Free Mail Marketing: 4 Features to Search for in a Free Trial
There are various benefits to trying a service for free before making a purchase. Test driving a free mail marketing service like SendGrid can be useful for many reasons. In this post, I’ll lead you through the main decision-making points you should consider and will start by sharing how a free mail marketing service is a lot like a free food delivery subscription. Seriously.
I recently started cooking. After [insert an embarrassingly large number of years here], I eventually realized that I can’t live off of Velveeta macaroni and cheese and takeout forever. So, I concluded to ease my way into the kitchen, by starting with a home cooking and delivery service.
As a novice cook, I again didn’t want to fully commit to a monthly subscription from the start. What if there were remarkably many steps to follow or the recipes I wanted weren’t offered?
Fortunately, many of these services provide free trials, so I was able to try a few out to see what worked best for my (admittedly picky) needs.
As I was passing through my food delivery selection, I was reminded a lot of the process email marketers go through when evaluating a new provider. Sound like a logic leap? Bear with me because there are really a lot of parallels.
Just like I discovered my way to a quick and healthy food delivery service (I’m still a loyal subscriber!), I’ve learned many email marketers find their way to a stress-free and engaging free mail marketing experience with SendGrid’s free email marketing option.
Why Free Mail?
Like in my cooking examples above, there are many hurdles that email marketers face when assessing new solutions. Including:
The time committed to studying a new platform
Email design capabilities
How to import and organize recipient lists and segments
Buy-in from our bosses and team members
Insight into our recipient engagement stats
Compatibility with our transactional email provider
Oh, yeah…and the budget
And this is just the time! How can you commit to figuring out all of these queries without giving your platform a test drive first? As marketers, we all are our own way (just like we all approach new recipes our own way) and we each have special time constraints and workplace pressures.
To accommodate that, you require a free email marketing service that works for you and with you.
Of all of the points discussed above, there are 4 that I think are the most important to focus on and are the ones that we often talk about with our fellow email marketers.
- Email design and code editing
When investigating a free mail marketing service, ensuring that there’s an easy way for you to access customizable templates and to edit and build your existing templates is paramount.
Every click counts, so make certain that your email design connects with your recipients. (For more email design tips, check out this question with one of our experts!)
For those of you in a crunch (or for those, like most of us, who are email writer, designer, analyst, etc. and don’t have the time to design our own templates), assure that your email provider stocks you up with some pre-existing templates (SendGrid Marketing Campaigns offers 12 responsive, ready-to-use templates for free!). Also, make certain that their editor doesn’t break your code while you’re editing.
This can be one of the biggest worries for email marketers. You put in so much time perfecting your HTML—you have to secure it! To help, SendGrid’s dealt with this issue with our error-free code editor. Take a glance.
Issues like this are why it’s so critical to try a free version of your free mail marketing platform first. Don’t commit before you realize what your every day will look like!
Bonus tip: One point to look out for with free mail marketing trials is that many providers will insert their name and logo at the bottom of your templates as a “fee” for using their service for free. Most of us don’t need to advertise for another brand in our marketing emails, so be sure to vet this out during your search. (Fortunately, SendGrid Marketing Campaigns does no such matter! Your emails are all yours!)
- Connecting your marketing and transactional emails
It’s constantly a plus to have your marketing and transactional email programs under one roof. It’s one login, one bill, and one collaborative process for your team. If you don’t see already, check with your developers, or whoever manages your transactional emails, and see what email provider they use. When you’re both working the same platform, you can share templates and analytics, and you can keep your program consistent.
Use your free trial period to determine how collaboration changes with your dev team.
Time. We don’t have a lot of it (hence the reputation of the meal delivery services!)—so understanding the ins and outs of a new email provider can be hard. That’s why it’s critical to look for a free mail marketing service that offers detailed resources and support to help you.
While it’s admirable to troubleshoot on your own, it’s a whole lot more efficient to get answers right when you need them. SendGrid offers a thorough knowledge center, a step-by-step in product tour, and ticketed support to help guide you.
Bonus tip: Run your way workflows! An even stronger way to learn a product is to test its features when and how you want to. Most email marketing services take you to follow rigid, pre-determined workflows and steps you have to complete before testing other areas of the product. But, what if you don’t need to do that? SendGrid’s Marketing Campaigns allows you to set up, design, and edit your way.
This is specially helpful when you’re first learning the tool—you don’t have held back by someone else’s rules. (Just like in cooking, occasionally you want to prep as you go, other times you want to do it all up front—but the decision is yours!)
Sending volume and contact storage
Most email service providers will give a free trial that then rolls into a paid plan after a specified period of time. So why not free forever? Many providers also provide this (SendGrid does too—after 30 days of 40k emails for free, you can send 100 emails a day for free to a list of up to 2k contacts, forever) but at some point, if your business is expanding, you’ll need to send larger volumes of email.
Larger email volumes require more care from your sending infrastructure, better insights into your sending behavior, and more control over your IPs (see bonus tip below). That care and insight will surely come with a cost.
Also, as your email program increases, so does your email list! At these higher stakes, it’s great to have a tool that allows you to segment your list and track historical engagement for each of your segments. These learnings help strengthen the foundation for a high-performing email program. When you arrive at this point, you know it’s time to move on from a free mail marketing service to a paid plan.
Bonus tip: Dedicated IPs are one of the strongest tools you have to positively impact your deliverability. They hold you in control of your reputation, instead of having you share with other senders at your ESP. (See more about shared vs. dedicated IPs here). But, dedicated IPs are not provided during free mail marketing trials.
There’s just too considerable at risk with test sends that happen during trials and IPs don’t grow on trees (though that would be awesome)! So dedicated IPs play an enormous role in why free mail marketing trials have an expiration date. You can (and should) only share IPs with other senders for so long before it’s time for you to set up your own reputation.
Trust and reliability are mean to making the right product choices. I prefer to know what recipes are being sent to me every week in my food delivery, just like I like to know what editing and support features will be available to me in my free mail marketing service. With so much on our minds and our plates (pun intended) at work, we have no place for surprises.
Use the tips above to help determine your choice of a free mail marketing trial and be sure to add SendGrid to the list. We’ve made a lot of thought into building our email marketing feature set that helps you as you grow your business. So you’re ready to advance from it right from the start.