Campaigner is a full-featured email marketing solution that combines a competitive price (starting at $19.95 for up to 1,000 contacts), a wide range of automation options, a good number of third-party integrations, and 24/7 live chat support. It also stands out due to a nicely refined and intuitive interface that includes a wide selection of templates, both of which not only make it very attractive to small and midsized businesses (SMBs) but also give Campaigner our Editors’ Choice selection for the email marketing segment. You’ll still want to evaluate it carefully, however, because while it’s certainly easier to use than some of the competition, its wealth of features necessarily make it more complex than Mailchimp (our other Editors’ Choice recipient) and it can also be finicky when performing more advanced functions, like altering templates.
Editors’ Note: J2 Global, the company that owns Campaigner, also owns Ziff Davis and PCMag.com.
Plans and Pricing
Affordable entry pricing has been one of Campaigner’s biggest draws, specially among smaller businesses looking to engage in email marketing. For smaller outfits with a database of up to 1,000 contacts, Campaigner’s initial plan at $19.95 per month is a good entry point. Businesses managing up to 5,000 contacts will look to spend $40.95 per month for the Starter plan, which is the next pricing option.
Campaigner’s $40.95 price per month with 5,000 contacts is stills cheaper than Zoho Campaigns, which charges $45 per month for 2,501-5,000 subscribers. It may be challenging for SMBs to decide which of these solutions to go for depending on their range of contacts alone. Companies also need to consider their future needs and which plans scale more organically and make sense price wise.
At first, Campaigner’s pricing structure appears confusing because there’s one block of prices ranging from $19.95 to $449.95, followed by a separate eCommerce plan starting at $65.95 a month custom offering with integration for Shopify and Magento. The range of plans is certainly overwhelming and might trip up potential clients, specially for businesses whose number of contacts fall in between what the tiers prescribe.
The basic tier starts at $19.95 for 1,000 contacts, the Starter tier is now $40.95 for 5,000 contacts, Essential is $119.95 for up to 25,000 contacts, and Advanced starts at $449.95 for up to 100k contacts as well as additional features and functionality including Purchase Behavior and Automation Workflows.
Unlimited Email Messages Per Month
Campaigner lets you send an unlimited number of email messages per month. Campaigner’s own marketing materials highlight the company’s policy that you can cancel at any time. There are no discounted annual plans, but you’re also not locked into a contract, which is convenient.
With the email workflows that Campaigner provides, you can communicate with your subscribers based on specified auto-responders, which you set up using a convenient drag-and-drop system. These auto-responders can be sent when certain triggers (or actions) occur, like a form submission or profile change. They can be employed reach out to highly engaged customers or those customers who have recently made a buying decision.
Marketers can best use auto-responders to create welcome emails. When you sign up for a newsletter, that would trigger a welcome email to be sent to you—perhaps with a 10 percent off discount. Same goes for situations when a customer abandons a shopping cart or cancels an order, a proactive auto-responder can quickly offer up deals or other options that could save a sale or, more importantly, retain a customer.
Other features offered include the ability to embed real-time display ads in newsletters, target your subscribers based on their location, or find out where your subscribers live based on geolocation.
Registration to Campaigner is straightforward. Once you verify your email address, you set a password and then provide the usual personal information and a credit card number. Having to provide credit card information just for a trial to test if a solution is well suited to a business is contentious, and could put off potential customers evaluating products. If you decide not to proceed with Campaigner, the only way to not get charged at the end of the trial period is to call them and cancel, which is time consuming. Campaigner allows you to invite additional users to your account at no extra cost if multiple people will be creating campaigns.
Once signed on, Campaigner’s reps will send you emails inviting you to webinars, share resources, or view videos that can make onboarding to their system feel less daunting. Potential users quickly feel a sense of community as Campaigner users, something that few other solutions manage to foster so quickly.
Campaigner’s User Interface
Campaigner offers a well designed and easy to navigate user interface that is anchored on a horizontal menu bar. A hamburger menu, or a three line indicator, is found on the left hand side and brings up quick shortcuts to various useful functions. This includes Start new campaign, Import contacts, create a list, create a segment, add a custom field, start an A/B split test, create an autoresponder, and create a new sign up form.
The top navigation is where you can access the Dashboard, Email Campaigns, Library, Contacts, Lists, Autoresponders, Experiments, Forms, Workflows, and Reports. The dynamic nature of the Campaigner web interface makes it easy to dive right in to various marketing activities. I found the website to be responsive and quick with very little loading time between sections.
Focusing on email marketing, we gravitated towards the Email Campaigns section which revealed ongoing campaigns as well as the links to create a New Email Campaign, Choose Recipients, Schedule and Send, Edit, Resend, Copy, Delete, and Categorize. Most marketers and content creators will be spending a lot of time in this section, the good news is that all the necessary controls and options are well within reach. New email campaign opens up the template section where you can select from various themes, edit the HTML code, edit the Plain Text, and Edit Email Details as necessary.
At first glance, the 43 templates available to me in my trial seemed wide-ranging and suitable to various types of marketing activities. That said, users or brands that are more particular about design and UI would do well to survey the designs that Campaigner has to offer and see if they fit the look that they are going for. The reason for this is that, depending on your level of expertise, it will be limiting to work within the confines of the available themes. Outside of changing the text and adding your own images, there’s very little wiggle room for tweaking and customizing templates which means after a while they will tend to look stale.
While it’s true that you can always create your own template using HTML, most users sign up for solutions like Campaigner because they want to avoid having to design and code their own marketing and email materials.
This isn’t much of an issue for SMB’s getting started in the email marketing game because they have a generally wide selection of templates to help them get up and running. This might be a bigger issue for more active businesses or marketers who might have already run the gamut of template designs.
Campaigner’s dashboard is more appealing and easier to use some other user interfaces (UIs), such as GetResponse. The dashboard includes a section called Contact Growth Summary, which provides a view of your contacts’ interactions with your campaigns for the last three months. This snapshot tallies the amount of hard bounces and soft bounces as well as who is subscribed or unsubscribed. If a contact is not doing well, then companies can look into whether the contact lists are being segmented properly. In our case, we noticed that we unsubscribed a contact that didn’t show up under the Contacts Growth Summary, and we subscribed more than one contact but only a number 1 showed up under Subscribed. Campaigner includes most of the important features email marketers are seeking, including A/B split testing, automation workflows, auto-responders, responsive design, social sharing, and suppression lists. Advanced targeting features now include email segmentation, engagement scoring, geolocation, and purchase behavior. The tool also now has integrations with Adobe Analytics, Facebook, Google Analytics , Salesforce, Twitter, and Magento.
Campaigner has also taken the necessary steps to become compliant with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) which is standard across the industry.
Subscriber List Creation
Campaigner offers various ways to add contacts into the system. The most common and conventional way is copying and pasting information directly into the app, which ensures you cover all the necessary contact entry details in order to work seamlessly with Campaigner. You can also upload files in various formats (CSV, VCF, XLS, or XLSX), or import your Gmail or Yahoo contacts. After your contacts have been loaded into the system, you’ll receive a message in your Campaigner inbox.
For our test of Campaigner we imported our database of contacts into the tool, the fields lined up nicely. We were able to drag and drop the Excel file onto the Import Contacts page. All of the contacts were labeled subscribed by default. There’s a drop-down menu in which you can specify a status like soft bounce or unsubscribed. But when we tried to change the status for contacts, it didn’t work. Meanwhile, we tried unsubscribing some contacts another way. We clicked the box next to the contact and hit Unsubscribe from the top menu under “Manage Contacts.” This action cannot be undone. This seems a bit too permanent. We tried to add the address anew and got the error message “Cannot add contact. Email address is not unique.”
Campaigner automatically creates user segments based on when they were added to your account or when their profile was last updated. You can create additional segments based on email actions, form submissions, and any custom fields you have created.
Auto-responders can also help you build a subscriber list. There are templates available (including the “win-back” template) that are designed to draw back inactive contacts who haven’t opened an email or clicked in a while in order to win them back.
We imported another mailing list into Campaigner from Excel. At first the Preview and Configure section didn’t have the fields mapped correctly. We added a space in Excel under First Name, Last Name and then Email Address, and then we were able to have the fields mapped correctly. We’re adding another mailing list so we can specify the five people we want the test email sent to.
We kept adding to the new mailing list under Contacts and importing a second Excel spreadsheet. The process was difficult at first because the contacts kept getting added to the existing mailing list rather than showing up in a new list. So when we went under Lists, and then we were able to add a new mailing list.
Setting Up a Campaign
Campaigner is similarly a powerful newsletter creation tool with various options. The first is Newsletter: Smart Email Builder, which offers lots of templates and layouts to get you started, and Full Email Editor, which accepts HTML code. The flexibility to upload raw HTML is a plus for email marketing platforms, like Campaigner. It’s an option to bypass the email editor within Campaigner. You can build the code with your HTML editor or Notepad. This feature is for advanced users who like to build their own code or who have templates they’d like to import. Users are able to input HTML from another email marketing platform if they’re switching an existing template over.
To upload your own HTML code, you go to the dashboard, click “Upload an HTML File” under “Other Options and Shortcuts,” and then Browse for your HTML file. Next you click Upload. Another method is to input your HTML code into the Plain Text Email editor.
Newsletters default to showing your full contact information in the footer, but you can change that. You can also create autoreply messages and conduct A/B or A/B/C tests, changing not just the design of the newsletter but also the From address and subject line. In our tests we were able to change the subject line of an email blast to see which one would gain the most eyeballs.
Once you’re satisfied with your newsletter, you can send it right away or schedule it for deployment later. We tried the scheduling option, and it worked just fine.
You can also choose to send it on a recurring schedule: daily, weekly, monthly, or annually. Unfortunately, we couldn’t find an option to send campaigns at a specific local time based on a recipient’s location, like you can do with GetResponse.
We created a sample newsletter called the using an existing template, and it was easy to set up. We designed the newsletter and added a headline, text, and images. We added stock photos from our hard drive, but only after struggling to see the text “Upload a new image,” which was too small in the interface.
Composing emails brings up a variety of options for marketers to consider and it is great that Campaigner puts these forward during mail or newsletter creation. You can later the reply to email address, set an auto reply message, track email replies, and even offer readers the option of reading email online in a browser through a “read it online,” link. This last feature is helpful for more complicated designs which are better viewed on a browser than on an email client.
After creating the sample newsletter, you can add social sharing buttons and test it out on multiple contacts using the Experiment feature. When we wanted to select recipients to receive our test message we ran into a problem, however. It happened when recipients needed to be grouped under a list or dynamic segment, which is a way to send email to recipients that meet certain criteria (like “added in the last 30 days.”) In that scenario, we couldn’t select individual users to receive the experiment, which is inconvenient.They need to be grouped under a Segment or a Mailing List.
Campaign Tracking and Reports
The Reports tab is where you can track the success of newsletters after they’ve been sent. For each campaign, you can see the open and click rate as well as the number of replies and unsubscribes. A pie chart shows the ratio of desktop users to mobile users. You can also integrate Campaigner with GA for enhanced tracking.
The report has a handy Refresh button so you can see real-time results. When we opened emails and clicked the links, they were registered in our Campaigner report almost immediately. You can also export these reports; once the export is complete, you can find the file in your message center. Having to look here for the reports seemed counter-intuitive.
In our tests, we set up a report that shows the status of each variation in our experiment. You can see bounce rates, hard bounces, who subscribed, and click rates. Reports of email activity offer this same data along with the number of customers who have complained. You can also see click-to-open rate (CTO) and click-through rate (CTR). These two terms were highlighted in blue as if they were hyperlinks but they didn’t lead anywhere.
One area that matters a lot to SMBs getting started with email marketing is the availability of support. Campaigner has support well-covered and has a variety of options to help solve any issues faced by new users.
If you’re working on a specific task and click the Help button, then you’re automatically directed to the relevant Help section. Campaigner also has a Status page that alerts you to outages and other issues. So, if you’re ever having trouble sending a campaign, then that’s the place to go. Phone and email support are available 24/7, which is optimal. We even received a phone call offering help. Several other vendors also offer 24/7 support, including HubSpot and Zoho Campaigns. Although Mailchimp recently added phone support, it’s not 24/7. GetResponse used to offer 24/7 phone support but on only offers 24/7 live chat support. Campaign Monitor and Salesforce Pardot lack 24/7 support.
In addition, Campaigner sends out emails when you sign up, with links to online webinars that help you get started. Notable topics include “Style email template in 5 minutes,” or “Get started with email marketing automation.” There are currently over 28 webinars listed on its website, including ones that teach you how to personalize your email campaigns to drive engagement, how to create dedicated landing pages for email marketing campaigns, how to create compelling email copy, and more.
Most questions you might have can be found in Campaigner’s growing knowledge base which offers a search box as well as a variety of how-to’s broken down by sections (i.e. Start an Email Campaign, or Manager Email Campaigns Overview).
Marketing Automation Workflows
Campaigner’s marketing automation is perfect if you’re looking for basic triggers and workflows. Segmenting contacts is easy. You can create custom fields, or you can use lists to segment. You can use email actions to re-target contacts. So, if a subsection of contacts hasn’t opened an email within the past month (or whatever date you set), then you can re-target them straight from the list segmentation tool. Segmentation lets you keep track of contacts on a daily versus weekly list so you don’t send duplicates. You can filter out people that just received a weekly email a few minutes before you send the daily version.
There is no limit to the number of filters you can add. However, the more filters you add, the longer it will take to find the contacts and send the emails. This is a bit of a limitation that you won’t find on Editors’ Choice marketing automation tools such as HubSpot and Salesforce Pardot. Additionally, you need to click the Refresh button to see how many contacts you’ve added after you add all of your filters. This should happen automatically and instantly, but instead, it refreshes once a day, either at the end of the workday or midnight.
The tool only offers two different auto-responder templates: recurring and triggered, which, as discussed earlier, means an email was sent because of a specific action, like a purchase. Recurring emails are sent on a pre-timed schedule. Triggered emails are designed for lead nurturing or for introductory and/or thank-you messages. Of the two recurring templates, you can only access win-back and recurring notice automations. Win-backs are specifically designed for things such as sales promotions or birthday messages. You select the initial criteria (i.e., Dwane hasn’t received an email in a while or hasn’t opened an email, or hasn’t clicked a link). Campaigner gives you standard templates for these emails, but they can also be edited or designed from scratch to better suit a brand’s image.
The template editor is designed to look like Microsoft Word so, if you’ve ever designed a Word document, then you’ll be able to design and blast off emails in no time. You can choose the “Date of last contact,” and then choose a specific mailing list or all contacts that fit this criterion. Unfortunately, to select contacts from multiple lists, you’ll have to run two separate campaigns or merge the lists. You’ll also need to create separate mailing lists if you want to send a campaign to a small group of people not included on your other lists. With triggered emails if your contact was added via a sign-up form, manually, or from an online service, then you’ll be able to build out automatic messages to bring them deeper into the pipeline.
Workflows are designed differently and in a more dynamic and modern manner. Like when we last reviewed Campaigner, it lets you use a left to right node map, in which you drop one of four “tools”—Send Email, Set Delay, Update Contacts, and Set Condition.Unfortunately, the triggers within these tools are added via a drop-down list, which means you’re opening and closing multiple windows for every trigger. The Set Condition tool lets you check to see if anyone has opened an email or clicked on a link. You can also set custom conditions, which is helpful for out-of-the-box actions for sign-up forms and other custom-built, lead-generation tactics. Campaigner lets you validate your design to test whether or not the workflow works. Unfortunately, Campaigner does not offer workflow templates, which means you won’t be able to plug and play for simple things such as long-term lead nurturing based off of sign-up forms, email opens, etc.
However, you can use workflows to create a drip campaign, which involves sending out marketing emails to potential customers over a longer time period to develop a relationship with them. This type of workflow might also be used if you’re trying to win back customers that have left.
Campaigner offers no social media automation tools, no search marketing functionality, and no mobile app for Android (it does offer an iOS app). It doesn’t offer any organic customer relationship management (CRM) tools. However, you can integrate a CRM tool using Campaigner’s application program interface (API). It imposes a limit on the number of emails you can send per plan, but Campaigner says it’s flexible if customers contact the sales team directly.
Powerful Workflows Framed around an Intuitive UI
Although Campaigner is our Editors’ Choice for standard email marketing software, it doesn’t live up to the design and functionality of HubSpot and Pardot for marketing automation. If your marketing automation needs extend beyond the need to send one-off messages or if your business requires more than very basic marketing automation, then you’ll want to look elsewhere for marketing automation-focused tool.
Campaigner’s intuitive UI, its various support and knowledge base options, and powerful email marketing control panel make it stand out as a tool for mid-sized to enterprise businesses with larger contact lists, or possibly agencies managing busy email marketing cadences.
Campaigner really comes into its own with more complex mass-email requirements and powerful email automation options. It is a recommended solution for more demanding email marketing workflows and an Editors’ Choice pick for its deep feature set framed within an intuitive user interface.
|Limited Free Trial||Yes|
|Social Media Integration||No|
|24/7 Phone Support||Yes|