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99Designs: An Honest Review From a Non-Designer

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99Designs is one of the go-to graphic design services online. It’s a platform full of professional designers that will make branding easier for you. Here’s an honest 99Designs review of the service from a non-designer. 

99Designs: Overview

99Designs is a graphic design service that helps clients connect with various web and graphic designers worldwide. The platform offers the following design services: 

  • Logos
  • Websites
  • Stationary
  • Business Cards
  • Postcards 
  • Posters
  • Clothing
  • Brochures

How Does it Work

#1 Brief Your Requirements

First, you need to create a simple design brief to help graphic designers visualize your requirements. 

#2 Connect with a Designer

Second, you need to choose how you’ll connect with a designer. In99Designs, you have two options: 

  • Work Directly

You can choose to work with a graphic designer directly.99Designs will help you find the designer that matches your preferred design style. This option allows you to review the portfolio and request the designer’s quotes. 

  • Start a Contest 

For this option, you’ll open your design brief to the99Designs community. After that, designers will submit ideas to you, providing you multiple styles to choose from.

#3 Collaborate

Lastly, after choosing your preferred design process, you’ll collaborate with your graphic designer. Once satisfied with the output, you can release the payment securely to the designer. Take note that all copyright and ownership entirely belongs to you. 

99Designs Review: The Pros and Cons

Pros of99Designs

  • Built-in design process 

It guides the non-designers to organize their design requirements. The platform provides questions that help clients define their requirements to help designers visualize what is needed. So if you also have a hard time translating the creative path you want your designer to take,99Designs’ platform will help. 

  • 100% Money-back warranty

99Designs offers a 100% guarantee within 60 days of payment. The warranty is available for all types of contests. However, it does not apply to contests with a guaranteed prize. When we say “guaranteed prize,” it means that the contest already proceeded to the final round. 

  • Estimated quantity of submissions

As you pick a package for your design requirement,99Designs will provide an estimated quantity based on the budget. Each bid will have a fixed amount of price. So, it’s safe to say there are no hidden fees. 

  • Large Marketplace

99Designs is one of the best graphic design services on the internet. Its popularity is evident by the number of bids a client receives on a single project. Although it’s a disadvantage for the designers, as the client, you have more gains. 

Cons of99Designs

  • Limited Options

As you scroll through several design proposals for your contest, you can’t research more about the designers. It’s impossible to dig deeper about the designer’s portfolio, resume or feedback from previous customers. 

  • Misleading Pricing

According to99Designs, “you can set your price.” However, there are minimum prices for each design category. Although the minimum fee is reasonable, the claim of setting your rate as a client is somewhat misleading. 

  • Newbie Designers

There are a handful of people who believe newbie designers often join design contests. For some, this claim is valid, but seniority is not an issue as long as they produce quality works.  

  • Unpaid Efforts

This is the advantage for designers when joining contests. Of course, designers are aware of this downside. However, they often take it as a learning experience. 

99Designs Review: Monthly Plans

The following are the fixed pricing for contest packages. Using the contest option in99Designs, you’ll receive creative concepts from multiple designers around the world. 

Logo Design 

  • Bronze, 30 designs at $299
  • Silver, 60 designs at $499
  • Gold, 90 designs at $899
  • Platinum, 60 designs at $1,299 (Top-level designer entry requirement) 

Web Page Design 

  • Bronze, 15 designs at $599
  • Silver, 25 designs at $899
  • Gold, 35 designs at $1,599
  • Platinum, 25 designs at $2,499 (Top-level designer entry requirement) 

Other Pricing Includes: 

  • 3D
  • Album cover
  • App design
  • Banner ad
  • Book cover
  • Business card
  • Car, truck, or van wrap
  • Character or mascot
  • Landing page design
  • Merchandise design
  • Graphic illustrations 
  • Other Branding assets

Final Note

In the end, this99Designs review proved that the platform is one of the best graphic design services on the internet. If you’re still contemplating if you need their service, you can explore the99Designs website. However, if you’re searching for a design service that’s perfect for non-design,99Designs is worth considering.

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Hypage Review: Is It Better than Linktree?

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Hypage: Worth the Hype?

“Link in bio.”

The phrase is so ubiquitous, it’s almost lost its meaning. If you have a public-facing social media presence, you’ve had to think about what link you’ll put in your bio.

Hypage offers a new solution. Like Linktree, it lets you put your socials, your work, and all your other important links in one place. But it also lets you sell merch, subscriptions, and other digital products.

Is this the next big thing for content creators and entrepreneurs? Here’s our Hypage review.

What’s Hypage?

Hypage home page website screenshot

Hypage is a product by Hyax, a broader platform for selling digital products. Hyax itself is part of Rgrowth, a product incubator that also created the giveaway tool Vyper.

But chances are, you don’t care about all that. What can Hypage do for you?

First of all, chill. Second of all, Hypage claims it can cover your bases from all of the following services in one:

  • Linktree—Compile all your links in one place
  • Gumroad—Sell digital content to your fans
  • Patreon—Create your own membership
  • Ko-fi—Accept instant donations
  • Substack—Curate an email list

On top of everything else, Hypage takes zero transaction fees. They’re a subscription-based service, so you pay a simple monthly fee and get to keep whatever you earn from your content.

Hypage pricing

Pricing plans

Anyone can sign up for Hypage for free, but like I said, they make their money off of subscriptions. That means, as the old saying goes, you gotta spend money to make money.

Hypage offers three payment plans:

  • Free – An unlimited free tier that lets you create a fully custom bio link with a hy.page URL.
  • Pro – $19/mo. Allows you to sell products, accept donations, take fan requests, removes Hypage branding.
  • Enterprise – $39/mo. Allows you to sell subscriptions and memberships.

How to sign up for Hypage

Sign-up screen

You can either sign up for Hypage with a free account, or try a free trial of a Pro plan. Either way, your first step is creating a username, email and password.

Once you sign up, you’ll be asked what industry you’re in. The options include ecommerce, SaaS, music, digital marketing, and a few others. For the purpose of this review, I chose blogging.

Projects

Hypage review Projects tab

On the next screen, you’re asked to create a project; on the Pro plan, you can have up to three. Think of each project as a different brand, each with its own URL. Each project also has its own dashboard.

The Hypage dashboard

Hypage dashboard screenshot

The homepage of your dashboard includes a summary of your page’s activity: new people, orders, and revenue. Beyond that, there are sections dedicated to Hypage’s main functions:

  • Your link page
  • Products
  • Membership

As well as sections to keep track of orders, users, and settings.

Setting up your link page

Link pages tab screenshot

Before you get into page design, you’re invited to add as many links as you’d like. With custom icons and unique link settings, you can really add and customize any link you can imagine. You even have the option to embed code, including video.

Hypage review link page design menu

Next, you’re taken to the design tab, where you can fully customize your text, colors, and backgrounds. The layout is stagnant, but in my opinion, it looks more stylish and functional than the default layout for Linktree.

Keep in mind, on a free plan, your page will include Hypage branding. Pro users can eliminate that branding, but you’ll still have to use either a hy.page or links.page URL.

Another unique feature is uploading a custom thumbnail to appear on social media. For sellers, you can also add your own custom terms of service and privacy policy, and choose whether or not to require customers to check them.

Selling products and memberships

Product creation menu

Hypage offers a great deal of free rein for selling products and services. It’s a bit of a cheat, but you could really use this as an ecommerce tool. At the very least, ecommerce companies can easily use this platform to showcase their latest and most popular products.

You can create a description, add images, set an inventory, add digital files and links for deliverables, and choose from a range of pricing options. They seem to emphasize Stripe integration, but you can also set up through PayPal.

Blog design screen

Memberships are where the industry you picked when you signed up comes into play. Since I signed up as a blogger, it orients my membership page as a blog.

The customization options are similar to those of your link page. It’s not nearly as in-depth as a web design tool like WordPress, but it’s fairly in line with other subscription blogging platforms like Medium, Substack, and Patreon.

The layout is slightly different for users in other industries. Still, you basically create separate outlines for the homepage and for each individual post. You can also choose whether each post is paywalled or free.

Final Hypage review: Is it the future?

Hypage review analytics tab screenshot

Let’s return to the question of Hypage vs. Linktree.

Linktree’s Pro plan costs $9/mo, less than half of Hypage’s. For that price, they offer extensive analytics, design options, martech, and yes, monetization tools. You can accept payments and sell ecommerce products directly through Linktree.

Still, Hypage certainly offers a few things that Linktree doesn’t. Most notably, it allows you to create a Patreon-style subscription page embedded in your bio link. The analytics aren’t all that impressive, but this feature certainly sets them apart.

You also have to consider the basic product. As a free, bare-bones bio link service, is Hypage better than Linktree? Honestly, yeah. It’s just well designed, with a great array of custom options.

No, Hypage is not the only place to create a bio link and sell digital products on one site. With its high prices, it’s not likely to shake the table, even though it lets you keep your revenue. Unless you have a huge audience, the cut you take from Substack or Patreon is probably a better deal. 

For marketing, however, it’s always great to cut out excess and try to keep everything in one place. In that regard, and as a more stylish option for simple, free bio links, Hypage does have something to offer.

Final grade: 6/10 🤷

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Penji Review: Unlimited Graphic Design Details, Pricing, and Features

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Penji review

Move over Fiverr. Unlimited graphic design services are the newest alternative to hiring a graphic designer. But, these services bring up many questions. For example: How unlimited is unlimited graphic design?

We tried out one of the top services: Penji.

Like many of their counterparts, Penji offers graphic design work on a monthly subscription. We put their promise of fast turnaround, high-quality, and affordability to the test.

You can submit as many design projects as you want via their online portal, and they’ll complete your requests one at a time until your queue is complete. This type of service promises to be a great added resource for teams to improve productivity.

Does it sound too good to be true? We thought so too. So, we signed up to see for ourselves.

This article was updated on August 24th, 2022.

Quick Summary

As with any service, there are pros and cons. To help with your graphic design hiring decision, we decided to condense what we found in a bulleted list below. Here’s a quick summary of our review of Penji’s unlimited graphic design service.

(Still wondering what “unlimited graphic design” is? We explain what it is here.)

Pros

  • Easy and quick to create design projects
  • Storage for all my requested designs
  • VERY fast turnaround on most projects. I expected just 1 draft in 24 hours but instead received 3 drafts. Revisions were sometimes completed the same day I submitted them.
  • Helpful features such as a revision tool, ability to invite team members, brand profile, and more
  • Upbeat and direct communication from everyone I interact with
  • A dedicated and responsive account manager who replies within a few hours

Cons

  • Can’t call or talk to designers
  • Best if you have design projects ready to submit
  • Not available as an app

Overall Experience

Penji’s “unlimited” design model is a great choice if you have the right expectations going in. The service is affordable for growing businesses and their output is reliable. However, if you’re expecting to be on-call or face-to-face with your designer, this type of service is not for you.

Compared to designing yourself, hiring freelancers, or using Fiverr, Penji is a much better service and value by a long shot. Their team of designers lived up to the promise and exceeded my expectations.

Thinking of trying Penji out for yourself? Here’s a special Penji promo code for Owner’s Mag readers:

Use the Penji promo code “OMPNJ25” to get 25% off your 1st month.


PENJI FULL REVIEW

We created this Penji review by signing up, requesting a design, and examining the results. Here’s how it went.

Final Verdict

We get it. You want to know how it went without reading all the mumbo jumbo.

All four projects were completed within two weeks and I was impressed with how they all turned out. If I had paid hourly or per project, these would’ve easily cost me well above $1200+ to get done, and probably taken weeks.

With Penji, it took just a few days and I paid a fraction of what I would’ve paid elsewhere. Definitely impressed with both the turnaround, quality, communication, and value this startup has to offer.

But Penji isn’t without its flaws. The service definitely isn’t for everybody.

Who would benefit:

  • business owners
  • marketers
  • agencies
  • print on demand sellers
  • creatives with consistent design needs

If you don’t have a consistent need, the bill will start racking up after a couple of months and you won’t see the value in the subscription.

However, if you do happen to fit their target demographic, then there’s no better alternative out there. The speed and quality of their work easily rival other services I’d ever used. For $399 per month, this is an absolute steal.

What I Did Step by Step

Now, if you want to get into the meat of how it went, keep on reading for every detail of how I got from the sign-up screen to the final project.

Signing Up For Penji

Signing up for Penji was a relatively quick and painless process. All of my questions were answered in less than 5 minutes by customer support via Intercom and another 2 minutes to complete the checkout process.

Communication with Penji’s Support Team

How fast and reliable a company’s support team is before you are an active customer is a reflection of what’s to come. If they’re unresponsive now, it will only get worse once I’m a customer. I reached out to Penji’s customer support team via their Intercom chat popup and got a response within 30 seconds, which is pretty good. I asked basic questions and the agent seemed knowledgeable.

Communication as a Customer

All communication is done online through Penji’s proprietary online portal. That includes revisions, feedback, and answering any questions my designers may have.

Communication with Your Designers

Penji assigned me 1 designer, Billie, and communication with her was easy. If you have used any messaging platforms like Slack, Facebook Messenger, or Discord, you’d be familiar with this form of communication.

Billie was responsive, attentive, and always seemed to have a positive attitude no matter how demanding my requests were. She had many questions about the projects, which I tried my best to answer as a customer. Though the back and forth took longer than I wanted, I realized she was just being thorough to get the design done right, which I appreciate.

Communication with Your Account Managers

They assigned me an Account Manager, Charmaine, who was very quick whenever I needed something. It usually takes just a few hours for me to get a reply via email from her. When I had an issue with one of the projects, she quickly stepped in and helped resolve the situation.

1. Choose the Right Package

All the packages are laid out with monthly, quarterly, and yearly pricing. Starting at $499 per month for the Pro plan, you’ll be able to make unlimited graphic design requests with a 24-48 hour turnaround. As your design needs grow, you’ll have the Team and Daytime packages to choose from.

2. Checkout

The form is straightforward and easy to fill out. Checking out was a breeze and took about 2 minutes.


3. Submit a Design Project

Clicking on the “+ Create new project” button, I’m presented with a visual chart of all the design categories they offer. They offer an extensive selection of options and even the ability to request a custom project.

4. Fill Out the Request Form

Next, I filled out a short form detailing what I wanted them to design. For those of you who hate long forms, this one from Penji is easy to follow and doesn’t ask too many questions. Most of the questions are actually optional so you can be as descriptive or non-descriptive as you like.

My test projects

As a digital publisher, we produce content on a daily basis and always have a need for on-brand graphic design. I created several projects to test how well-rounded Penji is and how they handle both simple and complex requests. A simple banner should be difficult, but can they handle a complex infographic with lots of texts and imagery?

Here are my test projects:

  1. Blog Graphic: Best DSLR Camera Equipment For Beginners
  2. Custom Illustration: Best Vacuum Cleaner Money Can Buy
  3. Facebook Post: Isometric Tech Gadget Graphic
  4. Magazine Print Cover (Owner’s Magazine’s 2020 May Edition

Despite creating four projects, the entire process was quick and smooth. It only took a few minutes to create them and their internal platform was lightning fast. At this pace, I can see myself submitting multiple projects on their platform with ease.


Turnaround Time

I expected at least one draft the next day. What I didn’t expect were three drafts ready for review. To give you a comparison, most freelancers and design firms we’ve hired take several days to submit just one draft.

The designs were surprisingly good considering that it’s the first draft AND they had a 24-hour turnaround. After reviewing, I realized how they did it. Every project had a different designer. I wasn’t assigned just one designer. It was like having my very own virtual design team.

4. Requesting Revisions

Though the designs were good, I still needed a few revisions. The drafts were turned around usually the same day or by the next day. Their support agent actually told me it will take 24 hours to turn around revisions. The revisions that took 24 hours were typically much more involved.

Overall, revisions were quick. Most came back within a few hours after I submitted them.

My one gripe would be that I prefer to have some sort of real-time chat with my designer or at least have a Zoom call. That’s one thing I like about working with my freelancers. Whenever they were online, we could just have a back and forth conversation to get the revisions across. I can’t do that with Penji.

Built-in Revision Tool

Penji has a built-in revision tool that lets me click anywhere on the design to leave a revision. I found this incredibly useful as it enables me to pin-point what I want to change.


The Results

It took about 1 week to go back and forth with revisions and edits for all 4 design projects. At the end of the week, I received the final drafts for all three. Here are the results of the three test projects.

1. Blog Graphic: Best DSLR Camera Equipment For Beginners

This far exceeded my expectations and will more than do for the blog I’m writing about DSLR camera equipment. I think most designers would probably just stop with 1-2 icons and graphics for this design. My designer decided to add the tripod, three lenses, drone, backpack, and a whole entire stage lighting kit.

I didn’t ask for those, but I’m impressed with the quality of the design. No revisions needed. I approved this project on the first try.

2. Custom Illustration: Best Vacuum Cleaner Money Can Buy

For this project, I asked my designer Kei to do a custom illustration of a man vacuuming his floor. He actually drew it up and sent me a rough sketch first before he started coloring it in. That was an extra layer of care and attention to detail I wasn’t expecting. Needless to say, I approved of his drawing and he delivered this draft the next day.

Revision

Everything in this graphic was hand-drawn and then colored digitally. Like the first project, I couldn’t think of any revisions except asking him to put the texts “Best Vacuum Cleaner Money Can Buy” on the graphic.

He went the extra mile and designed the text to fit the graphics. See for yourself above. It’s details like these that I would have had to harass my freelancer and he would try to nickel and dime me for every revision. Great work Kei!

3. Facebook Post: Isometric Tech Gadget Graphic

My designer Jave’s first draft amazed me because of how much detail he put into this project. I had asked for an isometric graphic with various tech products laid out on an isometric glass plane. I honestly thought my description may have been a bit too vague, but he understood my vision even better than I did.

4. Magazine Print Cover (Owner’s Magazine’s 2020 May Edition)

My designer Billie gave me 3 versions of the magazine cover. I don’t like version 1 at all. It looks too templated. I personally like version 2 and 3 and left revision notes accordingly. The coronavirus image was entirely her idea and I love it.

Revision

This project took a bit longer than the others because my designer Billie had questions and we had a lot of back and forth. I didn’t mind at all since she was asking good questions that I should’ve included in my design request. Overall, I appreciated the extra time she took to understand me and the project better.

About three days later, I received another draft which blew everything before it out of the water.


Reviews From Other Sources

Because you may not take our word for it, here are some of the most recent Penji reviews from other sources:

Jan Kartusek

Jorge Vila

IM Nights

Disclaimer: we receive an affiliate commission when the Penji promo code is used, however, the review is based on our experience.

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Omnisend Review: A New Frontier in Ecommerce Marketing?

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Interested in giving Omnisend a try? Help us out by signing up with this link.

Anyone in the ecommerce industry knows how hard it is to engage customers.

How do you turn one-time shoppers into a reliable relationship? There’s a tricky balance between reaching a broad audience and creating a personal connection.

Omnisend is a marketing automation tool that specializes in ecommerce. With thousands of platform integrations, can they make the difference for your business? Here’s a review of what they offer.

A brief history of Omnisend

Before Omnisend, there was Soundest. The email marketing platform was founded in 2014 by Rytis Lauris and Justas Kruikas. What started in Lithuania quickly expanded into the UK, and later around the world. They grew beyond email to become an omnichannel automation tool and worked with over 70,000 ecommerce brands.

What they offer

While email remains front and center for Omnisend, their marketing tools go much further. The all-in-one marketing platform provides:

  • SMS tools
  • Email templates
  • Drag-and-drop content and automation editors
  • Customer engagement and behavior data
  • Pop-ups
  • Landing pages
  • Campaign and automation data
  • Facebook and Google ad retargeting

And more.

Omnisend pricing

Anyone can reach up to 250 contacts at no cost with Omnisend’s Free tier. Beyond that, pricing is based on how many contacts you plan to reach.

  • The Free tier is always free, but you can only reach 250 contacts, send 500 emails per month, and send 60 SMS messages.
  • The Standard tier starts at $16/mo for up to 500 contacts. It includes unlimited web push notifications and up to 6,000 emails per month.
  • The Pro tier starts at $59/mo for up to 500 contacts. It includes unlimited emails, unlimited web push, and free SMS credits equal to the cost of your monthly plan, starting at 3,933 per month.

For further details, check out their pricing page.

Getting started with Omnisend

You can sign up for Omnisend with your email address or directly through your Shopify account. Once you verify your accounts, you’re asked to input your name, your business’ name, your timezone, and your physical address. (A bit much, if you ask me.)

From there, you’re taken straight to your dashboard, where you can explore the site and get started on your first campaign.

Marketing with Omnisend

The Omnisend web app includes six tabs:

  • Dashboard
  • Campaigns
  • Automation
  • Forms
  • Audience
  • Reports

Here’s a breakdown of what you can do with these functions.

Dashboard

When you first sign up for Omnisend, your dashboard includes a welcome message and tips for getting started. Once you have campaigns running, your dashboard will contain stats on your overall performance and a live view of your store’s sales.

To do any of that, you’ll have to connect to your store. Omnisend integrates with ecommerce platforms including:

  • Shopify
  • BigCommerce
  • Magneto
  • PrestaShop
  • WooCommerce
  • Opencart
  • Zencart
  • Drupal Commerce
  • Übercart
  • OXID Esales
  • Wix

You can also integrate with any custom ecommerce platform using their API. The setup process takes only a few minutes.

Campaigns

Once you’ve connected your site, you’re ready to set up your first email campaign. At the top of the campaign settings field, you’ll see a safe sending volume. This volume indicates the ideal number of emails to send to optimize your reputation from ISPs and ensure the most engagement. For the standard plan, it starts at 20,000.

From there, you start by setting up how it’ll look in people’s inboxes. You can edit the sender name, subject line, add emojis and even personalization elements. These elements, such as name, date, and city, will appear differently for each recipient and can help drive engagement.

Next, you pick a template for the campaign. Omnisend has a small sampling of stylish templates to help you announce a product, offer a discount, or just send out a weekly newsletter. There are only 12 templates to choose from, but they get the job done.

From this window, you can also go straight to your brand settings through the “Manage your brand” button. Over there, you can input a logo, assets, and color schemes to be included in your campaigns.

Campaign editor

Once you’ve picked a template, you’re brought to an editor to make it your own. It’s more rigid than designing it yourself, but it has all the tools you need to make a captivating email. I especially like how easy it is to add layout elements and personalization tags. You can also send a test email before it goes live.

Automation

On top of building emails, you can also build automations to ensure you reach out to new and returning customers at just the right moment. 

For instance, one template is the three-email “Abandoned Cart” workflow. This triggers when a customer adds items to their cart and doesn’t check out. It sends an email 1 hour later, another one 11 hours later, and a final offer after 12 hours. 

You can customize these workflows and add more using app integrations. Omnisend has a whole marketplace of apps to integrate with. This includes tools for advertising, automation, loyalty, logistics, customer support, email capture, and more.

Forms

The forms tab lets you create pop-ups, which are an effective way to turn visitors into email subscribers. This tool has a wider range of templates than the campaign editor, but it gives you less freedom to move things around.

Templates include a standard sign-up box as well as discounts, free shipping, and Black Friday deals. There are also different layouts related to image placement (and of course, you can change details in the editor).

Once you’ve completed the signup form, you’re asked to set up its workflow. Ensure that customers get the right email, discount, or whatever else you intend to send them when they sign up.

Audience and reports

The audience tab lets you keep track of your customers, while the reports tab keeps up with campaigns. Using these two tools, you can easily gain insight into how your campaigns are doing and what you can do to improve them.

Omnisend’s advanced reporting tools are one of its best features. They display everything from customer life cycles to sales data, with even more data for Pro subscribers.

To get even further insights, you can divide your customers into segments. These can be custom-made or taken from pre-built templates like “frequent store visitors” or “at risk of churn.”

Is Omnisend right for your ecommerce business?

All in all, I was pretty impressed with what Omnisend had to offer. Their campaigns, automations, and data are perfectly geared for ecommerce and surprisingly thorough.

There are a few things I would fix. The email templates are lackluster, and marketing tools that go beyond email are fairly limited. Still, it’s a robust tool for creating and keeping track of email campaigns.

If you’re looking to build and maintain your audience as an ecommerce business, Omnisend is the tool for you. Get started today with this link.

Final rating: 9.1/10 ?

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