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Email marketing. So you’re convinced it is a thing to do, right? I hope that is a big resounding yes!! Email marketing works for two goals: getting closer relationally to your existing audience and for selling.

Bloggers, in particular, need email lists so that if the website goes down, you can get in touch with your followers for updates. And also, especially at the beginning of the relationship – so they hear from you and remember your site name!

If you’re not clear on the difference between newsletters, rss and email this will help put it all into perspective.

If you need to earn trust (grow closer) with your audience or you’re aiming to sell something, this Email Marketing Service Provider Review is for you! Let’s jump in!

One little caveat: Texting is becoming a marketing thing. But I cringe at that!! How is that different than the old cold sales call at dinner time on the family phone? It feels just as icky to me. So I wont be writing tutorials on that.

Free Email Marketing Checklist

Email Checklist

Do not use Email to Mass Email

If you didn’t know – you cannot use Gmail/ Yahoo / Your Email to send mass emails. If you do this, you will get very low deliverability. That means no one will actually GET your email. Much less read it. The reasons are technical – but trust us, there is a reason you need to use an email marketing service.

I know there has been a lot of buzz lately for Flodesk and I naturally get my mama bear protective mode tickled when that happens. I don’t want anyone taking advantage of my wonderful blogging friends. So I did some digging.

The result is this post. As with most things, there are Pro’s and Con’s to each choice – so read through and find the one that works for you. HINT: the email marketing co that I use will likely not be the best choice for you if you have lots of subscribers!

Email Marketing in 7 Steps

  1. Get them interested via social media or a referral about your free super-interesting tidbit
  2. Offer to send them another tidbit in exchange for the email. This tidbit given in exchange for their email is referred to as an “opt-in incentive” or “freebie” or “opt-in” for short. This is WHY they will give you their email.
  3. If the opt-in is actually inline with your topics and is what the visitor is interested in, you will have a new subscriber.
  4. The first email you send is THE most important email you’ll ever send to this person. It is the entire reason they will open – or not – the 2nd email.
  5. Nurture the relationship by proving your trustworthiness, your authority, your relevance and your ability to empathize with their current situation.
  6. Convince them of the future without their perceived problem.
  7. After they believe in you, they have come to trust and love you, then offer them a solution. Who would you buy from? A google search or the one you already know is the expert and trustworthy too?

K – down to brass tacks. These are the 4 email marketing companies we will review and how we will review them.

  1. Flodesk
  2. Mailchimp
  3. MailerLite
  4. Convertkit

These are in NO particular order. We will be evaluating them on these areas: ease of use, forms, automations, segmentations and price. I’ll explain each of these areas. You’ll see what I mean when you read below.

Ease of Use: After I wrote this article, I realized ease of use is reviewed under all the review targets. It was redundant on its own. So look for ease of use in each review target.

Forms: The signup forms that you create include embedded and popup options. In this section I also reviewed the design options.

Email Designer: I reviewed design and customization options. I had a quick look at deliverability and mobile friendly-ness.

Automations: For this, I was really looking for how easy it would be to send a “Here’s your opt-in incentive” email. Also a welcome series or cart-abandonment email.

Segmentations: I was looking at how easy it would be to grab a group of similar contacts (say – all the ones that purchased a product) and add them to a new email. How easy was it to create tags for each group that I might want. And how easy it was to use the tags once they were created.

Pricing: we mentioned pricing for below 1000 subscribers, from 1001 to 10k, and 10k – 100k. And 100k+.

Flodesk: Design emails people love to open.

Flodesk landing page

Overall impressions: I saw this CEO in an interview (I linked in the newsletter last week). She – and the team that founded Flodesk are in the middle of disrupting the entire email marketing niche! I’m totally serious and pretty intrigued! I haven’t changed to Flodesk yet for WPB because of the lack of RSS to Email(see automations).

Emails: The email composer is your standard drag-and-drop block-like interface. There are pre-styled blocks which is what has created a lot of buzz in our community. (That and the price!) Each pre-styled block comes with options – tons of them. There are options to change the layouts, fonts, colors, and more.

Flodesk Email composer

Forms: The forms are simple to create and are added to the site like all the other apps – with a copy & paste bit of code.

Flodesk forms

I love that the forms are simple to create and customize. And they offer the popup function directly – no other plugins needed.

You can use the integrations to add subscribers automatically from Facebook, WooCommerce and other apps through Zapier.

Segmentation / Personalization: Each form allows you add a ‘tag’ so you know where that user signed up and you can target them for personalized emails.

Automations: The only downside that I saw with Flodesk is that they do not support RSS – to – Email functions. You cannot automatically publish from your WordPress site (or any feed) to email and send automatically.

You can add many other kinds of automations in the emails themselves. You can create a new series of emails that send in timed intervals.

Emails can automatically import IG feeds and a few other social media feeds.

Pricing: $38 per month, regardless of size (I confirmed this – it’s kind of unbelievable!) As you hit ‘enterprise’ level, they will encourage you to use a different service.

Checkout flodesk here.

Let’s Compare Mailchimp Next

Mailchimp landing page

Forms: Signup forms are limited to 3 choices plus a few landing pages. The more expensive the plan, the more forms are unlocked.

Mailchimp email templates

There are great integrations for MailChimp because it is so well known. So lots of plugins integrate well and you can use plugins’ forms instead of theirs.

Emails: – There are two types of email editors with Mailchimp. The classic builder is a block based editor where each block comes with limited options. However if you know html, you can edit in the html editor.

RSS to email is the strength of Mailchimp – there are lots of ways to add and manipulate feeds in Mailchimp while creating emails.

Segmentation: is relatively difficult with MailChimp. Contacts can be added to groups via the signup form. Contacts can manage their own ‘groups’ if you let them. For example they can select to get the once a week newsletter or the daily RSS Feed emails.

Also, Tags must be added manually to each contact, which is just not practical.

Automations: The tagging is the difficult part, once they are tagged the automations are fairly easy to set up – with a similar drag and drop builder as the other 3 services.

Price: up to 2000 contacts, free
5,000 contacts = $90/mo
50,000 contacts = $359/mo

Checkout Mailchimp here.

Compare Mailerlite

Overall Impressions: I love Mailerlite. In honesty I selected it before I had really looked at many others. But it has everything I need and a free version that is enough for WPB. Plus it allows unlimited email automations and personalization on the free plan. This is the one I recommend if you’re a beginner.

Forms: there are basic forms similar to Flodesk. I always recommend a clear simple form that you can paste into any page. And add a custom-field for tags in every form (and hide it from readers). In Mailerlite there are NOT a lot of options for forms. They do offer landing pages (which we don’t recommend for bloggers).

MailerLite newsletter form

Tip: For all forms in all companies, I recommend you design the titles and photos on the page itself – then the forms will take the same styles as the theme.

Automations: As I mentioned one of my favorite features is that you can use any number of automations without a paid account. A welcome series is SO important. MailerLite makes it really easy to create a form, tag the recipient, and create an automated response sequence all in one screen.

Triggers (to start an email sequence) in MailerLite have a lot more options than the triggers in Flodesk (as of publication).

Segmentation & Personalization: is super easy with Mailerlite. You can segment your contacts by the form they signed up with, and my favorite – the tags you add to any form. This helps you track if an already-subscribed readers signed up again for a particular opt-in. You can follow up and provide the info they’re looking for.

Pricing: MailerLite also has several tiers when it comes to pricing. They are based on subscribers and also the number of emails sent.

These tiers are subscribers with minimal emails:

0 – 1000 = free

1000- 10,000 = $15 /month

10,000 -100,000 is $50 /month

Checkout Mailerlite here.

Lastly, ConvertKit, the Blogger’s Favorite

Overall Impressions: A few years ago ConvertKit disrupted the entire marketplace and made it really easy for bloggers to send freebies (opt-ins) to their readers. This was huge!

Now, for the first time (other than enterprise software), you could send a different opt-in to each subscriber based on the form they used to sign up. “Automations” weren’t really needed – the delivery of the opt-in incentive was already baked into the form creation process. For each form, you immediately add the delivery email (or thank you email).

Forms: I did find the forms dashboard interface could get unwieldy after 20-30 forms. They do have a plugin which makes integration with WP easy. And this platform has the most options for styling forms.

ConvertKit form

Email Creation: The emails are fairly simple for Converkit – they are meant to be that way. You can add images, and buttons but that is about it. However, if you purchase a pre-made HTML template, there is the ability to upload the whole thing. So if you hire someone, it is completely customizable!

Automations: Automations are baked right into the forms workflow – allowing you to send a separate opt-in incentive to each subscriber based on the form they used to signup.

Segmentation/ Tags: You can easily tag subscribers in the forms, and then using plugins, when they checkout on your site. These plugins are integrations with Convertkit and work to add tags to subscribers after subscribers have performed a particular action (like purchasing something).

Pricing: Unfortunately, the downside comes when you look at the price.

5,000 subscribers = $79/mo

0- 1,000 subscribers = free

Checkout Convertkit here.

So there you have it! My honest review of 4 popular email marketing companies that can help you automate your email marketing. Always keep in mind, the goal: nurture relationships and/or serve through sales.

Be sure to use the links above to send me a little love (affiliate links). And checkout the difference between Email & Newsletters & RSS, how to create an email marketing plan, and what to send to your subscribers.

Free Email Marketing Checklist

Email Checklist

Beginner Checklist

If you’re starting out, you’ll love our comprehensive 52 point checklist for your website! Read through once, and then work on items one at a time as it comes up!

52 Edits Checklist – beginners categories

Cathy Mitchell

Single Mom, Lifelong Learner, Jesus Follower, Founder and CEO at WPBarista.