When you’re trying to decide between one mailing list provider and another, there’s much to consider. In some respects, it depends on what you wish to do with the mailing list itself as to which provider will be the best choice for your business.
In this article, we cover a few of the different features that go beyond the basics and can make or break a decision to go with one email marketing provider over another.
When considering email marketing platforms, one of the major differentiators is transactional emails. These are emails that relate to the placement of an order, confirming a reservation number or an appointment booking.
Email mailing list providers like Constant Contact and AWeber do not currently provide transactional emails at all. They stick mainly to providing a facility that keeps subscribers on a list and sends out an email to those subscribers. However, Mailchimp and Sendinblue go the extra mile.
With Mailchimp, it is necessary to pay for separate access for their transactional emails feature via their Mandrill usage. Currently, that’s $20 per 25,000 emails. For Sendinblue, transactional emails via an outbound SMTP server setup are covered within their plans without a separate cost to use the service. There are limits on the send volume within an account, but as long as their customer stays within that, there’s no additional charge.
A/B Testing is the process of creating two or more versions of something and then testing how the intended audience responds to it. The idea is to increase the open rate of an email, the percentage of links within the email newsletter being clicked on, and so on. This type of testing is useful when preparing an email, and for website designs too, especially when you want to appeal to a larger audience.
This is now a common feature with a selection of list providers. Certainly, AWeber, Sendinblue and MailChimp all provide some form of A/B testing of emails. However, for Constant Contact, this is a premium option which is somewhat disappointing because every customer should seek to optimize their email mailing campaigns.
Being able to log what visitors do on a website is very useful. Understanding who’s visiting and what they’re looking at provides a better understanding of their goals. This allows for a more useful experience for future visitors. Operating with a lack of knowledge about users and their behavior leaves website owners unclear about a site visitor’s requirements.
With this in mind, on-page tracking relating to email opt-ins is a useful thing to have. Only offering tracking within the email mailing list platform itself about existing subscribers doesn’t offer a window into why something didn’t happen.
Here, both Sendinblue and Mailchimp lead the pack by offering on-page tracking. Unfortunately, customers using AWeber or Constant Contact don’t have the option to track on-page relating to emails, which leaves them a little more in the dark.
Multi-channel Marketing Options
Oddly, sending out emails is usually kept completely separate to the use of SMS messages to update customers or visitors. This leaves many businesses needing to find a separate provider for each with no linkage between email or SMS either.
Again, AWeber and Constant Contact stick to their knitting by only providing email services but not SMS services.
Mailchimp offer some SMS functionality but it’s via a special plug-in through Text Marketer. The restriction here is bulk SMS campaigns, so there’s no facility to use SMS to update customers when a product has been dispatched, for instance.
Sendinblue is unique in providing SMS as part of their overall service. Due to the varying cost of sending SMS messages depending on the country, they have different pricing per country. Credits are purchased (which don’t expire) to allow for sending to different cell phone numbers in different countries. Therefore, it’s possible to efficiently market to customers around the world. Transactional SMS messages are also available too.
Pre-confirmed and Custom Workflows
The idea of workflows is to use or create an established sequence of events. Using workflows allows for automation. There’s the possibility of using pre-confirmed and/or custom workflows depending on what’s needed.
Using workflow dynamics, it’s possible that responses from a subscriber will trigger an update to their customer information in the database. Similarly, workflows can be used with e-commerce so that when someone is converted (they have bought a product or service), they can be removed from that workflow. This avoids their becoming annoyed because they’re being promoted a product or service over email which they already bought from the company weeks ago.
For Constant Contact, they provide workflow management as a premium service only. However, for pre-confirmed and custom workflows, AWeber, Sendinblue and Mailchimp all offer some facilities in this regard. The specifics differ between providers, but it’s good to see that they each have some workflow creation and management features.
Overall, the best email service provider to manage mailing lists, send SMS messages, and other services depends on your specific needs. Some providers stretch their offering to be broader whereas others largely stick to just mailing list management alone. Often, this is a strategic decision on their part, but it possibly makes it a more difficult decision for potential customers.