I get a lot of new enquiries this month, as the UK’s new tax year starts and companies assess their marketing budgets. One of the key requests I get is a CRM or email marketing platform swap, where a business wants to migrate from (for example) Hubspot to Klaviyo. Either they have outgrown their current provider, they needed a new feature offered by the new platform or they have decided they want to downgrade and simplify their marketing.
There’s no right or wrong answer. And (although I have my preferences), there’s no right or wrong email platform, either. What I can tell you is that each marketing platform is geared towards a slightly different niche and picking the right provider can mean the difference between a smooth-flowing email system or giving up in disarray after the summer holidays.
The best system for bootstrapping start-ups : Mailchimp
Cost: Free with Mailchimp branding for first 2,000 contacts. From £34 for 2,500 contacts.
Basic package includes: Marketing Emails, CRM system, Website, Forms & Landing Pages.
If you are just starting out and feeling overwhelmed by the idea of creating an online presence, Mailchimp removes the excuses. It’s possible to set up your form, sign-up incentive and email list in an afternoon and start promoting the link everywhere. The only thing you need is something to offer and somewhere to offer it.
Once you get more familiar with The Chimp, you realise it offers some pretty nifty features, too. There’s a subject-line helper that analyzes what you write; a creative assistant to help you with your graphics and you can also post your campaigns to Facebook and Instagram. If you do decide to switch to a paid account, you get even more value: email scheduling, A/B testing and behavioural targeting (that’s when you get Mailchimp to do something, based on your audience’s actions).
Best features: Their homepage dashboard is easy to understand and their segmentation is quick to set up. If you are selling any kind of product or service, check out their Shoppable landing pages. You can hook up both Stripe and Calendly to MailChimp, along with a multitude of other software.
Be aware of: Their forms set-up is counter-intuitive and frankly horrible. You also need to be aware that Mailchimp charges on a per-entry basis, so if you have duplicate contacts across more than one list, you will be charged twice for them, regardless of when you email them. I strongly suggest sticking to one list and archiving everyone who unsubscribes or can’t be contacted. Finally, you don’t get helpdesk support from Mailchimp until you have a paid plan in place (to be fair, their help hub will answer most questions).
Who should avoid it? Anyone with a Shopify account (they are one of the few who don’t directly integrate after a very public breakup between the platforms). I don’t recommend Mailchimp if you have a strong customer service component either; there are better CRM platforms out there for you.
The best for teams with a large customer-service desk: Hubspot
Cost: Free with Hubspot branding for up to 1,000 contacts. From £38 per month for 1,000+
Basic Package includes: The highlights are Contact Management, Website Activity, Gmail & Outlook Integration, Shared Dashboards, Email Marketing & Templates and Landing Pages.
Hubspot has made it’s reputation on being one of the most supportive providers around. You get a Hubspot Academy to teach you the system, instant chat support and step-by-step guides on getting the most out of your marketing. It’s one of the best-looking systems out there with an intuitive interface for filtering, arranging and using your data across your sales and marketing teams.
Best features: The end-to-end integration. Hubspot allows you to track and document everything, both in and out of your business. You can see at a glance how marketing has contributed to the pipeline, who you should exclude (or include) in promotions and what’s happening on your paid ad campaigns. It also has insane personalisation – you can switch sections of your emails and landing pages, depending criteria you set for the dynamic content.
Finally, it’s easy for your sales and services team to check and follow up on all enquiries, with outstanding cases or responses automatically flagged and filtered.
Be aware of: There can be too much of a good thing. Hubspot’s pricing goes up rapidly as you add more modules to your system and more people to your database. You also need to place a limit on the amount of marketing personalisation you choose to do, so it does not become unwieldy. I have set up a 20+ segments for a client in hubspot before and personalised each chain.
Who should avoid it? Start-ups, microteams and anyone with a lean business structure (e.g. a simple service offering or digital delivery).
The best for Shopify: Klaviyo
Cost: Free for 250 contacts/500 sends. From $30 per 1,000 contacts.
Basic package includes: Everything. Klaviyo runs it’s pricing structure on the size of your database. Email Marketing, SMS, Social Integration & Forms.
Klaviyo was designed with just one goal in mind: more online sales. It has a one-click integration with Shopify and allows you to automate both your SMS and email messages to give your audience a great experience. It’s reports are some of the best in the business.
Best features: Reports and segmentation – without a doubt. You can see at a glance which campaigns are working for you and which marketing sources are making the most revenue. Klaviyo links up to everything, including Facebook and Instagram. It’s marketing automation is also very slick, with predictive analytics to help you forecast your revenue.
Be aware of: It’s data set-up is slightly different to other providers, so if you are migrating from another platform, take your time to understand how it works and how you select and manage your custom fields. Klaviyo does not offer landing pages or polls. It does integrate with other providers, so you could hook it up to Zoho (for example), but you don’t get the same seamless experience across your various teams as Hubspot.
Who should avoid it? Anyone with a more complex sales process or with a lot of customer churn. Klaviyo’s prices ramp up quite quickly and you need to stay on top of your database numbers.
The best for list growth: Privy
Cost: Free for 100 contacts. From $30 for a paid email plan with 1,000 contacts.
Basic package includes: Email Marketing, SMS, Templates, Interactive pop-ups & quizzes
I was introduced to Privvy via one of my customers who wanted an easy way to run competitions on her website. I looked over the system and I was impressed with their features. We’ve been using it for 6 months now and she’s getting double industry average on her conversion rates.
Best features: Through website and e-shop integration (including Shopify). I can drag and drop product listing directly into the email and the reports show you in real-time what your ROI is. Privy also offers pop-up capability (for example, if someone is about to abandon your sales page) and their ‘Spin to Win’ wheel feature is almost irresistible if you can offer digital coupons to your customers. The best bit is it that you can A/B test your forms and triggers inside Privy, allowing you to continuous improve.
Be aware of: Privy is a ‘pure’ email marketing and SMS platform, focused on list growth and sales. It does not offer things like a landing page or , beyond what you need to sign up to the list or the competition. It can feel a little limited if your business is growing and you need a better view of your database.
Who should avoid it? Anyone without a website.
The best for simplicity: Campaign Monitor
Cost: You can set up an account for free, but you can’t send anything without a paid plan. From $29 per 1,000 contacts.
Basic package includes: Templates, Image Gallery, Segmentation, Sign-up Forms, Segmentation, World-View Reporting and Dynamic Content.
It’s easy to overlook older providers in favour of their young, lean competitors, but I want to give a shoutout to Campaign Monitor for making their entire system so easy to learn. I have taught a copywriter how to segment a list and run a campaign in fifteen minutes on this platform. Their no-code templates are quick to clone and use whilst their transaction emails give you the option of adding people to a specific list when they purchase your product (with permission, of course).
Best features: Segmentation is easy and you can attach multiple segments to an email campaign. What is more; Campaign Monitor will de-dupe your chosen audience to ensure if someone appears in more than one segment, they will still only get one email. On top of that, you can personlise each section of the email and even choose which slices of your audience get which email, as they go through your email journey. I’m also impressed with their send optimization – you can set it so everyone receives your email at, say 11am, in their own specific time zone.
Be aware of: Campaign Monitor expect you to show you have permission to email everyone, if you are migrating your database over – and you can contacted them within the last 12 months. Their list management tools are also basic; you have to import or export your database and do bulk updates in Excel.
Who should avoid it: Anyone looking for fast ROI reporting or CRM data management.
Have I overlooked your favourite email marketing system? Drop me a line in the comment box, below.