Monday, April 21, 2008

Hosted Email Service Price Comparison: Part 1

Hosted marketing email services are almost a commodity. Much like web hosting, email outsourcing is pretty much a no-brainer for all but the highest volume mail senders; email providers have already made the investments in deliverability, CAN-SPAM compliance, HTML tools and reporting, so there's no reason to build your own. And also similar to web hosting providers, there are few significant functional differences to separate one from another, so the choice largely comes down to personal preference, and—as with all commodities—price.

Email hosting services aren't quite a commodity, as there are still differences in functionality and service offerings. Virtually all of them, however, offer at least the same basic set of capabilities, including list management, tools for creating HTML and plain text emails, scheduling and reporting.

This chart compares current pricing levels for eight popular hosted marketing email platforms (click to enlarge):

So, which platform offers the best deal? That depends.

Low-volume senders: if you're sending fewer than 5,000 email messages per month, Express Email Marketing from GoDaddy offers the best price. Benchmark Email is a close second.

High-volume senders: above 5,000 emails per month, StreamSend clearly provides the most attractive pricing. Constant Contact, MailGenie and Campaigner (formerly Got) are all priced very similarly, at about 50% higher than StreamSend.

Irregular senders: Most hosted platforms are priced on a monthly basis and designed for marketers who send newsletters or promotions on a regular schedule. But if you only send out occasional messages—such as for new product announcements or special promotions—VerticalResponse may be the best choice. They charge by the email, with no monthly fee. You'll pay a bit more per email, but you're never charged for capacity you aren't using. VerticalResponse CEO Janine Popick also writes an excellent blog on email marketing best practices.

Again, price isn't the only factor when selecting a hosted email platform. While most services offer the same basic feature set, providers vary in terms of the number and quality of pre-built HTML templates offered, CRM integration options, usability and other factors. Many offer a free test drive so you can check them out before making a commitment. The bottom line is that with hosted email services, as with so many other things, it pays to shop around.


Contact Tom Pick: tomATwebmarketcentralDOTcom


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