The best email marketing software streamlines extending your permission marketing to the targeted audience. Email marketing remains a crucially important part of permission marketing, which deals with the proper targeting of users who have previously opted-in for receipt of such emails.
Long gone are the days of harvesting emails from websites, and in fact anyone attempting that bygone practice faces not just legal consequences, but also consumer backlash and brand damage.
There’s plenty of good reasons why when running an online marketing campaign that it's properly handled, and to realistically increase the chances for consumer engagement and ultimately improved sales conversions.
However, having the right email marketing software can be the difference between a single-digit and double-digit response, so it's important to get that right. It doesn't matter either which type of email client or email provider you use, as you will generally generate and send emails through the email marketing software itself.
Furthermore, email marketing is just a single part of the overall marketing process. You also need to ensure the other pieces are in place also: good landing pages, lead generation tools, and any relevant sales tools. This applies either if you're selling your own products/services, or running an affiliate marketing campaign.
We've compared these email marketing software on various aspects, from their features and interface to their customer support and documentation quality. We also looked at their analytics offerings, personalization, and pricing plans, among other aspects.
Here then are the best email marketing service providers in the current market. While some services may be more costly than others, note that extra features such as A/B split-testing can help increase responses enough to make the campaign easily pay for itself.
Constant Contact offers a powerful suite of tools for email marketing purposes. Putting together an email is painless using drag and drop tools for the creation of visually-rich emails. Contact lists of senders can be imported from a range of sources, including Outlook, Salesforce, or by uploading a spreadsheet.
Additional features are also available, such as email automation and scheduling, with surveys, polls, and dynamic signup forms available for providing feedback. Events can be managed, along with social media right from your account.
Aside from customizable templates and image hosting, analytics underline Constant Contact's service. This makes it easier to measure the effective ROI from campaigns, with the goal of improving conversion rates via different approaches.
There are two main plans available, Core and Plus, with the lower tier offering most basic features mentioned here for a nominal monthly price. A Plus account adds features such as split testing, dynamic content, and the ability to offer mobile-responsive coupons.
Read our full Constant Contact review.
Zoho Campaigns is the email marketing platform from Zoho, a company providing a wide range of software, including their office suite, CRM, and IT helpdesk.
Zoho Campaigns is a part of the sales and marketing suite of services, with specialization (as you can guess from the name) on email campaigns. As would be expected, this is a mature permission marketing tool that targets better communications and conversions.
A key component is a wide range of predone newsletter templates which covers the gamut from seasonal events to Black Friday sales. They are all quite visually appealing for both clients and customers alike.
Another main feature is email workflows for personal automation. This means that using a simple drag-and-drop interface to set up automated actions and events makes handling large campaigns a lot easier.
On top of all this, sits a range of great integration options. While Zoho Campaigns integrates seamlessly into existing Zoho products, not least of which is Zoho CRM. There are also numerous third-party integrations available, including G Suite, SurveyMonkey, Facebook, YouTube, and Wordpress, for example.
Pricing is relatively inexpensive overall, and there's even a Forever Free plan that allows you to send up to 6,000 emails a month to up to 2,000 subscribers.
Read our full Zoho Campaigns review.
Even if you haven’t used email marketing software before, you’ve more than likely heard of MailChimp (perhaps from listening to a sponsored podcast). Launched back in 2001, it has emerged as a leader in this arena, by allowing users to create and send professional marketing emails to their database of customers.
Analogous to other products, it features a built-in designer offering a selection of templates to edited for your style and needs. Elements can be added, such as clickable text, graphics and logos, and there’s also the option of designing your own email from scratch for those that have the requisite coding skills.
MailChimp excels on the integration front, too, particularly for online retailers. You can link the system up to other services, for example Shopify, WooCommerce and Magento for sending targeted product campaigns. After unleashing your campaign, its performance can be analyzed through the report feature.
The software offers a free tier, which is good for 10,000 emails a month to up to 1,500 contacts, but it includes the MailChimp logo in the footer. Other options include the premium business packages starting with the Essential package, which allows a half-million emails to be sent to up to 50,000 contacts. Additional plans furthermore have higher limits along with more features.
Read our full MailChimp review.
Vertical Response has the goal of providing all of the tools you need to ensure your email marketing campaigns succeed. Towards that end, it provides a number of features that include a custom template designer, automation, analytics, and survey options.
The designer has an easy-to-use template editor with drag-and-drop and point-and-click functionality. This translates to that it's easy for the most inexperienced person to set up a beautiful looking email template with minimal effort right from the start.
On top of these essentials are automation features that allow use of autoresponders and automated emails to respond instantaneously (by email) to customers on each step of their journey, or according to different interactions. This results in the ability to save time and money by making more communications available with minimal effort.
Not so surprisingly, there are also analytics, providing the expected default set of data including click rates, geolocation, device and browser type. However, going beyond this is the functionality to compare campaign performance, which allows you to get a better idea of the features that work best with your customers.
Additionally, along with the analytics are customer landing pages and heatmaps, which allows you to glean useful data on how customers view and interact with your emails.
Overall, the service is remarkably inexpensive when we factor in the range of features and options available. Another value add are the survey options available, which allows you to
Read our full Vertical Response review.
GetResponse is a marketing platform that includes a chat platform as standard. This means that GetResponse could be an ideal solution for marketers and business users in general, covering everything from customer relations management to landing pages and webinars.
Underlying all this, though, is the marketing platform that provides landing pages, and email marketing, along with a respectable amount of automation, to help ensure that your communications and marketing are working well. So after a chat with customers or colleagues via a link in an email or even a chat button on a landing page, you can follow up automatically with emails for responses and even upsell as required.
As if that wasn't enough, there are also plenty of great integrations available with other popular third-party platforms, including SalesForce, Slack, Wordpress, and Facebook, along with a number of ecommerce platforms and payment gateways options such as Magento, Shopify, Etsy, Stripe, and Paypal.
While the Free tier has only 500 contacts, the cheapest paid tier for GetResponse allows for up to 1,000 subscribers. For more subscribers, the price then rises according to the number of people you need to reach. At any level of tier, even Free, there is an unlimited monthly number of email sends supported.
To get the chat functionality, along with support via email and chat, a paid tier of subscription is a requirement.
While costs may appear somewhat steep in comparison to other providers, be aware that this presumes a single main user and is charged only to that, rather than all users being charged on a monthly basis as some other providers do, making it potentially more price competitive. Furthermore, the inclusion of other marketing tools makes this a potentially powerful platform for users that can leverage these functions.
Read our full GetResponse review.
Also consider these email marketing software providers
ConvertKit is another intriguing platform that's more of an integrated solution when it comes to promoting ideas and content. It has as much emphasis on providing custom landing pages as an integral part of your website, as it does for the marketing side of email newsletters and lists. Better still is that there is a perfectly functional free tier available to use that supports up to 300 subscribers.
Sendinblue provides a really extensive digital marketing platform which not only offers email marketing and landing pages, but also SMS and chat- all built into a wider CRM that allows for segmentation and direct advertising integrations for social media. If you think it sounds too good to be true, there's a free tier with up to 300 emails daily available to take for a test spin.
ActiveCampaign is yet another option aiming to provide an integrated marketing and communications platform with a CRM. Automation is front and center with this software, as it does site tracking, integrated forms, and advanced reporting .
iContact goes for more of a dedicated email marketing platform than some of the others above. It focuses on features for email design, along with a whole range of A/B testing options for subject line, content, and incentives, allowing you to optimize your campaign as it proceeds. Pricing is more expensive than some of the other alternatives in the segment, but the split testing option is a killer app that can prove invaluable at times.
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What is email marketing software?
Email marketing software helps you design, send, and track emails, along with managing your subscribers. These applications will allow you to setup automated email workflows and track crucial metrics, including the email opening and click-through rates.
How to choose the best email marketing software for you?
When choosing the best email marketing software for yourself, begin with assessing your business needs. If you only plan to send basic emails to small groups of subscribers, then a free plan should be fine. But it's best to opt for a more powerful paid plan if you need advanced features, like more complex email sequences and automation.
You'll want to check the software's user interface and whether it's simple for you to use. If you lack experience with email marketing software, you'll want to opt for applications that come with solid support and helpful tutorials and documentation. Not all software programs offer phone or 24/7 support, so you'll want to check this before committing to one.
Lastly, look out for the software's third-party and social media integrations, personalization options, email limits, and pricing.
The best email marketing software: How we test
We've tested the best email marketing software across numerous points, starting with the features they offer and what type of user they'd be best suited for. We assessed the simplicity of their interface, the quality of the customer support and documentation, and the variety of third-party integrations.
We looked at the personalization options, the advanced analytics and reporting, and the number of subscribers and email sends the software would support.
We also looked at the pricing and whether the software had a free trial, among other things.
Read how we test, rate, and review products on TechRadar (opens in new tab).