One important thing to note when considering an email marketing tool for small business is that a good email marketing platform for one business might not be a good fit for another.
Different businesses might have different approaches in their email marketing, pursuing different goals, and so they will have different needs.
One email marketing tool might offer a more intuitive, easier to use visual builder, while others might provide a better automation scheduler and autoresponders.
So, before making a choice, it is wise to first figure out your email marketing goals and your specific needs in email marketing tools.
With that being said, after evaluating all the popular email marketing platforms around, here is a list of tools that will suit the needs of most small businesses:
Best Email Marketing Tools For Small Businesses 2020: Our Review and Recommendations
Aweber is one of the oldest email marketing tools we have today, and has been around since 1998, more than two decades old.
Even with all the new platforms with newer technologies and features, AWeber remains one of the most recognized email marketing tools out there, highly rated for its speedy and reliable email deliverability and excellent customer service.
Unlike newer tools and platforms that often offer all-in-one digital marketing features, Aweber is more old-school in solely focusing on email marketing features. It’s more focused approach allows several really useful features dedicated for email marketing. For example, it offers more email templates compared to other tools we will review below, and all the offered templates are completely customizable.
It also offers one of the best, most intuitive visual email builders around that is very easy to use, and various features to assist you in lead capture, like the features easily create capture forms and pop-ups.
Pros of Aweber:
- One of the best email builder features, easy to use and intuitive interface
- Great analytics, reporting and A/B testing features
- One of the best customer service, fast and responsive
- A lot of email templates, all of them are customizable
- The offered plans are based on the number of subscribers, so you can scale your investments according to your exact needs
Cons of Aweber:
- Lack of user segmentation and hyper-targeting features
- Relatively basic email automation features
You Might Want To Choose Aweber If: you are looking for a reliable, focused email marketing tool, best for small to medium-sized teams and email marketing beginners. However, it’s a well-rounded tool with flexible pricing that can suit virtually any team.
Pricing: 30-day free trial available
- $19/month for 0-500 subscribers
- $29/month for 501-2,500 subscribers
- $49/month for 2,501-5,000 subscribers
- $69/month for 5,001-10,000 subscribers
- $149/month for 10,001-25,000 subscribers
- Custom plan available for 25,000+ subscribers
MailChimp is also one of the market leaders when it comes to email marketing platforms, and also one of the oldest it has been around since 2001.
MailChimp is one of the first innovators in bringing visual, drag-and-drop based email scheduler that also offer various templates to choose from. This, caused MailChimp to quickly gained popularity back in the days, and its reputation stands until today. There are over 1 billion emails sent with MailChimp every single day.
The key highlights of MailChimp are arguably its ease of use, and it also offers a free plan that is actually free forever and fairly usable for your basic email marketing needs.
It’s important to note for the premium plans, starting from the relatively affordable Essentials plan to the (very) expensive Premium plan, MailChimp will charge you based on the number of your email subscribers. With the Essentials plan, for example, you have to pay an extra of around $10/month for every increment of 1,000 subscribers (the increment will go lower with more subscribers, so it’s a good thing.
Another thing to note is that although MailChimp is very easy to use, it also offers a lot of advanced features from time-zone based automation, advanced user segmentation features, easy to set-up automation and autoresponders, and many more.
Pros of MailChimp:
- Free plan that is usable for basic email marketing needs
- Great integration with third-party apps and social media platforms
- Very easy to use visual builder
- A lot of templates included, great flexibility to customize your newsletters
- Great segmentation features
Cons of MailChimp:
- You can’t use MailChimp for any affiliate marketing usage, and it can get you banned permanently
- Limited lead capture features to include forms and pop-ups
- Slow customer service, especially considering its pricing offers
You Might Want To Choose MailChimp If: If you want to use the free offer. However, the paid plans are great for those with leniency on budget who want an easy to use platform with many advanced features.
- Free Plan:
- Up to 2,000 subscribers
- Email-only customer service
- 10,000 monthly email sends
- Essentials Plan: starts from $9.99/month (calculate price based on audience size here)
- Up to 50,000 subscribers
- 500,000 monthly email sends
- Chat & email customer service
- Standard Plan: starts from $14.99/month (calculate price based on audience size here)
- Up to 100,000 subscribers
- 1.2M monthly email sends
- Chat & email customer service
- Premium Plan: starts $299/month (calculate price based on audience size here)
- 200,000+ subscribers
- 3M+ monthly email sends
- Phone support available
Similar to MailChimp, Sendinblue offer a free version that is free forever. It’s pretty limited, but can cover most basic email marketing needs.
In recent years, Sendinblue has shifted its focus from being solely an email marketing tool to a more well-rounded marketing automation tools. You’d have to subscribe to the Premium plan (starts from $66/month) if you want to unlock these marketing automation features, but it’s a relatively affordable option compared to other marketing automation tools out there (i.e., Hubspot).
Sendinblue, however, was originally built with the intent to focus on transaction-based emails, so you’ll find a lot of useful features regarding this, from various autoresponder options to transaction email features.
The builder is very easy to use, and the plans are not based on contact list/subscriber size, only on emails sent per month. This can be an interesting factor for businesses with huge email databases. There are also various plugins and third-party integrations with popular apps from Magento to WordPress to OptinMonster.
The biggest downside of Sendinblue, however, is the relatively obsolete interface for today’s standard. It’s still, however, fairly stable and reliable.
Pros of Sendinblue:
- Relatively affordable, price not tiered according to contact list size
- Usable free plan, sufficient for most basic applications
- Useful design templates
- Decent third-party integrations with popular applications
Cons of Sendinblue:
- Obsolete interface, relatively difficult learning curve
- Email sending limits with each plan
You Might Want To Choose Sendinblue If: great for those with a huge email database/contacts, since Sendinblue doesn’t base it’s pricing on contact size, only on email volume.
- Free Plan: 300 emails/day, unlimited contacts, Sendinblue logo in emails
- Lite: $25/month, 40,000 emails/month, no daily sending limit, Sendinblue logo in emails
- Essential: $35/month, 60,000 emails/month, no Sendinblue logo from emails, advanced reporting
- Premium: $66/month for up to 120,000 emails/month, $173/month for 350,000 emails/month. Facebook Ads, Landing Pages, Marketing automation features.
- Custom Enterprise Plan available
4. Constant Contact
Constant Contact is one of the oldest email marketing companies in the world, has been around since as early as 1995. It is probably not as famous as other players like Aweber or Mailchimp, but in recent years it has grown as one of the largest email marketing services available.
There are only two different pricing plans available with Constant Contact: Email (their basic plan, which starts from $20/month and will be more expensive as your contact list grows, and Email Plus, with extra features like email automation and A/B testing,starting from $45/month. If you have 10,000 subscribers, for example, the Email plan will cost you $95/month, and the Email Plus will cost you $125/month.
The interface is really modern, minimalist-looking and it’s very easy to use, probably the best on this list. Also, out of the other platforms we have reviewed, Constant Contact tend to be the most reliable with quickest delivery time, so it can be a good choice if you run many time-sensitive campaigns.
The drawbacks? Anything but the sleek user interface and quick delivery time, not that Constant Contact is bad, per se, but tools like Aweber and Mailchimp offer more depth in features for slightly more affordable price.
Pros of Constant Contact:
- Easy to use, beautiful and sleek interface
- Very reliable with fast delivery time
- Simple share tool allows you to send forms across social media networks with just a single click
Cons of Constant Contact:
- Basic set of features
- Automation only included in the Email Plus plan
You Might Want To Choose Constant Contact If: You want a modern-looking interface. You need consistent fast-delivery time for time sensitive campaigns.
Pricing (price based on number of contacts, no credit card free-trial available):
- Email Plan (starts from $20/month)
- Unlimited emails
- Basic Ecommerce features
- Basic Pop-up forms features
- Email Plus Plan (starts from $45/month)
- Advanced ecommerce features
- Customizable pop-up forms
- Automated Email features
- A/B Testing features
- Dynamic Content
Drip is a relatively new player in the email marketing tools game, ‘only’ been around since 2013. However, it quickly gained popularity as the market leader, especially due to its advanced set of features and a rather unique approach to email marketing.
How unique? For instance, Drip offers a unique Event Tracking feature to “tag” all your different customers. You can assign tags to track their history with your company, for example if they’ve recently purchased a certain product or have visited a certain page on your site. This will give us an easier time to segment users to create targeted drip marketing campaigns.
Drip also includes a unique Visual Workflow builder, where we can easily design personalized and automated email campaigns. You can also add custom fields to add unique, personalized metrics for the subscribers.
As you can see, Drip—as the name suggests—, is especially focused on drip marketing features, making it an obvious choice for those looking to automate and personalize their email campaigns.
Also, with all the advanced features, Drip is surprisingly very easy to use with its intuitive user interface, and especially the visual workflows.
It’s worth noting, however, that Drip is not really an affordable option. With the subscription plan starting from $49/month for up to 2,500 contacts, it’s relatively expensive.
Pros of Drip:
- Very easy to use, modern interface
- Advanced automation and personalization features not offered by other tools
- Great event tracking to segment users and create your targeted drip marketing campaign
- Advanced lead scoring features to evaluate your campaign
Cons of Drip:
- Relatively expensive with its tiered pricing that is based on contact list size
- Although easy to use initially, has a steep learning curve with its advanced features
You Might Want To Choose Drip If: you are willing to spend slightly more for a unique tool designed specifically for personalized drip campaigns.
Pricing: price is based on number of contact list,
- Starting from $49/month for 0-2,500 contacts
- $122/month for 2,500-5,000 contacts
- $184/month for 5,000 to 10,000 contacts
- Check price for more number of contacts here.
Why Is Email Marketing Important?
Email marketing is quite similar to SEO. Seemingly each and every year, there’s always rumors and “news” stating that email marketing is dead.
However, that couldn’t be further from the truth, as various studies have suggested that email marketing remains the marketing channel with the highest ROI.
Why? Because email marketing is rather unique as a digital marketing channel, offering several key advantages that are unavailable in any other form of digital marketing, such as:
- Accessibility: with email, you can engage with prospects and customers from and to anywhere in the world, at any time of the day, with a platform almost everyone has utilized. Getting an email won’t disturb the average people even when it’s the middle of the night. This is probably the best thing of email marketing: people expect to get promotional emails, and they permit you to do it.
- Engagement and Relationship: email remains one of the best platforms to engage and build relationships with. Email is fairly easy to personalize, and as mentioned above, it’s relatively non-disruptive for the receiver. Drip marketing tools and autoresponder platforms also allow us more flexibility to engage our prospects, mainly by sending the right message, to the right people, and at the right time.
- Effective Traffic and Lead Generation: effective email marketing will translate to more traffic to your website (especially your landing page), and will later on translate to more conversions from visitors to prospects.
- Long-term Value: Even if your website is hacked or penalized permanently or even when your business went bankrupt, your email list database can still provide value for the future, and you can even start a brand new business with the email database as the backbone.
Also, email marketing is very important in its lead nurturing role. There are many different channels that can generate leads just as well, if not better (i.e. content marketing). There are also many different channels that can convert people better (i.e. advertising), but email marketing is the best when it comes to nurturing leads until they are ready to make a purchase.
Important Email Marketing Tool Features For Small Business
What should be the main consideration when choosing an email marketing tool for your small business? Here are some of the important factors to consider:
I wouldn’t say “price” here although cost is obviously important for small businesses where the biggest challenge is often the tight budget.
However, it’s also important to consider the value and benefits you get from a specific product, rather than simply looking for the cheapest possible option.
The best approach here is to first figure out the goals of your email marketing campaign, and then find out the features you’ll need from an email marketing tool to achieve these goals. Do you need advanced automation features to implement drip marketing? Do you need A/B testing to test many different campaigns? And so on.
Then, find the most affordable tool that can provide these necessary features.
How easy (and affordable) is it to scale the email marketing campaign using the said tool. Obviously our expectation is for our business, and specifically our email database to grow bigger and bigger with time.
Some email marketing tools (including ones we have reviewed above), raise their monthly fees based on your number of email subscribers. So, some tools might be quite affordable at first, but will be very expensive once you hit a certain subscribers—and you might need to switch to another platform by then.
So, it’s probably wiser to start off with a tool that provides a more affordable and accessible way to scale your campaign.
3.Ease of Use VS Flexibility
In general (but not always), you will need to sacrifice one for the other. An easy-to-use tool with a drag and drop visual builder usually will mean less versatility and reliance to templates. On the other hand, tools featuring advanced features and deep functionalities will usually require a steeper learning curve.
Considering this factor will ultimately depend on your (and your team’s) skills and resources. If you have a skillful team and are willing to spend some time to learn, then you probably won’t mind tools that offer more versatile features. On the other hand, if you are only going to use basic features, you might as well choose the most intuitive, user-friendly option.
4.Builder and Templates
How intuitive is the visual email builder, how many templates are included, how customizable are the included templates, do you any need coding knowledge to use the builder?
5. Lead Capture
Some platforms offer features to include native sign-up forms and pop-ups and will provide easier ways to convert more people into leads. Depending on the goals of your email marketing campaign, this might be an important feature to have.
6. Third-Party Integrations
More often than not, the email marketing tool is just a part of your bigger digital marketing tools ecosystem where you already have other tools and software from your CRM to social media management to marketing automation tools, among others.
In that case, you might want to choose an email marketing platform that can seamlessly integrate with your existing system.
7. Segmentation and Personalization
Personalization is the key of modern email marketing, the better you can target your audience, the more effective your email marketing campaign will be.
Some tools offer more features to segment your database, and some others might offer better automation features to personalize your messages.
Again, refer back to your email marketing goals and figure out your needs concerning this aspect.
8. A/B Testing
The more ways to test more aspects of your email marketing campaign: subject lines, message content, images, CTA button placements, send times, and so on, the better you can optimize your campaign.
In general, you should look for tools that provide A/B testing features for aspects you’d focus on. For example, if you plan to include a lot of images with your email marketing campaign, then you know what to look for.
Our Pick: And The Winner Is
It’s certainly impossible to decide the absolute best email marketing platform based on the 8 factors we’ve just discussed above. One software might shine in one factor but lack on other features. Each of the tools we have reviewed above offered different benefits and different price tags, and some might fit your needs better than the others.
So, instead of giving you just one single winner, here is our breakdown:
Best Overall Value: Aweber
Aweber offers the right combination between ease of use, decent set of features, and the right price, offering the best overall value both for beginners and experienced email marketers.
Runner Up for Best Value: MailChimp.
Not too far behind Aweber, and probably is a better choice if you don’t use email marketing for affiliate marketing campaigns.
Best For Marketing Automation: Drip
Relatively expensive, but provide the most advanced features in automation and personalization. Lives up to its name as the best platform for “Drip” marketing in this list.
Best Email Marketing Tool In a Budget: Sendinblue
Sendinblue offers more flexibility, budget-wise, because the platform doesn’t charge a higher price based on the size of your email database. If you have a big contact list size but don’t want to spend too much, Sendinblue is a great cost-effective choice.