Zoho Campaigns, which begins at $5 per month for up to 500 subscribers, is a worthy email marketing application, specially for small to midsize businesses (SMBs) already invested in the Zoho ecosystem of products, most notably Zoho CRM. As a standalone solution for creating email campaigns and newsletters, it offers a fair amount of pre-set templates and can guide novices through the process of creating attractive emails quickly and easily for the most part. Recent user interface (UI) overhauls and new functionality make Zoho Campaigns a competitive Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) solution that will please new users and smaller businesses. However, the pricing structure can get tricky, especially compared to competitors like Mailchimp and Campaigner. Still, Zoho Campaigns has a lot going for it and is certainly worth consideration.
Pricing and Features
Like Campaign Monitor and Mailchimp, Zoho Campaigns offers a pay-as-you-go plan in which you buy email credits. With this model, which agrees with SMBs that may be dipping their feet in email marketing, you pay to send a specific amount of emails. These plans begin at $6 for 250 email sends, $80 for 5,000, and up to $750 for 100,000. Monthly subscriptions, which include unlimited emails, start at $5 for up to 500 subscribers and go all of the way to $350 per month for up to 100,000 subscribers. Also like Mailchimp, there’s a free plan that includes up to 2,000 subscribers. The free Zoho Campaigns plan lets you send 12,000 emails per month. If you need more than 100,000 contacts, then you can get a quote on a custom high-volume plan. In addition to the pay-as-you-go plans and the subscriber-based plan, which Zoho says is the most popular because it offers unlimited emails, the company also now offers plans with a set number of emails. The e-mail based plan starts at $3 per month for up to 500 emails. You can get 1,000 emails for $6 per month, 2,500 emails for $15 per month, and 5,000 emails for $25 per month. On the higher end, you can get 100,000 emails for $200 per month.
Zoho Campaigns underwent a makeover in 2018 to streamline various features, especially the dashboard. The tool not only changed its look and feel to a more pleasing aesthetic but fundamentally changed the way one uses the platform. The change is that dashboard is now where you’ll be spending a lot of your time in Zoho Campaigns. This screen lets you create a new campaign, build a contact list, perform advanced capabilities like A/B tests and surveys, set up autoresponders, create sign-up forms, integrate your campaign with other platforms, and invite other colleagues to join your account. Prior to the revision, a lot of this functionality was harder to get to.
You can now customize the dashboard to suit each user’s needs as well. Other improvements include drag-and-drop functionality to marketing designs and dynamics fields (information such as username). In addition to the revamped UI, Zoho Campaigns offers a large selection of email templates, including 274 pre-designed templates, and a host of new autoresponders. Zoho has included a vast selection of templates, so most users should have an easy time finding something appropriate. However, we found some of the templates to have a slightly dated appearance and others that look as though we’d seen them before.
Since our last review, Zoho has added tighter integration between Zoho Meeting and Zoho Campaigns. You can conduct webinars in Meetings and promote the recorded webinars through email blasts in Zoho Campaigns. Zoho also introduced a feature called Topic Management. This enables users to link topics to your mailing lists so you can target customers based on their interests and the purpose of the emails, like webinars, content newsletters, or event invitations. The company has also added various themes for the header-footer spots of email messages. The themes let you customize the design of how the headers and footers will read. For example, “This email was sent by [sender’s email address] to [recipient’s email address].” Zoho also now offers advanced segmentation so you can send messages in bulk.
Getting started with email marketing usually begins with creating a contact list. In Zoho Campaigns you can add contacts by adding them manually, importing contacts from an Excel spreadsheet, syncing contacts, or letting contacts sign up themselves via a web form. The process of mapping fields to the contact fields was easy, and Zoho Campaigns correctly picked up the fields.
You can add contacts in three different ways: add manually, import, or sync with customer relationship management (CRM) contacts or other software that you’ve connected to your account. You’ll find the options under Integrations on your dashboard. You can import from file (CSV, XLS, or XLSX) or from Google spreadsheets. When uploading a file, you can designate whether or not people can sign up for the newsletter by using a sign-up form on your website or on the footer on the email.
If you have a newsletter with an exclusive audience, then you can prevent anyone from subscribing unless they are manually added. We were able to successfully upload a CSV file, and the process of mapping designated fields for data points like First Name, Last Name, Phone Number, and such was easy. Zoho Campaigns correctly imported all our fields, and we were able to add our contacts into the application with no hiccups which is great considering that this is one area where a lot of competing tools can trip you up.
Building Your First Campaign
Zoho offers many different types of email campaigns, including regular newsletters, A/B tests, survey campaigns, e-commerce campaigns, and social media campaigns aimed at properties like Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter. To set up an email campaign, you start by inputting your company name, address, phone number, which will appear in the footer of the email to comply with anti-spam policy. We think it’s a good thing that Zoho Campaigns incorporates anti-spam measures like a reputation score to help the software judge if a domain should be blocked. After ending your information in the footer, give the campaign a name and subject line, and specify the sender name and email and the reply-to email. Campaigner also addresses the issue of spam by including an overview of the CAN-SPAM Act within its software.
You can also personalize the address with the contacts’ first and last names. Here, you can also add Google Analytics (GA) tracking. Next, you choose email type (HTML and plain text, or one or the other), and template (import/upload, HTML editor, or import from cloud) for the email design. Zoho Campaigns offers a nice variety of templates in three varieties: Saved Templates you’ve previously used, Pre-designed Templates you can create quickly, and Basic Templates that have not been populated with images or text so you can design an email from scratch.
Zoho has updated its email builder, and we found the template editor for creating emails easy to use. The pop-ups that explain what each icon is for are helpful. The email building functionality was on a par with our Editors’ Choice winners Campaigner and Mailchimp.
Zoho Campaigns has expanded the number of categories it offers for email creation. They now include Business, Welcome, Thank You, New Year, Seasons, and Birthday. You can link to websites, email addresses, files, and phone numbers in the body of your email. We had trouble editing buttons, though, and often ended up deleting and re-adding that element. You can easily delete elements of the template you don’t want to use, which is helpful, unlike with SendinBlue, which doesn’t let you remove elements. Adding and removing elements is done via drag and drop, which worked well most of the time. You can also change the background colors, add tables and images, buttons, spacers, and more.
Oddly, we had to close out of the editing window to send a campaign, which is unusual. You can opt to send it to your compliance team for approval if you’re worried about spam filters. In fact, you have to do so with your first few campaigns to get whitelisted. Our first campaign was approved within an hour or so, so it wasn’t a terrible inconvenience. This compliance check is not something we experienced in the other products we tested for the email marketing roundup.
We set up a campaign name entered a subject, “BTH Summer Floor Lamp Deals Newsletter.” Then we turned on Reply Tracking. Zoho Campaigns offers impressive personalization with the ability to have the recipient’s first name show up in the subject heading of the email. This works well when sending out your campaign at the end, but in a test message you get “FNAME” in the subject heading. Before you send your email campaign, you can preview how it will look on multiple devices, just as you can in other platforms like GetResponse and HubSpot Marketing Hub. This is a handy feature, since it allows you to scroll down on a virtual smartphone screen, and see if there will be any display problems on those devices, even while you’re working on a laptop. The software provides helpful feedback about errors in your campaign content before you send it. For example, it warns about errors that may result in the email being sent to a recipient’s spam folder. We also got a warning about a “Shop Now” button with a link that led nowhere saving us potential embarrassment. That’s important, since adding a call to action (CTA) link is a key step in building and tracking your email marketing campaign.
In addition to traditional newsletters, Zoho Campaigns also offers autoresponders and the ability to create automated workflows around your email marketing efforts. For example, you can use these workflows to send follow-up emails to your customers at the right time based on their behaviors.
There are several actions you can take on a campaign, but there’s one important one we needed: the ability to go in and make text changes before sending to the next batch of recipients. You can’t edit the exact document, but you can clone your campaign and make edits during that process. We would have like to see a more efficient way to edit existing email campaign text. We didn’t experience this issue with the other products in the email marketing roundup. In our Editors’ Choice Campaigner, we also were unable to edit an existing campaign’s text, just like with Zoho Campaigns. However, both Campaigner and Zoho Campaigns offer an option to copy an existing email campaign instead. For a particular campaign, you can view details, send it to other lists as is, and share your campaign on social media. You can also print a report or download a report as a PDF.
Tracking your Campaign
After you send a campaign, you can track it by going to the Email Campaigns or Reports tab. On the former, you can see all of your campaigns, including drafts. The Reports tab is just for sent campaigns and has links to your top five opened campaigns, top five clicked campaigns, and top five clicked URLs. This makes it possible for various managers to jump in and see what the status is on campaigns.
Zoho Campaigns offers a colorful report summary showing the percentage of delivered emails, bounces, and unsent notes. You can view the number of unique opens, unique clicks and unopened emails. There’s even a spot on the report summary for complaints. On either tab, click the newsletter you want to track, and you can see a color-coded bar chart showing opens (green), bounces (red), and unsent (light yellow) emails. Beneath that, you can see social sharing data, and underneath that, a map of where your contacts reside. On the right-hand side, you can post your newsletter on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter. Like HubSpot and Salesforce Pardot, Zoho Campaigns offers a lead scoring feature to keep track of the status of subscribers and contacts.
A growing trend among email marketing solutions is the expansion into marketing automation. Zoho Campaigns offers this as well and has vastly improved its capabilities in this area and become more competitive. Available integrations, include trigger-based workflows for onboarding new contacts, re-engaging lost contacts, keeping new customers, and letting customers know about deals. You can configure workflows based on certain conditions, such as a specific period of time or when an activity occurs, like a signup form being completed.
In addition, you can set up autoresponders related to the calendar or how users and recipients interact with your emails. To help, Zoho Campaigns features reports tied into its autoresponder and workflow features. Overall, when it comes to marketing automation, Salesforce Pardot is a more robust option, but it’s also significantly more pricey and geared towards enterprises.
A Capable Platform Evolves
Help resources include user guides, email deliverability guidelines, FAQs, blog, forums, feature updates, webinars, e-books, an application programming interface (API) guide, and videos. All of this content is searchable. You can also submit a support ticket online or call Zoho’s toll-free number 24 hours a day, seven days a week (paid customers only). Campaigner, HubSpot Marketing Hub, and Infusionsoft by Keap also offer around-the-clock support, but not all companies do, so this is impressive. For billing issues and to cancel your account, you can email Zoho directly.
Zoho Campaigns offers a lot of features to help you with email marketing and it connects easily with other Zoho services, including CRM, and some third parties, including Google Apps. It’s much more pleasing to look at thanks to its design revamp and is easy to use to boot.
With autoresponders and all-day phone support, it’s a good choice for email marketers. If you want to connect third-party software such as Salesforce or access more sophisticated email designs, then check out our Editors’ Choices, Campaigner or Mailchimp.
Zoho Campaigns Specs
|Limited Free Trial||Yes|
|Social Media Marketing||Yes|
|Social Media Integration||Yes|
|24/7 Phone Support||Yes|