How to Choose an Email Marketing Service for Your Small Business

Despite the fact that social media marketing seems to monopolize internet marketing conversations lately, it’s far from your only option. For example, email marketing can still be a highly effective way to communicate with an audience, drive traffic, and increase sales.

I used to use simple email newsletters to promote site features and content, but stopped years ago because I didn’t have enough products to promote. The return wasn’t there at the time. With several new e-books and a series of e-courses in the pipeline, I decided that now was a good time to get back into email marketing.

That meant I had to choose a new email marketing service. In my case, I chose Aweber. I won’t tell you to run out and sign up for their service, but I do want to share some of the issues that came up when making that decision.

By answering the following questions, you’ll have an easier time choosing the best email marketing provider for your small business.

1. Is this for a new list or are you moving an existing list?

Any email marketing service can help you start a new list. But if you already have an opt-in list, your choices might be more limited by things like import limits or rules regarding new opt-ins. Rather than potentially losing subscribers with a new opt-in for the service transfer, you might be better off asking your current provider if they can offer a different plan that better suits your needs.

2. How many subscribers do you anticipate early on? In the future?

An important consideration when choosing an email marketing service is whether or not they can handle your current subscriber count. Check their limits (which will likely vary based on pricing tiers) and make sure they can accommodate your current list size. Also consider anticipated growth of your list. Does the service you’re interested in offer scalable options that can grow with your business, or are you already maxing out their subscriber limits?

3. What will you use the email marketing service for?

Different email marketing services can offer different features. Which are most important to you? That will depend on what you plan to do with the list. For example, I mentioned e-courses earlier. So I looked for a service with good autoresponder features to deliver scheduled course materials.

email marketing
What’s involved in email marketing? – Credit: Danard Vincente (via Flickr)

You might want to do something similar, use it mostly to deliver RSS feeds via email, send manual newsletters, send scheduled announcements or promotions, or do some combination of these things. Even if you aren’t ready for all of these things right now, think about the foreseeable future. Choose an email marketing service that fits into your ongoing marketing strategy to avoid having to switch services again too soon.

4. How much can you afford?

Another important consideration is the affordability factor. If you can’t afford to use a paid service at all, then you might want to tailor your strategy to free options available. If you have an adequate budget you can go for premium services that offer greater reliability, no ads in your emails, and better response tracking (in addition to the primary features you want).

Did you recently choose your first email marketing service or change providers? What made you choose them? What were you looking for and what made that provider stand out? In addition to the things mentioned here, what other factors would you suggest small business owners consider? Leave your thoughts, stories, and tips in the comments below.

Written by
Jennifer Mattern
Join the discussion