Email Marketing Platforms: Dig (Truly) To See What Works

By the time you read this, there are more email marketing platforms than you know what to do with. Making decisions to use the right email marketing platform could be a harrowing task (for lack of a stronger phrase).

Email marketing platforms come in all sorts of sizes and types.

Mostly, several email marketing platforms are often targeted at specific (but still large) groups of potential customers.

Some email marketing platforms are built purely for eCommerce (such as Drip and Klaviyo).

Others are fine for almost all types of businesses (Mailchimp). Meanwhile, there are email marketing platforms that are great for bloggers, content creators, online course trainers, coaches, and consultants (MailerLite, Moosend, and ConvertKit).

Some email marketing platforms are exclusively created and marketed for enterprises and large businesses (Pardot? Marketo? Adobe Marketing Cloud?)

See where I am going with this?

You really have to spend more than one weekend to sit and decide which of these email marketing platforms works great for your business.

Email marketing platforms: What To Look Out For?

What works for your business might not work for another.

Look out for your specific business needs, features (a few of them are an absolute must), ease-of-use, the Integrations (you need), compatibility with other software or marketing stack, pricing, availability, and more.

Take my case for example: I coach, teach digital marketing courses (or I am trying to), and some revenue often comes through affiliate marketing.

If I were to send a simple RSS-to-Email campaign featuring my blog posts or directly send an email broadcast with a direct affiliate offer, it just won’t work for me.

Mailchimp outright blocks the campaigns and raises red flags (last time I checked, mailchimp is not for affiliate marketers) — this is even if my affiliate offers are never direct, almost always cloaked, or users are redirected to valuable content with occasional affiliate links placed within.

On the other hand, ConvertKit, Moosend, and MailerLite are super friendly. Each of these platforms allows you more wiggle room, give you the benefit of promoting your content (with affiliate links in them, if you do it that way).

Free Trials [ Looking for a Fit, To Try & To Experiment]

You won’t know what email marketing platform works if you don’t try it out. You can’t try it out (or it’s just expensive and useless to try) if you don’t get a free trial.

Some Email marketing platforms allow complete, no-holds-barred free trial (letting you use all options within). Some have restricted use for the free tiers (which is also fine).

A few email marketing platforms give you no free trials. While I understand the business case for this, it’s just a little harder to make decisions.

Thankfully, there are very few players in the email marketing software space that “don’t” give free trials. As far as using, experiencing platforms, trying things out, exploring, and looking for the right fit goes, there are several.

Give Me Lead Generation Elements [Please]

Without lead generation elements (such as forms, pop-ups, sticky bars, slide-ins, and landing pages), there’s no way to build your email marketing list or to grow your pipeline.

You are an eCommerce store leading charge with discount coupons. Or, you swear by the efficacy of content marketing and push content upgrades.

Or maybe you just say “Join my newsletter”.

In any case, you need those opt-in forms, embeddable forms, and other lead generation elements.

How are you going to build those?

This is 2023, and trying to use Mailchimp to generate proper Pop-up forms is a nightmare [Note: I am Mailchimp Certified].

In fact, you can’t really use Mailchimp forms (pretty, high-converting forms) unless you use some other third-party tool or platform to make it work.

There are a few other, well-entrenched and well-known names in this category that make it hard to create lead generation elements.

For instance, if you use Divi, you can use Bloom to instantly connect with Mailchimp. Using WordPress? There should be some plugin available.

Or use landing pages built with Unbounce, Leadpages, or Instapage to connect with Mailchimp.

This should have been easy. Right?

I am not bashing Mailchimp. I am just layout out the reality here. Drip just bought Sleeknote and is now paving the way for better forms. Klaviyo also has great features for lead generation.

ConvertKit, MailerLite, and Moosend already allow you to create excellent lead generation elements.

Pay-to-Access Features [Hits and Misses]

Want to build landing pages with Mailchimp?

Possible, except that you’d need to pay separately for the landing pages hosting and for the domain names (last time I checked).

Drip doesn’t have free trials at all. So, the only way forward is to pay up.

ConvertKit provides you half the access — letting you build landing pages, sales funnels, and opt-in forms. However, it doesn’t allow access to email automations which are essential for you to generate sales.

Moosend and MailerLite are amongst the few email marketing platforms that let you use “all” features — to a limited extent on free plans and complete access on paid plans.

It’s always about Revenue

People love to do everything, except what they need to do (applies for practically everything under the sun).

Several eCommerce store owners, businesses (of all sizes), content creators, bloggers, and freelancers often spend countless hours thinking, reading, planning, strategizing, building out content calendars, making plans….

Except, sending out email marketing campaigns.

Several brands and businesses just don’t send out enough emails (or they tend to overdo the sending emails part).

As long as you don’t get this right and if your focus is:

  • On email marketing design, but not revenue
  • On Email subject lines (and email copy), but not “value
  • On email marketing platform feature list, but not email marketing results
  • On This Platform Vs That Platform when you barely used either of those to get sales (attributed to email marketing)

There’s just no point in wasting time, money, and resources on any email marketing platform without thinking about the results at the other end of it.

Email marketing platforms, email copy, email design, email whatever is useless without actually making money or bringing in revenue through a well-managed email marketing program.

Harsh words, but I mean it well.

Geographical Availability & Relevance

Consider this: It’s true that that Convertkit rolls out several new features (and they have several cool ones). I absolutely love and adore ConvertKit.

Of all the features ConvertKit provides, as a case in point, let’s take ConvertKit Commerce.

ConvertKit Commerce helps you sell digital products directly on top of Convertkit’s existing (and fantastic) array of email marketing feature kit.

What this means that is that I can directly utilize ConverKit’s creator profile, email broadcasts, email automations, and Convertkit’s integration with Stripe to sell my digital products (such as eBooks, Online Courses, and so on).

The trouble is that although Stripe is available where I live, the option doesn’t show up when I try to connect Stripe with Convertkit.

Effectively, that renders the ConvertKit commerce feature useless (for now).

See how an otherwise sexy and useful email marketing platform just fell out of the radar for me?

Respite from Feature Bloat

As mentioned earlier, some email marketing platforms tend to overload their platforms with features. They think availability of too many features can mask the disaster that the platform really is.

Again, I won’t name “names”, but it’s a fact.

Some brands manage this feature bloat well enough (by making sure that it’s all visible, available, and easy to use). Some brands can’t bring themselves to manage the excessive list of features no one in the world can barely handle.

You really don’t need too many “features” to succeed with email marketing; you just need the right list of features. Just enough to keep the email marketing machinery running.

As long as your email marketing program works, it’s more or less justified.

The Curse Of No Feature Growth

While the point above explains how some platforms “do too much” with respect to features, there are some more that have remained constant (and never moved with the times). I know you know some names here so I won’t be dropping names.

Terrible UX/UI, interface that’s hard to use, and lack of any visual delight are some of those truths that plague email marketing platforms even today.

Barring the large and expensive enterprise-level platforms (most of them qualify for this point), there are several affordable and popular email platforms that still never grew.

You practically can’t use the drag-and-drop builders some email programs have. Or you’ll find it hard to build simple pop-ups. You virtually can’t (or won’t) bother building landing pages.

What email marketing platforms do you use? What’s working well and what’s not?

Tell me all about it on Twitter, LinkedIn, or my LinkedIn Brand page.

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