Billions of people use email as part of their communication. From personal to business, email is one of the most preferred types of communication, as it's provided for free by Gmail, Microsoft, and Yahoo. That's the reason why most businesses are so used to adopt email as their formal communication channel and choose to stay the same, despite the introduction of chats and messaging apps.
In this article, I am going to share with you all about email blast, how it has transformed over the years and then go deeper to discover some of the most affordable email marketing tools available for small businesses to effectively implement email campaigns without the need to engage a marketing agency.
What is an Email Blast?
Email blast is about sending bulk emails to hundreds, even thousands of recipients simultaneously, mostly in an untargeted manner. It’s frequently associated with spam because there’s almost no consent obtained from the recipient to send such an email. This method had proven to be effective in the past but over the years, businesses no longer enjoy similar results.
Although some might still be able to benefit from email blast, the probability of success is extremely low. It’s more likely that your recipients might blacklist your brand and ban you from future communication, which can be very costly in the long-run.
Nowadays, marketers will need to get permission before sending out any marketing emails to the recipients. This is to comply with the Personal Data Protection Act (PDPA) in Malaysia that regulates the processing of personal data in regards to commercial transactions. This Act will only allow senders to start marketing communication with targeted people who already gave consent. For countries in EU, this is regulated under General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) whereas, for the US, there is no single data protection legislation, but rather tie with multiple Acts.
Email blast that used to work in the past is no longer a viable outreach method today. Unless businesses are ready to observe email best practices, otherwise it’s not going to do much in helping a business grow.
What is targeted Email Blast?
Like what I’ve mentioned earlier, even though the conventional email blast can bring you some deals, it’s just not worth to gamble your business reputation this way. When it comes to sending out emails to hundreds, or even thousands of recipients, it’s important to only send to people who might be interested to receive your email. I called this targeted email blast or email marketing where effective lead generation comes into the picture.
Lead generation is a process of gathering information about people who are keen to explore your company’s offerings. It can be done by placing an opt-in form on a landing page to enable site visitors who are interested in your product to key in their details.
Whether it's a website homepage, product sales page, vendor recruitment page, special discount page, survey page, or even a free giveaways page, all of these landing pages can be quickly set up using popular page builders such as Elementor or Thrive Architect. Once a subscriber gives their details, the information that you receive will be stored for future use.
If you're planning to send out emails to many recipients, it's important to know that it's not feasible to do manually as your emails might land in the junk mailbox. it's just impossible to effectively manage hundreds of recipients at one time without any tool. That’s the reason why it's important to use an email marketing tool to do the work.
All email marketing tools offer bulk email blast to targeted recipients. Reputable ones will ensure that your emails will not land on the recipient's junk mail. Some common features inside an email marketing tool include scheduling and sending email sequences, list segmentation, campaign analytics, split testings, and features that compelled companies to comply with personal data and privacy protection.
Sadly to say, although there are reliable tools out there, many small businesses refuse to adopt targeted email blast as part of their marketing strategy. In general, small business owners in Malaysia are not tech-savvy. Some might not even know how to use Google search, let alone knowing about the various options available to help them start. Those who learn about these email marketing tools mostly lack the technical know-how to start.
That's why conventional businesses in Malaysia still refuse to adopt tools to implement effective methods. Most ended up doing it via Outlook and bcc to as many contacts as possible. Those emails will most probably end up in your recipients’ spam folder. More seriously, your brand will be reported as violating the Personal Data Protection Act.
As you continue reading, I'll share with you how to choose the most suitable tool for your business and also recommend some tools that I find affordable for small business owners. But right now, let's agree first on the importance of email marketing that makes it a must-have for local businesses.
The Importance of Email Marketing
Making sure that your small business gets onboard digital marketing means you are way ahead of your competitors. With more consumers adopting online, not joining the wagon will almost certainly limit the growth potential of your business.
In countries like Malaysia, I find it so frustrating that email marketing is not the norm among small businesses. People still prefer to adopt traditional marketing methods either through print media or word of mouth. Although traditional methods can still be useful, however, as the younger generation increases their spending capacity, businesses will have no choice but to go digital.
Well, I would say some businesses in Malaysia do spend their marketing budget on Facebook ads to generate leads. Unfortunately, most failed to fully capitalize on their leads to build brand loyalty and close more deals. Hardly any businesses in Malaysia send email follow-up sequence to their leads, and that's on top of knowing email marketing is cheaper!
Look, 80% of marketers and experts all agree that there is an increase in email engagement in the past 12 months, making email one of the best ways to acquire and retain customers. Another impressive number puts the $44 ROI for every dollar spent in email campaigns with global estimates of 4.3 billion email users in the year 2023. With such impressive statistics, email marketing is definitely here to stay. Not opening your business to email marketing will retard your business from continuously growing.
My Recommendation of Affordable Email Marketing Tools
Email marketing tool is definitely the best solution to ensure that your email campaigns remain effective. Be it you want to store your subscriber database; send email sequences, greetings, and reminders; or even generate useful analytical data of your customers for better decision-making, a good email tool can do all the work.
There are tons of email marketing solutions in the market but each comes with features to meet the different needs. To help you make better decisions, below is a list of affordable tools that I personally find very suitable for small businesses who want to start creating email campaigns.
MailChimp: MailChimp is popular among Malaysian small businesses as it comes with a lifetime free plan that allows users to manage up to 2,000 contacts and send 10,000 emails a month. However, free plan users are restricted to most features available to paid members. One important feature that’s not available in the free plan is the ability to send automated follow-up email sequence.
However, businesses are still able to send emails to their targeted list by manually sending bulk emails as and when necessary. It’s a little cumbersome, but at least still gets the work done. Other free features include creating landing pages, pop-up forms, and access to its content studio and basic template.
One thing to note is the hefty price you have to pay if unlock advanced features such a social post scheduling, multivariate testing, and comparative reporting. To enjoy these, you'll need to subscribe to Premium plan that starts at $299/month for 10,000 contacts.
GetResponse: For the past few years, GetResponse has transformed itself from a basic email marketing tool to become an all-in-one marketing solution for businesses. Not only does GetResponse provides email marketing features, but this platform also enables businesses to create sales funnels, webinars, and eCommerce stores from within the platform itself. This means users are no longer required to subscribe for 3rd party webinar, page builders, and eCommerce solutions.
Like MailChimp, as the number of subscribers increases with access to all advanced features, the price of GetResponse can go as high as $165/month for 10,000 subscribers. Nevertheless, the starting price is $15/month for 1,000 contacts. This does not come with automation builder, automation segmentation, webinar, eCommerce payment gateway, and highly converting design templates.
To gain access to an automated builder, automation segmentation, and limited feature of webinars, the price is $49/month for 1,000 subscribers. All plans come with 30-days free trial with no credit card required.
Sendinblue: A relative newcomer in the field of email marketing, SendinBlue combines SMS and email marketing. It recognizes the importance of ease of use, which is the key to gain a foothold in this industry. That’s why Sendinblue includes easy to use drag and drop visual editor for emails, funnel workflows, and an AI-powered algorithm to support its automation feature.
For a little quid pro quo of having their branding carried on your emails, they offer a free lifetime email marketing plan. If you do not have a database of more than 2,000 leads, send less than 300 emails a day and do not mind having their logo on your email. Sendinblue can be a good option, particularly when its free plan comes with email automation, which is not available in MailChimp and ConvertKit.
Their cheapest paid Lite Plan starts at $25/month to remove the daily limit to email sending. However, similar to the free plan, users still can’t remove the Sendinblue logo and won’t have access to landing page builder, A/B testing, nor any advanced statistic reports despite paying for this price.
In Malaysia, the SMS feature is essential especially when it’s still a highly relevant form of communication in locations without stable internet connectivity. However, because SMS is a paid-as-you-send service, therefore such a tool is available for free once you choose a local telco provider. That’s the reason why SMS feature in Sendinblue might not mean much for local businesses.
AWeber: This email marketing tool is one of the pioneer and highly credible within the industry, with more than a million small businesses rely on AWeber. Unlike MailChimp, GetResponse, and Sendinblue, AWeber does not implement locked features. It adopts a simple price system solely based on the number of subscribers you maintain whereby everybody gets all features in AWeber. Price starts from a minimum of $19/month with 500 contacts.
AWeber is very straightforward and easy to use the tool. Some features include create and send automated email sequences, create landing pages and websites with its powerful visual editor, create advanced list segmentation, adopt email design templates, do A/B testing and generate analytical reports on each email campaign.
AWeber adopts a no-fancy principle in its tool development, offering only the most important features to start an email campaign the right way. These are sufficient to help businesses generate leads and increase revenue. No free plan if you choose to go with AWeber. However, the good news is users can take advantage of its 30-days free trial after providing payment details.
ConvertKit: This tool is uniquely geared towards content creators, making one of the most compact and powerful content-based marketing tools available to small businesses. Similar to MailChimp and Sendinblue, ConvertKit comes with a free lifetime plan whereby users can build unlimited landing pages and forms, with email broadcast limited to 500 subscribers.
Sadly to say, the free plan does not come with email automation and sequence features. However, to compensate, ConvertKit does offer premium landing page templates, an added advantage over its competitors that only provide basic templates.
A 14-day free trial with no credit card required and a 30-day refund policy can get you started with ConvertKit. Pricing after that starts at $29/month for 1,000 subscribers once you add a credit card into the account.
Things to Consider When Choosing The Right Tool
Narrowing down your option when looking for that email marketing tool is an integral part of your business process. There are things you must consider when choosing the best tool that not only fits your budget, yet able to help meet your marketing goals.
Price: Price is always going to be relative. In this case, higher-priced do not necessarily mean that it is better than another lower-cost option. Cost should always be a ratio between price, features, and actual needs. Therefore, knowing what you want to achieve and the compromises that you can take will be good to start with.
Ease of Use: Regardless of your expertise, the best bet in choosing an email marketing tool would be how easy it is to use. Look not only on how you will use it yourself but as your business expands, consider how easy or hard it would be to train your marketers to use the tool.
Features: Like the price, the features that you need will depend on the focus and outcomes you are targeting. As much as possible, be specific on what you want to achieve because only then can you properly itemize each feature to make things happen. Never pay for extra features that are powerful but not needed in your business.
Analytics: This is extremely important when it comes to email marketing, as it can determine if you are on the correct path or just barking up the wrong tree. Most email marketing tools will have analytic features built-in; it is just a question of choosing which one is the most comprehensive and easy to interpret.
Support: For a business that has just started email marketing, having someone answer your questions when you need is crucial. Take a look at how customer service is being handled by putting them through its paces, call them up, email them, or chat and gauge them based on their response time. The least you want is to keep calling and sending support tickets without getting useful response from your email software provider.
My Best Email Marketing Tool As A small Business Owner
After trying out and analyzing various tools, I would say AWeber is an all-in-one solution offering the most simple yet comprehensive email solutions in the market. Its ease of use and affordable price make this email marketing tool most suitable for small businesses in Malaysia.
Despite there’s no free lifetime plan like those offered by Sendinblue, MailChimp, and ConvertKit, its award-winning 24/7 customer support is so good that you can hardly find in other providers. The best is when your subscribers grow bigger, AWeber tends to have a cheaper cost per subscriber, compared to its competitors. That's why I highly recommend this long-standing tool for small businesses in Malaysia to start an email campaign.
I'm not saying that other tools are not as good. In fact, most tools are competitively priced at the entry-level with distinctive features. Being a frequent user of AWeber and after trying out a few other similar providers, AWeber is the only one that fits all my business needs. That's why every business is different and must evaluate tools based on individual needs.
I hope you have learned significantly all the various affordable email marketing solutions available for you. If you’ve any related experience to share with us or any questions pertaining to email marketing, do leave us a comment below.