Email isn't going away any time soon. Despite a rise in adoption of collaboration-based communication platforms such as Microsoft Teams or Slack, 86 percent of professionals prefer to use email for business purposes. How companies host, store, and distribute their email—that's the area that has undergone a massive transformation. Businesses are veering away from costly onsite email servers running products such as Microsoft Small Business Server and looking instead to the cloud with hosted email solutions. Businesses of all sizes have realized the wisdom of going with a scalable and secure hosted Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) solution with guaranteed uptime that breaks down pricing into flexible, per-user charges.
Free email services do cap the number of email messages you can send out per day. This is to cut down on spam messages sent with their services. The cap is generally around 100 messages per day, which is sufficient for keeping in touch with family or other personal email uses. But if you need an email service for business purposes, it may be better to purchase an email service that permits unlimited messages each day.
For example, if you set up an autoresponder with an interval of 24 and you receive an email from user@example.com at 8:00 AM on Monday, the autoresponder immediately responds to the message. If, however, user@example.com continues to email you throughout the day, the autoresponder does not send another response for 24 hours after the initial email (in this case, 8:00 AM on Tuesday). If user@example.com emails you again after the 24-hour interval expires, the system sends them an autoresponse.
While pricing varies by provider, the cost structure is usually the same. Most email marketing providers charge a monthly fee based on contact list size, with a range of packages and plans. With this structure, most providers allow you to send out an unlimited number of emails each month and have enough different plans to fit into the budget of any business. 
Automation is an emerging trend in the email marketing space. The ability to send pre-written emails to customers once they trigger a cue is a great marketing tool. For example, a clothing store might send a special discount coupon to a customer on their birthday. This email can be identical for each customer, aside from their name, and the email can be scheduled to send every time someone's birthday comes. Marketing automation allows you to reach customers without having to put together a unique email every time an event occurs. Depending on the size of your business, automated emails can save tremendous amounts of time.
Molly K. McLaughlin is a New York-based writer and editor with more than a decade of experience covering technology. She has tested and reviewed all sorts of software, mobile apps, and gadgets. Before launching her freelance business, she was an editor at PC Magazine, covering consumer electronics, followed by a stint at ConsumerSearch.com, a revie... See Full Bio
One of the first questions new (and even experienced) marketers often ask is: “What’s the best autoresponder service or email marketing tool?”  Autoresponders and email marketing tools are some of the most important parts of your business. You use it to follow-up with customers. To keep people coming back to your site. To build loyalty. To make sales. Yet the answer is often not so clear cut. Do you want the highest deliverability possible? Do you want to import offline contacts? Do you want to integrate your list management with a shopping cart? Do you want to spend $20 a month or $500 a month? The answer to these questions all yield very different answers. Here are the top 10 autoresponder tools on the market, along with who they’re for and what they’re capable of.
Anne: How many "contacts" do you have on your list. Most plans charge by the number of contacts. Some charge by the total number of contacts, some by the contacts per list (which means you pay for duplicates if a single contact is on multiple lists due to your segmentation activities). As both Ray and Gee indicated, most email service providers will meet your functional requirements. I have used MailChimp successfully but switched to ActiveCampaign because of the marketing automation...
In our email marketing software review roundup, we test the top email marketing tools available based on how easy it is to create emails, build subscriber lists, set autoresponders, and pull in other communication-based tools, such as social media management and web analytics software. To that end, we selected Campaigner and MailChimp as the best pure-play email marketing services. If you need a more complex tool that can build comprehensive workflows designed to automate the email marketing process, then we recommend HubSpot and Pardot, which are better served as marketing automation tools.

Molly K. McLaughlin is a New York-based writer and editor with more than a decade of experience covering technology. She has tested and reviewed all sorts of software, mobile apps, and gadgets. Before launching her freelance business, she was an editor at PC Magazine, covering consumer electronics, followed by a stint at ConsumerSearch.com, a revie... See Full Bio
For those unlucky enough to choose an email host that doesn't have built-in spam detection, it can often be an ordeal to route email correctly through a third-party filtering service. Some businesses actually prefer engaging with a third-party spam filterer, mostly for compliance or customization reasons. But, for the majority of SMBs, this is headache they would be best off trying to avoid.
Running in-house email servers does provide more control and wider customization as well as tracking and compliance for small to midsize businesses (SMB). But they require specialized on-site IT staff as well as the need to manually manage and support both hardware and software. A third-party hosted email service matches many of the advantages of in-house email without the expensive initial investment. The ability to manage the number of users, access the latest security protocols, and enjoy ease of connectivity and deployment of hosted solutions makes it a viable and competitive option.
Well, charity: water took an alternate route. Once someone donates to a charity: water project, her money takes a long journey. Most charities don't tell you about that journey at all -- charity: water uses automated emails to show donors how their money is making an impact over time. With the project timeline and accompanying table, you don't even really need to read the email -- you know immediately where you are in the whole process so you can move onto other things in your inbox.
One great way to protect data is by using email encryption. This feature can do wonders for protecting your organization's privacy and that of your employees, but it demands some investigation when you're selecting your provider. Is it built-in or do you require a third-party tool? Does it use common standards that the recipient can process? What about Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) certificates? Are they included or do they need to be purchased separately? The best-in-class tools will not only make encryption easy for anybody to configure and use, buy they'll also make it easy for you to understand pre-purchase.
Your next major concern will be compatibility. It's not a shock that most businesses run on Microsoft Windows and use some form of Microsoft Office. Being able to use common third-party clients such as Microsoft Outlook can often be a concern, and even today, compatibility with Microsoft Outlook isn't necessarily guaranteed. This is especially true when sending and receiving meeting invites. It only takes one garbled meeting invite to realize how frustrating this can be in the real world. Even if using Microsoft Outlook isn't a concern, portability is. If the service is entirely web-based, then is there a means for me to take my email offline and send email when I connect?

On a more basic level, AI improves email marketing mechanics such as A/B testing and smarter audience segmentation. This can have immediate benefits in terms of optimizing your marketing strategies for different customers and sending the right content to the right people. On a more advanced note, AI can actually optimize email content for specific audiences and product campaigns. Additionally, it can help with personalizing email content right down to the individual customer level, depending on how much information you can feed it from your CRM and sales systems. Strong stuff, which means determining exactly how a potential email marketing service has implemented AI should be a key criteria for most marketers before purchasing.

Email marketing solutions run the gamut from basic text-based email editors to fully designed HTML or JavaScript templates. Leveraging email for marketing can take several forms, so some packages will attempt to address all of them while others will seek to specialize. For example, some businesses might decide their most effective marketing tactic is a value-add newsletter delivered to a gated community of subscribers. Others might want to tie their emails directly to their product and sales engines, providing special offers and deals to recipients.
Delivra is an email marketing automation platform designed to ensure the right messages get to the right people at the right moment. The service features automation, a drag-and-drop editor, multichannel drip campaigns, custom and responsive email templates, triggered mailings, and analytics. In addition, Delivra integrates with CRM, e-commerce and web analytic programs.
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