Building an Email List the Cute Way with Emma

As a frequent reviewer here at Clickfire, I like having more than one option for recommendations. For example, if someone asks me about the best web conferencing software, I can recommend Skype for personal chats and GoToMeeting for more professional settings. In the case of email marketing platforms, I’ve also got a favorite or two that I can keep neatly tucked away.

Emma, believe it or not, is one of them. They’ve been able to find and exploit a neat little niche not simply by offering email marketing solutions, but by crafting these solutions around a specific type of customer: someone who wants their email campaigns to, well, look cute.

I know the name Emma just sounds cute, but that’s just effective branding on their part: everything about the service is warm, from the stylish, customized-to-your-brand email templates to the way they package all of their features and pricing into a neat PDF for all to enjoy.

So if anyone asks me for an email marketing solution with which they can market their chocolate truffle or teddy bear business, I’ve got the answer for them. And despite a few complaints you’ll read about in this Emma review, I like that.

Emma's designs mimic its own web site: fun and attractive.

Looking Good, Emma

Why the love for Emma in particular? Certainly there’s no shortage of email managers that offer design help for your email templates. But if you’re going with Emma as your email manager, I imagine that it’s because this is specifically what you’re looking for, rather than icing on the cake.

That’s because Emma’s designs are among the best I’ve been able to review and not only that, but Emma makes it simple to procure these services. (Sure, simple costs a bit of money, but that’s not what we’re talking about right this instant, you overzealous follower of frugality). In fact, Emma actually recommends starting off with a custom design in order to kick-start your email list building services, which might sound like it comes off a bit scammy but is actually done in a rather elegant way. Emma brings me in and actually makes me want to have something cool for them to design a template around.

Okay, why not talk about price? The basic structure you’ll see for the upfront designs are as follows:

  • $99 for “Studio Design,” some of the most attractive-looking template designs I’ve seen.
  • $249 for “Concierge Design,” pairing you with a designer whose job it is to make your emails look good.
  • $399 for the “Design Suite,” which expands on the Concierge design with a number of varying templates.

It might sound like a lot to pay upfront, but when you consider all of the value you can get out of some of these headers and templates – you can even incorporate them into your website as a whole, or use elements of your website to incorporate into your emails – there’s a lot of value packed in here.

And, of course, the price comes this way because you don’t go to Emma for some ordinary run-of-the-mill email marketing campaign. You’ve got to have a specific kind of brand situated in a specific kind of niche for this to make sense. And if you can nail that niche, Emma really helps you to nail the emails.

Technical Details: When Cute Just Isn’t Enough to Satisfy

All of this cuteness abounding in the world of Emma isn’t enough to override certain technical concerns, of course. Email marketing is by its very nature a technological endeavor, and even if your emails look good on the back end that doesn’t mean things always look good from your control room.

Luckily, Emma doesn’t disappoint with its features list, providing many of the same services you should expect from any vertical response platform. Creating surveys, real-time analytics, member management, autoresponders – all of the basics are covered which guarantees your email marketing program won’t have you looking like you’re wearing a well-tailored suit while working at McDonald’s. In other words, the features rise to meet the assertiveness of the strong Emma templates and designs.

A bit of a complaint here, however, is the pricing of these basic features. In the previous section I was okay with shelling out a little dough for a design – I mean, heck, you’re paying to work personally with a designer for a very reasonable price. But when it comes to the email management side of things, the pricing should be a little flatter.

Consider: a monthly volume of 1,000 means you’ll be paying $30, around twice what I’ve seen from other email campaign managers. The prices as they go up the list remain relatively high even after you’ve paid for the customized designs. If Emma’s main appeal are said designs, why do they seem to want to make so much money on the back end?

This isn’t enough to make me reconsider recommending Emma to certain businesses and certain people. But it would mean Emma’s recommendation comes with a caveat: “it can be a little pricey.” Hey, you get what you pay for.

Who Might Like Emma?

And thus we come back to the central theme of this review: what kind of customer is Emma best suited for? I think it’s someone with a particular niche, generally a business that falls in the “online shopping” category. People like their online shops to be warm and inviting. Heck, even if you’re selling an information product like an Ebook, having a well-tailored email will give you an air of professionalism and therefore trust that you can’t simply manufacture.

Emma’s specialty is in tailoring – not manufacturing – that professionalism. It can be a very important thing in the Internet world, and certainly can mean the difference between making a sale and almost making a sale.

If that’s the kind of touch you’re looking for with your emails, you’ll definitely want to consider Emma as a potential vehicle for your vertical response efforts. If it’s not, then heck, why did you bother reading this review this far? Go visit the other Clickfire reviews for something down your alley.

Rating: 4 out of 5 Rating

Dan Kenitz

Dan Kenitz is a former professional Search Engine Optimization specialist and current freelance writer, commentator, and all-around entrepreneur.

1 comment

  1. Michael Alexis

    In a similar vein – I remember coming across a web design firm site that did ecommerce sites. It was actually a lot more targeted than that. The firm made cute ecommerce sites for stay at home moms. Like Emma, this effort seemed to attract a particular kind of customer. Pretty smart, re: word of mouth.


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