John, Thank you for this comprehensive review of some of the most popular and well-used services. Over the last decade I have tried many and appreciate your perspective on each. I currently use GetResponse (as I’d not been as active and appreciate the price-value relationship for 1,000+ contacts. I know they’ve grown considerably and now offer many of the features of which you speak of other services you prefer. I would appreciate your updated 2018 review. THANK YOU!
1) I would set up a MailChimp account, for free. It’s the industry leader, it’s the best performer (in my experience) and it’s the most pleasant to use from a UX/UI standpoint (which matters a lot to me). It’s also entirely free from the get-go, up until a couple thousand subscribers. It’s a “no-duh” piece of software. This let you easily segment your lists depending on sign-up locations, or sign up types. If you have email resources to push subscribers – like Bidsketch does with their proposal templates – you can easily segment the users that sign up there, apart from the users that sign up straight from your blog.
Now that you know the best practices for small business email marketing, you can work to build successful email marketing campaigns that help you connect with customers and leads while driving conversions. Start with a strategy for how you plan to engage your leads through email and develop content that is targeted to your ideal audience. Don’t forget to test different tactics and measure your success along the way. In the end, this will help you get more out of your marketing budget while maximizing engagement.
As I mentioned in step 1 I prefer using AWeber to manage my campaigns. I’ve used the AWeber platform for all of my list building for nearly a decade now and still love it. When it comes to opt-in templates you’ll find dozens to choose from there and every one of them is customizable to fit your site’s color theme. Plus the AWeber opt-in designer, as well as their other tools, are super easy and fast to use.
Great companies are always evolving, and your customers expect to experience change. What they don't expect (because too many companies haven't lived up to this end of the bargain) is to be told about those changes. That said, this email from ModCloth serves as a refreshing change of pace. If you're going to change the way you communicate with a lead or customer, give them clear, fair warning so, if they aren't on board, they can make the necessary adjustments to keep their inbox clean.
The most advanced email marketing services offer custom workflows where you can specify triggers based on actions (such as opening an email or making a purchase) or on inaction (such as ignoring emails). With these services, you can also set up a series of emails (such as tutorials) to be sent to segments of users, and you can pause or stop a campaign at any time. You can also move contacts into new segments once they have completed tutorials.

One of the downsides of email marketing is that you are only able to reach the contacts that you already have. However, you can use social media to help you grow your email marketing list so that you have an even larger audience for your holiday sales. One way to do this is to promote your opt-in offers across your social media profiles. Consider offering some sort of incentive for joining your email list, such as a special coupon code.
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