We all know by now how important it is to use email marketing for your small handmade business. Email is a powerful way to connect with your audience and allows you more ownership and flexibility than social media. If you haven’t started your email subscriber list, consider doing it asap.
Of course, the very first step will be selecting a service to use to collect and manage your email subscribers and the emails you’ll be sending them.
A very popular (and awesome option) is MailChimp. It is commonly suggested that newer business owners use MailChimp. It has been a top common suggestion for many years.
This makes sense because MailChimp does have some attractive qualities. They have a solid free starter plan, strong brand recognition and trust and there is no shortage of community support since many people use it! All generally good things. In my 3ish years of using it though, I found it just wasn’t everything I wanted.
MailChimp is a good option! Don’t get me wrong, it absolutely IS one of the great options. What I want to do is illuminate the OTHER good options that don’t get nearly as much recognition.
If you haven’t used an email service in the past, I would suggest looking for these features that are on my personal shortlist of must-have functionality:
- Segmentation / audience differentiators
- Templates (pre-made and ability to create and save custom)
- A/B testing (for subject lines specifically)
There is so much to consider individually when selecting a service provider for your email marketing. I encourage you to look at a few options before deciding and don’t be afraid to reach out to these services with questions. Many are accessible via email, live support or Twitter. No question is still here. You really want to choose wisely, with growth in mind, from the beginning! (Because switching down the line is annoying at best.)
Great MailChimp Alternatives for Email Service Providers
I used Get Response for years after leaving MailChimp. I loved that get response was so visual. That is something I felt was lacking in MailChimp that would suit my personal preferences better. Get Response availed more functions and features to me as well and allowed me more flexibility in my email marketing. A feature of MailChimp I found a lot of value in is their live chat support. Live chat support is something I look for in all the tools I am considering. It’s been a couple of years since I moved on from Get Response, and they have added a lot of new features since then. One I particularly like is Chats, which does exactly what it sounds like and gives you a chat box on your website so people can ask questions directly without having to email. Pretty awesome! You can also build custom landing pages with GR.
The only reason I left Get Response was because I was in a program that taught a process using a different service. Rather than find work arounds for making GR work within the system I was learning, I opted to save time by switching services. If it weren’t for that, I would still be using Get Response. Get Response checks all my boxes.
For the most part, switching services is ‘easy’ but you lose a lot of data and such in the transition, so it’s better to pick one you think you’ll stick with for a while and can grow with. For a product-based business, Get Response is a great professional option that you can grow with.
ActiveCampaign is what I currently use and I love it as much as I suppose one could love such a thing. It has so much more functionality than I think the average user needs, though. If you are interested in sending a lot of precisely segmented emails to your audience or if you have a very mixed audience (multiple ideal customers, LOTS of products, are getting VERY into blogging, etc) this might be a good option but be prepared to spend a lot of time setting it up for maximizing those opportunities. I would not suggest this to someone who wants to send weekly emails and occasionally do one or two “special” feature type things. Active Campaign is so powerful it might be too overwhelming and therefore create more barriers instead of solving problems. Again though, if you are looking for a lot of bells and whistles, this would be my suggestion. Worth checking out if you see yourself more as a content creator.
MailerLite is a popular alternative to MailChimp. Their free plan includes up to 1000 contacts and from there the rates increase at a very reasonable pace. I was browsing their list of features and my heart was literally palpitating. So many good things are happening here. MailerLite checks all the boxes for the short list of must haves that I mentioned earlier. They also have an extensive list of integrations including with Zapier which creates a lot of opportunities. I noticed you can also request a demo which is entirely helpful to have if you are just starting out. That kind of foundational support goes a long way, particularly if you are new to email marketing or using a service.
I haven’t used Flodesk myself but many of our Council Members have and I’ve received enough emails created using Flodesk to feel confident suggesting it’s worth looking into. Even some of the very established businesses I get emails from which have deep and intricate email campaigns are using it now. Flodesk was built with small business in mind and is a woman run company. They place a big emphasis on aesthetic design and with them you can rest assured your emails will always look beautiful. If you are looking for something without a ton of bells and whistles and on the more affordable end of the spectrum, definitely check them out.
They are still pretty new so features and functions are developing all the time which is fantastic. A lot of updates have been made recently including a Zapier integration and improvements to analytics.
Their plan is currently a flat rate of $38 per month and there is an annual option as well. This alone is incredibly valuable and makes them worth a look. You will NOT be charged more as your list grows which is common practice with other services. Flodesk is offering unlimited contacts and email sends forever for the flat rate. Pretty wild! If that isn’t enough, you can get started with a 30-day free trial.
It all starts with picking an email service provider.
Email marketing is an incredibly valuable tool in your business. But it all starts with choosing a service!
I hope you now know that MailChimp is a great option but there are other great options, too! I truly encourage you to begin collecting email contacts and sending campaigns to those contacts as soon as possible.
We cover email marketing quite a bit in The Council and have several lessons in our Content Library to help make it stress-free and create consistency in your email marketing. At the end of the year we will also be hosting an email marketing expert as our fourth quarter Council Correspondent! If you are looking to learn more about email marketing (and other incredible marketing types) you would LOVE The Council. Get the details here.