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What Is Email Marketing Software: Analysis of Features, Benefits, Pricing and Types

What is email marketing software?

Email marketing software solutions are applications that allow you to plan, execute, and monitor email marketing campaigns. They often come with email builders, email scheduling features, and campaign automation tools to help you streamline operations. Moreover, they provide marketers with reporting and analytics that will allow them to measure key metrics and fine-tune their strategies.

The purpose of email marketing goes beyond pitching an offer. It builds customer loyalty, nurtures leads, and increases direct sales, not to mention brand awareness every time a recipient clicks on your email. Sending bulk emails involves time-consuming processes, which include preparing a list, segregating it into subgroups, sending the actual emails, and creating feedback reports. Email marketing software does away with these and automates much of the manual workflows.

Moreover, it helps you split-test campaigns and measure ROI with clear metrics. You can even observe in real-time how a campaign is performing with the solution streaming key metrics as they happen. This allows you to change the campaign at once for a better outcome.

If you’re not using software in your email marketing efforts, you’re undermining your campaign’s full potential. To help you get a better understanding of the specific functionalities of email marketing software, read on as we have prepared an in-depth explanation of its features and benefits. We even compiled the potential issues you might encounter as you implement this software as well as some trends in the industry to watch out for. In this way, you can make the most out of your new investment.

email marketing software

Social media may be powerful when it comes to generating leads but emails are still arguably more effective when it comes to maintaining customer attention and increasing the chances of conversion. After all, according to Hunt Marketing Group in a TechnologyAdvice interview, “direct marketing is the most efficient way to reach a defined audience.” This is because there’s a higher chance that your target audience will give your message full attention when it’s sent to them via email rather than when they simply scroll past your post on a social media site. In addition, emails give you the ability to make each message more personal, allowing you to connect with your target market and further engage them to learn more about your products and services.

This was echoed by the DMA Marketer Email Tracker 2018 study that revealed how marketers believe emailing is best used for customer retention (59%), brand promotion (57%),  and conversion (52%).

Moreover, email marketing tops the ROI rate, allowing businesses to generate a $38 return on investment for every $1 they spend on this type of campaign. As you can see on the table provided, this also outperforms other marketing strategies such as social media marketing, SEO, social PPC, and content marketing, among others.

Email Marketing Statistics 1

What does email marketing software do? To help you understand its functions, here are examples of email marketing software.

What are examples of email marketing software?

Freshmarketer

Freshmarketer is marketing automation software designed to help business integrate their marketing and sales teams. Freshmarketer includes powerful automation features and personalization tools that make it easy to engage with customers. For example, email marketing campaigns management allows marketing professionals to efficiently build an email list for their lead generation and send out emails based on a time deployment.

Freshmarketer connects sales and marketing using its seamless integration with Freshsales. Marketing and sales can have access to customer data in a single platform, so it’s easier to set targeted marketing campaigns and deliver customer service with context. Users will also benefit from advanced features such as heatmaps, A/B testing, funnel analysis, and feedback collection.

Hubspot Marketing

HubSpot Marketing is part of the HubSpot suite that helps you conduct inbound marketing. It works in unison with HubSpot CRM and HubSpot Sales. The app acts as a marketing funnel where you place contacts across stages and track their progress towards your goal, which can be lead conversion, opt-in, or any call-to-action result. As an email marketing solution, HubSpot Marketing features static and dynamic HTML messages. You can customize the design to match the recipient’s buyer persona.

The app also provides scheduling, contact management, and mobile marketing in one platform. Moreover, you can create and embed contact web forms to capture leads on your site or other online channels like newsletters and social media pages. You also have a range of SEO and social media tools to promote your content with targeted recipients. They can be influencers, your site visitors, or customers. Other important features include tools for blogging, landing pages, and ads. It also has lead management and Salesforce integration.

Maropost Marketing Cloud

Maropost Marketing Cloud is a digital marketing platform that helps businesses connect various customer touchpoints for seamless customer service and engagement. The product includes many email marketing automation tools used to create and send personalized or targeted email campaigns. Users can also segment customers based on interests or buying habits.

When it comes to email marketing, Maropost can provide further details on when messages were opened and at what specific time. This can help marketing teams further zero in on the most ideal schedule for sending their email campaigns. They can even group the emails in batches and leverage tools like Deliverability Score and Spam Checker.

MailerLite

MailerLite is an email marketing software packed with features for delivering branded and beautifully designed emails and newsletters. It has a custom HTML email editor and a very intuitive drag-and-drop newsletter editor so that users can easily create their email campaigns even without extensive IT or coding knowledge. There are also customizable templates and image editing tools for creating your email designs.

Aside from email campaigns, MailerLite also helps marketers create and optimize landing pages for their marketing goals. It includes a website builder platform to manage landing pages and other useful tools such as email campaign tracking, automated email delivery, and click maps. MailerLite also has subscriber management features that can be a huge help in keeping your email list up-to-date.

vcita

vcita is a business management and customer service software that combines tools for various activities like client management, lead generation, and billing and invoicing. Small business owners or professionals like consultants, lawyers, and accountants can benefit from vcita’s all-in-one platform since it offers functionalities for CRM, marketing, appointment scheduling/booking, and online payments. It also has user-friendly tools that marketers can use to craft attractive emails.

vcita includes templates that marketers can use for putting together email announcements for promotions and lead generation. They can compose emails on the go using their smartphones or tablets and track how these emails are performing by checking actual customer activities and click-through rates. The software comes with other great tools for managing customers such as reminders, email confirmation, and an autoresponder.

Omnisend

Omnisend is a marketing and ecommerce platform that helps businesses succeed in omnichannel marketing. It provides seamless customer communication by connecting email, SMS, instant messaging, and social media. Automation features also help create personalized emails and better customer segmentation so that marketers can fine-tune their email campaigns.

Omnisend helps businesses create engaging marketing campaigns that can increase lead capture. Tools like forms for lead generation offer many options for capturing customer information. Marketers can also use Signup Box or flexible Popup widgets to quickly gather data like email addresses from website visitors. Meanwhile, the Wheel of Fortune signup form applies gamification strategies to encourage customers to sign up and provide their emails.

Wix Shoutout

Built as a supplementary module to Wix’s website builder, Wix ShoutOut is an email builder and editor with great marketing capabilities. This platform offers mobile-optimized features that will allow digital marketers to create stunning emails and newsletters with ease. It also comes with a robust mailing list management tool that is great for segmenting leads when you set up your email marketing campaigns.

Really Simple Systems CRM

Really Simple Systems CRM is a is full-featured marketing, sales, and customer support solution. It’s cloud-based and can be scaled to hundreds of users based on an organization’s requirements. With features like two-way email integration, businesses can save or record messages between customers and support agents right in their account timeline. This makes it easy to follow the developments in support requests or sales accounts.

Really Simple Systems allows users to design professional-looking emails for their marketing and lead generation campaigns. The software includes many simple and advanced tools, such as drag-and-drop controls, scheduling tools, mailing lists and segmentation, and web forms for its marketing platform.

Marketo

One of the popular marketing automation solutions around, Marketo features a powerful email marketing module but with drag-and-drop simplicity, making it an excellent inbound marketing platform. Likewise, it helps you promote social sharing and customer engagement with real-time personalization tools. Among its key features are loyalty marketing, event marketing, and a budget calendar.

Constant Contact

Constant Contact works around powerful email marketing techniques, where all that matters, as they say, is to keep contacts engaged and interested. Instead of helping you discover leads and engage prospective customers, Constant Contact brings those to your door and lets you present your service in a personalized manner using any of the system’s configurable templates. It builds personalized emails and connections on your behalf, sets up automated triggers for important events, and then simply gets out of the way to let you focus on your business.

Among its core features are a drag-and-drop email editor, email list management, email marketing automation, and custom email templates. Aside from these, it also offers subject line A/B testing, click tracking heatmaps, and social analytics tools to help you form a more data-driven approach to email marketing. To top it all off, Constant Contact plays well with your existing software ecosystem as it can integrate with over 400 third-party applications.

Why use email marketing software?

You now have a clear answer to the question of what is email marketing software. Let’s now move to the benefits of email marketing software or, why use email marketing software?

Email marketing software is a cost-effective way to get in touch with your customer base, either to provide valuable content, promote your product or announce new offers or deals. The whole process of managing email campaigns can be tedious, but email marketing software addresses this pain point. Here are the advantages of email marketing software.

  1. Efficient Email Automation. Imagine sending 1,000 emails in one sitting. You will waste a lot of time sorting the addresses, pasting the message, and sending emails manually. Once you have the message fine-tuned, email marketing software can automate the entire campaign process, from sorting recipients into groups to scheduling the emails and to generating feedback reports.
  2. Market Reach Expansion Made Affordable. So long as you have built a robust mailing list, email marketing software allows for reaching a targeted market at significantly lower costs than traditional outlets like tv, print, and radio. Moreover, the audience is more targeted, granting you built the list using opt-ins or following a permission marketing strategy. Some companies start with a purchased list to get initial subscribers, but it is still best to build the list around your customers. As you expand the list with incentives like white papers and deals, the cost per email drastically drops, further increasing the ROI of email marketing software.
  3. More Accurate Metrics. None perhaps can give more detailed post-campaign analytics than email marketing software. It can generate key metrics such as open rates, click-through rates, forwarded messages, and engagement levels. With a detailed feedback report, you can accurately calculate the cost-benefit ratio and account for each campaign’s budget.
  4. Increased Customer Loyalty. Because email marketing software makes it easy to launch various campaign series, you are always in touch with your customer base. You can provide content that matches the recipient’s interest, deals to spur repeat buys, or simply update customers with the latest offerings or products. Email marketing software is your direct line to customers to nurture their loyalty, interest and possibly elicit more purchases. Likewise, they may forward your email to family and friends, thereby, extending your market reach.
  5. Better Ticket Monetization. Customer complaints sent to your help desk can be mined as additional contacts to your mailing list. As long as the issue is resolved and the customer is satisfied, including her in an email campaign may generate additional sales. This process is common in CRM, but if you lack that system, email marketing software is a good option.
  6. Social Media Channel Promotion. Some email marketing solutions can connect to your social media pages, allowing for cross-channel promotions. For example, you can incentivize an email message with deals if the recipient likes your Facebook page or post your hashtag. If you have a robust mailing list, this is one way to migrate subscribers to your social channels.
  7. Measurable ROI. Email marketing software promotes accountability in your campaigns. You can track each campaign’s metrics down to the details like open rate, click-through rate, and engagement level. While it creates brand awareness, it also generates immediate revenues, unlike tri-media channels.
  8. Reduced Risks. Because campaigns are measurable down to the details, you can sort the best method among a set of email campaigns. Email marketing software features an A/B testing tool, which shows the key metrics among different campaigns.
Freshmarketer dashboard

Freshmarketer includes powerful automation features and personalization tools that make it easy to engage with customers.

What are the types of email marketing software?

Email marketing software solutions are a heterogeneous lot, meaning they look nearly identical with a few minor variations here and there. The best way to categorize them is by grouping them on how they are used. How does email marketing software work?

  1. Direct sales. This is the most commonly used email marketing software, sending emails to promote an offer. Usually, it includes a product catalog that is comparable to printed versions sent via snail mail. The emails can be sent to your mailing list or a purchased list.
  2. Newsletter. Email marketing software also acts as a communication tool. You send newsletters to provide quality content like articles, guides, tips, and announcements that are aligned with your product’s value and your customers’ interests. The newsletter can also entertain customers and sustain an open line between you and them in between sales.
  3. Transactional emails. It involves an opt-in phase, where customers agree to be added to your mailing list. An incentive is necessary here to spur customers to contact you. A few examples are order confirmation emails, password reset requests, and email receipts. Because customers opted in, the open rate for transactional emails is significantly higher than with newsletters (51% vs. 36%). In this regard, email marketing software becomes an administrative tool. However, it is still a marketing tool because you have an opportunity to include subtle cross-sell or upsell messages.
  4. Autoresponders. It helps you send multi-tiered emails based on the recipient’s feedback. Email marketing software provides tools that let you map your main email to different paths. One path can lead to lead nurturing, while another to your shopping cart; yet another to trash for lack of promise. You can set triggers to launch the autoresponder, for example, when someone clicks a download button, signs up for a free trial, or purchases from your online store.
    Similarly, autoresponders can be used to send welcome and thank-you messages. Many customers like it when you take the time to appreciate their engagement. Essentially, email marketing software leverages autoresponder as a lead generation tool.
HubSpot Marketing dashboard

Hubspot Marketing includes tools for blogging, landing pages, and ads.

What does email marketing software do?

Many email marketing software products share similar features. Where they differ usually is in deployment (cloud vs. on-premise) and packaging (integrated within a CRM system or stand-alone app). Here are the common features of email marketing software.

  1. WYSIWYG Editor. Email marketing software has a user-friendly email builder that lets you see how your email appears before launching. The builder comes with tools like drag-and-drop functionality, built-in templates, responsive format, and photo editing. Likewise, a customized layout can be split-tested and the best-performing design reused and copied for future campaigns.
  2. Mailing List Management. This module lets you segregate the mailing list into smaller, targeted groups based on your metrics. Customers or subscribers can belong to multiple groups that match their profile. You can conduct specific email marketing campaigns for each mailing list subgroup. Some email marketing solutions feature automatic segmentation based on geolocation, demographics, autoresponder feedback, purchase history, and other metrics.
  3. A/B Testing Tool. You can send different email sets to a small group to measure, among others, feedback on the subject line, design, and copy. This ability allows for fine-tuning the campaign and sending the best-performing email version to the rest of the mailing list.
  4. Merge Tags. It’s a tool that lets you replace variables in your message with a personal element, usually the recipient’s name. This gives your email warmth, and customer, in general, respond to their names more positively than to generic salutations. Merge tags can also be used to send coupon codes specific to the recipient and avoid duplicates.
  5. Analytics and Reports. As with most business solutions, analytics and reports in email marketing software lend to your campaign’s insights on its effectiveness. You get to measure key metrics like open rates, CTRs, readers’ length of stay on your email, trending content, and demographics. Many email marketing apps also feature a real-time campaign tracker that streams metrics as they occur, which helps you quickly shift the campaign if the results prove dismal.
  6. Autoresponders. It sends targeted content to your mailing groups based on their engagement level or other key metrics you’ve set. Autoresponders are used for drip email campaigns to nurture leads, welcome or thank the customer, or answer a query or request. Autoresponders are equipped with automation for sorting recipients, scheduling emails, sending multi-tiered emails based on triggers initiated by the recipient, and funneling promising contacts into the sales pipeline.
  7. CAN-SPAM Rules. US and European Union laws prohibit spamming. This tool ensures your email is CAN-SPAM, an act passed by the US Congress in 2003 to address spam email complaints. The tool analyzes the email for the probability of being blocked by spam filters, broken links, and HTML structure.
  8. CRM Integration. Most email marketing systems integrate with popular CRM solutions. This helps align sales and marketing activities. Leads from CRM can be added to the mailing list and included in email marketing campaigns. Likewise, CRM can provide context to your mailing lists, such as demographics, purchase history, and previous engagement. On the other hand, recipients that responded positively to your email can be forwarded to the CRM’s contact management and sales pipeline for lead nurturing.
  9. Social Media Integration. You can also integrate your Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn pages with email marketing software and expand your reach. You can invite your mailing list to like your pages and, conversely, ask your followers to opt-in to your subscription list in exchange for an incentive like a deal or exclusive content.
Maropost Marketing Cloud-dashboard

Maropost Marketing Cloud also comes with built-in features for building social media calendars.

What should you consider when buying an email marketing system?

Pricing isn’t the only factor that should influence your purchase decision. Essentially, what you want is to have all the features we mentioned above in an email marketing solution, plus, a few other factors.

  1. Ease of Use. Not the least email marketing software should be intuitive and easy to use. Most cloud mailers today are user-friendly so this should not be a problem.
  2. Responsive Display. Many customers access their emails via a smartphone or tablet. The email marketing system should be able to display your emails on mobile apps. It’s simply difficult to read desktop emails on a mobile screen.
  3. Feature Set. Aside from the two factors above, take a close look at the feature set. There must be an email builder, analytics options, autoresponders, mailing list management, and tag merging functions. Any missing tool greatly diminishes the overall potential of the solution.
  4. CAN-SPAM Compliance. No matter how robust the system is if your email is violating laws your campaigns can come crashing down. A good email marketing solution alerts you to potential legal breaches so you can address the issue before launching. This is a critical feature, so make sure your vendor has it.
  5. A/B Testing. You should leverage the detailed and measurable metrics email marketing is capable of. With an A/B testing tool, you optimize each campaign and generate the best possible ROI.
  6. Number of Emails Per Month. Many free mailers have a limit on the number of emails you can send in a month. This can be frustrating if you have a large mailing list. Make sure to use an app that allows unlimited emails to maximize your customer base.
  7. Integration. At the least, the email marketing app should integrate with popular CRM and help desk solutions. This allows for sharing customer data for sales, marketing, and customer service. Furthermore, the email marketing solution should allow for importing/exporting CSV, txt, and other common file formats.
mailerlite dashboard

MailerLite has features like email campaign tracking, automated email delivery, and click maps.

What’s the cost of email marketing software?

Here is the typical cost of email marketing software solutions, packaged in different ways by top vendors.

  1. Freshmarketer. Customers can use a free account or choose among the three paid plans—Growth, Pro, and Enterprise. Prices start from $19 to $299/month.
  2. HubSpot Marketing. Many email marketing software apps offer a free version like HubSpot in the hope to lure you to paid plans. HubSpot Marketing starts at $200 per month with the enterprise plan charged as high as $2,400 per month.
  3. Maropost Marketing Cloud. Offers one fixed paid plan and two by-quote plans. The fixed plan, Essentials, starts at $500/month.
  4. MailerLite. Customers can start with a free plan or opt for the paid premium plans. Rates for the premium plans start from $10 to $50/month and are based on the number of users.
  5. vcita. Offers three paid plans—Essentials, Business, and Platinum. The rates are $19, $45, and $75/month, respectively.
  6. Omnisend. Choose between a free account or their paid plans—Standard and Pro. The Standard plan is $16/month, while the Pro plan is $59/month.
  7. Wix ShoutOut. Customers can choose a free account or a paid plan. The three paid plans are Basic, Business Essential, and Pro Unlimited. Prices start from $4.90 to $44.90/month.
  8. Really Simple Systems CRM. Offers a free account and three-tiered paid plans—Starter, Professional, and Enterprise. Rates start from $18 to $55. Customers can choose monthly or yearly subscriptions.

What are potential issues with email marketing software?

Email marketing software is not a silver bullet that suddenly generates leads, creates sales, or builds a mailing list for you. If you’re not careful, you risk being compounded by the following issues:

  1. No Mailing List. There is no point in getting an email marketing software if it lacks a mailing list. The first step is to create a plan to build the list. This means promoting incentives like value content, deals, or exclusive offers and, perhaps, tapping paid channels to put your opt-in landing page out there. Buying a purchased list is seldom cost-effective and your unsolicited emails can easily trigger spam filters.
  2. Violation of Spam Laws. The US and EU passed specific laws against spamming and protecting privacy. You could be violating them if you’re not careful or the email marketing solution isn’t equipped with compliance control. For example, CAN-SPAM prohibits misleading recipients. Your subject line should match the email’s content. Likewise, the law requires you to provide recipients a means to opt-out or unsubscribe from your list. To avoid lawsuits, make sure the software is CAN-SPAM-compliant.
  3. Customer Churn. If you send emails without a plan, you’ll end up annoying customers with messages that don’t interest them or are irrelevant. You risk recipients unsubscribing, greatly diminishing your mailing list. Have a strategy in place and use segmentation and autoresponder to ensure your emails ring a bell to their recipients.
  4. No A/B Testing. Email marketing is a science with measurable metrics that define the best outcomes. If you lack appreciation of this discipline, you’re undermining the potential of email marketing software.

You can also check our article on the solutions to common email marketing problems to maximize your investment in this software.

vCita dashboard

vcita combines tools for various activities like client management, lead generation, and billing and invoicing.

  1. Artificial Intelligence. Artificial intelligence can take over campaigns with intuitive triggers, adaptive modeling, and automated processing. AI is also being applied to interactive content development and feeding your campaigns with targeted articles.
  2. Interactive Emails. The use of carousels, slideshows, hamburger menus, image galleries, and animated elements will be more prevalent as email marketing software gets more sophisticated.
  3. Built-In CRM and Help Desk Functionalities. Email marketing software may follow the same fate as collaboration tools. The category is gradually integrated as a communication tool with other more encompassing business systems like CRM, ERP, and help desk. That means you won’t go shopping for a mailer, instead, you’ll pick it as an add-on or stack it with your existing systems.
  4. HTML5 Video. HTML5 provides a platform to embed videos in emails. Unlike traditional HTML, HTML5 videos are lightweight and run more efficiently on low bandwidth. iOS 10, in particular, supports HTML5 video, which bodes well for email marketers.

How can you maximize your email marketing software?

There are many reasons why email marketing software can be useful to businesses. It is a great asset that will help you do everything, from automating bulk emails and scheduling targeted campaigns to tracking campaign progress and improving customer loyalty. What it can’t do, however, is magically understand how you want your email marketing campaigns to go. You will need to put in some effort to make sure that you are making the most out of your new investment. The best way to do this is to apply some of the following email marketing best practices:

  1. Segment Your Mailing List. Your customer base is composed of diverse individuals, so it comes as no surprise that not all of them will respond positively to the same emailing approach. To help you make your emails more appealing to your different clients, you should start segmenting your mailing list. With this, you can organize your customers according to different criteria such as location, interests, browsing behavior, and age. By doing so, you can make more targeted messages.
  2. Test Your Campaigns. Most email marketing platforms offer A/B testing tools, and for a good reason. This function will allow you to gauge the effectiveness of your marketing campaigns before you launch them. All you have to do is come up with different campaign strategies to test against each other, and the software will help you determine which one is most likely to yield better results. With this, you will no longer waste money on weak campaigns and inefficient marketing strategies.
  3. Optimize Your Emails for All Devices. Emails can be accessed using all sorts of devices nowadays. Because of this, it is easier for your readers to come across problems where your carefully-designed emails are not displayed properly. To avoid this, be sure to find an email marketing platform that will allow you to optimize your emails for different devices. In this way, your customers will be able to get the full experience you intended for them to enjoy.
Jessica Stewart

By Jessica Stewart

Jessica Stewart is the resident marketing analyst at FinancesOnline and a pioneering member of our research team. She believes that data is at the center of business and marketing technology is its enabler, a point not lost in his articles published in major outlets such as BusinessInsider, USA Today and Entrepreneur. Beyond assessing the standard tools for workflow automation, campaigns, messaging, and real-time alerts, Jessica focuses on the software’s bottom-line ROI— how it helps marketers perfect their data-driven method to collect and process customer data, measure the KPIs, and, ultimately, realize profits.

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