4 Best Email Marketing Services: Comparing the Top Platforms
Want to skip straight to the good stuff? The best email marketing services are Constant Contact and ConvertKit.
Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, let’s start with the question I get asked most by clients.
Why is email marketing so important?
Think back to when you were a kid and you’d get a package in the mail. Remember how excited you were to rip it open and discover what was inside? Well, that’s how I feel each time I get a new releases email from Netflix.
When I see it there in my inbox, I click it open with eager anticipation. Was a new rom-com just released? Is there an angsty teen drama I can binge? It could be anything. I know I get way too excited about these emails, but that’s exactly why I signed up for them in the first place.
That’s the thing about email marketing — people opt in. Someone decides that they like a company or a blog so much that they make the choice to subscribe to their newsletter. They want to be alerted about new articles, products, stories or whatever. If there’s something fresh to download or buy, they’re the one most likely to download or buy it. In other words, they want what the email has to offer.
That’s why email is the holy grail of marketing.
If you can make your message so compelling that people intentionally opt-in, you’re in a great position. Your audience wants to hear what you have to say. And there’s a good chance they want to buy things from you. Of course, it’s up to you to put together the emails that will close the deal. That’s why choosing the right email provider is so important. It will help you get the job done.
Below is a list of the top 4 best email marketing platforms. Keep in mind, this list doesn’t cover every platform out there. It’s just a handful that I personally like. And while some of these companies do a lot of different things, I’m only going to discuss their email marketing.
DISCLAIMER: Please note that some of these links in this post are affiliate links. So if you click through and end up making a purchase, I’ll get a small commission at no cost to you. That helps to support me and keep this website running.
Best Email Marketing Services
1. Constant Contact
Constant Contact has been a major player in email marketing software for more than 20 years. In internet years, that’s basically forever. What’s their secret? They’re easy to use, even for an email novice. They’ve got over a hundred templates to work with, great email list segmentation tools, and a drag-and-drop interface. That’s why I would rank them #1 when it comes to email tools (if you can afford them).
Constant Contact offers all the elements I look for in an email marketing platform. Their mobile-optimized templates give you tons of flexibility, so you can focus on putting in good content instead of fighting with email tools. They also integrate with lots of other software and platforms like WordPress, Shopify, Salesforce and Eventbrite.
You can find solid email list segmentation options too. These let you send different emails to different groups of email addresses, which are based on user preferences, location, sign-up date or other variables. You can also have Constant Contact perform more complex email tricks like welcome messages (which are automatically sent after a user signs up to your mailing list) and drip campaigns (a series of emails, spread out and sent out in a specific order). Their reporting tools are nice too, so you can dig into open rates, click-through-rates and other metrics to see what’s working for you and what’s not.
Ease of Use
Is Constant Contact easy to use? In a single, uppercase word…YES! Their drag-and-drop email builder is easy peasy. So you can add images, videos, events, polls, or whatever your heart desires to your emails without pulling your hair out. In addition, their automation tools are straightforward and their reporting is easy to digest.
- The Email plan starts at $20/month.
- The Email Plus plan starts at $45/month.
- There’s also a 60-day free trial.
If you’re just getting started, Constant Contact’s cheaper Email plan will probably be the way to go, at least for a while. It comes with unlimited sends, customizable templates, reporting, and subject line A/B testing, among other features. If you want to try out some of the automation tools, you’ll need to go with the Email Plus Plan. I recommend you give the standard Email plan a go first. Then once you get comfortable within it, you could up your email game with Email Plus.
No matter what plan you go with, keep in mind that the $20 and $45 figures are starting points. After you’ve gotten a lot more email addresses onto your list, you’ll hit higher pricing tiers. Of course, that would also mean that your mailing list is growing well, so it’s not a bad problem to have. 🙂
Who is it for?
Constant Contact is the best email marketing service for small or large businesses. But don’t let that limit you. I think even bloggers or ultra-small (ie: just getting started) businesses could really benefit too. Never underestimate the value of an easy-to-use interface.
ConvertKit is made for bloggers. The idea is that once it’s all set up, you can reach your audience in a fast, simple way, leaving you with extra time to create more stuff. That’s why I ranked ConvertKit as #2 when it comes to the top email tools.
Compared to other email marketing software, ConvertKit takes a unique approach. While most platforms are list-based (where you use a lot of different mailing lists for different purposes), ConvertKit gives you just one list. But by tagging, grouping and segmenting the email addresses on that list, you can do a whole lot with it. Having a single list also removes the risk of sending an email to the same address more than once. Because nothing will drive your audience to that “unsubscribe” button faster than getting duplicate emails.
Like I mentioned above, ConvertKit’s tags, segmenting and groups can go a long way. They’ll let you send targeted emails to people based on their interests and behavior. Imagine you’re sending an email that hypes a new product. Would you need that email to reach someone who already bought the product? Nope. So for a person like that, your messaging could be totally different.
ConvertKit also has a bunch of cool automations you can use. What’s an email automation? Basically, it means that if action A happens, then action B will happen next. So, for example, if a new subscriber joins your mailing list, they could automatically receive multiple emails spread out over time. Or if a subscriber only wants to be alerted when a new blog has been posted, you can set it so they’ll only get emails about that. You can even link automations with other platforms like Crowdcast, Teachable, WooCommerce or Shopify. The whole system is pretty slick.
On the negative side, if you’re looking to make super-customized emails, this isn’t the right program for you. ConvertKit only offers a few simple templates. But you know what? They work. Simple, text-based emails can actually convert better than those image-heavy templates. Why? Because they look like they’re written by a real human being. And that fosters a connection between you and your subscribers.
Ease of Use
There’s a bit of a learning curve here but it’s not steep at all. It might take you a moment to wrap your head around building automations and setting up automatic tagging, but ConvertKit shows everything in a clean, visual way. You’ll be surprised at how quickly you can pick everything up.
Here are ConvertKit’s pricing options:
- The Free plan is, well, free.
- The Complete plan starts at $29/month ($25/month with an annual subscription).
- The Complete plan also offers a free 14-day trial (with no credit card needed).
When we talk price, it’s hard to compete with free. But the Free plan is limited in scope and only allows up to 1,000 subscribers. That could be totally fine as you get your feet wet. But if you want to go deeper — and have access to those sweet automations, you’ll need to upgrade to the Complete plan.
Also keep in mind that your price will rise as your email list grows larger. But you could always save a few bucks if you get an annual subscription, which also includes two months for free. Not a bad deal at all.
Who is it for?
Creators! ConvertKit is the best email marketing software for bloggers, artists, musicians and even YouTubers who only make videos about their cats. It can also work for a small website or ecommerce shop. So if you fall into these categories (and you’re ready to get your email game on), this is definitely the way to go.
I had heard of Mailchimp long before I ever started email marketing, so clearly their branding worked on me. It must have worked on other people too, since they currently have more than 11 million active customers. Their lower priced tiers may not have all the fancy bells and whistles of some of their competitors, but they’ve still got plenty of the features you need.
Oh, and did I mention you can have up to 2,000 subscribers before they charge you a single cent? Not too shabby, especially if you’re just starting a new website or blog.
I think Mailchimp’s best feature is their many, many, many integrations. They connect seamlessly with WordPress, Shopify, Magento, Zapier (one of my personal favorites) and more than 200 other tools. Just click a few buttons, then you can utilize and build your mailing list in a ton of different ways. I especially like how it connects with Google Analytics, giving me even more metrics to pore over, which is oddly soothing for a data nerd like me.
Mailchimp’s drag-and-drop email builder is clean and simple to use, even for newbies. They have countless email templates geared toward specific uses like selling products, making announcements, and following up with your most engaged subscribers. Plus they have a lot of generic templates too. So if you want an email to look sharp but you don’t want to spend hours coding it yourself (although that’s an option here too), Mailchimp is a solid choice.
There are some other cool features too, like basic automations, location-based audience segmentation, and pretty solid reporting. But at times, they don’t go as in-depth as I would have liked. And, perhaps unexpectedly, you have to go with the paid tiers to unlock some of the better stuff.
Ease of Use
Mailchimp makes it super easy to find answers to your questions — which can be super helpful if you’re new to email marketing. There were so many times where I had no idea how to do something. So I’d just type a few words into their knowledge base, then find clear, step-by-step guides to help me through. I was pretty thankful for that.
With that said, I did find myself getting lost in their interface at times, unsure where to find things. This wasn’t helped by the fact that they change the look and feel of their site pretty much all the time. It isn’t something I’m a fan of. I don’t want to have to relearn a platform I’m using every time I log in.
As with most email marketing companies, your prices will go up when you hit certain amounts of total subscribers. Here’s what Mailchimp’s pricing starts out with:
- The Free plan, as you might expect, is free.
- The Essentials plan starts at $9.99/month.
- The Standard plan starts at $14.99/month.
- The Premium plan starts at $299.99/month.
The good thing about the Free plan is that you can stick with it forever — as long as you have less than 2,000 total subscribers. Just keep in mind that for the low, low price of free, you do get somewhat limited features like less templates, no A/B testing and the inability to schedule email blasts ahead of time.
If you’re just getting started, I recommend starting with the Free plan. Play around, send some emails, and get yourself more comfortable with the tools. Then when you want to go a little more in-depth, you should probably switch to the more robust Standard plan.
Who is it for?
Mailchimp is a good choice for startups and people just getting into email marketing. If you’re already established, then you might want to go with ConvertKit instead.
AWeber is a wily veteran in the email marketing game, having been a player since way back in 1998 (Whoa, that’s a century ago!). They’re a practical, easy-to-work-with platform with over 100,000 customers. And with the exception of their free option, you have access to all of their tools at every pricing tier. That means no watered-down experience for anyone (except for the free users).
When you crack open an AWeber account, you’ll feast your eyes on more than 700 drag-and-drop email templates. They look quite nice and their elements are easy to manipulate. So you can customize a little or a lot, depending on how creative you feel. Even better, the templates are all mobile responsive, which is exactly what you need. I know the value of how things look on a small phone screen, since I personally check my mail on my phone at least 30 times a day.
AWeber has plenty of solid — if unspectacular — features to play with. There’s A/B testing, integrations, and list segmentation tools. They make it simple to set up auto-response emails based on email list signups and tags. Plus they’ve got dashboards and reports to help you analyze your email performance. AWeber may not have the most extensive tools in the email marketing toolbox. But they do have what you need to get things done.
Ease of Use
Because of AWeber’s simplicity, it’s one of the easier email marketing services to use. They offer a ton of customer support options including phone, email and 24/7 live chat. Plus you can find a very large amount of tutorial videos and webinars (both live and on demand) on their website.
The Free plan is free forever, as long as you don’t exceed 500 email addresses. (I know, that’s a super low number). But it is missing some features. On the other hand, if you’re on even the cheapest tier of the Pro plan, you get every single feature that AWeber offers. Here’s the Pro plan pricing:
- 0-500 subscribers: $19/month
- 501-2,500 subscribers: $29/month
- 2,501-5,000 subscribers: $49/month
- 5,001-10,000 subscribers: $69/month
- 10,001-25,000 subscribers: $149/month
Who is it for?
AWeber would be great for small business owners who value simplicity. It’s a straightforward, affordable platform that isn’t too difficult to learn. Give it a look if you’re trying to keep costs low, but still want to dig into advanced email marketing features.
How Do You Choose the Best Email Marketing Platform?
You can’t send out marketing emails from your personal email account. Instead, you need to find an email provider to do the heavy lifting for you. So what features should you be looking for?
Ease of Use – If you’re going to be building out workflows and audiences, you want your email platform to be easy to figure out. Time is money. You should be spending it building out great campaigns, not figuring out how to navigate your email interface.
Automation – Email automation lets you send out emails to subscribers based on a certain action they take. This is key to helping you generate leads and build up your audience. Make sure to choose a provider that offers the type of granular automation you need.
Reporting & Analytics – In order to improve your email campaigns, you’re going to have to review the overall performance (i.e. clicks, open, deliverability, etc.). Make sure your email service provides a robust enough analytics dashboard to accomplish your needs.
Price – Not everyone can afford to lay down hundreds of dollars a month to send email campaigns. Find a cost-effective service that will give you the most bang for your buck.
ConvertKit vs Mailchimp: Which one is better?
Both ConvertKit and Mailchimp have paid premium email services. Out of the two, ConvertKit comes out as the winner (especially if you’re a blogger or content creator). With its simpler templates and multiple automation options, it makes it easier to build up your subscriber base.
However, when it comes to free email plans, Mailchimp slightly edges out ConvertKit. Mailchimp allows 2,000 total subscribers, while ConvertKit limits you to 1,000. That’s a pretty big difference. Of course, Mailchimp also limits you to 10,000 email sends per month, while Convertkit offers unlimited sends.
Constant Contact vs AWeber: Which one is better?
When you look at Constant Contact compared to AWeber, it’s a pretty close call. They’re both robust email marketing solutions and are solid choices for businesses of any size. But out of the two, Constant Contact is a slighter better email option. It’s easier to use and has a lot of customizable templates. But you can’t go wrong with either one.
Those are my top picks for email marketing providers. They all have their strengths and weaknesses, but are all solid choices. Pick the one that seems most appropriate for your business.