The Best Email Marketing Software for 2023
Email marketing is a powerful way to connect with your customers and prospects in 2023. It can help you grow your business, increase loyalty, and enhance your brand image. Whether you want to send newsletters, surveys, special offers, or other targeted messages, email marketing software can make it easy and effective. It can help you create, send, and track your email campaigns. It can also integrate with other tools, such as your customer relationship management (CRM) system, to give you more insights and data.
But not all email marketing software is the same. For example, some packages specialize in making it easy to produce attractive, richly graphical messages, while others integrate well with e-commerce software. That’s why we review and rank the leading solutions on the market. Here are our top choices, and tips on how to choose the right one for your business.
What Is Email Marketing Software?
Email marketing can take several forms. For example, some businesses might decide their most effective marketing tactic is a value-add newsletter delivered to a gated subscriber community. Others might want to tie their emails directly to their product and sales engines so that they can provide special offers and deals to recipients.
Each approach requires different tools for creating and sending the source email to recipients. Email marketing tools can also help you segment your subscribers by demographics and engagement levels. And you’ll probably want to integrate them with other back-end systems, such as an accounting system, a customer relationship management (CRM) system, and an inventory management system.
Does Email Marketing Still Work in 2023?
There’s some perception in the market that email is becoming outdated and that it’s being replaced by new channels such as social media, chat, SMS, web landing pages, and even the metaverse. That’s true to some extent—and modern, multi-channel marketing campaigns should undoubtedly take advantage of as many of these channels as possible—that’s no reason to ignore email.
According to market research firm Statista, email usage is still virtually ubiquitous. Around 306 billion emails were sent and received daily in 2020, and there were 4 billion global email users worldwide—a figure representing roughly half the global population. Moreover, those figures are expected to grow to 376 billion daily emails and 4.6 billion users by 2025. Based on that market share, it should be clear that email marketing can be not just an effective technique, but a crucial one.
However, what is changing is how email users access their inboxes. Statista’s figures showed that the number of emails opened on desktop clients declined to just 18%. In place of these old-school clients were webmail (39% of opens) and mobile email clients (43% percent of opens). In fact, the most popular email client worldwide was the iPhone email app, which accounted for 29% of all email opens. With mobile email so prevalent, you’ll want to be sure your email marketing software gives special attention to this channel.
What Does Email Marketing Cost?
The good news is that the cost to reach prospective customers via email is generally low, while the profit potential is high. Estimates of the typical return on investment (ROI) for email campaigns vary, but most suggest it is around $40 per dollar spent. That’s one of the highest rates of return of any form of digital marketing.
Many email marketing plans include unlimited emails per month and bill you based on subscriber numbers. If you have a small list, then look for a company that offers a free plan, a low-cost plan for several hundred subscribers, or even a pay-as-you-go plan. On the flip side, many of these services also offer high-volume plans with 100,000 or more contacts.
As a result, the prices of email marketing contenders we review here vary widely. They start at about $3 per month to send out 500 emails per month in Zoho Campaigns, to as much as $1,250 per month for up to 10,000 contacts in Salesforce Pardot. Occasionally, you’ll even want to negotiate a custom plan directly with a sales rep.
How to Get Started With Email Marketing
Getting up and running with email marketing software isn’t difficult. Generally, you’ll know right away whether you like a product’s user interface (UI) or not, and most of the contenders we reviewed offer free trials so you can poke around before dropping any cash. Luckily, most of these services have modern-looking graphics and uncluttered layouts. These are not the complex business software UIs of yesterday.
Be sure to look at how a vendor provides tech support, too, since several vendors don’t make support as available as we would have liked. You’ll find that some offer 24/7 phone support, live chat, and email help, while others leave you to rely on online documentation and limited live support hours. The best services offer a combination of self-serve help resources, such as FAQs and articles you can read to find your answers, and live support via chat or phone when you can’t solve an issue yourself.
Finally, consider any regulatory compliance issues. For example, if you plan to market to customers in Europe, make sure that your software can help you with GDPR compliance. In the US, on the other hand, HIPAA mandates how you can use certain protected health information in your campaigns, while other laws govern how you can market to minors under the age of 18. Consult with your potential vendor to ensure it can help you with the regulations that apply to your organization.
Does Email Marketing Work on Mobile Devices?
As we mentioned earlier, one significant change for email marketing has been increased engagement on mobile devices, rather than PCs. Mobile users access email throughout the day, and wherever they are. Thanks to payment services like Apple Pay and Google Pay, smartphones have also evolved as e-commerce tools. This can make mobile email a one-stop shop that lets customers go from marketing to purchasing in a single session.
The growing importance of mobile means you should pay special attention to the email designer and analytics sections of any email marketing service. The designer should be able to provide a preview of how your email looks in a responsive format, meaning the HTML correctly sizes images and other elements depending on the device used to view them.
You should also be able to segment your audience based on mobile device data. Some tools may force you to create custom reports to see this data, which means you may have to export it to a third-party business intelligence (BI) tool.
In addition to email, direct SMS marketing is increasingly popular—not least because it exploits an even more personal line of contact with customers. According to recent research, SMS has a 90% open rate on mobile devices compared to straight email marketing, hovering between 20-25%. That’s a clear difference, and marketers are flocking to platforms that support it. However, be careful not to market to the SMS channel too aggressively, because research shows that many people prefer to reserve it for friends and family.
Can Email Marketing Integrate with Other Software?
Another modern trend in email marketing tools is integration with other systems, most notably CRM and e-commerce tools. Some of the more advanced email marketing services have even begun to resemble CRM systems. It makes sense because both types of software deal with managing and communicating with customers.
One tactic marketers increasingly use to build more trust in their email messages is incorporating user-generated content (UGC). For example, an email might include a customer review of a product, like those you’d find on e-commerce sites like Amazon. UGC can also draw from other channels, including social media posts and comments in online forums, including your own support forums. According to a study by digital marketing tools vendor Tint, 62% of consumers say they are more likely to click on an image in an email when it’s a customer photo, rather than an image generated by the brand.
Still, other innovative ideas are constantly being introduced to the email marketing realm. Take GetResponse, for example. It’s built a one-button live chat feature you can incorporate directly into your emails. It lets customers go from reading an email to directly interacting with sales or support people in a single experience.
How Does Email Marketing Use AI?
Artificial intelligence (AI) has become a big part of many digital marketing efforts, and email is no exception. AI improves email marketing mechanics such as A/B testing and audience segmentation. Depending on how much information you can feed from your CRM and sales systems, it can also help personalize email content to the individual customer level.
With the correct data, AI can select content, modify customer experiences on the fly, and even interact directly with customers via an AI-enabled natural-language chatbot. If any of that sounds attractive, you must look closely at how a prospective email marketing service has implemented AI and what kinds of features it offers.
Another area where AI can help is with the marketing automation capabilities that most email suites offer to some degree. Automation technology is best suited for prolonged, email-based interactions or drip campaigns. But an important aspect here is tracking the customer journey and the various touchpoints customers face from initial contact to closing the sale.
How Can Email Campaigns Be Customized?
The best email marketing services offer custom autoresponders. These help you stay in touch with your contacts with automatically generated emails based on special occasions (such as a customer’s birthday, anniversary, or past purchases), welcome emails for new subscribers, or thank-you emails for recent purchases, to give some examples.
The most advanced email marketing services offer custom workflows to specify triggers based on actions (such as opening an email or making a purchase) or inaction (such as ignoring emails). With these services, you can also set up a series of emails (such as tutorials) to send to segments of users, and you can pause or stop a campaign at any time. You can also move contacts into new segments once they’ve completed their tutorials.
This level of customization can get very complex, so it’s important not to get overwhelmed at the start. Building a map to help automate your email marketing starts with what you want to tell customers, when you want to say it, and why. Follow that plan, and you’ll quickly build a journey that might start with a welcome email post-purchase and gradually drill down to more targeted offers as your relationship with that customer grows.
Solidifying Your Email Marketing Strategy
Sending out campaigns isn’t much help unless you can track your successes and failures and quickly make adjustments. All of the services covered in this roundup offer some level of tracking, whether it’s simple open and click-rate data, color-coded charts and statistics, or even integration with Google Analytics. Once you’ve got some data on your campaign, you can tweak your content to see what works using features like A/B testing, where one part of your audience receives an email built one way and another set of people get the same email built differently.
In addition to A/B testing, many services now offer multivariate testing, which involves using multiple variations of an entire campaign to test which one performed best. Search engine optimization (SEO) is another important factor for content and landing pages. The right keywords can directly lead your subscribers from their email platform onto your website.
Whether you’re looking for a simple email marketing solution or one with full automation and advanced capabilities, there’s a wide range of solutions out there. One of the contenders we’ve reviewed here should be a solid fit. You’ll see vendors focused on expanding their internal features while others develop significant partner and integration ecosystems. The one constant is that email marketing remains the foundation and an excellent starting point for your digital marketing journey.
For more on reaching customers and potential clients, check out the Best Marketing Automation Software.