Business Choice Awards 2017: Email Marketing Services

By Matthew D. Sarrel Features PCmag

Email campaigns are must-have tools in the business direct marketing arsenal. Clear, well-designed email marketing can lead to major sales growth. Done wrong, it clogs customer inboxes with spam until the mere mention of your brand causes fits of rage.

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The key to email marketing success is to build campaigns around compelling, useful, and timely content that provides value to the recipient in order to build loyalty, trust, and brand awareness.

Email marketing services help businesses develop and field direct email campaigns, track open and click-through rates, and maintain subscriber lists. Any and every business—toy stores, art galleries, restaurants, doctors' offices, e-commerce sites, streaming video services, and anything else you can think of—can use these powerful yet easy-to-use services to enhance relationships with existing customers and attract new ones quickly and inexpensively.

At PCMag, we believe our readers benefit from sharing their knowledge to help others make the best technology choices. That's where the Business Choice Awards come in.

For more than 25 years, we have been augmenting our hands-on, labs-based product reviews with our Readers' Choice Awards, where PCMag readers rate the products and services they use most. These awards are an extension of PCMag's Readers' Choice Awards, with feedback about the hardware, software, and services our readers deploy, administer, maintain, and use in a business environment.

Our survey asked respondents to rate their overall satisfaction, reliability, and tech support experience with the email marketing solution they use, plus the likelihood they would recommend it to others. If you select, deploy, or administer the products in our Business Choice Awards, or if you advise or manage people in these roles, then you know how critical it is to choose the right products.

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You can be part of Business Choice! Sign up for the Readers' Choice Survey mailing list to receive invitations in the future.

Looking for an expert opinion on email marketing services? Check out PCMag's roundup of the Best Email Marketing Software.

Email Marketing Services

In this year's Business Choice Awards for Best Email Marketing Solution, we had 139 companies (a huge increase from last year's 25) nominated, but only seven received enough votes to be considered for top honors. Aweber, last year's winner, didn't even make the cut, nor did Vertical Response, another service new to last year's results.

This year, we welcome an old friend back to the winner's circle, Mailchimp, which returns with top scores in overall satisfaction, likelihood to recommend, and NetPromoter Score. Mailchimp had the second highest score in reliability and the third lowest percentage of respondents requiring technical support. It last won the top spot here in 2015.

Mailchimp inspires us not to monkey with success with a 7.5 in overall satisfaction, up from last year's fourth place 7.1 but down from 2015's winning 7.7. The email marketing provider fell just short on reliability, scoring a 7.9 compared to Constant Contact's 8.0. But don't go bananas: MailChimp dominated likelihood to recommend with a 7.6 (Constant Contact was second with a 7.5). Mailchimp's middle-of-the-road 9 percent requiring tech support is consistent with previous years.

Climbing higher up the tree of customer experience for a better vantage point, we look at the critical question "How likely are you to recommend your email marketing solution to a colleague" and the accompanying NetPromoter Score (NPS). Here, Mailchimp earned only an 8 percent. In fact, no company had a fantastic score in either category. Can it be that email marketing services are seen as necessary evils? When asked about recommending email marketing services to colleagues, PCMag readers responded with a powerful "meh."

At the bottom of the pile is Lyris (recently acquired by Aurea) at 5.8, which earned a -61 percent NPS. On the surface, this seems bad, but it is consistent with 2016 and 2015 where the entire group achieved tepid scores and Lyris brought up the rear. The only exception was Aweber's 71 percent last year, but it's not even a finalist this year, so apparently not enough customers recommended Aweber to colleagues.

Tech support is another interesting category. Relatively low percentages of readers reported needing tech support. Lyris actually has the lowest percentage requiring tech support at zero percent. Our winner, Mailchimp, also enjoys a low 9 percent, while Constant Contact and iContact bring up the rear at over 20 percent—that's one in five users. So few survey takers required tech support that we did not have a statistically significant number of responses to even rate tech support for satisfaction. The good news is that while our readers don't like their email marketing solutions enough to recommend them, at least they're easy to use.

See all of our survey results for Business Choice 2017: Email Marketing Services.

WINNERS: EMAIL MARKETING SERVICES

Mailchimp
Maybe the biggest name in email marketing—it certainly is used by the majority of our survey respondents—Mailchimp also enjoys the highest ratings this year, sealing the deal as the top way to get the message out to your customers.

Methodology

We email survey invitations to PCMag.com community members, specifically subscribers to our Readers' Choice Survey mailing list. The surveys are hosted by SurveyMonkey, which also performs our data collection. This survey was in the field from April 3, 2017 to April 24, 2017.

Respondents were asked to rate their email marketing tools using multiple questions about their overall satisfaction with the solution, as well as experiences with technical support within the past 12 months.

Because the goal of the survey is to understand how the email marketing solutions compare to one another and not how one respondent's experience compares to another's, we use the average of the email marketing solutions' rating, not the average of every respondent's rating. In all cases, the overall ratings are not based on averages of other scores in the table; they are based on answers to the question, "Overall, how satisfied are you with your email marketing service?"

Scores not represented as a percentage are on a scale of 0 to 10 where 10 is the best.

Net Promoter Scores are based on the concept introduced by Fred Reichheld in his 2006 bestseller, The Ultimate Question, that no other question can better define the loyalty of a company's customers than "how likely is it that you would recommend this company to a friend or colleague?" This measure of brand loyalty is calculated by taking the percent of respondents who answered 9 or 10 (promoters) and subtracting the percent who answered 0 through 6 (detractors). (For more, read PCMag's Top Consumer Recommended Companies for 2016.)

If you would like to participate in PCMag's monthly Readers' Choice surveys and to be eligible for our monthly sweepstakes promotion, please sign up today.

This article originally appeared on PCMag.com.