The Best Email Marketing Services
Credit: Email image via Shutterstock

While direct mail or television and radio advertising used to be the best way to reach consumers, it is quickly being replaced by email marketing. With more than 1 billion email users worldwide, businesses are realizing that targeting inboxes is a great way to share news and promotional information with their customers.

From newsletters and promotional coupons to catalogs and surveys, businesses are using email marketing in a variety of ways to connect with their customers. Email marketing works in essentially the same way as direct marketing does. However, instead of sending fliers and coupons to a customer's home, businesses send emails to them instead. The benefit to email marketing over direct mail advertising is that businesses are better able to track who is opening their mail and who is actually using and reading what's sent out.

To help with this form of marketing, many businesses employ email marketing services, which provide all the tools and software needed to create a campaign. Specifically, these services provide businesses with templates to design and create a variety of email marketing campaigns, as well as the ability to send out a large number of emails at one time.

When choosing an email marketing service, there are a number of factors business owners should take into consideration, including how easy it is to create a campaign and track its results, the features that are available and the support that is offered. BusinessNewsDaily's sister site, TopTenREVIEWS, does extensive in-depth reviews to help businesses find the email marketing service that best suits their needs.  Here are TopTenREVIEWS' top three recommendations for the best email marketing services:

This year's TopTenREVIEWS' Gold Award winner is iContact for its arsenal of tools that business owners can use when creating and managing email marketing campaigns that are designed to boost sales and customer engagement. The iContact software offers a variety of templates for emails, and walks business owners through the step-by-step process of tailoring a campaign for their own needs.

Features: iContact offers several options for organizing contact information, which is generally the first step in creating an email marketing campaign. Users can upload an existing list from any XLS, VCF or CSV files, or use iContact's online form to add them one by one. The software also gives users the ability to segment contacts in a variety of ways in order to target emails to specific audiences, such as by geographical location. In addition, iContact has a variety of social media tools to help further reach consumers. For example, the service can help businesses tweet about their current campaigns or publish messages on the company's Facebook wall.

Email Campaign Creation and Reporting: When creating email marketing campaigns, iContact offers options for both beginners and those with advanced skills in programming or design. For beginners, the service walks them through a step-by-step process that starts with a selection of more than 600 pre-established templates. For those with more advanced skills, the service allows them to work with their own HTML code or template. Once the emails have been sent out, the iContact Reports tab helps users see the results that their efforts are generating with pie charts and statistics about each mailing. iContact also tracks tweets, likes, shares and other helpful social media statistics.

Help and Support: iContact provides support for its customers through video tutorials, FAQs and webinars. In addition, users can contact customer support representatives via live chat, email and phone.

Cost: To compare costs, visit TopTenREVIEWS' best email marketing services.

Benchmark Email marketing software, this year's TopTenREVIEWS' Silver Award winner, gets high marks for making it extremely simple to start from scratch and craft an entire campaign. The service also does an excellent job of integrating social networking, personalized colors and logos, surveys, newsletters and coupons with its straightforward interface.

Features: To start a campaign, businesses can add contacts by inputting them one at a time with copy and paste, importing address books or downloading a file with XLS, CSV or TXT extensions. Benchmark also offers a number of social media tools, including drop-down menus that make it easy to add Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Flickr, Yelp, Pinterest and other social media buttons that are connected with the business's brand.

Email Campaign Creation and Reporting: Benchmark offers a wide range of eye-catching templates that are easy to adapt to each business's needs. There are drop-down menus that let users change background colors, insert images and add surveys, among other things. The service offers a number of reports about each email marketing campaign, including statistics regarding the number of people who opened the messages, their click rate, forwards and how many unsubscribed from the list.

Help and Support: For those that run into problems, the company's customer service representatives are quick to respond by live chat, email and telephone. In addition, the Benchmark website is packed with FAQs and other helpful information.

Cost: To compare costs, visit TopTenREVIEWS' best email marketing services.

Constant Contact took home this year's TopTenREVIEWS' Bronze Award for its software that assists businesses in growing by helping them create spam-free, engaging content that generates interest in the company's products or services.

Features: To get going, Constant Contact lets businesses cut and paste contact lists, or import them from a compatible program or a compatible file type, such as those with XLS, XLSX, CSV and TXT extensions. The service also offers tools to help businesses not only create emails, but polls and surveys as well. In addition, Constant Contact makes it easy to incorporate social networking elements into any campaign.

Email Campaign Creation and Reporting: The choices and quality of Constant Contact's campaign templates is impressive. The service makes it easy to adjust and personalize templates with users' own text, video, images and links. Businesses also have the option to use their own HTML coding if they are experienced in that area. Constant Contact offers comprehensive reporting tools that let businesses know how many customers are opening the emails and how many are forwarding them on to others.

Help and Support: Should businesses have any trouble with their campaigns, Constant Contact has helpful representatives available by live chat, phone and email. They also provide informative articles, tutorials, FAQs, tips and other materials on their website.

Cost: To compare costs, visit TopTenREVIEWS' best email marketing services.

Originally published on BusinessNewsDaily.