email in Custom Contact. The tools for creating your own custom email are very intuitive and easy to use. Constant Contact may even have a slight edge over MailChimp when it comes to designing emails from scratch. If you’re the creative type that is something to consider.
Constant Contact integrates with most social media platforms, so you can get your message out there. In fact there is a list of applications Constant Contact can integrate with and I suggest checking your most used apps are on that list before you buy.
This is where Constant Contact really shines. They have a dedicated customer service department with phones, live chat, and email. After I signed up for their service they actually gave me a call and asked if I had any questions about how to use their platform. They are very responsive. If you expect to run into problems starting up your email campaign, Constant Contact is the way to go.
MailChimp is the largest email marketing application out there, and for good reason. They have a great program, and they also offer a free membership. Within minutes of setting up my account I was happily plugging away at my first email. It also has a more impressive feature list than Constant Contact. Its analytics in particular are worth a look, and they have a great mobile app.
Is the Price Right?
Mailchimp is $10/month for 500 subscribers and unlimited emails, but they also have a nifty free version with up to 2000 subscribers. Sadly with the free version you can only send 12,000 emails per month. So as long as you stay in that range, MailChimp is free forever.
Won’t someone please think of the emails?
Emails have to work. Otherwise, what’s the point of an email service? That’s right; the answer is no point. MailChimp will deliver your emails just fine, but let’s look under the hood for a second. Mailchimp provides some great analytics that just aren’t available in Constant Contact, like A/B testing. A/B testing lets you send out a few versions of the same email to a sample group and it will let you know which one received more attention. This is an invaluable tool, one that Constant Contact just dosen’t have. Testing email campaigns in a sample group will help you to maximize the impact of your email marketing campaign. Both of these services will track clickthrough data and such, but A/B testing will really help you streamline email campaigns.
Customization: making it your own
MailChimp has a ton of templates and allows user designed emails. Their tools for designing emails are a bit less streamlined, but that’s really a matter of personal opinion. It still allows for creativity in designing your emails, and the templates have a pretty high level of customization. There is nothing stopping you from crafting a great email with MailChimp.
Integration with other Apps
Mailchimp has a lot of compatibility with other apps. It integrates with social media, just like Constant contact, and it also integrates with any CRM application you may be using. The deep compatibility with other platforms makes MailChimp extremely flexible and easy to integrate into any workflow.
Unfortunately, this is where MailChimp falls flat on its face. They only provide email support, and from all accounts that support is pretty shoddy. There is no substitute for talking to somebody on the phone. They lean pretty heavily on their self-help topics to solve most user’s issues. That said, the self-help topics are actually pretty useful. I used a few of them myself when setting up a test email and they are well written and concise. A determined email marketer could easily teach themselves how to use MailChimp using the self-help topics.
The Bottom Line
Either one of these services will allow you to mount a successful email marketing campaign. They both have the basic tools to help you get started, and they are both pretty intuitive. MailChimp is cheaper (free) for people just starting out compared to Constant Contact, which actually costs money, albeit very little ($10/month). Constant Contact has a great customer support department, so you won’t have to worry about getting stuck when you’re just starting out. Remember, both of them have free trials, so there is nothing stopping you from testing out each one before you commit.
Give Mailchimp a try