The 4 Best Email Marketing Services


Quick Sprout recommendations for email marketing services are based on months of research and testing. We’ll never point you to a product or service that we don’t believe in or have first-hand experience with. Our content is reader-supported, which means if you click on one of our links to a recommended email marketing service, we may earn a commission.

Nearly every email marketing platform promises the same thing: great deliverability, intuitive tools, designer-quality templates, and useful reporting so you can make the most of every email you send.

In the most basic tier, you’ll likely be happy with any of the options — and that’s the tier I focus on in this review. I know they each have their super fans who’ll definitely tell you that this one is the best and the others don’t stack up — I’ll break it all down for you.

Why trust me?
I’ve run marketing and email campaigns as a consultant for years, both independently and as the head of marketing at an analytics startup. For this review, I looked at the best email marketing services and found that yes, they do all reliably deliver email, make it easy to manage your massive lists, and make sending emails more intuitive.

The 4 Best Email Marketing Platforms for Beginners

These are my top picks for businesses just getting started in email:

If you’re new to email marketing, Mailchimp is a great place to start. Its templates are knock-out gorgeous. There’s helpful just-in-time information at every step. And just about all of its reporting, testing, and tools are free on the Forever Free plan. You’ll get up to 2,000 subscribers and 12,000 emails a month at that price. When you grow too big to stay free, it won’t be painful: Mailchimp’s pricing is competitive: $15 per month once you pass 500 subscribers; $20 once you’re over 1,000; $50 for up to 5,000.

Next, Mailjet: the Google Docs of email marketing services. Astonishingly, it’s the only email marketing software with real-time collaboration. I don’t know about you, but when there are multiple departments that would like to weigh in on a campaign it can get pretty messy pretty quickly: design and copy and merchandising and a dozen other people trying to send feedback to a sole email marketer like it’s 1999. With Mailjet, that problem is solved. You can get everyone in the same email builder and collaborate. (I also like Mailjet if you’re used to collaborating in real-time with you one or two business partners. It can slow you down to hop in and out of the editor in Mailchimp or another software.) To access the collaboration element, you’ll need to sign up for the Premium plan, which starts at $18.86 per month billed annually or $20.95 billed monthly. If you choose Mailjet, I recommend the upgrade.

More advanced users who dream of their complex automated email workflows and robust tagging systems should check out ConvertKit. Its workflow builder is the easiest to use: you can visually map out your email sends and edit the emails in those flows seamlessly. Instead of clicking back and forth between editing your workflow and editing each email, you can edit them all from one space: the workflow simply slides to the side when you edit an email and slides back out when you’re done. It’s worth noting that ConvertKit’s templates are purposefully barebones and it’s easily the most expensive of the top beginner email marketing services. Plans are based on your subscriber count: $29 per month for up to 1,000; $49 for up to 3,000; $79 for up to 5,000. If you’re living in this software, though, it’s very much worth it.

Don’t have a big budget, but love the idea of a visual workflow builder and a robust tagging system? Consider GetResponse. The workflow tool is easy to use, just not as intuitive as ConvertKit’s but at half the price — $15 per month for 1,000 subscribers; $50 for 5,000 — it might be worth the tradeoff.

If you’re not just getting started with email, I’ll jump right to the chase, there’s not much in this review for you. For medium-sized or larger B2B company that need deep Salesforce integration like yours, I recommend Marketo. If you’ve got an engineer you can work with and want to have literally limitless potential, then you’ll love SendGrid. (It’s what we use at Quick Sprout for our email campaigns.) I won’t go deep on SendGrid in this guide, since it’s not necessary when you’re just getting started in the email world, but it’s what we use and love.

In all truth, you really can’t go wrong with almost any email marketing software — the only one I don’t recommend is Infusionsoft. I’d sell a kidney sooner than revisit that experience…

The Top Email Marketing Services Compared

Mailchimp Review

  • Best for beginners
  • Free forever plan

If you’re looking for a free or freemium product, Mailchimp is the place to start. As FastCompany says, Mailchimp is probably the biggest name in the freemium category. You get access to almost all of Mailchimp’s features without dropping in any credit card information. I like that.

It’s also an easy starting place for beginners. As you scroll and build your interactions, Mailchimp acts like a cheery, helpful workbook with with pro tips, best practices, and optimization advice waiting for you on every page. And it’s good stuff you’ll recognize from How to Write Marketing Emails That Get Results. Don’t just send a receipt, Mailchimp says, send some suggestions for other products they may want to add to their order! To Mailchimp, you’re not sending an email, you’re having an interaction with your recipient: It’s not an abandoned cart, it’s a show of deep interest in a product and an opportunity to capture their interest! We concur.

Mailchimp purpose driven email templates
Those interactions you create will be beautiful. Mailchimp’s pre-made templates are excellently designed and ready for images, GIFs, designed headers, the works.

Editing a Mailchimp email template

Its drag-and-drop tool isn’t necessarily impressive, but it isn’t hard to use, and allows for simple customizations. Add a module, delete one, edit one, or swap the order.

Email remains Mailchimp’s dominant product — it sends more than one billion messages every day — but, in 2018, the company continued pivoting toward technologies both old (direct-mail postcards) and new (stripped-down websites, or “landing pages,” and a still-developing customer relationship management system).
Maria Aspan, Editor-at-large, Inc.

That still-developing customer relationship management system is definitely where I see Mailchimp has room to grow — I’d like it to be easier to send messages (of all types) to the right customers, based on more nuanced information about those customers.

Other Mailchimp Features to Note

Pricing: Free is free forever (up to 2,000 subscribers or 12,000 emails a month). When you get bigger or start sending more email, you’ll need to upgrade. You can pay per email or per subscriber.

Free Grow Pro Pay per use
$0 $10+ per month based on list size $199 per month on top of subscriber fees $0.01–0.03 per email
Up to 2,000 subscribers
Up to 12,000 emails per month

No credit card needed to sign up
Requires a MailChimp footer

Unlimited emails to up to 500 subscribers: $10
5,000 subscribers $50 per month
Adds things like premium support, advanced segmentation, comparative reports, and multivariate testing Purchase credits in bulk: 5,000 credits for $150; 75,000 credits for $750

Automation triggers: Welcome, date-based, abandoned cart, order notifications, product retargeting, product recommendations, product follow-up, customer re-engagement, best customers, first purchase, promo codes

Reporting: Automation, comparative, landing page, Facebook ads, Google ads

Landing pages: Unlimited free landing pages

Segmentation: I’m not very impressed with Mailchimp’s ability to segment, tag, or build workflows. Mailchimp comes with a bunch of pre-built segments you can use from the get-go: New / Active / Inactive subscribers, Potential / Recent / First-time / Repeat / Lapsed customers, Male / Female, Under 35 / Over 35. If you have a basic account, you can use up to five conditions to do simple list filtering, but not combine logic. You’ll need Pro ($199+ per month) to do that — then you’ll get access to complex and flexible list filtering with unlimited conditions.

A/B testing: You can test up to 3 variations (or if you go Pro, up to 8 multivariate combinations): subject lines, content, from names, and send times. There are lots of helpful notes throughout setup, like suggesting you send to 5,000 recipients per variant for significance — and right above that, noting how many recipients you currently have. This is the kind of easy-to-get-it-right support Mailchimp serves up throughout its platform.

Integrations: 185 integrations including Spotify, WooCommerce, Eventbrite, Zapier, Salesforce, and Big Cartel

Clear and useful documentation:
— Helpful materials for beginners
— Helpful materials for advanced users
— Live or recorded trainings
— Active user community

Support portal:
— Chat support M–F (paid users only)
— Email support 24/7 (everyone first 30 days, then paid users only)
— No phone support

Mailjet Review

  • Best for collaboration
  • Top features unlocked only with premium
  • No freemium plan

If there are a lot of cooks in your email marketing kitchen — I’ve run campaigns that needed buy-in or comments from design, branding, copy, merchandising, PR, legal, and more!— then Mailjet Premium is going to be a game-changer.

Instead of funneling all email campaign changes through one person, emailing out a preview, and having that same person make all of the changes, everyone can hop into Mailjet and collaborate. Make comments, make changes, and even lock down sections that are already approved. Track changes and restore old versions whenever you’d like to rewind.

Worried about letting loose the power of email sends to everyone? Add a “publication request” and automatically require manager sign-off before anything gets launched. It’s the stuff Google Docs has conditioned us to expect — and Mailjet is the only service that offers this option. For this reason alone, it’s easy to recommend Mailjet.

Mailjet Email Marketing Collaboration Tool

If it’s just you working on an email campaign, real-time collaboration won’t matter at all, and I think you’d be just as happy with Mailchimp. There’s nothing else super special about Mailjet on its Free and Basic plans: you get access to drag-and-drop email templates and 24/7 support. Opt for Basic and Mailjet will drop its branding.

Every Mailjet plan allows you to have unlimited contacts. Want to add a million people to your list? Go for it. You’ll only be limited by the number of emails you can send in a day or a month. On its Free plan, that’s just 200 a day. (It’s really more of a trial than a plan.)

Other Mailjet Features to Note

Pricing: Mailjet’s Free plan isn’t like the freemium plan from Mailchimp — it’s more of a limited scope trial, than a true plan. You’ll be able to load as large a list as you want, but you’ll be capped at sending 200 emails a day. To really use Mailjet, you need at least the Basic plan. Crest 60,000 emails sent a month and the prices for either plan increases.

Emails / month Free Basic Premium
6,000 $0 $10 $21
30,000
60,000 $19 $42
150,000 $69 $97
450,000 $167 $230
900,000 $334 $399

Reporting: Real-time dashboard with opens and clicks, sorted by contact or by email provider

A/B testing: Mailjet says, “You can test everything!” and it’s true in a way. You can pit up to 10 different emails head-to-head, testing things like the light blue header with the orange CTA button versus the the light blue header with the green CTA button — and both of those options with different CTA texts.

Segmentation: Limited (and for Premium plans only). Segment by gender, age, location, past opens and clicks, or past purchases.

Integrations: 85 including Shopify, Zapier, Salesforce, Zendesk, Typeform, Slack, Google, and WordPress

Clear and useful documentation:
There are a few questions briefly and directly answered, but nothing that’s as “just-in-time” as Mailchimp’s help pop-ups. With Mailjet, you’ll need to think of what to ask, for example: What is a good open rate? Once you know what you want to know you can click over into the help section, which recently got a facelift. There you’ll find plain answers with simple screenshots.

Support portal:
— Email support 24/7
— Slack support (Premium and Enterprise plans only)
— Phone support (Premium and Enterprise plans only)

ConvertKit Review

  • Best workflow
  • 14 day free trial
  • Starts at $29 per month

ConvertKit’s product is hands-down the best in its class, intuitive in a way that I didn’t even know to ask for — like the game-changing way of the iPhone touchscreen. I won’t be surprised if more platforms start to copy ConvertKit.

How’s it so great? Updating the emails in a flow is phenomenally simple. You’re always working in the visual automator flow chart. Click into any email and the flow chart slides to the side. Edit the email, then click on any other email to edit that one. You can seamlessly move from one email to the next and save them all at once.

Imagine, for example, that you have an automated flow to sign up for a webinar and you’ve changed the price or the date of the webinar. You’d like to change it throughout the entire email sequence. This method makes it simple to move from email to email within the sequence without using a bunch of tabs, or trying to remember where you left off. (If this isn’t making sense, give the free trial a spin and see what I mean.)

ConvertKit’s demo page has a good video walk-through of its best-in-class workflow.

If that wasn’t enough to win my affection, ConvertKit’s tagging system is impressively robust and operates as its segmentation functionality. Instead of grouping your subscribers into multiple lists (where you’ll get double charged by most services), with ConvertKit, you have one list and many tags. You can manually tag subscribers with just about anything, and auto tag them based on source, link clinks, and purchases through integrations. Use those tags to target your emails to particular customers, or use conditional content tags to show or hide different pieces of information to subscribers within each email.

Here’s an example: You’re a skydiving instructor. You use your list to sell skydives with customers and potential customers, and run a Conquer Your Fears email course to get new leads. You also use your list to upsell existing customers multi-packs of skydives, and you offer a six-week 40-skydive instructor training course.

As discussed in The Definitive Guide to Marketing Automation, your job is to long-term guide each of your customers through the different points of your conversion funnel. The people who’ve signed up for the Conquer Your Fears challenge are not the same as the ones interested in the training course. You need to use tagging and segmentation. With ConvertKit, you’ll be able to tag each of your subscribers with the number of skydives they’ve done — based either on purchasing from your web-store, or by clicking a link in an intro email.

ConvertKit is not the best email marketing service for everyone.

I appreciate ConvertKit’s honesty in its blog post 5 Reasons you should not switch from Mailchimp to ConvertKit. Even though ConvertKit is one of my favorite email service providers, I totally agree! If you want beautiful, drag-and-drop email templates, you should stick with Mailchimp. ConvertKit doesn’t have them.

A collection of Mailchimp template designs

Mailchimp has tons of beautiful image-rich templates and an inspiration gallery that’s truly inspiring.
The three simple text templates from ConvertKit
ConvertKit only has three “templates” and they’re about as simple as an email you’d send to a friend.
ConvertKit highly encourages text emails that create the feeling that you just opened Gmail and sent a note. So, it only comes pre-loaded with three email templates: text-only, classic, and modern. The difference? Text-only has no pictures; classic and modern have pictures. Classic uses a serif font; modern uses a non-serif font. That’s it folks. There are no fancy email templates, no GIFs, no header images.

The best way to market online is to teach, to regularly deliver valuable content to your audience so that they will trust you and eventually want to purchase from you. So when you send an email, what part of the communication delivers the most value?

That’s right, the content. So we should be stripping away everything else that isn’t necessary in order to focus on the content. Multi-column layouts, background images, logos, and all the other nonsense that typically fills marketing emails doesn’t deliver value to the recipient. Instead it is all about you, the sender. Flip that around and start delivering value.
ConvertKit Founder and CEO Nathan Barry

And, ConvertKit isn’t free. Even on its lowest plan, you’ll be paying $29 a month (or $24 if you pay annually up front) — which is still $29 or $24 more than you’d pay to get started with Mailchimp. There is a 14-day ConvertKit free trial, but you’ll be paying up front, no matter how successful (or unsuccessful) you are at building a list of subscribers.

If you don’t have a list yet, you might want to start with Mailchimp. And if you have one list, and plan to send to them all the same thing, Mailchimp will serve you well.

Other ConvertKit Features to Note

Pricing: Starts at $29 per month. Pricing is based on number of subscribers. All plans include visual workflow and unlimited emails.

$29 / month $49 / month $79 / month $99 / month $119 / month $149 / month
0–1,000 1,001–3,000 3,001–5,000 5,001–8,000 8,001–10,000 10,001–15,000

Automation triggers: Welcome, date-based, abandoned cart, order notifications, product retargeting, product recommendations, product follow-up, customer re-engagement, best customers, first purchase, promo codes

A/B testing: Available for headlines

Reporting: Automation, comparative, landing page, Facebook ads, Google ads Landing pages: Unlimited free landing pages

Integrations: 80 ecommerce integrations including Crowdcast, Demio, Teachable, Shopify, Woocommerce, and Zapier

Clear and useful documentation:
— Helpful materials for beginners
— Helpful materials for advanced users
— Live or recorded trainings
— Active user community

Support portal:
— Chat support (available 24-hours a day, 5 days a week)
— Email support (average 3-hour turnaround time, 7 days a week)
— No phone support

GetResponse Review

  • Runner-up for best workflow
  • Starts at $15/month
  • 30 day free trial

The best things about GetResponse are its visual flow builder (a less powerful version of ConvertKit’s flowchart style — but it doesn’t integrate with its email editor) and its landing page integrations. If you’re going to be doing any webinar marketing, these landing pages are already set up for you to crush it. And GetResponse probably won’t blow through your budget as fast, either.

GetResponse marketing automation visual workflow builder

I’ve seen the workflow builder in action, and it is one of the more impressive click-and-drag interfaces on offer, yet it is extremely easy to use.” — Stewart Rogers in VentureBeat

GetResponse has the most complex pricing structure of my top picks. With Mailchimp and ConvertKit, your price increases as your subscribers increase, but you aren’t necessarily unlocking a bunch of features or tools — you already had access to most of them. With GetResponse you pay based on the number of subscribers you have and the level of service you want: Email, Pro, Max, or Enterprise.

Subscribers Email Pro Max Enterprise
1,000 $15 $49 $165 $1,199+
2,500 $25
5,000 $45
10,000 $65 $75
25,000 $145 $165 $255
50,000 $250 $280 $370
100,000 $450 $490 $580
100,000+
1 user 3 users 5 users 10 users

Monthly prices listed. Sign up for an annual plan to save 18%. If you go opt for two years, you’ll save 30%. No refunds if you cancel early.

Other GetResponse Features to Note

Landing pages: GetResponse offers “basic” and “advanced” landing pages, but I think the names should actually be “very limited” and “unlimited.” If you stick with the Email plan, you’ll get “basic” which hosts one landing page with up to 1,000 visitors a month. The advanced option allows you to build an unlimited number of landing pages with an unlimited number of visitors, and do A/B testing on them. If you know you’re going to be using landing pages, sign up for the Pro plan. If you’re not sure, start with the Email plan.

A/B testing: You can test up to five messages varying the following fields: subject line, send time, from field, content.

Clear and useful documentation:
— Helpful materials for beginners
— Helpful materials for advanced users
— Live or recorded trainings
— Active user community

Support portal:
— Chat support (available 24/7)
— Email support (available in seven languages)
— No phone support

Recap: The Best Basic Email Marketing Platforms



Source link

 

Add Comment