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Getting traffic to your site is nice, but there’s not much of a point if those visitors don’t convert.
There’s one tactic I use above all others to generate new leads:
A lead magnet.
They aren’t some newfangled tech trend. They’ve been an essential marketing tool for decades.
With lead magnets, you give people something for free in exchange for an email address and permission to send them more offers—for example, a free ebook or an SEO checklist.
However, not all lead magnets are effective.
Let’s take about how lead magnets work and explore how to create one that drives leads.
The lure of ‘free’ is compelling, according to Predictably Irrational author Dan Ariely.
He proved this by giving groups of people the option to select from different Amazon gift cards. Respondents could choose from receiving either:
If you were to look at that objectively, based on cold hard math, you’d see that the second option was the better value ($13 vs. $10.)
Check out the third column on the far right to see which one won:
It wasn’t even close! Everyone sampled chose the free $10 option instead.
Ariely calls this the Zero-Price Effect because humans don’t see the downside to something that’s free.
Ariely ran a related experiment. They staged a promotion for free tattoos and had people line up outside the store.
These people were waiting in line with full knowledge of what they were doing.
Yet when Ariely asked them if they’d be waiting to get the same tattoo if it wasn’t free, 68 percent of respondents said no!
In other words, people took time out of their busy schedule to commit permanent ink to their skin simply because it was free.
Good lead magnets, when done correctly, have the same effect (albeit without the same long-lasting effects).
They pass along a useful ebook, webinar, or email course, asking for very little (if anything) in return from visitors.
You leverage the power of free to kickstart the first step in your customer value optimization process.
Lead magnets are nothing new.
They get a lot of attention today because of how persuasive and powerful they can be.
One of the best ways to incorporate them today is with a content upgrade. People are already on your site, seeking something out.
Think about it:
They went to Google and typed in something specific to end up on your blog post.
A lead magnet sweetens the pot by providing additional insight on the same exact topic they were reading about.
Brian Dean used the content upgrade strategy to boost his conversions by 785 percent in one day.
Brian Harris of Video Fruit is seeing a 20-30 percent opt-in rate from blog posts where he links not one, not two, but three times to his lead magnet.
For example, the first comes right in the introduction:
Then he follows up that up with another two more for good measure down at the bottom:
The blog post goes through an in-depth analysis of how content upgrades can get you more leads. Then it distills those insights and actionable tips down so that you can easily start implementing the same tactics on your site (after downloading the lead magnet, of course).
If you want to see the same results, your lead magnet has to abide by a few rules.
The form or medium doesn’t matter necessarily. Instead, success typically comes down to a few >key ingredients:
So how do you figure those things out?
Let’s dive into what the best lead magnets have in common to find out.
Now that you know why lead magnets are important (to get you more leads!) let’s talk about how to create one that drives conversions like mad.
Saying you need to “know your audience” sounds obvious and trite. However, it’s one of those things that everyone talks about, but no one seems to know how to do.
The big clue is in the reception. If your digital copies aren’t flying off the shelf when it goes live, your issue typically comes back to a mismatch with your audience.
Thankfully, this can be an easy fix if you know where to look.
Start by looking for what people are already paying for.
That might sound counterintuitive because lead magnets are free.
However, if someone is willing to part with their hard-earned cash for something, it’s a sure sign that they’re committed.
For example, one of my favorite places to start is the Kindle Marketplace.
Let’s say I’m about to create a lead magnet in an industry I know nothing about: cooking. (Seriously, nothing.)
I could guess or make a few assumptions about which cooking lead magnet would work best. Or I could head on over to the Kindle Marketplace and see what’s already working well.
It’s not just the topic you’re looking for at this point, but also the ‘format’ that resonates with an audience.
Here’s what I mean.
Go to the Amazon Kindle Marketplace look at the sidebar on the left-hand side. There, you’ll find all the book categories and then subcategories upon subcategories upon subcategories. (In other words, drilling down to find your niche and your audience.)
Here’s what the bestsellers look like in European cooking and food:
Ok, now we’re getting somewhere.
Most are unsurprisingly recipe books. However, that first one is especially interesting.
It’s a “cooking for two,” book which means the people buying it are looking for quick, no-fuss meals in smaller portions.
That tells you a lot about the audience and what their preferences are. The Mediterranean one on the far right is another indication — those meals tend to be easy and healthy.
So these people might be looking for a new recipe cookbook, but that doesn’t mean they want some haute cuisine that requires working for hours in the kitchen.
Instead, these (presumably) busy people want something relatively quick and healthy.
Next, the trick is to put something together that’s like these examples but somehow different, better, or unique.
For example, let’s dive a little deeper into books reviews to see what they say.
Here’s a positive review to kick things off:
Awesome! Two of our assumptions are already being proved correct.
People like this example because it provides recipes that are “quick to prepare. “
Busy moms might be foodies. However, foodies probably aren’t going to be buying this book.
That completely changes how you might create, package, design, and even promote this ebook already.
Positive reviews are helpful to start with, but many times you can learn more from negative reviews. Check this out:
First, this book’s organization and table of contents aren’t up to snuff for this reviewer. They’re even giving you the answer here, too: “… organizing the dishes into categories or even providing an index.”
Good ideas! These are the little details that you or I wouldn’t have thought of because we might not be experts on cooking already.
However, a little bit of research has already revealed a few nuggets of wisdom.
Then, this reviewer goes on to complain about some of the editing and attention to detail towards the bottom.
Easy — let’s also have a subject-matter expert help edit this work to ensure accuracy (critical in cooking) is on point.
Now let’s take this one step further by simply asking the audience which versions of our idea they’d prefer.
For example, write up a simple blog post that explains what you’re thinking about creating and ask for ideas or improvements.
This does two things at the same time:
Soliciting feedback from people who aren’t yet on your email list can help you better understand how to get them on the list eventually. Here’s what I mean.
Take this post on how an Instagram user-generated more than $300,000.
If you take a close look at the comments section of the post, you’ll find a couple of readers asking about how the Instagram user made her lists.
Multiple people are now requesting the same information in the comments, which means there must be built-in demand for this information.
Lead magnets are ‘free,’ but users still have to part with their precious contact info. They won’t do that for just anything.
So you need to create content that interests the audience.
Let’s check out Google Analytics to see which pages (and topics) are performing best:
Start by segmenting all your posts into categories.
Sometimes your site already has this done if you included categories in your URL string. For example, Unbounce uses the category “PPC” in this blog post:
So you can search for URLs in your most popular content that feature PPC.
You’ve now painstakingly compiled insight into what your customers want. Your next job should be insanely easy at this point: Give them what they’re asking for!
Picture someone on your site reading your perfectly crafted blog post about the latest trends in European cooking when a pop-up appears offering a printable “Be a Better Cook” guide.
Huh? That generic printed piece of paper is going to make them a better cook? How?
No, thank you.
What if it was a printable checklist on the “Ten Top-Rated Dinner Recipes from France and Italy?”
Now imagine you visit the landing page for Digital Agency Day because you want to see when the upcoming date is to make sure you don’t miss any of the great information.
You’re hemming and hawing about signing up for the live event because you’re not sure if you’ll be able to make it.
Then an exit overlay catches you before leaving, suggesting you sign up to receive the recordings when ready:
Ok, that’s something you can get behind.
It’s specific and relevant, so it immediately makes sense.
So you’ll probably hand over your email.
It’s no surprise that this example resulted in a 19.03 percent conversion rate increase.
People aren’t going to sign up for something they don’t think is useful.
For example, check out this 9-part lesson from Brennan Dunn:
It targets a massive pain point for freelancers (“charging what you’re worth”).
It’s incredibly detailed and in-depth (“9-lesson course”).
There’s social proof that proves its value (“20,000 other freelancers”).
Brennan could easily charge for something like this, and people would still buy it.
It’s that good.
Checklists or cheat sheets can provide immediate value by giving people something they could put to use right now.
A longer multi-part course (like this example) or in-depth ebook can provide that long-term value people will reference for weeks (and months) to come.
Side-step these three issues, and you won’t just churn out another cookie-cutter lead magnet.
Instead, you’ll create a marketing asset that kicks off a long, profitable relationship with a new customer.
Remember the complaint on the first cookbook a few minutes ago? The poor organization and presentation detracted from the content and overall experience for that reviewer.
Now imagine what happens if you gave your email to get a downloadable guide filled with poor image quality and lots of typos. Same thing, right?
The goal here is to get these users to move on from the freebie and eventually make a purchase. You can’t do that without attention to detail. You also need to show your value.
Check out this checklist from Bryan Harris of Video Fruit.
Looks pretty snazzy, right? Not just another boring rundown filled with typos.
If you need a little extra help to enhance your own work, check out Beacon.
You can even hire a pro on Fiverr to do this for you, or you can do something similar by using a simple Google Doc.
A lead magnet is a free offer businesses offer in exchange for contact information from prospective leads. Examples include an ebook, discount code, free course, or checklist.
A great lead magnet must be valuable to your target audience. Aim to solve a problem or make their job or life easier in some way. For example, a business coach might offer “10 things to do before your next job interview.”
They should be free to your leads. For businesses, the costs should be for research, creation, and distribution. These consts can vary widely based on the lead magnet and resources available. For example, if you have an in-house marketing team and graphic design person, the costs would be minimal.
The best lead magnet is one your users find valuable, which can vary by industry, business model, and target audience. Common examples include ebooks, white papers, webinards, checklists, work sheets, coupon codes, and short courses.
Once they’ve signed up for the useful, relevant, and high-quality freebie, you establish yourself as a thought-leader on that topic and create a new customer relationship.
This means they’ll think of you when they need more information. They’ll come back for more. And they’ll come back to buy.
The good news is that these aren’t difficult to create, either. You need to take the time to dive deep into what your customers want and what they don’t want.
Then all you have to do is give them exactly what they’re already asking for.
What is your favorite lead magnet example?
Disclosure: This content is reader-supported, which means if you click on some of our links that we may earn a commission.
You know the revenue is out there and you know an email campaign can help you get it. But how do you keep a strong handle on your campaign as it plays out over weeks and months?
Email autoresponders can save you a ton of time and deliver huge returns on campaign investment. Yet automation can be a double-edged sword.
The sad truth is that many thoughtful email campaigns become inbox wallpaper. It only takes a few mistimed or off-target emails before your audience starts to tune them out.
A good email autoresponder gives you the ability to connect with customers, at scale, without overwhelming them.
Or your team, for that matter. These products eliminate many of the tedious and repetitive tasks that are so essential to building relationships at scale.
Delight your customers with content they’re interested in. Get full visibility into your open and click-through rates and watch them climb.
Let’s walk through the best email autoresponders, what they can do for you, and how to select the right one.
Email autoresponders can help your teams get more done in less time, without sacrificing the personal touch that drives clicks. However, not all email autoresponders are created equal.
Some will work well for a brief series of 3-5 emails that welcome a new contact and warm them to your products—good for a simple customer journey.
Others help you set up complex automated workflows that respond to customer behavior, shopping tendencies, and other triggers you define.
The end goal is setting up something that automatically sends the right message, to the right customer, at the right time.
Here are the major features of email autoresponders that are helping companies increase their chances of success:
It’s right there in the name—the big boon of autoresponders is automating menial, manual campaign tasks.
However, the more robust tools tie into your customer databases or CRM, and let you define triggers based on a range of highly-personalized criteria.
Some of the popular automation capabilities you will see include:
A really good autoresponder lets you build out workflows within a visual editor, giving you a bird’s eye view of each trigger and step of the process.
Make sure you pick something with the capabilities you need to design each customer’s entire journey.
Don’t forget about crafting great emails. They have to be appealing from the subject line to the CTA, and every element must be optimized for web and mobile.
Good email autoresponders make these challenges much easier. My favorite products have intuitive visual email builders that help you make content that converts.
Beyond designing beautiful emails quickly, you can add buttons, embed content, and preview exactly what your email is going to look like from a customer’s point of view.
Find an autoresponder with an email editor that your employees enjoy using that also delivers predictable results.
With it, you’ll find that your teams will be able to quickly generate on-brand emails, consistently building out the perfect message for each step of a customer’s journey.
The contacts who make up your list are different people. That should go without saying.
But, even today, many companies rely on email blasting their full list to get the word out.
Effective email campaigns are based on putting things in front of customers that they actually want.
Email segmentation allows you to leverage customer data in service of better targeting, through which you can differentiate your contact list into groups based on:
Companies like Starbucks are sending weather-appropriate discounts on drinks: it’s no accident when their emails entice consumers to warm up on a rainy day or cool off when the temperature spikes.
This is a whole new way to approach customers where they are.
Every company defines their important segments differently. The richer your customer data, the easier it will be to use email segmentation to increase your conversion rate.
Automated, personalized emails go well beyond using a contact’s name in the subject line.
With Klaviyo, for example, you can automate the inclusion of product recommendations in the body of your email based on a contact’s location, past purchases, current weather, and so on.
Some autoresponders leverage machine learning to suggest products that other shoppers with similar tastes have ordered.
The best tools help you nail the easy stuff—like greeting subscribers by name and remembering their birthdays—while helping you convert customer data into revenue.
Tip: the better your email segmentation strategy, the easier it will be to leverage personalization, especially at scale.
As your contact list grows, it’s going to include more diverse customers at different stages of their buying journey.
You are going to want an email autoresponder that gives you the ability to manage this growing list and provides visibility into the ongoing performance of your campaign.
We all know about open rates and click-through rates. Those are important, but make sure you find something that lets you drill down into what matters at the end of the day, like sales per email, ROI per email, and total sales per email sent.
Staying effective in the long term means making adjustments. Campaign management tools help you figure out what’s working and what to change.
Typically, email autoresponder pricing is based on the number of subscribers you have and the number of emails you send each month.
This should be a pretty straightforward consideration. But if your goal is growth, factor in how many more you’re looking to add to your list over the next month, quarter, or year.
If your email marketing strategy takes off and you need to bump up into a higher pricing tier, will that be a problem for your budget and ROI?
Email autoresponders have been around for a long time. These days, virtually all of your best options are going to come as one component of a larger email marketing service.
That said, you can still find tools that will help you automate email marketing without requiring you to incorporate new services into your business processes.
The questions you need to answer are: Are you looking for basic email autoresponder features that help you automate specific workflows? Or are you looking to automate complex email workflows that dovetail into your larger marketing strategy?
If you answer yes to the first question, a dedicated email automation tool should be able to help you accomplish your goals. If you answered yes to the second question, you are going to want to skip ahead to the bundled products that will better meet your needs.
Exemplary products: MailerLite, Mailchimp (Free & Essentials), GetResponse (Basic), Moosend (Free)
Free email autoresponders and lower-tier plans allow you to build out simple workflows. This might be a welcome series, an automated response to a new customer or purchase, or a follow-up with someone who just reached out to customer service.
These dedicated email automation tools are great because they’re so easy to use. Virtually any member of the team can put together workflows that save time each day.
Of course, these options don’t come with as many features to segment your list, personalize emails, or manage a campaign.
Another potential problem is that it’s harder to assess your campaign performance and make adjustments without advanced tracking and reporting.
That said, dedicated email automation tools allow individuals to accomplish far more than they could ever do manually.
If you already have a suite of online marketing tools that are working well and all you need is the email automation, these products can work wonders without a significant outlay.
Exemplary products: Klaviyo, Mailchimp (Standard & Pro), Moosend (Pro & Custom)
To provide a more complete tool for the job, there are a range of autoresponders that offer automation bundled with email marketing tools.
These products make it easy to track customers, analyze behavior, and revise your campaign strategies accordingly.
Tools like Klaviyo, for example, integrate directly with your customer data, giving you powerful segmentation and personalization capabilities with hardly any extra work.
They also let you build complex workflows that let you tailor your automation strategy to your specific needs. Often, they will include a visual builder that makes it much easier to design and manage flows.
With email marketing services, it’s important to recognize that lower-tier plans are going to function more like simple automation tools, even if it’s the same product.
Mailchimp, for instance, lets you create multi-step journeys with their Essentials tier, but you can’t include branching points unless you get their Standard plan. If you want to take advantage of all the segmentation features—which will make your multi-step journey more effective—then you will have to get their Premium plan.
Mailchimp is a powerful product that hasn’t lost its simple feel, though it has grown considerably since it first hit the market in 2001.
Today, it functions as an integrated marketing platform, taking on way more responsibility than the email automation it became famous for.
Despite its depth, I like Mailchimp as an email autoresponder for beginners because it’s constantly offering user recommendations based on intelligence from billions of email interactions.
Subject Line Helper, for instance, offers data-driven insights about how to increase open and click rates.
There are plenty of other excellent features, including:
Mailchimp offers a free forever version that’s limited to 2,000 contacts, but comes with features like a marketing CRM and landing pages that you won’t get with other freemium email autoresponders.
To get the Customer Journey Builder, which lets you construct workflows in a visual editor, you will need one of the paid plans:
Some of the aforementioned features, like predicted demographics or the lookalike audience finder, are only included with Standard and Premium.
Millions of companies have seen Mailchimp increase their ROI. You can get started with the free version today, knowing that they also have tools to help you grow.
MailerLite is used by more than one million companies, startups, and freelancers because it is an intuitive, budget-friendly platform that delivers results.
Its free version lets you send 12 emails per month to 1,000 subscribers, which might be all some people need to get started.
For an email autoresponder that’s easy to use, MailerLite comes packed with simple, yet powerful features that help you optimize your campaign.
I like using A/B split testing to send two variations of an email and see which one performs better.
The clean MailerLite interface gives your teams the control they need to communicate effectively with your subscribers.
Some of its best features include:
MailerLite also comes with features to customize your website experience, like pop-ups and embedded forms, as well as an amazing drag-and-drop editor to craft striking newsletters.
Better still, it’s very affordable beyond the free version.
As a free email autoresponder, MailerLite is hard to beat for any small business. You get a free website with five landing pages, a drag-and-drop visual email editor, and advanced segmentation features.
It’s almost unreasonably generous.
For organizations that need the paid plans, the price is still very competitive and the premium features will pay for themselves many times over.
Klaviyo ties into a CRM or ecommerce platform and makes it easy to deliver ultra-personalized content via email.
No more unfocused email blasts to the public. Instead, Klaviyo allows users to build out unique customer journeys for long-time fans and first-time window shoppers.
Because it has native integration with customer data sources, you can get pretty fine-grained with the segmentation.
And, with the simple user interface, anyone on your team can start maximizing the relevant content every visitor sees.
Klaviyo iworks across many channels, allowing you to expand your subscriber base via Facebook, for example.
Nurture individual leads from a 10,000-foot view by using the features in Klaviyo’s extensive toolkit:
The free plan for Klaviyo maxes out at 250 contacts and 500 emails, after which you will be asked to upgrade. Paid plans start at $20/month for up to 500 contacts and unlimited email sends, climbing higher depending on the size of your contact list.
GetResponse has provided one of the simplest, most effective email autoresponders for more than 20 years. Over that time, they’ve added features and evolved the UI to keep it one of the most useful products on the market.
Their experience shows. They know what works, why, and how to help you get set up.
For one, GetResponse offers hundreds of professionally designed templates to communicate with customers at every step of their journey.
The built-in sales features are also really nice, and really set GetResponse apart from the other easy-to-use autoresponders. Even their Basic plan comes with a sales funnel, unlimited lead funnels, and unlimited landing pages.
With other email autoresponders, you’re going to have to integrate your pipeline. With GetResponse, you can keep daily operations under one roof.
Along with a flexible email autoresponder, GetResponse has a number of other useful features to help you connect with customers:
GetResponse doesn’t have a free forever plan, though they do offer a free trial. Pricing starts at $15/month for 1,000 contacts with their Basic plan, which comes with all the features listed above.
And much more. Honestly, the Basic plan is far from basic.
At the Plus and Professional pricing tiers, you have more features like webinars, as well as greater degrees of customization.
Their top tier plan, Max, comes with a dedicated IP address, SSO, and other features designed to secure and streamline enterprise email marketing and sales.
Moosend is an affordable email automation tool with an almost nonexistent learning curve. Yet for how easy it is to get started, Moosend users wind up automating their email marketing in really impactful ways.
It’s sad to think, but some companies spend thousands of dollars a month on ultra-powerful marketing automation software that they don’t really need. Plus, that stuff can be really hard to use.
With Moosend, you get a lot of freedom to customize your email marketing automation. There’s a rich set of triggers and actions all managed in a drag-and-drop interface. Workflows can be shared among team members, who can leave notes.
The Moosend interface itself is great at educating users how to automate and fine-tune customer journeys. With templates, preset workflows, and rich tracking capabilities, Moosend makes it simple to find what works for your unique subscriber base.
Leverage the AI to hyper-personalize your emails based on similar consumer preferences and other behavioral analytics.
They’ve recently added “And/Or” expressions to custom fields. This allows for a lot more customization in terms of defining triggers. Custom fields don’t have to be just one thing any more!
Without writing a single line of code, you can gain quick mastery of a deep set of email automation features that include:
Moosend has a free forever plan, which is capped at 1,000 subscribers, and comes with many of the best features. For additional subscribers, you’ll need a Pro plan, which starts at $8/month.
The exact price will depend on the number of subscribers you need to accommodate. For example, 25,000 subscribers is $100/month. The Pro plan maxes out at 200,000 subscribers ($608/month), with custom plans available to reach an audience of any size.
Compared to other, more expensive options, Moosend tends to be much easier to use even with many of the same essential features.
Many people begin the search for an email autoresponder only to discover that what they actually need is an email marketing platform.
The closest option on this list to a dedicated email autoresponder is MailerLite, which still comes with way more than simple email automation capabilities. It’s a really good option (and price) for companies that already have great CRM software and really just need the email autoresponder capabilities.
GetResponse works well for sales teams because you’ve got conversion funnels and the ability to host webinars is baked in.
Klaviyo is probably the most comprehensive tool on this list, and it works incredibly well at automating the processes necessary to run a successful email ecommerce campaign.
I like all of these email autoresponders because they help you benefit from the unavoidable trial-and-error associated with email marketing.
No campaign is ever going to be perfect, but the right tools will help you continually evolve your strategy to meet your customers where they are.
Disclosure: This content is reader-supported, which means if you click on some of our links that we may earn a commission.
What if I told you there was a single marketing channel through which companies are finding a 3,800% ROI?
That’s earning $38 for every dollar spent.
This magic marketing channel is called email. Yes, just good old email. And that insane average return on investment is one of many email marketing statistics that have held true for years now.
The biggest surprise to me is how many companies aren’t taking advantage of email marketing.
I hear it’s too much work to design newsletters, manage a growing number of contacts, personalize messages, and keep the campaign moving forward.
There’s this perception that email is a time-sink, but it doesn’t align with the statistics.
If it were really too labor intensive to run an efficient email marketing campaign, the average ROI wouldn’t even be 1/1000 of what it is, year after year.
The key is finding the right email marketing service. Don’t wait to start building better campaigns in less time.
Email marketing services are packed features to help you save time at every step of a campaign.
My favorite products get you minutes back on every task. Professional templates, drag-and-drop email editors, list management tools—they make all the hard parts easy.
On top of that, many of the most time-consuming campaign processes can be automated with an email marketing service.
The minutes you save turn into hours quickly, especially if you’re churning campaigns on a large scale.
More effective campaigns. Less effort. That’s the goal.
Let’s walk through the core features available with email marketing services so that you understand which product is going to deliver you the best results for you.
Unless your marketing teams double as developers, it’s essential to find a tool that anyone on your team can use.
As you browse, pay attention to the templates and pre-set workflows offered by each email marketing service. Are you excited to use these or do you intend to create your own custom templates? Some email marketing services lose their reputed ease-of-use once you step outside their pre-defined pathways.
It’s a definite plus if your solution comes with visual design tools to build emails and workflows. A simple-to-learn editor can be used right away by the people who need it. They don’t need training, and aren’t stuck waiting on someone who’s comfortable with the editor.
The best email marketing services also provide support, documentation, and walkthroughs to educate users and ensure that their product is truly self-service.
If reviews indicate that customer support is sluggish, or that answers are hard to find, that’s a red flag.
An important question to ask: How easily is your email marketing service going to mesh with your existing stack?
Solutions that integrate with products you use are going to speed deployment and encounter fewer issues moving forward. This is especially true of your existing CRM and any other customer data sources.
Some products, like Sendinblue, come with their own CRM as part of the package, which can be nice for companies that aren’t looking to purchase multiple products in service of their email campaign.
The emails you send need to reach your recipient’s inbox. End of story.
Without a high deliverability rate—I would be worried about anything below 95%—your email campaigns are dead in the water.
All good email marketing services ensure high deliverability in two ways.
On the backend, they authenticate emails with DKIM, SPF, and SenderID, while also working with internet service providers to make sure that customer IP addresses aren’t blocked.
Plus, quality platforms will provide ready-made email templates that are both visually appealing and compliant with privacy and anti-spam laws.
On the user side, email marketing services help you craft compelling subject lines and content that encourages customers to actually open your message. They also provide tools for managing subscribers so you can keep a clean list and avoid the spam folder.
One of the biggest defining (or limiting) features of an email marketing service is the level of sophistication your workflows can manage.
Entry-level tools can help you automate welcome series of emails for new subscribers, and other similarly straight-forward processes.
If you want to start adding conditional or logical triggers that branch the customer journey into more personalized paths, you are going to need a more substantial tool.
You are also going to need to know a lot about your audience. Products that have really good list segmentation features will pick up tons of information on your customers, which in turn makes your automation more accurately targeted.
Segmentation really drives your ability to automate personalized emails, for example. You can set workflow triggers that respond to customer engagement, shopping habits, and other tendencies to ensure that customers are only receiving messages they’re likely to care about.
Quality email marketing services come with a lot of tools to manage the subscribers on their list. They will help you:
Email marketing strategies must be agile.
Every service reviewed in this article comes with the ability to track traditional KPIs like:
By keeping tabs on these metrics, companies can tweak their campaigns accordingly.
Many email marketing services offer A/B testing, which allows you to test different versions of emails or subject lines to see what performs better.
Look for that, because it’s super helpful for adjusting campaigns in the right direction over time.
More advanced email marketing services will help you tie traditional metrics to revenue, letting you see ROI per email sent and other business-critical metrics.They’ll also let you see how content is performing with features like click heatmaps, which show where your customers are spending the most time.
You’ll probably have to spend more for those features, but they can provide crucial information that pays for itself.
Marketing automation software, like Pardot, provides multi-touch attribution models that let you visualize each touchpoint in the entire customer lifecycle. Marketing attribution drives business growth and informs your future campaigns by spotlighting the key elements of each customer relationship.
Most products in this category want to provide email marketing services for companies of all sizes, so they offer a range of plans from a budget-friendly package to enterprise-grade service tiers.
Exemplary products: Zoho Campaigns, Sendinblue (Free & Lite)
On the lightweight side of the spectrum, you’ll find services that augment your email marketing campaigns with easy-to-use tools for automation, email editing, and subscriber management.
You’ll see these products billed as email autoresponders or email automation.
They don’t change what you do so much as they help you do it better, faster, and at scale.
Because they are so simple, the best email autoresponders are incredibly intuitive, inexpensive, and can start delivering results almost immediately.
Exemplary products: Constant Contact, Sendinblue (Premium & Enterprise)
Email marketing platforms are a one-stop shop meant to help you build, track, manage, and optimize campaigns.
They are going to capture, store, and segment your customer data much better than a standalone email autoresponder. And with the richer picture of your audience, you can build much more complex email workflows.
You can get really granular when it comes to personalized customer journeys, for example. In Constant Contact, you can automate emails with shoppable product recommendations based on a person’s buying habits.
Doesn’t that sound great?
What’s really nice is that these products are very easy to use and deploy. Campaign performance tracking features are built right in and provide a ton of visibility and control instantly. Some will integrate with tools like Google Analytics to get actionable data.
You can see what’s working, what’s not, and make changes on the fly.
Exemplary products: Salesforce Pardot, Marketo Engage
Marketing automation software includes email marketing services as part of a broader suite that accounts for every channel of communication.
Organizations can expand their reach across email, SMS, social, SEO, websites, webinars, and paid media. Information from across all these channels is centralized in intuitive dashboards that drive real-time, evidence-based campaign decisions.
With marketing automation software, you can build out multi-branch email campaigns and customer journeys, tracking progress across every stage.
These products tend to be quite a bit more expensive, and understandably so. If you are looking to run simple to moderately complex email campaigns, you’re fine with an email marketing platform.
On the other hand, if you start to run into problems at scale or email workflows can’t handle your needs, it may be time to consolidate your processes with a marketing automation solution.
Constant Contact offers some of the best email marketing services alongside top-notch solutions for ecommerce, event hosting, website building, and multi-channel marketing.
They average a 97% deliverability rate. This is only possible because the mature platform blends powerful behind-the-scenes functionality—like blocklists, proactive monitoring, and multiple forms of authentication—with an intuitive UI that helps teams craft effective messages that don’t bounce.
You can get Constant Contact up and running very quickly, and it will eliminate much of the legwork associated with email marketing.
Automate product recommendations, for example, by sending shoppable emails based on the items a customer has in their cart, the weather, or tendencies of like-minded shoppers.
Trying to accomplish this task without an email marketing service would be extremely time-consuming. With Constant Contact, the process can be automated by just about anyone.
Some of the other reasons millions of people use constant contact include:
Constant Contact helps with lead generation, too, via landing pages, customizable pop-up forms, and free hosting for a mobile-responsive website. This includes a blog, where you can leverage your email content as posts for SEO.
There are three pricing tiers for Constant Contact email marketing services and the amount you pay is based on the number of contacts. The plans are:
Constant Contact Email and Email Plus are two of the most popular email marketing services available today.
Constant Contact Pro uses AI-driven marketing automation to provide personalized product recommendations, smart subject lines, behavioral segmentation capabilities, and more advanced workflows.
I would consider a Pro subscription if you are thinking about marketing automation, but aren’t ready to pull the trigger on a heavyweight product like Pardot or Marketo.
Zoho Campaigns is a lightweight, cost-effective email marketing service that comes with all the must-have features.
In Zoho Campaigns, everything has been trimmed (but not watered down), so you can still accomplish 80-90% of what you can do with an email marketing service that costs three to four times as much.
The ease-of-use is on par with agile project management software like Trello. Not only can non-technical users navigate Zoho Campaigns, they can master their domain.
Intuitively control the following features:
Keep in mind that Zoho Campaigns also has integrations with popular CRM, ecommerce, and contact management products.
Tying these data sources in can help you better target and personalize your email campaigns, yet Zoho Campaigns will remain fairly easy to use.
Integrating Google Analytics, for example, can enrich the amount of customer data you pick up on each interaction, providing data visualizations to help you make sense of relationships over time.
Pricing is straightforward for Zoho Campaigns:
The Subscriber-based Plan is my favorite because it includes email automation, which doesn’t come with the Email-based or Pay-as-you-go Plans. At $263/month for 100k contacts with the Subscriber-based Plan, the automation will pay for itself many times over.
You can also try the Zoho Campaigns free forever version. It’s limited to 2,000 subscribers, but you get a lot of the marketing and content management features, as well as the chance to see if you like the interface.
Sendinblue is a unified CRM, chat, Facebook, SMS, and email marketing platform. It’s loaded with features that are super easy to learn.
In other words, lots of tools with very little training.
Unlike other options on this list, every Sendinblue subscription (including Free and Lite) comes with a sales CRM, marketing automation, real-time reporting, advanced segmentation features, and more.
How’s that for out-of-the-box function? But wait. There’s more.
With popups, landing pages, and chatbots, you can build out your contact list with minimal effort, turning website visitors and Facebook passerbys your next lead.
And once people are on your list, Sendinblue gives you a ton of great tools to nurture leads, build out customer journeys, and communicate effectively every step of the way. The key features include:
Sendinblue offers a free forever version, and paid plans at several pricing tiers:
The amount you pay is based on your tier and the number of emails you send each month. You can store as many contacts as you want without affecting the price, which is not true with most other platforms.
Notably, Sendinblue’s pay-as-you-go plan includes the same great features as whatever tier you choose, except the phone support. This is also something you won’t find in other options, like Zoho Campaigns.
There is no prior knowledge or technical skill necessary to start using Sendinblue, and their free forever plan is one of the best available.
Marketo Engage, from Adobe, is a full-service marketing automation solution ready to support your strategy across any channel.
Centralize and analyze customer data in an intuitive environment that allows for email campaigns with fine-grained segmentation and dynamic personalization.
You can customize intricate workflows with behavioral triggers that wouldn’t be possible on other platforms because they can’t capture as much information as Marketo does.
Every feature is full-bodied. A/B/n testing, for example, lets you pilot multiple versions of the same site or email rather than just binary A/B testing, which is where many other products stop.
There’s also Adobe Sensei, which uses AI and machine learning to personalize content. Sensei analyzes the performance of all your assets, learns which content works best for whom, and updates emails accordingly.
Other great features that come with using Marketo for email marketing include:
You’ll have to contact Marketo to get a price. It’s going to have a higher total cost of ownership than a dedicated email marketing service, but if you want superior segmentation and personalization , this can get a lot more done.
Pardot is the marketing automation platform from Salesforce that’s built specifically for B2B marketing.
Do you need to hear more, or are you already sold? It’s as good and as deep as you think it is.
Pardot has 2,000+ integrations, a rich feature set, and a surprisingly intuitive UI. To be honest, the platform is a few steps ahead of its competitors in the dedicated email marketing space.
It’s going to take some time and effort to build out the backend, but once everything is set up, Pardot gives you unrivaled visibility into your campaigns.
If you feel like the sophistication of workflows is lacking with your current setup or your analytics and data visualization tools aren’t giving you the insight into campaigns that you need, Pardot is the ticket.
Some of the advanced email marketing features include:
Pardot is not a cheap option, but it is money well spent in service of a high-growth campaign.
There are four pricing tiers:
Other marketing automation solutions, like Marketo, are going to be in this neighborhood price-wise. There are certainly email marketing platforms you can get for a fraction of the cost, but they’re not going to give you anywhere close to the oversight and customization Pardot affords.
If you are just starting out, I would try out one of the best email autoresponders to get a feel for which email marketing features are going to be most important to you.
Zoho Campaigns is another really great starting point. These tools are easy to use and many have free forever options.
For companies that need more visibility into their campaigns but don’t want to struggle with a new platform, Sendinblue will be great. It’s also not prohibitively expensive, even at the premium tier.
Constant Contact is another great option in the SMB price range, especially for ecommerce. It comes with some of the functionality you find with marketing automation software, but there’s no loss to it’s ease of use.
If you need the marketing automation and business intelligence functionality of Pardot or Marketo, budget it in. After a certain point, dedicated email marketing services aren’t going to handle the automated journeys you have in mind.
If Pardot and Marketo give you sticker shock, but you still want true marketing automation, check out Freshmarketer, or one of the other best marketing automation software solutions.
Almost everyone uses email.
But here’s the sweet part.
The people you’re trying to reach or retain already have active email addresses. Heck, most of them used or would use one to sign-up for your service or product.
If you can get into (and stay) in people’s inbox, you can make a ton of money. Data shows companies can generate $38 for every $1 email investment.
Unfortunately, getting into an inbox is not a stroll in the park.
Now that’s where the best email marketing companies come in.
These companies will help you to strategize, collect relevant email addresses, create, and manage email marketing campaigns that drive business growth.
How do I know this?
Our team at Neil Patel Digital vetted hundreds of email marketing companies based on their brand reputation, client portfolio, ratings, and their areas of expertise.
The very top email agencies you can trust. Not only would they get you into the inbox of your ideal customers, but these companies can keep you in there till you turn prospects into brand advocates.
I’m confident the best email marketing companies listed above and reviewed below are reliable because of their proven track records.
Hire any of them, according to your needs, and they’ll help you to turn email marketing into a growth channel for your business.
Without further ado, let’s explore each of these companies and see for yourself why we consider them the very best.
Email marketing is effective, no doubt. But it has its downside too.
According to two different studies, between 0.19% and 0.52% of your email subscribers would unsubscribe per email you send.
Now, guess what was one of the top three reasons found Jilt, an email marketing software, responsible for why people unsubscribe from emails?
In other words, irrespective of how excellent your email marketing strategy is, writing killer emails that resonate with your prospects and keeps you in their inbox requires excellent content.
And that’s where we, Neil Patel Digital, come in. It is also why clients, from startups to enterprise brands, love working with us.
Email is also an excellent channel for content distribution.
However, he quality of content has to be amazing. If not, your unsubscribes will tank the ROI of your email campaigns.
Again, this is one area we stand out from the crowd.
At Neil Patel Digital, our email content service starts by producing engaging content your customers and prospects will love.
Then, we use email marketing as one of the channels to promote it:
You can check out Neil Patel Digital’s content services here.
For in-house teams looking for rapid email marketing turn around, InboxArmy comes highly recommended.
As a full-service email management company, InboxArmy offers a spectrum of services, including email templates’ design, custom coding, and 360-degree email marketing management:
This agency offers volume-based pricing for companies and white label services for fellow digital marketing agencies, which goes to prove their experience.
And they serve clients from government agencies like Texas Health Resources, to companies such as LandCentral, Airbnb, Jockey, and several others.
When it comes to email marketing, Software as a Service (SaaS) brands have special needs.
First, when new trial users sign-up, they need excellent email onboarding sequences to convert them into happy, paying customers.
And if an existing customer stops using your product or wants to churn, you can retain them with relevant churn email.
Fix My Churn specializes in these two areas:
Fix My Churn collaborates with tech companies with a monthly subscription business model.
The company applies top-notch SaaS copywriting skills to craft relationship-based email sequences to keep customers happy.
Action Rocket needs no introduction in the enterprise email marketing sector.
This company even partners with the top email marketing software brands like MailChimp, Litmus, and Campaign Monitor to drive innovation in the email space.
Action Rocket has years of experience strategizing and executing custom HTML and CSS email and CRM development programs for enterprise companies:
Founded in 2011, the company works with a knit-team of experienced developers who are excellent at strategy, design, and coding of complex and customized email programs.
And their clientele speaks for themselves, including the BBC, Marks & Spencer, Global Radio, and many others.
SmartMail is the Done For You (DFY) email marketing company that comes highly recommended by ecommerce businesses.
This company handles everything ecommerce email marketing for online stores. And excel most at launching campaigns based on automated triggers.
Across the customer lifetime cycle, SmartMail is exceptional at strategizing and executing optimized email marketing campaigns for ecommerce businesses.
And they have a track record and excellent results to show.
SmartMail has generated over $187 million in revenues for ecommerce brands via email, sent billions of emails, and serve over 87 businesses, including Skechers, French Connection, Cotton:On, and others.
What characteristics make an email marketing company great?
They are as follows.
Most companies get buried in strategizing and outlining plans for email marketing.
What they wrongly relegate to the backseat?
The quality of your email’s content goes a long way in determining how effective your email marketing campaigns would be.
A fundamental characteristic of the top email marketing company is to focus on creating engaging content to power your email campaigns.
And a world-class email company will help you blent top-tier content with amazing promotions to also get the conversions that you need. Great companies blend the two seamlessly.
An email marketing company that claims to be among the best must have something to back that claim up.
One of such things is their client portfolio.
Who have they implemented a series of email marketing campaigns for? Were those campaigns successful?
Anyway, you don’t even need to ask a top email marketing company those questions, as you’ll find the answers in their clients’ portfolio.
And looking out for this portfolio-displaying characteristic in top email marketing also does you good.
It helps you to see who they have helped and to decide if they’ll be a good fit for your company.
At Neil Patel Digital, we have a clients you may recognize.
In its 40 years of existence, email marketing has evolved tremendously.
What worked yesterday may not work today. And even if it does work, it may require a different approach.
Due to the always-evolving nature of trends and modern strategies applicable to email marketing, top companies must keep pace with these changes to deliver the best work.
Thought-leadership is how the top email marketing brands keep such needed pace with the industry.
And they do this by sharing new learnings, experiments, emerging strategies, and tactics publicly to retain brand reputation among other professionals.
So, you should do some research and look out for this characteristic, as it is an excellent way to spot a top email marketing company.
Anyone can claim to be the best, but it is what others say about them shows their competence most.
In the business setting, you’ll find how past and existing clients feel and say of a company’s work in the testimonials they leave behind.
The truth is executing a successful email campaign that drives growth for a company is hard.
A notable characteristic of the top email marketing company is the real-life testimonials they receive from clients for their work publicly.
A lot of thought goes into a successful email marketing campaign.
From strategy to the acquisition of email addresses, selection of email marketing software, email copywriting, and campaign management, they all require some different kind of expertise.
Established email marketing brands are never a one-person show. It is usually a team of experts, collaborating to drive results.
And that’s one characteristic of top email marketing companies: Displaying the entire team that works to plan, execute, manage, and optimize email campaigns:
Ultimately, an exceptional email marketing company to help you turn email into a real business growth channel that:
But to get to these benefits, there are steps to expect before you start working with one. Some of the most notable ones are what follows.
As you saw in the review and categorization of the best email marketing companies based on their areas of expertise above, not all can serve all clients across all industries.
To determine if they can solve your specific problems, excellent email marketing companies start by getting to fill an inquiry form.
Filling this inquiry form allows you to share your challenges and business goals related to email marketing.
After filling this form, expect a discovery session where an expert would talk one-on-one with you to understand your needs better.
A discovery call allows the company to gain more clarity and context about your business needs relevant to email. But, don’t expect them to propose a solution right off the bat.
Top email marketing brands would typically use what you shared with them to delve into research.
From there, they can make sense of how to tackle your challenges and identify the best possible strategies they can deploy to work with you.
Expect to receive a summary of their research and recommendations via email or another call, which usually ends with deciding if you’re fit to work together.
If everything goes well up to this point, and you like their recommendations, expect a contract that outlines what a top email marketing company would do, and what it’ll cost to work with you.
This contract also outlines project timelines and deliverables, legal requirements to work together, and your expected investment.
If the contract, project scope, deliverables, pricing, and others look good, exceptional email marketing companies would have a custom onboarding process to initiate the process of working with your company.
This onboarding process will help you and the company to establish an understanding of how to manage your product, and any other thing necessary for a smooth working relationship.
Don’t make the mistake of starting email marketing later on.
Most businesses recognize the need for social media, SEO, content marketing, and others early on, but they leave emails to the backseat because it is not trending.
Well, you shouldn’t.
A few reasons to take start email marketing from day one are:
Marketers who used email marketing to segment their audience said they saw a 760% increase in revenue.
Whether you do email yourself and get help from one of the top email companies, get started today.