Within the strategy of business communication, email marketing is taking an increasingly important role. In a competitive environment, all our communications must help to promote our brand image. In this post I compare four of my favourite free services to design and send email newsletters: Smore, Flashissue, CakeMail and MailChimp.
Make your choice.
With Smore we can create different types of flyers or newsletters, all with the same structure, with different colors, backgrounds and fonts. The flyer structure consists of a title and different types of fields: text, link, video, audio, image, event, etc.
The little variety of templates doesn’t allow us to adapt the newsletter to all our requirements. For example, it is not possible to replace the header title for a banner. However, these limitations simplify the design. It’s easy and intuitive, so anyone can get familiar with it in a very short time.
Besides the simplicity, the best of Smore are its dynamic, attractive and modern templates. The worst thing is that the whole newsletter is an image. This can be a big problem if the email client of our contacts doesn’t support images.
With Smore it is not possible to create mailing lists, so it is necessary to include the emails every time we send a newsletter. However, this doesn’t have to be a problem. The most practical thing is to send the newsletter to our own email address and, once received, to resend it to our contacts.
Flashissue allows us to create, almost automatically, a newsletter based on the posts of our blog or website. Indicating the address of our blog, we can “import” the articles. We just have to drag into the template the items we want to highlight.
Flashissue has a single template with a structure consisting in a title, text and images. Despite this limitation, it is still a very valid option.
In comparison with the two previous email marketing services, CakeMail represents a higher level of sophistication because it has an advanced newsletter editor and a subscriber’s list manager.
Regarding the newsletter editor, the best of CakeMail is the possibility to include, in addition to text and images, QR codes, Google maps and an attractive section for Twitter and Facebook.
With CakeMail we can create contact lists to manage the recipients of our campaigns and, within these lists, our contacts can be segmented in groups based on different criteria.
Our campaigns can be sent immediately or be scheduled for later. Once sent, we are able to analyze the response to our campaigns on the basis of the open, click or bounce rate.
Finally, CakeMail supports different languages and the same account can be used by different users.
MailChimp is the best known email marketing service and it is free up to a limit of 2,000 subscribers and 12,000 monthly emails.
It includes four categories of campaigns: regular, plain-text, RSS Driven and A/B Split. The latter is not free right now.
With the RSS Driven campaigns we can create, automatically, programmable newsletters based on our blog. However, if we don’t need contact lists and we prefer to select ourselves what items to include, Flashissue is better.
Among the regular campaigns, we have basic or predesigned templates and the new Drag & Drop Editor. In my opinion, if we want to create a stylish newsletter without spending a lot of time to edit the template, the best option is the Drag & Drop Editor which, actually, resembles the CakeMail editor, although the design is somewhat less sophisticated.
The MailChimp’s contact list manager is more advanced than the CakeMail one, allowing a greater degree of segmentation of the recipients. If this is an important aspect to us, MailChimp is the best option.
Besides, it includes a subscription form editor, among others.
Finally, the least attractive feature of MailChimp is that, in its free version, all our campaigns are accompanied with the “made with MailChimp”.