Email marketing might seem old-fashioned compared to newer digital channels such as social media. But, believe it or not, email is still a very powerful and effective way to market your business.
Every £1 spent on email marketing generates a return of £32.28
Source: The Direct Marketing Association
As a mortgage broker, email marketing should definitely be a part of your lead generation and client retention strategy. And the good news is that there’s a wide range of email marketing software for mortgage brokers out there.
So in this article I'm going to look at the pros and cons of six popular email automation systems and tell you which one I think is the best email marketing solution for mortgage brokers.
Short of time? Here's the summary:
Best Email Marketing Platforms
What is an Email Marketing System?
An email marketing system – also known as an email marketing automation platform – is a subscription-based service for delivering emails to large numbers of people at a time.
Within your email marketing software you can set up one or more mailing lists. You might decide to have one list for all your subscribers or you could decide to have different lists for different types of people – e.g. one mailing list for mortgage clients and one for equity release clients.
You can then write an email whenever you like and send it out to the subscribers on any or all of your lists.
Email marketing companies will typically provide you with various templates you can use to create these emails.
The platforms will also track how many people open each of your emails and, if there are links in your emails, how many clicks they get. This information can help you see which types of messages are most popular with your audience.
Unsubscribes are handled automatically. Each email you send will have an unsubscribe link in it and if the recipient clicks this, they will automatically be blocked from receiving any more of your emails.
Autoresponders and Email Automations
As well as sending one-off emails to your entire list (what’s known as a broadcast campaign) you can also create autoresponder email sequences. This is where you pre-write a series of nurture emails which are then sent automatically to each new person who signs up to your mailing list.
For example, if someone downloads a free guide to first time buyer mortgages from your website, your email marketing system could be programmed to automatically send them one email per day for the next week, with each email containing some useful tips about the house-buying process.
With the best email marketing packages you can also create more complex automations. For example you could configure the system to send an email at the start of each month but only to those of your subscribers whose fixed rate product is due to expire within the next three months.
Why Do You Need to Use an Email Marketing Service?
Some mortgage brokers might be tempted to save a few quid by sending their mass emails via their normal email client such as Outlook or Gmail. This is a bad idea for a number of reasons:
- An email which is sent to a large number of people at the same time (even if you put all the recipient addresses in the Bcc field) is likely to be flagged as spam by the receiving mail server
- Your own ISP may place restrictions on your account if you try to send bulk emails via your normal email system
- Maintaining your mailing lists manually and tracking unsubscribes without the help of a proper email marketing system is time-consuming and prone to errors
- You won’t get access to all the statistics and reporting that you get when you use an email marketing service
- It is much harder to personalise your emails to each recipient if you use Outlook or similar
- It is difficult/impossible to send autoresponder email sequences to people using a standard email client such as Outlook.
Money Making Machine
“If you are not seeing the email channel as a money making machine, you have the wrong strategy.”
Email Marketing and Autoresponders for Mortgage Brokers
I looked at six popular email marketing systems and assessed them on the following criteria:
- Ease of use
Here’s what I found.
All the features you will need plus a load more besides
Easy to use once you've figured out which features can be ignored
Low starting price of just $9 per month is excellent value for money
Overall rating: 5
ActiveCampaign is a very powerful and feature-rich email marketing platform which has been evolving and gaining new features ever since its launch in 2003.
It’s the system I use myself and I think it’s one of the best email marketing systems on the market – which is why it’s the one I recommend all my clients to use.
ActiveCampaign can be used to send broadcast emails (for one-off announcements, newsletters, etc) and can also work as an autoresponder.
What really sets ActiveCampaign apart from the rest of the pack is its email automation builder. This allows you to create all sorts of different automated email sequences using an intuitive drag-and-drop interface.
Automations can be simple single path sequences like this:
or they can have multiple branches, with contacts being sent in different directions depending on whether they match certain conditions:
In the example above, which is an extract from one of my own automations, a contact who has not been tagged as having taken up the offer of a free Google Ads audit will be sent a reminder email about it. Those who have already requested an audit will skip that step and go onto the next one.
You can add tags to your contacts manually or you can apply tags to a contact from within an automation.
You can also assign contacts to different email lists and use this as a way to determine which emails they receive.
There are various condition which can trigger a contact to start an automation, such as the contact subscribing to a list or having a particular tag added.
Split testing is another very useful feature available in ActiveCampaign.
For example, when you send an email you can set up two different subject lines for it. ActiveCampaign will then automatically use subject line A for half your recipients and subject line B for the other half.
By looking at the results of this A/B test you will be able to see which subject line got the best open rate. Over time, this can help you get better at writing effective subject lines.
You can also split test within your automations and send one group of contacts through one sequence of emails, and another group through a different sequence.
Again, the comprehensive reporting section of ActiveCampaign will let you easily see which sequence performs the best.
To help you create your emails, ActiveCampaign includes a drag-and-drop email builder which comes with a wide range of templates you can use as a starting point:
If you want to move beyond just email marketing, ActiveCampaign even includes a CRM system so you can track store a wealth of information and notes about your contacts and track the progress of potential deals.
If all this sounds expensive then don’t worry. Everything I’ve described above is available in the Lite plan which is only $9 per month (paid annually) for a maximum of 500 contacts.
Is there a downside to ActiveCampaign?
I suppose the only negative thing is that if you’re new to email marketing and email automation then you might find the sheer number of features in ActiveCampaign a bit overwhelming.
But if you just focus on the key elements that you need for building and nurturing your list of prospects then it’s actually a very easy to use tool.
You can get a 14 day free trial of ActiveCampaign using this link and you won't even need to supply any credit card details.
Limited options for building automations
Easy enough to use but the user interface feels dated
Starting price of $19pm means AWeber is not good value for money
Overall rating: 3
AWeber has been around since 1998 which, in internet terms, is a hell of a long time. In fact, it makes it as old as Google.
For many years, AWeber was the only affordable choice when it came to email marketing and autoresponder systems. And this allowed it to build up a huge user base.
But today, AWeber faces a lot more competition from other email marketing tools which are cheaper and, in my opinion, better.
AWeber has always allowed you to segment your contacts into different lists but more recently it has gained the ability to add tags to contacts as well. As with ActiveCampaign, you can use tags to keep track of things like which opt-in form a contact used to join your list, which automations they have completed, which links they have clicked in your emails, etc.
AWeber does allow you to build automations but they are limited to a linear sequence of events:
Unlike with some of the other platforms covered in this review, you can’t include if/then conditions in your automations. This is AWeber’s biggest drawback in my opinion.
There’s the usual collection of templates that you can use to design your emails. However, I don’t think they are as varied or modern as the ones in some of the other email marketing tools.
I could forgive some of these failings if AWeber were cheap, but it isn’t. The starting price is $19 per month for up to 500 subscribers. That’s more than double the price of ActiveCampaign.
AWeber’s pricing does start to become more competitive once you have a mailing list of 10,000 contacts or more. But for a mortgage broker who is just getting started with email marketing there are other providers in this list which offer much better value.
If you do want to check AWeber out for yourself, you can get a 30 day free trial using this link.
Limited unless you opt for the expensive Email Plus package
Fairly straightforward to use
Starts at £15pm but it costs £30pm to get email automation
Overall rating: 2
I’ll cut straight to the chase.
Although Constant Contact has been around for many years, it really hasn’t aged well.
My biggest complaint about Constant Contact it is very expensive for what it offers (which is not very much).
Pricing starts at £15 per month for the basic plan. But to get access to essential features such as email automations you'll need to go for the Email Plus plan which starts at £30 per month and quickly ramps up once you have over 500 subscribers.
Like AWeber, Constant Contact only offers the most basic of linear automations with no options to add if/then conditions or to automatically tag people who perform certain actions such as clicking a link in an email.
Constant Contact offers some good integrations with popular ecommerce platforms such as Shopify. But that kind of thing isn’t much use if you’re a mortgage broker.
Constant Contact has some features that you won’t find in other email marketing systems. These include surveys and polls, event registration, and the ability to accept online donations.
Again, though, these are not essential features for the average mortgage broker so why pay for things that you’re not going to use?
In short, Constant Contact has a lot of features you probably won’t need and, for the things you do need, it doesn’t offer the same range of options and the ease of use that you’ll get from its competitors. And yet it comes at a premium price.
If you still want to take a look at Constant Contact, use this link to get your first month for free.
Everything you need without any distracting extras
Definitely the simplest and easiest system to use even for beginners
There's a free plan but you'll almost certainly need the $29pm one.
Overall rating: 4.5
ConvertKit does have a free plan, but if you want to use any kind of email automation you’ll need to upgrade to one of their paid plans which start at $29 per month.
This makes it more expensive than ActiveCampaign, and yet I know several people who have switched from ActiveCampaign to ConvertKit over the past couple of years because they feel it is easier to use.
ConvertKit allows you to build complex automations quickly and easily using a drag-and-drop builder tool that’s similar to the one found in ActiveCampaign. They also have a number of automation blueprints that you can use to get you started.
You can use ConvertKit to design opt-in forms for people to join your mailing list as well as create landing pages to host these forms. This is useful, although I’d recommend you use a dedicated suite of tools such as Thrive Themes for doing this.
There aren’t as many additional tools in ConvertKit as you’ll find in ActiveCampaign – no CRM for example, but if you just want to be able to build an email list and send automated follow-ups to your subscribers then that doesn’t really matter.
Overall, ConvertKit is a worthy competitor to ActiveCampaign and the deciding factors for most mortgage brokers when choosing between them are likely to be personal preference and the price.
Give ConvertKit a try with a 14 day free trial.
Less features than some but it's got everything you'll need plus a huge selection of templates
Not being able to create emails from within the automation builder is annoying
Base price of $15pm is high but does give you up to 1,000 subscribers
Overall rating: 4
GetResponse is another email marketing system that’s been around for a long while. But, unlike some of the other grandfathers of the email marketing world, it has kept pace with developments and is a strong contender for the title of Best Email Marketing Software for Mortgage Brokers.
GetResponse comes with a huge number of ready-made email templates and plenty of done-for-you opt-in forms too.
In terms of email automation, it has everything you need: advanced workflows with conditional branching, behavioural tagging, split testing of various elements (not just subject lines), and a graphical interface for building automations:
One thing that lets the automation builder down is that you can’t create a new email from within it. So you’ll need to plan ahead and create all the required emails before you start putting together your automation.
As an ActiveCampaign user who is in the habit of creating emails one at a time from within the automation builder, I would find this quite annoying if were to switch to GetResponse.
Pricing for GetResponse is on a par with ActiveCampaign. It starts at $15 per month and for that you can have up to 1,000 subscribers.
For comparison, ActiveCampaign starts at $9 per month but for that you can only have 500 subscribers. Upgrading to 1,000 contacts costs $17 per month.
GetResponse has a 30 day free trial with no credit card details required.
Great for broadcast emails but minimal support for automation
Simple and intuitive to use but the user interface is let down by the lack of features
Starts at just $9.99pm and there's also a free plan with reduced features
Overall rating: 3
Even if you’ve never heard of Mailchimp, I can guarantee you will have received various emails that have been sent using their systems.
Mailchimp is the most widely used of all the major email marketing tools. But does that mean it’s the best?
Well, it depends what you want to use it for.
It scores brilliantly in terms of its selection of email templates and it boasts an easy to use email designer.
Mailchimp allows you to do split-testing of your emails, but only for broadcast (i.e. one-off) campaigns.
It’s got a good reporting interface so you can easily see how many people opened your emails, what links they clicked, etc.
Mailchimp can be very cheap too. They have a free plan which you can stay on for as long as you like, provided you don’t have more than 2,000 subscribers.
If you go over that, or if you need access to more features and the full range of templates then you’ll need to upgrade to a paid plan. But these start from just $9.99 per month.
All of these things mean that, if you want a tool for sending out monthly newsletters or other one-off campaigns, then Mailchimp is a pretty good bet.
However, if you are a mortgage broker who has been following my advice and is looking to send autoresponder email sequences or build other kinds of email automations, then Mailchimp is not the answer.
In recent years, Mailchimp has gained some email automation features, but it was built originally as an email campaign broadcast platform and that still shows today.
So it doesn’t have an easy-to-use automation builder, and you can’t have automations that branch off in different directions depending on whether certain conditions are met. All you can do is build a linear email sequence.
There is some split-testing functionality but you can’t split test within your automations.
Overall, I wouldn’t recommend Mailchimp as a suitable email marketing platform for mortgage brokers unless you are on a really tight budget.
There are only three serious contenders for the title of Best Email Marketing Software for Mortgage Brokers. They are:
The other email marketing systems are ruled out on the basis that they don't offer sufficiently powerful or easy-to-use automation features. And these features are essential if you want to use email marketing to turn prospects into clients.
ActiveCampaign, ConvertKit and GetResponse all offer free trials. So I would recommend you have a play around with all three and see which one you think you are going to be able to get to grips with the quickest.
However, if I had to pick one winner to recommend to mortgage brokers who are looking for an email marketing package, it would have to be ActiveCampaign. It’s got the widest range of features out of these three email marketing systems and it has the lowest starting price.
I hope you've found this review useful. If you've got any questions or if you have any opinions on whether I've picked the right winner, please leave a comment in the box below.