Monday, March 28, 2011

Email Marketing and Auto-Responders - What's New and Who's Best?

Email Marketing is an established category that has been around for a long time (over a decade). Having been around for that long, a fairly stable set of features has emerged over time and deliverability which used to be all over the place, has stabilized. The pricing has come down to affordable levels and market leadership has been established (arguably) with Constant Contact going public.

Some of the new directions, however, that email marketing has been evolving includes segmentation, surveying, multi-step auto-responders, and A/B split testing. Of these segmentation in general (and conditional or auto-segmentation in particular) is probably the feature that has the most potential to change the email marketing landscape. Sending the right email piece at the right time based on what a prospect clicked on or opened in the past is a powerful concept and can easily mean a difference between another email that I don't open and something that triggers my attention.

Below is a brief summary of the email marketing players and their strength and weaknesses. Please let me know if you disagree on any of it, and feel free to use it to help you make your decisions!

Constant Contact iContact Aweber GetResponse
Email Limits excellent excellent excellent excellent
Deliverability excellent excellent excellent excellent
Segmentation weak fair good excellent
Follow-up Sophistication weak fair good fair
Signup form flexibility fair good good fair
Surveys good good none good
Split Testing weak none good excellent
Templates fair fair fair good
WYSIWIG editor weak excellent fair good
Pricing fair good fair excellent
Special Features email-2-speech