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Choosing your email marketing service provider

It’s not easy to decide which email marketing service provider to choose when you’ve just started out. A new business doesn’t have thousands of customers and clients on their email newsletter list yet. You may even have budget limitations to consider, too.

There’s so much noise out there from already established businesses telling you this, recommending you that. And while it’s wise to listen to others, but don’t take everything for granted. Many are already on a different path in their business journey. Often even in a different industry and niche. Not to mention they’re usually affiliates of those service providers they promote as their go-to solution.

When I started out with my business I heard from everywhere that I’d need an email list. That social media won’t be enough for long term business success. To realize this you probably don’t need much convincing either. If you use a few social media platforms with a personal account then you know well

  • their ups and downs,
  • limitations,
  • tricks,
  • annoyances.

Also it's common sense: If you build your business around one platform only, that’s the surest road to disaster.

So email list building it is.

Experimenting with MailChimp

Though I had no lead magnets and opt-ins yet for my audience back then, I signed up for MailChimp. Not because I made a thorough research about functionalities. Nor because it was perfectly aligned to my business strategies. It was a simple convenience.

Somehow back then almost every email newsletter I signed up to came via MailChimp. Some of those businesses were affiliates and advertised it openly as their platform of choice. Obviously they were already on the paid plan.

And I was thinking if they’re willing to pay for the service, it must be doing something right.

Also, I had a friend, a small business owner herself, who signed up for MailChimp earlier and had no issues with it.

So why not? Let’s give it a try.

What I liked about MailChimp?

As I had no one on my email list yet, I needed a free service for the time being. MailChimp offered a free plan, so I didn’t have to spend extra money to start with email list building.

You can upload your freebie to MailChimp and include its URL to your emails. You don’t need an extra cloud storage (Google Drive, DropBox etc.) to host those materials.

I know coding, so it wasn’t difficult to set up the basic workflows and design my

  • sign up forms,
  • confirmation messages, and
  • lead magnet delivery emails.

 

What I missed a bit was a more intuitive drag and drop functionality. But as everything was for free, I accepted it.

I never had any issues with MailChimp that I couldn’t solve myself. So I can’t tell anything about their customer support.

If your website’s running on WordPress it’s pretty straightforward to connect it with MailChimp. And they offer integration with an impressive list of popular tools and services.

This doesn’t sound bad at all, does it?

So you might want to know what was my problem then.

Why did I switch to MailerLite?

The time came when I actively wanted to work on and build my email list. After a few months in business I had now a better understanding and a clearer strategy around my business. And then MailChimp changed its plans and the features that came with them.

They removed the feature to set up an automated email series from the free plan. This was a biggie for me, as I was there, ready with my free email course. And I was stuck how to make it available for my audience.

I had two options:

  1. set up the email course somewhere else and try to integrate it with MailChimp.
  2. look for an email marketing service provider that’s free and offers automated email sequences.

 

And here came MailerLite to save me.

10 free MailerLite features I love

MailerLite has a free plan. So far so good. But out of curiosity I looked at their pricing and its better than MailChimps. Good to know if you’re on a tighter budget for the time being.

I’m happy to upgrade to a paid plan later once my email list reaches a size that it’s worth investing into more features.

MailerLite counts each active subscriber once. That’s good because once people join your email list, you can group (tag) and segment them based on their interests or how engaged they are with your emails. And no matter how many groups you put them in, they won’t be counted twice or thrice.

I’ve checked their website. Watched a few of their tutorials. And I fell in love with the easy and intuitive drag & drop editor. You can build

 

Their free plan includes multi-step automated email workflows. Just what I needed for my email course series. You define the kick-off event when your email should be sent out, e.g.:

  • someone subscribed to your email list or
  • opted in for one of your freebies.

Then you can set up a delay when your next emails are due.

Also based on specific behavior you can define new steps in your automated email workflow.

What does it mean?

If someone clicks on a specific link or button in your email (link trigger), you can add them to an interest group tagging/marking them as engaged subscriber. Or if your link is related to a certain topic – let’s say search engine optimization tips – you can add your subscriber to your interest group called website SEO.

The big advantage of this is, that in future you can send targeted email campaigns customized to each of your groups’ common interest.

MailerLite offers tool integration with a lot of names you’ve heard of, like Shopify, Zapier, Gravity Forms, WordPress, Stripe, PayPal, Gumroad, WooCommerce, SendOwl, and more. I admit their integration list is not as robust as MailChimp’s. At the moment for my purposes that’s not an issue as it integrates seamlessly with those that I use.

Next to the automated email sequence feature and the drag & drop editor, this is what I love most:

Even on the free plan you can A/B test your campaign emails. The A/B test allows you to set up two variations of your campaign and send it to a small percentage of total recipients. This is the best way

  • to learn about your subscribers preferences and
  • to create email campaigns that better align to your business and marketing goals.

And of course to your subscribers’ liking.

screenshot showing MailerLites's AB split campaign feature

Should anyone decide to unsubscribe from any of your lists, you can create and design a custom unsubscribe page.

If you’re on the fence now whether you should switch to MailerLite, you probably think: isn’t that too complicated? To move over all your existing subscribers?

The technical part of switching to MailerLite

Even though I didn’t have an enormous list of subscribers in MailChimp, I was concerned how I can bring all that data over to MailerLite.

But fear not.
It was straightforward and didn’t take more than 5 minutes.

  1. Navigate to the Subscribers tab in the top menu.
  2. Click the Add subscribers button.
  3. Choose the Import from MailChimp tab.
  4. Click the Connect button to access and log in to your MailChimp account.
  5. Select the MailChimp lists you want to import.
  6. In order to import the subscribers, match the custom fields and create a new group or select an already existing one.
  7. Click the Finish importing subscribers button.

 

And that’s it!  All your contacts from MailChimp now have been moved to your MailerLite account!

Conclusion

Email marketing should be an integral part of your small business’ strategy.

You can choose from several email marketing service providers. Select one that fits your budget and offers the features that are important for you.

And if you’re unhappy with the provider you have initially selected, just switch over to another. Usually moving over your email list is a quick automated process.

Bonus tip

Before you start sending out your newsletters and email campaigns, make sure that your emails get delivered seamlessly.

  1. If you’re a small business owner, don’t use a generic gmail or hotmail address. Send your email campaigns and newsletters from your business email address.
  2. Personalize your emails as much as possible. Use tagging (interest groups) and segmenting, and create email campaigns that are customized to your subscribers’ interest. This increases the chances that your emails will be opened and read.

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