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Review Process

The ratings for the 5 main comparison categories are each based on several factors. Each individual factor was assessed and given a quantitative score. Individual scores were weighted and averaged to obtain a final main category rating for our email marketing software reviews. The factors used to rate each category are as follows:

Email Creation

  • Email templates (Quantity)
    • Total number of templates and number of specific industry categories (The number of templates for each provider we've reviewed range from 70 to 500+)
  • Email templates (Quality)
    • Template organization/layout
    • Ability to add multiple columns
    • Includes a preview screen before the email is sent
  • Email Editor (Ease of Use)
    • Whether the email marketing software provides a WYSIWYG editor
    • Ease of creating HTML and plain-text emails
    • Ability to edit/replace images in the template
    • Whether you can "drag and drop" images or content blocks
    • The availability of editing tools
  • Email Editor (Flexibility)
    • Ability to easily insert/manipulate HTML code, images and general email content
    • Whether you can edit/replace existing template images
  • Unique Features
    • Standout and/or extra features (e.g. Constant Contact's "Email Archive" add-on that hosts your email campaigns online for public viewing, upgrades for more image hosting space, etc.)
  • Image Hosting
    • How much space you are allotted for images you can use in your email newsletters (ranged from 500kb to unlimited)
  • Brand Removal
    • Ability to remove email marketing provider's logo from emails, and whether this is free or costs extra

Contact Management

  • Adding Contacts
    • Ability to import contacts from and export contacts to different file types (XLS, CSV, TXT, email clients, MS Outlook)
    • Ability to cut and paste multiple contacts directly into the system
    • Offers a double opt-in
    • Sends you a list of email addresses that have subscribed to your contact list
  • List cleanup
    • Method (automatic v. manual) of handling bounces, unsubscribes, duplicates, do-not-sends, etc.
  • List segmentation
    • Ease of creating different contact lists (automatic v. manual)
  • Automation
    • Allows you to set up emails that will automatically deliver when the contacts join the mailing list
  • Handling Unsubscribes
    • Automatic insertion of unsubscribe button on emails
    • Automatic removal from mailing list
    • Sends you a list of email addresses that have unsubscribed from your contact list
    • Allows unsubscribers to provide feedback as to why they unsubscribed

Email Deliverability

  • Compatibility with all email servers
    • The rate at which sent messages were successfully delivered in our test to inboxes, as opposed to spam/junk boxes
  • Spam checking
    • Availability of a spam checker that scans for triggers that could get your email marked as spam
    • Information provided about the spam filters that are used
    • Whether an actual person reads through the email campaign to check that it isn't spam before being sent

Analyzing Reports

  • Depth of statistics
    • Standard stats: opens, bounces, click rate, forwards, open dates, unsubcribes, spam reports
    • Extra stats: forwarded opens, click dates, opens by location, click performance by URL, email domain performance, link performance, top performing lists, campaign performance average, comparison of your current campaign with any of your other campaigns, comparison of your campaign with other top performing campaigns in your industry
  • Appearance of reports
    • Numerical stats and graphical stats, campaign history, and ease of comparing reports
  • Exporting reports
    • Easily export to different formats (XLS, CSV, TXT) or email reports
  • A/B testing campaigns and reports
    • Ability to test two different subject lines within one email marketing campaign and view reports on which one works better
    • (Note: This is an uncommon feature. The rating was awarded as bonus points rather than as a penalty.)
  • Report Accuracy
    • Whether reports given by the email marketing service accurately reflect the user's actions
  • Integration with Google Analytics
    • Ability to integrate email marketing tools with Google Analytics tool and view detailed, integrated reports
    • (Note: This is an uncommon feature. The rating was awarded as bonus points rather than as a penalty.)

Customer Support

  • Phone support
    • Wait/hold time
    • Helpfulness of support and English fluency
  • Email support
    • Response wait time
    • Helpfulness of support
  • Online Knowledgebase
    • Availability and thoroughness of FAQ, tutorials and help articles
  • Live chat support
    • Response wait time
    • Helpfulness of support
  • Availability
    • Support during business hours, nights and/or weekends (Time zone factors into availability; i.e. 9 a.m. - 5 p.m. EST, being 6 a.m. - 2 p.m. PST may not be practical for the majority of users.)

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