Email marketing services and automation tools can significantly impact the success of a marketing campaign. Building a database of customer email address and sending them high quality and relevant emails can drive sales. In this article, we will review some of the best email marketing services and automation tools.
Email marketing plays an important role in any business. It is often the most reliable traffic source and the best way to cultivate a relationship with your readers. Your customer’s email database is a long-term asset, that you need to consistently invest your time in and treat it carefully.
There are lots of Email marketing services and tools available in the market. It sometimes becomes difficult to select one from various email marketing services and automation tools which can deliver the features and benefits required to run a successful business online.
Certain features must be kept in mind while selecting the email marketing services.
Deliverability – The most important thing while selecting the email marketing service is its deliverability. It may offer best of price, features but if it is not able to deliver mails or most of the emails land in the spam folder it’s not of any use.
The Email marketing service must have good credibility and required technology to work with constant changing algorithms of various email providers like Google, Microsoft, Yahoo etc to prevent our emails from landing in the spam folder. We should look for at least 99% delivery rate and should offer double opt-in to also avoid spam subscribers.
Integration – The second most important feature of any email marketing service is its integrations with various other services and third-party platforms.
Email marketing is the backbone of all marketing efforts for any kind of business, it should support all major third-party services like e-commerce, payment portals, lead capture software, membership plugins, online course software, webinar services, survey and quiz forms, website platforms, hosting platforms, CRM software, social media etc.
Automation – In this day and age everything is getting smarter, hence our email marketing should also be a little smart with basic and advanced automation.
It should handle the journey of our subscriber and automate the actions by connecting events, actions and conditions. It should be able to totally customize the journey for each of our subscribers. Each completion of action or event should auto-populate the next step to lead them to your desired outcome.
RSS Feeds – An important feature for all bloggers. It should support RSS feeds to broadcast feature. So, each time you publish a new blog post it should automatically broadcast it to your audience on a daily or weekly basis. That’s one less thing on our to-do lists after a new blog post is published.
Documentation and Support – Each software will have its own way of functioning so the email marketing software should have a well-written help documentation for ready reference and good support desk to help us learn the software and get support if we get stuck at any place.
Size of List – Not all autoresponders can be comfortable with all list sizes, some are good with small and medium sizes and some can manage any list size. Your list size and the ability of the software to handle your list size should also be taken into consideration.
Plan – Most important, select the plan you currently require according to your number of subscribers and number of emails sent, if you are just starting then select the basic plan, every good email marketing service will give you an option to increase or upgrade the plan as and when you start growing your subscribers, Don’t pay more than your list size and choose the most suitable plan. Also, consider the number of emails you are allowed to send in each plan. An unlimited number of emails is the best option.
With all the above points in mind, here is a list of best email marketing services and automation tools also called autoresponders. Read through and select the best one based on which suits your requirements on the features and benefits offered.
ConvertKit is the backbone of all our marketing campaigns for our blog. ConvertKit has grown rapidly to become one of the best email marketing services. It was founded by Nathan Barry and David Wheeler in 2013.
ConvertKit specifically caters to professional bloggers. It includes all standard email autoresponder features like web forms, sending email broadcasts etc. It includes a range of unique tools to make it easy for bloggers to build their list and promote their content.
The background of UX design is really polished and looks pretty nice. It is really crisp, intuitive and really easy to use.
Power of ConvertKit is in its automation features. Automation features allow us to tag a subscriber, segment subscribers by who clicks specific links in the emails, automatically shift subscribes from one list to another. It also has A/B split testing. Split testing enables you to send different variants of a campaign to different segments of your list. This helps in comparing and improving the open and engagement rates of your campaigns.
A new terminology which many would not be aware of is that autoresponder series is called Sequences.
They also have a WordPress plugin, which is really helpful as WordPress is a popular CMS software for blogging, it saves lots of time and hassles of pasting codes in the blog posts. You can add email signup forms to your website with a single click. It also supports RSS to email broadcast feature.
Another great feature is resending broadcast to unopens, a certain percentage of subscribers will always not open the emails whenever we do a broadcast. So, on broadcast stats, there is an option called Resend to Unopens, when clicked it will automatically resend the broadcast to only those subscribers who have not opened the previous broadcast.
The best part about Convertkit is that it counts a subscriber even on multiple lists as a single distinct subscriber. So you don’t end up paying twice or thrice for the same subscriber as the case with many other email marketing services.
ConvertKit has direct integrations with 70+ great third-party tools and service providers covering all aspects of the business as eCommerce and payment portals like Digital Products Delivery, Shopify, Woo Commerce, Sam Cart. Commerce tools like Recart, Lead Capture plugins like Optin Monster, Bloom, Convert Flow, Convert Plus, Get Site Control, Lead Pages, Mail Optin, Sumo, Thrive Leads. Membership and Course services like Lifter LMS, Member Press, Teachable, Teachery, Course Craft. Webinar Services like Webinar Ninja, Demio, Easy Webinar. CRM Softwares like Zero BS CRM. Facebook ads plugin like Leads Bridge etc. and with Zapier you can connect hundreds of services to ConvertKit.
It is extremely well designed, with lots of attention paid even to the small details. Like, even the bar chart which displays the new subscribers is broken down into blocks to show blog posts or sources which are driving your list.
ConvertKit has an extensive knowledge base and has fantastic support via email and live chat support options.
There is no free trial, for up to 1000 subscribers price starts at $29 a month. It also offers a 30-day refund policy. It also offers a discount on annual payments.
Generally, it does not offer any free trial but currently on special offer its offering 14 days free trial.
AWeber is one of the most popular email marketing services. It was founded by Tom Kulzer in 1998.
It is a bit outdated but it has all the important features you will want. AWeber has great tools to report the features working out and not working. Email campaign creator walks you through how to create your signup forms and newsletters.
AWeber has some very good features like split testing, double opt-in, RSS to email, and a ton of third-party integrations. It also has WordPress plugin for easy placement of lead capture forms. They also offer over 600 templates to design the newsletter. Most of the templates look a bit dated but the sheer volume of templates means that a bit of tweaking you should be able to find a suitable newsletter.
It has also recently added an automation feature where you can use click through and tagging to determine the future course of events.
AWeber not only counts a single subscriber multiple times if it is on multiple lists, it also counts the unsubscribed subscribers in the monthly quota, resulting in higher subscriber count than actual.
Regarding Integrations, AWeber has integrations with all major services. Content management and monitoring plugins like Bloom, Divi, Beaver Builder. Social Media plugins like Lander. E-Commerce services like Sam Cart, Shopify, Woo Commerce, Send Owl, 3d Cart, 2 Check out. Landing pages like Insta Page, Lead Pages. Membership plugins like aMember Pro, Member Press, Live Agent. Lead Generation plugins like Thrive Leads, Sumo, Optin Monster, Heyo, Thesis, Demio, WP Ninja Forms, Leads Bridge, WP Forms, Optin Ninja, Upscribe, On Spot Social, Form Craft, Convert Flow, Better Coupon Box, Optin Gun, Convert Pro, Mail Optin. Webinar services like Webinar Ninja, Easy Webinar etc. and many others with the help of Zapier.
It has excellent support including live chat, email and phone and a great library of tutorials.
AWeber gives 30 days free trial. It has plans starting at $19 per month for up to 500 subscribers.
Get Response was founded by Simon Grabowski in 1997.
It is pretty easy to use their platform. It also offers 500+ mobile-optimized email templates for creating newsletters.
There are lots of features like A/B testing, tracking and reporting, metrics, one click segmentation, RSS to a newsletter etc.
Once you create a newsletter you also get a spam score, which can be very helpful as you may have accidentally used some terms or words which programs can flag as spam and suspicious.
Get Response offers some unique features like simple surveys and can even conduct webinars with the platform and CRM to help you manage leads and sales. These advanced features are available in higher plans.
Its another list based service like Aweber, hence it will also count a single subscriber multiple times if it joins your multiple lists. You end up paying extra for duplicate subscribers. Fortunately, it does not charge for unsubscribed ones.
It offers 6 different autoresponder types times based, clicked, opened, subscribed, goal reached and data changed. They can be very helpful in specific situations.
There are quite a few integrations with third-party services as E-Commerce plugins like Digital Product Delivery, Send Owl, Shopify, Woo Commerce. CRM services like Live Agent, Live Chat. Lead generation plugins like Mail Optin, Sumo etc and many other can be connected with Zapier.
It offers phone, email and live chat support. They have help centre with extensive learning material.
Get Response offers 30 days free trial with no credit card details required. Its plans start from $15 per month for up to 1000 subscribers. It also offers a special discount of 30% discount on 24 months plan and 18% discount on 12 months plan.
MailChimp was founded in 2001 by Ben Chestnut and Dan Kurzius. It is one of the most popular email marketing services.
It has a simple and user-friendly interface, an autoresponder, responsive list management system, spam filter diagnostics and variety of signup forms. Importing and exporting lists is also really easy.
The biggest disadvantage of MailChimp is the similar nature of their email template. Their newsletter template looks similar for all MailChimp newsletters. You can customize them, but still, it looks same for all the newsletters.
Reporting is good it informs you about geo-tracking, social media and you can also integrate Google Analytics.
It has A/B split testing, RSS to newsletter option but spam testing is not available. It uses a third party tool Inbox Preview which costs extra in basic plans, in which you can check the layout of your design on different devices.
MailChimp will give you barebones essentials for email marketing but really lacks the advanced features.
It also charges you for duplicate subscribers. If one of your subscribers is on multiple lists, you would be charged multiple times.
If you are a blogger, please read their terms and conditions before signing up. They are very strict on Affiliate Marketing and it is against their rules, and if you violate any of their rules, you can lose your entire list and your account can be suspended. Most bloggers have affiliate marketing as their main source of income, so it can be very tricky if you decide to use MailChimp.
There are lots of integrations with third-party plugins like Shopify, Woo Commerce, Instapage, Lead Pages, 3d Cart, Getsite Control, Optin Monster, WP Forms, Optin Ninja, Digital Product Delivery, Live Agent, On Spot Social, Lander Pages, Mail Optin, Ninja Forms, Lemon Stand, Ignition Deck etc.
As your list grows, MailChimp can become quite costly when compared to other email marketing services.
Support is by live chat (only for upgraded plans) and email and a huge knowledge base for how to videos and tutorials.
MailChimp is one of the few email marketing services to offer a 100% Free Account. It does not allow you to access a lot of popular features like the autoresponder, to use them you need to upgrade. The free account also has very low send limit and contact limit. MailChimp also offers a pay as you go and monthly subscription options if you want to upgrade. Pay as you go is quite expensive, but if you mail only occasionally then it is good.
It has plans starting from $10 per month for up to 500 subscribers.
It is a powerful email marketing service for bloggers and marketers. It a resource specifically build for e-commerce and advanced users.
Automation tools are its biggest advantage, which sets it apart from the competition. It also has tons of cool features like smart email segmentation, list groups etc.
It also supports analytics and reporting for custom conversion tracking for better tracking and evaluations of the marketing campaigns.
If you are a beginner or a non-coder then things can get a bit tough, using a few advanced options can sometimes get really tough as it requires a bit of coding knowledge. It does support A/B testing but only for automated emails but not on the broadcast emails which is a litter weird.
A nice feature was when you do a broadcast, there is a checkbox to “Resend this broadcast to subscribers who do not open it” wait x days. You can fill in the number of days in ‘x’ and it will resend the broadcast to unopens.
Drip integrates with most of the major tools like Optin Monster, 3d Cart, Shopify, Woo Commerce, Convert Flow, Demio, Digital Product Delivery, Get Site Control, Instapage, Lead Pages, Leads Bridge, Mail Optin, Member Press, My Theme Shop, Sam Cart, Send Owl, Sumo, Thrive Leads, Easy Webinar etc.
Support is by live chat, facebook community and detailed knowledge base.
Drip has a free trial account for up to 100 subscribers. Then their plans start from $49 per month for up to 2500 subscribers. If you pay annually you get two months free.
Benchmark was founded in 2004 by Curt Keller and Denise Keller.
It has a modern interface with drag and drop feature for quick and easy editing of email templates and has live editor feature where you can see your emails as you edit them. Photo Editing inside the email editor is a great feature.
It also offers many responsive template designs for all occasions. You can even build your own template with HTML.
Email campaigns support RSS to email, autoresponders. A great feature is under advanced options, you can select to give your readers a link to web page version of your email, set automatic Facebook and Twitter updates and add Google Analytics tracking to URLs.
It does have buggy social media integrations which are not up to the mark. Many templates offered to look like spam emails, which can lead subscribers to mark them as spam and not read the content of the email. It also does not offer a mobile preview and email editor can sometimes have a few glitches.
Automation is basic and mostly limited to an autoresponder. It really lacks in automation when compared to other email marketing services.
A major drawback can be its delivery success. Many times emails may land up in the spam folder.
List management is not flexible as you can either delete a subscriber from a list or from all lists, there are no options in between to manage users among multiple lists.
Support is by phone, email and a live chat. It also has detailed manuals.
Benchmark offers a Free Starter Plan for up to 2,000 subscribers 14,000 emails per month but without any advanced features. Its plans start at $13.99 per month for up to 600 subscribers.
Vertical Response was founded in 2001 by Janine Popick. It’s a subsidiary of Deluxe Corporation.
It offers a simple interface with excellent image editing tools, making it apt for image heavy marketing campaigns. It also has real-time reporting to build relationships and increase sales.
There is a test kit inbox preview feature where you can see how your email will display across 60 different devices and email clients. It also supports A/B testing to optimize email campaigns.
Contacts are one the weakest areas, it sets fields for contact information and no options to find to modify or add them. The platform has a few bugs, which can result in inconsistent software performance with technical glitches.
Delivery of emails can sometimes be an issue, especially to Gmail. Some of the emails would land up in the promotions folder or in the spam folder.
Support is offered by phone, email and live chat.
Vertical Response offers a Free Plan with 4,000 emails per month and up to 300 contacts. Its plans start from $11 per month for up to 500 subscribers.
Ontraport was founded in 2006 by Landon Ray, Pin Chen and Steven Schneider.
Their target audience is the small business and established digital entrepreneurs. It is a complete marketing tool and not just email marketing service. It gives you a CRM, shopping cart, membership site, affiliate management tool, autoresponder and task automation. Ontraport wants to handle every facet of your customer’s journey, right from the initial Engagement Stage to the Decision of Purchase and Retention stage.
The delivery rates are quite good as it uses its own dedicated IP address for sending emails, which has very high sender reputation.
Its dashboard is not quite inspiring which is made up of a table of boxes. The design is functional but doesn’t look like a premium product, the UI looks stale. Its software has a steep learning curve which can take quite a bit of time to get used to it.
Duplicates can be an issue with Ontraport, they don’t have any easy way to remove duplicates.
Integrations include most common third-party services like Gateways and Shopping Carts like Shopify, Woo Commerce, Sam Cart. Membership platforms like Teachable. Landing Pages like Lead Pages. Webinar apps like Easy Webinar. Lead generation plugins like Optin Monster, Bloom, Leads Bridge etc.
Support is offered by phone, live chat and support tickets. It also has extensive documentation.
If you are interested in InfusionSoft, Ontraport can be a good and cost-effective option.
Ontraport plans start from $79 per month for up to 1,000 subscribers.
MailerLite was founded in 2010 by Ignas and Eimantas.
Its design is modern, clean and simple. It still manages to offer a wide range of choices for newsletters and form options.
It also supports A/B split testing, RSS to email. Template designs are limited but they look good.
Reporting is quite basic with no dedicated section for it. It lacks advanced options like geo-tracking, e-commerce tracking, spam testing, design testing etc.
MailerLite is available in 10 different languages and offers support in 7 languages.
It has a few integrations but most important ones are covered like Optin Monster, Shopify, My Theme Shop, Ninja Popups, Thrive Leads, Get Site Control, Convert Plus, Sumo, Send Owl, Bloom, Optin Gun, Mail Optin, etc.
Support is offered by email and live chat.
It’s a great alternative to MailChimp.
MailerLite has forever free plan for up to 1,000 subscribers with unlimited emails, above that their plans start from $10 per month.
Its quite clear that no one size fits all in email marketing services.
ConvertKit is our #1 recommendation, there may be instances where you might want to use something else. The perfect email marketing service will depend on your business specific requirements.
I hope this article has been useful and given you some ideas about which tools you might want to explore in more details.
If you still have any questions about email marketing software feel free to ask them in the comments below, and we will do our best to answer them for you.
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