5 of the best free email marketing tools for small business

I have been an active user of email for marketing for as long as I remember. I have seen how powerful email is for businesses big and small. But when you are a small business and you are on a shoestring budget it can be hard to priorities email marketing. Well, you are in luck! Today I am going to share with you free email marketing tools you can use to build your list, create lead magnets and send out those emails. My name is Kelly Noble Mirabella, this is Business as Unusual, let’s dive in.

Email Service Provider — A must when it comes to email marketing

The first things we will start with is the actual Email Service Provider (ESP). You need something that can send emails out to a larger number of people simultaneously and you will want it to look good. And while you might be thinking you can get away with your Gmail account or your own email server, this is not exactly a good idea.

  1. You need to adhere to the laws of the land. If you are in the USA you will be governed by the Anti Can-Spam Act. In Canada, it is the CASL (Canadian Anti Spam Legislation) and in the EU starting in May 2018 you will be governed by the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). All have rules around what needs to be included in your email, how quickly you remove someone from your list after they unsubscribe, and how you can add people to your list. My advice is to get familiar with these rules before you start, but to save you time a good Email Marketing Service should do a lot of the grunt work for you in keeping you compliant.
  2. When you send out an email to a lot of people at the same time from your regular email (ISP) you risk being flagged as spam. Whereas using an ESP you will help you avoid this because they ration out your emails over the course of several minutes to an hour so that nothing gets flagged or overwhelms the system.
  3. Also, you really shouldn’t even waste your time doing email marketing if you cannot look at the analytics and see how you are doing. An ESP will give you this data while Gmail, AOL, or even your own server email will not, at least not to the extent that you need.

So now that we covered the crash course of why you will want a good ESP let’s discuss the one you need.

MailChimp is considered the gold standard of free email marketing tools. It is certainly the most popular. And for good reason. Their free account allows you to send out up to 12,000 emails per month to up to 2,000 subscribers. Their tools are pretty robust, even for a free user. You are able to organize contacts into lists, set up auto-response emails and create tags and campaigns that are highly targeted. Another perk of using MailChimp is that it integrates with so many tools and software on the market today. While there are a plethora of wonderful email marketing services out there, MailChimp is a fantastic place to start for any small business on a tight budget with less than 2000 people on their list.

Tools to Capture Emails

Now that you have an idea of a good tool you can use to send out your emails you will need to build a list. There are a ton of options out there but today’s is free so the tool I not only suggest but I use myself is called Sumome.

Sumome offers a great deal of list building tools for free and they have some pretty stellar premium tools too. All the tools integrated seamlessly with MailChimp making the whole process super easy PLUS it gives you the added benefit to set up an autoresponse series that will automatically trigger.

Explore tools: https://sumo.com/examples

Sign up: http://sumo.ly/HwVH

List Builder is a free tool using which you can add popups to your website. It offers several options and trigger types so you can customize how you want the builder to act when someone comes to your site or to a specific page.

Smart Bar — Smart Bar is a tool that typically runs across the top or bottom of your screen making it less intrusive and annoying.

Welcome Mat is a listing building tool that rolls out from the top of a page once the page loads. There is also an embedded tool that allows you to embed a signup within a page or article.

Along with these free listing building tools, they also have a free social share tool and some great traffic tools. Premium features are also available.

Tools to entice people to subscribe

So, you have a tool to send your email and you have a tool to capture subscribers, but how will you entice someone to sign up? I can do a whole series of episodes on this one question. In fact, I have done a full week-long boot camp. But for the purposes of today’s posts, I will cover the basics. If you want people to sign up, you have to give them a compelling reason. And nowadays it better be good. A half-assed marketing sheet will not do the trick. You need to give someone something of massive value that is worth giving away their email address for. There are many ways to do this. You can create a lead magnet like a guide, checklist, ebook or mini email course. Or you can do a free webinar and teach someone of value that showcases your skills and expertise and gives people a taste of what you are all about. Both of these strategies work if done correctly. But creating and presenting your lead magnet can be tricky. That is where the following tools come in:

Beacon is a nifty tool that I just recently started using. It allows you to create ebooks, checklists, and guides fairly quickly off of content from our blog or by just adding in content that you created specifically for that lead magnet. If you are using content from an existing blog it is really easy to import in the content. They offer a free version (with some restrictions). Beacon does have some restriction on design but it was made to make the process easy for the novice or non-designer type. They also help to host your lead magnet so you don’t have to even sweat that part of the process. I like it because it’s easy and fast. I like efficiency!

If you need more flexibility or control in your lead magnet design then you need to check out Canva. I have talked about Canva many many times before so be sure to go check out my blog post titled “Graphic Design tools” for more information about what makes Canva so stellar. But basically, it is a free tool that makes it super easy to create graphics as well as lead magnets. If you are going to use Canva to create a free guide, checklist and/or downloadable be sure to use the A4 template. Designs can be transferred to pdf then downloaded. You will then need to upload your deliverable into MailChimp directly or host it somewhere like Amazon s3 storage hosting which is also free but can be a bit challenging for the non-tech types to set up.

Another great way to build your list is to host a webinar or training series. Live webinars are fantastic because you can showcase your services, your expertise and build trust with leads. There is even made better when you couple a webinar with a free guidebook or checklist to add to the value. There is a lot of options out there for hosting your webinar. Prices are all over the place and it can get expensive fast. But if you are in need of a FREE solution and you don’t think doing a live broadcast directly on one of the social networks would suffice, May I suggest you check out FreeConferenceCall.com. FreeConferenceCall.com is totally free and you can host up to 1000 participants, show your screen, record and it supports up to five simultaneous video feeds. While webinars can be a lot more work than a typical downloadable they are a great way to build know, like trust relationships online. And in the end, people do business with and refer business to people they know, like and trust. It is a hell of a lot easier to sell to someone who has been through one of your webinars and likes what you have to say, than to someone who was added to your list from a business card.

So there you have it. All the tools you need to get started building your email list and sending out emails to your list. ALL FREE! With some hard work and a little time, you will be well on your way to email marketing success.

These notes are from my podcast Business as Unusual. Listen and subscribe to stay in the know and get even more great info and insights on social media, entrepreneurship and online marketing.

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Kelly Mirabella

Social media consultant, entrepreneur, wife, mother and all around curious soul. I have dyslexia so please excuse my horrid spelling…Enjoy my random ramblings