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Email marketing is a discipline that needs no introduction. It doesn’t matter if you’re focused on affiliate marketing, growing a SaaS business, or simply building a personal blog – email marketing has a place.

The challenge is choosing the right tool for the job. There are countless email marketing software tools out there and many of them are specialized for specific types of businesses. If you mistakenly choose the wrong one then it may do more harm than good.

In this guide, we’ll take a deep dive into the best email marketing tools for 2021 so you can make an informed decision.

The best email marketing service

1.    ActiveCampaign – best overall email marketing tool

activecampaign email marketing service homepage image

ActiveCampaign has been quietly building one of the most robust email marketing platforms in the world. It was one of the first platforms to implement the current email automation interface, has a wide range of useful features, and is inexpensive to get started.

We use ActiveCamapign on most of our projects because it’s easy to tag subscribers based on their actions and set up emails with conditional logic. For example, if someone opened the first email in your sequence but skipped the second, you could create a branch in the automation so the second email is sent again after 48 hours.

The potential here is only limited by your imagination. It’s beginner-friendly but if you’ve never used an email marketing tool you may not be able to take full advantage of what it offers. Of course, you can grow into it.

Recently, ActiveCampaign pioneered what’s known as customer experience automation. That’s a fancy way of saying you’re able to take a hands-off approach to segmenting, nurturing, and converting prospects across multiple channels. 

Key features

  •           Email newsletters
  •           Email automation
  •           Landing pages
  •           Email forms
  •           Chat widget
  •           Built-in CRM
  •           Email and web personalization
  •           Tagging and scoring
  •           Large collection of email templates
  •           Large integration ecosystem for third-party tools
  •           SMS service
  •           Facebook ads integration
  •           Split testing emails
  •           So much more

Cons

  •           There are so many features that a beginner can get overwhelmed or underutilize it
  •           The application can slow to a crawl at times

Pricing

Pricing starts at $9 for up to 500 contacts and can increase to thousands of dollars a month if you manage a large email list.

2.    ConvertKit – best for blogging

Converkit Homepage

ConvertKit was founded by Nathan Barry as a side project but has grown into one of the most popular email marketing services available. It has appeared on the Inc. 5,000 multiple times and was developed specifically for creators and bloggers.

One of the standout features of ConvertKit is the simple interface that allows even novices to create powerful email marketing campaigns. Instead of a traditional list system to manage contacts, it uses tags. This can be useful if you want to move people around to different automations based on their actions or specific conditions.

You’ll see the power of managing your list like this when you have multiple lead magnets or different audience segments. It allows you to get incredibly granular with your targeting.

Key Features

  •           Email automation builder
  •           Landing pages
  •           Form builder
  •           Accept payments online (one-time or recurring subscription)
  •           Simple email designer
  •           Email personalization
  •           A large number of integrations with third-party tools

Cons

  •           Forms severely lacking in customization options
  •           Few email templates to choose from

Pricing

It has a free plan with limited features (you don’t have access to integrations) then paid plans start at $29/m.

3.    GetResponse – best all-in-one marketing tool

GetResponse email marketing software homeapge

One thing I’ll say about GetResponse is that it’s a fighter. I remember using it nearly a decade ago. At the time, its standout feature was email autoresponders (not to be confused with email automation). Today, it’s a complete marketing suite that includes email marketing, webinars, landing pages, and much more.

It can be confusing to make your way around the tool because it’s now packed with so many features. If you can get around that and use it in the way it was intended then you’ll see just how useful it is to have everything within one platform.

Key Features

  •           Email newsletter builder
  •           Transactional emails
  •           Email automation
  •           Opt-in forms
  •           Landing pages
  •           Payment processing through Stripe, Square, PayPal, etc.
  •           Email segmentation
  •           Webinars
  •           Paid ads integrations (Facebook)
  •          Social media post designer
  •           Sales funnel management

Cons

  •           There are so many features that it can get complicated
  •           The automation features need some improvement when it comes to tagging and conditional logic

Pricing

GetResponse pricing starts at $10.50/m (on a 2-year plan) for 1,000 contacts. It can increase to thousands of dollars a month when you have a large email list.

4.    Aweber

Aweber email marketing platform homepage

Aweber is an older email marketing player that has been quietly building a customer base of over 100,000 strong. The company isn’t as vocal as some of the others but that doesn’t take away from the tool that has been built over the years.

It has the features you’d expect like an email editor, campaign automation, analytics, etc. It also brings a few unique features to the table like a campaign marketplace full of proven email templates. It may not win any awards for innovation but it’s not far behind the category leaders. Aweber is a solid tool that you can’t go wrong with.

Key features

  •           AI-enabled email designer
  •           Email template library
  •           Landing page builder
  •           Email automation
  •           Personalization
  •           Contact tagging and automation triggers
  •           List segmentation
  •           Opt-in forms
  •           Mobile application
  •           Large number of integrations with third-party tools

Cons

  •           The automations interface feels dated
  •           The landing pages don’t support adding pixels from advertising services

Pricing

Aweber has a free plan that supports up to 500 subscribers. Paid plans start at $16.50/m.

5.    Moosend – best beginner-friendly email marketing service

Moosend homepage

Moosend is a newer email marketing tool on the market that’s focused on becoming an all-in-one marketing platform. It has a long way to go but it has made solid strides in the right direction.

There are three core pillars of the platform – email marketing, landing pages, and opt-in forms. It has many templates to choose from and also makes it possible to see real-time analytics for all your messages.

Key features

  •           Email newsletter builder
  •           Email automation
  •           Landing page builder
  •           Opt-in form builder
  •           Automation templates
  •           Multiple types of eCommerce recommendation options and personalization
  •           Website visitor tracking and behavioral triggers
  •           Split testing
  •           Segmentation features

Cons

  •           Limited number of landing page templates
  •           Many of the features are basic and need further customization

Pricing

Moosend has a free plan for up to 1,000 subscribers which gives you the main features. Paid plans start at $8/m.

6.    Drip – best ecommerce email marketing tool

Drip has a clear emphasis on eCommerce email marketing. So much so that it raised prices suddenly and gave customers little time to make changes. It appeared to be an effort to push many of its non-eCommerce customers off the platform. Even though that decision was poor in hindsight, it doesn’t take away from the features it brings to the table.  

It has strong automation and segmentation features and helps you connect with customers across multiple channels. The major advantage is that it has deep integrations with major eCommerce tools and allows you to pull your customer data into Drip.

Key features

  •           Email automation builder
  •           Send SMS messages
  •           Conditional blocks in emails for greater personalization
  •           Integrates with Facebook to create dynamic custom audiences
  •           Strong segmentation features
  •           Personalization based on customer cart or purchases
  •           Deep purchase analytics to make better automations
  •           Sign up forms

Cons

  •           Steep learning curve for using the platform when compared to other email tools
  •           Forms lack design flexibility

Pricing

Drip starts at $19/m for up to 500 contacts and can go to thousands of dollars a month.

7.    Mailchimp – best free email marketing software

Mailchimp can be considered the 800-pound gorilla of the email marketing world. This platform has been around for decades and has been evolving ever since. It’s no longer just an email marketing tool but an all-in-one marketing platform.

It has email newsletters, automations, landing pages, opt-in forms, and so much more. At times, the tool can feel bloated and hard to use because of all the features which is why it’s so far down on the list. With that being said, it has a solid platform that will serve beginners and experts well.

Key features

  •           Domain registration and website creation
  •           Landing page builder
  •           Opt-in forms
  •           Facebook and Instagram ads integration
  •           Post directly to your social media feeds
  •           CRM
  •           Transactional email
  •           Email and marketing automation
  •           Large range of email triggers
  •           Segmentation features
  •           Behavioral targeting

Cons

  •           It’s difficult to use all of the features
  •           Doesn’t support affiliate marketing brands
  •           Templates and customization options are limited

Pricing

Mailchimp has a generous free plan then its many prices start from $9.99/m.

8.    Mailjet

Mailjet homepage

Mailjet is one of the most popular email marketing services in Europe and for good reason. It’s a combination transactional email and email marketing platform that’ll help you stay connected with your customers and audience.

It does lack many of the advanced features we’ve come to know and love when it comes to email marketing but it gets the basics right. That’s why it’s one of the top email marketing platforms out there right now.

Key features

  •           Email campaign builder
  •           Robust analytics
  •           Team management
  •           Strong contact management
  •           Multiple templates to choose from
  •           Transactional emails
  •           List segmentation

Cons

  •           The tool has random glitches at times
  •           Doesn’t have much in the way of documentation for the tool

Pricing

It’s free for up to 6,000 emails per month then starts at $8.69 (paid annually) for up to 30,000 emails per month.

Honorable mentions for best email marketing service

9.    Constant Contact

Constant contact email marketing service homepage

Constant Contact is an old player in the email marketing space. It achieved an early lead in the market and has been able to sustain that dominance for a while. Unfortunately for the company, newer platforms are starting to out-innovate them but, as of right now, they still have a decent offering.

It supports building an eCommerce storefront, websites, and even lets you handle your social media marketing. It also has a basic drag and drop builder that’ll ensure you’re able to quickly build emails.

Key features:

  •           Social media marketing and analytics
  •           Email segmentation
  •           Drag and drop newsletter builder
  •           Resend emails to those that didn’t open
  •           Facebook ads integration
  •           Survey builder
  •           Real-time analytics
  •           Basic landing pages

Cons

  •           Poor customer support
  •           Cannot cancel your account without calling the support department

Pricing

It has a 60-day free trial then paid plans start at $20/m.

10.                       SendInBlue

SendInBlue is an email marketing and CRM platform that’s geared towards service businesses. Like many of the other tools on this list, it seeks to be the only marketing tool you use. As far as an email marketing service, it has robust features that’ll serve you well.

The email marketing platform comes with email automation, individual newsletters, segmentation, and much more. It also combines email communication with SMS marketing, a team inbox, and live chat for your website.

Key features

  •           Email campaign builder
  •           Email automation
  •           Team inbox
  •           CRM
  •           Live chat
  •           SMS marketing
  •           Transactional email management
  •           Landing pages
  •           Sign-up forms
  •           Facebook ad management

Cons

  •           The emails you send out can be slow to deliver at times
  •           It has a steep learning curve for beginners

Pricing

SendInBlue has a free plan and paid plans start at $25/m for up to 100,000 monthly emails.

Why email marketing is essential?

Email marketing is unique amongst digital marketing channels for a number of reasons. It’s been proven time and again to produce a better ROI for its users than social media, blogging, and paid to advertise.

Beyond the pure ROI, it’s one of the most cost-effective ways to stay in contact with your customers. For example, if you have an email list of ten thousand subscribers, it may cost a few dollars a month to maintain it.

To send physical mail, reach them on social media, or even contact them via some other means would be considerably more expensive. Even if you reach them via those channels, the open and response rates are much lower.

The last reason why email marketing is essential is the ability to build relationships over time. It’s one thing to have social media followers but you don’t have direct access to their information and most of them won’t see any post you publish.

If you make the wrong move, you can lose your account and all the effort you put into growing it. Even though email marketing services can shut down your account, they can’t withhold your customer data – it’s illegal.

With email, unless your delivery rate is poor, you’ll be able to reach a large percentage of your entire subscriber base. More than 20% of the people you send the email to will open and interact with it. If your emails are good, that open rate should be much higher.

As you can see, there are myriad reasons why email marketing is still essential.

What to look for in an email marketing tool

As with any tool, there are a few peculiar features that you’ll be looking out for based on your specific situation. The following things are generalizations about what your email marketing service should have before you register.

Features

Email marketing has a wide range of features but, at the most basic level, you should have list management, email automation, newsletter builder, template builder, testing, and segmentation.

If the tool you’re looking at doesn’t at least have these features then it may become a liability instead of an asset. Of course, there are other features email marketing tools are starting to introduce like landing pages, form builders, payment collection, etc.

These are nice but they don’t matter until the tool you’re looking at has mastered the basics. Don’t be fooled by shiny features until it can do the main job you need it for.

Ease of use

Email marketing tools these days have many advanced features so something non-negotiable is the ease of use. Do you need to take a course just to figure out how to set it up? Skip it. Does the company charge you a setup fee because the product is so hard to use? You may want to skip it as well.

If you’re an email and tech savant that can figure out any technology then just ignore me. If you’re like the rest of us then ease of use isn’t something you can afford to make a mistake on.

Just like with the features, it should be easy to do the basics like set up email automations, send out newsletters, and manage your lists. If you can accomplish those then everything else can be learned as you use the tool more often.

Pricing

Pricing is last but not least. There are a few email marketing tools that are more expensive than they should be. They talk a good game but in the end, you’ll likely be able to find the features in a different tool.

Figure out the potential ROI of your ideal email marketing tool and decide how much you’re willing to pay every month or year. Once you have that number, stick to it.

The final word on the best email marketing software.

There may not be an overall best solution for everyone but we strongly recommend ActiveCampaign. It’s a solid tool with every feature you need to convert subscribers to customers.

Both GetResponse and ConvertKit are solid second choices but ConvertKit is a bit more expensive than competitors. GetResponse can be a bit confusing. I suggest you use this list to shortlist the best email marketing tools and take the time to test each one yourself.