What is Zoho Campaigns?
What is Zoho Campaigns?
Pricing and Plans
Zoho Campaigns starts its pricing in a pay-as-you-go plan. That means you’re buying email credits and then marking those against the emails you send, an approach similar to competitors like Campaign Monitor and Mailchimp. That can get tricky if you’re marketing needs change quickly or you’re not blessed with a hard and fast email list. For smaller companies just looking to dip their toes into the email marketing pond for the first time, it should work well, but it’s not your only option.
Zoho’s plans begin at $6 for 250 email sends, $80 for 5,000, and up to $750 for 100,000. But there’s also a plan based on subscribers rather than sends, so you’re paying for your list rather than how many emails you send. Monthly subscriptions 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. This free Zoho Campaigns version lets you send 12,000 emails per month. If you need more than 100,000 subscribers, then you can get a quote on a custom high-volume plan.
By comparison, HubSpot Marketing Hub starts at $50 per month for 2,000 email sends and bumps up an extra $20 for new contacts beyond the initial 1,000 included with the base version. Your send limits stay the same until you cross the 2,000 per month email threshold, at which point pricing goes up again. It’s a different pricing structure than Zoho’s, but when you compare long-term sending constraints, Zoho comes out ahead. But compared to another Editors’ Choice winner, Campaigner, which charges only $45 per month for up to 5,000 subscribers, Zoho Campaigns is certainly on the pricier side. What makes this tricky is how different pricing structures can be across vendors. It’s best to pay close attention to subscriber versus per-send pricing plans and run your expected send and subscriber volume through each before purchasing.
Getting Started With Zoho Campaigns
The Zoho Campaigns web dashboard is the heart of this service and likely where you’ll spend the most time. From here, you can create a new campaign, build a contact list, and also perform advanced functions such as A/B tests and surveys. You can also set up autoresponders and create sign-up forms so subscribers can opt into whatever email goodies your marketing campaign is offering. Last, it’s where you’ll manage account features, like integrating your campaign with other Zoho products or inviting colleagues to join your account.
As mentioned above, Zoho has done some work on the user interface for Campaigns this time around. It’s not just cleaner and more easily understood, it also offers some new capabilities, too. For one, users can now customize the dashboard to their individual needs. You’ll also find drag-and-drop functionality for importing your marketing designs as well as more complex things, like dynamic fields (meaning fields containing changeable information, such as a username).
In addition to the revamped UI, Zoho Campaigns offers an even larger selection of email templates than it did last time and it was considerable then. All in, you’ll find 274 pre-designed templates and a host of new autoresponders. That’s a big number at first glance, but we found that a significant portion of those templates have a dated appearance, meaning they lack the visual flair of the newer templates. Taking that into account, more discerning or brand-conscious marketers might struggle to find a suitable look and feel.
Over the last several years, online webinars have become a popular digital marketing tool, and that’s only become more important during the pandemic. Zoho looks to meet that demand by increasing the tightness with which Campaigns can integrate with the company’s video conferencing product, Zoho Meeting. So now, you can conduct webinars in Meeting and promote the recorded webinars through email blasts in Zoho Campaigns. Zoho’s Topic Management feature lets you link topics to your mailing list so you can target customers based on their interests. It’ll also let you build content marketing newsletters or even just one-click event invitations.
Setting Up Your Zoho Campaigns Contact List
Getting started with email marketing usually begins with creating a contact list. In Zoho Campaigns, you can add contacts manually or import them from an Excel spreadsheet. If you’re trolling for new contacts, you can also let them sign up themselves using a web form that you can embed on your site or some other digital property.
Another path to contact importing is to sync with a customer relationship management (CRM) tool or some other software that you’ve connected to your Campaigns account. Yes, this works easiest if that other product is from Zoho, but the company has a long list of third-party integrations, too, especially for larger-name vendors, like Google. If your marketing to an exclusive audience, you’ve also got the ability to block contact additions unless they’re manually approved.
To test all this, we uploaded 50 contacts from a test CSV file and went through the process of mapping designated data points from the spreadsheet to the matching fields in Zoho Campaigns’ contact record. That included information such as First Name, Last Name, Phone Number, Address, and Email Address. Zoho Campaigns had no trouble correctly implementing all our custom fields and importing all the contacts from our test spreadsheet. The process is straightforward and visual so you shouldn’t have much trouble picking it up even without hitting the help docs, 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 a bevy of email campaign templates and designs, including regular newsletters, A/B tests, survey campaigns, and e-commerce campaigns. To set up an email campaign, you start by entering your company name, address, phone number, all of which will appear in the email’s footer to comply with anti-spam policies. After entering your data in the footer, give the campaign a name and subject line, then specify the sender’s name and email address as well as the reply-to email.
It’s a good thing that Zoho takes some extra steps to help ensure you’re not tagged as a spammer. You’ll find several new anti-spam measures in this release of Campaigns, including a reputation score to help the software judge if a domain should be blocked. Additionally, Campaigns includes an overview of the CAN-SPAM Act as part of the package. Many novice marketers can trip over spam rules and run into issues when sending out early campaigns, so having this information easily available is key.
Zoho Campaigns offers 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. 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’s email builder and template editor for creating emails are similarly easy to use. There are help pop-ups that conveniently explain what each icon does so even new users won’t have a hard time navigating the tool. Overall, we found Zoho’s email-building functionality on par with our current Editors’ Choice winners, Campaigner, and Mailchimp.
Focusing Your Campaign
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. Fortunately, you can easily delete template elements you don’t want to use. That’s a helpful stand-out when compared to competitors like SendinBlue, which doesn’t let you remove elements at all. 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, which means building a custom email should be easy and quick.
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, but while it adds a little time to your campaign building process, it’s well worth it to avoid the headaches of being tagged as a spam factory.
We set up a campaign named, “The Joy of Mid Century Design Newsletter.” Then we turned on Reply Tracking. Zoho Campaigns offers impressive personalization, which is mainly about having the recipient’s first name show up in the subject heading of the email. We found this works well when you’re done and sending out your campaign for real, but when you’re just in the testing phase you get “FNAME” in the subject heading, which can throw some folks initially.
Before you send your email campaign, you can preview how it will look on multiple devices, just as you can on some other platforms, notably GetResponse and HubSpot Marketing Hub. On the mobile side, it’s a very handy feature, since it allows you to scroll down a virtual smartphone screen and see if there will be any display problems on those devices.
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 campaign.
Like several competitors, Zoho Campaigns offers autoresponders and the ability to create automated workflows around your emails. These workflows can be used to send follow-up emails to your customers at the right time based on their behaviors. So if someone receives your initial campaign email and then makes a purchase, the system can automatically send them a “thank you” or “welcome to the family” email.
There are several other actions you can take on a campaign, but there was one we really needed: the ability to go in and make text changes before sending them 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.
That works, but it’s cumbersome. We’d like to see a more efficient way to edit existing email campaign text since we found the process to be much easier in other email marketing contenders. Still, Zoho isn’t alone with this problem. Even our Editors’ Choice winner, Campaigner, was unable to let us edit an existing campaign’s text. 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 them 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 Campaign Success
Once you’ve sent out your campaign you track its success 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. That means your various managers can easily jump in and see the status of different campaigns. Zoho does this kind of tracking in near real-time, so you can literally watch the dashboard after a send and see how things are going on the fly, which allows you to make improvements or changes to a campaign even before it’s finished initial send.
Reporting in Campaigns is more appealing than in many competing platforms because it offers a colorful report summary that clearly shows the percentage of delivered emails, bounces, and unsent notes. You can also get a quick view of 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 subscriber and contact status.
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 to become more competitive. With its new capabilities, you’ll be able to include trigger-based workflows for onboarding new contacts, re-engaging lost contacts, keeping new customers, and letting customers know about current deals or offers. You can configure workflows based on certain conditions. So in response to a specific time period expiring or when activity occurs, such as a signup form getting completed.
Autoresponders factor in here, too, as you can set them up to activate based on important dates in the calendar or how users and recipients interact with your emails. Zoho Campaigns even features reports tied into its autoresponder and workflow features so you can track success there, too. 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. For smaller businesses, Zoho’s automation could be a real boost.
Abundant Email Marketing Features
This is not only a capable email marketing platform, it’s also one that’s easy to pick up. Help resources include user guides, email deliverability guidelines, FAQs, a blog, forums, feature updates, webinars, e-books, an application programming interface (API) guide, and videos. That’s a lot of help content and it’s all 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 certainly a differentiator for Zoho.
As we touched on above, Zoho Campaigns integrates especially well with other Zoho offerings, notably Zoho CRM. It also plays nice with some third-party suites, like Google Workspace. However, its overall list of integration partners isn’t as long as many of its competitors, so make sure you check that before purchasing if integration is a must-have for you.
Aside from integration, we also found the latest Campaigns to be much more pleasing to look at. Again, that’s thanks largely to its design revamp. Overall, Zoho Campaigns is a good choice for email marketers already invested in other Zoho solutions or those without overly complex marketing needs. If you want to connect to a longer list of third-party software or access more sophisticated email designs, then check out our Editors’ Choice winners, Campaigner or Mailchimp.