The good thing is you have a lot of options. The bad thing is you have a lot of options. Fortunately, based on your stated utilization, it shouldn't take much effort to make a change should you decide the solution isn't meeting your needs. I've used the following platforms previously and here is how I would rank them for your use:
- Autopilot - great deliverability, responsive templates (mobile friendly), rich feature set with automation capabilities, including SMS and only $4 per month for your list size (depending on how short). You might also want to look at using a landing page point solution like Instapage if you're going to execute campaigns.
- Mailchimp - good solution, responsive templates, straight forward and easy to use but lacking some features. Likely free for your list. One of the things I like about Mailchimp is their API. If you have a SaaS solution you can use the Mailchimp API and utilize Mandrill which is Mailchimp's transactional email capability.
- Aweber - A good solution, feature set (automation) and affordable. One thing about Aweber that bugs me is that even when someone opts-out they still count it as a contact in your list and therefore you get charged for it.
- Constant Contact - Okay solution, simple templates, limited functionality and I've had some deliverability issues.
- Infusionsoft - Infusionsoft is a step-up in functionality, including CRM capabilities if you need that and you're not using SFDC, Sugar or Zoho. They also have nice integration options. It is a step-up in price too. Likely much more than what you need.
- Pardot - Pardot is a setup in price and is a great solution if you're using SFDC. Easy to use marketing automation, list management and nurturing capabilities.
- Hubspot - Hubspot has great breadth, including social media marketing, landing pages and marketing automation. Much more expensive and capabilities than what you need at this time.
- Marketo - Marketo and Hubspot are pretty close in capabilities and price.
- Silverpop (IBM) - It has been a while since I've used Silvepop (pre-IBM). However, it is one of my least favorite platforms because it lacked the flexibility that I needed and their support wasn't very responsive to my needs.
- Eloqua (Oracle Marketing Cloud) - My personal opinion is that Eloqua is a bit over-engineered. It is feature-rich and comes with an enterprise-level price tag. I've been through two Eloqua implementations and had some challenges. Also, when executing campaigns for webinars they had limitations on my ability to send multiple emails to the same list - sending another webinar invite to non-responders to the initial invite.
I've used others like Manticore (acquired by Sales Engine) but have lost touch with what they've done with the platform.
Depending on your specific usage, here are some important things to consider when executing your emails:
1. Subject lines - the singular objective is to get your audience to open the email. Make sure they're provocative and relevant.
2. Design for the preview pane - most email clients don't automatically download images. Therefore if you place a large image at the top of your email your audience will likely see a small red x and a lot of white space in the preview pane. Make sure you've got compelling text that is visible in the preview pane.
3. Deliverability is critical - email marketing can be tricky because email clients often deconstruct the message in order to protect the recipients and the platforms from malware. Google in particular is one of the most arduous email clients. Make sure you setup a gmail account and test your emails as well as a host of other email clients.
4. Mobile is critical - Although a template might state that it is responsive. It is easy to add content that breaks the responsive rendering. Therefore, you'll want to test all of your emails on one or two mobile devices prior to sending.
5. CTAs - make sure that you have the primary call-to-action above the fold (where your audience doesn't have to scroll). I have found that 3 CTAs merchandised in the email is optimal for maximizing response rates.
6. Long copy can sell - Most marketers believe that the shorter the email the better. I don't automatically subscribe to this line of thought. It is important to test the length of copy and dial-in on what works for your audience.
7. A/B testing can make a big difference - Most A/B tests with email marketing platforms focus on the subject lines and open rates. You can gain a lot of insight into what works and achieve incremental gains with each subsequent campaign.
8. Maintain a clean list - it is absolutely critical that your list has opted-in to receive emails from you. Too high an opt-out rate and bounce rate and you'll be out of the email marketing business. The landscape has changed significantly over the years with anti-spam laws and ISP blacklists cracking down on spam. The best way to overcome this issue is to create great content on your website, promote it on social media and drive the traffic to your site where you can convert it with a host of natural CTAs that leverage the cognitive inertia of the audience consuming the content.