- Affordable monthly cost
- Powerful automation features
- Good customer support
- Credit card required for free trial
- Clunky email builder
Campaigner has been in operation for more than seven years, and from the beginning, it has been about providing a quality, affordable tool that works for both beginners and professionals. Parent company J2 has a great track record creating new software enterprises, and Campaigner is one of their many success stories.
Campaigner offers easily customizable email templates, powerful analytic tools, and advanced automation and targeting features, all for bargain-basement prices. And, while many of these features do not work quite as well as those of some of Campaigner’s competitors, they are functional enough to be impressive on their own merit. I wouldn’t describe Campaigner as a state-of-the-art application, but I would definitely recommend it if you are operating on a budget (or are willing to be patient with some somewhat clunky design choices).
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Table of Contents
Campaigner has three pricing levels based on how many contacts you have. The more contacts, the higher the price, and the more advanced features you will gain access to. Here they are, outlined in brief:
- 24/7 support
- A/B testing
- Geolocation w/Google Maps
- Exclusion List
- Recurring Campaigns
- Social Integration
- Remove Campaigner Branding
- Dynamic Content
- Custom Footer
- Suppression Lists
- 3rd Party Ads
- Static Segment Sampling
- Increase Engagement
- Client Services
- Sales Engineering
- Delivery Support
- Purchase Behavior
- Single Opt-in Forms
Ease Of Use
Campaigner strikes me as relatively simple to use. The user interface, while not exactly gorgeous, does its job without being distracting. Buttons are clearly laid out and navigation makes sense. Honestly, it is hard to come up with much to say about it, either in praise or criticism. There is nothing here that hugely impresses me, but nothing that makes me frustrated either.
The sign-up process, on the other hand, is a little more irritating. Campaigner offers a free trial, but in order to access it, you have to enter your credit card information. Apparently, this policy exists to cut down on spam accounts, but it makes the whole process more risky for users. I have tested business software for years now and I’ve only run into one other company that forces prospective users to give up their credit card information up front, so this is not even an industry standard practice. Instead, it is mostly just an irritant.
Campaigner allows users to bulk-import contacts from spreadsheets or other file types. From there, you can use one of Campaigner’s custom sign-up forms to continue growing your contact lists. Campaigner also features custom fields that allow you to include specific information about your contacts that are unique to your needs. You can also “segment” your contacts into specific groups, which can be targeted in specific ways by your email campaigns.
Creating The Email Campaign
When designing your campaign, you are first greeted with a choice: use the “smart” email builder or the “full” email builder. The difference between the two? Campaigner’s full email builder allows you to manipulate HTML code to fully customize your designs, while the “smart” builder is a drag-and-drop, what-you-see-is-what-you-get deal. For my campaign, I went with the smart builder.
In the smart builder, you can choose from a one, two, or three column layout; you can also use a left-or-right sidebar. Campaigner offers what amounts to 16 templates with a variant for each of these layout options plus a couple color options. Once you select your template, you can start editing the contents. Simply click on the parts of the email you want to change and edit the text; this part is pretty straightforward.
Overall, I felt that the template selection was a little clunky, but actually, adding content to your email is as easy as it should be. It’s not a seamless experience, but also not a frustrating one.
Sending The Campaign
Sending emails in campaigner is a little more complicated than building them. First, you need to determine all the settings you want to use: what sort of analytics do you want attached to the email? Are you integrating social media? Do you want a subscription form integrated into the message? Of course, you also need to write the header and subject line, as well determine what account is “sending” the email.
From there you can preview the message, send a test, or distribute the campaign. Unfortunately, when I sent my campaign, my Gmail account automatically sorted it into my “promotions” folder; in other words, I would never have seen it if I had not been specifically looking for it.
Email Campaign Reporting
Campaigner offers a number of data points in what they call their “advanced reporting” features, including click rates and open rates. These reports will tell you what platforms are most common amongst your audience (whether they read your campaigns mostly on desktop, tablet, or other mobile directions). Combine that with access to Google Analytics and API reporting, and you have a decent picture of how effective your campaigns are for your audience.
Customer Service & Support
Campaigner offers two basic methods of customer support:
- Self-Service: Like most SaaS providers, Campaigner offers a number of resources for you to peruse on your own time, from whitepapers to videos, infographics, and webinars. It is an extensive, though pretty standard, list. I recommend heading to this “knowledge base” when you encounter issues, just in case the issue can be resolved simply.
- Direct Support: One thing I appreciate about Campaigner is that their 24/7 customer support is available to all subscribers, from the smallest to the largest. Where other companies lock this sort of support behind higher paywalls, Campaigner makes sure that all of their customers can easily reach them by email or phone.
Negative Reviews & Complaints
Campaigner has received fairly mediocre reviews from those who use it. Here are a few of the things people found frustrating about this app:
- Overall Usability: I saw a huge number of comments where customers griped that Campaigner is difficult to use. Specifically, it seems that the user interface is a little difficult to parse. This sort of issue is frustrating to me, because good design is often overlooked, but can fundamentally affect user experiences.
- Email Editor Deficiencies: An app whose purpose is to design and send email campaigns should be able to create emails to the satisfaction of customers. Unfortunately, not all of Campaigner’s customers are pleased with the way their emails look after using the built-in editor. Several felt that the email designer is too limiting, and does not allow extensive manipulation of campaigns.
- Lacking Customer Service: I saw a couple of comments from users who claimed to have had a difficult time getting assistance from Campaigner’s customer support team. Some of those complaints refer to difficulties on weekends, but others indicate that customer service was unable to do much of anything to help. I suspect that at least one or two of these complaints was pretty specific and situational, but there were enough that I figured it was worth including here.
Positive Reviews & Testimonials
While I have identified a couple of common complaints with Campaigner, it should be noted that a wide variety of users like and enjoy using Campaigner. Here are a few excerpts of reviews from satisfied customers.
“We’ve recently transitioned to campaigner and they did an awesome job at working with our team to get us integrated and quick to respond to our questions.”
“The best quality about this program was the ability to move and interact within the program without any issues. It was easy to set up and get started without having to get confused or talk to customer support.”
“I like that you can choose a plan that works for you. You don’t have to pay for 3 million contacts if you only have 50,000. I also like that it’s easy for someone without graphic design experience to create an email blast campaign. It’s easy to schedule the mailings and pull the analytics.”
“AB testing has been a plus for us. It is a good price point. The ease of use is good. Reporting and tracking are easy to use and comprehensive.”
“Easy to use, functional. I was able to set up well with lots of help from customer service. Now I am familiar with it and I use it every 1-2 months. I don’t believe in pounding people with emails every week. It’s great to have the stats from the emails to see how the subject lines are working. I had some problems in the past with some of my lists but that was sorted out with help from sales and customer service.”
“The depth of Campaigner is very nice. They have a lot of tools and functionality that allow for strategic and detailed email marketing campaigns. Their customer support is responsive and ready to answer any questions one might have.”
Campaigner has what I like to call a feature-rich environment. Listing out every single capability of this app would take more space than I can justify in this review, so instead, I want to highlight different categories of features available in Campaigner. With that in mind, here is what you get with your subscription:
- “Standard” Features: Campaigner’s standard features include Contact Lists, responsive-design email templates, reporting, and a media library. As the name implies, these features are considered standard across email marketing apps, and there is little to find here that surprises. Having said that, it is good to know that Campaigner’s email templates are designed to work on traditional computer displays, but also on tablet and phone screens.
- Targeting Features: Campaigner, like many other email service providers, has expanded beyond simply allowing users to create attractive emails, also allowing for automation and focusing content to the specific needs of different customers. Campaigner includes features that allow you to design multiple segments for one email, then target those different variants based on a number of indicators, including customer information, geolocation, and more.
- Delivery Features: Basically, Campaigner wants to ensure that as many of your emails as possible will be both delivered and opened by people on your contact list. More than that though, you can suppress or exclude some elements of your contact list if you need to. Finally, Campaigner gives you social sharing buttons in your email to help spread your message through organic social media.
- Automation Features: While Campaigner’s Targeting features (described above) are at the cutting edge of ESP automation, there is another, more traditional form as well that includes A/B testing, workflows, and automatic responses.
Campaigner offers a decent selection of integrations, including the following:
- Google Analytics
- Adobe Analytics
- The Magazine Manager
- Longstreet Solutions
Campaigner’s policies align with federal anti-spam laws (US). All complaints are dealt with by Campaigner’s postmaster and reviewed to ensure they are not unsolicited messages.
When it comes down to it, Campaigner is not the best choice for most people looking for an email marketing platform. Other apps simply work better, have better templates, and are a bit easier to use. Having said that, there is nothing wrong with Campaigner, at least nothing so significant that I can point to it and turn on the alarm bells and sirens.
As always, the final choice will come down to you. I always recommend getting the free trial before making any final purchase, though with Campaigner you will have to enter your credit card information regardless.