There is literally a boatload of Email Marketing Platforms available these days and you’ll find it hard not to hit one with a stone (if thrown). Just like business web hosting platforms – choosing the right email marketing software can be a chore, so I have tested and picked some of the best email marketing services below.
Many of the email marketing systems will have similar features, but almost all of them have a free trial. I would highly recommend signing up for and testing them out before you buy-in just to see if the service is a right fit you for.
1. Constant Contact (CTCT)
Constant Contact (CTCT) is one of the most recognized names in the email marketing system business. In the market for over a decade it has evolved over time and today serves more than 650,000 customers. Building on their core competency in email marketing they have done well on the features front.
Aside from having an effective and easy-to-use system, they have added many features which are invaluable such as event management, social campaign capability, and even user survey tools. For an all-in-one top-of-the-line solution, these are the go-to guys.
Support is also comprehensive in the form of live chat, email, and a forum with a sizeable community. Best of all you can sign up with them for a one-month free trial to test out their services. After the trial period, prices vary depending on the number of email contacts you have.
To learn more, read Timothy's in-depth Constant Contact review
Constant Contact Key Features
- Hundreds of email templates
- WYSIWYG drag-and-drop email editor
- Real-time analytics
- Organize and group your contacts using categories and tags
- Create and track eCommerce coupons
- Create surveys and polls
Constant Contact Pros & Cons
- Topnotch customer support via live chat and phone
- Userfriendly dashboard
- An impressive list of add-ons
- Strange auto-respond system
Small businesses and nonprofits are Constant Contact's main target audience. If you’re not very tech-savvy and phone support is a priority for you, then Constant Contact may be a good choice.
- Best For: Small to large businesses and companies with niche requirements such as event management
- Price: Free Trial then Starts from $12/mo
2. Active Campaign
From its humble beginnings as a Chicago startup in 2003, ActiveCampaign has grown to become one of the most recognized names in the email marketing platform business.
ActiveCampaign has evolved over time to include a suite of features that cater to the various needs of its users. The platform excels in providing advanced automation features, a decent email template builder, an extensive list of integrations and Zapier support, as well as excellent tracking and reporting functionality.
Also, switching over to ActiveCampaign is fast and easy. The company will help you to import your subscriber lists, CRM data, email templates, and automation to their platform for free.
However, it's worth noting that ActiveCampaign's interface can be slow to navigate, and the contact management could be overwhelming for beginners. The form builder is also limited on the lower plan, and there are not many pre-designed email templates available.
ActiveCampaign Key Features
- Advanced automation features
- Thorough split-testing tools
- Decent email template builder
- An extensive list of integrations and Zapier support
- Excellent tracking + reporting functionality
- Responsive support (incl. live chat and community groups)
ActiveCampaign Pros & Cons
- Powerful automation capabilities
- Versatile list segmentation using both lists and tags
- An extensive list of integrations and Zapier support
- Reasonably priced considering its capabilities
- Free migration services for new customers
- The interface can be slow to navigate
- Contact management could be overwhelming for beginners
- Limited form builder on the lower plan
If A/B testing is a priority for your email marketing strategy, ActiveCampaign offers thorough split-testing tools that allow you to test as many different variables as you want and determine which one performs the best.
- Best For: Advanced marketers or businesses looking for advanced automation capabilities.
- Price: Free 14-Day Trial, then pricing varies based on the plan
MooSend is an email marketing service that makes it easy to send beautiful, personalized emails to your customers. It's a great option for small businesses who want to get started with email marketing but don't want to invest in an expensive platform.
The free plan lets you send unlimited emails per month and doesn't require a credit card to sign up. If you need more features like the use of an SMTP server and customized landing pages, paid plan prices vary depending on how many subscribers you want to manage.
How MooSend is structured makes it especially interesting for smaller businesses. It allows you to scale up gradually. However, once you reach a certain scale, MooSend starts getting pretty expensive.
Moosend Key Features
- Built-in landing pages
- Segment and organize subscribers with tags
- Analytics, including conversion rates on individual opt-in forms
- Product recommendations
MooSend Pros & Cons
- Intuitive interface that’s easy to learn
- Easy to organize even very complicated lists and subscribers
- Integrates with the a ton of other CRM and list validation tools
- Nicely designed opt-in forms and landing pages
- Powerful subscribers segmentation tool
- Limited built-in email templates compare to other newsletter service providers
- Starting Price: Free
- Best For: Solopreneurs, Small to Medium Businesses
When it’s time to graduate from simple email newsletters to omnichannel marketing automation, Omnisend is there to empower eCommerce marketers. Former exciting up and comer, Omnisend has carved a definitive place in the eCommerce marketing industry by taking email marketing a step further to offer personalized contact with eCommerce shoppers.
Omnisend Key Features
- Easy-to-use visual email builder
- Sophisticated marketing automation workflows
- Smart segmentation for hyper-precise targeting
- Contact capture tools including pop-ups, static forms, landing pages, and a dynamic Wheel of Fortune form
Omnisend Pros & Cons
- Ability to add several channels into the same automation workflow
- Targeting based on shopping behavior, campaign engagement, and profile data
- Visual builder for all marketing aspects with professional templates to help you get started
- Bring your channels under one roof: Facebook Messenger, email, SMS, web push notifications, WhatsApp, Viber, etc
- No mobile app
- Templates rather limited
Omnisend is for anyone who sells online and needs to build a better relationship with their customers. If it’s time to scale up from simple newsletter to omnichannel marketing automation, Omnisend is the perfect choice for you.
- Starting Price: Free
- Best For: SMBs who need omnichannel marketing automation
GetResponse checks all the right boxes for an email marketing system. You can upload a mailing list to their servers then craft your marketing mails to be sent out to the list. Even automation is taken care of and there is a comprehensive analytics suite for your data collection needs.
They currently have about 350,000 subscribers in 183 countries around the world and sells itself as one of the easiest to use in the market. Availability is very high, thanks to localization into 27 languages so almost anyone from anywhere can use it. If you have problems, support is available via live chat, phone and email (of course!).
Their plans are segregated by number of emails in your database but all the core benefits of the GetResponse systems are available to all plans. This includes free templates, responsive emails (so viewing on mobile will be taken care of as well!) and email segmentation for more effective marketing.
GetResponse Key Features
- Advanced segmentation
- Automation: trigger specific emails by clicks, transactions, birthdays, etc.
- Free images library by iStockphoto
- Drag and drop landing page creator
- Tons of signup form templates, including exit intent pop-ups, scroll form, shake box, etc.
- Webinar integration, including invitations and reminder templates
- A/B testing with in-depth analytics
GetResponse Pros & Cons
- Great all-in-one system for building your email list, including landing pages and all kinds of opt-in forms
- Very strong split testing and reporting features to optimize your newsletter campaign
- Templates are rather limited, and the editor is a little clunky and difficult to use
Digital marketers, especially dedicated email marketers, who need advanced functions will likely find everything they need with GetResponse. If you want to handle everything in one place (landing pages, webinars, analytics, etc.) then try the free trial to see if GetResponse is right for you.
- Starting Price: Free 30-day Trial followed by $15/mo for 1,000 subscribers
- Best For: Small and large businesses
I remember MailChimp very well since it is among the first newsletter tools which I’ve ever used. It is extremely simple to use and has been around since the turn of the century (yes, that long!). Today it has fallen slightly off the radar for most hardcore email marketers but remains extremely popular among website owners and small businesses.
One of the core reasons for this is that MailChimp has a free plan, like the model that some website builders follow. This alone makes it extremely appealing to low-budget businesses which still seek to leverage on the power of email marketing.
Even though there is a free plan, MailChimp doesn’t skimp on features and it has extensive reporting capabilities along with a powerful visual template editor for your emails. There are also countless integration possibilities for MailChimp and it does offer a decent all-in-one solution.
MailChimp Key Features
- Lots of email templates
- Flexible drag-and-drop email editor
- A/B testing
- Basic segmentation
- Autoresponders series
- Ecommerce integrations (Magento, WooCommerce, 3dcart, etc.)
- Built-in analytics and Google Analytics integration
- Email design preview on various screen sizes
- Advanced RSS-to-email newsletters with custom merge tags
MailChimp Pros & Cons
- Intuitive interface that’s easy for beginners to learn quickly
- Lots of beautiful, mobile-friendly templates
- Flexible, easy-to-use drag-and drop email editor – customize everything (font, colors, sizes, etc) without knowing any code
- Pay as you go plan for infrequent senders
- Sign-up forms are limited and difficult to style if you don’t know HTML/CSS
- Segmentation and automation features are basic
- Connect to Shopify store through a third-party app
- No phone support
E-commerce is MailChimp’s primary target audience, and it’s where they really shine. If you’re selling a physical product online, MailChimp is meant for you. MailChimp is also great for bloggers sending simple email newsletters or RSS-driven campaigns to small lists (it’s free for under 2000 subscribers!). MailChimp is the best at RSS campaigns.
- Starting Price: FREE
- Best For: Blogs, Entrepreneurs, and Small Businesses
Founded by Tom Kulzer in 1998, AWeber can be considered an industry pioneer and today services around 100,000 clients. It works well in its primary functions as a newsletter / email marketing system and offers good integration with a decent number of other software.
It is still a solid solution, particularly if you have basic needs and don’t want to be overwhelmed by the clutter than a ‘we have everything!’ system has to offer. You can import multiple file-formats into their database and monitor your marketing campaigns as it is ongoing, which is very useful.
One strong point about AWeber is its extensive email template selection, which is kind of great if you are new to the game. It also has very comprehensive customer support capabilities which has been an award winner for the past three years in the US National Customer Association’s Stevie Awards.
Aweber Key Features
- Hundreds of email templates
- List segmentation
- Proactive spam tool for optimal deliverability
- A/B testing
Aweber Pros & Cons
- Extensive reporting and analytics; great for businesses with a need to keep all team members on the same page
- Flexible: Good balance between ease of use, and advanced functionality
- Good customer service via phone, live chat, or email
- Includes access to a library of thousands of stock photos
- Segmentation is awkwardly implemented. Subscribers are counted multiple times if they’re on multiple lists – which can drive your pricing up.
- Segmentation is very basic. You can’t automatically segment subscribers based on their actions.
- The email editor has a reputation for being non user-friendly.
AWeber is geared more towards businesses or career email marketers than individuals. Honestly, AWeber offers some good features, but if you’re an individual blogger it’s nothing you can’t get in a better platform for the same price or cheaper.
- Starting Price: 30-day Free trial then $19/mo
- Best For: Blogs, Small Businesses and Entrepreneurs
Formerly known as “Sendinblue”, Brevo offers a free subscription package but that is kind of limited in what you can send. The free deal is only for up to 300 emails per day, which to me is more like an extended trial than any real free service. Once you get past that to their subscription plans, the number of sends goes up a lot (as do their prices).
It checks most of the traditional email marketing system options but also has a transactional messaging feature. This gives you extra capabilities such as sending order confirmations, receipts and other similar emails with your branding. This is something to note as not all email marketing systems support it.
Brevo Key Features
- Intuitive Drag and Drop Email editor
- Advanced segmentation and marketing automation features to target leads-based email engagement, on-site actions, etc
- SMS marketing and autoresponder messages
- Real-time analytics with click map, GA integration
- Transactional emails
- Opt-in forms
- CRM and Chat
Brevo Pros & Cons
- Low price
- Unlimited contact storage
- Integration with lead generation tools, CMS, and e-commerce platforms
- Free plan sending limit is 300 emails per day
- Multi-user account is available only on Premium and Enterprise plan
Whether you're just starting out or already familiar with email marketing, if you're looking for robust software, solid support, and very good value for money, check out Brevo.
- Starting Price: FREE
- Best For: Blogs, Entrepreneurs, Small Businesses
SendX may be relatively newer in the space of email marketing but there’s nothing revolutionary here. It’s been available since 2016 – a far cry from pioneers like MailChimp. Yet its youth contributes in some ways, possibly making it more attractive in the modern era.
The SendX premise is simple – to provide an all-around email marketing service that’s as easy to use as possible. While this may turn off marketing gurus, it opens possibilities to a much broader audience.
The core of SendX is its drag-and-drop email editor that lets you create emails. This can be done either from scratch or by modifying an existing template. You can use that same editor to build other things as well, such as pop-up forms and the like.
Together, they can combine into a complete marketing campaign. Depending on how you configure it to work, it can be done in traditional style, highly targeted, drop, or any other way. You can even use it as an A/B testing tool.
- Starting Price: From $7.49/mo
- Best For: Small to medium businesses or even solopreneurs.
The company launched as a startup aimed at delivering bulk email blasts and soon got well-deserved popularity among marketers. At present, the company has turned into a marketing automation platform that has a lot to offer in terms of online promotion.
Users can now send bulk emails, SMS, and Web Push Notifications.
The SendPulse team works hard to stay on top of digital marketing trends and has released a Facebook messenger chatbot. The chatbot can be designed to serve as the first line of customer support as well as request contact information for further lead nurturing.
When it comes to email marketing services, among many other features, SendPulse offers an email template editor, custom subscription forms, transactional emails, and statistics data on your email marketing campaigns.
- Starting Price: FREE
- Best For: Blogs, Small Businesses, Marketers
Understanding Email Marketing
Many of us use email but in our minds, it’s relegated to the back as something that’s just taken for granted that is there for us to use. Yet as every digital marketer and business owner will know, Email Marketing is at the very foundation of what they do.
However, that doesn’t just apply to email marketers but almost any job role which integrates the function of digital marketing. That widens the scope to include many more people such as website or blog owners, sales staff, and more.
If by now you’re still unsure as to how this element fits in with you then we’ll simplify things with a single question:
Is Email Marketing Necessary for My Business?
If you need sales leads, website traffic, or do anything else which requires you to reach out to as many people as you can quickly, then you need to do email marketing.
Social media is useful, but there’s still something uniquely intimate about email: it’s more of a personal, one-on-one conversation, plus newsletters are (still) the top way to convert leads into sales.
Whether you do not have direct access to people or are not in direct contact with them at the time or if you’re just unable to reach them directly at any point in time, email marketing is what helps keep you in touch with them.
With the crafting of a single mail tweaking a few settings and a single click, you can reach out and touch someone irrespective of time, scope of information, or availability.
Let’s look at some of the more detailed benefits of Email Marketing.
Things Email Marketing Can Do for Your Business
Email marketing has an estimated return on investment (ROI) of 3,800% which means that on average, each dollar invested in email marketing nets a return of $38. Aside from just the financial perspective, there are many other beneficial aspects of email marketing such as;
Website visitors come and go, yet once they’re gone many never return. By collecting email information from your visitors you’ll be able to reach out to them again in the future. With an email list, you send the entire list of valuable content which they might otherwise miss. You may also gain additional traffic when some opt to follow links back to your site based on information sent out to them.
Increase in Sales
Email conversions have been observed to outperform both social and organic search traffic. In fact, statistics show that social media has an overall engagement rate of only 0.58% as compared to a 3.71% click-through rate (CTR) for email. The sales will increase for either online or in-store as the result of what the user read in an email, for example, getting a special offer or an exclusive price.
Fine-tune Your Operations
Because email marketing is based on statistics, it is possible to collect this data and analyze it. That information can then be used to further enhance your email campaigns to increase effectiveness. For example, learn about the likes, dislikes, and interests of your user base and send them relevant materials.
To learn more, read our Beginner's Guide to Email Marketing.
How to Choose the Right Email Marketing Tool?
Choosing the right email marketing tool is a crucial step in any business's marketing strategy. There are several factors to consider when making this decision.
First, you need to assess your business needs and objectives. Are you a small business looking to engage with local customers, or a larger organization targeting global audiences? Do you require advanced features like automation, A/B testing, and segmentation or will a simpler tool suffice? Different tools cater to different user demographics, so make sure to choose a platform that aligns with your business size and goals.
Below are 8 key factors to look into when choosing an email marketing platform.
1. Email Design Capability
Because marketing emails are meant to capture the attention of recipients, the visual aspect is rather important. This means that attractive copy which is concise and useful would have to appeal to them.
Look out for an email marketing service that allows you to have good control over the visual aspects of your email marketing campaigns. This includes a good spread of templates, a strong component suite, and powerful plugins for extended functionality.
2. CRM Integration
Sales and marketing are symbiotic so your CRM platform should work well with whichever email marketing system you choose. This will save a lot of sweat and tears on the part of both teams and helps to create much better analytics potential.
For example, integrated well, your email marketing data can help spawn automatic sales campaigns and vice versa. Even better, since they are integrated and computerized, these functions can be processed in real-time which gives businesses the added edge in agility.
3. Data Analytics
Having just mentioned the analytics advantages just above, it is important that any email marketing system is equipped with analytics tools. This is invaluable to any marketer as it helps you to understand the information that is being received based on your marketing campaigns.
Unpopular emails may drive away potential customers so it is crucial that you have your finger on the pulse of your customers. The way to do that is by analyzing data and optimizing your campaigns based on that information.
Your marketing data can tell you:
- What is or isn’t working
- What content you send is more engaging
- What devices do your customers tend to use
- What demographics have what interests
Thanks to regulations like the GDPR and Data Protection Act, many email marketers have ended up having their content being flagged as spam. This is obviously counterproductive, so you’ll want an email marketing system which is able to analyze your content. This is to help verify that it complies to regulations and that your links (important!) are fine as well.
5. Email Dripping and Automation
Businesses tend to work in advance and email marketing systems that have automation features can be very helpful. For example, say you are running an online retail business, but your staff is off during the holidays.
Pre-plan and automate campaigns to take advantage of peak sales seasons even when your people aren’t around. Other automation features can include reporting, coupon distribution, email responses, and the like.
6. Scalability and cost
Today you’re sending out 1,000 emails but what about when your business grows and is sending out 50,000? How scalable is the email marketing system you’re looking at and how much will it cost you to scale up with them?
The great thing about email marketing service providers is that there is a service available for just about any budget and business size. There are free tools that offer barebones features and there are more expensive, enterprise-level ESPs with more sophisticated functions.
Preferably, choose a solution that can scale with your business as you expand and take into advantage that your needs may change over time. Does the system you are looking to provide the flexibility to handle that kind of change? It doesn’t have to offer these extra capabilities directly, but can it work well with other third-party systems, perhaps?
You need to remember that email marketing is not about big spending. Rather, it’s about getting the functionalities that you actually need and keeping your costs relatively low. The most expensive email marketing tool may not necessarily be the best for your business and your specific set of goals.
7. Customer Service
As a business owner, you know that at the heart of every business is your customer service. When buying into a service, that is true as well. Find out what level of support you will get from the company offering the email marketing system and if there is a large enough community to support it as well.
Here are a few ways to test the quality of an email marketing service provider's customer support.
- Visit the provider's website and check if the provider offers 24/7 worldwide support.
- Call the customer support number or send them an email and see how long it takes for you to get a response.
- Browse the provider's website and see if they have guides or other resources that detail how the features of the platform work. Plenty of platforms upload tutorial videos, so look for those as well.
- Check if the provider's website has a dedicated FAQ section.
More often than not, the difference between a free tool and a paid email marketing service lies in customer support. Yes, you’re saving money by using a free platform. The caveat here is that you won’t get support in the event that something goes wrong. On the other hand, if you pay to use an email marketing tool, one thing that is always included in your plan is customer support.
8. Mobile optimization
Today, about 53% of all email opens occur on mobile. As such, it’s important for email marketers to send emails that display perfectly on both desktop and mobile devices. Using an ESP with templates that are mobile-responsive right off the bat will prevent you from alienating a significant portion of your audience and missing out on valuable conversions.
Again – almost all email marketing systems in the market have a free trial. I would highly recommend signing up for and testing them out before you buy-in.
However, since these are my recommendations, I would suggest that if you’re a large business then it would be a good idea to look more closely towards Constant Contact. If you’re running a blog, small site, or anything else, then feel free to check out any of the top eight email marketing systems I recommended.
Frequently Asked Questions
Email marketing software is a service or application that helps you handle email marketing campaigns. Among the features included are email creation, customer database management, email sending, tracking, and analytics.
There are multiple types of email marketing, with four popular options: welcome emails, email newsletters, lead nurturing emails, and transactional emails. These various options can be used in tandem as part of comprehensive email marketing campaigns.
Email newsletters are emails sent to your subscriber database, typically regularly. These newsletters will generally constrain news and other updates on your business, products, or services. There are no concrete borders on the content, but the objective for your newsletter services should be in-line with business goals.
Constant Contact, GetResponse, and MooSend are among the most popular tools for email marketing. They offer simple interfaces despite having an extensive depth of features available. With these services, you’ll gain solid control over your email marketing campaigns.
You don’t need an ESP when using email marketing services. The best part of using an email marketing service is the inclusion of the ESP segment within. That means you can create, send, and analyze your entire email marketing campaign from a unified dashboard.