According to research company Radicati Group, 100.5 billion business emails were sent daily in 2013 and that number is expected to grow to around 132 billion by the year 2017. With that many emails sent every day, finding ways to stand out from the competition and even the crowd can be a challenge. Luckily there are tools that can help.
Subject Line Tester
Have you ever spent hours researching keywords and counting characters to make sure your email subject line is spot on? Add in the time it takes to do A/B testing and even then you may not quite have the subject line just right.
Enter subject line checker software. This tool can eliminate the need for A/B testing and the tedious task of keyword research. It is based on other successful email campaigns and advanced algorithms that all work together to make a suggestion on the best way to change your email subject line to get the best results possible.
As Mark Brownlow of SmartInsights points out that subject lines impact how many people click through, email opens and other measures of success, such as sales. Brownlow says Touchstone's subject line checker has benefits, including more opens and clicks and reducing the need for A/B tests.
Although there are currently a number of subject line checking tools available ranging from free to paid, the Touchstone Tests (beta) software has an advantage. Touchstone learns your subject lines and audience preferences over time and works not only to enhance your subject lines overall, but also to ensure that they are perfected specifically for your reading audience.
- Database of open rates for the 250 largest United States senders
- Open rate performance predictors
- Cheaper and faster than A/B split testing
- Litmus Subject Line Tester - This is another free subject line tester. This one is very simple to use and is a good one to start with if you've never used a subject line tester before.
- SubjectLine.com - Navigate to the main page of the site and simply plug in your headline. This company also offers solutions for getting your emails out to your customers. They have a bit of insight into what makes good emails tick.
- Adestra Subject Line Tester - One of the unique things about the Adestra subject line tester is that you will be asked to choose who your target audience is. Is the email going out to other businesses or to consumers? Is it an event or a nonprofit program? The unique algorithms Adestra uses will help target your headline to your specific audience.
Email Marketing Service
iContact is rated as a top choice by Reviews.com and is listed by Business News Daily as having "great customer service." The service has hundreds of different email templates that are easy to use by dragging and dropping what you want, where you want. Users point to the numerous tutorials and webinars that help guide them through the process of creating a piece of marketing material for email subscribers.
To get started with iContact, the user signs up for a free account. Once the account is confirmed via the email you registered with, you can sign in and choose to start an email or social media campaign. You can use their templates, or if you are an advanced designer you can create your own.
- Templates for different business types and occasions
- Social media integration
- One-on-one assistance program for premier customers with a marketing expert coach
The ability to upload your own images is limited by the 5 MB limit of free space (you'll have to pay more if you go over that, which happens quickly). Note that the costs may be prohibitive for a small list of under 250 (expect to pay at least $10, plus more if you need to store logos and other images). It's easy to use, but costs more than some of the competitors.
Price: Varies, depending on the size of your list:
- Up to 500 subscribers - $14/month
- Up to 2,500 - $29/month
- Up to 5,000 subscribers - $47/month
- MailChimp - MailChimp is a power player in the email marketing service industry because they provide a free service for those sending out only an email or two each month to a small list. It is a service that can grow with your business. It also has add-ons for social media management where you can automatically announce your newsletter to the list.
- CakeMail - CakeMail is a fairly new player, but deserves a mention because of how simple the program is to use. Someone who has never done an HTML email before should be able to easily use the drag and drop interface to create a professional looking piece of mail.
- Constant Contact - Constant Contact has been around since 1995 and has a wide selection of templates from which to choose. This means your newsletter can look custom even if you're using a template to create it.
Matt Dollinger of Chicago Agent Magazine recommends BombBomb, giving it a four out of five star rating. BombBomb allows you to integrate a video directly into your email. It's like getting a televised commercial out, but directly to your target audience.
The interface is simple to use, so even a novice online videographer should be able to get it up and running quickly.
- Upload your contact lists via a bulk upload feature
- Choose target lists
- Use targeted lists to create drip campaigns
There are both pros and cons to using BombBomb. For the software, while it is simple to use, some users will be leery of opening a video email because it is a newer feature in the email world. You may lose open rates. This is software that should definitely be tested in small groupings to see how your regular customers react to it.
Price: Varies; prices quoted below are based on paying annually to get the best rate possible:
- 500 and fewer recipients - $25/month
- 501-2,500 recipients - $37/month
- 2,501-5,000 recipients - $69/month
- 5,001-10,000 recipients - $99/month
- Box.com - Because Box.com is already a file sharing/cloud storage site, it makes it easy to upload a video and integrate it into an email to your list.
- Covideo - One of the great things about Covideo is that they offer an app you can download to your smart phone. This is a great option to create and distribute video emails on the fly.
- Eyejot - If you're looking for a video email solution that has a wide range of different template themes, Eyejot is a good option. You will also gain the ability to store 500 videos with the smallest package and gained some enhanced reporting that will show you the spot when viewers exit your email. This can help with analysis for future campaigns.
Automate Web Functions
IFTTT stands for If This Then That and is a tool that you can integrate with your email marketing campaigns in a number of ways. For example, you might want to create an archive of past newsletters. If so, you'd simply include a specific address in your contact list and IFTTT would send your email to a DropBox or other account for storage. You can also integrate emails with social media such as Facebook and Twitter.
IFTTT works with multiple platforms, so whether you want to send to a blog, online storage or even a separate email address, you can set up a scenario (called a recipe) that will work for you. PC World rated IFTTT four out of five stars for being free and providing the opportunity to build "interesting connections" between various pieces of the Web.
To use IFTTT, simply sign up for a free account and start creating "recipes." It may take you a little time to learn how to write a recipe that works for your specific needs. You will have to integrate the accounts you want to use with IFTTT, so you'll need to give the site permission to use your DropBox account for this purpose.
- Tutorials on the site to help you write recipes
- Ability to integrate with a wide range of sites, including Twitter, Facebook, your email, DropBox, Google Drive, digg and YouTube
- View other popular recipes to get ideas
As with any marketing tool, there are pros and cons to IFTTT. While it is free to use and can save you from having to do tedious tasks over and over, such as uploading a saved email or posting on social media when an email is sent out, creating the recipes can be tedious. Once you get the hang of it, though, it should be fairly simple to create custom recipes that will work for you.
- Zapier- Zapier works very similar to IFTTT, but one of the advantages of this particular program is that it integrates with over 300 other apps, including MailChimp and Evernote. It also integrates with QuickBooks and Salesforce.
- CloudWork - This alternative is worth mentioning because it streamlines processes for business managers, such as CRM, customer support, invoicing and even project management.
- WeWiredWeb - WeWiredWeb is included because it features some location-based triggers that are defined via maps. This means you can send an email out to local clients only, for example, or target a specific demographic of your audience.
Email Subscription Popups
One way to gain subscribers is from those who visit your site. However, you may be afraid that a popup subscription notice will drive people away in droves.
Unbounce allows you to create and test landing pages. Not only can you create a page with a popup box for subscribing to your newsletter, but you can track the results of that landing page to see how effective it is. Creating pages on Unbounce is a simple matter of choosing a template, adding your own logos and designs and uploading the file to your website.
Unbounce gets excellent reviews, including a 9.1 out of 10 from Website Planet.
- A/B testing
- Articles and tutorials to help you build your brand and subscriber base
- Free templates
Even Unbounce points to the obvious drawback that popups can be annoying. You risk alienating some of your site visitors if you don't use popups selectively. However, the increase in percentage of email list subscribers may outweigh the risks.
Price varies based on how many unique visitors come to your website each month:
- 5,000 unique visitors - $49/month
- 25,000 unique visitors - $99/month
- 100,000 unique visitors - $199/month
- Instapage - Instapage is very similar to Unbounce. It features more than 70 different landing page templates. Everything is customizable as well. The SEO plugin is a nice way to double check that you're using best SEO practices.
- LeadPages - Another landing page generator, LeadPages' system allows you to sort the landing page templates by their conversion rates, such as opt-in rate. This is an excellent way to further reduce A/B testing time. Their landing pages are also mobile-responsive for those accessing emails and website via mobile devices.
- Kickoff Labs - The simple WYSIWYG editor on this site features a real time preview, so you can see what you're setting up before you create it. It speeds up the process of creating a page while still providing similar features to the other software providers listed here.
While there are numerous email marketing tools and companies that will help you create an email from a template, one of the best things you can do to stay ahead of your competition is to understand what your customers want. The best software in the world isn't a replacement for excellent customer service from you. However, marketing tools can help you build on what you're already doing right.