Email marketing is well known to be one of the most powerful elements necessary for a business to succeed online today. Not only can you stay in touch with your visitors and foster a community atmosphere, but email marketing allows you to make follow up sales long after a customer has left your site. Before email database the days of email marketing, a visitor might come to your site, browse the products and information, and then make a decision to buy right then and there. If they purchased something, you made money one time from them. If they left, you may never have had the chance to make money from them again. Email lists allow you to keep customers and visitors interested in your company and site in the hopes that they may turn into repeat customers. Once email marketing began, however, it became a huge market very quickly, and suddenly there were dozens of providers and hundreds of options to choose from. This number is increasing every year, making it harder and harder for new site owners to know where to even begin. To help you decide which email marketing service is right for you, here is a comparative list of the top 5 providers today. Aweber Aweber is a very large player in the email marketing field because of it's user-friendly interface a reasonable monthly fee. For a $1 trial and $19 a month after that, you get unlimited lists, many options for managing and tracking messages, 150+ premade templates for forms and emails, and much more. Building autoresponders and sending broadcast emails is very simple with the program, and for most small businesses, everything they need is included for a very low price. There is even the option of attaching files to your messages - a great idea to help you deliver those eBooks and freebie files. On the negative side, some believe that the newsletter templates provided are too limited, and to have a custom one created you will either need to know code or hire someone to create one for you. Aweber also only handles emails - it does not have any options for handling ecommerce or affiliates. MailChimp MailChimp is the most popular email marketing service among business and site owners with a very limited budget because it is free to start. In fact, many site owners may stay with the free plan for months after they start their site because it allows you to send up to 2,000 emails per month without upgrading. The user interface is also very easy to use and creating your very own, customized newsletter templates could not be easier. MailChimp actually makes email marketing fun! But as fantastic as their newsletter template creation process is, creating custom forms with MailChimp is almost impossible within the dashboard. Again, to create the form you want you may need to know code and have an external program like Dreamweaver, or hire someone else to do it. MailChimp, like Aweber, only does email, and the prices once you need to upgrade can get a little steep. 1ShoppingCart 1ShoppingCart describes itself as an "all-in-one ecommerce and marketing solution", and this is a very accurate description indeed. For one low monthly fee you can begin creating an unlimited number of email lists and autoresponders. Creating newsletter templates is very easy, and switching between them within the same message is also very simple. Once you are established as an online retailer you can then upgrade to an account which will handle all of your physical and digital products and even allow you to begin an affiliate program. It really is a one stop shop for all things needed in an ecommerce site. Unfortunately, 1ShoppingCart has a very unappealing form creator. You will absolutely need to create your form outside of 1ShoppingCart in order to have one that is appealing. Their support is also seriously lacking unless you opt for an account that has direct phone service as an option - which of course costs more. This service is more for the serious online business person who already has some experience under their belt. InfusionSoft InfusionSoft is an entity unto its own in the email marketing and ecommerce world. In one place, you can control everything you need to - affiliates, emails, autoresponders, products, and more. You also have endless reporting options to track every single metric to fine tune your processes. Building templates and forms is very easy, and creating emails is actually some fun. Their support and training videos are excellent, so even if you are completely new to the Internet, you can begin creating professional level marketing materials and emails. InfusionSoft's biggest con is the price. Do not look to InfusionSoft unless you are a larger company and/or are looking for serious results, because the cost is much higher than almost any of the other email marketing services around today. As of this writing, the visual editor for their emails also only works in Firefox - very frustrating for someone who prefers to use anything else! Constant Contact Constant Contact is a marketing provider with options that go well beyond email. While of course they do email marketing, and creating templates. lists and forms is very easy, they also have options for creating surveys, marketing events, and ramping up your social media efforts. They provide results, and the training and support are very thorough. The cost is also very comparable with other services, allowing you to pick and choose which options you need. The terminology Constant Contact uses is different than other email marketing services, however, and many options that are grouped together (such as creating a welcome message and autoresponder messages) feel scattered around in the program. If you have worked in other email marketing programs, it will take some time to adapt to Constant Contact. This is by no means a complete list of the email service providers out there. Today there are hundreds if not thousands of providers, but these names will definitely come up more than once as you search for the right one. Be sure to read reviews and ask questions before you choose a provider, and know what you want to be doing with your site within the next year. Transporting your list from one provider to the next can be a pain in the best case scenario, and impossible in the worst - so choose carefully.