Email marketing services are a dime a dozen. There is an abundance of providers and products available and each one is pitched as the next best thing. Comparing products can be a time-consuming process but it is well worth the investment.

As a virtual assistant and business strategist, I have used many different programs and experienced the good, the bad and the ugly. Unfortunately there are a lot of bad and ugly! LOL There are the free or very inexpensive choices but while bootstrapping can be a good thing, making business decisions based solely on cost is not. And nowhere is that more true than when it comes to choosing an email list manager. What you save in dollars will be insignificant compared to what you lose in time and frustration. Even if you’re willing to sacrifice your time and suffer a few gray hairs, these programs can have significant deliverability issues resulting in a reduced return on investment for you.

Common Issues with Free Services

email deliverabilityDeliverability Issues. The biggest problem I see with low-cost providers is deliverability. Popular email services such as Yahoo, Gmail, and others vigorously defend their users’ accounts against spam, and will often mark your legitimate email as spam, simply based on the IP address it originates from.

More established email list providers have the resources to fight these false spam reports and keep their deliverability rates high. That’s what their users pay for. But when you choose a free or low-cost provider this might not happen. Over time, you’ll see your deliverability rates plummet.

Limited Features. Deliverability aside, many free providers limit the features. For example, you might only be able to collect 500 addresses, or you may only be able to send a few emails each month. Even worse, you may not be able to segment your list or automate your emails.

Before you make the choice to use a low-priced or free email provider, be sure you fully understand the limitations of the account. While some concessions might be okay with you, others might put a serious crimp in your business-building efforts.

Future Growth. Finally, keep in mind that changing providers later (when you’re “ready”) can be a huge undertaking. You’ll have multiple landing pages and opt-in forms to edit, connections with your shopping cart, social media accounts, and countless other integrations to deal with. And you’ll have a list of names to import to your new provider, many of which will either opt-out or be undeliverable at your new host.

Rather than go through all that trouble, the better option is to choose the right provider from the start, and if cost is an issue, create a plan to cover the expense instead of settling for the wrong service.

What you should look for in an email marketing services.

The best email marketing services are affordable and don’t require you to have extensive technical know-how. They also offer a variety of features to help you target specific demographics and bypass spam filters, which can improve the effectiveness of your emails.

email marketing

The minimum features you should look for are:

  • Availability of autoresponders. You will use these throughout your business to communicate with customers and/or program participants.
  • Triggered Responses. For example, schedule a follow up email based on a certain date or based on an action by the reader.
  • Responsive templates. This allows your email to appear correctly on any device your reader is using from desktop to mobile phone.
  • Multiple signup forms. Beware of any service that only allows you to have one sign up form. You will need several lists beyond a basic interest list.
  • Pricing Flexibility. You need the ability to increase plans to include more contacts and emails as your business grows.

Many email marketing services offer tiered programs. Each tier offers you a certain number of subscribers and a limit to the number of messages you can send each month. This is a great way to get exactly what you need.

Email marketing is a critical component for any business’s marketing strategy. Finding the right email provider can save you valuable time, help you market and represent your business in a professional manner, and result in a bigger bottom line. It pays to do your research, try a few programs, and don’t settle for the marketing product of the moment. Your business is too important.