For example, I can safely share that I listen to a lot of music, and I’m almost fanatic about sound quality. I might listen to an album with poor sound quality once, but I probably won’t go back to it. And to be clear, 95%+ of new recorded music has what I consider poor sound quality (due to an absurd standard of perceived loudness, which takes away natural dynamic range from the sound). That said, I’m not a hi-fidelity sound geek. I’m perfectly happy with my high-end studio monitors—I don’t buy $1,000 power cables, $5,000 CD-players, or $20,000 loudspeakers capable of playing back sounds too high for dogs to hear.

Molly K. McLaughlin is a New York-based writer and editor with more than a decade of experience covering technology. She has tested and reviewed all sorts of software, mobile apps, and gadgets. Before launching her freelance business, she was an editor at PC Magazine, covering consumer electronics, followed by a stint at ConsumerSearch.com, a revie... See Full Bio
Litmus is an email marketing tool that is primarily focused on testing and tracking your emails. This software offers a web-based drag-and-drop editor so marketers can easily build their own emails. They also have a large selection of customisable templates to choose from. Once emails have been built, previewed (in mobile/desktop) and sent out to your contact list(s), you can make use of their detailed engagement summary reports (including open rate, deletions, how long email was open, geolocation and more).
From a business perspective, emails are widely used as a cost-effective as well as efficient way of acquiring new customers, boosting sales, building up your brand awareness and fostering a sense of trust among your customers. Email marketing has also shown a better ROI compared to other marketing channels. According to a survey conducted by Direct Marketing Association and Demand Metric, email had an ROI of nearly 122%, whereas other channels such as social media had just 28%.
Molly K. McLaughlin is a New York-based writer and editor with more than a decade of experience covering technology. She has tested and reviewed all sorts of software, mobile apps, and gadgets. Before launching her freelance business, she was an editor at PC Magazine, covering consumer electronics, followed by a stint at ConsumerSearch.com, a revie... See Full Bio
Did you know there are organizations dedicated to combating email spam? Thank goodness, right? They set up a little thing called a honeypot, which is a planted email address that, when harvested and emailed, identifies the sender as a spammer. Similarly, things called spam traps can be created to identify spammy activity; they're set up when an email address yields a hard bounce because it's old or no longer valid, but still receives consistent traffic. Fishy, eh?
Whether you already have a list of subscribers or are starting from scratch, email marketing services can help. All of the services we cover let you add contacts manually using copy and paste or by uploading CSV or Microsoft Excel files. Some integrate with third-party software enabling you to import Gmail and other webmail contacts, Salesforce and other CRM data, or other software where you might have contacts stored. Depending on the size and location of your list, third-party integration could be key. Verify whether you can export contacts as well (and how easy it is to do so) should you leave the service. Managing users who unsubscribe should also be easy so you're not accidentally contacting anyone who has opted out of your newsletters.
What's the difference between them? One-off communications versus prolonged, email-based interactions. For example, email marketing tools are excellent for one-off communications. You can use these tools for the one time you'd like to send someone an automated email response when they join a subscriber list, on their birthday, or when you promote a new product. But marketing automation tools are better suited for prolonged, email-based interactions. For example, you can use marketing automation tools whenever you want to guide someone from a subscriber list to a product purchase. Or you can send thank-you emails or send new product promotions—all without having to lift a finger after the workflow is designed.
And that leads us right into understanding service pricing and packaging. The email marketing services we reviewed range from about $3 per month to send out 500 emails per month in Zoho Campaigns to as much as $1,250 per month for up to 10,000 contacts in Pardot. Many email marketing plans include unlimited email sends each month and bill you based on the number of subscribers. If you have a small list, then look for a company that offers a free plan, a low-cost plan for several hundred subscribers, or even a pay-as-you-go plan. On the flip side, many of these services also offer high-volume plans with up to 100,000 or more contacts. Sometimes this requires a custom plan that has to be arranged directly with a sales rep. If you're willing to commit, then look for the companies that offer discounts if you pay yearly rather than monthly. A few also offer money-back guarantees.
Are you really willing to risk not only your email deliverability, but also the reputation of your IP address and your company? Even if you find the light after purchasing or renting email lists and decide to only email those who have opted in with your company, it'll take you months (or maybe years) to get your Sender Score up and rebuild the reputation of your IP.

With the GDPR now governing all email correspondence across Europe, adding an opt-out option to your email template no longer cuts it. Under this act, you must have explicit consent from your contacts to send them emails. Explicit, in this case, means the checkbox a person must click to opt in to an email subscription isn't pre-checked when they see it on your website. And when you buy your email lists, the people on it haven't been given this option -- making you non-compliant with GDPR before you send your first email.


Reach Mail is great for business just starting out with email marketing. It offers a free package that enables users to create, schedule and send emails, as a well as a paid version that provides users with more customisation options. The free version is quite unique in the email marketing world as normally these types of tools are only free for a certain period. Reach Mail also includes a nice testing feature which enables users to test their email campaigns on a percentage of their subscriber list.
Litmus is an email marketing tool that is primarily focused on testing and tracking your emails. This software offers a web-based drag-and-drop editor so marketers can easily build their own emails. They also have a large selection of customisable templates to choose from. Once emails have been built, previewed (in mobile/desktop) and sent out to your contact list(s), you can make use of their detailed engagement summary reports (including open rate, deletions, how long email was open, geolocation and more).

Buying email lists doesn't just damage your deliverability and brand reputation -- it can also put your email account at risk. Email clients like Gmail, Yahoo!, and Outlook don't want to be associated with accounts that recipients repeatedly flag as spam. Email service providers like AWeber go as far as immediately closing your account if it suspects you're sending unwanted content.


But if people don’t believe those reasons, they don’t buy either. As long as you seem like a friend who’s trying to help them, people are likely to believe that you’re sincere and that buying from you is a good decision. That’s one of the main reasons email marketing can work so well; it’s relatively easy to come off as a friend. Especially the other two email marketing strategies are good for making people see your good intentions. That said, if your offers don’t make people think you’re genuinely trying to help them, something is wrong.
Make your offers feel relevant. If you offer people something they don’t think is relevant for them, they also think you don’t know them or understand their situation. Segmenting people based on their interests, problems, company sizes, and other things can help with that a lot. But it’s not enough. Your offer might be a perfect fit for them, but how you present it has to be a fit, too. Focus on describing their problems, how they’ll use the product or service, and what they will have in the end. Don’t talk about it from your perspective. No one really cares what you think about your product as much as they care about what they’ll get from it.
Win-back: An existing customer is soon approaching the end of his yearly subscription. The customer hasn’t used your product in 3 months and you need a way to win them back and keep them for another year. Create a “win back” email that sends an automated email to all customers that are coming to end of their contract with a list of new product features and a short plan on expected releases in the next six months.
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