Email marketing is a cornerstone of many business outreach strategies, and it’s no different for photographers. Take a look at your inbox: all of the companies that contact you, whether for promotions, newsletters, or exclusive deals send their emails with the help of an Email Service Provider (ESP). With help from ESPs, it becomes easy to design custom mailers, send to large lists of contacts quickly, and get reports about how people are interacting with your outreach. ESPs are a useful tool for sending out mailers and newsletters to promote a photographer’s brand and reach out to clients. The question is: which one is best for you?
An Email Service Provider facilitates designing and sending email newsletters to larger subscriber bases — functions noticeably more difficult with a standard email account. Additionally, many ESPs give the option to create a button for your website, where visitors can easily subscribe to your emailers — on the flip side, they also add those convenient footers to the bottom of emails that make it easy to unsubscribe. There are a handful of capable ESPs available for use, all of which have their own unique features. Below you’ll find a list of the six most prominent ESPs, along with the pros and cons of each.
“I use Mailchimp for my emailers. The interface is super intuitive and user-friendly and the previews are very accurate to the way the final newsletter will appear. The drag and drop functionality of being able to create the email how I designed it in Photoshop is really great. It’s easy to add, edit, or archive subscribers on there and separate based on title or category, and if you have under 2000 subscribers (I keep mine pretty targeted), it’s free.” – Natasha Lee
MailChimp is one of the most widely used ESPs available. Their free version, as Natasha touched upon, allows for up to 2,000 contacts and 10,000 emails each month. They also offer paid options including the standard plan, which starts at $15/month for 500 contacts.
Regardless of which plan is purchased, MailChimp offers customizable templates with a user-friendly drag-and-drop interface. Even the free plan offers basic reports and “smart” recommendations to help figure out which campaigns work, and which don’t. (For advice on how to make a successful campaign, check out our expert advice article on emailer strategy). Also included in Mailchimp’s plans are reports for growth, engagement, revenue, and more.
Constant Contact offers two different email plans, starting at $20 and $45/month, respectively, when sending emailers to a list of 500 contacts or less. Both plans feature unlimited emails, e-commerce integration, Facebook, Instagram, and Google ads, and Tracking and Reporting. The benefits of the pricier plan include tools such as advanced e-commerce, customizable pop-up forms, surveys, and polls, among many other features. See the full list here.
A 60-day free trial is available for those looking to test the waters. Even if you decide during the free trial that this ESP is not for you, it’s no biggie — so long as it’s within the first 30 days. They guarantee a full refund to accounts that close within a month.
Vertical Response also offers a 60-day free trial to test out their platform. Core features available at every price point include unlimited emails, design templates, basic reports, and analytics.
With 500 contacts, plans start at $11/month, and for $16/month the service will include advanced reporting, delivery rate review, and subject line A/B testing – all of which help ensure that the emailers are working efficiently. The third and final option from Vertical Response costs $196/month, but this option also includes a dedicated account contact and access to a team of marketing experts who can create emails, newsletters, and social posts tailored to the user’s needs.
One of the newest entrants into the ESP market, Squarespace offers templates with customizable layouts, segmented email lists, integrated analytics, and automated send-outs to an unlimited number of subscribers, among other features. One of the things that separates Squarespace from a lot of the other ESPs out there is that even the most affordable plan includes all of their available features. The only difference from plan to plan is the number of campaigns and total emails that can be sent out each month.
Sticking with our hypothetical situation in which a monthly email is sent to a subscriber base of 500 email addresses, the Squarespace platform will run $5/month if billed annually or $7/month if billed monthly. The biggest restriction of this ESP is that it has to be connected to a Squarespace website. On the plus side, they can pull information directly from the corresponding site to ensure consistency and ease of use. On top of that, Squarespace’s ESP platform includes integrated analytics, list segmentation, and sender profiles for further humanization.
Plans on Emma start at $89/month with an annual contract. All of their plans require a year-long commitment and allow for up to 10,000 contacts. They are geared more toward small businesses than freelancers and individual creatives, and they provide a wealth of expert services such as custom design and success management separately from their email plans.
Each plan offers a drag and drop email editor, a template gallery, and a full suite of reports, analytics, customizations, and even HTML coding options. The Plus and HQ packages offer more flexibility for teams working on emailers, supporting multiple users, tiered account structuring, and sub-accounts. Interestingly enough, only the HQ account ($229/month) lets users remove the Emma branding from their emailers.
Shout-out to a local Pennsylvania company at the top of their field! AWeber gives more account options than any other ESP, with six different pricing options. Similar to Squarespace, all of the features are available with every account — the only difference being the number of subscribers that users can reach. Plans start at $19/month for users sending emails to 500 subscribers.
AWeber offers a 30-day free trial to get started, as well as monthly, quarterly, and annual billing options. They also offer customer support seven days a week in addition to unlimited emails, automation, segmentation, analytics, integrations, and everything else you’ve come to expect from an ESP by now.
Here are some more helpful resources:
If you’re looking for help creating an emailer or updating your current one, don’t hesitate to email or call us at 610 260 0200!