Email marketing software vs. email marketing service?
I want to compare the option of email marketing software vs. email marketing service. Email marketing software will take some efforts, but at the end of the day which is cheaper? Is it worth the effort?
The email software can be learned and used to benefit your business. But the time it takes to learn how to use it and the best way to use it can be time consuming and a lot of trial and error.
Although a email marketing service can get that out their for you, the cost can be overwhelming. So, you are going to want someone that also does your social media work as well in order to know your product and get the message out that you want.
There are companies out there that can do both and help you get the best bang for your buck. But you need to compare what they offer and can do for you that will reach beyond just the one's that already know about you. So, you are reaching those out there that may not know about you. And do it in a way that is centered on the type of customer that you are looking for and bring you more business.
We offer all of this at a price that is very affordable for the small business. But you can search that out yourself and in order to make a the best decision for your business.
The short answer is -- How much is your time worth? And, do you have the expertise to do a newsletter and make it look professional?
There are lots of options out there for low cost newsletter platforms -- we use Constant Contact and Mailchimp depending on the clients' needs. Sometimes we manage the whole process, sometimes it is more of a combined process and sometimes they do it all themselves.
Do you already create a great deal of content? How often do you want the newsletter to go out? If there is a good match between the creation and the delivery schedule it might be a good option to do it yourself.
Also, please keep in mind that it is tough to proof read your own work. Our agency has a "second set of eyes" rule on everything we deliver externally. It helps avoid embarrassing typos and errors. We see too many newsletters come in that look amateurish and could turn off customers and prospects. Only you can decide on how important your newsletter is to you and your business.
Nuno is right that volume and the extent of outreach is the key determinate of cost.
But frankly, I'm not finding much by way of DIY opportunities. The Top 25 Free or Low-Cost Email Marketing Web Applications in 2013 are described in following post:
http://upcity.com/blog/2013/05/top-25-free-or-low-cost-email-marketing-web-applications/. Yet I find in my searching that "software" and "service" are treated the same and the search responses I get are for services exclusively. Either that or the search can't distinguish between marketing mass email campaigns and email clients. Quite frustrating actually.
On the other hand there are some great service deals to be found. Two of which I will share. First, Mailjet offers 100,000 contacts, 6,000 email per month or 200 emails a day for free. https://www.mailjet.com/pricing_v3. And second, ReachMail offers 5,000 contacts and up to 15,000 emails a month for free. http://www.reachmail.net/en/pricing3.php. I like both choices because there are WordPress plugins that support them See: https://wordpress.org/plugins/mailjet-for-wordpress/ and https://wordpress.org/plugins/reachmail-subscription-forms/. Mailjet looks like it may be a more robust option; but it supports fewer free emails per month.
Was this a "curiosity killed the cat" question? Or have you been tasked with doing this in-house? If the latter, I would suggest checking out both Mailjet and ReachMail first. To my way of thinking "satisfaction brought it (the cat) back." Best Wishes.
- The Pragmatic Web Designer
It's much more valuable to compare particular applications and services with one another than it is to make generalized "software vs service" comparisons. With current technology, that line is much more grey than it used to be.
TL;DR -- figure out what features and requirements you have first, then begin to compare options.
A better comparison for email marketing software / services would look at features, ease-of-integration, and delivery methods.
For example, a very basic email marketing application that can be installed on your computer may be quite inexpensive, connect to a service such as Amazon SES to send mail (instead of your own mail server), and ultimately suite your needs if they're very simple. At $0.10/1000 emails, if your only criteria is cost, that's a very inexpensive option. SES supports DKIM signed mail and SPF (both of which are important for deliverability) and even monitors bounces and complaints for you.
But, SES is a infrastructure-level service. You won't have any way to determine open rates or gather any other statistics unless you embed 3rd party tracking code into your content. Other nice features like drip campaigns and engagement tracking aren't available.
Moving beyond desktop software to something like Sendy (http://sendy.co/), which must be installed on a server, provides more features like click tracking, open tracking, and other statistics as well as drip campaigns. It too uses Amazon SES, but because it's not only living on your desktop, it's able to provide a broader range of features. But, you're responsible for keeping your server up and running and maintaining it. If your system goes down, clicks and open tracking won't be registered during that period, nor will drip campaigns.
Another step beyond that lies with a service like MailChimp or my own start-up Turret.IO (http://turret.io). These can support significantly more features and be much more resilient. For example, Turret.IO supports streaming user updates via its API to send emails to particular users based on how they interact with the system (purchased a product, haven't logged in for 10 days, etc). But, you'll generally pay more than $0.10/1000 emails with such services.
Some will also argue that services like MailChimp service so many users, that using their services actually improves deliverability because their positive reputation outweighs the negative reputations created by their customers that send SPAM.
Phew -- hope this helps a little bit!
Something that should be taken into account is the ROI. If you are making money off each email then this can dictate the spend. The advantage of the service route is that the service quite often plugs into Website engines (like wordpress) This means there is a faster turn around when setting up the call to action
The software often means you need to be a little more proficient at getting the code right in your website (or your "call to action") I use both AWeber (email service) and Arpreach (software) AWeber gives me the quick collection and I am then able to move the list over to Arpreach for continuous email progression. This keeps my costs down at AWeber (which is a monthly fee and depends on the size of your list)
This works for me, but the costings aren't an issue if you are making a good return on whatever investment you choose...Service or Software
Personally I am a huge fan of the software solutions. Especially when you can find open source alternatives that can be installed quickly, easily, and require little to no resources to run. In the worst case of hiring someone to install them for you, you would still recoup the initial investment after less than a year.
Deeper into details I have been using and installing to all of my clients in such needs phplist. Opensource, flexible, fully customizable and can handle an unlimited number of mailing lists, even in different domains from a single installation. The installation itself can be taken care by anyone with little pc knowledge and takes litterally 5 minutes. The customization is a bit trickier but nothing really complex.
Considering that hired services still utilize email software on your behalf it really comes down to a question of time. In terms of cost, your time really is the most expensive aspect. There is however a great option called EmailBrain. Depending on your volume the average expense is 99 per year. Without experience, your first campaign will probably take around 3-4 hours to do it well, if you are familiar with dashboards such as WordPress you could set it up in about 20 minutes. As you become more familiar, it will take less time and for me, it has been extremely worthwhile. The great thing about EmailBrain is A/B testing which most other software does not provide. In addition to tracking opens, bounces rates, and success of calls to action, EmailBrain is unique in providing A/B testing. The system will guide you in the completion of three campaign types based on your content, professional, casual and comical light engagement.15% of your database will receive 15% the 2nd and 15% the third. The system will then take the one that was the most successful and send this to the remaining 55% allowing each campaign to be utilized to its greatest conversion potential.
The idea of email marketing is to add value to your business - increase sales, increase loyalty, increase knowledge about your brand. Measuring it with just time spent might not give you the right answer. Absolutely agree with Bill Gray about the ROI. Quite often spending less means receiving less, too, as we can't be all experts of all areas of marketing. If you're working with a tight budget, I'd suggest doing it yourself and then including a professional from time to time to look at the way you've done things and to offer suggestions on improvements. You don't know what your capabilities and limitations are unless you try - and there might come a point where spending a 1000 pounds with an agency to gain 10 000 is absolutely worth it. But getting a bit of first hand experience before involving an agency will certainly give you a better understanding of where and how to spend the money.
Email marketing software will be a lower expense but a higher cost.
This is because if you get a good email marketing company they will be able to get better results and it will take less of your time to do the email marketing.
So by choosing email marketing software you have the added costs of missed revenue and the added cost of much more of your time making get a company to do your email marketing the way to go.
Each have their own distinct features and benefits.
Email marketing software allows you to upload your own segmented email database (customers further segmented in high end, one-off, regular, etc., suppliers, staff, important stakeholders) and direct your communication to each of them. The software will also highlight invalid email addresses, and let you know what percentage of your audience have actually viewed your email, which region, etc.
You can also customize the design and layout of your email to have an appropriate mix of images and text.
Email marketing service will only take your image/promotion and forward it to their existing database which might completely miss your target audience. Also, some agencies pride themselves for having 300,000 + emails in their database, but most of them might be offshore or bogus.