Since starting my online business in 2016, I’ve run the gamut of email marketing software for free and paid options as well. In the last 5 to 6 years, I’ve had FOUR different email marketing platforms, so let’s tear into this MailerLite review!
Once you build a significant email list, email marketing platforms get expensive really quickly. They usually set their prices based on how many subscribers you have.
While building a large list can be beneficial, it can also be draining in this respect. I don’t think a lot of people realize that someone is paying for your email to be on their list even though it’s free to you.
It makes it insane to think about some of the trash people send to their lists as well. That’s a whole other blog post altogether.
I’ve used the following 4 email marketing platforms:
I’ll be writing from my experience.
Best Features for Email Marketing for Self-Publishers
Most of the major email marketing software has a standard set of features like:
- Autoresponder – This is a tool that sends out an auto-response when someone signs up for your list or performs some other call to action.
- Automations – This is similar to an autoresponder, but it allows you to set up drip campaigns and add other elements to your series.
- Form builder – Most platforms have a simple WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) editor to create forms for embedding on your website. Some even have a pop-up creator or can embed on a Facebook Page.
- Landing Pages – Another WYSIWYG tool that allows you to build landing pages for your books and/or other products. This can also allow you to start building a list before you have or without a website!
- Email Templates – Most platforms have some kind of email templates for you to use. More often than not, these are yet another WYSIWYG editor that allows you to build and save your own templates on top of having some prefab templates too.
These are really the bare minimum and you’ll need most of these if you plan to do email marketing as a self-publisher.
*Email Marketing Software for Free
Pretty much every platform will have a free trial period where you are able to try out the services and see what features are available before you purchase.
If you’re new to email marketing, this is great, but if you have an established list, moving that around can be a pain.
If you’re like me, you may have MULTIPLE lists, automations, and autoresponders you need to move as well. This isn’t something you want to do unless you’re planning to stay somewhere for a while.
Having 4 different email marketing platforms in less than 5 years certainly wasn’t my plan.
There are 2 “email marketing software for free” in this list:
- MailChimp – free up to 2,000 subscribers
- MailerLite – free up to 1,000 subscribers – less is more, keep reading!
This is amazing because it allows you to build a list before you have to start paying, so you have an opportunity to generate revenue long before you have to invest. As authors and self-publishers, you know that’s HUGE. We are always watching that bottom line!
Why I Changed My Email Marketing Platform So Many Times
With GetResponse and MailChimp, I was simply looking for something more cost-effective and less clunky. Worthy of note, MailChimp was recently acquired by Intuit and in my experience, once a corporation gets ahold of something, they almost always ruin it or run it into the ground. I’ve experienced this with web hosting. Not to mention, MailChimp’s user interface is anything but intuitive.
When I moved to SendFox, I did so because I got a lifetime deal and I really felt it was an up-and-coming platform. I love a good underdog!
I couldn’t have been more wrong. Sure, it was up-and-coming and I think some people have found great success with it especially in the paid newsletter realm, but it was terrible for email marketing as a self-publisher.
It lacked basic features like emojis and the scheduler was always sending at the wrong time. It has this weird feature where it would only send your email to the “most active of your subscribers”. There was no documentation on what criteria they used to determine these “most active” subscribers. So, you could send out an email to your list of 3,500, and only 2,500 might actually receive it.
It was some sort of “automated optimization”, so if you contacted support to be removed, your next email might land you right back in the same situation.
They couldn’t seem to explain this whole thing…they called it “best practices”.
They “auto-purged” inactive subscribers which seems like a good thing on one hand, but on the other, you don’t get the opportunity to reengage these inactive subs because you CAN’T EVEN GET AN EMAIL OUT TO THEM!
Then came the clincher…they asked me to back out of the lifetime deal because the number of emails I sent was too much of a strain on their system. Wow.
After MONTHS of frustration trying to make it work, my assistant and I gladly left SendFox behind.
MailerLite or ConvertKit
That was the subject of my email to my assistant, Ava, about which email marketing platform we should “try” next. She’s handled all 4 moves for me and used a number of platforms both for herself and clients, so I knew she was a good one to ask.
ConvertKit is kind of a next-level platform for email marketing. It has a lot of features and slick-looking forms. A ton of marketers use it and swear by it, but it’s expensive. I’m not averse to paying for a good service, and I’m positive I would have been happy with ConvertKit but did I really need all of that?
Ava didn’t seem to think so and since she’s the one using it the most, I respect her views greatly. As self-publishers, I think it’s important for us to keep things simple whenever possible. ConvertKit is for people who put a lot of emphasis on email marketing as in it’s probably more than 50% of their business.
That’s not the case for me and probably not for you either.
So, we went with MailerLite and haven’t looked back since.
MailerLite – A 2-Hour Move
As I said, I have multiple lists, landing pages, and more that needed to be moved from SendFox to MailerLite.
MailerLite was so intuitive that my assistant had the majority of my stuff moved in about 2 hours.
Here are the details of what was moved:
- 8 separate email lists
- 3 forms on the website had to be updated to MailerLite forms, so these had to be created and then the code pasted in the pages and widgets on my website
- 4 automations – This entails MULTIPLE email series and drip campaigns
Ava’s first impressions were:
- Everything is intuitive. Obviously…the move thus far is just under 2 hours. Even though they call things different names in some cases, I had no trouble figuring out what went where. When I was stuck on how to add lists, I Googled it and found a video created by ML that told me exactly what to do without any fluff or BS.
- Super clean interface
- Fast, no loading or lagging issues. This was a problem for SF. Spinny, spinny for 5 seconds or so sometimes.
- LOVE it so far. It is leaps and bounds above SF.
Here’s how MailerLite’s features stack up:
- Campaigns – These are the emails you send out to your list on a regular basis. They are normally just a one-off or weekly recurring email that you create manually. You create new campaigns from this tab as well and they show as Sent, Draft, or Outbox.
- 3 Different Editors – MailerLite offers 3 different options for editing your email campaigns: Drag & Drop Editor, Rich Text Editor, and a Custom HTML Editor. You can save templates from all 3.
- A/B Split Testing – You can split test your campaigns and landing pages (Sites) if you have a paid premium account.
- Subscribers – You can view your list at any time and filter your view using 12 different parameters. From this tab, you can also manage your subscribers in a number of different ways including, but not limited to, adding new subscribers, purging inactive subscribers, organizing subs into groups, and more.
- Forms – You can create embed forms or pop-ups from this tab.
- Sites – This is what MailerLite calls Landing Pages. They have a number of templates available including ones exclusively for authors. I find these are a little more than I need, so I usually create a lander on my website and embed a plain form instead.
- Automation – This is where you create all of your autoresponders and automated email series.
- Analytics – MailerLite displays stats on EVERY page. You can easily see how many people opened your campaign and how many clicks you received. On the Subscribers tab, you can see who’s opening your emails. If you click on a specific subscriber, you can see what emails they opened when and what links they clicked, etc. It drills it down for you really nicely. If you click View Report on any of your sent campaigns, you can view detailed stats and MailerLite will even show you a heatmap if you’re a premium user.
MailerLite has literally everything you need as a self-publisher to master email marketing and the best part is that you can get started with this email marketing software for free!
The one caveat with MailerLite is that you MUST have a completed website to get your account approved. You’ll need a domain email as well.
They have a link you can click if you don’t have a website that allows you to send them a form email, but they may not approve you, and having your website squared away is just easier. You’re going to need it for effective email marketing anyway, so you might as well get it out of the way.
Using Email Marketing Software for Free to
Leverage Amazon’s Traffic
If you don’t want to deal with that right now, you can start building your list without a website using email marketing software for free at MailChimp. You can always move later. I’ve done it 4 times! haha
The important thing here is to get that link to your sign-up form inside your books!
Make sure it’s in the first 10% of your book so it shows in the Look Inside feature on Amazon. You won’t get a ton of sign-ups that way probably, but this is how you leverage traffic from Amazon even if they don’t purchase your books.
Final Thoughts on MailerLite
- Super intuitive – MailerLite is simply easy to use
- Detailed analytics
- Amazing pricing – I LOVE that you can get started FREE. So how much is it once you exceed 1,000 subs? $10 a month. Up to 5,000? $15 a month. See their full pricing here – https://www.mailerlite.com/pricing.
- Great editor and template interface allows me to create professional emails and newsletters
- You get a 14-day trial of all of the premium features when you sign up even under the free account. I’ve love to see that extended and have the paywall just be subscriber count
- No dedicated analytics – there’s no place to see all your stats in one spot. The main Dashboard tab has a general overview, but to drill it down, you have to skip all over the place. I don’t really mind this, but I think some people would prefer to have stats be more concise.
I really had to dig to think of anything I don’t like about MailerLite. It has been an absolute godsend. Ava and I went from weekly wrestling back and forth with SendFox to never discussing the email platform or even having to contact support. It gets 5 STARS from me for turning a headache into happiness for my team and I. I can’t recommend it enough.
If you’re using MailerLite, what’s your take on it? Anything you would change? Is it working well for you in your business? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below!