10 Best Email Marketing Software of 2018-2019-With Automation
Is email marketing a priority for your business in 2017? Are you looking for the email marketing software? Choosing the best email marketing service can have a significant impact on the success of your marketing campaign. In this article, we will review the 7 best email marketing services for small businesses.
Why Choosing The Best Email Marketing Service is Important?
Email marketing is one of the most cost-effective marketing tool. It is easy to manage, gives you full control and allows you to establish direct contact with your customers. For more on this topic, see our guide on why you should start building your email list right away.
While you can use OptinMonster to easily get more email subscribers, the actual email delivery part comes down to your email marketing service provider.
If you aren’t careful, then you might end up paying a lot more money for fewer features and terrible deliverability (which causes you to lose even more money).
A good email marketing service enables you to create highly engaging emails. It also allows you to manage your contacts, segment users into groups, and track the performance of your email campaigns.
Most importantly, a good email marketing service ensures that your emails do not end up in the spam folder.
Having said that, let’s take a look at some of the best email marketing service providers and how they stack up against each other.
Having said that, let’s take a look at some of the best email marketing service providers and how they stack up against each other.
Constant Contact is one of the largest and fastest growing email marketing service in the world. It is also the most easy to use and beginner friendly email marketing service.
You can easily manage your email lists, contacts, email templates, and more.
Each account gives you access to easy tracking and reporting, built-in social media sharing tools, an image library and 1GB of storage for your own files.
Constant Contact offers unmatched support with live chat, email, community support, and a vast library of resources.
They also offer online training as well as live seminars in your neighborhood. This allows small business to quickly learn the basics of email marketing and start using it like a pro.
For all the reasons above, we rate Constant Contact the best email marketing service for small businesses.
Constant Contact has a 60 day free trial (no credit-card required). After that their pricing starts as low as $20/month.
AWeber is one of the most popular email marketing service providers in the world. They offer a wide-range of tools for small and medium sized businesses to manage their email marketing.
Getting started with AWeber is easy. It connects seemlessly to most platforms including WordPress. For detailed instructions, see our ultimate guide on how to connect AWeber to WordPress.
You get access to ready to use email templates, list management, autoresponders, and email tracking with detailed insights.
Support options include live chat, phone support, email support, live webinars, and a vast library of how-tos and tutorials.
AWeber offers a 30 day free trial. After that, their pricing starts from $19/month.
ConvertKit is a robust email marketing platform for professional bloggers, authors, and marketers. It is extremely easy to use and incredibly powerful.
ConvertKit allows you to easily offer content upgrades and incentives with email signup forms. It also comes with easy to manage auto-responders allowing you to send drip emails.
With ConvertKit, you can easily segment contacts into those who are interested and those who have already purchased. This is great for marketing automation.
ConvertKit offers email based support and have extensive knowledge base with great learning material.
Pricing for ConvertKit plans start from $29/month with a 30-day refund policy.
GetResponse is a hugely popular email marketing solution. It is extremely easy to use and simplifies email marketing for small businesses and absolute beginners.
It comes with some amazing marketing automation tools which allow you to create smart automated campaigns. With a drag and drop builder, you can create campaigns, segment contacts, and send content designed for specific groups. These tools help you create effective campaigns to boost your profits.
GetResponse comes with beautiful responsive forms, landing pages, A/B testing, tracking, and autoresponders. It also integrates with third party lead generation software like OptinMonster, SalesForce, Google Docs, ZenDesk, etc.
Support is provided by phone, live chat, and email. Their help section is full of free learning material including videos, webinars, how-tos, guides, etc.
GetResponse offers a 30 day free trial. Their pricing starts from $15/month.
MailChimp is one of the most popular email marketing service providers. They offer a very easy to use interface with great tools and awesome support.
It integrates beautifully with WordPress, Magento, Shopify, and many other platforms. If you are using WordPress, then see our ultimate guide to using MailChimp and WordPress for detailed instructions.
MailChimp also comes with easy email creator, merge tags, autoresponders, segmenting contacts into groups, and simple tracking and analytics. It also allows you to set up delivery times based on user’s timezones and setup segmenting based on geolocation.
Support is offered by email, live chat, and a huge knowledge base with how-tos, videos, and tutorials.
MailChimp offers a forever free plan which allows you to send 12,000 emails for upto 2,000 subscribers. Their paid plans start from $10/month.
Because of their free plan, we rate MailChimp the best email marketing software for nonprofits.
Campaign Monitor is another popular email marketing solution. It gives you everything you would need to run successful campaigns and then some more.
They have a beautiful drag and drop email builder. It allows you to use professionally designed email templates and make them your own. They also offer a drag and drop segmenting tool to create different campaigns for different contacts based on behavior and actions.
You can personalize each message using the rich customer data. This makes your emails more personal and gives much better results.
Not to mention their easy to use A/B testing, tracking, optimization, and social sharing tools.
Support is available 24/7 via email and support forums. Premier customers can also avail phone support. They have extensive documentation step-by-step how-tos to help you get started and fix things on your own.
Campaign Monitor’s pricing plans start from $9/month.
ActiveCampaign combines your email marketing, automation, with CRM and sales. It comes with all the tools you will need to create smarter email marketing campaigns.
ActiveCampaign comes with a beautiful email template editor and mobile friendly signup forms. It allows you to segment contacts based on their actions, location, behavior, and social data. It can also fetch additional data about your contacts using only their email address.
It integrates beautifully with many third party software including WordPress. You can also send SMS messages to your contacts for follow up on campaigns.
ActiveCampaign’s plans start from $9/month. You can also request a demo with limited features for a test run.
Although the pricing on ActiveCampaign gets quite high, it’s totally worth the money if marketing automation is what you’re looking for.
If there’s one tool that I recommend above all other solutions it’s ActiveCampaign.
ActiveCampaign is the backbone of all of our ventures here at Venture Harbour. It’s easy to use, and easily the most feature-packed email marketing / marketing automation tool for small to medium-sized businesses. On top of that, it’s also one of the most affordable tools.
What sets ActiveCampaign apart is the fact that it has its own CRM system for managing leads, and marketing automation for nurturing your leads into customers. In short, it’s an all-in-one platform for handling small business sales and marketing. Unlike some of the other tools that do this, ActiveCampaign is affordable starting at $9/month – a twentieth of the starting cost of tools like Infusionsoft, Hubspot and Ontraport.
The best thing about ActiveCampaign is the ability to create marketing automation sequences affordably and with ease. For those unfamiliar, marketing automation is the ability to create pre-built sequences of emails that are sent out to people on your list when certain conditions are met. See a quick example of an automation sequence I’ve built in ActiveCampaign below.
What’s particularly powerful about this is it means you can look at any person in your list and see a full history of which emails they’ve opened, replied to, which pages on your site they’ve visited, and much more.
You can then build automated email campaigns to different segments of your list. For example, if someone on your list hasn’t bought your product but suddenly visits your pricing page, you could instantly trigger a targeted email campaign to that person based on their behaviour on your website.
Here’s an example of what an individual contact’s page looks like in the CRM contacts section.
On top of this, ActiveCampaign enables you to add conditional content to emails, so that you can personalise your emails based on information you’ve collected on your leads / subscribers. You can also create ‘goals’ in ActiveCampaign, and even score leads, so that you know how ‘hot’ or ‘cold’ a prospect is based on their activity.
ActiveCampaign’s customer support is extremely responsive. While I’ve probably submitted less than three tickets in total, every one of them has been responded to in under an hour.
They also have a Zapier integration, which means that you can connect ActiveCampaign to 600+ other services, including Salesforce, LeadFormly, QuoteRoller, Xero, Calendly, Acuity Scheduling, Evernote, GotoWebinar and much more.
To be honest, there aren’t a lot of bad things to say about Active Campaign.
In fact, the only weaknesses that I can think of are things that all of the other email marketing tools also struggle with, so I’m not sure it’s fair to single ActiveCampaign out.
One area they could be improved is their reporting. While it has all of the insights you’d expect to see, I find that it’s not as easy as it should be to interpret my stats.
The second con is that ActiveCampaign currently don’t allow you to A/B test different emails in an automation sequence. Although this is something that they’re going to be releasing shortly (I cannot wait).
And… that’s where my list of cons ends.
To summarise, you’re going to be hard-pushed to find a better all-in-one email marketing, marketing automation and CRM solution than ActiveCampaign without spending in excess of $1,000 / month. And even then, ActiveCampaign will give them a run for their money.
Over the years, I’ve used ActiveCampaign as the backbone for our agency, as well as for managing Leadformly’s sales pipeline (a B2B software company we run). Last year, I also implemented ActiveCampaign as the CRM for a fintech firm I advise who have a global sales team managing hundreds of deals. In every instance, it’s worked beautifully.
As a long-term customer of theirs, I can vouch for ActiveCampaign as being arguably the best email marketing & CRM tool for small / medium-sized businesses.
ActiveCampaign starts at $9/month and has a 14-day free trial.
GetResponse comes in at a close second place.
So, what’s so great about them? In short, they get the important things right.
GetResponse’s pricing is very affordable (and, unlike other services, stays affordable as your list grows). Their platform is easy to use, and importing your lists takes seconds.
They have 500+ beautifully-designed email templates (all optimised for mobile), making it easy for beginners to create professional looking newsletters and autoresponders. Their customer support is impeccable (all of the issues we’ve had have been solved quickly with no fuss).
For more advanced users, GetResponse have done A/B testing very well. Whether you want to split test the body content, subject line, sender name, or even the time of day, GetResponse make this really simple. Their API is also very good. At Venture Harbour we’ve had to do a lot of custom integration using their API, and we’ve never had any problems. Of course, they also have many off-the-shelf integrations with services like WordPress, Salesforce, PayPal, Zendesk, and Shopify.
There are a lot of other specific features that I love about GetResponse (TimeTravel, single opt-ins, good deliverability rates, mobile inbox preview, landing pages etc), but the gist is that they’ve put a lot of thought into the important things that really matter.
So, let’s move onto what I don’t like about GetResponse.
Firstly, their form builder is below average. While it does the job, I always find myself spending longer than I’d like customising forms in their not-so-intuitive form builder section. Secondly, there are a few things (like deleting a list) that are unusually hard to do. In fact, even after using GetResponse for over three years, I’d have to Google it to find out how to find the list delete page.
Besides the minor user experience issues, the main reason why we don’t use GetResponse on every project at Venture Harbour is due to marketing automation.
GetResponse have fantastic autoresponders and a good automation tool that allows you to automatically remove/move contacts between lists when certain conditions are met (e.g. removing a contact from a list called ‘leads’ when a lead makes a purchase). Beyond this though, their automation rules are quite limited.
For some of our projects we require more automation functionality than this, which is where we would typically turn to a service like Ontraport, Infusionsoft, or ActiveCampaign (we’ll review these in a moment).
Considering that GetResponse is around one tenth the monthly cost of these more powerful email marketing tools, it’s definitely my pick for any project that needs to send out newsletters, autoresponders, and segmented emails.
In terms of GetResponse versus services like Mailchimp and Aweber, we originally had four sites using Mailchimp and one using Aweber. While I prefer the general features and ease of use of GetResponse over these services, my own experiments also suggest that GetResponse have superior deliverability and opt-in confirmation rates – meaning you get more subscribers, and more emails landing in your contacts’ inboxes.
If you’re interested in trying GetResponse, they have a generous 30-day unlimited free trial.
Before migrating our lists over to GetResponse, Mailchimp was our go-to tool for creating newsletters and autoresponders. Our decision to move away from Mailchimp was primarily due to them enforcing subscribers to double opt-in (which was reducing our list size by about 15%), and the fact that we could do virtually everything we needed in GetResponse for almost half the price.
Since then, Mailchimp have made a lot of changes. While I still personally prefer GetResponse, Mailchimp’s user interface is very well-designed and stupidly easy to use. In addition to this, their functionality has actually become quite powerful.
So, what are Mailchimp’s pros and cons?
For me, there are three things that really stand out about Mailchimp. The first is that it’s probably one of the easiest email marketing tools to use. Their campaign builder makes building campaigns a breeze, even for the total beginner. Importing and exporting your list is also made really easy.
Secondly, they’re the only email marketing service to offer a 100% free account. This catches a lot of people out though, as it doesn’t allow you to access many features. If, for example, you want to use autoresponders – you’ll need to upgrade and pay for that.
The free account also has a low send limit and contact limit. It’s great if you just want to send a few newsletters to a few hundred contacts though. Just bear in mind that Mailchimp can become (relatively) expensive when you need to upgrade. Mailchimp also offer two payment types – pay as you go or a monthly subscription. While expensive, the pay as you go plan is good if you’re sending emails sporadically.
Finally, Mailchimp has a huge variety of integrations. There aren’t many services that Mailchimp can’t connect to. Whether you need to connect to LeadPages, Instapage, WordPress, Hubspot, Unbounce, Facebook, or virtually any other popular marketing tool – Mailchimp will integrate with them.
One of the biggest disadvantages with Mailchimp is that they force users to double opt-in to join your list (first by opting in on your website, and then again by confirming their email).
While the rationale for this is sensible (it reduces your email bounces and helps Mailchimp keep their email delivery servers whitelisted), it does impact the size of your list.
From our experience, we found that around 15% of our (legitimate) subscribers were failing to confirm their email address, resulting in them not being added to our list. This was confirmed when we saw an immediate increase in our list growth when we moved over to GetResponse and began using single opt-ins.
Another disadvantage with Mailchimp is the homogenisation of their email templates. Because so many marketers use Mailchimp, their newsletter templates look familiar. While you can obviously customise them, they somehow always have seem to look like a Mailchimp newsletter.
Finally, Mailchimp is quite pricey for such a basic email marketing tool. They’re able to justify this because they have the most well-known brand in email marketing. While not ludicrously expensive, it is about 40% more expensive than GetResponse – which offers a very comparable (if not better) overall product.
ConvertKit are a new kid on the block, but lately they’ve been getting rave reviews from the blogging community.
Designed specifically for bloggers, ConvertKit includes a range of unique tools to make it easy for bloggers to build their list and promote their content. Being new to ConvertKit myself, I decided to learn more and see what’s driving their positive reviews.
It’s immediately obvious that ConvertKit is extremely well-designed, with a lot of attention paid to the small details. For example, one thing I particularly like is that the bar chart that displays how many new subscribers you’ve received is broken down into chunks to show which blog posts or traffic sources are driving your list growth.
In addition to the usual range of web forms, email blasts (which ConverKit calls ‘broadcasts’), and automation, ConvertKit also has a dedicated section for building email campaigns around web courses. For bloggers and information marketers, this is an invaluable feature.
Similarly to ActiveCampaign, the automation features in ConvertKit are kept very simple – but not at the expense of functionality. With a simple ‘if this happens… do that’ style automation builder, it makes it easy for anyone to build a range of segmented drip campaigns.
Finally, ConvertKit has a lot of non-standard integrations with services likely to be used by authors, publishers, and bloggers. For example, they integrate with BookLaunch, Gumroad, and lots of membership site plugins.
While not unreasonable for such a targeted service, ConvertKit is on the higher end of the price spectrum. In fact, for 2,500 subscribers ConvertKit is double the cost of GetResponse.
Besides this (and the lack of a free trial), there’s not a whole lot bad to say about ConvertKit. For authors and bloggers, it does everything it needs to. ConvertKit starts at $29/month, and you can learn more about their product here.
Despite looking a bit outdated, Aweber sits in a sweet spot of being cost effective and easy to use. It has all the important features you’d want, without being too feature heavy.
For those starting out, it has great reporting to help you learn what does and doesn’t work. Their email campaign creator is great at walking you through how to setup your signup forms and newsletters.
If you’re more advanced in your email marketing, Aweber has some good features, such as split testing. Split testing enables you to send different variations of a campaign to different segments of your list. This allows you to compare and improve your open and engagement rates.
They also offer auto responders, RSS-to-email, and a ton of third-party integrations. Perhaps their most useful integration is with WordPress. Their WordPress plugin enables you to add email signup forms to your website in a single click.
The thing that I love about Aweber is that it’s so simple, yet still has everything you need to get the job done.
I’ve switched between Aweber and Mailchimp for some of my own projects several times. Despite Mailchimp’s slick design, I find the functionality and reporting of Aweber much better.
With Aweber, you’re not locked into any long-term contracts. Their pricing starts at $19/month, and allows you to send unlimited emails to up to 500 subscribers.
Aweber is a bit more expensive than GetResponse. Although only by $4/month, so it’s really a matter of preference.
InfusionSoft is an interesting option.
In some ways it’s wrong to compare it with services like Aweber and GetResponse, as it’s not just an email marketing tool. Infusionsoft is a full sales and marketing automation tool. Email marketing is just one of the many tools provided.
That said, it’d be naive to not feature Infusionsoft in this post. For many businesses, their platform is a complete game changer.
So let’s acknowledge the elephant in the room; InfusionSoft is expensive. Their pricing starts at $199/month, plus you have to pay for a kick-starter package that costs $1,999.
For most marketers and business owners, this is way out of budget. For some, though, this is a fraction of the return that Infusionsoft generates for their business.
InfusionSoft is a full CRM system, with marketing automation and eCommerce tools. So what can you do with InfusionSoft that you can’t do with other tools reviewed here?
In short, you can automate your sales and marketing based on customer behaviour.
I was speaking to a friend recently who was telling me that his company created a virtual sales person on Infusionsoft. Bruce, as they named him, keeps in contact with thousands of customers for them. He checks in every few weeks with different messages depending on what each customer has or hasn’t done.
For example, if someone adds a product to their shopping cart but doesn’t checkout, an email can be triggered reminding them to complete their order.
Perhaps you want to automatically send discount coupons to customers on their birthday? Or, maybe you want to create funnels that turn your non-paying subscribers into customers. With Infusionsoft this is all possible.
It’s a complex tool that’s as powerful as it is addictive. The biggest complain I hear from Infusionsoft customers is that you can spend days creating sequences!
If you’re interested in learning more, we’ve written a more in-depth review of Infusionsoft here. In general, Infusionsoft only becomes a good investment when you’re turning over at least $150k per year. It also only really makes sense if your business revolves around selling products online.
If you’re just starting out with email marketing, InfusionSoft is almost definitely not the right fit.
I’ve never been a fan of Constant Contact, as I find their user interface a bit dated, and their overall service very mediocre. That said, it’s been 3-4 years since I’ve used their service on a client and it does appear that they’ve picked their game up somewhat.
Constant Contact’s selling point used to be that they were the most cost effective solution. Many of our clients used them because they were free (in return for including a Constant Contact logo at the bottom of every email).
It seems that’s changed, as their prices are now quite expensive relative to some of the other options.
Constant Contact charge $50/month for 2,501-5,000 subscribers. To put this into perspective, GetResponse only costs $25-$45 for this amount of subscribers.
That said, Constant Contact do have a few interesting features worth mentioning. First of all, they offer every customer a personal marketing coach to assist with any questions or problems you have.
For first timers, email newsletters and auto responders can be quite a challenge to set up, so I can see how this is quite a valuable feature.
Constant Contact appear to be creating a one-stop shop for marketers. With event registration tools, feedback forms, and surveys, it looks like they’re branching out.
This is a brave move, considering that there are excellent free tools like Eventbrite and Survey Monkey.
In general, I find Constant Contact’s offering just a bit too dull. There’s no clear USP or compelling reason why I’d use them over competing services.
While they may not be very well-known in the email marketing space, SendinBlue have a reputation as being one of the best and most reliable transactional email services.
If you’re just looking for an email marketing tool, I would probably not recommend them over something like ActiveCampaign, but their email marketing and marketing automation tools are certainly not bad. If you’re looking for a tool that combines transactional email with email marketing, SendinBlue are worth considering.
We hope this article gave you a good overview of the best email marketing services for your business. You may also want to see our list of 24 must have WordPress plugins for business websites
Sign up for free and start creating your first email immediately. Create pixel-perfect designs with our drag-and-drop tools and use powerful automation workflows to send relevant and personalized emails. Design beautiful, branded, and personalized emails with our email builder that look incredible in every inbox, on every device. With our list management tools, you can manage your subscribers with ease and build segments based on your own criteria. Learn more about Campaign Monitor
SendinBlue empowers businesses to build and grow relationships through marketing automation, email campaigns, transactional emails and SMS messages. What makes us different? SendinBlue is powered by our world-class customer happiness team and we offer pricing plans guaranteed to make you smile. Our platform combines a robust suite of services within a single, user-friendly solution. Happy Sending! Learn more about Sendinblue
Zoho Campaigns is an email marketing software for small to midsized business to automate entire marketing process – from managing your email campaigns to maintaining your mailing lists. Thanks to the integration with Zoho CRM you will have the right info when you need it. Engage with your customers anywhere with social campaigns on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. Learn more about Zoho Campaigns