We have covered a lot of paid email marketing programs in other posts, but aren’t there any free tools out there? I look for free software all the time, and most of what’s out there gives the illusion of being free. By that I mean it is promoted as free and looks pretty darn close to being free until you try and use it only to find out that nope, it isn’t free. That’s not an absolute truth, though, and we’ve found some email marketing tools that you can use completely free of charge.
As a side note, I think there is a mentality on the web that everything (in terms of software) should be free. I tend to disagree with this because we often don’t see all the person-hours and investment that goes into creating some of these free programs. If something has genuine value and can help make me money, I have no problem paying for it. Okay, on to the free stuff!
There are always lots of blog posts and articles on what not to say in an email body or subject line, but not so many tools that actually scan what you are sending out. Emailspamtest.com does this, and it’s super easy. You just type in your subject line as it will be displayed in your email, copy and paste your plain text or HTML/CSS markup and click “Scan.”
The email spam test does its thing and pops out a score (with explanation) on the other end. It lets you know if your message will be considered spam or not. The tool is completely free to use (there aren’t even any ads on the site), and you can do it as many times as you want.
In case you were wondering, the site uses rules derived from the popular Spam Assassin Project, an open-source Apache project aimed at combating email spam.
Build Free Templates
Campaign Monitor gives users the ability to build an email template for free. At the time of this writing, you are able to go to their website, choose from among a handful of popular templates (i.e. newsletter, sales template, etc), customize it with their WYSIWYG editor and then download it into a zip file.
Of course you are going to have to install it on whatever software you are using to do email marketing, but all the coding is done. If you have ever tried to code an HTML email template before, you know it’s tough work. It can be incredibly difficult to ensure that dimensions are correct and to make sure all of your styling and HTML shows up.
Test Your Email in Different Clients
So this is one of those programs that offers a slightly free teaser, and you have to sign up if you want more. If you are just sending out messages occasionally, or your email marketing isn’t a large part of your overall initiative, the free review you get on this site is probably sufficient. If you do a ton of email marketing, you might want to look into signing up.
Litmus is one of my favorite tools for email marketing. As marketers, messaging is extremely important. If our messaging doesn’t come across properly, we risk losing our audience. Just like different browsers display web pages differently, email clients display emails differently. Some may block all formatting and images, whereas others may let some through. Still others may kick your message to the spam folder where others don’t care.
With Litmus, you can at least see what your messaging would look like to people using major email providers. You also get the added benefit of seeing how your emails look on mobile devices.
Tracking your success is a part of the email marketing game, so you need something in place to do that. Even if you use paid marketing software, those programs will only give you metrics related to your messages and not what people do on your website after they’ve clicked through.
Google Analytics is one of the most popular web-based tracking platforms, and it’s also free. They have pretty good tutorials to help you install it on your site, and you can track links using Google’s URL builder. Insert specialized links in the emails you send out and you can track people that come to the domain where you have tracking installed.
You’ll be able to see how many visits came from an email blast you sent out, what those people did on your site, how long they stayed and loads of other information.
You are going to be hard-pressed to find an email marketing provider who will operate for free. Companies like iContact used to offer a free version of their software; however, those that still offer it typically don’t let you store a lot of contacts in their database.
iContact, however, will let you sign up for a free trial before you buy. That is at least good enough to see if you like the program before you commit. You’ll also get to send out some messaging for free for a little while. For the most part, though, if you want a decent email marketing provider, you are going to have to pay the nominal expense for an account.
This list is probably not complete, and new programs pop up all the time. You have to do a little digging, but there are usually lots of free or nearly free tools floating around out there. Be careful not to give out sensitive information to companies that look shady, and if something seems too good to be true, it is.
What free tools to you know about for email marketing? If you know of some not mentioned here, please share in the comments below!