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Omnisend offers all the features you need from an email marketing service at attractive prices and with a user-friendly design. The catch? You have to have an e-commerce store to use it. If you run a web store and want to drive sales through email marketing, Omnisend is well worth considering. If you don’t need tools for running a web store, a service like ActiveCampaign is a much stronger option.
Is Omnisend the Best Email Marketing Service Out There for Promoting a Web Store?
Omnisend offers a unique email marketing proposition: it’s a service for web store owners only. You have to have an e-commerce site in order to use it.
Omnisend is pretty open about this – its aim is to drive revenue for your online store through email marketing. Having never used an e-commerce-focused email marketing service before, I was curious about whether it delivered on this promise.
If you’re not looking for a way to boost your store’s online sales through email marketing, then you can save yourself a read – Omnisend isn’t the service for you. You can find plenty of alternatives in our list of the top 10 email marketing services for 2022.
But if you have an e-commerce store and like the sound of a specialized service, read on. I put Omnisend through its paces testing it out on its cheapest paid plan. This is what I found out.
Everything You Need, Plus Some Impressive Pro-Quality Extras
Omnisend is a solid choice when it comes to core email marketing features. It covers all the basics – sign up forms, simple segmentation and list management options, A/B testing, flexible automation workflows, and a drag-and-drop email editor for creating campaigns.
The one glaring omission for me is landing pages – or at least, landing pages that offer more than just a sign-up form. I’ve also used email marketing services with better campaign template options.
Still, on the whole, I found the tools available accessible and straightforward to use.
Email Campaigns, Templates, and Personalization
Omnisend’s email editor is always being updated and improved so expect regular changes and tweaks.
Overall, I found the editor easy to use, and there were plenty of customization options available. The drag-and-drop interface means you don’t need any special technical skills whatsoever to start designing emails right away. If you can use a mouse, you can build a campaign email in Omnisend.
There’s also a selection of themed templates to help you get started. They’re filled with content blocks set out in position but you can easily drag and move elements, as well as add additional styling and color schemes. Alternatively, there’s a plain text email option if you want something a little simpler.
The email editor itself is a breeze to use. You can set your own ‘Global style’ which changes the style of the whole email. As you would expect, you can add sections, move them around with the click of a button, change column spacing easily, play around with padding, add alt text to images and change button styles, shapes and colors.
Because of Omnisend’s e-commerce focus there are more content block options than you get with most email marketing services. These are mainly store-specific things, like a product listings, a Product Picker tool which means you can add products to your email directly from your online store, and discount blocks so you can send auto-generated codes for Shopify and Bigcommerce.
Omnisend doesn’t offer a stock image library, so you’ll have to source and upload your own images. But what it does have is an impressive range of image editing features.
You can also add personalized content (such as name, age, or location) in your subject lines, body content, and content blocks (titles, descriptions, links, or button text, for example). Dynamic (or conditional) personalization additionally means that you can set emails up so certain content does or not appear depending on who the recipient is and/or certain actions they take.
Just note that, unlike some other services, dynamic content can only be set up as an Automation workflow (more about this below).
This is all nice to see, but, over and above this, Omnisend also lets you use your own company or store details, which are listed under ‘Account’. If you run multiple stores in different locations, or sell in different countries, being able to throw in local store or currency details all helps to make your email more relevant.
On all plans, including the free plan, you can also customize product recommendations so different suggestions appear to different people.
Omnisend offers a number of campaign options. One of these is to create two slightly different email campaigns and send them out to different groups of contacts simultaneously. This is known as A/B testing, and the idea is to compare the performance of the two emails before launching a full campaign.
One thing that stands out is Omnisend’s Campaign Booster feature, which asks you to provide two subject lines when you set up your campaign. This is a clever bit of thinking that gives you two shots at convincing a contact to open your email – any emails from the initial send that aren’t opened within 48 hours will automatically trigger a re-send using the second subject line.
Finally, it’s worth mentioning that there’s the option to automatically post campaigns to your Facebook page and, if you have one, to your Amazon store. But, strangely, there’s no way to use the same campaigns across email, SMS and push notifications.
Mailing Lists and Segmentation
The first thing you need to do whenever you sign up for a new email marketing service is import any contacts you already have. I was pleased to see Omnisend supports imports directly from spreadsheet files (e.g. .xlsx Excel files).
To give it a spin, I dragged and dropped an Excel file into the Omnisend import wizard, and only encountered one or two minor bumps. For example, I had to ‘map’ property types (first name, last name, and so on) manually. I bet this can get pretty tedious if you have 50 different properties on your list.
Before new contacts can be confirmed as part of your list, you have to declare that they have subscribed to receive marketing communications from you. This is an important step for data protection and privacy purposes.
Unlike some email marketing services, one thing Omnisend doesn’t do is prompt you to save your new contacts to a particular list. Luckily, Omnisend offers tools to manage your ever-growing single list in the form of Tags and Segments.
A tag can be absolutely anything you like – just click on a contact, go to Tags, and invent a new category. The beauty of this is that it’s very flexible, it’s very quick, and you can create as many different groups as you like.
Segments work a little differently. These use two types of data that are already linked to each contact – the personal details listed when they are added or signed up, and behavioral data about how they interact with or respond to your campaigns.
You can add an unlimited number of filters into a segment, chosen from a maximum of 50 contact properties and a broad range of behavioral data. The possibilities are limitless. There is, however, a cap on the number of active segments you can have on your lists at any one time – 20 on thefree plan, 100 on Standard, and 200 on Pro.
Omnisend takes managing your list a step further with its Customer Breakdown feature. Using data from your connected store, this feature is based on the concept of customer lifecycle mapping, which puts people into different categories based on what stage of their relationship with your business they are at.
Lifecycle mapping beats a simple engagement score because it’s developmental – the theory is that you should, with the right actions, be able to move customers from a low to a high level of engagement over time.
I love how accessible Customer Breakdown makes the pretty sophisticated idea of lifecycle mapping – I’d say anyone could put the recommended tactics into action, even if you’re a complete novice.
Another great feature is the Suggestions tab, which gives you a list of suggested segments that you’re likely to want to use at one point or another, such as inactive subscribers or your most active contacts.
An even more important issue is making sure you don’t keep sending emails to people who decide to unsubscribe from them. Omnisend doesn’t have what other services call a ‘suppression list’ – an automatically updated list of contacts who have unsubscribed – but you can create a segment and export unsubscribed and non-subscribed contacts that way.
Instead, Omnisend flags up the ‘Channel Status’ of contacts using a traffic light system – green if they are subscribed to receive email marketing campaigns, yellow if they are ‘non-subscribed’, which includes e-commerce customers who haven’t explicitly opted in to receiving marketing literature from you, and red if they choose to unsubscribe or flag your emails as spam.
I had to check with support on this, but Omnisend does automatically block your campaigns from being sent to anyone but green contacts.
Landing Pages & Forms
A ‘landing page’ is a web page purpose-built for a marketing campaign as a destination for customers to ‘land’ on when they click through from email, PPC advertising, social media, or any other channel.
Unfortunately, landing pages aren’t that easy to find on Omnisend. It turns out they’re actually part of the Forms options.
If you’re running a special promotion on your goods or services, it’s pretty common practice to build a dedicated landing page for each campaign, which contacts click through to when they receive your email.
This means you can apply exclusive deals that your regular site visitors won’t have access to. It also makes it easier to track conversions for your campaign (i.e. how many sales come through that specific landing page).
However, I was disappointed to discover that none of this is possible with the landing page options in Omnisend. This seems like a big oversight to me, especially as Omnisend connects directly to your store by default, and has a tool for importing product listings directly into email campaigns.
Surely having standalone product landing pages to link to sales campaigns makes sense?
As for the actual sign-up forms, you have the choice of pop-up or embedded options, both of which share the same six templates. Again, the templates are functional rather than visually impressive, with fairly limited customization options.
Let’s be honest. If email marketing is working for your business, you want your list to grow and grow. But once it does, you might find you don’t have time to do it all. That’s where automation comes in.
Email marketing automation lets you set up emails to be sent automatically to contacts when they behave in a certain way. Think of a welcome email for all new subscribers, for example – what a pain that would be having to send each one individually! Automation does the work for you.
I was impressed with Omnisend’s automation options. If just reading the words ‘building an automation workflow’ makes you gulp with dread, don’t worry – it’s a lot easier than it sounds.
As with many leading email marketing services these days, Omnisend’s automation is all managed from a visual workflow editor. Automation workflows basically work on mapping out conditions – if X happens then Y happens, and if it doesn’t then Z happens.
If that still sounds too complicated, Omnisend even offers pre-made workflow templates that you can either use as they are or customize as you please. There are 33 workflow templates in total.
One thing that stands out about Omnisend’s automation features is that they’re available on all plans – even Free. This puts it up there with the likes of Sendinblue, an email marketing service that’s well-known for its generous free plan, with access to lots of key features.
As you’d expect from an email marketing service that’s heavily focused on e-commerce, Omnisend’s automation options are strong when it comes to sales-oriented scenarios.
While there are a handful of what I call ‘fluffy’ workflows that are designed to help build a bond with customers (welcoming new subscribers, sending them a special message on their birthday), the majority are all about business – for example, contacting people who have abandoned their cart to see if you can tempt them back to buy.
Some of the workflows are particularly clever and show a sharp understanding of email marketing strategy in a retail context.
So, as well as sending a follow-up email to try to cross-sell customers something else after a purchase, you can also set up an A/B test automation to try out different time delays before you dangle that cross-sell carrot – do most customers bite after a day, a week, two weeks?
You can also add personalized product recommendations based on their purchase history.
Some email marketing platforms let you automate parts of your list management from within the workflow builder, such as changing contact attributes (especially engagement scores that are altered depending on engagement with emails) or applying/changing segments. Omnisend doesn’t offer this, but it does allow you to automatically add tags to contacts.
So, if a contact doesn’t bite when you try to get them to pick up an abandoned cart, for example, you can tag them. This in effect adds them to a list of all contacts that the same applies to, and you can use this information to create segments for future campaigns.
It’s not as smooth a process as automatically creating segments or changing engagement scores within a workflow, but the option is there.
Tough Talk on Anti-Spam Policies Doesn’t Translate into Action
Deliverability is one of the most crucial factors when it comes to choosing an email marketing service. It’s also one of the most complex. Yet you’ll probably see a lot of email marketing service reviews throwing around claims like ‘X has a deliverability rate of 90%’.
My honest opinion? Don’t put too much faith in these kinds of figures. The way they’re produced is that someone will set up a dummy campaign to email addresses of people they know, and then work out how many actually reached the intended inboxes.
Wouldn’t it be great if deliverability was as straightforward as this? Unfortunately, it’s not.
Deliverability is a very fluid thing that can change very quickly from one campaign to another. All it takes is a few people to flag your email as spam, and suddenly what’s known as your ‘sender reputation’ falls.
So how do we assess deliverability at Website Planet? Well, there are certain things an email marketing service can do to help you improve your deliverability rates and not be flagged up as spam too often.
One of these things is offering what is known as domain authentication. This is basically a way of telling email ISPs that your emails are legit. Omnisend offers two types of domain authentication, DKIM and SPF. For both, you need to add an internet domain to your emails. But this is pretty straightforward for Omnisend users, as you’ll already have a domain for your online store.
DKIM and SPF authentication is included on all plans, including the free plan. There’s some technical wizardry required to set it up, as you have to add what’s called a ‘domain signature’ to your domain name system (DNS) once Omnisend authenticates it. But Omnisend will talk you through doing this, depending on which e-commerce platform you run your store on.
Omnisend also takes a pretty tough stance on users sending spam. It emphasizes several times in the knowledge base that it’s strictly a ‘permission-based’ service – your contacts have to opt in to receive your emails.
Omnisend monitors how lists are uploaded, and if it suspects a list has come from a third party, it will ask you either to delete the entire list or all contacts that haven’t actively subscribed to receive your communications. Related to this, Omnisend doesn’t allow affiliate marketing, or the promotion of brands other than your own.
Omnisend comes down hard on this kind of behavior. It runs a verification for new accounts, or if you haven’t sent a campaign out for a while, and logs the number of bounces and spam reports you get. If more than 4% of your emails bounce, or more than 0.1% are reported as spam, Omnisend reserves the right to suspend your account.
This is good news for your deliverability rates. If too many spammy, bouncing, flagged emails get sent from an email marketing service’s servers, they get a bad reputation, affecting deliverability for all users – not just those sending spam.
I wanted to put Omnisend’s tough talk on spam to the test, so I decided to try and upload a list of made-up email addresses.
It’s disappointing that Omnisend’s tough rhetoric on spam wasn’t backed up by actively blocking this list. Rival services like GetResponse have passed this test. All I had to do was leave the ‘subscribed’ checkbox selected, and it let me upload nearly all the fake contacts.
Sure, if I tried to send a campaign out to this list, I might have my account suspended for the amount of bounces it generates. But the damage to other users on the service is already done – all those bounces would be a black mark against Omnisend’s reputation.
Analytics & Reporting
Advanced Analytics Heavily Weighted Towards Sales and Conversions
Omnisend’s analytics and reporting options are where you get the strongest feeling that, while it’s first and foremost an email marketing service, Omnisend treats email marketing as a means to achieving something bigger – namely, driving up sales through your web store.
This is certainly the focus of the various graphs, tables and statistics that are presented on the main Dashboard.
As well as a main overview, there are a further six tabs on the Dashboard offering various reports. The Live View shows you how your campaigns and other activities are contributing to sales performance in real-time, while Funnels breaks contacts down into ‘stages’ based on their level of interaction through one of your campaigns – have they clicked on a link, placed an order, ignored your activity, and so on.
This is another sophisticated digital marketing tool that tells you not only who is engaging with your emails, but who is actually buying from your store.
Products reporting provides access to a wide range of data highlighting which products and product pages are being viewed and bought most (and least) often as a result of your campaigns.
The Retention tab gives you top-line data (like your returning customer rate and what contribution they make to revenue), but it also provides in-depth analysis about how your most loyal customers behave. This allows you to tweak your campaign strategies and customer journeys to maximize the number of customers who keep coming back.
The final two tabs on the Dashboard – for campaigns and workflows – are only available on the Pro plan. These include things like which campaigns and workflows are having the biggest impact on your bottom line, channel-level comparisons for email, SMS, push notifications, automations, and more.
This is all pretty advanced stuff. And Omnisend does offer what you might call ‘standard’ email marketing analytics in the Reports tab – it’s just not front and center like all the sales-focused data.
One particular area of reporting I was impressed with was the ‘click map’:
And one final tool that grabbed my attention was an option to compare your campaign performance with benchmark averages from your sector.
Live Chat-Style Support That Performs Better than Omnisend’s Own Expectations!
Whether you’re an experienced email marketer or a complete novice, at some point you’re likely to need a little assistance. This is especially true when you sign up for a new service.
While I was testing Omnisend, I had to contact the support team on several occasions as I got to grips with the online store link, something I’ve not had lots of previous experience with.
Omnisend has a handy support icon at the bottom left of every page, meaning that whenever you need a helping hand, it’s easy to access.
Click on the icon and you open up a Live Chat-style window with the option to message a support agent directly. The chat option isn’t available on the free plan, but you can still email the Omnisend support team with your query.
I say ‘Live Chat-style’ and not just ‘Live Chat’ because when I first contacted support (to ask about email sending limits) there was a warning that I could expect a response in ‘a few hours’. Not exactly ‘live’ chat, then.
However, when I sent my query, I found Omnisend were doing themselves a disservice. I got a very prompt reply in just a few minutes.
When I immediately asked a follow-up question, the same thing happened. And not only was the response timely, it was relevant and informative, telling me exactly what I wanted to know.
Omnisend advertises its live support as a 24/7 service. Like me, Omnisend is based in the UK, so I sent my next query out of office hours (7.30pm). Again, despite the warning that it would take a few hours, I got a reply in minutes.
On another occasion, I asked a more technical question about list-cleaning features and anti-spam protections. At first, I got an automated response from the friendly neighborhood ‘bot’ pointing me in the direction of some articles, which were all relevant to my query (some good use of interpretive AI there).
But within a few short minutes, I also got a direct message from a member of the support team. Again, their manner was professional and personable. What I liked on this occasion was their straight-up honesty – they told me Omnisend doesn’t offer any automated list cleaning tools.
Competitive Pricing for Cheaper Plans and Impressive Access to Key Features
Overall, Omnisend seems to have made a move to simplify its pricing. Paid plans are charged by the number of contacts you have, with price bands starting at up to 500 contacts and going all the way up to 199,999. After that, you have to apply for ‘custom pricing’.
200,000 contacts might sound like a lot, but it’s worth noting that some other services, like Sendinblue, don’t limit how big you can grow your contact lists.
One thing I really like about Omnisend’s pricing is that they don’t charge you for unsubscribed contacts. I always feel a bit cheated when services that charge by number of contacts include unsubscribed contacts in the total.
Another positive is that where previously on the Pro plan your email sending limit was 15x the number of contacts you paid for, now, there’s no limit on the number of emails you can send.
This calculation for email sending limits has still been kept on the Standard plan, however – on this tier, you get 12x the number of contacts. What strikes me as really bizarre is that this calculation is done on the actual number of contacts you have. So even if you pay for 500 contacts (the minimum you can pay for), if you only have 100 contacts, you only get 1,200 emails a month.
This is a big mark against Omnisend for me, as you basically end up paying for more than you get. And, it has to be said again, rival services like ActiveCampaign have unlimited emails on all plans.
Aside from that, the Standard plan is great value. For $18.00, you get up to 500 contacts or for $20, you get up to 1,000 is competitive, and when you consider that you also get access to all campaign types (email, SMS and push notifications), automation and list building features, unlimited users on the same account, and 24/7 support, this starts to look a very good deal.
The Pro plan, on the other hand, strikes me as expensive – the main benefits you get for your $59.00-a-month starting price are unlimited emails, free credits for SMS campaigns (i.e. free SMS sends), advanced reporting options, up to 200 active segments, and ‘priority support’.
The whole purpose of Omnisend is to use email marketing to generate income for your online store. But I just don’t see that the Pro plan gives you enough extra compared to the Standard plan to guarantee you’ll make that much more money.
So, what do you get for free? Well, Omnisend’s Free plan is impressively generous. You can only send to 250 contacts per month (although you can have an unlimited number on your list), and/or a maximum of 500 emails a month. But aside from that, you get all the other core features available on the Standard plan (and, it has to be said, the Pro plan).
For a start-up business, until you want to start communicating with larger numbers of customers, the Free plan is a great place to get to grips with what email marketing can do for you.
Omnisend only accepts payment by card, with only Visa, MasterCard and American Express accepted – if you don’t have any of those, bad luck it seems. There are no refunds if you decide to cancel your account, but Omnisend only bills a month ahead, so if you do cancel, your service will run to the end of the current month and then terminate.
# of emails per month
# of subscribers
# of users
Unlimited (but you can only send to 250 per month)
All in all, Omnisend impressed me. A lot. It’s got plenty to recommend it, from quality, user-friendly campaign building, personalization, and automation, to excellent support and attractive pricing for the Standard plan.
Of course, Omnisend’s biggest strength is how it’s tailored to promoting online stores. It pulls sales and customer data straight from your e-commerce platform, you can sell directly from your emails with a couple of clicks, and there are plenty of advanced, sales-focused analytics and marketing strategies like customer lifecycle mapping.
Best of all, Omnisend makes most of this simple and accessible, so even novice users can get to grips with its powerful tools.
It’s worth noting, however, that Omnisend’s strength is also its weakness. For example, while the sales-oriented analytics are great, the purely campaign-oriented stuff is pretty basic. It’s the same story with the product-focused templates, and with the limited use of landing pages.
All in all, Omnisend is by no means perfect, but it is pretty good.
How do you connect your store to Omnisend?When you first sign up with Omnisend, the first thing you’ll be prompted to do is to connect your store. This simply involves copying and pasting the store URL into a box – Omnisend will do the rest. If you’re connecting a Shopify or a BigCommerce store, all your existing contacts, products, and orders will automatically be uploaded to your Omnisend account. For any other platform, you have to import data manually.
Note you’re only allowed to connect one store per Omnisend account – so if you switch your store to another service, you’ll need to create a new Omnisend account.How do I send out a welcome email through Omnisend?In the Automation section of the site, Omnisend has a number of pre-made workflow templates which let you automate the process of sending a welcome email every time a new subscriber signs up. These range from a single email to a short series of emails that allows you to follow up your first email with other messages.How much does Omnisend cost?The cheapest paid-for Omnisend plan is the Standard tier, which starts at $18.00 for up to 500 contacts. The Pro plan, which includes unlimited emails, starts at $59.00 for 500 contacts. There is also a Free plan which gives you access to all the main features available on the Standard plan, but caps your emails at 500 a month, sent to a maximum of 250 contacts.Is Omnisend better than Mailchimp?If you’re looking for an email marketing service to help promote your online store, Omnisend is a far better option than Mailchimp. Even putting the e-commerce focus to one side, Omnisend offers better value, with a broader range of features across all plans. Even on the Free tier you’ll get quality email templates, pre-made automation workflows, list segmentation, sign up forms and so on. To unlock these kinds of features in Mailchimp, you have to keep paying more and more.
Paul is a Technical and Business Blogger based in the UK. His professional interests include digital marketing, content production, and business journalism. Away from his laptop, he leads a hectic double life as a father, husband, musician, sports team captain, forager, gardener, vegan cook, and book nerd.