The Pros and Cons of The Squarespace Email Campaigns System
Squarespace Email Campaigns Are Great For Newsletters But...
As a Squarespace Specialist and Authorized Trainer, I love the platform. I was delighted to have early access to their new Email Campaign system, and I understand that they are doing a slow rollout and will release additional features in the future, much like the transition from Squarespace 6 to Squarespace 7.
That being said, I'm not yet comfortable recommending Squarespace email campaigns to my clients and will not use it for my business until some updates are made.
To take full advantage of email marketing, a system should have tagging, segmentation, and automation features. Targeted drip email campaigns used as part of your automated marketing outreach are more effective than "spray and pray" newsletters. Having run the numbers of my clients, and read the data from larger organizations like Hubspot, Constant Contact and others, email automation provides a real, measurable return. Straight-up “newsletters” do not. They can work acceptably well for firms who are e-commerce focused but for companies selling services that are deeply considered and cost are in the tens of thousands of dollars they are lacking.
Blog RSS to Email
At the very least, I expect to send blogs via email. Every client I work with blogs. It's inbound marketing 101 and it works. Means-of-Production posts and sends around twenty blogs every week for clients using automation. Not including a Blog RSS to Email option means makes it hard to recommend Squarespace email services to my clients. The time wasted creating custom built, one off email campaigns is hard to justify. Who wants to format and publish a blog only to turn around and duplicate your efforts by formatting and publishing an email on a different system? A custom email for every blog lowers the return on investment and works efficiency goals. Affordable, easy to use, marketing automation systems are the wave of the future.
If your firm publishes and emails blogs once or twice weekly I recommend they stay with MailChimp which offers rudimentary automation.
I've come to grips with the fact that the new Squarespace email option isn't going to replace MailChimp or Drip.co for firms with marketing automation needs but if you only want to send a humble newsletter, the Squarespace email system may be cost prohibitive.
MailChimp is free, and firms can gradually step up to automation and blog RSS to email for just $20 monthly. I often use MailChimp as part of my effort to get clients to take email marketing more seriously.
Double Opt-In Sign Up Rates Drop
According to a representative from MailChimp in the last five years, email service providers have eliminated double opt-in in favor of a single opt-in. Most people do not look for a double opt-in confirmation message when they subscribe to an email newsletter. Double opt-in rates on MailChimp fell to 39%. This means 61% of people fill out a sign-up form do not follow through and finish the double opt-in process. These are lost prospects.
As it stands right now, choosing the Squarespace email system as an entry-level tier on the way to creating effective email marketing outreach doesn't work. While the look of Squarespace email is highly professional, and it allows you to import brand identifiers from your website, it's just not enough of an incentive to make the change. Add the higher cost to the equation and it no longer makes sense to spend part of your marketing budge to contact a 1000 person email list about a new hire, project win, or employee's birthday.
Email automation is a function that affects your bottom line. It's also a sales tool for Squarespace specialists like me who understand that true website-blog-email integration is a differentiator.
Here's the bottom line with Squarespace email campaigns as they stand today:
• the pricing is high when compared to other options
• looking through the help guides, you'll realize that there are no options for true automation
• They require double opt-in – if customers subscribe via the newsletter block, cover pages or pop-ups
• no short codes to personalize campaigns with data captured on a subscriber list or in forms
Be Hopeful, The Next Version Is Already In The Works
Squarespace Speaks About Future Updates
One of the reasons I love Squarespace is the companies transparency. When the email system was launched, Squarespace was there to answer questions and respond to users requests for additional functionality. The following is from the Squarespace website. It is heartening to hear that they are working on changes right now.
Can I build drip campaigns?
"No! Our goal with this release was to nail the most basic use case: sending email blasts. We know that this is the most important thing our users need, and we’ve done our best to get this fundamental functionality right.
That all said, we know there’s more we need to build, and customizable welcome emails and drip campaigns are at the top of that list. We’ll be prioritizing this functionality in the coming months".
What about automation?
"Same answer—at least for now. With this launch, we’re focussing on the basics, but there’s room to grow. Your feedback helps—what are the most compelling automation you’re looking for? Are RSS-style options, especially for blog posts, the most important automation we could build? Is there anything more important"?
What kind of tagging and segmentation can I do?
"You can create multiple mailing lists, and users can be subscribed to multiple mailing lists. You can have multiple newsletter blocks pointing to the same mailing list or multiple lists. The feature is smart enough to automatically de-duplicate emails, so even if an email is sent to multiple lists, individual users will only receive each email If new subscribers sign up using a Newsletter block or promo popup, we’ll send an opt-in email to them".
In My Opinion...
Using the built-in tools on the Squarespace platform is always a better option if they have the features that meet your needs. We use many third-party platforms that integrate nicely with Squarespace. They work well but having the option to do everything on one platform would help streamline the management process and reduce costs.
Squarespace has a ways to go before I recommend my clients leave MailChimp or Hatchbuck. While Squarespace has the design part down, email is not just about design. Email needs to be a fully functional automated solution that provides a deeper understanding of your contacts and the actions they take. , This is missing in the Squarespace email platform in its current form. Until segmentation, groups, triggers, automations, workflows and tagging are included within the Squarespace email campaigns we will bide our time.
Additional Articles on Email Marketing
About Michael Conway and Means-of-Production
Means-of-Production builds Squarespace websites, email marketing and advertising solutions for architects, interior designers, design-build contractors and landscape design firms. Our all-in-one marketing tactics attract better clients. Contact me for a free-of-charge consultation and marketing review. It takes about 40 minutes and you'll be provided a list of actionable improvements designed to solve your specific marketing problems.