How to Compare Email Service Providers

Which one is the best fit for you? Naturally, it depends. Let’s look at how to compare these email service providers.

Many food bloggers pick MailChimp because it’s cheap, cheap, cheap (free for under 2,000 subscribers), easy to use, integrates very well with WordPress, and also integrates with pretty much every plugin and 3rd party app in existence. MailChimp is a reasonable choice if you don’t need too many bells and whistles. But, there is a down side. MailChimp enforces a double opt-in which dramatically reduces new subscriptions (especially on mobile); yes, there is a way around it. MailChimp is also known as the most hostile ESP toward affiliate links. This means you must be careful about putting affiliate links in your emails; but you can link to pages on your site that have affiliate links.

If your budget is zero or you don’t want this email marketing thing to be any more complicated than it absolutely has to be, we suggest MadMimi.

The MadMimi interface is brain-dead-easy to use, it’s free for up to 2,500 contacts and you can send up to 12,500 emails every month. Their customer service is excellent, too… in fact I’d say it’s better than MailChimp’s.

Best Bets for Serious Email Marketing: AWeber and GetResponse

Both are very easy to use, have excellent tech support, and extensive autoresponder capability.

Nice features with GetResponse: You can view your emails on a mobile preview before you send. Don’t know why AWeber isn’t offering that…

Another plus for GetResponse is that they cut a deal with a stock photo company, so you’ve got 1,000 images to use in your emails. It would be awesome if they’d add another couple of thousand images, but even the few they have help.

One more nice feature: They can schedule your emails so they go out for each subscriber’s local time, not just your local time. This is downright awesome because it means you don’t have to hedge on sending times between East Coast and West Coast. Everybody can get your email at 7:15pm, regardless of their time zone. Pretty cool.

All those features do cost a bit, though: GetResponse is about 20-30% more expensive than AWeber, depending on how many subscribers you have.

3 email providers to avoid

Here are the three providers I recommend you don’t use: iContact, Constant Contact, and Vertical Response. Here’s why:

iContact: poor customer service, no mobile preview

Constant Contact: autoresponder is limited to 10 messages; for serious email marketing, this just won’t do

Vertical Response: no way to create an opt-in box or a pop-up

This should give you an idea of how I compare email marketing services. What are your criteria?