Let's face it, Shopify merchants create email campaigns so often, you can probably do it with your eyes closed. But the email marketing landscape has changed dramatically in the last few years and you'll probably be pleasantly surprised by how high the bar has risen in the market. Read on for our definitive list of recommended platforms.
What are the differences between each email marketing platform?
When it comes to the basics – very little. They’ve all got decent email design features, but each platform will vary on elements like out-of-the-box templates or top-end analytics. That’s why we're separating these into three different categories – the first being closely related to Mailchimp, also known as traditional email platforms. We'll also be exploring the more advanced platforms, as well as data-driven platforms. So whether you're looking for a quick and simple email management tool or something with an array of tracking analytics and campaign optimisation features, this article has the solution.
What features do you need to look for in an email marketing platform?
Establishing what your brand needs to get out of an email marketing platform is crucial. Many marketing SaaS platforms abound in 2020 – so it's better to lay your ideal system out and then begin searching for the software that fits your requirements.
Here are a few items you might need to add to your checklist:
- Drag-n-drop email editor
- A/B Testing
- Social listening
- Easy integration
- Automation – for example in: user onboarding, abandoned carts and churn reduction
- Analytics – and your team's ability to interpret the data
- Personalisation –the level achieved varies across providers
Another good question is which features on these platforms would benefit an eCommerce merchant. And like all great answers, it comes with a three-pronged approach:
- Email editor – do you need it to be easy-to-use? Have lots of features? Discount codes? Merge tags?
- Tracking – what level of results and analytics do you need?
- Activation – personalisation features, A/B testing, advanced autoresponders.
So now that you’ve an idea what you’re looking for, let’s explore your options!
What email platforms are available for Shopify merchants in 2020?
Basic Platform: Shopify Email
You might not have been aware of this, but Shopify own email management platform is currently in beta. And what would you know they’ve named it Shopify Email! We've recently created an article exclusively taking you through all the useful features of this suite.
And it does provide a good deal of analytics – the key is that there's virtually no unbarring process. This is perfect for Shopify owners who have too much on their plate than to be dealing with a full dashboard of graphs and reports where all you want to know is whether or not the email was opened and your customers followed the link.
If you're still in the "budding" stage of your business, starting with this is a great idea. You'll get used to email marketing with being bombarded with terminology and complex email sequencing of the email workhorses we'll be getting into below.
Pricing: included in your monthly Shopify subscription
Best for: closest alternative to Mailchimp, easiest to use
Closest Alternative: MailChimp
Mid-tier platform: Omnisend
Omnisend is another all-in-one ecommerce marketing automation platform. It packs the same analytical punch as Klaviyo, but has an edge on its competitors with deeper integrations with eCommerce platforms. Here, you’ve got an email marketing service that integrates with many common apps that Shopify merchants use like Stamped, ReCharge, Smile, Yotpo and Gorgias.
This is a popular choice among our clients as they really feel they can get personalised messages out to their customers because they’re marketing tools work in tandem to achieve optimal results.
The email templates make designing beautiful newsletters a more streamlined process as does the option to grow your subscriber list using a wide variety of signup forms. Omnisend offers "Order Confirmation" and "Shipping Confirmation" emails which are classified as transactional emails – these are usually only available within Shopify. With this, you get the benefit of more customisable emails than in Shopify and you can add extra features to the email.
Also, don’t let the minimalist aesthetic of the dashboard fool you – Omnisend have cleverly created a really use-friendly platform that doesn’t sacrifice on advanced analytics and reports.
Pricing: Check it out here. Based on the size of your email list, and the features you need. Starting with a free tier for basic email campaigns and reporting.
Best for: seamless and intuitive email management platform
Closest alternative: Drip
Advanced Platform: Klaviyo
We chose Klaviyo as a great alternative because of its focus on eCommerce. We love that you can use criteria such as browsing behaviour, acquisition source, purchase amount and frequency to segment your customers.
And it's not just for email either, Klaviyo allows you to connect with customers using the same personalisation capabilities across your brand channels – including email, web, in-app and social. The platform integrates with Facebook apps for social listening that helps keep you in tune with the needs of your customers.
You've also got the standard features that come with any advanced platform: A/B testing tools, customer segmentation, and the responsive drag and drop email creator.
This review from Capterra beautifully sums up how Klaviyo integrates to a Shopify store:
"Klaviyo is like Mailchimp for ecommerce. On Steroids."
Pricing: check out here, it's based on the size of your email list, free for the first 250 contacts
Best for: deep segmentation and superior reports (great insights on what drove a purchase)
Closest Alternative: ConvertKit
Advanced platform: Jilt
Again, here's another email platform specifically tailored for ecommerce stores. So what sets Jilt apart?
It's automation features for one. The platform allows you to automate and recycle content for discount creation, product recommendations, and sending email drip series around your customer journey.
The interface here is very smooth and intuitive. When creating newsletter emails, for instance, it's easy to pop in photos, button, tiles or even your newest collection.
At the same time, it's a powerful piece of kit. Combine multiple rules to group your email recipients into hyper-targeted segments based on real-time order information.
Like Omnisend, they also offer transactional emails. They've also got a whole section working to recover abandoned carts and get people all the way through your sales funnel.
Jilt breaks down analytics into ecommerce, general performance and campaign performance with lots of metrics and KPIs to give you a deep insight into the health of your email marketing strategy.
Pricing: check it out here, based on the size of the email list. Free for first 300 contacts, $29/month for up to 1,000 contacts,
Best for: small businesses on the rise
Closest alternative: Rejoiner
Data-driven platform: Hubspot
Data-driven platforms are generally for merchants who've used traditional platforms like MailChimp before, and they're ready to start getting serious about email marketing.
You've probably heard of this bad boy. Hubspot is massive – it's got a whole training academy teaching you how to master its applications which goes far, far beyond just email marketing. In my time in a content marketing agency, I was allocated an hour a week just to upskill on this platform – if Mailchimp is like driving an automatic car, Hubspot is like a spaceship. But, if you've got a quickly growing or firmly established ecommerce business, then Hubspot gives you a way to manage and further optimise your campaigns.
You can really personalise your emails, setting up rules and conditions. It's the closest you'll get to writing a personal email to each of your leads/prospects/customers.
Pricing: starts at $50 p/m, but as always depends on your business size and needs
Best for: large marketing teams and detailed workflows
Closest alternative: Salesforce
Data-driven platform: Zaius
Zaius' intentions are to create a platform that enables brands to communicate with their community – without it feeling like they're being scammed.
Zaius sets itself apart by combining:
- Customer Data Platform (CDP)
- Marketing Segmentation & Analytics
- Customer Activation Channels.
That's according to Zaius, but what does this actually mean?
Well, the platform is really built like a CRM that uses deep data science to sort through your customer data. This data is transformed into valuable customer intel which is fed into your campaigns to optimise your email marketing content.
The end result is having a really engaging, fine-tuned customer experience.
Like Klaviyo, the ability to get chatty with your audience across your brand channels is a personalised affair, and the system can be integrated with Facebook.
You'll definitely be needing to train your team in on this one, especially if they are used to Mailchimp, as there's so much more features on offer here.
Pricing: check out the packages here
Best for: building beautiful email campaigns
Closest alternative: Bronto
Data-driven platform: Emarsys
If you're looking for a platform to manage email newsletters, push notifications for mobile devices and SMS – then Emarsys is definitely worth a look at.
Whether it's wishing happy birthday, reminding customers when their wishlist is back in stock or campaigns to entice customers to check out their cart – Emarsys provides turnkey tactics. The capabilities you want are available through different packages, so we suggest doing your research before you finalise on one. You can hook Emarsys up to Facebook and add an engagement layer to your website, which makes it possible to take behaviours on your site and make triggers out of them. With Emarsys, your campaigns are always evolving to meet customers where they are.
Emarsys' Unified Customer Profiles give powerful insights into customer's actions and behaviours. You can see how much customers have spent when they open emails or click on ads all in one spot. Using this real-time data helps you to understand behaviours and patterns and switch up your strategy based on real-time data.
One thing you might find challenging in Emarsys' platform is that it limits the number of "data fields", you can have in a single account, and you'll need someone to learn the ropes of this platform as there's definitely a significant learning curve.
Pricing: check out here, pricing depends on the services you require
Best for: quick set up, customer insights
Closest alternative: Marketo
One thing that needs mentioning here is that an email marketing software application craves an informed user to work its magic. We've an entire section of our blog dedicated to optimising your email campaigns, so that they're targeted, personalised and driving you towards your store's goals. If you want a hand from the Shopify experts, we're terrible at contact sports, but we can put the ball in your court and help you become a serious player in your industry.