E-mail marketing is, perhaps, the essential marketing strategy for small businesses. It’s personal, customizable and low cost. All you need to do is build a list of your customer’s e-mail addresses and then use a piece of e-mail marketing software to generate professional e-mails easily that reach out to your customers.
However while this strategy is low cost; there are definite cost differentials between providers and we found GetResponse to be the best budget e-mail marketing software for small businesses.
Why Did We Choose GetResponse?
GetResponse was one of the earliest e-mail marketing companies, in the guise of Implix, and has been around since the 90s. That makes it one of the longest lasting software companies we’ve ever reviewed. It has more than a quarter of a million users and its clients aren’t just small businesses – they also work with GlaxoSmithKline and Carrefour among other multi-nationals. They also have won multiple awards for the quality of their customer service. In short GetResponse has a sterling reputation.
Value for Money
It should come as no surprise that the best budget e-mail marketing software for small businesses is good value for money. Unlike some other e-mail marketing companies you pay a fixed fee based on the number of people on your e-mail list and you can send unlimited e-mails. Many other providers charge a per e-mail fee if you go over a certain cap.
They also offer a discount for pre-paying for the year and it’s a reasonably substantial 18% which is better than many other providers too.
The only “hidden cost” is for the use of multiple landing pages each of which, after the first which is free, will set you back $15 a month. This is only really going to be important for web based businesses with multiple properties – in which case GetResponse probably won’t be your chosen solution.
Ease of Use and Functionality
There’s a common theme when we talk to business owners about their needs from software; it must be easy to use and it mustn’t take a ton of time to learn. GetResponse is fairly easy to use. Importing and building lists is simple as is creating the e-mails that you send out.
The post login landing page is clean and straightforward with an emphasis on adding contacts, creating forms and creating newsletters. You also get some simple statistical data in regard to your list and any current campaigns you may be using.
Contacts can be imported from pretty much any database format or directly from most major applications. GetResponse also allows you to create forms to encourage e-mail sign up on your website and carries out “double opt in” to ensure that such addresses are validated.
They have a great e-mail creation tool which provides access to a lot of templates (more than 500) and it’s easy for small businesses to just get creating their perfect e-mail. Those with a bit more experience in online design will be pleased to know there’s a full editor including HTML access to tweak templates or custom e-mails to perfection.
You can also test how the e-mails will appear in various web e-mail clients and desktop e-mail clients; running the test also informs you if anything in the e-mail is likely to get it flagged as spam. You don’t need to remember to run the tests either – they’re automatic and run constantly as you work.
After you create the email – you choose which lists to send it to and pick a time (or times) to send the e-mail out. The whole process is very easy to get to grips with and mainly self-evident throughout.
There are some nice features that GetResponse provides too:
- A/B testing – not sure which e-mail to use? No problem, you can use GetResponse’s A/B testing to work out which e-mail performs best before sending it to your entire list.
- Analytics – there’s no point in running a marketing campaign if you can’t see how effective it is being. We really liked the depth of reporting and analysis tools in GetResponse and we’re confident that you’ll be able to report on what you need without having to learn to program.
- Autoresponder – autoresponders allow you to create a chain of e-mails based on interactions with your website or other e-mail campaigns. This can be a great way to walk someone through your sales funnel and it’s a vital tool of long-term e-mail marketers.
- Images – GetResponse offers access to a small library of stock photographs which can cut down the costs of e-mail marketing susbstantially.
- Responsive Design – this is really important for mobile users. Your standard e-mail template is designed for the desktop and can look pretty dreadful on a smaller screen – all GetResponse e-mail templates are responsive and that means they’re customized to the smaller screen too.
GetResponse has won a ton of awards for customer service and you can see why when you interact with them. Their phone support (which is only available 9-5 Monday to Friday EST) is excellent but they also have 24 hour live chat support which makes up, to some extent, for the restricted hours of phone support.
We found that in both instances – agents are very helpful and focused on assisting you rather than selling something.
Their website also offers a host of useful features including a learning center, video tutorials, FAQs, webinars, etc. so if you prefer to work things through by yourself; you’ll have all the resources you need to hand to tackle your problems.
Drawbacks of Using GetResponse
There aren’t many drawbacks to using GetResponse. It’s a professional solution with a long history of delivering value. However, we do think that some of their templates might be given a bit of a brush up as they look a little dated.
The other issue is the limited telephone support which we don’t think will be a deal breaker for U.S. based users but might seriously impact on overseas users in different time zones. You also have no facility for an account management style relationship and some other providers will deliver that relationship – though at a substantially increased cost when compared to GetResponse.