The best email marketing services offer remarkable tools to help you write your success story online.
Personalized, promising and enticing, a strategically designed email marketing campaign has the potential to generate tremendous value while saving thousands of working hours.
Be it for selling products, providing services or simply as proper means of communication with your audience, automated email software helps you create and nurture the relationship you want to have.
Email marketing automation sets the foundations of efficient online market penetration
Besides automation, the top email marketing services empower your decision making through insightful reports and potent third-party integrations.
The best part is that very often the price for such huge marketing potential is laughable.
No longer than a decade ago you needed a serious marketing budget to reap the benefits of bulk mail marketing services. Over the last few years the market has exploded, creating fierce competition and numerous solutions for businesses from all sizes.
The side effect of this growing market is that choosing the right provider for lead generation and marketing automation is not that easy. All top email marketing services have long lists of features, competitive prices and certain strong points.
Nowadays, the price for advanced email automation is negligible.
Here’s where we come into play: after testing over thirty reputable platforms, we selected the 10 best for you.
Then we outlined their main strengths and weaknesses, making the Top 10 list below easy to study and understand.
Its main purpose is to give you a solid general idea about the best email service providers. Armed with this knowledge, you can dive deeper, researching further the email marketing platforms that catch your attention.
In this 14 minutes read you can see at a glance whether the email marketing tool in question has:
- A free plan
- User friendly interface
- A good selection of features
- A good support
Then you will see listed the main strengths and weakness of the email solution and our verdict, based on its overall feel and usability.
- Free plan: Yes
- Ease of use: Very easy to use
- Features: MailChimp allows the creation of complex workflows that can be optimized through flexible A/B testing. Thanks to the slick mobile app, you can manage your marketing campaign anytime, anywhere.
- Support: MailChimp support is one of a kind. Communicating with them is a pleasure, even if you are in the direst of situations.
Pros: The experts at MailChimp regularly analyze big data and create insightful reports, which help you understand customer behavior much better.
Paired with a fine selection of external integrations and high deliverability rate, MailChimp puts all necessary tools to weave a complex customer-oriented marketing strategy.
On top of that, the free MailChimp plan is quite generous in terms of features and subscribers.
Cons: One of the few weaker points of MailChimp lies in the core functionality. Subscribers are assigned to lists, according to the marketing campaign you want to aim at them. Creating lists is a cumbersome, repetitive chore; ascribing tags and other, more flexible ways of categorization work much better.
Additionally, MailChimp charges per subscriber. The same email address used in three lists counts as three subscribers.
Verdict: MailChimp is a very powerful email marketing service for small and medium businesses.Try Mail Chimp (Free Forever)
- Free plan: Yes, + 21-day free trial of paid plans
- Ease of use: It takes a while to learn the platform and all ins and outs. With great power comes a moderate learning curve.
- Features: With Drip you can create complex workflows and implement advanced campaign strategies. With a little bit of coding syntax (examples are abundant in their knowledge base) you can create even conditional emails, i.e. one template can be modified automatically, according to individual recipients, offering different promotions.
- Support: The Drip knowledge base is a very useful resource about online marketing as a whole. There are many tutorials and guides to help you design the best workflow possible.
Pros: Drip has a very simple pricing structure as all plans have the same features. The only difference is the number of monthly subscribers you can include in your campaigns.
The best part is that you can test and use everything through the Drip Starter plan, which is completely free forever. It is limited to 100 subscribers but sports all the features of the paid plans.
Cons: The limited third-party integrations and the steep learning curve are among the serious drawbacks of Drip. The latter is offset to a degree by the good knowledge base and tutorials, but the lack of phone support is also a minus.
Drip’s monthly fees lean toward the expensive end of the spectrum, but the possibilities the platform provides justify the price tag.
Verdict: Highly suitable for people with serious marketing intentions, Drip is one of the most powerful email marketing services currently available.
3. ACTIVE CAMPAIGN
- Free plan: 14-day free trial.
- Ease of use: Getting to know all the tools ActiveCampaign provides requires some time.
- Features: A decent selection of third-party integrations and an extensive email editor are paired with a very functional interface and A/B testing tools to get your marketing campaigns off to a good start.
- Support: No phone support, but easily accessible tutorials and the detailed knowledge base form an excellent online resource. The weekly webinars also help a great deal.
Pros: The flexible email template editor imbues your fingertips with unparalleled power. You can edit every single element and choose what is displayed across different devices. Best of all, you can track a host of actions and mold your campaigns and follow-ups accordingly.
Tags and goals are put to an excellent use, helping tremendously with automation. And if your mailing list grows out of proportion, you can always activate the CRM functionality of ActiveCampaign.
Cons: The lack of phone support is disappointing, even though the live chat partially negates the lapse. Also, the dashboard interface could use some optimization and personalization to become less cluttered.
One of the things that bothered me the most was the fact that a simple function like email preview is paid-for, while spam score analysis is practically non-existent as the score is simply false or positive.
Verdict: ActiveCampign’s powerful automation, pricing model, detailed reporting, sales and CRM possibilities make it ideal for small and medium mailing lists, but it can handle even huge customer bases.
4. GET RESPONSE
- Free plan: 30-day free trial.
- Ease of use: Very user-friendly interface
- Features: Landing page editor, excellent automation, multi-language support, great spam and form testing, good account management and a respectable selection of integrations make GetResponse a very versatile email marketing solution. It can be used on the go through nice Android and iOS apps.
- Support: Strong support team and a slightly disappointing knowledge base.
Pros: The landing page editor can be essential for converting leads and raking in new subscribers.
The automation is very flexible and powerful, allowing for seamless and logical customer management.
A nice perk is the discount you can get if you prepay for one or two years.
Phone support is limited to weekdays, regular working hours, but I got very quick responses over live chat and email when tested them on a Saturday.
Cons: The main issue with GetReponse are the outdated templates. They can be edited and updated, but the initial offering is uninspiring.
I mentioned the discount available for prepaying customers; cancelling a plan before its end date comes with no prorated refund.
Verdict: GetResponse is one of the most robust email marketing tools I have seen. Easy to use, sporting numerous features and competitive pricing, it is suitable for a mailing list of any size.
Free plan: 30-day free trial.
Ease of use: Very user-friendly interface.
Features: Nearly a thousand attractive templates, many useful integrations, a mobile app and easy subscriber management make Campaigner a really strong email marketing platform.
Support: Campaigner has one of the best support teams, with a 24/7 phone line and an extensive knowledge base.
Pros: Campaigner has very high deliverability rates and an incredible array of features.
The number of templates is slightly inflated, as some are simple variations, provides a very strong base for designing captivating emails and newsletters.
Cons: Despite the high deliverability Campaigner boasts, the lack of spam score tool is a serious omission.
List management is a tad cumbersome, but the greatest issue I have with Campaigner is the fact that only their most expensive plan includes workflows.
Verdict: Feature-rich email marketing tool, it is corporate clients and big email lists that would benefit fully from Campaigner.
- Free plan: 14-day free trial.
- Ease of use: Very easy to use.
- Features: Decent automation possibilities, a good landing page editor and excellent opt-in forms make lead generation and management easy with ConvertKit. It is designed to serve bloggers and does the job well.
- Support: ConvertKit has a decent knowledge base and a friendly support team. Given the small nature of the company – 30 people or so – phone support cannot be expected in the near future.
Pros: ConvertKit has an excellent email design interface, which would appeal to many. Simple, yet functional, it is ideal for ConvertKit’s target audience. Bloggers who use WordPress would find that the ConvertKit integration offers some very handy tricks for picking up more leads.
Exactly because it is something of a niche product, ConvertKit maintains very high deliverability rates.
Cons: ConvertKit lacks many of the features most of the email marketing platforms listed here offer. That’s not the main issue, as it offers plenty to its intended audience; the problem is that asked price is rather steep.
The reporting in ConvertKit is also truly lacking.
Verdict: Delivering on its promise, ConvertKit is very suitable for bloggers, even though it could be priced more fairly.
Free plan: 30-day free trial.
Ease of use: Simple, easy to use interface.
Features: Several hundred templates, good delivery rates, easy to use WYSIWYG email builder and a handful of excellent integrations comprise this strong email marketing solution.
Support: The excellent iContact support team can be reached over the phone and via live chat on weekdays. Otherwise, you’d have to shoot them an email. The online learning center is pretty good, with videos and webinars readily available.
Pros: There is no limit to the monthly emails you can send and the third-party integrations are among the easiest to implement.
All integrations, including social media, and all your subscribers’ activities are well-documented and ready for analysis thanks to the detailed iContact reporting.
Cons: Leaning toward the expensive end of the spectrum, iContact asks too steep a price for some core functions other services provide with their basic plans. To compound the problem, a subscriber featured in two lists would count as two entries toward your quota.
Lastly, the possibility to store images is practically not there, as the offered 5MB are extremely restrictive.
Verdict: iContact is a comprehensive email marketing tool, but its prices scale rapidly and have a couple of hidden fees (e.g., image storage space). Make sure your marketing budget fits their pricing model well.
- Free plan: Yes.
- Ease of use: Very user-friendly and functional interface.
- Features: Smooth and flexible, the email editor Benchmark offers is second to none. The templates are modern and highly responsive, with the possibility to edit in or out certain elements for different types of devices.
- Support: Excellent online learning center and a very responsive support team.
Pros: Benchmark’s free plan is a very reasonable offering, while multi-language support is always nice to see.
Benchmark has one of the easiest to use design interfaces, paired with very modern-looking templates. Another easy thing is the subscriber management and segmentation.
Cons: Benchmark lacks proper automation. Very basic workflows can be created, but that’s about it.
Image storage is practically unavailable at 10MB. Additional fee must be paid for it to grow up to 10GB.
Verdict: While easy to use and visually appealing, Benchmark lacks a proper automation, making it suitable mostly for small, straightforward campaigns.
9. CONSTANT CONTACT
- Free plan: 60-day free trial.
- Ease of use: Very easy to use.
- Features: Unique offerings such as surveys and event management options allow for extensive social media campaigns. You can add coupons and prizes to make things more alluring.
- Support: All channels of communication are available, with phone coverage over the weekends too. The database could be better.
Pros: The unique Constant Contact features make it ideal for certain types of businesses and marketing campaigns.
There is no limit to the number of messages you can send per month, which is fine if you want to run a short but intense campaign. For longer usage, Constant Contact might be too expensive.
Cons: The lack of design or spam testing is a completely baffling for any self-respecting email service. Additionally, the automation is practically non-existent.
Paired with the above-average prices of Constant Contact and the fact the mostly all integrations would burden your budget even further, this really becomes a pricey choice.
Verdict: Constant Contact markets itself as ideal for small business users. Its features confirm that, but its prices scream the opposite.
- Free plan: 30-day free trial.
- Ease of use: AWeber is easy to use, even though their terminology is confusing at first.
- Features: There is a good selection of third-party integrations and a sales monitor. The decent form editor facilitates the creation of very good email templates.
- Support: Excellent support: podcast, blog, videos and webinars are available to teach you the intricacies of email marketing.
Pros: The third-party integrations and the easy list management provide good control and flexibility.
AWeber has one of the best customer support teams in the industry.
Cons: Automation is lackluster. Indeed, with the creation of enough tags you can achieve plenty, but that requires considerable manual fiddling.
AWeber pricing is also on the steep side, especially for a low number of subscribers.
Verdict: Despite being one of the pioneers in the email marketing field, AWeber seems to be lagging behind times. Its pricing and features make it suitable for big email campaigns, but it is too expensive for small and medium marketing lists.
Best Email Marketing Services For Small Business
All-encompassing or niche-oriented, fully- or semi-automated, cheap or expensive, the best email marketing platforms come in different shades and meet different needs.
The good news is that practically all of the best email marketing services can be tested for free. After this first taste, do a proper research in the platforms that interest you and give them a go with an open and inquisitive mind.
Test and research properly before picking up the best email marketing platform. It is a decision of strategic importance.
The perfect bulk marketing solution is yet to be invented, but the entrants in our list are certainly strong offerings that can deliver your emails to their intended recipients with aplomb.
The best options for email marketing service are:
- MailChimp – Great for small and medium marketing lists, priced reasonably, it comes with great reporting and deliverability.
- Drip – Excellent for medium and large email marketing campaigns thanks to its powerful features, advanced automation and detailed reporting.
- ActiveCampaign – One of the most robust email marketing tools money can buy, it can be the vehicle of success behind marketing campaigns of any size.