Email Marketing Services: Free or Paid, Which is Better?
When considering your approach to marketing, there are many different avenues you can explore. In terms of digital marketing, social media has become an easy “get out of jail card” thanks to its reputation for reaching thousands of people and interacting with new audiences.
Social media has its merits, but conversions and engagement can be low compared to the number of people reached. Email marketing, although one of the most rudimentary forms of digital marketing, retains its value even in the current climate, generating high levels of clicks.
What is an email marketing service?
When you’re looking to launch an email marketing campaign, you’ll be faced with dozens of vendors vying to provide the best service. Before exploring the path between free and paid, it is important to determine whether it is an email service provider or a specialized marketing service that you need.
An Email Service Provider – or ESP – will allow you to create and store templates that can be sent to subscriber lists. It’s probably the type of product you imagine when you plan to send emails en masse.
“Anything you can do, I can do better” is the approach taken by an email marketing service. It builds on the solid foundation established by ESPs and adds additional layers of integration and automation. Probably a more expensive option, it requires little human intervention and can provide more personalized communications.
Free marketing services
Many people new to email marketing will want to start with a free account. It offers the opportunity to become familiar with the service offered by marketing tools and to try different tools in order to understand what works with your business needs.
Storage in free accounts is usually limited to entice you to sign up for a subscription-based model, though it can often be sufficient for small businesses and nonprofits.
The lack of commitment to a free marketing service provider is particularly appealing, allowing business owners to try out different providers before settling on the right one. While this is a great way to test the waters, apply branding, and remove watermarks, your email marketing will likely be expensive.
Paid Marketing Services
Paid services typically come in multiple tiers, allowing business owners to choose a plan that fits their business and providing the flexibility to grow with you. As such, a “one size fits all” business approach should be a red flag when looking for a marketing service.
A provider you pay for will usually allow a greater range of customization, allowing you to add your own branding and offering domain integration to send from a corporate email address.
Free vs. Paid Email Marketing Services: Understanding the Difference
Finding an email marketing service or messaging service provider can be a daunting prospect, especially for those with little or no experience. There are some things a good marketing tool should provide, but finding the right balance between powerful resources and a good price can be tricky. Pay attention to these five attributes when comparing free and paid marketing services:
If you can’t identify the product, you are the product – as the saying goes when it comes to monetizing a business. In other words, if you’re not paying for a product, the company is probably making money from you. Typically, this involves selling your data to third parties, whether it’s personal data like demographics or trends like how often you use certain features.
Privacy is generally expected with a paid service, although it is recommended to verify what data is being processed.
2. Compatibility and integration
Not paying for a service and expecting basic tools in return. Add financing, however, and you could expect a return on your investment. As a business owner, you likely use a range of platforms to run and host certain aspects of your organization and to obtain analytics data. The ability to integrate these platforms together will only reduce the clutter and confusion behind the scenes, which will help streamline the costs of running your business.
Whether it’s because you’re on the road, operating your business from multiple locations, or for any number of other reasons, you can access your email marketing services from a multitude of devices. e.g. laptops, tablets and smartphones.
Paid systems usually have built-in hosting, although setting up your domain can often be a challenge for the inexperienced, so having a support team can prove invaluable.
4. Branding and design
Sending plain text emails from a generic email address (like Gmail or iCloud) can seem unprofessional at best, and it’s likely that conversions will suffer. Being able to embed your company email address adds an extra layer of authenticity.
Consumers now expect email to be as engaging as a website or social media page. It is therefore essential to abandon the plain text format in favor of HTML. Our guide to creating HTML newsletters outlines some design elements that will help you stand out.
Above all, your branding should be clearly visible through the use of logos and slogans, as well as your pre-determined fonts and colors. Equally important are calls to action, which form a bridge between your email and the product or service you’re trying to promote. A paid marketing service will give you more control over your newsletter design.
The most obvious difference between free and paid services is the cost. Take the time to predict where your business will be heading in the years to come and plan accordingly. You might find that a provider is cheap in the first year, but price increases mean that a ten-year plan could add significantly to the cost. On the other hand, a plan with a constant price could save you money. Anticipate the need to upgrade and upgrade your subscription if you need to add features over time.
We’ve also featured the best secure email providers.