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Whether you have an online business offering products or services, a blog you use to make money or any other kind of online presence, you will quickly run into the importance of email marketing. Yes, social media is important, SEO is key, and Pinterest is a huge source of traffic. But if you want to build those relationships and move people from a casual reader to a customer, email marketing is often the way to do it. And that means using email marketing software.
As with much of the online world, there are plenty of options to choose from. There are free or almost free versions, ones that cost more, specialists and generalists. So I decided to look at 10 of the best including my own favourites and those recommended by others.
What does email marketing software do?
Email marketing has some impressive stats to back up its importance. One study from the Direct Marketing Association found that email marketing has a 4300% return on investment (ROI) for US businesses. And the main reason for that is that you can build a relationship with your subscribers, engage in conversation and make the whole process feel more personal.
But to do that, you need email marketing software. From the collection of email addresses to sending the right emails to the right people, good email marketing software is very important for your success. A few of the key features to look for in the best email software include:
- Easy to create engaging newsletters
- Easy personalisation of emails when sending to lots of people
- Segment users into groups
- Send sequences such as a welcome sequence
- Track performance of emails
So let’s take a look at some of the top software and see what it offers to tick the boxes.
Best email marketing software
This list is by no means comprehensive and there are companies out there that I haven’t covered. I have chosen companies either I have used or have read enough about to confidential talk about their features. These are also largely specialists in email marketing rather than tools such as Podia that offer it as part of the various features they offer.
I start with ConvertKit because that is the service I use for my business and food blogs. I used it even before I really had an email list because I could look at it and see the features I would need once I start to use email marketing properly.
ConvertKit ticks all the boxes mentioned above in terms of the features that it offers. You can easily create forms that you add to your website or it integrates with other services such as Sumo or Elegant Theme’s Bloom if you want to create more varied types of forms. You can easily segment your incoming subscribers with a range of automations that are set-and-forget.
You can create sequences that will automatically be sent out to new subscribers and there’s lots of data available for every email as well as the sequences. They have also recently added an improved landing page creator which allows you to easily make landing pages and simply add a little code to a page – the page itself is then hosted on ConvertKit so helps with website speed.
The main downside with ConvertKit is that they don’t have a free plan – so even if you have zero subscribers, you still have to pay. Their basic plan is $29 a month and lasts until you have 1000 subscribers then increases to $49 for up to 3,000 and $79 a month for up to 5,000. All plans have email and live chat support as well as all of the features that the software offers.
If you want to give it a try, here’s my link to get started and there is a 14 day free trial to test out the features.
The other service that I use is MailerLite, which is ideal for my backburner blogs where I send less frequent emails and there are less complications with different opt-ins to manage. MailerLite is an easy to use email marketing software option that has an impressive drag and drop email builder – this lets you create very stylish and attractive emails.
You can create ‘workflows’ which allow you to automation your processes and sequences can be created in a similar way to ConvertKit. I find the tagging and automations aren’t as comprehensive as ConvertKit and that’s why I don’t use it for my bigger blogs.
In terms of cost, MailerLite has a ‘Free Forever’ plan where you can have up to 1,000 subscribers and send up to 12,000 emails a month without any cost. This makes it a great option when you first start with email marketing. You can also upgrade immediately for $10 a month to get extra features then the prices increase to $15 for up to 2,500, $30 for up to 5,000 and so on.
Mailchimp is one of the most popular email marketing software options, namely because it has a free plan that is ideal when you start out. It does have a range of features such as autoresponders, segmenting your list and some basic analytics. You can also set up email sending with geolocation to catch people at the right time, no matter where they are.
Mailchimp’s free plan does lack a lot of features offered by other platforms. So while it is ideal if you want to send a basic broadcast to your list, some of the more advanced and time saving features aren’t present. There is support by email and live chat.
The free plan lets you have up to 2,000 subscribers and 12,000 emails but there are many features not included and all emails carry their branding. Their paid plans start from $10 a month for 500 subscribers and increase per 500.
Constant Contact is one of the fastest growing email marketing software options and has all the key features as well as some powerful integrations including with Facebook Ads and Shopify stores. It allows you to automate a range of crucial tasks and also conduct A/B tests of your subject line as well as use surveys, polls and even set up coupons to send via email.
The service does have some very good templates you can use, and this can make sending visually pleasing emails a lot easier. In addition to live chat, phone and email support, there is a resource library and also online training to help use the software.
There is a no credit card 60 days trial to start with the software then plans start from $20 a month.
Drip is an email marketing platform that is for bloggers and eCommerce businesses that integrate with both WordPress and also WooCommerce. This makes it easy to collect emails from blog posts but also from product pages.
One of the standout features of Drip is their Campaign Monitor with intelligent marketing automation tools. It has a visual workflow builder and very comprehensive segmenting options to make it easier to send the right emails to the right people. And it has a range of support options including training on their automation.
There is a free account, but this is only for up to 100 subscribers. After that, their prices start from $49 a month.
AWeber is actually one of the original email marketing software options and is still a popular choice for online businesses and bloggers. It contains the most important features as well as email templates and good analytics for campaigns. It has its own WordPress plugin to integrate with your website.
It does have fewer features than some of the newer software options and the templates are more limited than the likes of Constant Contact. However it does offer both live and email support and online resources. Users describe it as being a little less user friendly to learn than other options.
There is a 30 day free trial then the costs start from $19 a month.
GetResponse has some very impressive marketing automations and is ideally suited for small businesses and bloggers. You can use their drag and drop builder to create campaigns, send segmented content and make the most of your list.
There are responsive forms and a landing page builder as well as plenty of analytics and autoresponders. It integrates with a range of other software including SalesForce, OptinMonster and even Google Docs. There is live chat, email and phone support as well as a resource library.
The cost starts from $15 a month and there is a 30 day free trial to test it out.
ActiveCampaign is a marketing platform so it offers more than just email marketing. You can use SMS messages and the platform has some of the best logic-based funnels available. There is a template editor to make emails and their forms are all responsive and email friendly.
This software is definitely one for marketers with a little experience behind them who want more complex tools and advanced CRM tools. The number of tools is impressive but can be a little overwhelming if you are a new email marketing user.
There’s a free trial for 14 days to test up to 100 contacts and 100 emails. Prices then start from $15 a month for 500 subscribers on the Lite Plan and there are various plans depending on what features you need.
SendinBlue offers both email and SMS marketing and is one of Europe’s quickest growing apps for this purpose. It is a very user friendly option and is ideal if you have never created newsletters or other emails before. There are a range of automation tools to create workflows and segment users.
It also offers SMTP bulk email marketing that lets you send emails straight from WordPress. This is ideal if you need to send automatic content based emails in addition or in place of normal email marketing sequences.
There is a free plan that lets you send 300 emails a day, but this does carry their branding. Paid plans start at $25 a month and then there is an extra charge if you want to start sending SMS in addition to email.
Campaign Monitor offers a comprehensive range of features including pre-built templates that make it easy to create attractive emails. It has segmentation features and plenty of analytics as well as the ability to run A/B testing on subject lines.
The software integrates with hundreds of other apps and that makes it easy to automate a range of tasks. There is online support and an extensive knowledge library as well as guides to using the software and email marketing in general.
There is a free account, but it is only for 5 subscribers. Prices start from $9 a month for the basic core features and up to 2,500 subscribers.
Choosing the right software
There’s no right or wrong answer when it comes to choosing the right email marketing software. I’m a big ConvertKit fan and happily recommend it while MailerLite has some great features and a solid free plan. Other options are more comprehensive if you are more experienced with email marketing and want to do more than just standard newsletters and promotional emails. And with a range of different pricing plans, you can always find something that works with your budget.
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