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 - essentially the difference between a success, and a miss - so it's important to get it right. It really 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 does not live in isolation, and is just a single part of the overall marketing process. Therefore, 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 in the case of if you're selling your own products/services, or running an affiliate marketing campaign to sell other folk’s products. .
We've compared these email marketing software solutions on various aspects, from their features and interface to their customer support and documentation quality. We also dived into 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, some extra features, for example A/B split-testing, could increase responses enough to make the campaign easily pay for itself.
The best email marketing services of 2023 in full:
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1. Constant Contact
Reasons to buy
Reasons to avoid
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. Unfortunately, the lower tier’s base price only includes up to 500 contacts so be prepared to spend more, but we do like the social media integrations with the likes of Facebook and Twitter. A Plus account costs significantly more, but adds features such as split testing, dynamic content, and the ability to offer mobile-responsive coupons.
There is a 30-day guarantee, which is second best to a free trial as it does require creating an account and providing a credit card, and then canceling for a refund. We are also disappointed that adding SMS message marketing for up to 500 messages costs the same monthly as the basic plan, and is not included at least in the upper tiered plan.
Read our full Constant Contact review.
Reasons to buy
Reasons to avoid
Omnisend is a platform for e-commerce business owners to market to their customers. You can use it to send bulk messages via email or SMS to entice subscribers to buy your product. This platform with almost a decade of experience serves over 80,000 customers worldwide, such as Hallmark, and employs over 180 people at three offices.
Omnisend has a free plan, but with limited features; it supports reaching out to a maximum of 250 contacts via a maximum of a generous 500 emails and or more paltry 60 SMS messages a month. It also includes 24/7 support via email and chat, professional email templates, and sales and performance reports.
However, be aware that you’ll need to pay for a premium plan to get the best from this this platform.
Omnisend offers two premium plans; Standard and Pro. The lower tiered Standard plan starts at $16 / £16 / AUD$24 per month for up to 500 contacts and the higher tiered Pro plan starts at $59 / £59 / AUD$89 per month for up to 2,500 contacts. The price then increases depending on the number of contacts. For example, up to 5,000 contacts costs $65 per month on the Standard plan, and $90 per month on the Pro plan. You can also opt for sending only SMS messages and pay a fixed price per message, which varies for different countries. There is also a no credit card info required free trial available of these tiers.
If you own an online store and want to market products to existing customers or potential customers as easily as possible, Omnisend is an ideal tool. You can create different types of campaigns and send them using email, SMS, or push notifications. Afterward, you can get detailed reports to monitor the performance of your campaigns and make adjustments where needed.
Omnisend has a simple user interface, but we think that it could use some more interactivity. Likewise, the campaign creation and editing tool can be difficult to handle for new users. We also think that the Help Center is well done, but while there is email and chat options for direct support, we find the lack of a phone number for direct support a significant omission on the paid plan tiers.
Read our full Omnisend review.
3. Zoho Campaigns
Reasons to buy
Reasons to avoid
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, a part of the sales and marketing suite of services, is a mature permission marketing tool that targets better communications and conversions.
Valuable features include the wide range of visually appealing pre-built newsletter templates which covers the gamut from seasonal events to Black Friday sales.
Email workflows, another highlight, enable using a simple drag-and-drop interface to set up automated actions and events makes handling large campaigns a lot easier. We also like that the top tier offers advanced segmentation, dynamic content, batch sending and email polls and attachments.
As you'd expect, Zoho Campaigns integrates seamlessly into existing Zoho products, not least of which is Zoho CRM. But there are also numerous third-party integrations available, including G Suite, SurveyMonkey, Facebook, YouTube, and WordPress.
Pricing is relatively inexpensive, 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. While we appreciate the free trial, without a credit card requirement, we are disappointed that it is a relatively short 14 days. Furthermore, we find that SMS marketing requires an add on package even on the paid tiers.
Read our full Zoho Campaigns review.
Reasons to buy
Reasons to avoid
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.
MailChimp's built-in designer enables editing a selection of templates by adding elements such as clickable text, graphics and logos. But there’s also the option of designing your own email from scratch for those with the requisite coding skills.
MailChimp excels on the integration front, too, particularly for online retailers. You can link the system up to ecommerce platforms such as 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 for a single user, which is good for 10,000 emails a month to up to 500 contacts, but it includes the MailChimp logo in the footer. We like that it includes a Creative Assistant and Basic Reporting & Analytics, but only email support and only for the first 30 days may fall short for less experienced users.
The paid options start with the Essential package, which allows 5,000 emails monthly, and three users. This plan also includes 24/7 email and chat support, but no phone support. Additional plans furthermore have higher limits along with more features, such as the top tier of plan that includes assistive onboarding, advanced segmentation, a campaign manager, and multivariate testing.
Read our full MailChimp review.
5. Vertical Response
Reasons to buy
Reasons to avoid
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. Even if you've no design experience at all, the editor will help you create a beautiful looking email template with minimal time and effort.
Convenient automation features include 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.
Strong analytics tools cover all the data basics, 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 allow you to glean useful data on how customers view and interact with your emails.
There are only two tiers available: Basic and Pro. The price for Basic starts at a low $11/month, but realize that this is only for a list of under 500 contacts, and it doubles to take it up to 1,000 contacts. There is no free tier, which is a shortcoming, but there is the option of a Pay As You Go option for low volume users, or those that need only occasional use. There is a free trial available as well.
We like that it includes live customer support, an unlimited number of emails, automated follow up emails, and the option to remove VerticalResponse branding. The Pro plan increases the cost to $16/month, and adds advanced reporting, a delivery rate review option, and A/B subject line testing. Both plans miss the mark with no SMS messaging, and also the direct support has the single option of a support portal, without a phone or email option, although self-help options look well developed including video tutorials.
Read our full Vertical Response review.
Reasons to buy
Reasons to avoid
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- and grows with your needs up to 100,000. 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 generous 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. The Free tier is not all barebones we would point out in fairness, as it has predesigned templates, custom HTML, a visual email editor, and a spam check, but be aware that is limited to a single user. Above the free tier, there is a choice of four tiers of plans, including the top plan that can be customized for specific needs. Even the lower paid tiers add neat features including birthday emails, contact tagging, visited URL automation, and split automation. The user limits on the lower tiers may be too restrictive for some.
Payments are made monthly for the paid plans. There are discounts available for prepaying annually, 18%, and also for paying 24 months at a time for a discount of 30%.
However, realize that phone support, and also SMS marketing, is reserved for the highest custom tier. Lower tiers have access to a well-developed support center, email support in eight languages, and 24/7 chat support.
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 depending on the number of users on the plan. 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 and includes unlimited landing pages, unlimited forms, audience tagging and segmentation, but only community support.
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 unlimited contacts, and up to 300 emails daily available with a drag and drop editor, WhatsApp and SMS campaigns 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. With all paid tiers, it smartly includes 24/7 support via both chat and email. We also like the inline forms, the site and event tracking, API and webhooks on the lowest tier. Take it up further to the Professional tier to take advantage of the five user plan with Salesforce integration, Microsoft Dynamics 365 integration, predictive sending and attribution reporting to take any campaign to the next level.
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. There is a free tier limited to 250 contacts, and then a single Advanced tier with pricing varying based on the number of contacts, which starts at 750 for $14/month.
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.
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Jonas P. DeMuro is a freelance reviewer covering wireless networking hardware.