Over the years, I’ve played around with a dozen or so email marketing tools.

It’s become clear to me that there’s no one-size fits all solution when it comes to email marketing software. The best tool for you completely depends on what you’re looking to get out of your email marketing.

email marketing Email Marketing Software / Services   Which One is the Best?

If, for example, you just need a tool to send out newsletters, GetResponse might be ideal. On the other hand, if you need a service that sends behaviour triggered emails to customers, Infusionsoft may be a better fit. Finding the right email marketing software all depends on what you’re looking for.

In this post, i’ve written a detailed review of six of the most popular email marketing services. For a quick summary and comparison, i’ve created the following table.

Service
Pricing
In the Cloud?
Free version?
GetResponse
From $15/month
Yes
Free trial
Constant Contact
From $15/month
Yes
Free trial
Aweber
From $19/month
Yes
Free up to 500 subscribers
Infusionsoft
From $199/month
Yes
No
Mailchimp
From £12.30/month
Yes
Free up to 2,000 subscribers
Sendy
$59 one-off + $0.001 per email
No
No

Email marketing software reviews

Below, I’ve reviewed each of the email marketing tools mentioned above in great detail. Admittedly, every solution has both upsides and downsides. I’ve tried to keep each review as neutral as possible, highlighting both the good and the bad.

GetResponse

GetResponse are an exceptional underdog in the email marketing space. In my opinion, they’ve built the best email marketing service for small to medium sized businesses. While they may not have the legacy of Aweber, or the strong brand of Mailchimp, they probably have the best overall service.

One of the areas that GetResponse are leaps and bounds beyond their competitors is design. Their newsletters just look beautiful, and they have a great range of templates to choose from.

get response Email Marketing Software / Services   Which One is the Best?

GetResponse have a huge range of useful features, it’s hard to know where to begin. You can preview your emails on different devices before you hit send. You can A/B test your email campaigns. They also have a great API, making it easy to connect GetResponse with your other cloud-based software.

Another feature I like about GetResponse is their social media integration. This enables you to drive and analyse social media engagement from your email marketing.

Screen Shot 2014 05 14 at 23.09.47 1024x557 Email Marketing Software / Services   Which One is the Best?

Another unique feature that comes in handy is GetResponse’s time travel feature.

Time travel enables you to set a universal time that your email campaign arrives in your recipient’s inboxes. In other words, you can schedule an email that arrives at 9am, regardless of whether the recipient is in London, Moscow, or Tokyo.

This is a life-saver if you have people from all over the World on your mailing list. Gone are the days where your emails arrive at 2am in the morning!

Screen Shot 2014 06 19 at 17.58.23 1024x616 Email Marketing Software / Services   Which One is the Best?

When I first wrote this post, I placed GetResponse much lower in this review, as they used to be a bit pricey.

Since then, they’ve become a lot more affordable. Starting at $15/month, GetResponse is more affordable than both Mailchimp and Aweber’s starter package.

Overall, GetResponse get my vote as one of the best email marketing software providers.

Sendy

If you’re after a ‘no frills’ solution, you may like Sendy. I use Sendy for a few projects, as it’s extremely simple and cost effective.

The main benefit of using Sendy is that you don’t have to mess around with double or even single opt-ins. Because it uses Amazon SES (Simple Email Service) to send emails, you have a lot of control over adding people to your list.

Ideally, your subscribers should always opt-in. Sometimes this isn’t possible, though, and other services like Mailchimp make this quite difficult.

sendy send newsletters cheaper Email Marketing Software / Services   Which One is the Best?

The main consideration to bear in mind with Sendy is that it needs to be hosted on your web server.

In other words, you’ll need to create a subdomain like ‘email.yourdomain.com’. Here you will upload the installation files that you download from the Sendy website.

Thankfully, Sendy provides a detailed setup guide. Their setup guide gives you easy to follow instructions on how to upload the files and connect your site to Amazon SES.

I’m not particularly technical, and I managed to get it up and running in about 25 minutes.

You can also white-label Sendy. This makes it a great choice for agencies wishing to provide clients with an email marketing platform. You can also set the price your clients pay per email, so that you can earn a profit from your client’s email marketing, if you wish to do so.

Below are some screenshots showing some of the functionality of Sendy.

sendy create campaign Email Marketing Software / Services   Which One is the Best?

sendy reporting Email Marketing Software / Services   Which One is the Best?

Aweber

If for whatever reason you’re not impressed by GetResponse, I’d recommend looking into Aweber.

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.

aweber email marketing Email Marketing Software / Services   Which One is the Best?

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.

Mailchimp

For years, I used Mailchimp to manage the email marketing for TheMusiciansGuide.co.uk, a site I ran with about 12,000 email subscribers. As Mailchimp got bigger, they introduced a lot of features that, in my opinion, have made it quite difficult to use for serious email marketing.

mailchimp Email Marketing Software / Services   Which One is the Best?

The major downside with Mailchimp is that subscribers must double opt-in. You can, of course, import subscribers without them having to opt-in. For anyone new, though, Mailchimp forces them to opt-in via both a web form and confirmation email.

This meant I was losing about 15% of subscribers who were signing up on the website but not confirming their email address.

The other thing that is not so great about Mailchimp is the homogenisation of their email templates. Because so many marketers use Mailchimp, their newsletter templates look familiar. While you can customise these, they somehow always have that Mailchimp newsletter look!

One thing that I think Mailchimp do particularly well is their API. Their integration capabilities with other services is quite extensive. Whether you want to connect Mailchimp to WordPress, your CRM system, or proposal software, there’s a lot of support to do so.

If having a good API is important, then Mailchimp may be worth consideration.

The general functionality with Mailchimp is fine. Their user interface, reporting, and campaign manager is intuitive and easy to get the hang of. Mailchimp also offer two different pricing structures; pay as you go, and a monthly subscription.

This can be particularly useful if your email marketing is sporadic. When I used to run The Musician’s Guide, I’d often take a break from sending newsletters for months at a time. While more expensive per email, the pay as you go option saved a lot of money over the long run.

mailchimp pricing Email Marketing Software / Services   Which One is the Best?

At $0.03 per email, that’s over 300x more expensive than Sendy.co.

InfusionSoft

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.

infusionsoft Email Marketing Software / Services   Which One is the Best?

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.

Constant Contact

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 Email Marketing Software / Services   Which One is the Best?

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.

In my opinion, Aweber and GetResponse both have better integration capabilities, reporting, and templates. So, it’s hard to understand how Constant Contact are justifying their extra cost.

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.

In Summary

There are dozens of email marketing services out there. The six we’ve reviewed are just what I consider to be the main contenders for small to medium sized businesses.

I don’t believe that there’s a one size fits all solution when it comes to email marketing, so you need to weigh up your requirements.

The cheapest email marketing software
The cheapest option for email marketing is without a doubt, Sendy.co. Sendy is approximately 100x cheaper per email than the other services reviewed here. It’s by far the most cost effective way to send bulk email. The only considerations are that it needs to be installed on your web server, and the functionality is very basic.

The best email marketing software for entrepreneurs & small businesses
For most entrepreneurs and small businesses, I’d recommend GetResponse.

For businesses that need a full email marketing automation system, I’d recommend InfusionSoft. It’s certainly not the most affordable option, but for a good reason. The automation capabilities can save you days of repetitive work, while lifting your conversions.

Generally, if you’re still undecided, I’d recommend giving GetResponse a shot. If you’re looking for something basic and are technically savvy (and have access to your server), then Sendy is worth a look at. If you run an eCommerce website that turns over at least $150k, then Infusionsoft may be worth the investment.

I hope that’s helped – if you have any questions then feel free to post in the comments below, or contact us here.

Image Credit: Johnny Hughes

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Written by Marcus Taylor

Written by Marcus Taylor

Marcus Taylor is an award-winning entrepreneur, and founder of Venture Harbour. Marcus also built the World's first scientifically valid 'comfort zone calculator', which he has spoken about at TEDx.

Marcus speaks about marketing and entrepreneurship at conferences internationally, and contributes to Econsultancy, Moz, Forbes, and Huffington Post.

15 comments on “Email Marketing Software / Services – Which One is the Best?

  1. Ben Ho

    Sendy does fully support Autoresponders and have an API. :)

    1. Marcus Taylor

      Cheers Ben, i’ve corrected this. I didn’t come across either when I was playing around with Sendy – must not have been looking hard enough!

  2. Martin Worldwide

    If you’re tired of the same old ninja stars and nunchuks, I’ve uncovered 5 email marketing tips to add to your arsenal.

  3. Roman Apeiron

    I want recommend Newsletter Plus Software. This software provide multiple smtp solution. I can choose specific smtp server for sending (each my campaign) from all my smtp servers. It supports Amazon SES API and has beautiful drag & drop campaign editor. They release new versions very often and constantly surprise me with new functionality.

  4. Rob Lawrence

    A very useful summary, thanks Marcus.

    I’ve had some success using Mailchimp in the past although eager now to try others services.

    I found MC relatively easy to use and navigate once I understood some of the terms
    relating to (all) mailing lists such as auto-responders, lists, groups, A/B testing.

    One positive for mailchimp is I found their guides/tutorials very good.

    I’m in the process of expanding and evaluating services such as Aweber on another site and interested in other providers too.

    Two questions:

    1. With any of these services are you able to manage multiple sites/lists of subscribers under one account, even if those lists/subscribers/topics are unrelated?

    2. Any thoughts on Feedblitz as I see people starting to use that service now too?

    Thanks for the very insightful evaluation.

    1. Marcus Taylor

      Thanks Rob!

      Mailchimp are pretty good – probably one of the most intuitive services to use. The main disadvantage is their double opt-in, which results in losing ~20-30% of people who go to sign up to your mailing list but don’t confirm in the email.

      I’m pretty sure that all of the services reviewed let you manage multiple sites under one account. Aweber, Mailchimp, Sendy, and Get Response definitely.

      I haven’t heard of Feedblitz – just looking at their website now. Appears that they’re a Feedburner replacement specialising in RSS-to-email (sending your blog subscribers an email about latest posts). Their pricing looks a bit steep (considering Feedburner was free) – so I’d probably choose Mailchimp or Aweber over them? That way you can message up to a few thousand people free of charge.

      Hope that helps!

  5. Adid

    Useful Summary about email services. I personally use Mailchimp because its all free and as I am a newbie I didn’t have much experience. This article will help me in surity. I am going to give a try to the rest of services and share my experiences with this blog. :)

    I also like SendinBlue as it offers free SMS Campaign. You can check the full review : http://aktutorials.net/blogging/sendinblue-vs-ininbox-email-marketing-service/

  6. Carlos Aguilar

    Thank you for the lists of services, there is https://www.sendinblue.com/ which has a monthly plan starting from $7 per month, Cloud, and free account

  7. Jason Millen

    Really well written post Marcus!

    It’d be great to hear what some of the email marketing software providers have to say in response to this review and what *they* consider to be their strengths over the competition.

    Out of interest have you come across SendBlaster or Vertical Response? My company trialed SendBlaster a while back and I remember being quite impressed with the overall ease of use. Vertical Response was the other one we looked at which we’d heard good things about but ended up not going with for some reason or another.

    Would love to hear your thoughts on them if you’ve come across them before.

    1. Marcus Taylor

      Thanks Jason

      I agree, it’d be great to hear from some of the guys in the space to know what differentiates them in their view.

      As for SendBlaster and Vertical Response, I’ve definitely come across VR in the past but not sure about SendBlaster. The name rings a bell but I can’t think where from, and from their website it doesn’t look like one that i’ve used.

      Vertical Response looks interesting – although again I can’t quite figure out what really separates them from the other more popular services.

  8. Ryan Biddulph

    I dug Aweber and getresponse when I used them. Smart post Marcus! Now I use my gifting club’s email service, and have moved a bit away from email marketing. But overall helpful read here and a must for most marketers.

  9. Malonie Carre

    I have very few mail customers but would like to get started on this. If I use mail chimp to get my first 2000 email addresses over the next year or so ( obviously for free! ) can I then migrate them into Get Response when I am ready to start paying a monthly fee? I am a musician so it is more for my fans than for selling.

    1. Marcus Taylor

      Of course – I did a similar thing when I was building the newsletter for TheMusiciansGuide.co.uk. It’s relatively easy to export and import between the various email marketing services, so you should be fine.

      Have you looked into Radio Airplay or FanDistro? They’re both really good tools for collecting the email addresses of fans that like your music. I remember reading a case study that Brian Hazard of Passive Promotion / Color Theory wrote where he got thousands of fan email addresses using Radio Airplay.

      1. Malonie Carre

        Thank you, You just gave me a very cool tip! Great article, I will look up The MusiciansGuide too!

  10. Panos

    Let’s keep in mind that these are all different cases:

    - Desktop-based email marketing software (installed on your personal computer).
    - Serviced model or Saas (like MailChimp and others presented here).
    - Self-hosted (installed on your own server like Email Marketer and nuevoMailer).
    - Hybrid: self-hosted using 3rd party SMTP relay services (quite trendy lately).

    There is no one-size-fits-all solution. Each model has pros and cons.
    Low-mid volume, occasional senders and not so technically literate users will probably do better with the serviced model (or a desktop based solution).
    Medium to heavy users are more likely to go for a self-hosted solution and usually the hybrid approach.

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