You need email marketing in your marketing mix, and you’re ready to dive in… but what’s the best email marketing service for your small business?

Choosing the right email marketing platform depends on what you want to use it for. However, knowing exactly how you want to use it, and what functionality you’ll need, can be hard to articulate, especially if email marketing is new to you.

That’s why we’ve created a 10-step question and answer guide below to help you get clear on how you want email marketing to work for you. It may even help you uncover some non-negotiable requirements that you never knew you needed.

What email marketing platform will integrate best with my website?

Whether you have a WordPress site, a WooCommerce checkout, a Shopify store, or any other type of website, this is a big consideration.

That’s because email marketing works best when it’s highly personalised and deeply tailored to your audience. Think how powerful it would be to target individual subscribers when you know they’ve been browsing your site, or what they’ve added to their cart, and when they’ve purchased?

Having this data passed directly between platforms without the need for a third party plug in, like Zapier, means that there’s less chance of potential data handling issues.

Verdict: In our opinion, this is a deal breaker! If the email software you’re looking at doesn’t connect with your website, then scratch it off your list.

What email marketing software works best with my Customer Relationship Management System (CRM)?

If you’re wondering what’s one of those?, then you probably don’t have a CRM and you can head straight to the next question.

When you have an established CRM, chances are you’ve put in a lot of time and effort to building your database and nurturing leads to generate sales. You might even send emails from your CRM, but are looking for a more robust platform to handle personalised and tailored messaging?

If this sounds familiar then you need to find an email marketing platform that integrates directly with your CRM.

Verdict: This is a deal breaker! Besides, your CRM is to have a list of recommended email software, so start your research there before looking further afield.

What email marketing service integrates best with my other marketing software?

We’ve all got our preferred tools of the trade!

If you’re into Facebook ads then you probably want email marketing software that helps to build custom audiences.

If you’re a service-based business offering discovery calls for your leads, you may prefer one that integrates with your calendar.

Or, if you’re a coach or run a membership, you may prefer something that integrates with your webinar software or membership platform.

Verdict: If you rely heavily on other types of software to run your business, then this is probably a non-negotiable. However, it’s not a complete deal breaker if you can find a solution using an app, like Zapier.

What email marketing platform has a robust template builder and editor?

A user-friendly way to build email campaigns is a must.

Some email marketing platforms provide prettier pre-built templates than others, but since these tend to be editable, you can always brand them to suit your needs, or build your own from scratch.

You also want to look for platforms that allow you to build an email template that you can save and use over and over again. Saves time and hassle!

Verdict: This is a deal breaker (ain’t nobody got time for learning html!). In saying that, don’t prioritise design features over platform functionality.

What email marketing platform offers the best automations / flows?

Whether you’re new to email marketing automation or you’re feeling limitations from your current platform, this feature is a must-have!

Most email platforms have an automation function, but not all are created equal.

We prefer automation builders that are visually laid out so you can see which pathways subscribers will follow when they qualify/don’t qualify for the next step.

In our opinion, any email marketing software that requires you to upgrade your plan to access this feature isn’t worth it. You should be able to access basic features like this on any free plan *looks at Mailchimp*.

Verdict: This is a deal breaker. If you want to use email marketing to its full potential, you need automation as a built in feature, period.

What email marketing platform offers A/B split testing?

Obviously you want to send emails, but you also want a platform that allows you to test different elements of your campaigns and flows.

This ensures you’re sending the most engaging content to your subscribers over time, and increasing open rates, click through rates and conversion rates.

Verdict: At the very least, look for a platform that allows you to test subject lines, but do consider how awesome it would be to know that sending your emails on a Wednesday at 10am with red buttons gives you better engagement and return on revenue.

What email marketing platform provides in-depth audience segmentation options?

Gone are the days of blasting content to everyone on your list. If you want to stay relevant, you need to tailor your messaging for specific segments of your audience.

That’s why choosing an email marketing platform that allows you to create smaller groups of similar people is important.

Apart from segments, when choosing the right email marketing service, make sure you understand how your subscriber data is stored, and what type of information it can capture.

Verdict: This is a deal breaker! If you want to stay relevant then you need segmentation and an easy to manage data management feature.

What email marketing platform offers the best form building features?

Most email platforms have form building functionality, and some do it better than others.

Look for a platform with a form builder that offers different styles without having to upgrade, e.g. embedded forms (or inline form) with flexible layout, as well as pop ups for desktop and mobile and flyout forms.

Verdict: Not a complete deal breaker as long as your website has a robust form solution that can feed data through to your email list.

What email marketing platform has the best customer service?

When researching the best email marketing service for your small business, you don’t want one that leaves you to figure out the features on your own.

Instead, choose one that actively answers your queries within 24-48 hours. Also, look out for an in-depth resources library with clear step-by-step instructions, or even better, one that offers video tutorials!

Another thing to look out for is a support group outside of the email platform, such as a Facebook group. Often these are the best places to quickly find answers, and there are many experts in there too.

Verdict: When the brown-stuff hits the fan, you want to choose an email marketing service that has your back. This is definitely a deal breaker for us!

Does the email marketing platform include a landing page builder?

If you don’t have a website set up yet, be sure to add a built-in landing page feature to your must-have list (unless you have another solution!). This way, you can capture email subscribers before your launch, ensuring that you have an audience to launch to.

If you have an established website, consider using landing pages to create an email sign up page for your social profiles or events.

Verdict: This could be a deal-breaker if you don’t have a website set up and you’re aiming to grow an audience before your launch.

What email marketing platforms would we recommend?

Ecommerce retailers / Bricks and mortar stores

Klaviyo – best integrated email marketing platform with Shopify, and also works great with WooCommerce.

Our preferred email marketing platform for online stores is Klaviyo. It natively integrates with WooCommerce and Shopify, creating a seamless customer experience.

Standout features include, deep data segmentation and predictive modelling, a newly updated email template builder with even more flexibility, and a robust reporting system with benchmarks specific to your industry so you’ll always know how you compare to your peers.

You can try it for free for up to 500 email sends a month.

Try Klaviyo for free >

Coaches, experts and other service-based businesses

Active Campaign – best lead nurture email marketing service for small businesses

Our recommended email marketing platform for service-based businesses is Active Campaign. We utilise it to nurture our audience and identify engaged leads at an individual level.

While this is a marketing platform with CRM capabilities, you don’t need to have a large database to reap the benefits, like us!

Try Active Campaign here >

For beginners

Mailerlite – best free email marketing platform for small businesses

If you’re just starting out and looking for something simple and easy-to-use, we recommend Mailerlite. It’s great for both ecommerce and service businesses.

We like the clean interface and the library of easily accessible how-to videos. It provides enough functionality to keep you busy, and has a Free Plan where you can access key features up to 1,000 subscribers.

Try Mailerlite for free here >

If you’re looking to get set up with an email marketing platform, or migrate to a new one, get in touch.

*This post contains affiliate links.