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9 Best Email Marketing Services (with 4 Free Options for 2019)

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When you’re starting your blog, you need to use the best email marketing services from day 1 so you can turn every reader into a potential customer.

There are a lot of different email marketing tactics based on your type of business. For example, if you’re a blogger, a text-based automated welcome email series from ConvertKit works best. However, if you’re an ecommerce store owner and have a promotional calendar, an image-heavy email showcasing your products is easiest to create with Aweber.

In this guide, I researched and ranked the best tools so you can choose the best email marketing platform. To choose the right email marketing campaigns for your business, you need to take a deep look into their features and understand the differences between each. I want to make this decision easier by providing a list the best tools (and my top picks).

Keep in mind, if you still need to set up your website, the first step is choosing the best web host.

Please note, I may receive affiliate compensation for the links below. However, they are merely the best email marketing options and I’ve tested them all.

Table of Contents

What Are Email Marketing Services?

Email marketing (or e-mail marketing) are online platforms that enables you to send out bulk email messages to your list of subscribers. This allows you to better communicate with your audience at scale, acquire new customers, enhance your relationship with your current customers, and encourage customer loyalty and repeat business.

With email marketing campaigns, you can quickly and easily reach your audience exactly where they are without having to pay for expensive advertising space on Google or Facebook.

The best tools for marketers should have a number of basic features that you should come to expect. These include:

  1. Email marketing automation. The ability to send email sequences when a user joins your mailing list or performs an action on your website. These could include making a purchase or abandoning their shopping cart.

  2. Custom email templates. Drag and drop email marketing campaigns take the coding requirements out of email marketing so you can just focus on adding content and images to your emails.

  3. Dynamic content. You can use merge tags in your emails to customize them for each member of your email list, by dynamically changing.

  4. List segmentation. The longer you engage with your email list, the more information you should have on each member of your list, including open rates, interests, purchase history and more.

  5. Analytics dashboard. Email is a powerful form of marketing because real-time data can be tracked in a dashboard, including open rates, click through rates, purchases, and more.

  6. Advanced features. Other cool features like polls, contests, coupons, and events should able to be easily added to your email campaigns.

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What Are the Best Email Marketing Services?

To choose from the best tools, you need to research price, reliability, technical support, template designs, ease of use, deliverability, automation, and the advanced features that you need.

Here are my picks for the best email marketing services.

1. ConvertKit

convertkit email marketing

Best for Bloggers ($29/month)

ConvertKit is built by creators, for creators. They understand their client’s needs and know what it takes to grow an online following. ConvertKit will help you grow your audience with attractive forms, increase conversions with automated emails that feel personal, and organize your subscribers to maximize engagement.

Their emails look like they’re coming right from Gmail which helps them feel personal and close more deals.

ConvertKit is the best email marketing tool and I’ve used them all. It’s great for a few main reasons:

  • You can segment your email lists based on different actions to personalize your funnels.
  • Your text emails look professional and don’t have annoying branding like with Mailchimp and others.
  • The best emails for your blog will be strictly text. Don’t worry about fancy design features, adding your logo, or a bunch of imagery.

Think about it. If a sales professional was trying to close a $3,000 deal, the strategy for email sending would only be text-based. It would be an email founded on the basis of a strong relationship, not a image-heavy marketing email with annoying branding.

Although they don’t have a free plan, with pricing starts at $29/month and a 14-day free trial, it can’t be beat.

2. Constant Contact

Best Niche Features ($20/month)

Constant Contact has been in the email marketing space for over 20 years and it shows. They feature 100+ modern, mobile-optimized email templates to engage and convert customers, real-time reporting and analytics, and bonus features like coupons, polls, and events.

They are an affordable service featuring a super-long 60-day trial and paid plans start at $20/month for up to 500 contacts. They also have some unique features like event management, invitations, and registrations.

One drawback is that their automation tools aren’t the best – you can create a sequence, but you can’t easily combine conditions or use advanced settings.

Constant Contact has about 100 email templates to choose from, and their email editor is light and fast, making it easy to quickly get an email designed and scheduled.

Overall, this one of the best tools for businesses that want strong deliverability numbers need niche features like event management.

3. AWeber

aweber email marketing service

Best for Businesses and Marketing Teams ($19/month)

AWeber is my #2 choice for email marketing software. They offer over 700 drag and drop email templates, follow-up emails, analytics and tracking, and offer a 30-day free trial.

Their paid plans start at $19/month which gives you access to up to 500 subscribers, 24/7 support, industry-leading deliverability and their email automation tools.

With Aweber, you can also import an email list and create a database from common file types like XLS, XLSX, TXT, CSV, and TSV.

Their biggest selling point is their 700 email templates – this compares to 500 with GetResponse and just 80 with Mailchimp. These are very nice looking templates and remind me of the look of high quality Instagram ads. One downside is that you have to use their Standard Fonts instead of web fonts.

With their marketing automation tools, you can create an autoresponder workflow, which can be based on actions like email opens, link clicks, site visits, and purchases.

Overall, with the sheer amount of email templates and marketing tools, this is a great service for business owners and marketing teams.

4. GetResponse

getresponse email marketing service

Best Feature Set ($15/month)

GetResponse is an all-in-one online marketing platform to grow your business. They offer email marketing campaigns, high-converting landing pages, marketing campaigns, and a complete webinar solution.

Their paid plans starts at $15/month, which provides up to 1,000 subscribers and is perfect for beginners. They also have a landing page builder with an A/B testing tool to optimize your page designs.

Some of their 500 email templates look a bit outdated, and they had lower deliverability scores than some other competitors.

However, one of GetResponse’s biggest strength is their smart automation tools – you can add conditions and segment your email lists automatically similar to Campaign Monitor.

Overall, GetResponse is one of the best email marketing tools that works well for users that need follow-up tools and easy ways to segment their subscribers into multiple lists.

5. ActiveCampaign

activecampaign email marketing service

Best Marketing Software for Teams ($17/month)

ActiveCampaign is one of the best tools for marketers that features advanced automation, marketing campaigns, a sales CRM, and highly targeted messaging. They also feature personalized marketing tools with newsletters targeted to each contact’s interests.

Their email workflows are very powerful and easy to run and manage. This hooks up with marketing software and a CRM to keep your customer data organized.

They also have pretty advanced reporting – with geo-tracking, click maps, website visitors, sign-up forms, and more helpful data. They also have strong deliverability numbers.

Their paid plans start at $17/month and they offer a 14-day free trial. This plan gives you up to 3 users, up to 500 subscribers and unlimited sends.

Overall, ActiveCampaign is a great tool to send emails if you’re looking for advanced features.

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What Are the Best Free Email Marketing Services?

In addition to the list above, there are many free email marketing services for those just started out with small email lists.

Many top email providers like Mailchimp, Constant Contact, and Sendinblue offer free email marketing for a certain number of email subscribers. These free plans usually have less features than paid plans and may lack things like drip campaigns, segmentation, and may only allow you to send a certain number of emails per month.

However, for those just starting out, free email services are a great option. Here are my picks for the best free email marketing services:

1. Mailchimp

Image result for new mailchimp logo png

Mailchimp is one of the biggest names in email marketing with over 1 billion emails sent every day on their platform and over 14 million customers as of 2017. Their free plan gives users a user-friendly interface and up to 2,000 subscribers and 12,000 email sends per month – more than enough if you’re a small business.

Their free plan includes autoresponders, transactional emails, analytics, lots of third party integrations, and ready-to-use email templates for many different industries. There’s a free Mailchimp app too for iPhone and Android. They charge based on the size of your email list, so if you go over the threshold of 2,000, you are put in their 2,000-2,500 plan at $30/month.

Overall, Mailchimp may be the most well known free email marketing service on the market with over 17 million users as of a few years ago. If your needs are basic and you want one of the easies marketing solutions, give Mailchimp a try.

2. SendinBlue

SendinBlue Logo

SendinBlue is an easy to use email marketing service with a free plan that allows unlimited contacts and 300 email newsletter sends per day. Their first paid plan starts at $25/month and allows up to 40,000 sends per month and no daily sending limit.

Their free platform is all built on ease of use. It’s simplicity allows you to easily create clean-looking email templates, automated welcome emails, and website opt-in forms. SendinBlue also uses machine learning and AI to send emails at the best time of the day to maximize engagement.

You can also view real time statistics with basic reports that provide metrics like open rates, click-through rates, deliverability, and heat maps.

If you are just starting out and can afford to send less than 300 emails per day, try SendinBlue.

3. Mailjet

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Mailjet is an email marketing service started in 2010 and based in Paris. With a catchy name like Mailjet, you’d expect lightning fast email services and they have a free plan available.

With their free plan, you get 6,000 email sends per month or 200 email sends per day for unlimited contacts. This is a top email platform choice if you have a large list, but don’t send many emails per day.

If you want to upgrade to their paid plan, remove the daily send limits, and get access to 24/7 support, it costs $9.65/month. One drawback is that a few of their features, namely marketing software and A/B testing tools, are behind a premium paywall which starts at $15.50/month.

With their simple and intuitive user-friendly interface and no cap on list size even for their free plans, they are one of the best tools for marketers out there.

4. SendPulse

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SendPulse is a relatively new free email provider founded in 2015 with some excellent reviews. Their free mail plan is pretty generous and allows an email list of up to 2,500 subscribers and up to 15,000 emails per month.

If you would like to upgrade to a paid plan and remove the limits, plans start at $9.85/month ($7.88/month if billed annually). They also have a pay-as-you-go plan with 10,000 emails for $32 ($0.0032 per email).

Although the free plan offers high limits on email sends, some users have experienced slower performance and limited template options. Free advanced features like SMS workflows and push notifications make up for any performance issues.

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Why is an Email Marketing Strategy Important?

Email marketing is important because it is one of the best ways to build a loyal following, generate revenue with a good return on investment, and automate your marketing by hitting a user where they always are – their inbox. When a user opts-in to your email list, they have already shown interest in your business, meaning they are a great prospect to send marketing messages too.

By choosing the best service, you can cost effectively send messages at scale, send messages to warm leads without cold email, and aren’t required to pay a fee outside of your monthly subscription to the service.

Here are some more benefits of using an email marketing service:

  1. Email marketing is cost-effective and has a proven ROI (every dollar spent can create a $44 return on investment)

  2. Ease of use and pre-designed email templates make creating stunning and mobile-friendly emails a breeze

  3. Email is one form of multi-channel marketing that builds customer loyalty and brand awareness

  4. You reach your customers exactly where they are – their inbox

  5. Email allows marketers to reach their audience with relevant, personalized, dynamic messages

  6. Automated emails like abandoned cart emails, welcome emails, and post-purchase emails allow you to generate incremental revenue with little work or time required

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What Are Some Email Marketing Best Practices?

Email marketing isn’t as simple as writing a message and sending it to a list of contacts. There are a lot of email marketing best practices to follow if you want to be successful and engage with your email subscribers.

Here are some of the top email marketing best practices to be successful this year:

1. Do Not Use Purchased Email Lists

Email marketing is so effective because people want to engage with your business and receive your message. Buying email lists takes away this trust by spamming their inbox with something they didn’t sign up for.

The health of your email campaigns depends on a healthy open rate. If you are interacting with a list that you bought, and not one that you grew with your own inbound interest, you’re bound to have super-low open rates, SPAM complaints, and can even be blacklisted.

With the recent General Data Protection Guarantee (GDPR) rollout, it bears repeating – never purchase email lists. You should also clean your email list regularly to ensure your contacts are up to date.

2. Personalize Content with Merge Tags

An email titled, “Dear {first name}” is much more personal than “Dear Member”. Any piece of data that you collect from your email subscribers should be used to personalize the content they receive.

If the item can be placed in a column in a CSV file next to their email address, it can be used with a merge tag. A merge tag is a piece of ESP-specific code that allows you to place unique pieces of user data from your email list into your emails.

First and last name are the most popular merge tags at an email marketers disposal, but you can also use merge tags like company name, date of last visit, number of email open, products purchased, or information from a survey.

Using merge tags in your initial greeting is a great place to start making your email more personal.

3. Write Compelling Subject Lines

To increase open rates, email subject lines should be concise, compelling, and create a sense of urgency while providing enough information so the user knows what they’re opening. Sound confusing? Don’t worry – it isn’t.

Subject lines should be between 30 and 50 characters (many email providers cut off subject lines longer than that). They should cut through the noise and entice users to act. The use of numbers and symbols, well thought-out emojis, and exciting offers and discounts will increase your open rates.

4. Use a Welcome Email Series for New Subscribers

Email automation is a powerful tool most often used in a series of emails that welcome new subscribers into the list. These free autoresponder emails send automatically when new users opt-in to your list.

You can time these emails so that your subscribers get them on day one, day three, day five, or even day ten. Only you know the correct cadence for these emails based on your business goals.

For example, an ecommerce website may offer a 10% discount in the first welcome email. For emails 2 and 3, they can further showcase their brand story, product catalog, and social media accounts. A welcome email series is great because it runs on autopilot, engages your list, and nurtures prospects into customers.

5. Format Your Emails Properly

Emails should be between 500 and 600 pixels wide – any wider than that and users may have to scroll horizontally on their mobile devices.

Never make your from email address a “noreply” email, like [email protected] Make it a name your subscribers will instantly recognize.

Place your main marketing message and call to action (CTA) above-the-fold so that most of your users will see it right away.

In your email content and imagery, stick to three fonts or less and make sure the design matches the look and feel of your brand. Finally, put your logo at the top of the email so that subscribers recognize your brand at first glance.

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Best Email Marketing Services of 2019 – Summary

That’s a wrap. I hope this list of top email service providers helps you choose the right platform so that you can write compelling emails, build your lists, and engage with your subscribers.

Remember, when choosing an email marketing service, focus on price, deliverability, marketing campaigns, template designs, ease of use, and the unique features that you need for your business.

Ultimately, based on their advanced email sequencing and visual drip campaigns, I recommend ConvertKit for new bloggers.

If you’re an ecommerce merchant or a business owner and your marketing efforts require more templates and list segmentation, I recommend Aweber.

With so many tools to choose from when launching your website, why not speak to your target audience in their inbox.