How to Choose the Right Email Platform

Rachel Ritchie
April 27, 2020
One of the most effective channels of marketing communication, email is likely essential to your business. As we like to say around here, it’s direct, action-oriented, and measurable, and provides a clear window into the preferences and desires of your actual customers.

One of the most effective channels of marketing communication, email is likely essential to your business. As we like to say around here, it’s direct, action-oriented, and measurable, and provides a clear window into the preferences and desires of your actual customers.

But if you’re like many businesses, you’ve watched numerous new email platforms come to market, and you’ve wondered if a migration might be worth it. Are there new opportunities you’re missing out on? Essential new technologies or strategies? And if you’re launching a new business, your focus is on making the right decision for your business out of the gate, without any false starts.

It’s a big decision, and your choice really will affect your business. So do your research, schedule your demos, and be sure to choose a platform that supports your business goals. And if you need help with that decision, or migrating to a new platform, setting up your chosen platform, we’d be happy to help.

Without further ado, here are our tried and tested picks that will serve most businesses’ needs:

The Gold Standard: Mailchimp

Simple to use and always reliable, with a robust set (more than 200) of integrations with common marketing tools, there’s a reason so many businesses use Mailchimp. The platform’s interface for campaign and template creation are nice and simple, and standard email automations are a breeze to set up.

The platform is also relatively inexpensive, and has recently expanded its offerings from email marketing to what it calls its customer relationship management (CRM) system, with advanced audience segmentation options, audience insights, and more. As part of these expansions, Mailchimp has added more marketing features like landing pages, Facebook/Instagram/Google Ads, and even printed postcards.

In 2019, Mailchimp’s “breakup” with Shopify over customer privacy shook up the industry, and sent many Mailchimp users running to other platforms with a more targeted focus on e-commerce. Though Mailchimp can still integrate with Shopify via third-party apps, the lack of a direct connection with the e-commerce powerhouse was a signal to many customers to rethink their tech stack.

Best for: Medium-sized businesses sending both content-driven and commerce-driven campaigns and automations.

Why we love it:

  • Widely used and understood
  • Easy-to-use templates and interface
  • Simple, out-of-the-box automations
  • Advanced audience segmentation
  • Solid customer support

Drawbacks:

  • Limited design options for pop-ups
  • Lack of a direct integration with Shopify
  • Reporting features could be improved
  • Rare updates to core capabilities
  • Feature sprawl can be a little overwhelming (a website builder? really?)

The New Kid: Klaviyo

The big winner in Mailchimp’s breakup with Shopify was Klaviyo, a Boston-based company that launched in 2012. Since then, Klaviyo has lured more than 6,000 Mailchimp customers away with its relentless focus on e-commerce. Klaviyo even claims that customers who have made the switch have seen an average increase of 46% in total store revenue.

Indeed, Klaviyo comes with great out-of-the box tools and features for e-commerce: Unique coupon codes, back-in-stock automations, advanced pop-ups, and multivariate testing. Plus, Klaviyo’s segmentation engine allows you to use advanced conditions like products purchased within specific time frames, or send abandoned cart emails segmented by cart value.

Klaviyo’s biggest appeal, from our perspective, is that it delivers everything you want and nothing more.

Best for: E-commerce businesses that want to use email for a single purpose: to drive direct sales on their website.

Why we love it:

  • Clear focus on e-commerce
  • Great advanced segmentation features
  • Robust automation flow capabilities

Drawbacks:

  • More expensive than Mailchimp
  • Limited set of integrations
  • Can’t send order notifications

The CRM Blend: Hubspot

If your business is focused on lead generation, or if lead generation is a crucial element of your business, you will likely need a full-fledged customer relationship management (CRM) system. These systems are built to organize, track, and manage a company’s interactions with current and potential customers, and function as a command center for all lead gen efforts.

When paired with its marketing and sales software, HubSpots’s CRM offers powerful lead scoring tools and email nurturing offerings, along with landing pages, pop-ups, email tracking, and robust analytics. Though the CRM is free, the “Marketing Hub” software can become expensive, with multiple tiers and bundles—and to run a comprehensive lead gen program, you’ll need both.

Because HubSpot is a more advanced platform across the board, it will require more expertise to configure its systems properly. Out-of-the box design templates are limited, so you’ll need a digital designer or developer to create your email and landing page templates. Workflows, lead flows, and forms require advanced setup, to make sure information is flowing to all of the right places. Overall, it’s a bigger investment. But if leveraged effectively, a platform like Hubspot can be a game-changer for your business.

Best for: Lead generation businesses that need to set up complicated workflows tailored to multiple customer personas and lead types.

Why we love it:

  • Offers a centralized “command center” for inbound marketing efforts
  • Seamlessly marries marketing and sales efforts
  • Powerful design tools for emails and landing pages
  • Best-in-class insights and analytics

Drawbacks:

  • Requires additional resources in management and design
  • Can become expensive with multiple users
  • A little too powerful for some lead gen operations

So...where to go from here?

In conclusion, as always, the best platform for you depends on both your needs and your goals. So start by thinking those through, and making sure you have a good sense of your requirements. Once you’ve got that in place, if you need an extra set of eyes, we’re happy to work with you to make the best selection for your business.

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