November 9, 2020

12 of the Best Email Marketing Services and Platforms for 2021

Reading time about 19 min

Email marketing services make sending your newsletters and email campaigns a breeze. But how do you know which one to go for? To help you decide, we’ve rounded up some of the best emailing platforms for small businesses.

Equipped with advanced features like newsletter design tools, automation capabilities, and ways to personalize content, email marketing services have everything you need to grow your business. They can help you build your mailing list, engage with subscribers, and strengthen customer relationships.

The difficulty lies in choosing the best email marketing service for your business. There are tons of options out there and it can get overwhelming trying to sift through everything they offer.

To help you out, we’ve compiled a list of top email marketing platforms and their main features.

Why Your Business Needs an Email Marketing Service

Unsure about investing time and energy into finding an email marketing solution? Here are some reasons you can’t ignore:

Email is still one of the most effective marketing channels

In recent years, marketers have voted email marketing as the most effective digital channel. And here’s why:

  • It’s affordable. With email marketing you can reach a large audience at a low cost, leading to an average return on investment of $38 for every $1 spent
  • It’s personal. Email campaigns let you reach contacts directly. Plus they’ve actively chosen to hear from you and so are more likely to engage. 
  • It’s accessible. With around 4 billion email users worldwide, email has a greater reach than other digital channels. 

Email marketing services are essential for mass campaigns

Internet service providers (ISPs) like Gmail and Outlook aren’t made for newsletter and campaigns. A professional email marketing service is your best option because they enable you to:

  • Achieve better deliverability rates. Sending mass campaigns with a dedicated email marketing service helps you avoid the spam folder. 
  • Get performance analytics. Email marketing platforms track metrics like open and click-through rates to measure your campaigns’ success. 
  • Manage unsubscribes more easily. Your email marketing service will automatically update contact records when they unsubscribe so you don’t keep sending them campaigns.
  • Send more emails. ISPs have daily sending limits, while email marketing platforms let you choose a plan that meets your needs. 
  • Design attractive emails. Email marketing services come with design tools for creating professional and responsive HTML emails that match your brand. 

All the platforms on this list offer these essential functionalities for your email marketing campaigns. Below you’ll find details on other key features of each service along with their pricing.

The Best Email Marketing Platforms for Small Businesses

1. Sendinblue

Sendinblue's email marketing service dashboard

Sendinblue is much more than an email marketing software. It provides users with a complete sales and marketing toolkit. Each feature slots together to build your marketing strategy from start to finish. 

The service offers powerful email marketing features like laser-focused segmentation, personalized content, A/B testing, and send time optimization. On top of the intuitive drag and drop email editor you get access to a selection of fully responsive templates so you can easily create professional emails.

You can use Sendinblue’s marketing automation tools to scale your email marketing — from autoresponders like welcome emails to complex workflows based on user behavior. Thanks to the Sendinblue Tracker, you can even trigger emails based on how users interact with your website. 

If you need to send transactional emails like account confirmations or order updates, with Sendinblue you can manage these alongside your marketing campaigns. There are also plugins to integrate with ecommerce platforms like Shopify and Woocommerce.  

Aside from emailing, the service offers SMS marketing features, live chat to connect with customers in real time, and Facebook ads to reach a wider audience.

When picking a paid plan, pricing will depend on the number of emails you want to send each month. However, all plans — including Free — allow you to store unlimited contacts at no cost. Packages include email support, while chat and phone support are available with the Premium plan.

Price: the free version lets you send up to 300 emails a day. After that, prices start at $25 per month for the Lite plan.

2. Mailchimp

Mailchimp's email marketing platform

Mailchimp is equipped with all the features you need to run slick email marketing campaigns. The platform’s simple user interface makes it easy for email marketing newbies to get their head around complicated features. 

The drag and drop email builder and professional templates help you create beautiful campaigns in minutes. And you can grow your audience by adding popup signup forms to your website or creating unlimited landing pages using premade templates. 

Digging deeper, Mailchimp offers advanced email marketing tools like A/B testing, prebuilt and custom list segmentation options, and send time optimization. You can also personalize email content, including product recommendations using one of the ecommerce plugins.

For email automation, choose from pre-built workflows such as re-engagement emails or craft your own customer journeys. 

If you want to take your marketing strategy multichannel, the platform also offers social media scheduling and ads. 

For paid plans, the price increases based on the number of subscribers in your contact lists. The free plan doesn’t include customer support but there is an extensive knowledge base to help you out. 

Price: there is a free plan for up to 2,000 subscribers. After that, prices start at $9.99.

3. ConvertKit

Email automation workflow with ConvertKit

ConvertKit is an emailing platform targeting online creatives like bloggers and YouTubers. Email marketing features include the ability to segment your list and personalize campaigns using tags, as well as A/B testing for subject lines. 

You can grow your audience with customizable landing page templates and signup forms designed to increase conversions. And if you’re using downloadable content as an incentive, it’s easy to automatically send materials after someone fills out your form. 

ConvertKit’s automation software provides a visual way to set up email drip campaigns powered by subscriber behavior. The workflow editor shows you what your sequences look like in action and makes it easy to alter the route subscribers take. And if you need help getting started, there are automation templates for use cases like webinars and product launches.

All plans let you send unlimited emails and come with live chat and email support. For paid plans, pricing is based on how many subscribers you have. 

Price: the free plan lets you have up to 1,000 subscribers. After that, prices start at $29 per month.

4. AWeber

Automated campaign using AWeber's email marketing service

AWeber’s email marketing service has some handy tools for beginners. On top of a drag and drop editor and extensive library of email templates, the platform offers an AI-powered design assistant. This tool uses your website and social media accounts to automatically build on-brand templates for your business’ email newsletters.

AWeber makes it simple to connect with individual customers at scale using tags that you can add manually or automatically. For example, you can tag subscribers based on signup information or when they open an email or click a link. 

Email automation features let you run your campaigns on autopilot, including drip campaigns for welcoming subscribers or launching a new product. To save you time the campaign marketplace offers premade workflows with email templates for each campaign stage. All you have to do is customize them to your brand and target audience.

Elsewhere, there’s a drag and drop landing page builder that comes with ready-to-use templates and a gallery of stock images to quickly create attractive pages. All templates include signup forms and you can automatically tag subscribers from each form to better manage your lists. 

AWeber’s pricing is based on your subscriber count and all plans include chat, email, and phone support.

Price: there is a free plan for up to 500 subscribers. After that, prices start at $19 per month for the pro version. 

5. Drip

Multichannel maketing automation workflow in Drip

Drip is an ecommerce marketing solution with an in-built email marketing service and all the cogs involved in boosting online sales. 

For your email marketing, the platform has advanced features including content personalization options like product recommendations and unique discounts. You can also A/B test different email content and subject lines to see which achieve the best engagement and open rates. 

Automation capabilities range from trigger emails to complex workflows that respond to customer behavior. You can even split test different customer journeys to understand which path works best. The platform also offers a library of premade workflows for popular ecommerce scenarios. 

Drip has plugins for major ecommerce platforms, including Shopify, Magento, and WooCommerce. These allow you to tag shoppers based on their online activity so you can personalize campaigns. Data collected also enables you to track revenue generated from different campaigns. 

Beyond marketing emails, you can use the platform to manage transactional emails and send SMS messages all from one place.

Drip offers just one plan with pricing based on the number of contacts. However there is a 14-day free trial option so you can test it out first. With your plan you’ll be able to send unlimited emails and have access to email and live chat support. 

Price: prices start at $19 per month for up to 500 subscribers.

6. Constant Contact

Desiging a newsletter in Constant Contact's email marketing service

Constant Contact is a fully-equipped marketing toolbox that offers much more than just email. Its emailing service comes with a wide choice of free email templates. Or there is a tool to automatically build your own branded templates based on your website or Facebook page. 

Other email marketing features include A/B testing for subject lines and automated resends to subscribers who don’t open a campaign. The Email Plus package gets you additional functionality like multi-step automated email series and tools for surveys and online donations. 

Advanced segmentation lets you automatically manage contacts based on email link clicks. Or you can create custom segments using criteria like subscriber engagement or purchase activity via the Shopify or WooCommerce plugins. 

On top of email marketing tools, with Constant Contact you can create landing pages or even build an entire website or online store from scratch. You can also manage social media activity from the platform, including post scheduling, responding to messages and comments, and running ads.

While there is no free plan, paid plans include unlimited emails and email and chat support. Prices increase the more contacts you have. 

Price: prices start at $20 per month for up to 500 subscribers.

7. GetResponse

GetResponse marketing service dashboard

GetResponse provides small businesses with a suite of marketing tools, including a fully-equipped email marketing service.

The platform has a library of professionally designed email templates with a drag and drop editor that makes it easy to transform your emails into beautifully branded messages. 

Collect data on customer behavior and interests, then use powerful segmentation tools to personalize your email campaigns. Or automatically tag and score contacts with marketing automation to trigger targeted emails. 

Other automation capabilities include time-based drip campaigns, with the option to view your email sequence on a calendar to see exactly when subscribers will receive messages. 

The software also allows you to send transactional emails alongside your marketing campaigns, while ecommerce plugins let you promote products in emails and landing pages. 

Aside from email marketing, you can create and manage Facebook ads using the built-in tool and free templates. The platform even offers tools for running your own webinars. The conversion tunnel feature helps you bring everything together with premade automated sales funnels designed for different industries and purposes. 

GetResponse only offers paid plans, with pricing based on list size, but you can test your chosen plan free for 30 days. All plans come with live chat and email support. 

Price: prices start at $15 per month for up to 1,000 subscribers.

8. Keap

Keap marketing platform dashboard

Keap is all about lead management and conversions. This CRM software has an in-built email marketing service for sending personalized communications to clients. 

You can capture lead information with customizable signup forms. Then categorize contacts with tags and segment them based on interactions with your content.

Automation software makes it easy to send follow up emails to new leads and clients. The platform also has template automations to get you started, which include prewritten emails.

With Keap Pro you’ll get more advanced email marketing features like the ability to split test content with up to five variations and auto check emails for spam trigger words. The Pro package also lets you create more complex automations using a visual builder. The tool makes it easy to craft personalized journeys based on contacts’ actions.  

Elsewhere, the platform comes with handy sales tools like appointment scheduling and invoicing. 

Keap isn’t the cheapest option around but you can get a 14-day free trial to see if you like the platform. Pricing is contact based, while there is no limit to the number of emails you can send. Whichever plan you go for you’ll have access to support via phone and live chat. 

Price: Prices start at $79 a month for 500 contacts.

9. ActiveCampaign

ActiveCampaign email marketing service dashboard

ActiveCampaign’s email marketing service is just one feature of its overall marketing capabilities. 

The software makes it easy to personalize your emails using contact data. You can also split test up to five different email versions to work out what content performs best. Plus, there’s also a built-in spam tester to check if emails are likely to go to junk. 

For more targeted messages, segment your audience using insights like contacts’ email activity. There’s even website tracking features for collecting data on contacts’ page visits and other onsite actions.

To get you started with email automation there is an extensive selection of premade workflows. You can also create custom automations from scratch using a range of triggers, including website activity thanks to the tracking features. 

Upgrading from the Lite to Plus plan gets you more advanced automation features. For example, you can score contacts based on their engagement, split test different workflows, and get a visual overview of all your automations and how they link together.

With the Plus package you’ll also get features for different marketing channels, including SMS and landing pages. 

The 14-day free trial option lets you test the platform with a limited number of contacts and email sends. All plans include live chat and email support. 

Price: prices start at $15 per month for up to 500 subscribers

10. Campaign Monitor

Creating a newsletter using Campaign Monitor's email marketing service

Campaign Monitor email marketing service offers a range of easy-to-use features to help beginners build an engaged audience. 

The platform has a large choice of responsive email templates that you can customize using the drag and drop builder. Plus, it’s easy to add personalizations using your contact data. And with send time optimization you can deliver emails at the best time for each contact. The segmentation tool lets you go even further, creating custom segments of subscribers using multiple filters.

Within the same platform you can create and send branded transactional emails with content that is just as personalized. 

For email automation, use the simple visual journey editor to drag and drop each email into a sequence, with conditions based on subscriber behavior and past interactions. 

You can try out the platform free for an unlimited time, though you’ll only be able to send campaigns to up to five contacts. The Basic plan is limited to 2,500 emails a month, while Unlimited — as the name suggests — has no sending limit. Pricing increases as your contact lists grow. Both plans offer email support but you’ll get priority with an Unlimited plan. 

Price: prices start at $9 per month for up to 500 subscribers.

11. Ontraport

Managing contacts in Ontraport's marketing platform

Ontraport is a multichannel tool with features for email and SMS marketing and a built-in CRM. The platform helps you build out your marketing strategy by pulling in different elements from the extensive functionalities. 

The smart selection of premade email templates gets you started in no time at all. You can also tap into more advanced features like split tests for different elements including email content and send time. 

Segment contacts using any criteria you like — from where they are in your buying cycle to whether they clicked a certain email. These groups will automatically add or remove contacts based on whether they meet the criteria. 

The signup forms tool has handy features to boost your conversions like pre-filled fields and the option to show separate questions in multiple steps. Plus, you can show forms as popups and choose how they should appear and when. 

The landing page builder is equally powerful, with ready-made templates, personalization functionality, and A/B testing. 

The platform also has sophisticated marketing automation software. You can use one of the workflow templates for common scenarios or create your own using the drag and drop builder. The wealth of options lets you build complex journeys with elements like conditions to determine the next step based on contact behavior. You can even create multichannel journeys with the SMS and landing page tools. 

Since it’s an advanced all-in-one marketing tool, Ontraport isn’t cheap but there is a 14-day free trial option. Contact storage limits vary between plans but all allow for unlimited email sends. You can get support via email, chat, or even a screenshare option. 

Price: Prices start at $79 per month for up to 1,000 subscribers.

12. Zoho Campaigns

An automation workflow using Zoho's email marketing service

Zoho Campaigns has all the features you need from an email marketing service.

The drag and drop editor lets you add both simple personalizations and dynamic blocks that display different content depending on subscriber details. And with the segmentation tool you can target subscribers based on criteria like contact information and behavior. You also have the option to A/B test different aspects of your email campaigns. 

It’s easy to set up autoresponder emails using the premade templates for scenarios like signups, birthdays, and follow-ups based on email activity. You also have more complex workflow options. Start with template automated journeys or make your own using elements like conditions that determine which path subscribers take based on their behavior or contact information.

Zoho’s pricing structure differs from other services as you can choose between a plan based either on the number of emails you want to send or your subscriber count. 

Price: with the free plan you can send 12,000 emails per month to up to 2,000 contacts. After that, prices start from $3 per month.

Find the Best Email Marketing Service for Your Business

When comparing email marketing service providers, it’s important to bear in mind your specific needs. This might be advanced automation and segmentation capabilities, a rich choice of email templates you can easily edit to fit your brand, or additional tools for multichannel campaigns. 

Each solution will offer different plans and pricing structures. So it’s worth doing some digging to work out how much each platform costs for the features you need and the number of contacts you plan to send campaigns to. The best email marketing service for your business will not only help you grow in the short term but it must also remain a viable solution as your needs develop.

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