Email marketing is an essential component of today’s business marketing strategies. This is one area where a DIY is a supremely bad idea. Sending your marketing emails from your own email address, whether to save money or just because you think it’s easier, is a no. You can end up losing your email provider, and having your email address blacklisted. You also risk running afoul of the CAN-SPAM Act.
A good email marketing provider will not only help you avoid most, if not all, of these pitfalls, it also makes email marketing infinitely easier. There are many email providers out there and choosing the right one for you can seem like an overwhelming task.
It doesn’t have to be, though. Nearly every email marketing provider offers the basics. You can upload a list on contacts, and design and schedule emails. If all you want to do is send out a basic newsletter, you can probably use just about anyone. If you’re building a business, however, it’s worth the time to look a little harder.
I have used a number of different programs over the years, both for my business and for clients. Campaign Monitor was new to me, though. I had not heard of this program before, and was interested to see what it could do for my email marketing.
I signed up for a basic account, and started putting it through its paces. When I am testing new email marketing software I only import a few addresses to begin with. I don’t like moving an entire list all over the web. I prefer to wait until I’m satisfied with the program, and ready to commit.
I look for a few key elements to start with: ease of use, customer support, appearance of templates, and ability to segment. Next I look at scheduling options, analytics, A/B testing, and other bells and whistles.
Here’s how Campaign Monitor stacks up for me.
I found it easy to add my first few emails. You can either drag-and-drop a file in (file type not specified) or add subscribers by typing them in. If you’re adding manually, you need to add a comma between each field. One note. There are no readily visible or “click here” instructions to walk you through the set up. I suppose the expectation is that you’ve watched all the instructional videos and read all the tutorials before beginning. If you’re like me and don’t like to have to spend a lot of time in tutorial land before getting started, you may be a little frustrated when you begin.
For sign-up forms, if you’re a WordPress user, there is a plugin. It ‘s fairly straightforward in its setup, but lacks any kind of tutorial or help. According to the plugin, you can put different subscription boxes, bars, slide outs, or buttons on every page and post on your site. I couldn’t make it show up on any page or post, and finally just installed a Subscribe button in a widget. And for the record, I’ve been setting up WordPress sites as long as there has been a WordPress.
Customer support is via email unless you’re a premier member, which gives you phone support. I didn’t need support, so I can’t comment on this one.
The templates are beautiful and there are dozens to choose from. Once you select a template, you can use it as is, or you can customize the text and images to suit your needs. There are dozens of Google fonts to choose from, with the ability to customize colors, and add Bold or Italic. You can also easily swap out the photos with images from your own computer. It saves your work automatically as you go, and you can preview emails on both desktop and mobile. You can also send a test email at any time. Scheduling is straightforward and I had no problem setting my desired send time.
To get you started, Campaign Monitor provides a series of eight brief training videos that include transcripts. They also have an extensive help section with articles on nearly every topic I could think of that might come up with an email marketing platform. I’m sure if I had spent more time watching videos and reading through the Getting Started helps, I would have not wasted time trying to figure things out. However, for me the ability to start quickly without lots of tutorial time is significant. I am admittedly not patient, and just jumping in has been my computer MO since the beginning. Campaign Monitor also has a large email marketing resource section, accessible whether or not you are signed up with them that can help you learn to be a better email marketer.
Campaign Monitor has many personalization and segmentation options, but it is important to know that some of the advanced features are, not surprisingly, available only with the Unlimited or Premier Packages. Pricing scales according to the size of your list, so be sure you do your homework before you sign up.
Pricing for Campaign Monitor is in three tiers, and on a sliding scale based on the size of your list. I previewed the Basic plan, which starts at $9/month for a list with 500 subscribers. With this you get up to 2500 emails per month. The next plan is the Unlimited, starting from $29/month. This includes unlimited emails, advanced marketing automation features, and time-zone based sending. For the Premier plan, which begins at $149/month, you’ll receive phone support, access to the Customer Success team, and advanced link tracking and other reports.
Campaign Monitor has all the major integrations you would expect, including ecommerce, CRM, analytics and more.
After reviewing all the features, Campaign Monitor seems to be best suited to companies selling products and services via email (as opposed to companies sending largely informational emails). It also seems to be designed for those already familiar with the basics of email marketing. Without spending some serious learning time, it could be overwhelming for beginners.
If you’re looking for flexibility, variety and some beautiful email marketing options, Campaign Monitor may be the platform for you. It is definitely worth checking out.