In todays economy many people are actively seeking new ways to market their business using all the tools that they can possibly afford to buy. With that said, they are looking for ways to stand out from their competition now more than ever. If you are a realtor, small business owner, salesperson, or a manager of a team of professionals, I wanted to share with you a couple of ideas that might help you set more appointments, prospect more effectively, demonstrate your product or service better, and possibly help you achieve the income you desire.
Many real estate agents use Constant Contact, Get Response, iContact, and I have included a review of each down below. You can get a better idea of pricing, features, etc as you read this article.
Me personally, I used to use Constant Contact with 500 Contacts, Aweber, Traffic Geyser, and Goto Meeting as tools to help me manage my emails, market to prospects, capture email addresses from my website, market my website, and conduct webinars to do training. In doing so, I was paying almost $200 a month for those tools. I found a better solution with Talk Fusion for only $35 a month which I absolutely love! It gives me a 1000 Contacts, An E-Mail Subscription form to replace Aweber, Unlimited Participants and 15 Video Moderators for Video Conferencing, a way to submit my video content to 200 social networks instantly which helped my backlinks to my site, a Video Email Marketing Service that is way more effective and personalized to send my prospects my information, as well as a way to broadcast live events in the event I need to. Talk Fusion also offers a nice side income by referring their service to others that might be able to use it. Now Let’s review the email marketing competitors…
Who’s The Best Email Marketing Service Provider Out There?
I’m sure you’re familiar with the name Constant Contact. They’ve spent more on marketing their brand than any other email marketing service out there. And lately they’ve been adding television and radio ads. The question is – are they really the best? Or are they simply spending the most? We break down the most popular email marketing companies out there and give you recommendations as to which ones suit you best depending on your specific email marketing needs. We’ll start out with giving a description of each email marketing service, and will then point out some weaknesses and strengths of each, as well as provide links to special sign-up offers and promotions we’re permitted to extend to our visitors.
What Are My Options When It Comes To Email Marketing Services?
There is a plethora of email marketing service providers out there. Here’s a short list of the most well known ones along with their entry level price point and number of subscribers/ emails sent per month for that price point (at time of writing). Some also offer a free plan for a very low number of subscribers. Almost all offer a free trial period.
- Constant Contact : $15 / 500
- Free plan: Discontinued
- Vertical Response : $10 / 1000
- StreamSend : $20 / 2000
- iContact : $10 / 500
- Campaigner : $25 / 2,500
- MailChimp : $10 / 500
- Free plan: 100 subscribers/ 6 newsletters per month
- Bronto : Caters primarily to the high end market; specializing in email newsletters for e-commerce.
- No monthly option available – annual only
- Benchmark : $10 / 600
- MyEmma : $30 / 1000 (plus a $100 setup fee)
- Boomerang : $10 / 500
- Stream Send : $20 / 2000 (emails per subscriber)
- JangoMail $30 / 1000
- Big Hip : $20 / 2,500
- Free plan: 25 subscribers/ 1,500 emails per month
- mUrgent : full service outfit / prices vary depending on service
What Should Most Email Marketing Services Have In Common?
It’s important to know what email marketing services have in common, so we can leave these criteria out of our pro and con lists below. In order to even stay in business, an email marketing service provider needs to have relationships with the major ISP’s (Internet Service Providers) such as AOL, Yahoo, Juno, etc. If they didn’t, emails would get blacklisted and clients, unable to reach their customers, would not be happy. They all advertise as having the best “whitelisting” relationships with ISP’s, but the truth is – the arrangements are more or less the same. The important thing is that the email marketing provider have the support and staff necessary to maintain the relationships, analyze the SMTP send logs, etc.
Along the same lines, an email marketing service provider must have an anti-spam policy in place to keep many users from being blacklisted in the event that one user misbehaves. Constant Contact, Vertical Response, Streamsend, and iContact and the rest of the lot typically take the same anti-spam measures. Common anti-spam measures, in accordance with CAN-SPAM (an official anti-spam policy), are the requirements to include a postal address, unsubscribe option, information on how the recipient joined the list in each email newsletter, and not using false or misleading headers and subject lines.
Constant Contact, IContact, And Vertical Response In-Depth Reviews
From our research, Vertical Response, Constant Contact, Streamsend, and iContact provide the best entry-level opportunities for small businesses, as they offer a good balance of pricing (low cost per month per subscriber and email send count), reliability (, flexibility (template design and management) and reporting (bounce, unsubscribe, spam reports, etc.). In addition, they all provide online support communities where users can interact with other users, share their opinions on the service, as well as get support from administrators and extensive knowledge bases.
Is Constant Contact The Best Email Marketing Service?
Constant Contact is one of the oldest email marketing services around – they have been in business since 1996. Here’s a breakdown of what you get, and the pro’s and con’s of Constant Contact.
Constant Contact – What You Get
The Constant Contact pricing structure has changed over the years. In other words, prices have gone up. They used to have a free option for email lists of 100 users or less. The free option is no longer available. Constant Contact is now only available as a paid service, starting out at $15/ month for 0 – 500 contacts. The pricing then increases according to the pricing schedule below.
|Email List Size||Monthly Cost|
|0 – 500||$15|
|501 – 2,500||$30|
|2,501 – 5,000||$50|
|5,001 – 10,000||$75|
|10,001 – 25,000||$150|
|25,000+||Call for pricing|
Optional features include the ability to archive emails and host them on a Constant Contact-hosted homepage, and conducting surveys, both of which cost extra. This brings us to our pros and cons lists for Constant Contact.
Constant Contact – Pro’s
- One of the oldest email marketing service providers in business – has been around since 1996.
- Well designed interface that is easy to learn and use.
- Email newsletter templates that get you up and running in minutes.
- Excellent customer service and support – including your own support agent assigned to you when you sign up.
Constant Contact – Con’s
- On the more expensive side of email marketing service providers (they need to pay their advertising bills after all).
- You have one sign-up form for your entire account. This is not ideal if you are planning on maintaining multiple lists within one account, and signing up different groups of users on multiple websites using different sign-up forms. For this purpose you’ll need to open multiple Constant Contact accounts, which can be a pain, as well as prove more costly.
- Charges extra for additional features such as conducting online surveys and archiving email newsletters that others include at no extra charge.
- Cluttered user interface can make finding what you’re looking for time consuming.
- Flexibility of template design is limited compared to some providers. WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) editor (ie. word processing interface) is only available if you use their in-house templates; not with your own html.
- Only 1/2 mb of online image storage is included (5 images).
Is Vertical Response The Best Email Marketing Service?
Vertical Response has been in business since 2001, and they have continued their commitment to customer service.
Vertical Response – Pro’s
- No serious customer complaints from what we’ve found (feel free to comment below if you find otherwise).
- Excellent support community. It appears that the support community has relatively fast reponse times, is well organized, and has avid user interaction.
- Offers a whopping 25mb of online image storage for your newsletters (compared to 1/2 mb for Constant Contact and iContact).
- Online surveys and email archiving included at no additional charge.
- You can segment your mailing list, and send out newsletters to sub-groups of your mailing list.
- Free webinars and support seminars, along with video tutorials, on how to make the most of your email newsletter campaigns.
- The option to send direct mail postcards.
Vertical Response – Con’s
- It’s important that you don’t provide a “from” address in opt-in forms as this may result in confirmation notices not reaching recipients. If you leave the “from” field blank, Vertical Response will auto fill it with one of its own. This should be more obvious.
- They have not been in business as long as some of the other providers (2001 for Vertical Response, 1996 for Constant Contact, and 1998 for iContact (formerly intelliContact).
Is StreamSend The Best Email Marketing Service Provider?
StreamSend’s tagline is Email Marketing by Marketers, for Marketers. They differentiate themselves from the pack by offering a private IP address, trigger-based messaging, and A/B testing. We’ll describe below what all this means. Disclosure – this is the email marketing service we use and recommend to our clients.
StreamSend – Pro’s
- Very friendly and easy to use user interface
- Demographic reporting
- Filters to target specific recipients (filter by domain name, for example)
- In-depth campaign reporting that includes statistics on opens, bounces, subscriptions, and more.
- Integration with Google Analytics
StreamSend – Con’s
- Costs slightly more than its competitors
- Not the best templates to choose from
- Doesn’t include a spam test (to see how your email campaign might fare if sent – ie. will it end up in junk right away). Spam tests help you optimize and clean up your email campaign before sending it.
- Not the best support out of the bunch – no live support, and support tickets take time before they receive an answer.
Is IContact The Best Email Marketing Service?
iContact offers very competitive pricing plans and a wide array of features. But how reliable are they? Read the pro’s and con’s to find out. Want to give them a try?
IContact – Pro’s
- Very competitive pricing
- iContact offers flexible options for your subscriber sign-up forms. You can create multiple different forms on different websites with various fields for gathering unique types of data (name, email, street address, etc.).
- You can create surveys at no additional charge.
- You can archive email newsletters at no additional charge.
- Supports the creation of auto-responders.
IContact – Con’s
- Slow website loading
- Supports only 1/2 mb for online image storage.
- We’ve heard reports that their support system is not nearly as good as the competition (ie. inexperienced support staff, long wait times, etc.).
- If you Google “iContact sucks” (feel free to use our Google search box at top right) you’ll see a number of complaints. Too many for a company that is a fraction the size of Constant Contact.
- Support community appears to be more of a “content blog” where people can post content on various topics completely unrelated to email marketing – but in the end help iContact gain traction in the search results.
Is MailChimp The Best Email Marketing Service?
MailChimp is the newest contender in the ring as far as our reviews are concerned. They offer a simple and fun interface, and a free plan for a mailing list under 500 subscribers. How does MailChimp stack up against the competition? Let’s find out…
MailChimp – Pro’s
- Competitive pricing and a free plan for lists with 500 or less subscribers
- Straightforward contact list management and easy import of contacts via CSV file
- MailChimp includes a feature to track where your sign-ups originated from. You can use this to optimize your opt-out prevention methods.
- An Inbox Inspector add-on that lets you generate over 25 screenshots of your email in all major email applications, as well as live tests from all the major ISPs to see if spam filters are triggered.
- MailChimp’s HTML templates are easy to use, and you can use their WYSIWYG editor to customize your own designs.
MailChimp – Con’s
- It’s not quite as feature packed as some of its competitors. For one, it doesn’t have the comprehensive reporting options some other email newsletter providers do. On the other hand, there’s an add-on that lets you leverageGoogle Analytics data, which can give you insight on ROI data that you wouldn’t have otherwise.
- Importing of contact lists could be easier – the columns have to match up perfectly for the import to work.
- Importing templates based on existing website layouts would be a great add-on. It takes some work to get your email template looking like you want it to.
- Lack of campaign segmentation – each time you mail a different campaign to the same list you need to start over. At the time of this writing campaign segmentations were not saved.
Changing Email Marketing Service Providers
So let’s say you’ve decided you want to switch to another email marketing service provider, such as from iContact to Constant Contact, or the other way around. How painful will the transition process be? Fortunately, any good email marketing service provider should allow you to export your subscriber list. You can then import the subscriber list into your new email marketing provider. That’s the easy part. The more difficult part, depending on how your website is setup, will be replacing all the sign-up boxes you have scattered over the Web to gather sign-ups for your newsletter.
Content Management Systems (CMS) Make Transitioning Easier
If you’re using a back-end driven, dynamically generated site such as a CMS (Content Management System – ie. WordPress, Joomla, Drupal) and you have a “block” or “snippet” for your newsletter sign-up box, you should be able to make one update and have it update across your website instantaneously. If you have more than one website, you’ll need to make this update for each website.
The last thing you’ll want to copy over is the design templates you use for your newsletters. Typically you’ll have access to the HTML for these, so copying these over shouldn’t be all too difficult, as most email marketing service providers provide flexible template editing options.
As you can see, there are lots of options when it comes to email marketing services. If you’re anything like me, I wanted the most bang for my buck, and Talk Fusion was clearly the best alternative for my budget. They offer 8 Cutting Edge Video Communication Products at a very affordable $35 a month. People WILL ask you about a video email when you send one, so be prepared to receive a referral when they do. I joined May the 8th, and have had 60 people join my organization simply by sending emails using their system. If you have any questions about the service, or the referral income opportunity please let me know. Feel free to leave a comment or sign up for my blog for more information.