10 Best Email Marketing Software Tools
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Email marketing software can accelerate your growth by sending the right message to the right people at the right time – on autopilot.

But with 670+ email marketing tools available, finding the best software can be overwhelming. That’s why we’ve meticulously researched and tested over 100 email marketing platforms for you.

Using a combination of interviews with 1,782 marketers, results from our extensive annual testing of email marketing platforms and a lot of data crunching, we’ve curated a list of recommendations to meet a range of needs.

Here’s our verdict on the 10 Best Email Marketing Tools for 2023:

  1. ActiveCampaign – Best for small to medium-sized businesses
  2. HubSpot – Best for B2B service companies
  3. Sendinblue – Best for transactional email
  4. Klaviyo – Best for large e-commerce sites
  5. Omnisend – Best for small e-commerce sites
  6. ClickFunnels – Best for coaches, consultants and online courses
  7. Benchmark – Best for small agencies
  8. Constant Contact – Best for non-profits
  9. MailerLite – Best for beginners
  10. GetResponse – Best for teams on a tight budget

We tested each email marketing service’s performance in nine areas – cost, deliverability, integrations, ease of use, reporting, security, advanced features, CRM, and customer support.

1. ActiveCampaign

Best email marketing software for small to medium-sized businesses

ActiveCampaign is not only one of the most feature-rich email marketing automation tools, it’s also one of the most affordable and easiest to use.

It’s this combination that explains why ActiveCampaign has become the most popular email marketing platform among small businesses, with over 150,000 paying customers. Since we first tested their platform back in 2012, they’ve gone on to build a powerful automation tool – as you can see below.

Watch a marketing automation sequence being built at 30:00.

The most highly-rated feature in ActiveCampaign is its visual marketing automation builder. With 135+ triggers and actions to choose from, you can easily build effective marketing sequences that combine email, SMS, push notifications and site messages. If you’re new to marketing automation or just seeking inspiration, ActiveCampaign has 500+ pre-built automation recipes.

All well and good, but these are table stakes for a premium email marketing tool in 2023. What makes ActiveCampaign a cut above premium alternatives like HubSpot (besides being a fraction of the cost) is its optimisation features.

ActiveCampaign Email Marketing Automation Builder
ActiveCampaign’s drag-and-drop visual automation builder

Every email marketing tool in this guide enables you to A/B test the basics: Email content, subject lines, and in most cases, send time.

ActiveCampaign goes a step further, allowing you to split test different paths within a marketing automation sequence. This means you could test whether sending five emails to your leads performs better than, say, ten emails. Or whether combining email and SMS works better than just email. Or testing your entire sequence as plain-text vs. HTML emails, and so on.

Within an email campaign you can test multiple variations of any block of content and then leave it to ActiveCampaign’s predictive modelling to work out which content is going to convert best.

ActiveCampaign Drag and Drop Email Builder
ActiveCampaign has 250+ responsive email templates

To keep your email marketing (and optimisation efforts) focused, ActiveCampaign allows you to track goals and see how different emails, marketing sequences and split tests impact not just the conversion rate but the time it takes people to convert.

Pros

  • It’s the only platform to guarantee service quality – ActiveCampaign makes 22 customer success guarantees. From exceptional deliverability and free migration to compliance with some of the most stringent security and data protection regulations (out of 670+ tools reviewed they’re one of just three certified for healthcare data).
  • 900+ integrations – ActiveCampaign has more than 900 integrations including native integrations with Salesforce, Zendesk, DocuSign, and most major eCommerce platforms like Shopify, Magento, and WooCommerce.
  • Value for money – While ActiveCampaign is not the cheapest email marketing platform, it offers a lot more functionality than most other tools at a fraction of the cost of tools with similar functionality.

Cons

  • The CRM isn’t suitable for large teamsActiveCampaign’s CRM will likely suffice for smaller sales teams, but if you have a large sales team or manage a large volume of deals, you will likely need a separate CRM like Salesforce or Pipedrive to manage this.
  • Reports are bland – Since ActiveCampaign introduced goal tracking and attribution, the quality of data available in their reports has improved, but it’s still not up to the same experience of building reports in a platform like Klaviyo and HubSpot.

Pricing

ActiveCampaign starts at $9/month for 500 contacts. Visit their pricing page to see how much you’d pay based on your list size.ActiveCampaign is ideal for businesses looking for an email marketing automation tool that’s feature-rich, easy to use and affordable.

You can try ActiveCampaign free for 14 days here.

2. HubSpot

Best all-in-one email marketing software

HubSpot is the most expensive platform in this guide – but they do one thing exceptionally well that may justify the eye-watering cost.

HubSpot’s all-in-one platform combines a CRM, website builder and email marketing platform. By connecting the dots between your marketing, website and sales activity it’s able to attribute which campaigns influence your sales. Which means you can invest more in what works and less in what doesn’t.

The companies that HubSpot tends to work well for are those with high-value services (typically B2B) where even a modest improvement in sales equates to a large increase in revenue.

See how campaigns are built in HubSpot at 12:17.

HubSpot’s visual editor is easy to use, yet doesn’t feel overly simplistic like some tools we’ve tested. Building landing pages, forms and email campaigns is quick and easy, and there are a lot of advanced features tucked away to discover.

One such feature is personalization tokens, which allow you to insert any information you store about a contact directly in an email campaign or landing page. You can also conditionally display and hide entire blocks of content based on contact information, making your content more relevant to each reader.

HubSpot campaign builder

HubSpot’s automation workflow builder is straightforward to use and, like ActiveCampaign, has a wide range of actions and conditions that you can use to build out automation sequences. The only notable drawback from our testing was the lack of a native A/B testing option for running split path tests within automation sequences. It is possible – but only by installing an additional app that costs $80/month if you have more than 5,000 contacts.

Pros:

  • Reporting is insightful – Besides being visually appealing, the conversion data in HubSpot elevates the insightfulness of all of their reporting.
  • You can run it inside WordPress – HubSpot offers a WordPress plugin that enables you to send email campaigns, view analytics, manage your contacts, and build forms directly from the WordPress admin.
  • You can start for free – All HubSpot products have a limited free version that allows you to test drive the product before committing to it.
  • The CRM is powerfulHubSpot’s CRM gets the balance right in our view between being simple and intuitive yet highly customizable and valuable. The feature for forecasting the value of leads at different funnel stages is well-executed, as are the pre-built sales reporting dashboards.

Cons:

  • It can get prohibitively expensive – Of the 68 ex-HubSpot users we interviewed more than half left due to creeping costs. To see how the cost of HubSpot’s compares for different list sizes you can jump ahead to our pricing comparison – and don’t forget to take into account any setup costs and the additional costs for any apps you install.
  • It can be cumbersome – The second most common reason ex-users stated for leaving HubSpot was that it can become too complicated and cumbersome to manage.
  • Templates are underwhelming – The email templates in HubSpot are not just underwhelming, but a premium feature that you need to pay for.

Pricing

HubSpot starts at $45/month for 1,000 contacts. Visit their pricing page to see how much you’d pay based on your list size.

HubSpot is ideal for B2B businesses with high-value leads and a requirement for in-depth reporting. You can try HubSpot for free here.

3. Sendinblue

Best transactional email software

Sendinblue began life in 2012 as a transactional email marketing service – that is, sending event-based emails like password resets, order confirmations, and registration emails.

Sendinblue later expanded to offer tools for marketing teams to send email and SMS campaigns. These recent features may lag behind the other tools in this list, but they did make Sendinblue unique as the only transactional email tool that was also usable by marketing teams, enabling companies that send transactional and marketing emails from one platform.

That was, until ActiveCampaign announced its acquisition and integration of the transactional email service Postmark last year.

Still, Sendinblue has everything you need in a transactional email platform – strong deliverability rates, a robust API and sender reputation safeguards.

See a campaign being built in Sendinblue at 9.30

The campaign and automation sequence builder in Sendinblue is adequate, but lacks finesse and the advanced functionality that you’d expect to find in a premium email marketing tool. Despite this, Sendinblue has a high rate of satisfaction among its users.

Pros

  • Deliverability – With roots in transactional email, it’s no surprise that Sendinblue performs well when it comes to getting emails in inboxes. In our tests we’ve consistently seen deliverability rates exceed 99.9%.
  • Transactional automation flows – you can trigger transactional emails within automation sequences – a nice touch that will help developers and marketers collaborate on these emails.
  • Developer recipes – Sendinblue offers a series of pre-built email recipes to save developers having to code them from scratch.
  • Pricing is based on send volumes – Unlike most email marketing tools that charge based on your email list size, Sendinblue’s pricing is based on how many emails you send in a month. This is likely to suit companies with large lists that email infrequently.

Cons:

  • Account throttling – In one of our live tests, we found Sendinblue to be sensitive with throttling and enforcing an hourly send limit. This meant that some of our users had to wait several hours to receive a password reset email. While designed to maintain a high sender reputation (and high deliverability rates) it’s a shame how sensitive this is.
  • Reporting is basic – Sendinblue’s reporting is limited to basic email and deliverability statistics.
  • The add-on features are basic – Some features in Sendinblue, such as the CRM and live chat are so basic that they almost feel like an afterthought.

Pricing

Sendinblue costs $25/month to send up to 20,000 emails. Visit their pricing page to see how much you’d pay based on your list size.

Sendinblue is ideal for companies looking to manage their transactional and marketing emails in one tool. You can try Sendinblue for free.

4. Klaviyo

Best choice for eCommerce

If you run an eCommerce site, it makes sense to choose an email marketing platform that integrates deeply with your eCommerce software.

There are a handful of email marketing tools that focus exclusively on marketing automation for eCommerce businesses, chief among them is Klaviyo.

See Klaviyo’s range of pre-built eCommerce flows at 17:15.

Used by more than 100,000 eCommerce businesses, Klaviyo is quick to setup (thanks to its range of native eCommerce integrations including Shopify, WooCommerce and Magento) and has some impressive features designed to help eCommerce email marketers improve their performance.

Pros:

  • eCommerce focus – From the breadth of eCommerce integrations to the variety of pre-built automation flows around everything from reducing cart abandonment to increasing upsells, this platform offers deep functionality for eCommerce businesses.
  • Template quality – The email and form templates are some of the best-designed we’ve seen.
  • Benchmarks – One of our favourite features in the Klaviyo platform is Benchmarks, which allows you to see how your performance compares over time to companies in a similar niche.
  • Predictive forecasts – By ingesting live data from your eCommerce platform, Klaviyo can model when a customer is likely to next buy from you, or how much you’re likely to make in a future month enabling you to better allocate your time and budget.

Cons:

  • It’s expensive – eCommerce email marketing platforms have a tendency to cost more than generic ones, but even within this category Klaviyo is more expensive than its peers.
  • Range of automation actions – During our most recent test of Klaviyo we found the flow editor a bit simplistic and lacking sophisticated automation actions such as split testing paths.
  • Email campaign editor – The visual campaign editor was surprisingly basic and offered only one eCommerce-specific content block (a list of products from a product feed).

Pricing:

In addition to their free plan (250 contacts max), Klaviyo offers two pricing plans: Email only, and email + SMS. For 10k contacts you’ll be looking at $150/month for email, or $165/month for email + SMS.

Klaviyo is ideal for most eCommerce businesses, particularly those that are larger or fast-growing. You can try Klaviyo for free here (no credit card required).

5. Omnisend

As an alternative to Klaviyo, Omnisend is a more affordable option for eCommerce businesses that excels in reporting and deliverability.

In the video below, I’ve walked through the Omisend platform with a particular focus on how each section compares against Klaviyo as it’s likely that if you’re considering one you may also be considering the other.

See Omnisend’s unique canvas-style automation builder in action at 14:45

The most impressive thing about Omnisend is its reporting functionality. When you login to Omnisend, the first thing you see is “Revenue from Omnisend” – a bold statistic that helps you see the total revenue generated by all combined email and SMS marketing activity.

As with Klaviyo, Omnisend connects with your eCommerce software and then offers an array of pre-built email and SMS sequences that are based on your specific eCommerce platform. Omisend’s canvas editor is unique and refreshingly easy to work with, although once again we were disappointed not to find a proper A/B testing feature within workflows.

We were also underwhelmed by the templates and visual campaign editor offered by Omnisend, though we did like that there were a wider range of eCommerce specific content blocks compared to Klaviyo.

Pros:

  • Revenue-focused reporting – eCommerce marketers who need to justify the ROI of their marketing activity will like the no-fluff, vanity-metric free reports.
  • Deliverability – Omnisend offers a range of features to maintain high deliverability, including email warm-up (sending emails gradually to improve your sender reputation) and insightful reports to monitor your deliverability and reputation.
  • eCommerce content blocks – Omnisend offers lots of content blocks to integrate products and discounts directly into your email campaigns. Their form templates also include a range of creative ways to engage visitors – such as with a wheel of fortune.

Cons:

  • A/B testing has limitations – While you can add splits in automation sequences, we weren’t able to set a goal to run effective A/B tests within an automation sequence.
  • Templates are mediocre – In comparison to Klaviyo’s well-designed templates we found Omnisend’s to be average.
  • The visual builder UX – We found Omnisend’s visual builder to be less smooth than other builders we’ve tested.

Pricing

Omnisend starts at $16/month for 500 contacts. Visit their pricing page to see how much you’d pay based on your list size.

Omnisend is ideal for smaller eCommerce businesses, particularly those that are on a tight budget. You can sign up today and take advantage of the Omnisend Free Forever plan.

6. ClickFunnels

Best for coaches, consultants & businesses running membership sites & courses

If you can make peace with ClickFunnels’ infomercial-laden brand, you’ll find an impressive platform for building out sales and marketing funnels.

While email marketing is a core part of their platform, the premise of ClickFunnels is that you can use it to nurture your audience using courses, membership sites, information products, webinars and more. ClickFunnels centralise all of this under one roof so that you don’t need to buy and connect four or five different products.

If converting your leads requires a lot of education or many touch points through courses and information products, ClickFunnels is a unique option worth considering.

Pros:

  • All-in-one platform – You can build courses, landing pages, websites, membership sites and manage products directly inside ClickFunnels.
  • Unique triggers and actions – As a bi-product of its all-in-one platform, ClickFunnels has unique triggers and actions in their automation workflows, like auto-enrolling people into courses or upselling products.
  • Split-testing – You can split-test almost anything and everything in ClickFunnels, from the usual (landing pages, emails) to more niche tests like course modules and funnel paths.
  • Community – ClickFunnels have an active user community (online and offline) with more than 100k customers in their Facebook Group and a number of in-person events throughout the year. There is also a wide network of ClickFunnels consultants available for managed campaigns.

Cons:

  • It’s expensive – ClickFunnels starts at $127 per month for 10k contacts.
  • The platform can be buggy – During our most recent test of ClickFunnels we encountered quite a few bugs. No showstoppers, but more than we’d like to have come against.
  • The brand is polarising – ClickFunnels users tend to galvanise over the results they generate using the platform. At times this can feel like a crowd of people boasting about how much money they’re making. While this comes down to personal taste, it didn’t sit quite right with us.

Pricing:

ClickFunnels offer three pricing plans, starting from $127/month (paid annually) for 10k contacts up to $208/month which includes 200k contacts.

You can try ClickFunnels for free here (though a credit card is required).

7. Benchmark

Best for small agencies and consultants

While Benchmark isn’t as well-known as the other tools on our list, it’s definitely an intriguing option, especially if you’re looking to send polished and professional emails without having to be (or hire) an email designer.

Everything from their custom templates to the platform itself is beautifully designed and created to ensure an excellent user experience. While that may seem trivial to some, it makes all the difference when it comes to understanding your data and making the right impression on contacts.

Best email marketing software for agencies

Send effective and polished campaigns with Benchmark’s drag-and-drop email designer

With plans starting at only $10.50 per month, Benchmark is an affordable choice for any small business that needs a beautiful and easy-to-use email tool and marketing automation software.

But it’s likely to be a particularly great choice for small agencies and consultancies, where design is important from both a staff training and optimal client experience perspective.

What are Benchmark’s key features?

Enjoy Benchmark for free and send 250 emails to 500 contacts each month.

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8. Constant Contact

Best for email marketing beginners

If you’re new to the world of email marketing and don’t want to feel overwhelmed, Constant Contact is a great place to get started. The super-simple email builder is drag-and-drop, allowing you to quickly and easily add text and images to your messages.

Constant Contact also provides users with 100+ mobile-optimised email templates which make creating professional emails quicker and easier than many other tools out there.

Constant Contact free email marketing templates

Constant Contact is one of the best beginner options for email marketing

A lot of the email marketing work is done for you with Constant Contact’s automation features, including triggers for welcome messages for new subscribers and related drip email marketing campaigns, all based on customer behaviour on your website.

You’ll also be able to make good use of the contact segmentation feature in Constant Contact with a user-friendly contact import function – simply connect your email or CRM account. And you’ll get access to custom demographic data, subscriber surveys, and personalised coupon codes.

What are Constant Contact’s most powerful features?

Get a free trial of Constant Contact for 60 days – no credit card required!

9. MailerLite

Best email marketing software for beginners

On a tight budget? Look no further than MailerLite! You’ll be able to send up to 12,000 emails per month on their free plan, and it’s only $9 a month for unlimited email sends to 1,000 contacts.

Unlike the other beginner email marketing tools out there, MailerLite is a universally good tool for any industry. Whether you’re growing a small charity, a side-hustle, or you’re a freelancer just starting out, MailerLite offers everything you need to send bulk email marketing campaigns.

MailerLite is a powerful and affordable option for email marketing essentials

If you’re running a small business and need more marketing features like a built-in CRM and advanced audience segmentation, a tool like ActiveCampaign may be a better fit, and it’s roughly the same cost per month.

But for beginners, personal projects, or if you just need to send simple email campaigns to your audience, MailerLite is truly an ideal (and affordable) choice.

What are MailerLite’s free features?

You really can’t go wrong with the MailerLite free plan, but you’ll get even more with their paid plans, including selling digital products, using unlimited templates, and creating auto resend campaigns.

Start your 30-day trial of MailerLite for free and see all they have to offer.

10. GetResponse

Best choice for marketing automation on a budget

Like many of the tools above, GetResponse offers an all-in-one solution for marketing, sales and CRM with everything from webinars and landing pages to marketing automation and forms.

Unlike some of the other tools, GetResponse’s pricing is budget-friendly.

For $50/month, you get everything except the eCommerce features for a list size of 1,000 contacts. This price rises far more gradually than most other email marketing tools, making this a great choice for budget-conscious marketers.

Another reason to choose GetResponse is that they’re well-established – they’ve been around almost 25 years. We used GetResponse from 2012 until 2016, and only moved because other email marketing platforms began offering marketing automation, whereas this took GetResponse a few more years to release.

GetResponse have since released an exceptional marketing automation builder which, like ActiveCampaign, is made so much better by the price tag.

Pros:

  • Pricing – While Mailerlite is technically the most affordable email tool in this list, GetResponse is the most affordable for marketing automation.
  • European-based – Based in Poland, GetResponse were one of the first email marketing platforms to be fully GDPR-compliant and have the advantage of hosting their servers in Europe.
  • All-in-one solution – Sometimes all-in-one platforms can feel spread thin and complicated, but in GetResponse’s case they’ve pulled together a range of full products. In fact, GetResponse’s webinar software is one of the leading tools for hosting webinars.

Cons:

  • Integrations – GetResponse’s range of integrations is relatively small in comparison to most other tools, making it more challenging to connect it into your existing tech stack.
  • Reporting & analytics – GetResponse’s reporting is quite basic in comparison to most email marketing & automation tools.
  • Limited A/B testing – With GetResponse you can only A/B test subject lines and sending time.

Pricing

GetResponse has three pricing plans starting from $13/month for 1,000 contacts for email marketing, $44/month for marketing automation and $89/month for eCommerce features.

GetResponse is an ideal choice for marketers that want an an all-in-one sales, marketing and CRM solution that’s budget-friendly now – and in the future when their list grows. You can start using GetResponse for free here, or check out their pricing plans.

What to look for in email marketing software?

It’s no secret that email marketing software should grow your business by converting leads into customers. But it also needs to save you time and turn those buyers into loyal fans – on autopilot.

We’ve covered the pros and cons of the top 10 email marketing tools. Now it’s time to talk about exactly what makes them so popular, and how they fare in a head-to-head comparison.

During our survey of 1,700+ marketers who were in the process of changing their email marketing software, we discovered 9 factors that separate the good tools from the great:

  1. 💰 Compare Cost
  2. 😌 Compare UX
  3. 📮 Compare Deliverability
  4. ✨ Compare Features
  5. 🤝 Compare CRMs
  6. 📊 Compare Reporting
  7. 🔌 Compare Integrations
  8. 🙋 Compare Support & Training
  9. 🔒Compare Security

Of course, every email marketing tool will claim to do well in all these areas, but by analysing data and observing why marketers leave different email platforms, we were able to capture a far more honest picture.

Email marketing software survey
You can access the dataset we use to determine the top 10 email marketing software providers at the end of this guide.

Best for Affordability

What differentiates a $100/month tool from a $20/month tool? Sometimes a lot, sometimes not.

HubSpot, for example, charges quite a bit more than other email providers. But they also offer an all-in-one marketing and sales platform that includes everything a business needs to succeed.

On the other hand, ActiveCampaign is able to provide tons of features, while remaining one of the most affordable email marketing tools on the market.

Comparing email marketing software based on cost alone is a dangerous game. That’s why it’s important to look at all nine factors in this article to ensure that you’re buying the right tool for the job, rather than merely the cheapest.

“There is hardly anything in the world that some man cannot make a little worse and sell a little cheaper, and the people who consider price only are this man’s lawful prey.”

– John Ruskin

Here’s a detailed comparison of the monthly cost of all 10 of the top email marketing tools on our list, ordered from most affordable to least:

ToolMonthly price for 2,500 contactsMonthly price for 10,000 contactsMonthly price for 100,000 contacts
GetResponse$22$59$399
MailerLite$15$47$360
Benchmark$24$62$349
Sendinblue$25$65Not Public
Omnisend$35$115$720
ActiveCampaign$49$139$549
Constant Contact$55$105Not Public
Klaviyo$60$150$1,380
ClickFunnels$127$127$208
HubSpot$135$396$3,636

I would be remiss not to point out that cost and value are not the same things. HubSpot, ActiveCampaign, and to some extent, Omnisend all offer all-in-one marketing platforms, while the rest are primarily just for managing and automating email marketing.

Don’t let the tail wag the dog

Your email marketing tool is something you ideally don’t want to change often, so it pays to choose a tool that offers what you’ll need today and for the next few years. Above all, choose the tool that gives you the best opportunity to grow your business.

In the next section, we’ll outline the top 3 email marketing software providers for each of the nine factors, so you can compare three solid choices, based on the most important factors for you.

Best for Ease of Use

With some email marketing platforms, it’s taken me up to three hours to make a template look acceptable, especially when it comes to being displayed on a mobile device.

While all the email marketing providers on this list offer visual email builders, some are easier to use than others.

These three tools provide an ideal balance of being simple and powerful:

  1. ActiveCampaign
  2. Benchmark
  3. Mailerlite

Rather than explain how easy to use these tools are, I’m going to let screenshots of their email editors do the talking for me.

1. ActiveCampaign

Easiest to use email marketing software

ActiveCampaign provides one of the best drag-and-drop email builders available

2. Benchmark

Benchmark allows you to quickly and easily design marketing emails that work

3. MailerLite

MailerLite gives you the ability to create powerful email campaigns in the blink of an eye

Best for Deliverability

An email marketing tool is worthless if your messages end up in the spam folder. That’s why, as dull as it may be, deliverability is a crucial factor.

To get the best deliverability rates, all email marketing services need to:

  • Monitor blacklists
  • Flag subscribers for review
  • Remove problematic subscribers
  • Manage the reputation of IP addresses

All the email marketing tools in our top ten list handle all of these for you, which means that no matter which one you choose, you can expect deliverability rates in the 98-99.9% range.

But if it’s particularly important to you to have the highest deliverability rates imaginable, you may want to invest in a tool that provides tools to manage your sender reputation and test your emails for obvious signs of spam.

ActiveCampaign’s impressive deliverability is the result of 17 years of optimisation. They offer a very handy “spam check” tool for predicting how likely an email is to land in the inbox. And if a score is too low, you’ll be provided with suggestions for changes to make.

ActiveCampaign's spam checker

Give your deliverability rates a boost with the spam check tool from ActiveCampaign

Best for Email Marketing Features

If you try any of the email marketing tools in this article, you’ll find that they all offer the standard features you’d expect from an email marketing tool, such as visual email campaign builders, pre-designed email templates, autoresponders, and audience segmentation.

Only a handful go above and beyond with additional email marketing features that are designed to save you time and get better results. Below are our top three pciks for email marketing tools that offer noteworthy email marketing features.

  1. ActiveCampaign
  2. HubSpot
  3. Omnisend

1. ActiveCampaign

Automation A/B Testing – While most email marketing tools allow you to split-test subject lines, send times, and content, ActiveCampaign is one of the few services that allow you to split test automation sequences.

best email marketing features

Find the best ways to convert more subscribers with ActiveCampaign’s automated A/B testing

This means you can A/B test radical changes like sending ten emails to new leads versus only four, which allows you to see which sequence has the highest conversion rate.

Conditional Content – ActiveCampaign is one of the only email marketing services that allow you to include conditional content blocks (“If X is true, show Y”) inside email campaigns.

We use this for localising our pricing (i.e. show $ in the United States, £ in the UK, and € in Europe), and for displaying recommended articles to customers based on their plan or engagement level.

Global Variables – We have over 200 automated emails set up in our ActiveCampaign account. What happens if, for example, I want to change something in my email signature? Or update the pricing of one of our plans?

With other email marketing tools, you’d have to go into each email and manually make the changes. By using global variables, you’ll save time and avoid the irritation of repetitive updates.

Instead of inserting the actual price in an email campaign, you can enter a variable (%price%), and it will replace all variables with the actual price when the email is sent out.

Downloadable Automation Recipes – ActiveCampaign is one of the only email marketing tools to offer a range of automation recipes. Instead of spending days building an elaborate sequence of upsell emails, you can use a pre-built one, and simply adjust the content to fit your brand.

2. HubSpot

Smart Content – Similar to the conditional content feature offered by ActiveCampaign, HubSpot’s Smart Content allows you to hide and display blocks of content in your email campaigns, based upon where a contact is in your buying cycle or which lists they’re on.

Best Hubspot email marketing features

Customize each subscriber’s experience with smart email marketing content in HubSpot

Subject Line Emojis – Using emojis in subject lines has been found to increase open rates by as much as 45%. While you can technically put emojis in the subject line using almost any email marketing tool, HubSpot makes it a bit easier by having an emoji button next to the subject line box.

Hubspot emojis in subject lines

Add a touch of personality to your email campaigns with HubSpot’s subject line emoji tool

Progressive Profiling – Let’s say a lead visits your website and exchanges their name and email address to download a whitepaper. The next day, they come back to your website to learn more.

Instead of showing the same signup form, HubSpot allows you to identify this lead and show a different offer, or ask a different set of questions to learn more about them over time.

HubSpot progressive profiling

Use progressive profiling in HubSpot to create custom signup forms based on subscriber behaviour

This is called progressive profiling, and it allows you to send more personalised marketing email campaigns as you gather more information on your leads.

3. Omnisend

Campaign Booster – Omnisend has a campaign booster feature that automatically resends emails to subscribers who haven’t opened a message, which Omnisend states results in a boost in email sales by 30% or more.

Best Omnisend features

Find new ways to increase sales with the Omnisend campaign booster feature

Product Picker – In addition to being able to drag and drop products directly into email messages (a huge time saver), Omnisend also has a handful of click-through rate boosting tools, such as scratch cards and gift boxes.

Dynamic Discount Codes – One final feature that’s a nice touch for e-commerce users is Omnisend’s discount code generator, which connects to your online store and automatically generates unique coupon codes to incentivise customers into buying from you again.

Best ecommerce email marketing tool

Automatically upsell customers with Omnisend’s custom coupon code generator

Best for CRM and Marketing Automation

Unless you’re a large enterprise, it’s probably a wise idea to use a drip email marketing software that also includes a built-in Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tool and marketing automation capabilities.

The reason for this is that email marketing works best when emails are triggered to the right people at the right time – automatically. And the data that allows this is often stored in a CRM system.

This requirement technically rules out all but three of the providers on our top ten (HubSpot, ActiveCampaign, and ClickFunnels).

1. HubSpot

HubSpot is the undisputed leader in this category. As an all-in-one sales and marketing platform, they offer a full CRM system, as well as built-in tools for blogging, social media management, landing page creation, and… well, you name it, and they probably provide it.

HubSpot email marketing CRM

Keep track of each customer’s journey with HubSpot’s customisable CRM

While the HubSpot CRM is extremely powerful, it’s also straightforward and simple to use. You can view deals in a pipeline format (as shown above) or as one long list in a table.

Because HubSpot contains so much data on each of your leads, you can use their marketing automation platform to build email drip campaigns that are based on subscriber behaviour.

Granted, it’s not as flexible as the automation builder found in ActiveCampaign. It’s difficult to create different steps for different users without getting tangled up in individual sequences. But if your automation requirements aren’t too complicated, HubSpot is a solid choice.

HubSpot marketing automation builder

HubSpot helps you to build step-by-step email marketing automations

2. ActiveCampaign

As you can see below, ActiveCampaign’s CRM is very similar to HubSpot’s in design and functionality. It tracks the activity of leads on your website (or app) and can automatically move leads into different stages of your pipeline based on individual site visitor behaviour.

best email marketing crm

Monitor every part of a lead’s behaviour with the data reports in ActiveCampaign’s CRM

You can also deep-dive into any customer’s profile to see a full history of every interaction that person has had with your company since they first gave you their email address.

Where ActiveCampaign shines is with its marketing automation builder. We’ve already touched on this in previous sections of this article, so I won’t go into much more detail here, but it’s absolutely one of the core features that place ActiveCampaign at the top of our list.

best email marketing automation CRM

Build email marketing automations for all of your campaigns with ActiveCampaign’s powerful CRM

3. ClickFunnels

The ClickFunnels CRM is functionally similar to those above, but with the main difference being that each contact’s history includes all of their interaction history with the courses, products, and offers you build within ClickFunnels.

You can also track your phone calls, conversations and organise appointments within ClickFunnels. Besides that, it’s a relatively light CRM that should meet the needs of a small team or one-person business.

Best for Reporting and Analytics

When it comes to advanced reporting functionality, we’re sad to say that most email marketing tools don’t have much to offer – up to the point of making it difficult to even understand which emails are giving you the highest ROI.

What if you want to actually know where your email marketing money is going? We’re here to help by sharing our top picks for the best tools for email analytics and reporting, so you can get the most value for your email marketing platform investment.

1. HubSpot

As an all-in-one marketing platform, it should come as no surprise that HubSpot offers a huge variety of reports, allowing you to answer every marketing question imaginable for your business.

And to give credit where it’s due, these aren’t vanity metrics – HubSpot does a very good job at digging deep into the data and actually providing actionable insights into sales performance.

Reporting dashboards in HubSpot

Take a deep-dive into your analytics with HubSpot’s user-friendly sales and marketing reports

Of course, this kind of reporting comes at a cost (as we’ve already covered, HubSpot isn’t cheap), but you do get a lot more information than just how many people opened your emails or unsubscribed from your campaigns.

HubSpot reports are easy to digest and surprisingly insightful. You’ll not only get access to details on campaign click-through rates, but you’ll also have access to reply rates and be able to see how much time people spend reading an email.

HubSpot email campaign analytics

HubSpot gives you access to data on reply rates and subscriber email reading times

2. ActiveCampaign

In some ways, I’m reluctant to feature ActiveCampaign in this section, as their reporting is definitely not their strongest point. But to give credit where it’s due it’s come a long way since they’ve introduced goal tracking and attribution.

best email marketing report

Get in-depth information on all of your campaign goals with ActiveCampaign’s powerful reporting

ActiveCampaign’s reporting can answer almost any question you throw at it, but you need to be quite mindful of knowing what that question is, and might spend some time picking out the results.

Where HubSpot serves up high-quality answers on a platter, ActiveCampaign’s approach is more akin to spreading that data across 20 or so pages. This can make it difficult to decipher between value metrics or those of the vanity variety.

Best for Integrations

These days, most email marketing services integrate with Zapier – a third-party tool that allows you to send data to 1,000+ apps and tools, which allows you to automate your workflow. There are some exceptions, such as HubSpot, which has an enormous variety of community-built native integrations.

best email marketing integrations

ActiveCampaign integrates with Zapier and 100s of other third-party applications

Our choices for the best email marketing tools for integrating with third-party tools are:

  1. ActiveCampaign
  2. HubSpot

With Zapier, every integration (also known as a “zap”) has two parts: a trigger and an action. For example, every time someone subscribes to your mailing list (trigger), they’re automatically added to a Google Spreadsheet (action).

Broadly speaking, the more triggers and actions an email marketing service provides, the easier it is to automate tasks. Below is a list of the top ten email marketing tools and their available Zapier triggers, actions, and searches.

TypeZapier TriggersZapier Actions & Searches
HubSpotFree2377
ActiveCampaignFree1942
Constant ContactFree37
ClickFunnelsFree28
MailerLiteFree1013
BenchmarkFree611
SendinblueFree35
KlaviyoFree16
OmnisendFree02
GetResponseFree67

Best for Customer Support and Training

1. ActiveCampaign

ActiveCampaign is the only email marketing tool to offer a Customer Success Commitment, which outlines a set of standards around education, support, and trust that you can expect when working with ActiveCampaign.

From implementation and migration support, to access to ActiveCampaign’s online user community, in-person events, and pre-built automation recipes, you can be confident that your email list and marketing efforts are in safe hands.

best email marketing courses

Take your email marketing skills to the next level with ActiveCampaign University guides and videos

It’s also worth pointing out that ActiveCampaign University offers an extensive range of videos, guides, and documentation. But we’ve also had numerous team members be able to build automation sequences with no training, thanks to how easy the platform is to use.

As a customer, I’ve only had to contact ActiveCampaign’s support a handful of times over the last four years, and each time, I’ve had a response containing a solution within just a couple of hours.

2. HubSpot

HubSpot has arguably built its entire business around inbound marketing education. They have practised what they preach by blogging, running events, and becoming a thought leader in digital marketing. Leads came to them, rather than them having to rely on traditional outbound marketing.

As such, you can expect in-depth and effective training when you sign up for HubSpot. From courses and certifications to ebooks and their annual INBOUND Conference, HubSpot provides its customers with plenty of opportunities to level up their online marketing skills.

HubSpot courses and certifications

HubSpot is the leader of free courses on a ton of inbound marketing tips, tricks, and best practices

One cautionary note is that HubSpot doescharge additional fees for onboarding services. While this isn’t overly unreasonable (as you’re effectively paying for several hours of an expert’s time), it highlights just how generous ActiveCampaign is by offering the same service, free of charge.

HubSpot also has an excellent reputation when it comes to customer care. You’ll have access to phone, email, and live chat support. If any issues do arise with your account, you can feel confident that they’ll be quickly and easily resolved.

Best for Security and Compliance

If you capture sensitive personal data or operate in an industry that requires particular security and privacy compliance certifications, we’d suggest the following email marketing platform options.

  1. ActiveCampaign
  2. HubSpot
  3. MailerLite

As you’d expect, these larger and older email marketing providers tend to be the best option when it comes to security and compliance. All three of the services above provide extensive documentation on their websites about their security and compliance measures.

For a more detailed comparison of which security features or compliance certifications these three email marketing tools offer, take a look at the table we’ve created below.

ActiveCampaignHubSpotMailerLite
ISO 27018 (Cloud Privacy)YesNoNo
ISO 27001 (Information Security)YesYesYes
ISO 27017 (Cloud Security)YesNoNo
EU-US Privacy ShieldYesYesYes
GDPR CompliantYesYesYes
CAN-SPAM CompliantYesYesYes
HIPAA CompliantYes (Enterprise Plan)NoNo
TLS EncryptionYesYesYes
Segmented AccountsYesYesNo

Here are some useful links to learn more:

FAQ

What is the best free email marketing tool?

There are many free email marketing tools available, including Sendinblue, Constant Contact, and HubSpot. It ultimately depends on your specific needs. Consider factors such as the size of your email list, the frequency of your emails, and the design capabilities you require. It may also be helpful to read reviews and try out a few different tools to see which one works best for you.

Which email marketing software is best for eCommerce?

Some popular email marketing platforms for ecommerce businesses include Klaviyo, ActiveCampaign, and Omnisend. These tools integrate with eCommerce platforms like Shopify and WooCommerce. They also offer features specifically designed for ecommerce, such as abandoned cart recovery, product recommendation emails, and revenue attribution. It’s important to consider your specific needs and budget when choosing an email marketing platform, and you may want to try out a few different options before making a decision.

What does email marketing software cost?

The cost of email marketing will depend on the size of your list and your feature requirements. As a rough guide you can expect to pay between $5-10 per month per 1,000 contacts, so if you have 5,000 contacts you might pay between $25-50/month depending on your needs.

What is email marketing software?

Email marketing software is a tool that allows businesses to send targeted, personalized emails to their customers or subscribers at scale. It provides features such as email list management, templates and design tools, reporting, and automation workflows. Email marketing software can be used to promote products or services, nurture leads, and build customer relationships.

Get the complete dataset

In addition to collecting 1,782 reviews of email marketing tools over 12 months, our team has also gathered 5,000 data points across 100 email marketing companies, which you can access for free.

If you’d like a copy of our raw dataset to make your own comparisons, you can get it by completing this survey – no email address required.

I hope this guide has been useful in helping you choose your next email marketing tool. If you have any feedback or unanswered questions, feel free to leave a comment below or tag me in a share on Twitter or LinkedIn.

Marcus Taylor

Marcus Taylor

Marcus Taylor is the founder of Venture Harbour. He’s also an early-stage investor, advisor & the youngest Patron of The Prince's Trust.

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93 Comments

  • Stein Peeters says:

    The data set file is not being sent. Could you please send it to me? Thanks! I’m very interested as I’m selecting a marketing automation tool right now. Thanks.

  • Shelley Madison says:

    Hi Marcus, thank you for the research, very much appreciated. I’d also appreciate the data set you offered to share if the offer still stands. Thanks again!

  • Andrew Darius says:
  • Justin Hipps says:

    Great and informative post. Where is the download / raw data “at the bottom” – I must have missed the link

  • Power MTA setup says:

    Hi Marcus
    This is a very informative topic… Thank you for sharing with us.

  • Payvoice App says:

    I recently switched from MailChimp to Mailerlite and have been pleased with the results. I ran into a small problem and the customer service was excellent and responded very quickly (I’m using the free plan).

  • Maria Kurday says:

    Hey,

    thanks a lot for creating such a detailed and objective overview of the email marketing providers!

    I would really like to have a look at your dataset, I already filled out the survey twice, but it does not seem to work – still no email with dataset received. Could you please send it to me? Thanks a lot!

    Kind regards,
    Maria

  • Rajesh M says:

    Great article.
    Just wanted to point out that there is an error in SendX’s pricing in the Pricing Comparison table.
    SendX’s pricing is close to $100/mo for 10,000 users.

    On the SendX website, the pricing is mentioned in slabs – so the final bill will be the addition of all slabs that are applicable to your number of contacts.

  • Edward tricky says:

    Hello Marcus Taylor,
    Thank you to share such a piece of useful information with us. keep posting such kind of Information.

  • Shaun K says:

    Thanks for this informative review Marcus. What are your thoughts on ConvertKit? It was recommended to me, I am a blogger who does it for passion for the last 5 years, but I am thinking of starting to monetize my work.

  • Lou says:

    Thanks for putting this together, my head was spinning from trying to figure out who/what to use.

  • Paul says:

    Please forgive me if I missed this in some of the comments and replies, but I saw nothing on Infusionsoft or Marketo. I was expecting to see both in your analysis, but nothing was mentioned, save for the remark early on that Active Campaign has rocketed past Infusionsoft in the marketplace. Is it because you consider them outside the “Email Marketing” space which was the subject of your analysis?
    Thanks

    • Marcus Taylor says:

      Hi Paul, back in 2015/2016 both Marketo and Infusionsoft made our top 10, but they’ve gradually been slipping each year.

      Keap (formerly Infusionsoft) is now in #37th place and Marketo is at #78th. There’s nothing wrong with these platforms, but they just don’t score as highly in the nine areas that we believe (from interviewing email marketing users) are most important.

      We also observe from migration data that a large number of Infusionsoft users end up moving to other email marketing services, citing ‘difficult to use’ as a common reason, so I’m somewhat reluctant to recommend their platform these days.

  • Jason Dawes says:

    SENDLANE IS A HORRIBLE TOOL. Used this for a month then switched to Klaviyo and it is light years better. Sendlane had a million bugs and almost ruined my business.

    • Marcus Taylor says:

      Hi Jason,

      Ouch! We’ve added this feedback to our dataset. Incidentally, we’ve seen some similar signs on our end. They’ve fallen to #14 on our list this year so won’t be making the 2020 top 10.

      Thanks for sharing 🙏

  • Sikha Mishra says:

    Hi Marcus
    This is very informative post for us. Thank you for sharing with us.

  • Jessica says:

    Thanks for this article. It is super helpful. I have used quite a few different ESPs (Bronto, MailChimp, Constant Contact, dotmailer, Listrak and now Informz) and have my opinions about all of them. But I have always worked for e-commerce companies. I now work for a non-profit association and we need an ESP that integrates with our database, which is run on Aptify. The only ESP I have found that claims to integrate with Aptify is Informz (Higher Logic) and lets just say, the integration doesn’t actually work and the platform itself leaves a lot to be desired. So I was wondering if you knew of any other platform that might integrate with Aptify or be able to build an integration?

    • Marcus Taylor says:

      Wow, you’ve tried them all!

      It seems it may be a bit of an issue on the Aptify end, as they don’t seem to offer much in the way of an API from what I can see, so it’s probably a challenge for ESPs to integrate with them.

      The only two options I can see from a quick browse is Higher Logic (as you mentioned) and a company called HighRoad, though I’m not familiar with either.

  • Marin says:

    Powerful review!

    What options are available for sending cold email?

  • Bec says:

    Fantastic article, thank you! I was wondering if I could ask some advice — we are only a small company that doesn’t need automation or a CRM, we just want to be able to send out monthly emails to 6000+ subscribers that can be categorised into industries or groups. We don’t need bells & whistles. Due to our industry, the chunky CRM doesn’t integrate into a.n.y.t.h.i.n.g. so it’s all very labour intensive but lucky for them I do love a spreadsheet. Thanks in advance for the advice.

    • Marcus Taylor says:

      Hi Bec,

      I would probably look at something like MailerLite or Moosend. They’re both very affordable and do the basics very well (while taking care of the dull, but important stuff like security & deliverability).

      While they do both offer automation, you can obviously just use them for basic mass email sending – and both should be affordable at 6,000 contacts.

  • Elena Villarreal says:

    Marcus, thank you very much for detailed yet to the point review! I am looking for the email program for our small activity which we are planning to grow fast. You saved me tones of time and money on trials and errors. Mailchimp is a bit outdated. So I am looking forward to our new adventure and hope to continue with the program for many years.

  • RDH says:

    Why are some of the comments from 2014? Is this an old article or is it updated with the latest and greatest options?

    • Marcus Taylor says:

      Hi RDH,

      This article was first published back in 2014 and has been updated (at least) every year since.

  • Stefan says:

    This was the most helpful article ever. After all the tests, I think that I’ll go for ActiveCampaign. Thank’s!

  • Anna Saif says:

    HI Marcus

    Found your article very informative especially as I am a novice in all this. We are about to launch a research centre in the UK and wondered which email marketing tool you would recommend. Having read quite a bit now online, I see a lot of the literature seems to concentrate on business users rather than non-profits. Any suggestions would be most welcome.
    Many Thanks

    • Marcus Taylor says:

      Hi Anna,

      I would take a look at Moosend, who offer a 25% discount to non-profits. If you need something a bit more powerful, ActiveCampaign offer a 20% discount.

  • Jim Daly says:

    Hi Marcus,
    Thank you for this detailed report. One of the options I am considering is Drip, it seems to be popular. Did you consider it?
    Any thoughts on Drip vs ActiveCampaign?
    All the best,
    Jim

    • Marcus Taylor says:

      Hi Jim, yes – we did consider Drip.

      This year Drip came out in 31st place in our ranking of the top 100 email marketing services. One factor pulling down their ranking was a high number of Drip users moving away from their platform reporting four issues in particular as the reason: Integrations, low-quality support, bugs, and difficult-to-use UX.

      Hope that’s useful.

  • Donnie Murillo says:

    A very thorough and well-written blog on Email Marketing software tools. These are some very decent tools which will prove helpful for novices like us. Thanks for the blog Marcus.

  • Oleg Goncharenko says:

    Hi Marcus,
    Thanks for the review.
    It looks like it’s been a while since the review has been written 4 years ago (according to the most of the comments above).
    Please advice on how it’s relevant up to date?
    We are looking for a mail marketing tool for b2b software services company.
    Would appreciate your feedback.
    Thanks!
    Oleg

    • Marcus Taylor says:

      Hey Oleg,

      We’ve just posted our 2018 update! A few new tools have made the cut, and a couple of old ones removed. All of the data has been updated as of October 2018, so that should be useful.

      For B2B software, I’d probably look at either Hubspot/ActiveCampaign? We use ActiveCampaign as our email marketing tool for Leadformly, which is a B2B SaaS service.

      Marcus

  • Abhinav says:

    A very useful post, thanks Marcus!

    I’ve had used email services from different service providers in the past for my own online business although now I have moved to Benchmark Email and using there services.

    I found almost every service providers relatively easy to use but almost everyone lacks in providing support to there client and now-day’s support is like backbone of any service.
    Benchmark Email provide chat & call support apart from email support and that to 24*7 and because of limitless support from Benchmark Email I am sticking with them.

  • Faizan says:

    I’ve often seen Mailchimp is lacking in showing Popups (I really don’t care about those who don’t prefer Pop Ups).
    One more thing I want to add that Mailchimp’s Workflow is not as effective as Getresponse have.
    I have reviewed both of the services for myself and found Getresponse much better than Mailchimp and even from others too (Cost effective).

  • Kulwant Singh says:

    such a great article…thanks a lot ….. it help me alot

  • Jan says:

    Hi Marcus..

    Thanks so much for these summary articles. I’m teetering on the edge of a blog and was sooo confused until I found this and your other articles on the topics needed to establish my site.

    Your info is presented in clear and informative manner.. When I launch I’d like to refer readers to your articles.. Is that okay?

  • Karlie says:

    Also interested if you’d have any comments on Drip?

    Thanks!

    • Marcus Taylor says:

      I hear lots of good things, but (and I may be going crazy) I recall Drip offering a $1 signup offer when they were acquired by Leadpages and so a lot of people were commenting on how good it was for a dollar. It seems to have gone back to the old pricing and repositioned slightly to eCommerce email marketing. I’m sure it’s an excellent product.

  • Karlie says:

    Thanks for the article Marcus. We have about 25000 subscribers and currently use Mail Chimp. We’re looking to change though, for three reasons – we’d like to integrate with a CRM, want to send smarter, automated emails and gather customer activity data, would like a service with actual customer support.

    Mailchimp advertises that they do automation etc, but I can’t seem to find where to set up anything very smart. Also their customer support is non-existent. Seems impossible to contact a human.

    Do you know if mailchimp actually does offer what we’re looking for, or we’re better to move to something like active campaign? Appreciate your comments ;)

    • Marcus Taylor says:

      Hey Karlie,

      I haven’t used Mailchimp for many years as they just don’t seem to have kept up (particularly around marketing automation), but technically I think the answer is yes – they can do what you’re after.

      However, I guess the real question is whether they’re the optimal solution to do what you’re after, in which case the answer is likely no. We’ve just updated this guide with some more up-to-date comparisons, which hopefully should answer your question!

  • Benjamin says:

    Excellent article. The best and non-bias review I’ve read about email marketing software thus far.

    I’ve been shopping around and will probably go with Get Response. Initially I was looking at Mail Chimp since they had the 2000 free subscribers but it appears, in the longer run, it’ll be better with GetResponse.

    Haven’t used email marketing as much as I should. Previously, we tried using ImnicaMail because of their pricing but it was as good as not having an email marketing campaign; all our mail was sent to spam (since they did not manage their customers’ list for spam). Thought email marketing wasn’t effective until I found out our emails were being sent to the spam box. Learnt my lesson there.

    Thanks again for the useful article.

    • Marcus Taylor says:

      Thanks Benjamin! Sounds like a good choice after your bad experience – I’d love to hear how you’re getting on with GetResponse.

      Marcus

  • Alice says:

    Wow such a detailed review! I have tried MailChimp before and I found it too expensive. After that i’ve signed up to Mailerlite and got hooked. It’s either free or cheapish depending on your subscribers’ lists. With other email software providers, you’d need to make an investment even if you’re running a small shop or a blog. And let’s be honest, not everyone of us can afford it :)

  • Miguel says:

    I’m shopping to upgrade my email marketing software. Just got off the phone with Constant Contact. Can’t believe they don’t offer A/B testing!

  • Mark says:

    I have a database of 2000 emails that I have marketed to for some time now from a pop 3 email without using a service.

    I imported it to mail chimp and it wants a double opt in. How can I bypass that.

    Once I start using mailchimp then people can easily unsubscribe if they don’t want the email.

  • Afroz Siddiqui says:

    If you want cheap, easy and something you can grow with, I recommend MailChimp. You can even start out free with them. Later, if you decide to change platforms, it’s relatively easy to transfer your list.

  • Sneha says:

    Thank Marcus, the summary was a great help.

  • Tony Hoang says:

    Great review Marcus! Have you looked into contactpigeon.com? They are a new e-mail marketing platform that offers data driven campaigns with thorough segmentation and automation features.

  • Meera says:

    Hi I am new to direct email marketing. Sendy looks like a good pick based on this post. Thanks, Marcus for this article.

    Just a question, is it possible to export back only the delivered emails back to our database or via a .csv file.

  • Karanpreet Bindra says:

    Hi Marcus,

    Thanks for the article, it was also interesting and inspiring to see your other ventures in diverse fields. Would like to connect 1:1 in the near future. Meanwhile, even I had done a similar comparison as I myself handle email marketing for my organization. Do check it out as well as for the readers of the blog since it covers 2 additional players.

    Cheers,
    Karan

    • Marcus Taylor says:

      Hi Karenpreet, you’re welcome.

      I took a look at your comparison – good work. More than happy to connect anytime if you want to drop me an email.

      Marcus

  • Marcus Taylor says:

    @Frank – I’ve never heard of them, and a quick Google search for your name + MPZ Mail reveals you promoting them on Quora. I’m not sure why you’d ask for more information on them if you’re already a user recommending them to others? Are you affiliated with them by any chance?

  • fSheppard says:

    I really enjoyed this article but could anyone tell me a little bit more about MPZMail? It’s not on this list, however I know a fair few people who are moving from MailChimp. I’ve had a look around and it seems to be pretty good.

  • Kelly says:

    Great post Marcus,

    I’ve always been a mailchimp user myself, and I have to say I really like their UI but I’m always open to new options. I’ve dabbled in a couple of the other email marketing providers like Pure360 – but find them so clunky and annoying to use (despite them looking really pretty and having great templates) that I always end up going back to good old mailchimp. I haven’t used GetResponse yet, I’ll give their free trial a shot :)

    • Marcus Taylor says:

      Thanks Kelly, Mailchimp have definitely come a long way with their UI over the years, it’s just their service that hasn’t caught up ;) I haven’t had the chance to play around with Pure360 as much as I’d like, but I’ve heard the same things echoed by several friends who use their service. Looking at their client list, I think they’re more aimed at large companies though.

  • Nathan Chan says:

    Fantastic article Marcus. Really enjoyed this detailed post.

    After reading this I think I will move to and try out Ontraport!

    Nathan

  • David Reed says:

    I’m currently looking for a hosted email marketing service that offers SMS services and integrates with Salesforce. We have a customer database of over 250,000 users and need to be able to send them SMS messages as well as emails at roughly the same time as appointment reminders.

    I’ve spent a long time looking at the different options, and there doesn’t seem to be anything exactly what we’re looking for (without requesting customisation), but before I give up hope I wondered whether you knew of anything?

    • Marcus Taylor says:

      Hi David,

      Check out Pure360 – from their website it seems like they have both SMS services and integration with Salesforce. I can’t vouch for their service as I’ve never used it, although I did used to live about two minutes from their offices in Brighton! The other option would be something like Infusionsoft. I’m pretty certain that they have SMS functionality, and would be very surprised if they didn’t integrate with Salesforce.

      Hope that helps.
      Marcus

  • Nina Thompson says:

    This is so helpful! We’ve been using an old school bespoke email program at our company for years and have finally come to the realisation that we need to enter the 21st century!

    One question – do you know how easy it would be to connect a tool like Aweber or GetResponse to a customer database? We would hate to lose our list of customer data during the move, so that’s a big concern for us.

    • Marcus Taylor says:

      Thanks Nina, sounds like a much needed upgrade ;)

      Do you know whether your current email service allows you to export subscribers? If so you should be fine. All of the email marketing tools reviewed in this post allow you to import subscribers from a CSV file, so providing you can get all of your existing subscribers into a spreadsheet you’ll be absolutely fine.

      Marcus

      • Nina Thompson says:

        I think so. I’d need to take a closer look but I’m sure you’re right.

        Thanks for the help!
        Nina

  • Peter says:

    Great review Marcus!

    I’m currently looking for an email marketing service for a mailing list of about 80,000 subscribers. I run an information product business in the fitness industry with a large number of customers buying our ebooks and online courses every day. I’m particularly interested in GetResponse, although I’d be keen to hear your thoughts on the flexibility of their service for creating autoresponders, and integrating with a checkout service (we use WooCommerce).

    I see that you’ve recommended Infusionsoft, which I was also looking at. Do you have any strong opinions on which one would be better for our kind of business?

    • Marcus Taylor says:

      Hi Peter,

      It really depends on your budget and how much automation you need.

      GetResponse would be a great pick, although their automation is quite limited at the moment. For example, you can setup standard autoresponders, and autoresponders based on behaviour such as “opened previous email”, but it’s very hard to separate customers from non-customers etc.

      With Infusionsoft (or other marketing automation alternatives like Ontraport, Marketo, Pardot), you’d have a lot more flexibility with automation, but that may be overkill depending on what you’re looking to do.

      The main thing to consider is that Infusionsoft starts at $199/month + a one-off $2,000 fee for a kickstarter package. Realistically, you’ll likely end up paying $300-$400 per month for one of their more advanced packages. GetResponse is $450/month for 100,000 subscribers.

      In terms of integration with Woocommerce, i’m pretty sure you’d have more luck with Infusionsoft. It looks like they have a plugin called ‘InfusedWoo’ in their app marketplace here: http://marketplace.infusionsoft.com/app/infusedwoo

      Hope that helps,
      Marcus

      • Peter says:

        It sounds like Infusionsoft is probably the direction we need to head in. If it’s more affordable than GetResponse and has better automation, then it’s a bit of a no brainer.

        While we don’t need full blown automation, it’s important for us to be able to send different campaigns to customers based on whether they have/haven’t bought certain other products. Based on what you’ve said, and what I gather from their website, this seems out of GetResponse’s depth.

        Thanks Marcus, I appreciate the advice.

  • Maura says:

    Highly descriptive article. Will there be a part 2?

    • Marcus Taylor says:

      Thanks Maura – I don’t think so. If anything changes I’ll most likely just update this post.

  • Alistair Coe says:

    Really good information, thanks for the comparison Marcus!

  • Kevin says:

    Great timing, Marcus. I signed up for free trials with Mailchimp, GetResponse and Aweber about a week ago and was just doing some research to confirm my thoughts.

    I agree with you that overall GetResponse are the best of the bunch. However, I did find that Mailchimp’s UI was way better and easier to use. It’s just a shame that they force you to jump through hoops with double opt-ins, and their payment structure was a little bit off putting.

    What I’d like to know is whether any email marketing software provider allows you send emails that look identical to if they were sent from Gmail. I find that the best newsletters are those that look like it came from a friend. If only Mailchimp or Aweber didn’t force their logos and HTML style in every campaign I imagine they’d get way better open and click through rates. Do you know of any services that do this?

    • Marcus Taylor says:

      Hi Kevin,

      It sounds like you’re after plain-text email campaigns, which all of the services reviewed above offer as standard. Instead of creating a HTML campaign, you should be able to select plain-text from a drop down menu and go from there. That should disable all of the logos, and formatting that give emails the ‘newsletter template’ look.

      Marcus

  • James Calain says:

    Marcus,

    Thank you for this article, it’s been a great help for our company while we’re in the process of moving to a different ESP.

    I wondered, what are your thoughts on solutions like Mailigen, Vertical Response, Mad Mimi, and Campaign Monitor? I know there’s a never ending list of possible email software companies that you could compare, but these ones in particular interested me as they seem to offer many similar services to those that you mentioned. Have you come across them before, and if so would you advise using them over GetResponse?

    Another question I had was to do with email delivery rates. Do you know of any way to gauge the quality of an email marketing software company’s delivery rates before becoming a customer and running your own test? I’d love to see a comparison like this post focusing on quantitative metrics like that. Perhaps an idea for a future post?

    James

    • Marcus Taylor says:

      Hi James,

      I’ve heard of several of the providers you mentioned, but I haven’t used them on any projects so I can’t really comment. From a quick browse of their websites they all look fine, but nothing jumps out at me in terms of a unique proposition.

      In terms of delivery rates, I know there are websites like SenderScore, which provide some information on delivery rates, but it’s good to remember that those numbers are never static. If a company like Infusionsoft upgraded their servers, or changed the IP address that they send mail from, the stats would immediately become outdated.

      Similarly, it’s probably worth taking any numbers provided by the email services with a pinch of salt, as they’re more than likely to be a little bit on the generous end of the spectrum.

      In my experience, it’s not something you really need to worry about unless you’re sending 100,000’s of emails per month, as the difference it makes is very minimal.

      Hope that helps,
      Marcus

  • Panos says:

    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.

    • Marcus Taylor says:

      Hi Panos,

      That’s a good breakdown of the different types of email services. I aimed this post at the large majority of people who would just be looking for a Saas service like Aweber or GetResponse, but you’re right that there are many alternatives.

  • Malonie Carre says:

    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.

    • Marcus Taylor says:

      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.

      • Malonie Carre says:

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

  • Ryan Biddulph says:

    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.

  • Marcus Taylor says:

    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!

    • Brano says:

      Being Sendy users ourselves, we were also little bit disappointed with the limited reporting options offered by the app. So we built an extension which will help you to build dashboards, per-list reports, calculate conversions, etc.

  • Jason Millen says:

    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.

    • Marcus Taylor says:

      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.

  • Rob Lawrence says:

    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.

    • Marcus Taylor says:

      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!

      • George says:

        Hey Marcus,

        George from Sendicate here. We’re an email newsletter web app that aims to fix the current complex on boarding and newsletter sending process. We also allow single-opt in on lists if ya want :) Got RSS to email and all the bells and whistles too, we just try and make the user flows simple. Check us out.

        Cheers,
        George