You may be exploring your very first email marketing tool, looking for your next step with autoresponders and email automation or just looking for something that offers better design of landing pages in line with your brand. Regardless of where you currently are with your email marketing strategy, I am going to share with you my favourite free email marketing tool, but also cover what you won’t get without paying and where I recommend you should go if you feel your business needs more.
Email is a great tool for communicating with your prospects and customers and can help nurture them through the buying cycle at a low cost. It’s also really easy to get up and running and here I’ll talk you through the best tools to get you started. There’s no reason to wait and you have everything to gain so let’s begin.
How to get started with email marketing
If you are just launching or at the early stages of your business then Hubspot’s free email marketing software is an excellent choice and I personally love it. The reason for this is that it is so simple to use and comes with a free CRM tool, allowing you the ease of managing your lists and email marketing in one place. This will save you so much time in exporting and importing data from one tool to another, and allows you to select your email recipients easily from within the same system. Even if you’re an email novice then you’ll be able to succeed with the simplicity of Hubspot.
If however, you are a bit more advanced with your email communication strategy and want to expand your capacity beyond 2000 emails a month, start looking at automating sequences, building landing pages or setting autoresponders then chances are you’ll need something more and here you’ll have a couple of choices:
- Upgrade to the paid version of Hubspot called Marketing Hub, and I’ll cover some of the pros and cons of this option, the main con being its price point.
- Look at GetResponse, my favourite alternative because it offers much better value for money than Hubspot Marketing Hub, being a fraction of the price. It is a complete marketing automation tool that enables you to really control your email marketing – features that we will explore in this article.
I’m going to spend a bit of time comparing the 2 tools and give you insights on what they can offer and why I like both of them for different purposes.
Hubspot free email marketing
I currently use the free Hubspot subscription for my own event coffee business, but also had a paid Hubspot subscription for a Global IT company that I worked with. As you would expect, the paid-for version of Hubspot (called the Marketing Hub) is where the functionalist starts to get exciting but it can get costly pretty quickly for a small business, and generally its price point is aimed at the larger end of SME upwards.
We’ll start by exploring Hubspot’s free email marketing tool. If you want to go ahead and play around then you can instantly sign up for a free Hubspot account.
Once you have signed up, you can import your contacts or companies and add to them as your lists grow. To compose your marketing emails, head over to the Marketing tab, where you will be able to click on ‘Email’. This should take you to the screen below.
Here you can create beautiful emails with Hubspot’s block editor which allows you to change colours, fonts, add images, videos and call to actions by dragging and dropping elements into place.
You can decide whether to send the finished email immediately or schedule it to send at a specific time in the future. Voila, you have a professional email ready to send to part, or all of your contact list. It really is that simple.
With their free subscription you can create a new email whenever you have something to say to your audience and send it to your whole database. The ability of Hubspot’s CRM to segment and filter your data means that you can send emails to specific contacts, for example customers only, allowing you to make them more relevant to your audience. You can also keep track on what emails you’ve sent and their engagement rates to give you an insight into which emails are gaining more traction and how to steer your content for maximum results.
So you can see how getting started really is that simple with Hubspot.
Why I like Hubspot
Hubspot is one of the leading marketing automation technologies on the market which means that it can give you pretty much everything you may need. Whilst some automation tools are aimed at SMEs or Enterprises only, Hubspot has a range of packages to suit most company sizes. In essence you never need to move away from Hubspot, so starting off with it from the very beginning can save you a lot of time and frustration down the line as your business grows.
As a platform it is continuously developed by a team of experts with a load of excellent resources (blogs, videos etc) dedicated to helping you use it to its full potential.
Hubspot is simple to use and easy to get started with, unlike Salesforce for example which requires consultancy (which adds extra set-up costs) and ongoing external support to configure it to work well in your environment. Salesforce isn’t as intuitive in my opinion with is GUI (graphical user interface), nor as user friendly.
With Hubspot’s free package you can get your marketing up and running immediately with a great CRM tool and integrated email marketing so you can start promoting your business with ease. This means you can start communicating with your prospects straight away, earning you more revenue. And better still you can continue to add functionality by upgrading to Hubspot Sales Professional or Marketing Hub as you expand.
Limitations of free email marketing with Hubspot
So the free Hubspot account is a really great tool to get you started, but if you’ve got an established list and you need more than its basic offering, for example you want to:
- Start to automate your email marketing
- Set up drip campaigns
- Create landing pages
- Analyse your conversion rates
- Start getting really clever with your marketing
- Send more than 2000 emails a month
then Hubspot’s free subscription likely isn’t for you. Hubspot’s free account does rely on you doing a lot of the marketing activity manually- for example, you need to manually send every email and select the audience to send it to each time. This is fine if you are offering weekly emails and can schedule your email activity to suit you but if you want to respond to events live as they happen then e.g. signups, downloads etc then you’re going to want to look at autoresponders and email automation.
If you feel that you need something more than the free Hubspot subscription then the Hubspot’s Marketing Hub is their natural upgrade path. However Hubspot Marketing Professional (there is a Starter, Professional and Enterprise option but Professional gives you the automation functionality) comes in at $655 a month. Sounds expensive right? I agree and personally feel that the smaller end of SMEs are not as well catered for once they outgrow the free subscription of Hubspot, which is why I suggest considering an alternative, cheaper option. It may be worth having a demo of Hubspot though to help you decide for yourself.
You’ll know when a free email marketing isn’t enough for your business as you’ll become aware of the limitations that I outline above. If you’re here then I recommend you look at GetResponse.
GetResponse’s most basic package starts at £12 a month for up to 1000 contacts. As a first step when paying for email marketing, this enables you to start building landing pages and offering autoresponders (which send response emails instantly when trigger conditions are met e.g. someone signs up for a webinar, newsletter).
Their Plus subscription begins at £49/month for a list size of 1000. This is where your marketing automation kicks in along with and webinar functionality for up to 100 attendees, making it great for small businesses to really propel their marketing forwards and start freeing up time with the use of automation strategies.
Costs with GetResponse generally scale upwards with the size of your list. An extra £7.50 a month for up to 2500 contacts (instead of 10000) is a reasonable addition in my eyes. If you compare these costs to the Hubspot Professional Marketing Hub prices then it is much more affordable for small businesses. There is also an integration between Hubspot and GetResponse which will automatically pull your contacts from Hubspot into GetResponse email campaigns, another reason why it is an excellent choice.
Like Hubspot, GetResponse contains simple to use drag and drop editors when designing emails and landing pages and so you don’t need to be a marketing expert to use it. It’s easy to use and has great functionality so unless you want something specific to your business then I’d recommend it.
Getting started with GetResponse
If you’re considering GetResponse then you may want to take in this video tour of the tool to explore its functionality.
GetResponse also offers a unique List Building Program which is a comprehensive email marketing course covering everything you need to know to grow your list by up to 10,000 subscribers in as little as 90 days. The course is created exclusively for GetResponse customers; both free trial and pro accounts that have less than 10,000 subscribers.
This is a great way to grow your list quickly and offers a real launchpad for your business. I recommend you sign up for a free 30 day trial to see if GetResponse can work for your business.
GetResponse in my eyes is as great price point for smaller businesses that are looking to start utilising email marketing to drive their sales funnel. It does have Enterprise functionality though, and is used by some big brands so you can take it with you as your business grows.
It can be hard to choose an email tool for your business. There are so many options on the market which is why I have whittled it down to my favourite 2 ones here. Ultimately it depends on your budget and where you are with your business in terms of what will work for you, but you should be able to make a real difference with one of the 2 tools discussed here.
The most important thing is for you to get going with email marketing because it’s an easy way to give your business a boost, grow your list, raise your awareness and convert more sales. Good Luck with it and do let me know how you get on, I’d love to hear your feedback.
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