Does email marketing seem like an ancient method of communicating with your followers? Think the opposite, because it’s far from outdated. In fact, the ROI on an email marketing campaign is a whopping $36 for every $1 spent according to a study by Litmus. This is despite the proliferation of promising new digital channels, and the number has only gone up since the pandemic. In fact, if you look at Google Trends you’ll notice the searches for “email marketing” are at an all-time high since 2004.
There are hundreds of email marketing companies out there (we review over 20 of the top brands here!), so how do you weed them out and find the best one for your business? We give our recommendations for the best email marketing service providers as well as some other need-to-know information.
- What Features Should Every Email Marketing Service Offer?
- Best Entry-Level Email Marketing Software
- Best Email Marketing Software
- Email Marketing Software Comparison Table
- Our "Best For" Email Marketing Reviews
- A-Z Reviews Of Email Marketing Companies
- How To Change Email Marketing Service Providers?
- Email Marketing Terminology
- A/B Testing (Split Testing)
- Application Programming Interface (API)
- Bounce & Bounce Rate
- Click-Through Rate
- Email Marketing Service Providers (EMSPs)
- List Segmentation
- Open Rate
- Newsletter Archiving
- Responsive Design Templates
- Spam Score/Checking
- Subject Line
- Text Version
- Trigger-Based Messaging
- Does Email Still Reign King? (Video)
- Which Email Company Will You Select?
What Features Should Every Email Marketing Service Offer?
Most email marketing companies have the same standard offerings. We removed these common features from our criteria and pro and con lists below.
To even stay in business, an email marketing service provider (EMSP) needs to have relationships with the major ISPs (Internet Service Providers) such as Comcast, Charter, AT&T, Verizon, etc. If they didn’t, emails would get blacklisted, and clients—unable to reach their customer—would not be happy.
EMSPs all advertise that they have the best “whitelisting” relationships with ISPs, but the truth is that the arrangements are more or less the same. The important thing is that the EMSP has the support and staff necessary to maintain the relationships, analyze the SMTP send logs, etc.
Along the same lines, an email marketing brand must have an anti-spam policy to prevent bulk blacklisting if one user misbehaves.
Constant Contact, Vertical Response, StreamSend, and iContact (and typically the rest of the lot) take the same anti-spam measures.
Common anti-spam measures, in accordance with CAN-SPAM (an official anti-spam policy), include:
- A postal address
- Unsubscribe option
- Information on how the recipient joined the list in each email newsletter
- Not use false or misleading headers and subject lines
These requirements got even more robust in May 2018 when the European Union introduced a General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). Compliance measures were put in place worldwide to meet these requirements, strengthening data privacy for all consumers.
Many service providers, such as Constant Contact, offer a free or paid service that archives your old email newsletters on their website. This isn’t always ideal for you from an SEO (Search Engine Optimization) perspective.
Your email newsletter contains valuable content relevant to your business that could be indexed by search engines; however, if the content is archived/hosted on the EMSPs servers, you won’t get credit for it and may miss out on valuable website traffic. Look to either archive your old newsletters on your own website or find a way to copy/paste the archive from the service over to yours.
From our research, Benchmark, GetResponse, Campaigner, MailChimp, VerticalResponse, Constant Contact, iContact, and ActiveCampaign provide the best entry-level opportunities for small businesses.
Of these eight companies, we recommend that you start with our top 3 overall winners to determine the best fit for your needs.
These services offer a good balance of:
- Pricing (low-cost per month per subscriber and email send count)
- Flexibility (email template design and management)
- Reporting (bounce, unsubscribe, spam reports, etc.)
- Online support communities (where users can interact with other users, share their opinions on the service, as well as get support from administrators and an extensive knowledge base)
We’ve chosen the top three picks for email marketing based on features, price, customer service, usability, and more.
GetResponse’s user-friendly interface and email intelligence make it one of the easiest programs to jump into and get emailing in no time.
GetResponse actively helps you improve your campaigns to better reach and connect with your audience every step of the way. Other perks include online surveys, inbox preview, autoresponders, and social networking integration. It gets high marks for customer service, which goes a long way in our book.
You get a lot of bang for your buck with its monthly accounts—more than most other email marketing service providers. What are its limitations? The free plan has limited features and doesn’t offer automation or segmentation.
Best Email Marketing Service For Nonprofits
50% Discount For Nonprofits
|Free plan up to 500 contacts with unlimited sends||No phone customer support|
|Unlimited email sends||List segmentation is limited|
|AI email generator powered by ChatGPT||Once you’ve uploaded images to their database, it might prove difficult to find the imported images to use|
|Visual email editor and HTML editor||No built-in SMS marketing|
|Images from Shutterstock and GIFs from GIPHY|
|Templates, A/B testing, RSS-to-email, click tracking, Google Analytics tracking, click SPAM check, no GetResponse branding, forms, and autoresponders for all paid plans|
|Time Travel feature sends your email at the optimal local time to maximize the open rate|
|Integrates with 100+ apps/software, including Google analytics, WordPress, WooCommerce, Magento, Zapier, Facebook, Twitter, Paypal, and API|
|Website builder with AI creator|
|Unlimited landing pages|
|Additional automation tools available with Marketing Automation plan (such as drip campaigns, push notifications, dynamic segmentation, and split automation)|
|Transactional emails and Ecommerce tools with Ecommerce Marketing plan (includes product box, order confirmation automation, and promo codes)|
GetResponse’s fees are on a per-month, per-contact pricing scale and there is no contract to sign or cancellation penalty. There are three paid plan options: Email Marketing, Marketing Automation, and Ecommerce Marketing. All paid plans include an unlimited number of email sends.
The starting price for the basic email marketing plan is $15.58 per month for up to 1,000 contacts; however, small marketers may wish to use the free version, available for contact lists up to 500. You can save some substantial money with its 18% discount for annual plans or 30% discount for 24-month plan. GetResponse also offers nonprofit 501 (c)(3) organizations a 50% off “forever” discount on all of its pricing.
In-Depth GetResponse Review
iContact moves up to our second spot for the best email marketing service provider this year. iContact offers very competitive pricing plans for its basic services (starting at $14.00/month for 750 subscribers) with a wide array of features and a solid deliverability reputation.
Its premier offerings are its best selling point. With iContact’s marketing services, high-volume senders (50,000+) get a dedicated account manager to focus on your email design, campaign, and analytics. It’s unclear how much this will cost you—you have to contact the company for pricing.
iContact offers a trail plan (up to 250 contacts), with no credit card required.
|Trial plan up to 250 contacts with 500 sends per month||No weekend customer support|
|Drag-and-drop email editor and HTML email builder||Could have more varied email templates|
|10,000 stock photos from Getty Images|
|Templates, A/B testing, RSS-to-email, automation tools, autoresponders, segmentation tools, and campaign reports/landing page analytics with all plans|
|Seamless integration with Salesforce for stronger CRM programs|
|100+ integrations, including WordPress, Squarespace, PayPal, Magento, WooCommerce, Shopify, Eventbrite, Zapier, and Facebook|
|Landing pages and forms|
|Social media posting (add-on)|
|Comprehensive contact manager with bounce-back handling & history reports|
iContact offers two email marketing platforms—basic and high-volume services—which include advanced marketing automation and email personalization as well as advanced e-commerce features. Marketers under 10,000 contacts can choose between four plans, starting with a $14 per month plan with up to 750 contacts. iContact’s trial plan covers 250 contacts, 500 emails per month—though it’s not specified how long this trial plan is available. According to iContact’s Terms & Conditions, iContact also has a “Freemium” plan that allows up to 500 contacts and 2,000 sends per month (1 user, 1 list, and 1 landing page).
iContact’s fees are very competitive compared to other providers. Its pricing is based on the number of contacts per month, and you can pay monthly. Users are free to upgrade or cancel plans at any time.
You receive a 15% discount on monthly pricing if you purchase the annual plan. It also provides a 20% discount for nonprofit 501 (c)(3) organizations (free account for North Carolina based nonprofits since that’s where the company is based).
In-Depth iContact Review
Constant Contact is one of the oldest and best-known email marketing services around—it’s been in business since 1996. One of its biggest selling points is that it’s easy for beginners to get up and running in no time. The platform makes it simple to manage your contacts, segment mailing lists, use email templates, generate reports, investigate analytics, and much more.
To get advanced features, like trigger-based messaging and split A/B testing, you’re going to have to upgrade your pricing plan. These are features that many other services include in base plans, which is the main reason Constant Contact doesn’t fall into our top two spots. It’s also expensive compared to our top two picks. But if you can fit it into your budget, it’s one of the easiest platforms to use.
|Free trial and 30-day money-back guarantee||No free plan|
|AI content generator and subnect line recommendations||Must upgrade for more than one user|
|Drag-and-drop editing and 100+ email templates||Some users say it’s hard to cancel your subscription|
|Templates, AI content generator, social media marketing, event management, surveys, landing pages, and forms for all paid plans||Must upgrade for additional features that competitors include in basic plans|
|300+ integrations, including Gmail, Shopify, SurveyMonkey, Etsy, Eventbrite, and Canva||A/B testing, automation, ads, and detailed reporting not available in starter plan|
|SMS marketing (add-on)|
|Premium marketing services advisor program available (similar to iContact|
Pricing for Constant Contact is on a monthly basis, with tiered pricing based on number of contacts. Monthly email sends are established based on your selected plan (10x to 24x contact tier allowance). The starter plan is $12/ per month and includes 500 contacts. Plan pricing increases as you increase the number of contacts.
You can save up to 15% by pre-paying for 12 months. Nonprofits can save up to 30% (must prepay).
In-Depth Constant Contact Review
If you are confused by the terminology we use in this table, you will find our definitions of industry terms helpful.
To see the full table, make sure you *use the scrollbar at the bottom* of the table. Alternatively, click on the table and use your arrow keys to scroll across.
|Company||1st: GetResponse||2nd: iContact||3rd: Constant Contact||Best For Small Businesses: Benchmark||Best For Large Companies: Pinpointe||Best For Ecommerce: Brevo||Best For Overall Value: Pipedrive||Best Free Plan: MailChimp||ActiveCampaign||AWeber||Campaign Monitor||Campaigner||ConvertKit||Emma||FireDrum||FreshMail||JangoMail||Mad Mimi||Salesforce Marketing Cloud||VerticalResponse|
|Free Trial/ Plan||500 contacts, 2,500 emails/mo.||250 contacts, 500 emails/mo.||100 Emails||500 contacts, 3,500 emails/mo.||15 Day Trial||Unlimited contacts, 300 emails/day||14 Day Trial||500 contacts, 1,000 emails/ mo.||14 Day Trial||500 contacts, 3,000 email/mo.||5 contacts, unlimited emails||30 Day Trial||1,000 contacts, unlimited emails||None||100 contacts, 500 emails/mo.||14 Day Trial||30 Day Trial||None||14 Day Trial||60 Day Trial|
|Starting Plan Price (monthly)||$15.58/mo. (1,000 contacts)||$14/mo. (750 contacts)||$12/mo. (500 contacts)||$9.99/mo. (500 contacts)||$99/mo. (15,000 contacts)||$25/mo. (unlimited contacts)||$21.90/mo. (3,000 contacts)||$13/mo. (500 contacts)||$29/mo. (1,000 contacts)||$12.50/mo. (unlimited contacts)||$11/mo. (500 contacts)||$59/mo. (5,000 contacts)||$15/mo. (300 contacts)||$99/mo. (10,000 contacts)||$4/mo. (500 contacts)||$27/mo. (2,500 contacts)||Custom||$10/mo. (500 contacts)||$1,250/mo. (10,000 contacts)||$11/mo. (500 contacts)|
|Customer Service||Live Chat, Email||Phone, Live Chat, Email||Phone, Live Chat||Phone, Live Chat, Email,||Phone, Live Chat, Email||Phone, Live Chat, Email||Live Chat, Email||Phone, Live Chat, Email||Phone, Live Chat, Email||Phone, Email||Phone, Email||Live Chat, Email||Phone, Chatbot, Email||Phone, Live Chat, Email||Phone, Live Chat, Email||Live Chat, Email||Phone, Live Chat, Email||Phone, Live Chat, Email|
|Image Hosting||2GB||10MB||2GB||1GB for free account, unlimited for paid accounts||Unlimited||Yes, but unlisted||1GB||Unlimited||Unlimited||Unlimited||Unlimited||50MB||Yes, but unlisted||Unlimited||Unlimited||Unlimited||Unlimited||Up to 100GB||25MB (free)|
|Built-in SMS (Text) Messaging||Integration Only||Integration Only||Integration Only||Integration Only||Integration Only||Integration Only||Integration Only|
|Surveys||Integration Only||Integration Only||Integration Only||Integration Only||Integration Only||Integration Only||Integration Only||Integration Only||Integration Only||Integration Only||Integration Only|
|Allows Attachments||Up to 4MB||Yes, One Attachment (1mb Limit) Per Campaign||Up to 1MB|
|Google Analytics Integration|
|Private (Dedicated) IP Address||$28.95/month||$50/month||$251/year||$250/month|
Now that you have an idea of what EMSPs can offer you and our picks for the overall best three EMSPs, we’re going to dig a little more deeply into this industry to find the email marketing provider that fits the unique needs of your business or organization. Here are our winners that are “best for” the following categories:
- Nonprofits: GetResponse (Overall #1 Pick)
- Small Businesses: Benchmark
- Large Companies: Pinpointe
- E-Commerce: Brevo
- Overall Value: Pipedrive
- Free Plan: MailChimp
Benchmark has stepped up its competitive edge with its free plan. It allows you 500 contacts and 3,500 emails per month with many standard and advanced features that other service providers don’t offer for free.
For paid plan, Benchmark offers features including A/B testing, email engagement automations, and unlimited images. There is also the option of having a private IP address ($28.95 per month).
What we like is that Benchmark genuinely cares about its customers’ concerns. They showcase this in their in-dash feedback forum that allows you to voice your concerns without navigating away from the page. Click here to get started with its free plan.
|Fantastic customer service||No social media or sales tracking|
|Drag-and-drop email builder||Does not allow for the use of attachments in marketing campaigns, but they do give you up to 10mb per file to store and link to them on their server|
|Templates, RSS-to-email, AI copywriting (Smart Content), Google Analytics, basic segmentation, and basic automation for all free and paid plans||Built-in import features for third-party address books are very limited|
|Custom HTML Editor, no Benchmark branding, landing pages, surveys, A/B testing, reporting, advanced automation with all paid accounts|
|Add-ons: ongoing list verification, dedicated IP, and inbox checker (powered by Litmus)|
|Dozens of app integrations, including Google Analytics, Zapier, PayPal, Salesforce, and more|
|Unlimited image hosting and video storage for paid accounts|
Benchmark’s pricing starts at $9.99 per month ($8 per month if you sign up for an annual plan). Nonprofit customers get a 25% discount on all services.
Benchmark offers a free starter plan, where you can send up to 3,500 emails per month at no cost.
In-Depth Benchmark Review
Pinpointe is an advanced service geared toward B2B (business to business) email marketers and larger volume senders. It delivers all the features advanced email marketers want, and its automation is one of the best we’ve seen.
It includes sub-accounts for universities and larger companies (in the Enterprise version), surveys, advanced reports, including click heat maps, easy to use campaign builders, and trigger and drip campaigns with flexible and dynamic segmentation. While some of the more sophisticated services can get overwhelming, Pinpointe offers a surprisingly easy, intuitive interface, and users rave about the knowledgeable and responsive customer service.
Pinpointe offers a 15-day free trial (no credit card required).
|Unlimited image hosting and more than 1,000 templates||Cheapest monthly plan listed starts at $99 for 15,000 contacts|
|Offers unbranded emails||Several user reviews that it’s challenging to set up|
|User-friendly interface and wizard make the process easy||Apps/integrations don’t appear to be nearly as numerous as competitors|
|Unused email credits roll over each month up to one year|
|Ideal for teams|
|Excellent autoresponders, A/B split testing, behavioral targeting, and triggered campaigns|
|Real-time tracking and analytics|
|Google Analytics and Salesforce integration|
|XML API connector for developers|
|Robust survey feature with drag and drop, customizable editor, and analytics|
|Dedicated IP address (add-on)|
Pinpointe offers two plans: Professional and Enterprise. Pricing starts at $99 per month for 15,000 contacts. Pinpointe gives a 10% discount on pricing plans if you pre-pay for 6 months.
While Pinpointe doesn’t have a free plan, there is a free trial. You can also request a live demo of Pinpointe, ranging from 20 to 50 minutes.
In-Depth Pinpointe Review
Initially designed for online merchants, Brevo (formally SendinBlue) has made great strides (500,000+ global customers) since launching in 2012. Its approach combines email marketing campaigns, transactional emails, and SMS (text) mobile messaging to best meet its users’ needs. It gears many of its best features toward the customer sales process. Brevo also stands out for its free plan with unlimited contacts and 300 emails per day.
There are some notable missing features, but there’s been a lot of buzz about Brevo recently, so we think it’s worth trying out. Some significant features include marketing automation (send target emails based on a contact’s activity), email heatmap (know where customers click most), and dynamic list (create lists that are updated every 24 hours based on filters).
Learn more in our interview with SendinBlue CMO, Amalia Bercot.
|Free plan (unlimited contacts, 300 emails/day)||Free/low-tier plans have Brevo branding|
|Unlimited contacts on all plans||No internal survey feature|
|Drag-and-drop editor||You can only import contacts using CSV or TXT files|
|SMS (messaging, including transactional SMS) for all plans||Limited integrations than many of its competitors|
|Focus on transactional emails (product orders, confirmations, etc.)||Email template selection is limited (40 templates)|
|Templates, transactional email sending, API, automation, advanced segmentation, and forms included in all plans||Dedicated IP costs $251/year|
Brevo offers a free plan that includes 300 emails/day, customizable email templates, transactional emails, and SMS & WhatsApp campaigns. From there, you can choose between Starter, Business, and BrevoPlus. The starting plan is $25 per month and includes unlimited contacts.
Alternatively, Brevo lets you build a customized plan based on email volume. Subscribers can also save 10% by signing up for a yearly plan.
In-Depth Brevo Review
Pipedrive (formerly Mailigen) is a great option for beginners and experts alike due to its effortless customizations and a wide array of features that make crafting a unique marketing strategy fun and effective; however, there are a few shortcomings, like limited stock images and template selections. All things considered, Pipedrive is a fantastic option loaded with features that make for a reliable product.
|One of the most affordable services we’ve found for the number of features you get||No free plan|
|Templates, drag-and-drop editor, and HTML editing||No weekend customer support for phone|
|Sales assistant, API access, and Webhooks with all paid plans||Pipedrive’s branding appears on every email for free trial users|
|400+ integrations||Contact importing is limited, only allowing Excel, csv, and txt files|
|Best SMS (text) integration we’ve seen includes SMS list segmentation, tracking, and reporting, plus you get 20 free SMS credits with every monthly account|
|Dynamic Content and Behavioral Segmentation Features allow you to target particular interest groups, making custom emails cost-effective|
|Social media sharing options are impressive: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, Reddit, and more|
|You can request your own IP address, which further protects you against spam and malware|
|Employ deliverability specialists and strategic account representatives who provide top of the line help and support|
Pipedrive offers up to 32% off of the their pricing plans if you pay annually. Monthly plans start at $21.90. There is a 25% discount for nonprofit 501(c)(3) organizations and 14-day free trial (no credit card required).
MailChimp is one of the most popular email marketing softwares, partly because it pioneered the forever free email marketing plan. With the free plan, you get 500 subscribers and 1,000 emails per month, free forever.
MailChimp has a fun and straightforward interface and a lot of features for beginners and budget-conscious users. Some of MailChimp’s latest additions include shoppable landing pages, enhanced segmentation and tagging, postcards, and native integrations through their tool “Connected Sites,” including WooCommerce, Magento, BigCommerce, and many other sites.
|Free for up to 500 contacts||Customer complaints about their Acceptable Use Policy|
|Easy-to-use HTML templates, and you can use their WYSIWYG editor to customize your own designs||No phone support and live chat often has long wait times|
|300+ integrations, including Google Analytics, WordPress, Canva, and Shopify||Fewer templates than other email marketing services|
|All paid plans include A/B testing, email scheduling, forms, landing pages, reporting, and analytics||Slow to refresh and can be slow when the site is busy|
|SMS marketing (add-on)||Segmentation is very limited with free plan|
|Sign-up forms can be customized and embedded anywhere|
|Knowledge base includes animated videos and screenshots|
MailChimp offers the best free plan for 500 subscribers and 1,000 emails sent and various features than any other email marketing service. It also provides monthly pricing and pay as you go fees for those who need more than what you can do with the free plan. Paid plans start at $13 per month.
In-Depth MailChimp Review
To jump straight to an in-depth review of an email marketing provider you’re interested in, click on one below.
Although not widely considered one of the big players in the email marketing service provider world, ActiveCampaign is certainly giving competitors a run for their money. ActiveCampaign has one of the slickest and most intuitive interfaces out there, and all the features you’ll need, whether you’re a novice or a pro.
It has fully built-in CRM sales and automation, a ton of apps and integrations, and full API. However, there are a few drawbacks that keep it from rising to the top—if you need to do affiliate marketing, for example, look elsewhere. It’s strictly not allowed with ActiveCampaign. Still, this service brings a wow factor with its ease of use and affordable pricing.
ActiveCampaign has a 14-day free trial (no credit card required).
|AI email content generation||No free account|
|Drag-and-drop email designer||No phone support included with Lite, Plus and Professional plans (only with Enterprise plan, which starts at $229 per month)|
|Marketing automation, email automation, segmentation, link & event tracking, reports, API, and Webhooks with all paid plans||No internal surveys, only integration with Survey Monkey|
|Available SMS add-on||No affiliate marketing allowed in email campaigns, including no links in emails to affiliates|
|870+ integrations, including Google Analytics, Shopify, Zapier, PayPal, WordPress, and more||Social sharing is limited to Facebook and Twitter|
|Mobile apps, iPhone and Android|
|Solid automated importing of contacts—txt, csv, Excel, Gmail, Salesforce and more|
|All the advanced features: RSS email, autoresponders, A/B split testing, inbox preview, geotracking, reporting|
|Dedicated IP address|
ActiveCampaign offers four email marketing plans, with tiered pricing based on number of contacts. There are also additional add-on, including SMS marketing automation ($21/month) and custom reporting ($159/month). Pricing starts at $29 per month, paid yearly.
What began as an autoresponder service is now a full-fledged email marketing provider—one of the more popular ones out there. With it’s acquisition of email marketing provider Omnistar, AWeber continues its growth as one of the major players in this space. AWeber prices itself competitively and is a strong contender in the email marketing battle.
One cool feature is its broadcast archive, which optimizes the newsletter archiving process by turning newsletters into easy to use web pages for your visitors.
What’s missing? AWeber isn’t as up to date on social media integrations and tracking as other top services.
Check out AWeber’s 30-day free trial.
|Free plan up to 500 contacts with 3,000 emails per month||No social media tracking or reporting|
|Unlimited subscribers for paid plans||You can’t custom build your own email template|
|AI writing assistant||Subscriber importing isn’t the best (you can only import xls, xlsx, tsv, csv, txt files — can’t directly import from Gmail contacts, LinkedIn, Outlook, Quickbooks, etc.)|
|One of the better WYSIWYG drag-and-drop editors we’ve seen (easy to format text, add images, hyperlink text, etc.)||Social sharing is limited vs competitors Facebook and LinkedIn)|
|700+ email templates|
|Unlimited image hosting and 6,000+ stock images|
|All paid plans include landing pages, automation, segmentation, analytics, and 24/7 support|
|Well-known for solid and easy to reach customer support via phone or email|
|Extensive knowledge base, video tutorials, great webinars, etc. on its website|
|API access—you can use their services to build your own app|
|App Showcase with 50+ apps you can integrate with your account: Zapier, Salesforce, WordPress, Facebook, etc.|
|Shopping cart integrations: PayPal, Shopify, and Magento|
AWeber’s fees are on a per-month, per-contact pricing scale. Pricing starts at $14.99 per month (there is also a free plan). AWeber also offers a fix-priced plan for businesses with 100,000+ subscribers.
In-Depth AWeber Review
Campaign Monitor is an email marketing software built specifically with graphic designers in mind, but its drag and drop editor is easy to use for beginners. This interface is very pleasing to the eye and allows for multiple account management.
Campaign Monitor has most of the basics you’ll need to run successful email marketing campaigns, but if you’re looking for seriously advanced features, you may need to look elsewhere.
Campaign Monitor has a free trial if you’re sending to five people or less.
|Customer support is available 24/7 via email for all users||No live chat customer support and phone support only available to Premier and Advanced plans|
|Easy drag-and-drop email builder with hundreds of templates||Limited training resources, tutorials|
|2 million Unsplash stock photos||No internal survey or event marketing support|
|All plans include unlimited users, 100 email templates, forms, A/B testing, segmentation tools, mobile-optimization tools, real-time reporting analytics, RSS feed trigger, transactional emails, and dynamic content||Extra cost for unlimited email sends per month|
|250+ integrations, including Google Analytics||Additional cost for spam testing with Basic plan and per-campaign payment options|
|API integration with your CMS, blog, or other third-party software|
|No Campaign Monitor branding, logos, watermarks, or links in email|
|SMS marketing (add-on)|
|Smart segments for highly-personalized emails|
With Campaign Monitor, you have the option of paying per month or by campaign. Plans start at $11 per month (2,500 emails). The pay-by-campaign option is 1¢ per subscriber, plus $5 per campaign. So, if you send to 1,000 subscribers, you’ll pay $15 for the one-time send.
The pay-per-month option is based on your number of contacts, and for the Basic plan also the number of emails you send each month. The Unlimited plan is true to its name, allowing you unlimited number of emails sent each month, based on your number of contacts.
It also offers a 15% discount for nonprofits.
In-Depth Campaign Monitor Review
Campaigner has reasonable pricing and includes 50mb CDN, media/image hosting, A/B testing, social media integration, and autoresponders at no additional cost. And its award-winning customer service team is known for reliable tech support.
While Campaigner has been a top choice for small businesses for years, their user interface hasn’t kept up with their competitors, and customers report that the system has become too buggy and slow.
Campaigner acquired StreamSend in 2017. j2 Global, Inc. (owner of Campaigner) previously acquired Contactology in 2014.
|30-day free trial||No free plan|
|Excellent customer service reputation with little to no wait times||Lowest-tiered plan includes Campaigner branding|
|Drag-and-drop editor and full code editor||Requires a learning curve and not very user-friendly|
|900+ templates||Advanced features can get costly|
|All plans include social integration, landing pages, basic segmentation, suppression lists, recurring campaigns, CDN media hosting, and conversion tracking||Spam checking is very limited; no spam score tool|
|Reports best-performing links, click trends, heat maps, workflows & more||Doesn’t offer nearly as many app/software integration choices as other top services|
|API integration into existing data systems||Must have a plan that allows more than 25,000 contacts to remove Campaigner logo from emails|
|Automated opt in/opt out||No Android app|
|SMTP Relay ensures transactional emails get delivered to customers’ inboxes||Credit card required for free trial|
Pricing for Campaigner is on a per-month basis, based on your number of contacts. The starter plan costs $59 per month. All of these plans allow for an unlimited number of emails sent. They offer a free 30-day trial.
By purchasing a higher-end plan, you get some of Campaigner’s more advanced features included in the price: Custom footer, 1GB CDN media hosting, dynamic content, exclusion lists, and more. And with the purchase of the Advanced monthly plan, you get even more features: Automation workflows, APIs, static segment sampling, purchase behavior, and more.
In-Depth Campaigner Review
ConvertKit is specifically designed for bloggers, podcasters, service-based business owners, and YouTubers to help grow your audience and customers.
With ConvertKit’s features and visual automation builder, you can organize your subscribers based on their interests and activity and send them personalized emails. They also have customizable forms, email and live chat support, and over 80 integrations, including Zapier, Shopify, and WooCommerce.
ConvertKit offers a free plan and a 14-day trial (no credit card required). Pricing starts at $15 per month for up to 300 subscribers. Signing up for a yearly plan gets you two months free.
|Free plan up to 1,000 contacts with unlimited sends||No drag-and-drop template|
|Unlimited email sends, landing pages, and forms||Less customization (10+ email templates)|
|Templates and custom email templates with HTML/CSS|
|Free migration to ConvertKit with paid plan|
|All plans include A/B testing, Unplash image library use, and opt-in incentives|
|70+ integrations, including Zapier|
Pricing for ConvertKit is on a per-month basis, based on your number of contacts. You can get two months free by signing up for an annual plan. Paid plans start at $9 per month for up to 300 subscribers.
Emma boasts big-name customers like Texas A&M University, Orangetheory Fitness, Yale University, the YMCA, and more. Emma emphasizes the service end of email marketing, and it shows in rave reviews of its customer service.
Its drag-and-drop email editor is easy to use, and all plans include an email template gallery and asset library. Emma is significantly more expensive than some other services, but as you work up the pricing scale, the prices become much more competitive.
|Top-notch customer service and professional services available||No weekend customer service hours|
|Easy to use drag and drop interface||Among the most expensive options we’ve reviewed, and no mention of a discount for nonprofit 501(c)(3) organizations|
|Many of the standards: A/B testing, automation, list segmentation, contact management, tracking, and reporting||No free trial|
|Social media marketing with Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn|
|Solid integration offerings, including Salesforce, Shopify, a number of Formbuilder and CMS services (WordPress, Drupal)|
Emma’s pricing includes 10,000 contacts in each annual plan, starting at $99 per month. Premium plans offer additional sub-accounts, users, and permissions. Emma requires an annual contract for all plans
FireDrum offers a multitude of email marketing and automation services, from DIY (best for freelance to small businesses) to plans for marketing agencies and large companies. When you search its website, it can be overwhelming, because it has a wide variety of plans and services it offers for each plan.
The Beginner plan starts at a free forever level, but it’s limited (only 100 subscribers and 500 emails per month), but the paid pricing levels are very competitive and include all the basic features you’ll need to get your email marketing up and running.
What’s great about FireDrum is the a la carte services offered if you don’t have time to take on the details, i.e., list assistance, HTML programming, campaign management, etc. All charge a fee, of course, but it’s a great option to have.
|Easy to use drag and drop interface||Does not allow attachments|
|Middle and top-tier plans offer unlimited lists, emails|
|All paid plans include A/B testing, automation, list segmentation, contact management, API integration, tracking, reporting, and unlimited support||Does not allow attachments|
|All plans have templates, drag-and-drop editor, and spam checker tool|
|Social media marketing with Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn|
|Integrations with API, Google Analytics, SalesForce, WordPress, WooCommerce, Zapier, WuFoo, Privy, and more|
|Dedicated IP for Enterprise plan|
|Open Boost automatically resends message to contact who hasn’t opened email|
|Smart Clean isolates and excludes contacts who aren’t engaged|
Pricing for FireDrum is based on your number of contacts. Choose to pay monthly, quarterly, or yearly. Plans start at $4 per month (billed yearly). While FireDrum does offer a free plan, its feature are very limited.
FireDrum offers a 30% discount for non-profit and government agencies.
FreshMail’s paid plan is extremely affordable compared to similar EMSPs. You get a number of advanced features with an intuitive interface that makes the process simple and fun.
The downside of FreshMail? Since it’s based in the UK, its phone support hours are extremely limited. We’ve seen some excellent reviews about the high quality of its customer service.
|Email support 7 days a week||No option to purchase dedicated IP address|
|Pay-as-you-go credits don’t expire||Some consumer complaints about slow moderation process|
|Unlimited email sends|
|Interface is extremely intuitive|
|All templates are responsive and beautifully designed|
|All plans include landing pages (3-100)|
|Inbox preview lets you see your email in 20+ email clients without sending test emails|
|40+ integrations, including Google Analytics, Salesforce, Zapier and more|
FreshMail pricing starts at $27 per month for 2,500 contacts. You can also choose a pay-as-you-go plan if you send emails less than once a month. FreshMail also offered customized plans for marketers with 50,000+ subscribers.
JangoMail began in 1998 as an elegant solution to a complicated problem. How to pull data from multiple servers (some local, some halfway around the world) and assemble it into a single mass email? That feature is JangoMail’s unique claim to fame, although it incorporates many other features, including in-depth personalization options and fully customizable RSS to email conversion.
For all of JangoMail’s incredible feature options, it comes with a price. It is one of the more pricey services out there and probably better for larger businesses or marketing agencies (it offers pretty extensive agency features, including multiple-users).
Price is based on number of emails sent per month, rather than the standard number of contacts per month, so depending on your business needs you can end up spending a lot more than you would with its competitors.
JangoMail has a 30-day free trial.
|Discounts available for prepayment plants, multi-month commitment plans, and non-profits||Must contact JangoMail for pricing|
|Completely customizable||No free plan|
|Templates (150+) and HTML editors|
|Broadcast email, transactional email, automated messages, API|
|Opt-in form creator|
|Optional dedicated IP|
|Real-time reporting, geotracking, Google Analytics tracking, and automated email campaigns|
You must contact JangoMail for customized pricing.
Mad Mimi doesn’t have all the bells and whistles of the top guns when it comes to email marketing providers, but we think that’s okay. Sometimes less is more if you don’t want to wade through features you won’t use.
Geared toward a simpler approach, Mad Mimi offers what most small businesses need with a very affordable price tag. Its standard features are solid, except split A/B testing and template selection variety. Yet it also provides a decent selection of apps/integrations, social sharing and a robust API, so it isn’t falling behind the technology times.
|Friendly, responsive customer service||User resources are pretty thin — no webinars or online community|
|A great value if you have larger mailing lists but don’t need a ton of advanced features||No phone support unless you set up an appointment time|
|Easy drag and drop email building tools||Email design tools could be too simple for some|
|Unlimited image hosting||Very limited template selection|
|Solid tracking and reporting tools||No split A/B testing or mobile-ready templates|
|Social sharing with Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+ and more||Its autoresponder is fairly basic compared to other providers|
|Autoresponders, RSS to email, drip/targeted campaigns||Automated contact importing is limited to csv files|
|40+ apps/integrations, including Google Analytics, Salesforce, Zapier and WordPress||No free plan|
|Robust API for developers|
Mad Mimi offers four plan options that can be cancelled at any time. Pricing starts at $10 per month for 500 contacts.
Salesforce Marketing Cloud has been around since 2000 and tags themselves as the future of marketing. While claiming to be from “humble” beginnings, this company now operates one of the more dominant email marketing and comprehensive marketing solutions on the market today.
Unfortunately, this growth into big business has created somewhat of an intimidating appearance for many smaller businesses seeking these services. But, if you are looking for a comprehensive marketing integration tool to put everything in one place and make it easy to analyze all of your online marketing efforts, Salesforce Marketing Cloud may be perfect for you.
|Live chat customer service allows for access to customer service without long phone wait times||No listed customer service hours|
|Comprehensive marketing integration across email, mobile, social media, web, data and analytics make cross-platform marketing simpler||Difficult learning curve – you need to be pretty tech savvy to best utilize their services|
|A/B testing, inbox preview||Only 20+ pre-built email templates|
|Coupon and barcode management||You must know AMPScript to use email attachments|
|Automation, triggered messaging, drip campaigns||No free plan|
|RSS feeds can easily and quickly be integrated into email sending|
|Hundreds of integrations with third-party apps like Google Analytics|
|14-day free trial|
SalesForce offers a number of different packages beginning with its basic plan; each step-up plan includes all of the features of lower tiered plans. Plans start at $1,250 per month (10,000 contacts).
In-Depth Salesforce Marketing Cloud Review
VerticalResponse has been in business since 2001, and it’s come a long way. It has launched some excellent new features in the last couple of years including a free plan, the addition of an autoresponder (free for a limited time) and a new API and developer program that gives small businesses even more marketing tools to expand their reach. If you are a not-for-profit 501(c)(3), you can apply for a free credit program.
|Landing page builder||Outdated UI that’s not easy to use|
|70+ responsive email templates and HTML templates||Far fewer integrations than other services|
|A/B split testing and autoresponders||Their spam checking tools are very limited. For instance, you can’t get a spam score indicating the likelihood that your email newsletter will make it to your subscriber’s inbox|
|Real-time reporting and statistics, accessible from any web browser||Doesn’t offer a dedicated IP address|
|Free webinars and support seminars, along with video tutorials, on how to make the most of your email newsletter campaigns||No event marketing features|
|Excellent support community. It appears that the support community has relatively fast response times, is well-organized, and has avid user interaction||Poor contact management features|
|Live chat, phone and email support (with paid plans)||No free plan|
|60-day free trial|
VerticalResponse offers two marketing plans, as well as a pay-as-you-go option. The starting plan is $11 per month, based on your email list size. Non-profits are offered a 15% discount.
In-Depth Vertical Response Review
Let’s say you’ve decided you want to switch to another provider, such as from iContact to Constant Contact. How painful will the transition process be?
Export Your Subscriber List
Fortunately, any good email marketing provider should allow you to export your subscriber list. You can then import the subscriber list into your new email marketing provider. That’s the easy part.
Transfer Your Archives
You should also consider how you will move your newsletter archives, so you do not lose this valuable content you have created over the years. The more difficult part, depending on how your website is set up, will be replacing all the sign-up boxes you have scattered over the web to gather sign-ups for your newsletter.
Setup Your Email Sign-Up Box
If you’re using a back-end driven, dynamically generated site such as a Content Management System (CMS) i.e., WordPress, Joomla, Drupal and you have a “block” or “snippet” for your newsletter sign-up box, you should be able to make one update and have it update across your website instantaneously. If you have more than one website, you’ll need to make this update for each website.
Design Your Newsletter
The last thing you’ll want to copy over is the design templates you use for your enewsletters. Typically you’ll have access to the HTML for these, so copying these over shouldn’t be all too difficult in most services, as most email marketing service providers provide flexible template editing options.
As with any new topic, over time, these terms will quickly become second nature to you as you begin using and applying them.
To help you out, we have prepared a comprehensive list of definitions that will equip you with the knowledge and expertise to implement successful email marketing campaigns.
An internet marketing technique that lets you test and see which elements of your email newsletter: subject line, text, graphics, design, or layout, can be improved to increase your newsletter’s success rate. Some email marketing service providers include this feature to help you split test and give you results to find out which performs better.
Most popular Email Marketing Service Providers (EMSPs) now offer what’s called an API (or Application Programming Interface), which allows you to connect/integrate other existing software to the EMSP. Benefits include data sharing, better contact importing, better contact list management and analytic reporting capability, and more.
The options are numerous, depending on your needs and what type of API the EMSP offers. An example of an API would be Salesforce, a popular customer relationship manager (CRM) used for tracking leads. EMSP’s can use the Salesforce API to automatically send out campaigns to segments of your existing database, without having to import or export lists from other programs.
Almost all EMSPs do not allow attachments for a simple reason – they increase the probability of a given message being viewed as spam (as a result, the EMSP’s (and your) delivery rates may be affected). Attachments can also be flagged as computer virus files.
For that reason, you’re better off using inline links in your newsletter email, which you can then link to a hosted file. When the user clicks the link, they are given the option to download the file. Not as streamlined as an email attachment, but much more likely to allow the email to reach its full audience.
An autoresponder fires off an email to a subscriber automatically. A single autoresponder is most common – this typically just replies to a subscriber when they sign up. A sequential autoresponder is a little more advanced and allows you to schedule a series of predefined emails to be sent out on a schedule.
A bounce is when an email is rejected by the recipient’s mail server. There are two types of bounces. A soft bounce is when an email is temporarily un-receivable due to a full mailbox or email size, and a hard bounce is a permanent fail to deliver.
Emails that have hard bounces should be removed from your email database because they do not exist. Soft bounces, on the other hand, are okay to keep in your database, but you should keep an eye on them over time.
Some EMSP’s will continue to try to send to soft bounce emails several times to attempt success (but not guaranteed). The bounce rate is the percentage of emails that bounce back on your email list. For example, if you have one email out of 10 that bounces back, you would have a 10% bounce rate. If your bounce rate is high, then your account could be flagged for having a large number of undeliverable emails.
A common email term is “CAN-SPAM” which stands for the Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography And Marketing Act – or “Canning spam” email. Signed into law in 2003 it contains a series of email marketing guidelines enforced by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to protect U.S. consumers.
Most of these compliance measures are standard in EMSPs including having a mailing address in email campaigns and requiring subscribers to opt in so you shouldn’t have to worry about adhering to them (but you should be aware of CAN-SPAM to make sure you are not breaking the law).
Just as the term states, the click-through rate is the percentage of how many people click on your email campaign. The click rate is used primarily in campaigns with a call to actions that encourage a subscriber to click on a link to buy, read more or sign up (it may be less important in general awareness campaigns).
Some EMSPs like MailChimp show you the industry average click-through rate so you can see how your campaigns compare to others.
These are companies that provide email marketing services for companies to create, deploy, and track marketing emails. There are a wide-range of services that offer a variety of different bells and whistles, so it’s important to get to know which is the best service for you and what you are trying to achieve.
List segmentation is targeting messages to subsets of your subscriber base. Customer segmentation can be done using a variety of factors based on data you have captured from your newsletter subscribers when they sign up (like interests, location, etc.).
If you have the time and resources, segmenting your lists is a great way to help establish a stronger connection via more relevant newsletters. A great use of segmentation is to resend messages to subscribers who didn’t open or click the first time.
The term used for when a subscriber joins your email newsletter. The subscriber must be aware of joining your list before adding them by agreeing to receive email communications from you. Conversely, if someone wishes to remove themselves from your newsletter, you must legally have the option for them to “opt out” within the emails you send.
Similar to click rate, the open rate is much like the name states and is the percentage of opens from a single email campaign. Open rates are often used as a benchmark for success with higher open rates translating to better emails.
Catchy subject lines (see below), frequency, and timing of campaign can all affect the open rate, so it’s good to test out each to get the highest open rate possible.
This is the ability to save, or archive, your old newsletters. EMSPs differ in the way they handle this feature. Some offer to back up a certain quantity or volume of newsletters on their servers. Others offer export options that convert your newsletters into PDF or HTML files so you can download them and/or store them on your website.
You need to keep in mind that there is an SEO advantage to archiving your own newsletters (DIY).
Given the popularity of smartphones, most email templates are now designed to adjust automatically for viewing on mobile, tablets, and PC screens. There are also mobile-aware designs that are more basic in their design than their responsive counterparts. Ideally, mobile-aware designs render on all screens, but they are geared toward smartphone screens so they can get glitchy.
Responsive design templates are the optimal choice these days as statistics show that consumers are increasingly opening their emails on the go through their smartphones and tablets. If you don’t have a good design that you know will render well on all screens, you risk losing a great opportunity to build and keep your customers. Use your EMSP to preview your email in smartphone mode or send a test and check it on your own device.
Finding out whether your subscribers actually got your email is important. If they didn’t, why not? Some EMSPs offer spam score utilities that help you determine the likelihood of your newsletter ending up in a spam box before you hit send. Spam tests help you optimize and clean up your email campaign before sending it.
The subject line is the string of text in the subject field of the email. It gives the reader an idea of what to expect and is one of the most important parts of your message.
Think of the subject line as a “hook” to get a subscriber to open the email. While the subject line in traditional email is more informational, the subject line for email marketing should be catchy and engaging, so it catches your audience’s attention. Subject lines should not contain any words that could be flagged as spam-like “FREE” or over-use punctuation marks!!! As emojis become more popular, you are likely to see them used more frequently by marketers. However, emoji use may trigger a message to get caught in the spam filter.
Email marketing surveys help you capture visitor data. Typically, surveys will let you:
- Create public (anyone can answer) or private (only a specified subset of your subscribers can answer) surveys.
- Choose different answer formats – text boxes, radio buttons, drop-downs, etc.
- Redirect visitors to a custom thank you page upon completion of your survey.
- Export survey results to a file or spreadsheet for analysis (i.e., by sorting columns you can gauge responses based on different variables).
Some people might choose to receive a text-only version of email because they have a device that does not support HTML. This is not as common as it used to be, as HTML is now the standard email format.
This lets you send messages based on your subscriber’s actions. It creates a more personalized interaction with your audience. Examples of trigger-based messages include a welcome email, a “happy birthday” message, a reminder to renew a subscription, a note that a new version of a product is available, a “we miss you ” note to a subscriber that hasn’t opened a newsletter in a while, etc.
Aka What You See Is What You Get. This is used to describe a web editor interface that lets you design newsletter templates using buttons similar to those found in a word processor such as Microsoft Word. Examples of buttons include bold, italic, using headings, insert images, and more.
Does Email Still Reign King? (Video)
Is email marketing still effective? Watch this video to summarize why you should be doing email marketing (if you’re not already) and some additional tips on what to look for in an EMSP.
Email marketing is a great way to drive sales and stay top of mind with your consumers, so it’s a worthwhile service to invest the time and resources (learn more in our B2B Email Marketing article).
Have you decided on an email marketing provider? Let us know in the comments!Tagged With: Comparison, Email Marketing