Best Email Marketing Software and Services for 2020
Updated: April 29, 2020
Email marketing is a vital part of business marketing. An email marketing service allows businesses to send targeted emails, communicate directly with customers and build brand engagement, all with the click of a button. Business News Daily spent dozens of hours researching over 100 of the industry's top email marketing services. We examined their features and pricing, and tested many of the services firsthand to see exactly how easy (or difficult) it was to use. Here are the services we recommend, an explanation of how we chose our best picks and, below, a list of vendors. To learn more about email marketing, see what experts advise in our guide to choosing the email marketing service for your business.
Our Best Picks
Editor's note: Looking for an email marketing service? Fill out the below questionnaire to have our vendor partners contact you about your needs.
Constant Contact has two plans, Email and Email Plus, that can fit into the email marketing budget for most businesses. You can also take advantage of a 60-day free trial.
Both plans have everything you need to create professional email campaigns. Each plan comes with customizable templates, contact management and list-building tools, popup forms, tracking and reporting features, an image library, a mobile application, a knowledgebase, and support.
Constant Contact is also one of the easiest email marketing services to use. Its email editor is outstanding because it automatically scrubs your website to find your logo, colors and social media profiles. Once it has this info, you can easily customize templates to fit your business. It has dozens of templates to pick from, and you can save your favorite templates to quickly create a new email.
Sendinblue has five different pricing plans, starting with a free plan and going up to enterprise version. The free plan allows you to send 300 emails per day to unlimited contacts, and offers a mobile-friendly email designer, a template library, email personalization, SMS marketing, A/B testing, contact segmentation, customizable signup forms, a sales CRM, transactional emails, API features, templating language, a workflow editor, page tracking, real-time reporting, email support and marketing automation workflows for up to 2,000 contacts. The Enterprise plan is based on a custom price quote and includes all previous features, plus it allows for at least 10 users, managed setup, priority customer support, a dedicated account manager, dedicated infrastructure, priority sending, and an SSO.
Sendinblue offers a free plan with no credit card signup required and no timeout period. You are limited to 300 emails per day.
Mailchimp, which has a 60% share of the email marketing industry, also makes it easy to scale up if your need grows beyond the parameters of the free option. Mailchimp offers multiple paid plans that can fit into the budget of nearly any business. Each plan includes multiuser accounts, an extensive knowledgebase, marketing automation, target and segmented lists, plus analysis and testing features. Users can create and publish email campaigns, landing pages, popup forms, Google remarketing ads, and Facebook and Instagram ads with any plan.
Mailchimp is user-friendly. Even if you've never used an email marketing platform before, rest assured, MailChimp is extremely easy to learn and use. The dashboard is easy to understand, and it's simple to find all the features and tools. Its email creator offers step-by-step directions, so it's hard to miss a step. Mailchimp offers drag-and-drop tools that make creating emails, adding pictures, and customizing emails simple.
With its free starter plan, you can send email campaigns to an unlimited number of subscribers and up to 250 emails per month. The free version comes with a lot of services. However, it's missing some key features, such as behavior-based email follow-up and list management automation, website engagement automation, automated customer journey templates, shopping cart abandonment automation, master and subaccounts, and A/B testing. You can upgrade from the free plan anytime you want.
Out of all the email marketing software tools we reviewed, Benchmark was one of the easiest to use. If you're unsure how to use any of Benchmark's tools, there are support options to help you along the way, such as live chat, a blog, a monthly newsletter and videos describing how to use each feature. You can contact customer service by phone or email.
Most email marketing providers charge a monthly fee based on the number of email contacts you have or the number of emails sent, with a range of plans to choose from. Many providers have a free option with limited features, and others allow you to send out an unlimited number of emails each month. Plans with a free option typically provide limited features and up to 10,000 emails per month.
Essentially, if you know or can estimate the number of emails your company sends each month or how many subscribers you expect to have, these numbers will dictate which pricing tier you will fall into. Generally, monthly plans start around $10 for 500 contacts, reaching up to $4,000 for 1 million contacts.
For businesses that only occasionally need an email marketing service, some providers allow per-email or pay-as-you-go pricing. This is a flexible option that lets you only pay for what you use, rather than for a monthly subscription with features that may go to waste.
Most email marketing services offer a free version of their software or a free 14- or 30-day trial so you can test the software and see how it works for you. We recommend trying as many free trials as you can during your search. Pay attention to how easy it is to design emails, any specific marketing automation features you want, and what other services the software can integrate with.
Email Marketing Software Features
Here's a breakdown of the core features that email marketing solutions offer.
Email Creation Tool
Most services provide a user-friendly drag-and-drop tool that allows you to customize your emails, or they provide customizable premade templates. Some providers have templates that show you how your email will look on multiple devices, including laptops, tablets and mobile phones, which can help you design a flexible and responsive email.
Many email marketing services come with analytics services that provide information such as open rates, click-through rates, bounce rates, audience geolocation, conversion tracking, customer behavior trends and more. Some integrate with Google Analytics, while others provide their own analytics that present the info in easy-to-read charts and graphs.
Marketing automation refers to the ability of the service to send specific, targeted emails to certain customers when they complete a specific action. For example, if a visitor to your website signs up to receive emails from you, the marketing automation tool in your email marketing provider triggers a welcome email to be sent to that customer's inbox. Marketing automation can be an effective timesaver, and many email marketing services offer ways to make automated emails more personal, which leads to higher engagement and ROI.
Segmentation is another helpful way to deliver more relevant messages to your audience by grouping them by things like age, location, gender, industry or interests. Segmentation allows you to send different emails to different groups, rather than sending one mass email that may not be relevant to your entire customer base.
A contact management tool helps you acquire, sort and manage email contacts; it also provides features like automatic deletion of dead or duplicate contacts, importing, exporting, grouping, and integrating with other management tools like a CRM or CMS.
Social Media Integration
Most email marketing services integrate with social media platforms, which allows you to grow your contact list, schedule posts and track your followers' engagement to determine what's popular. Integrating your social media with email marketing helps make the most of multichannel marketing by providing more information about your customers as well as more opportunities for them to see messages from you.
Benefits of an Email Marketing Service
Email marketing isn't necessary for every business. However, for some businesses, it is a good way to reach customers and improve your overall marketing strategy. Email is one of the most-used communication channels, which makes it a prime opportunity for businesses to get their message out.
It can also increase engagement for your business, both on your website and social media platforms, by encouraging customers to click links. By sending regular emails to your customers, such as thanking them for subscribing or sending a discount code, you can build rapport and trust, which in turn creates a higher likelihood of return customers.
Email marketing also provides an excellent opportunity for personalized marketing, which has become increasingly popular among consumers. Most email marketing services allow you to customize your emails based on personal details, location, customer behavior, location and more, which leads to a more fulfilling shopping experience for your customer.
Email Marketing Software FAQs
Q: What is an email marketing strategy?
A: Like all marketing strategies, no two email marketing strategies are the same. An email marketing strategy is designed to help you reach your marketing goals, whether that is improving brand recognition, increasing sales or keeping your customers up to date.
Once you identify your marketing goals, you can create a series of emails and workflows with tools such as automation, email templates, and list segmentation.
Q: What is the difference between traditional email marketing messages and transactional messages?
A: Traditional email marketing is designed to communicate with many people. These emails can share information about your business, such as news, promotions and special events. You can send these to your entire subscriber list or only segments of your list.
Transactional emails are sent to individual customers after they perform certain actions. For example, when a customer makes an online purchase from a business, the confirmation email they receive is a transactional email.
Q: Why is an effective email marketing strategy so important?
A: Email marketing is one of the most cost-effective ways to market your products and reach your customers. If done correctly, email marketing campaigns can help you build trust with your customers, encourage users to visit your website, and ultimately result in more sales and satisfied customers.
Q: How do I know if my email marketing campaigns are working?
A: The best email marketing services have extensive reporting and analytics. To determine if your email marketing campaigns are successful, check the recorded data once an email is sent. The reports should indicate how many people received your email, the click-through rate, bounces, etc.
Q: What features does email marketing software offer?
A: Email marketing software provides many valuable tools and features, including:
Segmentation tools: These tools let you send out different emails to different types of customers. For example, a retailer might create a campaign to highlight its new men's and women's clothing lines. Instead of sending the same message to everyone, the retailer can send women emails that feature the line's new dresses, blouses and skirts, while men receive an email highlighting new slacks, polo shirts and socks.
A/B split testing: This tool allows you to test alternate versions of your email to see which one resonates with customers, whether it's due to different subject lines, photos or messages. This feature helps you create campaigns with the best chance of success.
Inbox preview: Many services let you see exactly how an email looks within various email clients, such as Outlook or Gmail, as well as on different mobile devices. This allows you to make sure your designs look the same regardless of which email client customers use.
Spam filters: This helps your emails land in customers' inboxes instead of getting stuck in spam folders. This tool examines each email's subject line, links, images, etc. If a certain aspect of an email might cause it to go to the spam folder, you will know ahead of time and can change it before launching your campaign.
- Mobility: Most providers offer mobile apps that allow you to create and monitor campaigns from your smartphone. Some apps let you monitor your distribution list.
Q: How do email marketing services help you grow and maintain your contact lists?
A: Email marketing services offer several tools to help you obtain and manage email addresses from your customers. Most software options integrate with your current email address book to start your list. In addition, many provide the ability to embed sign-up forms into your website and social media accounts to grow your contacts.
Once you run a campaign, most software solutions have automatic tools that keep your list up to date by removing inactive addresses and customers who unsubscribe from your emails.
Q: What are automation tools, and how do they make the email marketing process easier?
A: Automation tools allow businesses to set up recurring emails, which automatically go to certain subscribers based on specific actions they take. For example, if you set up a welcome series, a contact will receive a welcome email once they subscribe to your list.
Q: How much does email marketing cost?
A: Most providers offer monthly plans based on the number of contacts you have. Monthly costs vary greatly. Costs may range from $10-$15 for 500 contacts to $4,000 to send emails to more than 1 million contacts. Some companies offer a free version or free trial. In addition to the monthly plans, some email marketing services offer a pay-as-you-go option, which means you pay for a bulk number of emails.
Q: Is it really feasible for someone without marketing experience to master email marketing?
A: While you might not hit a home run with your first campaign, email marketing services provide everything you need to eventually become successful. The software offers a selection of design tools to help you create emails (including templates and samples), contact management solutions to help you manage and grow your distribution list, and analytics to determine if what you're doing is working.
Q: What types of analytics do email marketing services provide?
A: One of the biggest reasons email marketing is so popular with businesses is that you can track its success. Services typically provide details, such as who opened your email, who immediately deleted it, who forwarded the email to others, and who bought your product or service.
You can drill down into the data even more by looking at the days and times emails are being opened, and the types of customers – male, female, old, young, etc. – who engage with your emails most. All of this information helps you increase the success of future campaigns.
Q: Can you use email marketing in conjunction with social media?
A: Yes, most email marketing services let you take advantage of the social media following you've built. Many providers let you connect your campaigns with your social networks, so your emails automatically post to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other social platforms. In addition, the services let you collect email addresses for your contact list with prebuilt social media sign-up pages.
You can also get data on whether your email campaigns are resonating on social media by checking which messages are being liked and shared on Facebook or retweeted on Twitter.
Q: Does the software integrate with any programs I already use, such as Salesforce?
A: Yes, most email marketing services integrate with at least some popular business applications. The most common integrations are with Salesforce, WordPress, Shopify and Magento. These integrations save you time and resources by automatically transferring content between your programs and email marketing platform. In addition, some providers let you tap into their application programming interface to build your own custom integrations.
Q: What if I have trouble with the service? What help is available?
A: Whether a problem occurs when you're designing an email, managing your contact list or deciphering the analytics, most service providers offer customer support, either through live chat or a toll-free number. Rather than sending an email and waiting hours or days for an answer, you can reach the service and get help for the problems you're experiencing. Additionally, most providers have an extensive knowledgebase of user guides, videos, and whitepapers that explain the ins and outs of the service and how to use each feature.
Q: What should I look for in an email marketing service provider?
A: Ensuring that the software actually delivers your email is one of the most critical aspects of any service. You want a service that delivers your emails to your customers' inboxes – not their spam folders. Segmentation and automation are also critical features small businesses should look for.
Q: How do I choose an email marketing software solution?
A: When deciding on which email marketing software is right for you, draw up a list of features that are essential, features you would like but could live without, and features that you do not need or want. Then narrow down your choices based on these lists. Determine what you want your email marketing service to do for you, and what you are hoping to get out of it.
Our Previous Best Picks
At Business News Daily, we are dedicated to finding the best products and services for small businesses. We know that your time is limited, and we invest hours into research and testing so you feel confident about our recommendations.
Each year we update our best picks, and when we do, we investigate new changes and companies in the industry, and we thoroughly scrutinize products and services, both new and existing. Our process also involves revisiting companies previously selected as best picks to evaluate whether they truly are the best in their category.
In addition to our recommendations this year, to help you find the best email marketing service, below is a list of companies we previously selected as winners:
To help you find the right email marketing service, we researched and analyzed dozens of options. Here is a roundup of our 2020 best picks and how we chose them.
Locating the Best Services
To determine the best email marketing service, we started with 86 services, which we came up with after conducting research online and interviewing small business owners to see what services they used and liked.
Choosing the Best Services
We narrowed our list down to 60 services, eliminating vendors that were not U.S.-based, those that did not specialize in email marketing and those that had a poor online reputation.
Researching Each Service
We researched each email marketing service by investigating its services, watching tutorials and how-to videos, testing the software (when possible) and reading user reviews. We also evaluated each service's pricing structure.
Analyzing Each Service
We then contacted each company's customer service department by phone, email or live chat posing as new a business owner to gauge the level of support each service provided. We analyzed each service based on the following factors: ease of use, cost, deliverability rates, email creation tools, list management tools, analytics, social media integration, third-party software integrations, mobile access, transactional email capabilities, automation and customer service.
Full List of Email Marketing Services
Atomic Email Studio
Campaign Monitor Software
Dialog Insight Software
Email Marketing Professional
Odoo Email Marketing
Winning Email Software
Xert Precision Suite
Editor's note: Looking for an email marketing service? Fill out the below questionnaire to have our vendor partners contact you about your needs.