For the past 12 years, I’ve been working in the email marketing industry. First for a digital marketing agency and then I set up EmailToolTester. My goal with this website was to make this powerful technology accessible to marketers who don’t want to invest hours and hours combing through the forest of newsletter services.
Tons of price plans, complex-looking email automation, differences in deliverability rates… It can be hard to select the best newsletter tool. This is why our team has put together a selection of the best solutions currently available, all carefully ranked and organized.
Hopefully, you’ll come out with a clear idea of which email marketing service to choose next!
What is an Email Marketing Service?
Aside from helping marketers send out email newsletters to their subscribers, email marketing services and software can cover everything from automation and segmentation to contact relationship management and reporting. These tools exist to make our lives easier, so it’s important to find one that’s easy to use and has the functionality you require. Some may prefer to go for an all-in-one email marketing service with all of the features formerly mentioned, others might prefer to keep it simple with an easy-to-use email builder. We’ll introduce you to various options below so you can make an informed decision. But first…
Isn’t Email Marketing Dated?
It is indeed old, but it doesn’t mean it’s ineffective. In fact, its maturity can be a strong indication that it’s here to stay, especially when you consider its excellent ROI of 44%. Look at the following pros:
- Lifespan: Consider Friendster, MySpace or Google+. Social media platforms can come and go. An email address? People tend to hang on to the same one for an average of 10 years.
- Data insights: Facebook and other social media tools are primarily advertising platforms. The data on their users is a goldmine they aren’t willing to share. With email marketing, you control everything you get to know about your users.
- Flexibility: once you’ve got your address list, it’s easy to switch providers. All you need is to export/ import the list via CSV.
- Ease of use: 10 years ago? Those systems were complex beasts. Today, it takes two seconds to integrate a sign up form, create a template and email everyone. It will certainly be faster to send your first newsletter than to create an ad campaign on Facebook or Twitter.
As you can see, email marketing is still a robust and reliable workhorse. And as we mentioned in the last point above, the platforms are increasingly easy to use for complete beginners. Best of all, many of them come with free plans so you can test the waters before spending money on the solution.
Tip #1: Want a quick way to find the right email marketing service for you? Try out our Smart Finder – you’ll have your personalized recommendation in less than a minute!
So which are the best email marketing services? Take a look at our ranking table below to find out.
How Do I Pick the Best Email Marketing Software?
Nowadays, most email marketing software is designed to perform a range of functions beyond simply sending emails and newsletters. Which features are an absolute must? Here’s our list of the key things you should be looking for:
- Drag and drop editor: An easy-to-use visual editor that will let you customize your email templates (without any coding) is your best bet for getting campaigns sent out quickly and efficiently
- Different campaign types: Your software should be able to support a range of email types, including regular newsletters, A/B tests, and autoresponders
- Marketing automation: Whether you need just simple autoresponders or more targeted automated campaigns, it’s important to make sure that your software can cater to your automation needs
- Sign-up forms: A good newsletter tool will allow you to create your own form to capture subscribers, which can either be embedded on your site or hosted on a separate landing page
- Integrations: Your email software needs to be able to link up to your other key applications – e.g. your blog, online store, CRM, and analytics tool
- Deliverability: What good is a newsletter service if your emails don’t get past the spam filters?
- Support: A thorough knowledge base, email support and live chat/phone support are all ideal. Not all tools provide all these channels, though
Still not sure? Take a look at our short video which highlights how these features should work in your email marketing software.
Tip #3: You can also compare the prices of different email marketing companies using our Newsletter Cost Calculator.
Common Questions About Email Marketing Companies & The Software
Cloud-Based Email Marketing Software vs. Packaged Software: Which Is Best?
At EmailToolTester, we only review cloud-based email marketing software. They have a couple of advantages over packaged software which is installed locally on your computer:
- You can access the tool from any computer.
- Software updates occur automatically in the background, you don’t need to update manually.
- The newsletter editor, email server, and all the required web space are offered and maintained by a single provider.
- The email server is geared towards mass distribution – as a result, it’s been whitelisted and certified, which increases your delivery rate.
- You have access to customer support services rather than dealing with open source software.
However, there are some disadvantages too:
- Your list of recipients is stored on a server outside of your own company.
- A cloud-based tool is usually more expensive than packaged software, which can be purchased once and used for an extended period of time at no extra cost.
In general, we’ve noticed that cloud-based email marketing software is coming out on top. Smaller and medium-sized companies, in particular, benefit from having no IT maintenance to worry about. Never underestimate the amount of time and money that this costs. For smaller companies, it’s almost impossible to run an email server for newsletters that isn’t blocked by services such as AOL or Gmail at some point.
And then there’s the security aspect: many companies don’t like hosting their recipient lists off-site. The email marketing companies themselves will obviously be very careful to fix any security issues as quickly as possible – after all, it’s their reputation on the line. However, there will always be some residual risk.
What’s Included in the Price of Cloud-based Software?
Cloud-based software is usually available for a monthly subscription fee. There’s no upfront cost, and you’ll often get the chance to pay month by month, or opt for discounted yearly plans. You can expect the following to be included within your monthly fee:
- A maximum allowance for subscribers or email sends (you can move to higher plans to increase these limits)
- Email templates + editor
- Registration forms
- Storage for emails and files (e.g. images)
- Mail delivery and technical maintenance
- Some support
Tip #4: We often hear from people who are worried about not having many contacts to write to. If that’s the case for you, consider setting up a welcome email series as an autoresponder. This way, everyone who signs up starts receiving emails from you right away without the need for you to publish on a regular schedule (just yet).
A great way to encourage sign-ups is a free checklist, ebook or other exclusive content.
The Best Email Marketing Services in Detail
Here’s a more detailed look at the email marketing services in our ranking table. Each profile also contains a link to the full review, in case you need more information.
1. ActiveCampaign – The Automation Pros
A self-described all-in-one marketing platform, ActiveCampaign’s main goal is to help you send fewer emails with better results. To that end, the American provider clearly focuses on automations. None of the other tools we’ve tested come close to ActiveCampaign in that field. With ActiveCampaign, you can automate everything based on your website visitors’ behavior with complex if/when/then logic. The CRM also makes it easy to manage sales directly from the backend.
What we like: Great design with clean, responsive themes. The automations, as mentioned above, are absolutely some of the best around. The prices are reasonable and support is excellent. Plus, it comes via email or live chat. Also, it has one of the best deliverability rates.
Where they can improve: The amount and complexity of the features can be a bit overkill for complete beginners. Some might also find it slightly expensive in the beginning.
Who ActiveCampaign is for: Power users who need complete control over their automations. Small businesses have a lot to gain by turning their email communications into sales channels with ActiveCampaign.
2. MailerLite – Simplicity and Design
Based in Lithuania, MailerLite has a young and dynamic team (averaging 25 years of age) that has created a modern and simple newsletter product. Their aim is international: both the support and interface are available in multiple languages. And in spite of basic appearances, MailerLite offers good tools, a robust editor and a “free for life” price plan. Too good to be true? Apparently not, as you’ll see in the pros and cons.
What we like: General ease of use. Clean and intuitive interface with a fast editor. The templates are well-designed and flexible, plus you get the most important marketing features, like landing pages, sign-up forms and reports. Good deliverability rates, too.
Where they can improve: Could maybe introduce more advanced automation and email analytics features. Email templates are sadly not included in the free plan.
Who MailerLite is for: Small businesses, freelancers and website owners who want an affordable solution with an easy learning curve and good features.
3. Sendinblue – Emails, invoices, newsletters and SMS
Launched in 2012, Sendinblue is a young Parisian platform that used to focus on transactional emails (for invoices, subscriptions, etc…). They have since pivoted and provide mass email services with their own newsletter platform. The bet seems to have paid off. They now send around 30 million emails and SMS daily in more than 14 countries.
What we like: Good ease of use. Very appealing prices and a generous free plan. List management, automations and reporting are all good. They also keep adding features, the most recent additions are their CRM and live chat functionality.
Where they can improve: The user experience could be a little smoother, as could the email editor.
Who Sendinblue is for: Users who want a good budget solution with decent features, whether for free or to send large volumes (40,000 emails) for only $25/month.
4. GetResponse – The Swiss Army Knife
With 350,000 users in 182 countries and more than a billion messages sent monthly, the numbers look good for GetResponse. We particularly like two unique features of theirs: a landing page editor and the ability to create webinars, which both come under their popular Conversion Funnel feature. Moreover, GetResponse offers excellent automation functions and we like their free access to 1000 iStock photos.
What we like: Ability to easily create landing pages, automation tools, responsive templates and the webinar feature for the Pro pricing (up to 500 emails).
Where they can improve: Deliverability isn’t fantastic. Some of their templates look a bit outdated and their editor is a bit clunky.
Who GetResponse is for: Marketers looking for a solid, versatile tool with the latest features. If you’re looking for a sales funnel tool then GetResponse is worth checking out.
5. Mailchimp – The global US platform
Mailchimp is now one of the world-leading solutions in email marketing. Maybe it’s thanks to their generous free offer: you can send up to 10,000 emails per month to 2,000 subscribers, with only a small footer ad. The premium plans, on the other hand, come with advanced marketing features such as automations.
What we like: They regularly add new features to the platform. Social media features are great, and so is the quality of the support (for paid subscriptions). You can easily customize the email templates and subscription forms.
Where they can improve: The interface can be confusing as certain features are pretty hidden (e.g. registration forms). Even if the free plan is generous, premium prices are fairly steep compared to the competition and support on the freemium plan is non-existent after the first month. Also, the fact that you get charged per contact, as opposed to just subscribed contacts means you have to really stay on top of list hygiene. Find out more in our Mailchimp alternatives post.
Who Mailchimp is for: Users who want a great free and easy way to use email marketing service.
6. Omnisend – Ecommerce automations
Omnisend’s mission is to give marketers ‘the power to rise above the promotional noise and get better results than ever.’ Sounds pretty appealing, right?
Due to its many automations, including browse abandonment and cart recovery, Omnisend is a great choice for online store owners.
What we like: As well as its excellent automations, it also has some pretty unique features like ‘wheel of fortune’ incentives for sign-ups, interactive gift boxes, automated product recommendations, and even ‘live view’ website tracking. You’ll also be able to set up landing pages, add your products directly in the email editor and segment lists based on specific details, for example, customers who purchased a specific product.
We’re also big fans of their free plan, which comes with 15,000 emails p/m.
Where they can improve: Unfortunately, automation and segmentation aren’t included on the free plan. Creating advanced non-ecommerce automations can get a little fiddly if you don’t have much experience.
Who Omnisend is for: Omnisend includes an impressive amount of features designed to help maximize conversions, so it’s a great choice for those who have an online store on platforms like Shopify.
7. Moosend – Affordable service with pay as you go plan
Moosend isn’t perhaps the most well-known email marketing platform out there, but, in light of its affordable prices and feature-rich service, we feel the tool deserves a place on this list.
Plus, it’s a great option for those looking for a free or pay as you go service.
What we like:
Its Free Forever plan includes access to almost all their pro features, 1,000 subscribers and unlimited add-free emails – that’s not bad at all! You’ve also got a nice selection of around 40 email templates to choose from, spam testing, A/B testing and automations.
We like that they offer a pay as you go plan, which, we might add, is significantly cheaper than Mailchimp’s.
If you’re going to be automating emails such as abandoned cart and upselling emails, or perhaps the more basic anniversary emails, this platform is definitely worth checking out – the workflow options are endless.
Where they can improve:
We found a few small UX issues with the editor, for example, in setting up your email for scheduling.
Who Moosend is for:
Those looking for a free or pay-as-you-go plan, or generally looking for a feature-rich, affordable email marketing solution.
8. Drip – Ecommerce CRM features
Drip was launched in 2013 and has since become a popular email marketing service due to its ecommerce CRM features and intuitive automations. Though there is no free plan on offer, you will have access to all features on all paid plans. Their lowest plan starts at $49/month for 2,500 contacts, which is a pretty big commitment, but it may be worth it for the advanced features you’ll have access to.
What we like: Their automation workflow editor is easy to use, well-designed and flexible, plus their icons and bright colors make it quite fun to use. There are a range of automation triggers to choose from including links clicked, page views, tags assigned, a purchase in your online store, etc. Another great feature is that you can automatically tag users if they carry out a certain action, like visit a particular page.
Where they can improve: Surprisingly, Drip doesn’t offer any kind of spam or design testing and the email editor isn’t the most efficient or intuitive. You’ll also only have 6 email templates to choose from, though you can upload your own HTML templates.
Who Drip is for: Drip is a great all-in-one solution for ecommerce businesses. Their sophisticated automations and CRM features will help you save time and better organize your leads.
9. Mailjet – Transactional emails and more
Like the aforementioned Sendinblue, Mailjet is based in Paris, France, and also used to focus on transactional emails. Their recent foray into the world of email marketing seems logical enough, and the editor works great for such a relatively new product. You can still send transactional emails, and also send SMS. Plus, there are some surprisingly advanced features such as automations, A/B testing, sub-accounts (e.g. for agencies) and team collaboration.
What we like: Very affordable plans, and the free offer is generous too. Drag and drop editor works well, and the automations are decent.
What they should improve: It’s a shame you can’t trial features like automations, segmentation or A/B testing on the free plan. In fact, to access these, you need to upgrade to one of their higher-level plans (Premium or Enterprise plans).
Who is Mailjet for: For beginners looking for something simple and affordable, it’s a great tool. Being able to manage multiple sub-accounts also makes it interesting for agencies too.
10. CleverReach – Some Good Pro Features
CleverReach seems to go all-in with their generous free plan that’s good for up to 2500 subscribers and 10,000 emails (you can only use it though if you are from the US, Canada, India, New Zealand or Australia).
But is free the only thing this German newsletter service does well? Not quite. They offer a lot of different pricing options, which may seem overwhelming at first but give you a lot of flexibility. Among them are flat-rate, pay as you go and high-volume options. Once you move past the free plan, their prices are in the upper third of the market though. Then there are pro features such as their content segmentation that allows you to customize content blocks to your reader’s preferences.
What we like: Their above-average deliverability. They feature a decent automation center and let you set up your own tracking domain for outgoing links. And of course, the free plan is great too.
Where they can improve: It’s a pity that registration forms aren’t responsive. The editor has its quirks but nothing too bad. Prices are a bit steep.
Who CleverReach is for: Senders who require a newsletter tool with a broad range of features.