2014 Email Marketing Service Reviews

Internet entrepenuer Yan Huang and the Reviews.com research team found a total 69 email marketing services and chose the top 10 services to review based on 93 email marketing features.

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What Email Marketing Service Features Matter and Why?

Campaign Management

Very Important
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Campaign Management is the ability to manage, organize, and execute email campaigns. The major features found in Campaign Management include scheduling emails at a specific time and date, creating triggered campaigns, A/B split testing, and using an autoresponder. Campaign Management is undoubtedly one of the most vital categories because it is essentially made up of the execution tools for any email marketer. The best email marketing products should always have the top features within this category.

  • A/B Split Testing - You can create A/B versions of an email campaign and test to see which version is more successful.
  • Alias Email - You can create an alias email address to send email blasts from.
  • Autoresponder - You can create auto-response emails.
  • Direct Mail Postcards - You can create postcards online which are then printed and mailed by the company.
  • Event Website - You can create an event website that will be hosted by the company.
  • Image & File Hosting - The company will host the images and other documents used in your campaigns.
  • Integration - The product can integrate with other software applications or websites.
  • RSS to Email - Emails are automatically sent when an RSS feed on a website or blog is updated.
  • Scheduling - You can schedule the specific time and date of your email blasts.
  • Social Media Sharing - You can share directly through social media websites.
  • Triggered Campaigns - You can create auto-responding campaigns that are triggered by customer behaviors.

Contact Management

Very Important
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Contact Management includes the features that make it possible for email marketers to manage the people on their lists. Some of the popular features found within Contact Management are the ability to create new lists, opt-out removal, and custom data fields. Contact Management is one of the more important categories because managing, building, and segmenting a list is essential to targeting campaigns. An email product can't function properly without the ability to create lists and manage contacts.

  • Create Lists - You can build new lists.
  • Custom Data Fields - You can customize the data fields in your contact records.
  • Export Contact Lists - You can export your contact lists.
  • Group Contacts - You can organize or segment contacts according to particular demographics or interests.
  • Merge Lists - You can combine multiple contact lists into one master list.
  • Opt-Out Removal - The service allows you to remove contacts that have opted out.

Email Design

Very Important
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Email Design is a compilation of features that are associated with creating and designing email campaigns. Some of the main components of the Email Design category are the ability to create HTML messages and plain text messages, being able to format messages, and adding things like branding, links, and images to each email. Email Design is one of the most important categories simply because an email can't be sent out until it has been created. Without the ability to craft an email or having some of the top features in Email Design, a product will not be worth using.

  • Branding - You can alter generic templates with the images, logos, colors, and fonts used by your company.
  • Drag and Drop - You can design emails using a drag-and-drop interface.
  • Formatting - You can modify text style, size, and color, as well as background colors.
  • HTML Messages - You can create emails using HTML.
  • Images - You can add images to your emails.
  • Links - You can add links to your emails.
  • Message Personalization - You can create emails that include the contact's name or other personal information.
  • Plain Text Messages - You can create emails using plain text.
  • Social Media Buttons - You can add social media buttons that allow your emails to be shared on social media platforms.
  • Surveys - Tools are available to help you create and insert surveys into your email campaigns.
  • Video - You can directly embed video content into your emails.
  • Web Forms - Tools are available to help you create and insert Web forms into your email campaigns.

Quality Control

Very Important
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Quality Control refers to managing the quality of individual emails and email campaigns. Features that are essential to Quality Control include sending test emails, a duplicate email checker, and permission-based emails, which allow an email marketer to use opt-in email lists only. These quality tools have a high importance because the two things any email marketer wants to avoid are sending out incorrect or problematic emails and sending emails that will be marked as spam. Quality Control ensures that the sender is safe and that the message is delivered accurately to the right people.

  • Anti-Spam Checker - The product will test your campaign to see if it will get flagged as spam.
  • Duplicate Email Checker - The product automatically checks for duplicate email addresses in your contact lists.
  • Permission-Based Emails - You are required to use permission-based (opt-in) email lists only.
  • Spell Checker - A tool to spell check email content exists.
  • Test Email - You can send yourself a test email before sending the blast to your contacts.

Tracking and Reporting

Very Important
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Tracking & Reporting is made up of features that help track and measure activity associated with email campaigns. Tracking & Reporting has a number of features, the most important being the number of opened emails and bounced emails, and viewing the click-through statistics of each email. Tracking & Reporting is high on the list in terms of important categories because every email marketer wants to see the results of a campaign. All of the best email products will score highly in Tracking & Reporting because this category is key for any email marketer who wants to measure campaigns and adjust based on data.

  • Bounced Emails - You can view how many emails did not arrive at the destination address.
  • Campaign Results Email - You can receive an email with the results of your campaigns.
  • Click-Through Tracking - You can view click-through statistics.
  • Dashboard - You can view your tracking and reporting data dashboard.
  • Data Export - You can export campaign reports and/or data.
  • Forwarded Emails - You can view how many emails were forwarded to additional recipients.
  • Google Analytics - You can add Google Analytics tracking to your email links.
  • Industry Comparison - You can compare your campaigns against industry data.
  • Location Tracking - You can track and view the approximate location of your contacts.
  • Opened Emails - You can view the number of emails opened by recipients in each campaign.
  • Sales Tracking - You can track the number of sales generated by each campaign.
  • Social Media - You can view how many times your campaigns were liked or shared on social media sites.
  • Unsubscribed Contacts - You can keep track of email recipients that unsubscribe.

Data Importing

Fairly Important
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Data Importing is the ability to transfer data into the software. The features that matter most to Data Importing are being able to import CSV files and Excel files because just about any program allows for CSV or Excel exporting. Data Importing is a somewhat important category because anyone who maintains a list of contacts and is transferring that list into a new email software can quickly add a large group of contacts to create a list. Some products make it easy to import by integrating with specific products, but importing via CSV or Excel only takes the average user a few extra clicks.

  • Apple Address Book - The product interfaces with your Apple address book, allowing you to import your contacts directly into the database.
  • Copy & Paste Contact Lists - You can copy and paste your contact lists into the database.
  • CSV Files - You can import your contact lists in CSV format.
  • Excel Files - You can import your contact lists in Excel format.
  • Gmail Contact Lists - The product interfaces with Gmail, allowing you to import your contacts directly into the database.
  • LinkedIn Contact Lists - The product interfaces with LinkedIn, allowing you to import your contacts directly into the database.
  • Outlook Contact Lists - The product interfaces with Outlook, allowing you to import your contacts directly into the database.
  • Quickbooks Contact Lists - The product interfaces with Quickbooks, allowing you to import your contacts directly into the database.
  • Salesforce Contact Lists - The product interfaces with Salesforce, allowing you to import your contacts directly into the database.
  • Text Files - You can import your contact lists in Text format.

Learning Materials

Fairly Important
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Learning Materials is made up of the tools provided by the company that are designed to help a new user learn and master the product without the help of support. The standout feature in Learning Materials is a knowledge base because it contains a large grouping of all help articles that someone would need. Learning Materials isn't overly an overly important selling point for most companies, but the best email marketing products will provide detailed guides, tutorials, and forums to speed up the learning process. It also makes it easy for those who want to learn on their own time and prefer to not rely on the time-consuming task of going back and forth with a support representative.

  • Blog - The company has a blog with relevant industry and product information.
  • FAQ - The company provides a list of answers to frequently asked questions.
  • Forum - The company provides an interactive forum where users can post questions and answers.
  • Glossary - The company provides a glossary with common email marketing terms.
  • Knowledge Base - The company provides a knowledge base of detailed help articles.
  • Newsletter - The company will send you a newsletter with best practices and other tips.
  • Video Tutorials - The company provides video tutorials.

Support

Fairly Important
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Support makes up the services provided by a company where the customer can interact and get assistance if needed. The most vital support features are live chat and phone support because the customer can receive immediate responses through those channels. Support is critical to any email marketing product because technical difficulties can often come into play when sending or managing email campaigns. The best email software will have quick turnaround times via email and ways to get in touch with a live person instantly.

  • Email/Tickets - The company has an email or ticket system dedicated to support.
  • Live Chat - The company offers live chat support.
  • Live Webinars - Live webinars are provided by the company.
  • Phone - You can contact the company by phone to get support.
  • Social Media - You can contact the company with questions through social media websites.

Templates

Fairly Important
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The Templates category measures the different email templates that are included with the software. The top features of Templates are creating custom templates, newsletter templates, and promotional product templates. This category is important but not vital because some email marketers may not use templates at all, while others may rely heavily on the use of templates. It basically comes down to the type of emails that are being sent and how tech-savvy or creative the email sender wants to be. An email campaign can be sent without a template, but templates sure make it easier for some people.

  • Custom Templates - You can create your own custom template.
  • Event Invitation - Event invitation templates are available.
  • Greeting Card - Greeting card templates are available.
  • Industry Templates - Industry-specific templates are available.
  • Newsletter - Newsletter templates are available.
  • Promotion - Product promotion templates are available.
  • Template Building Service - The company offers a service to build custom templates.

Additional Services

Less Important
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Additional Services is made up of extra features outside of email marketing that are offered by companies for an additional fee. Specifically, these additional services include social media marketing, surveys, web forms, and event marketing. Additional Services has a very low importance when it comes to email marketing services and software because there are other ways to obtain these services from third-party applications that integrate with the software. Additional Services may be of importance to some people who require the ability to conduct event marketing or any of these other specialized services that fall outside of email marketing.

  • Event Marketing - For an additional fee, the service provides event marketing tools and resources.
  • Social Media Marketing - For an additional fee, the service provides social media marketing tools and resources.
  • Surveys - For an additional fee, the email marketing service allows you to design and utilize surveys.
  • Web Forms - For an additional fee, the email marketing service allows you to design and utilize Web forms.

Integration

Less Important
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Integration focuses on the common types of applications that an email marketing software can work with. The popular integrations of some of the best email marketing software are application programming interface (API), analytics, eCommerce, forms, and surveys. These integrations are a nice bonus to have, but they certainly don't make or break the functionality of a product. However, if email marketers require integration with third-party applications, then Integration may hold more value them. As a whole, Integration is not a core component of any email marketing product.

  • Analytics - The software integrates with third-party analytics applications.
  • API - The company provides an API (Application Programming Interface).
  • CMS - The product integrates with third-party CMS applications.
  • CRM - The product integrates with third-party CRM applications.
  • eCommerce - The product integrates with third-party eCommerce applications.
  • Events - The product integrates with third-party events applications.
  • Forms - The product integrates with third-party form building applications.
  • Mobile - The product integrates with third-party mobile applications.
  • Social Media - The product integrates with third-party social media applications.
  • Surveys - The product integrates with third-party survey building applications.

Mobile

Less Important
Read Less
 

Mobile measures the availability of the email marketing service on mobile devices. Since email marketing isn't an overly popular mobile activity, the only features that are used to measure mobile presence are the availability of an iPhone and Android app and a mobile website. Mobile is the least important category because it is not necessary to the functionality of email marketing, but it might be nice for some to have. The design options using a computer are far superior to mobile devices, not to mention the difficulty of reading and testing messages using a smaller screen.

  • Android - A native Android application is available.
  • Apple - A native Apple application is available.
  • Mobile Website - You can access the service from a website dedicated to mobile devices.

Choosing the Best Email Marketing Service

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