Most companies offer tutorials and support for their services. Using the trial version of each program, we evaluated layouts and looked for things that would make the platform user-friendly. For example, are the icons easily identifiable? Is it apparent where to go to begin to build a survey and distribute surveys to users? How easy is it to create or change a survey? We found that the best survey builders allow you to quickly edit questions and rearrange the order of your survey without many additional steps. 

If you’re managing a list in the hundreds, thousands or low tens of thousands and you only collect leads through the internet, then there’s no better service than Aweber. Aweber doesn’t really allow you to add leads from offline sources. However, for online lists, Aweber sports the best deliverability ratings on the market. If you’re primarily using online opt-in forms, use Aweber. Your emails will get delivered, opened and clicked on.


Along with specialized uses for email, you should investigate how your users are emailing on a daily basis. Email has come a long way in 40 years and the way people use it has significantly evolved. That's important because it will impact the tools and features you need to look for in your hosted email provider's client software. Sure, Microsoft Outlook is still the most popular on-site email client, but a fast-increasing number of today's email users are opting for other email clients, such as Thunderbird, or all-web clients, such as Google's hugely popular Gmail. These clients can be very sophisticated and, depending on what your users are doing with email, they can have a big impact on your day-to-day business process.


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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.
And that leads us right into understanding service pricing and packaging. The email marketing services we reviewed range from about $5 per month to as much as $20 per month for a range of features. Many email marketing plans include unlimited email sends each month and bill you based on the number of subscribers. If you have a small list, then look for a company that offers a free plan, a low-cost plan for several hundred subscribers, or even a pay-as-you-go plan. On the flip side, many of these services also offer high-volume plans with up to 100,000 or more contacts. Sometimes this requires a custom plan that has to be arranged directly with a sales rep. If you're willing to commit, then look for the companies that offer discounts if you pay yearly rather than monthly. A few offer also money-back guarantees.
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