Email marketing is a pretty crowded industry, dominated by a few incumbents who for years have set a high level of expectations about the features that we should expect from such services. Any new business entering the market has two options: they can either build the typical MVP (minimum viable product) and add features over time, aiming for a core that will attract users for different reasons than those services that already exist; or they can try to match immediately the functionality of the incumbents.
eMailChef aims for the middle ground, making its debut with all the features you can expect from a professional email marketing service and putting aside some hard-core features for the future. We think it’s a smart move that will pay well in the short term.
eMailChef’s ease of use and design choices are details that greatly impressed us from the start. User can set up an account with just a few simple and clear steps. The software’s designers borrowed heavily from Google’s Material design, and that’s a good choice: eMailChef appearance feels unique among other email marketing services, with vivid colors and a simple, squared interface in which you can’t get lost during the set-up process.
From the Dashboard you can access everything you need, from lists to campaigns to reports to account management. Every box in your dashboard can be reordered or deleted as you wish: there’s no fixed visualization. eMailChef guides you through every procedure with an intelligent and prompt copy, even those parts of your campaign you haven’t yet used.
eMailChef looks like a typical email marketing service of choice: it offers you the ability to manage mailing lists, send email campaigns and analyze their performance over time, create templates for campaigns, build registration forms and set automatic emails that are triggered only by specific actions or conditions. Since eMailChef has just launched, this is an outstanding set of features. Pro users can prove themselves with autoresponders andto automate communications in few steps. You can target autoresponders to segments, instead of lists only.
The lists segmentation feature stands out for ease of use. We appreciated all the steps eMailChef took to make sure every user complies with the CAN-SPAM Act. They’re just complying with US and EU regulations, but they’re doing it proactively and timely, and we like it very much.
eMailChef’s support comes in the form of the usual knowledge-base and FAQ, and it’s very thorough. Like its competitors, eMailChef fills the site with how-to guides and tips for a better email creation. Support tickets are also in place. A “Notification Area” portlet is now available on the dashboard that provides updates on the service performances.
eMailChef has a remarkable entry-level price that’s much lower than other services. You can sign up for free for up to 500 contacts and unlimited emails; prices go up to $440 per month for more than a million monthly emails. Every tier has a food-related name: the free option is an “appetizer”, the $10/month option is “breakfast”, and the priciest option is a “gala dinner”. The food-related copy is spread all around the website. A “pay as you go” option is also available. Choose a yearly plan and you’ll get two months free.
To test eMailChef deliverability we created a 500-contacts custom list, bringing together some of the most common free email providers such as Yahoo and Gmail. We then sent a made-up campaign to simulate proper email marketing communications. eMailChef surprised us with a dazzling 96.2% delivery rate, beating competitors. Segmenting is another feature that eMailChef gets right; users can create a segment with just a few clicks.
If we stress eMailChef’s shortcomings, it’s just because we are confident that it will grow steadily and thoroughly, and because it’s debuting with a product with no comprehensive automation system, a way to share a campaign on social networks, or a preview of a campaign as seen by your recipients. Those accustomed to stronger competitors may find those shortcomings prohibitive. We wait for the next update, but we’re already fans.
|Usability: 9 /10||Speed: 9 /10||Features: 8.5 /10||Support: 9 /10||Pricing: 9 /10|