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The Best Email Marketing Services and Survey Software of 2020

By Kiely Kuligowski,
business.com Writer
| Updated
Oct 13, 2020

Here are our picks for the best email marketing services in 2020, including for small business, large business, free, low-cost, overall and survey software.
Best Overall
Free trial
Detailed analytics tools
Unlimited emails
Best Low Cost
Free plan with 250 emails/month
Unlimited subscribers
Build your own emails
Best Free
Popular "Forever Free" plan
12,000 monthly emails
Customizable templates
Best for Larger Businesses
Pay for what you use
Unlimited contacts
Contact segmentation
Here are our picks for the best email marketing services in 2020, including for small business, large business, free, low-cost, overall and survey software.
Updated 10/13/20

This page has been updated to include information on Mailchimp's new Customer Journeys feature and acquisition of Inspector 6, an AI platform that offers recommendations to optimize your marketing efforts.

Update: This page has been updated to include information on Mailchimp's new Customer Journeys feature.

Email marketing has grown exponentially as a service in the last decade. There are dozens upon dozens of providers that offer different combinations of features at varying price points, making it difficult to find the right service for your small business.

To help you find the best solution for your needs, we spent dozens of hours researching and evaluating nearly 90 email marketing services. We scrutinized the features they offer, how easy or complex the platforms are to use, and their costs. Below are our best picks. We selected four services: the best overall email marketing service, the best service for larger businesses, the best free service and the best low-cost service. Read our reviews, then scroll down to read the important features to look for in an email marketing service and see what questions the business.com community has about email marketing services.

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How We Decided
Our team spends weeks evaluating dozens of business solutions to identify the best options. To stay current, our research is regularly updated.
86
Considered
44
Researched
4
Selected

Compare Our Best Picks

  Benchmark Mailchimp ConstantContact SendInBlue
Creation tool(s) Templates, drag-and-drop editor Templates, custom branding Drag-and-drop editor, templates Drag-and-drop editor
Pricing Free to $43.99/mo. Free to $299/mo. $20 to $65/mo. Free to $66/mo.
Free trial available? No. Free starter plan No. Free starter plan 60 days No. Free starter plan

Reviews

Constant Contact: Best Overall Email Marketing Service

Constant Contact boasts a 97% deliverability rate.
Pricing is based on list size.
With the free trial, you are limited to sending emails to 100 contacts.
Visit Site

Constant Contact is our pick as the best overall email marketing service – it has everything a small business needs to create effective campaigns, with affordable plans and easy-to-use tools. You can send an unlimited number of emails, and prices are based on the number of subscribers on your contact list. Its email editor is very simple to use, and when we sent emails with Constant Contact, they went to the right inboxes.

 

Constant Contact Pricing

Constant Contact has two plans, Email and Email Plus, that can fit into the budgets of most small businesses. Additionally, Constant Contact offers a 60-day free trial.  

Both plans have everything you need to create professional email campaigns. With each plan, you can send unlimited emails. Each plan comes with customizable templates, contact management and list-building tools, pop-up forms, tracking and reporting features, an image library and a mobile app.

The difference between the two plans is that Email Plus offers dynamic signup forms, 2GB of file storage, access for up to 10 users, email automation, event marketing, online donations, plus surveys and coupons. Here's more that you should know about Constant Contact's pricing:

  • The prices for both plans are based on list size. If you prepay for six months, you receive a 10% discount; if you prepay for 12 months, you get a 15% discount. Additional discounts are available for nonprofits. Special plans are available for franchises and associations.

  • Prices for the Email plan start at $20 per month for up to 500 subscribers and $65 per month for up to 5,000 contacts. The most expensive package is $335, which supports 50,000 contacts.

  • The cheapest package for the Email Plus plan starts at $45 per month, and you can send emails up to 500 contacts. For 2,500 contacts, the cost is $70 per month. The most expensive package is $335 for 50,000 contacts.

  • If you have more than 50,000 subscribers, you need to reach out to Constant Contact for a price quote.

  • If your contact list changes from one billing cycle to the next, Constant Contact will automatically adjust your fee.

  • The 60-day free trial includes all of Constant Contact's tools, including templates, images, an email editor, contact management, reporting and live support. But, you can only send emails to 100 contacts or less.

Constant Contact Features

Constant Contact has an array of tools that make it easy to create eye-catching, appealing email marketing campaigns. Here's what we liked about Constant Contact.

A/B Split Testing

With Constant Contact's A/B testing feature, you create two different subject lines that are each sent to a portion of your contact list. The software determines the better-performing subject line and automatically sends the winner to the rest of your audience.

Autoresponders

With Constant Contact's autoresponders, you can create a series of personalized, automated emails that will be sent automatically based on certain triggers. You can automate emails such as welcome messages to new subscribers, and birthday and anniversary emails to existing customers.

Deliverability

Constant Contact boasts a 97% deliverability rate. The company also offers resources on its website where you can learn about email best practices and phrases that may trigger spam filters.

Email Editor

When you click "Create Email," you have the choice to add your website. If you select that option, Constant Contact scrubs your website to find your brand's colors, logo and social media accounts, then adding them to the email. Next, you pick a template and edit it using the drag-and-drop tools. If you aren't sure how to use the email editor, a video automatically plays when you're in the editor for the first time. When we used Constant Contact's email editor, we created and sent an email in less than 10 minutes. The emails we sent hit the right inboxes, not the "spam" or "promotions" folder.

Email Templates

Constant Contact has dozens of templates in its library. Each template is reusable and built for both desktop and mobile. Once you pick a template, you can customize it with your own images as well as your brand's colors and fonts.

List Management

You can upload your existing contacts with Excel, Outlook and Salesforce. When you upload new contacts, you can use tags to categorize them, such as "VIP donor" and "prospect." Constant Contact automatically removes duplicates and unsubscribed contacts for you so you don't have to manually manage your lists.

Reporting

Once you send emails out, you can immediately view reports from the campaign. Statistics include open rates, click rates, the number of emails sent, bounces, successful deliveries, unsubscribes, spam reports, and did not opens. You can also view what links are clicked, social media statistics and poll responses. In this dashboard, you have the option to resend an email.

Pros

We found a lot of positives to Constant Contract. Among the benefits that stood out most to us include: 

  • Ease of use: Constant Contact is one of the easiest email marketing services to use. Its email editor is outstanding. Even if you have never designed an email, the editor automatically scrubs your website to find your logo, colors and social media profiles. Once it has this information, you can easily customize templates to create an appealing email. There are dozens of templates to pick from, and you can save your favorite templates so you can quickly reuse it to create a new email. 
  • Integrations: Constant Contact integrates with several other services, such as Excel, Salesforce, Outlook and list-building tools. You can sync contact data easily and so much more. Constant Contact has integrations for the software applications that a lot of small businesses use and rely on. 
  • Automation: You can send automatic emails triggered by customer actions so you have a response in place when consumers are interested in your products or services.

Cons

There were a couple of potential drawbacks to be aware of. Here are some limitations of Constant Contact.

  • No free option: While Constant Contact has a 60-day free trial, many email marketing services provide a free version of their software, often with limited capabilities. Constant Contact does not offer a free option.

  • Limited A/B testing variables: The best email marketing services let you compare multiple variables with your A/B tests, such as different designs. Constant Contact's A/B testing feature only lets you change email subject lines, which is limiting.

Customer Support

Constant Contact has a variety of resources to help you. Along with its extensive knowledgebase and videos, it offers chat and phone support. When we reached out, Constant Contact's representative was helpful and not at all pushy, and answered all of our questions.

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Benchmark Email: Best Low Cost Email Marketing Service

Benchmark offers a mobile app for on-the-go access.
The software includes a responsive email creator.
Emails may land in spam folders if you use a personal address.

When looking for an email marketing service, it's important to find one that offers all the tools and features you need at a price point that makes sense for your business. Benchmark is our best pick for a low-cost email marketing service because it has a wide range of plans to suit the budget of any small business. Benchmark also boasts key automation features to make your email campaigns more efficient and effective, as well as responsive templates and an easy-to-use email editor.

 

Benchmark Pricing

A standout benefit of Benchmark is the selection of service plans it offers. The plans are based on the number of subscribers your business has. All plans include a simple drag-and-drop email editor, responsive templates, signup forms, basic drip campaigns, RSS email campaigns, email delivery management, Google Analytics tracking, list management and segmentation, list hygiene, reports, surveys and polls, unlimited video storage, and 10MB of free image gallery storage. All plans also offer multiple integrations, including ones with social media, e-commerce, email templates and existing contact lists.

Here is a breakdown of Benchmark's pricing and terms:

  • With its free starter plan, you can send email campaigns to an unlimited number of subscribers and up to 250 emails per month. This free version includes a lot of services, but it's missing some key features, such as behavior-based email follow-up and list management automation, website engagement automation, automated customer journey templates, automated responses to shopping cart abandonment, targeted emailing, master accounts and subaccounts, and A/B testing. You can start with the free plan and upgrade anytime you want.

  • Paid packages start at $13.99 per month for 600 subscribers. Every paid plan includes every feature, including Benchmark's automation tool (Marketing Automation Pro) and unlimited email sends.

  • If you have 1,000 subscribers, the packages start at $21.99 per month. Prices start at $31.99 for 2,500 subscribers, and at $81.99 for 10,000 subscribers.

  • Benchmark has plans for every size of business, including those with massive contact lists. Its most expensive plan is $29,200 per month for 7.14 million subscribers.

Add-ons are available with any plan. For instance, the list verification add-on ensures you have the highest-quality subscribers and deliverability. This feature is an extra $3 per month for every 1,000 subscribers.

For an extra $5 a month, you can upgrade from basic storage to unlimited storage for image hosting. You also have the option, for $28.95 per month, to add a dedicated IP, which gives you more control of your sending reputation and delivery to inboxes.

To see how your email campaigns will look on any device on every browser, you can add inbox checkers for an extra $14 per month for 100 tests. Benchmark doesn't offer a free trial, but you can try out its free version before upgrading to a paid account.

Benchmark Features

Benchmark has a vast set of features and tools that anyone can use to create successful and attractive email campaigns.

A/B Split Testing 

You can compare campaigns to determine which one performs the best. For instance, you can test two different subject lines and send the highest performer to the remaining subscribers. A/B testing is also available for delivery times; Benchmark will determine when your subscribers are most likely to open your email campaigns.

Email and Newsletter Templates 

Benchmark has an extensive list of attractive and customizable templates for different industries, holidays and email types. Once you pick a template, it's simple to customize it with your brand's colors, photos and logo.

Email Designer 

Benchmark offers different features that make it simple for any marketer to create an eye-catching email. The drag-and-drop editor allows you to create emails from a layout or template, so you can deliver a professional and attractive newsletter even if you lack graphic design experience. All you have to do is drag and drop feature blocks and images into place.

The tools to create automatic responses, surveys and polls are also very user-friendly. Each takes you through the process step by step. You can edit your images by adding effects, stickers or a message over your photo. Even if you're new to mass-email software, you can easily create successful email campaigns.

The code editor is for individuals who want to do their own coding. You can write your own HTML or copy and paste from another source. With the plain text editor, you also have the option to create text-only emails with no images or formatting options. If you're good at HTML, you can build your own email from scratch or edit the HTML of a template. You can use the dual view to see the design of the email while you're still editing it.  

Inbox Checker 

Before you send out your email, you can preview it in Firefox, Internet Explorer and Chrome. Along with web-based previews and Window and Mac OS inboxes, you can see how it will appear on mobile devices.

Integrations 

Benchmark works with more than 300 other applications, including WordPress, Facebook, Google, Shopify, Slack, Etsy and Salesforce. With the WordPress plugin, you can build an email list directly on your WordPress website and send email versions of your blog posts. With Facebook, you can put Benchmark's email signup form on your business's page to allow visitors to subscribe to your emails without leaving Facebook.  

List Builder 

Along with attractive emails and effective drip campaigns, building your list of contacts is critical to successful email campaigns. To get users to subscribe, you can put Benchmark's popup and embeddable email signup forms on your website, blog or social networks.

The list management tool allows you to segment, import and integrate your contact lists. You can segment your lists by demographics, likes and dislikes, or geolocation to send the most appropriate content to each customer.

You can add contacts to your list one at a time by copying and pasting in email addresses, or in bulk by importing XLS, CSV and TXT files. Benchmark integrates with a lot of third-party applications, which makes it easy to upload your existing lists from other services. When you input contacts, you can also enter a lot of information about each one – including their address, phone number and important dates like their birthday – to build comprehensive customer profiles. This information is particularly handy for drip campaigns.

With contact list automation, you can automatically send emails based on each contact's information, like a birthday discount or other event-based email. You can also automate actions based on customers' opens and clicks in email campaigns.

Marketing Automation Pro 

Benchmark's Marketing Automation Pro gives you the ability to send out automated email series triggered by website and email engagement. With this tool, you can easily design a customer journey and not worry about sending follow-up emails.

Marketing Automation Pro works by allowing you to pick a trigger, such as when a customer subscribes and is added to your contact list. Then Benchmark sends the email you chose – in this case, a welcome email. It will then follow up at the optimal time, usually a couple days later.

Benchmark allows you to create multiple automated journeys for your customers. You can use one of its marketing automation templates or create your own. Its featured templates include welcome messages for new subscribers, promotions that target follow-ups based on opens or clicks, and feedback requests.  

Email Campaign Analytics 

Once you send your email, you can immediately view a report that shows the total numbers of recipients, opens, clicks, bounces and unsubscribes. The report graphs the data in a way that's easy to understand. This dashboard shows your campaign's link performance, displaying the URLs clicked and a click map. You can also view opens by geolocation of customers.

Pros

As one of our best picks, Benchmark offers considerable benefits. These are some we found especially valuable.

  • Ease of use: Of the email marketing software tools we reviewed, Benchmark is one of the easiest to use. All of its tools walk you through each step. If you're unsure how to use any of the 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. It also has a phone line and email available for customer service.

  • Responsive email creator: When we used Benchmark's drag-and-drop editor, we were able to create an interactive and responsive email with custom pictures, colors and content in a matter of minutes. With more than 200 templates designed for specific industries and holidays, it's easy to find a relevant template. Another tool that makes building emails a breeze is the image library. You can add frequently used pictures, such as logos in your library, in seconds.

  • Contact management tool: Benchmark's contact management and automation tools are simple to use. Each tool provides easy-to-follow steps, and there are videos throughout the dashboard to ensure you know what you're doing.   

  • Mobile app: Benchmark has a mobile application for iPhone and Android that makes it easy to view your emails, add contacts and see analytics on your email campaigns.

  • Variety of plans: Benchmark offers a selection of plans based on the number of subscribers a business has, and it has a free version you can test before committing to a paid service.

Cons

The only problem we had with Benchmark was that our emails sometimes landed in spam folders. However, we sent emails from a personal Gmail account, which are less credible than emails sent from a company or business domain. When you select a personal email as the "from" address, Benchmark warns you that using a personal or general ISP email address like Gmail, Yahoo, or Outlook hurts delivery rates.

Customer Support

We were pleased with Benchmark's customer support. The representatives were prompt and courteous when we spoke over live chat, answering all our questions. You can contact Benchmark by phone, live chat or email.

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Mailchimp: Best Free Email Marketing Software

Users of Mailchimp have access to a full-featured free version.
The Mailchimp interface is very user-friendly.
Mailchimp does not offer live chat support with its free plan.

Mailchimp is our pick for the best free email marketing service. When you're looking for an email marketing service, it's important to find one that has a range of tools that make creating successful and professional email marketing campaigns simple and easy. You want a service with an easy-to-use email editor, the capability to create segmented lists and drip campaigns, which are pre-written messages sent to customers in a series of emails. Other key features to look for include contact management tools, detailed reports and analytics, A/B split-testing tools, spam filters that ensure your email lands in customer inboxes, and automated workflows. The best email marketing services offer a free plan or at least a free trial so you can test out the platform first before spending valuable marketing dollars. Mailchimp checks all of these boxes.

 

Mailchimp Pricing

Mailchimp offers multiple plans that can fit into the budget of nearly any business. Each plan includes multiuser accounts, Mailchimp's extensive knowledgebase, marketing automation, target and segmented lists, as well as analysis and testing features. Besides creating and sending email campaigns, users can create landing pages, pop-up forms, Google Remarketing Ads, and Facebook and Instagram ads with any plan. 

Here is a breakdown of Mailchimp's plans and what they offer: 

  • Mailchimp's Forever Free plan comes with an extensive list of features. Free plans accommodate up to 2,000 contacts, and you can send up to 12,000 emails per month. This plan is free until you have more than 2,000 contacts. 

  • The Essentials plan is based on the number of subscribers you have. Prices start at $9.99 per month for 500 contacts and end at $25 per month if you have between 1,501 to 2,000 contacts. The Essentials plan includes everything in the free plan along with the ability to add custom branding, access to live chat and email support, more target and segmentation tools, as well as increased reporting and testing tools. To find out how much you would pay for the Growing Business package, use Mailchimp's pricing calculator. 

  • Mailchimp's Standard plan starts at $14.99 per month for 500 contacts and includes everything from the Essentials and Free plans, plus advanced analytics, retargeting ads, custom templates, and event-based automation series.

  • Mailchimp Premium starts at $299 per month; it is suited for larger businesses that require increased capabilities and support. Premium includes all the features from the previous plans, plus advanced segmentation, multivariate testing, unlimited role-based user access and phone support.

Mailchimp Features

Here are some of Mailchimp's best features.

A/B Testing

With A/B testing, you can determine what subject lines are the most effective, what name should be in your "From" field, and if different times affect the click rate. Mailchimp's A/B testing lets you determine the size of your sample group and build three different versions. It sends the winning email to the remainder of your contact list. 

Analytics

Even with the Forever Free plan, you get a good set of metrics. The Reports dashboard informs you who opened your email, what links they clicked, what emails bounced and who unsubscribed. The reports also document successful deliveries, the number of forwards, clicks per unique opens and spam complaints. Mailchimp tracks subscribers with the most opens and the social performance of your campaigns; the numbers and reports are outlined in graphs, which makes understanding the data simple. 

Automation

With Mailchimp's marketing automation tools, your emails get to the right people at the right time. You can target campaigns to contacts based on behaviors and preferences. When you create automated campaigns, you can pick from pre-designed workflows or build your own with custom rules. Mailchimp's automations include a welcome series, a happy birthday email and notifications for new blog updates. Others are available based on subscriber activity, e-commerce workflows and more. 

Build Ads and Landing Pages

With Mailchimp, you can create Google, Facebook or Instagram ads. You can also create mobile-friendly landing pages. Mailchimp has two versatile landing page templates that you then modify to create and publish landing pages. 

Email Editor

Mailchimp's email editor is simple. To get started, you can begin with a basic layout, themed template or code your own email. Its responsive templates and designs are created for all devices, including desktop and mobile. With the email editor, you can personalize the "To" field with each contact's first name, last name, or both. You then set how the sender will be listed and what the subject line will be with your email. When it comes to the design of your email, drag-and-drop tools make it simple to customize every aspect of the template: text, dividers, images, videos, social shares and social follows. You can also add frequently used pictures, such as logos, to your image gallery so it's easy to quickly find and insert pictures. Before sending your email, Mailchimp scans it for any errors that could cause it to land in a spam folder. You also have the option to share your campaign on both Facebook and Twitter.

Integrations

Mailchimp integrates with several applications, including hundreds of e-commerce apps like Shopify, Magento, WooCommerce, PrestaShop and BigCommerce. By integrating Mailchimp with your e-commerce store, you can capture order information, create targeted campaigns, automate follow-ups and send personalized notifications. 

Mailchimp Pro 

Mailchimp Pro is an add-on with advanced features. It costs $199 per month (sorry, Pro cannot be used with the Forever Free plan) and for that monthly fee, you get more list segmentation options, additional list fields and TimeWarp. With the regular Mailchimp, you are allowed 30 list fields; Pro users, however, have access to 50 more fields. These extra fields let you personalize and target your campaign content. TimeWarp schedules delivery of email campaigns based on subscribers' time zone. Another thing that's unique about Mailchimp Pro versus the other plans is greater flexibility with A/B split testing. For instance, you can preview your email and see exactly what it will look like in different email clients and on different devices. While regular Mailchimp plans come with A/B testing, the Pro add-on includes a more robust version that lets you test multiple variables to see how various changes affect different aspects of your campaigns. Finally, Mailchimp Pro provides better analytics, including comparative reports, compliance insights, delivery insights and stop delivery.

Pros

There are a number of benefits to using Mailchimp, including:

  • Ease of use: 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 the features and tools you need. Its email creator offers step-by-step directions, so it's hard to miss a step. Mailchimp also offers drag-and-drop tools that make creating emails, adding pictures, and customizing emails simple.

  • An online knowledgebase: If you have a question, you can browse through Mailchimp's knowledgebase and blog that offer answers to a number of frequently asked questions. It has guides on how to build an email list and how to create a marketing automation journey.

  • A mobile app: Mailchimp's mobile app lets you create and send campaigns from your phone or tablet. You can also manage lists, add new subscribers and analyze reports on the go. Additionally, the app can send you sales notifications and daily summaries of your campaigns' performance.

  • Automation: With Mailchimp's free version, there are more than enough analytics to pinpoint what is working with your email campaigns and what isn't. The reports show who is opening your emails, what links people are clicking on, who unsubscribed, and what email addresses bounced. 

Cons

There are a couple of items to be aware of with Mailchimp. Here's what you need to know before signing up:

  • Limitations with the free plan: The Forever Free plan doesn't provide ongoing customer service. You get access to email support for 30 days, and live chat isn't offered at all. However, there is an extensive knowledgebase and blog that can answer most of your questions.

  • Deliverability with Gmail: A second concern with Mailchimp concerns how emails are delivered in Gmail. Mailchimp states that it doesn't have any control when it comes to the placement of its emails in Gmail. When we sent emails to Gmail accounts, they landed in the promotions tab. While the promotions tab is better than having your email go to the spam folder, users are less likely to check that tab as often as the primary tab in Gmail.

Customer Service

Mailchimp offers online resources and a contact form available on its website. And while live chat isn't available with free accounts, when we reached out to Mailchimp through email, we received a response the next day. The representative answered all our questions and wasn't pushy. When you sign up with the free plan, you have access to email support for the first 30 days. After that, if you need one-on-one help, you can always browse through Mailchimp's guides and tutorials. And if you decide you want more features with your emails, Mailchimp's paid plans are very reasonable and still easy to use.

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Sendinblue: Best Email Marketing Service for Larger Businesses

Sendinblue offers a full-featured free plan with no use limit and four paid pricing plans.
You can design your own email templates.
With the free plan, you are limited to sending up to 300 emails a day.

When you're looking for an email marketing service for a large business, it's important to find one that has the tools to make creating professional email marketing campaigns simple and easy. You want a service with an easy-to-use email editor and the capability to create segmented lists as well as drip campaigns. 

Sendinblue is our pick for the best email marketing service for larger businesses, because its multiple pricing plans make it easy for enterprise companies to get great email marketing at reasonable prices. It also offers automation features to make your email marketing more efficient, round-the-clock support and GDPR compliance.

 

Sendinblue Pricing

Sendinblue offers five different pricing plans, starting with a free plan and going up to enterprise. Here is a detailed breakdown of each plan:

  • 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 Lite plan is $25 for 40,000 emails per month and includes all features from the free plan plus no daily sending limit.

  • The Essential plan is $39 for 60,000 emails per month and includes all features from the free and Lite plans plus the removal of the Sendinblue logo from your emails and access to advanced statistics.

  • The Premium plan is $66 for 120,000 emails per month or $173 for 350,000 emails per month and includes all features from the previous plans plus Facebook ads, landing pages, marketing automation, live chat support and multi-user access.

  • The Enterprise plan is based on custom quotes and includes all previous features plus 10 or more users, managed setup, priority customer support, a dedicated account manager, dedicated infrastructure, priority sending and single sign-on.

Sendinblue Features

Drag-and-Drop Editor

Sendinblue offers an easy-to-use drag-and-drop email editor with predesigned templates and the ability to create your own templates from scratch.

Email Customization

The editor makes it easy to add custom touches to every email with dynamic personalization features. This helps boost engagement and create return customers.

Segmentation

Sendinblue allows you to segment your contacts into groups based on criteria such as age, gender, geolocation and behavior to ensure you send the right emails to the right recipients.

A/B Testing

With A/B testing, you can determine what subject lines are the most effective, what name should be in your "from" field, and if different send times affect the click rate. Sendinblue's A/B tests let you determine the size of your sample groups and build multiple variations, and Sendinblue will send the winning email to the remainder of your contact list. 

Automation 

Sendinblue's marketing automation tools ensure your emails get to the right people at the right time. You can target contacts based on behaviors and preferences. When you create automated campaigns, you can pick from predesigned workflows or build your own with custom rules. Some options for automated campaigns are a welcome series for new email subscribers, birthday emails and notifications for blog updates. Others are available based on subscriber activity, e-commerce workflows and more. 

CRM

Sendinblue offers easy setup with a CRM to help you manage your customer relationships. The CRM centralizes all of your contacts' information, automatically organizes the information for more effective communication, and allows you to set tasks, assign them to members of your team and set deadlines.

Marketing Automation

You can increase efficiency and save time by setting up workflows based on customer information and behavior. By setting triggered emails, you can automatically send signup forms or welcome emails to new customers, or you can go advanced and create custom workflows for each customer.

Transactional Emails

Sendinblue makes it easy to set up and send transactional emails by providing different setup options, including API, SMTP Relay, e-commerce plugins and marketing automation. You can customize the types of email you want, and monitor your emails' success rate with engagement and deliverability statistics.

Signup Forms and Landing Pages

You can grow your contact list with embedded signup forms in your emails, and foster a more targeted visitor experience by creating dedicated landing pages for each of your unique campaigns.

Pros

Sendinblue offers several advantages that made it one of our best picks. These are some aspects that make it particularly useful.

  • Free plan: Rather than a free trial, Sendinblue offers a free version of its software that allows up to 300 emails per day and unlimited contacts, with no contract or credit card details required. The free version provides all the necessary features to create an effective email campaign, and you can use it for as long as you like.

  • Ease of use: Sendinblue's email creation tool is straightforward and easy to use, with a drag-and-drop editor and a selection of email templates. You can upload your own images, though they must be 5MB or smaller, and edit them with a variety of built-in tools.

  • SMS capability: Sendinblue also offers SMS (texting) integration, meaning you can import your texting contacts and send text-message campaigns with your email marketing account.

  • Marketing automation: Sendinblue offers several marketing automation features – including detailed workflows, custom rules and triggered emails – to save time and streamline your campaigns.

Cons

Despite its many benefits, there are a few potential issues that large businesses should be aware of before moving forward with Sendinblue. 

  • Basic templates: The predesigned templates are limited compared to some other companies' selections, and you cannot customize them – which would be fine for a company looking for simple and straightforward templates, but not ideal for a large company with complex, highly specific needs and widely diverse audience segments.

  • Limited integrations: Sendinblue does offer a variety of integrations with other programs, but it has fewer than most of the other companies we reviewed, so it may be missing an integration with software that's an important part of your workflow.

  • Low daily send limit on free plan: While the free plan offers many features, it has a daily send limit of 300 emails. While this is pretty standard for a free plan, large businesses should consider this before opting for the free version. For many midsize and large businesses, this may remove the otherwise-convenient free plan as an option..

Customer Support

Sendinblue offers multiple help pages, online tutorials and FAQs, and an online submission form and phone number for technical help. When we reached out to the company, we spoke to a friendly and helpful representative who answered our questions and was not pushy in trying to sell us on the software.

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How Much Will You Spend on an Email Marketing Service?

Most email marketing providers charge a monthly fee based on the number of contacts you have and the number of emails you plan to send. Plans then vary further based on specific features. 

On average, monthly plans range in price from $10 per month for 500 contacts to $4,000 per month for 1 million contacts. Services that have a free option typically provide limited features in the free version and cap the number of emails to 10,000 per month. 

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 ‒ you only pay for what you use rather than paying money each month for a subscription 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 out the software and see how it works for you. 

We recommend trying as many free trials as you can during your search so you truly get a feel for which email marketing service offers the best solution for your business. Pay attention to how easy it is to design emails, seek out services that offer the marketing automation features you want (e.g. autoresponders, templates, etc.), and see what other applications the software can integrate with.

Buying Guide

Negotiation Tips

Most email marketing plans' pricing terms are set in stone, but there is one way to get a discount: If you prepay for a year upfront, you typically receive about 15% off. Most services also offer discounts for qualifying nonprofits.

Email Marketing Services Features

As you compare email marketing services, here are some core features you want to look for.

  • An email creation tool: Most services provide a user-friendly drag-and-drop tool that allows you to customize your emails, or customizable pre-made templates. Some providers have templates that show you how your email will look on multiple devices, including laptops, tablets and mobile phones. This can help you design a flexible and responsive email. An easy-to-use and responsive email creator is critical. The best email marketing tools also have extensive templates that work on both desktop and mobile devices.

  • Analytics: Once you send an email, you'll want to determine how it's doing. Most services provide a range of data, including how many emails you sent, how many of them landed in inboxes, the bounce rate, who opened your emails, and the number of clicks and opens by location. Click-through and open rates are two basic metrics all email marketing services should provide. Those are important metrics to track for businesses.

  • Marketing automation tools: Marketing automation is the ability to send specific, targeted emails to certain customers when they complete a certain action. For example, if a visitor to your website signs up to receive emails from you, your email marketing provider's marketing automation tool will trigger a welcome email to be sent to that customer's inbox. Marketing automation can be an effective timesaver, and many email marketing services are creating ways to make automated emails more personal, which leads to higher engagement and ROI.

  • Segmentation: This 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. Segmentation tools let separate contacts into specific groups to ensure they only receive content that's relevant to them. Creating smaller email lists within your one large email list helps you target groups more effectively.

  • Contact management: Your subscribers are the key to successful email marketing campaigns, so it's important to manage those subscribers efficiently. If your list has duplicate contacts or contacts who have unsubscribed, it hurts you. A contact management tool will help you acquire, sort, and manage your email contacts; it should provide features like automatic deletion of dead or duplicate contacts, importing, exporting, grouping, and integration with other management tools like a CRM or CMS.

  • A/B split testing tools: These tools let you test different variables in your email and then the software selects the better-performing version campaign. While most email marketing services offer this for subject lines, the best programs can test success rates based on multiple variables in your emails.

  • Inbox previews: You can see how your email will look on different devices and desktops before you send them.

  • Spam filters: It's vital that your emails go to the right place; they aren't doing any good in a spam folder. Thankfully, the best email marketing services have tools in place to ensure your customers see them.

  • Social media integration: Most email marketing services will 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 will help you make the most of multichannel marketing by providing you with more information about your customers as well as more opportunities for them to see messages from you.

How Will My Business Benefit From Email Marketing?

As a small business, your marketing dollars matter. They have to deliver strong results, but you also can't afford to spend thousands on software when you have bills and employees to pay. Email marketing is an effective, low-cost method of communicating with your customers and building loyalty to your company. Email marketing delivers other benefits as well.

You can easily manage email campaigns.

First and foremost, an email marketing service provides you with one centralized place to create, manage and analyze your email campaigns. The software manages the entire process of creating and sending your email campaigns. It also gives you feedback on how your campaigns are performing.

Email marketing can improve your click-through rates.

A professional-looking email campaign will entice customers to click on the links you include in the email, which means higher click-through rates.  In the end, that results in increased traffic to your website.

You can provide personalized communication to consumers.

Customers in 2020 are expecting to see content that is personally tailored to them, rather than a rote mass email going out to a company's entire customer base. Email marketing services allow you to segment your customers by qualifiers such as age, gender, location and interests to help you customize your messages.

It offers multichannel marketing.

Many email marketing services allow you to embed or link to your social media platforms in your emails, which creates the opportunity for your business to advertise through multiple channels. This helps to increase brand awareness and the likelihood of return customers.

FAQs

Q: What is an email marketing service?

A: Email marketing is a digital marketing strategy where you send emails to customers and prospective customers. When email marketing is leveraged effectively, it can turn a one-time customer into a loyal customer. Email marketing services help you create eye-catching, professional emails, but it doesn't end there. Many services let you create automated responses, such as an email series welcoming a new subscriber who has signed up for your email list or offering a discount on a customer's birthday. This automation is helpful for small businesses – it allows owners to focus on running their business while their marketing strategy runs in the background; small businesses can continually gain new customers and grow. Finally, many services integrate with contact management so your contact data is always synced and up to date. 

Q: Why should I use an email marketing service?

A: While email marketing isn't necessary for every business, it is a good way to reach customers and improve your overall marketing strategy. Email is one of the world's most-used communication channels, which makes it a prime opportunity for businesses to get their message out. Email also has an ROI of 4,400%, according to the Data and Marketing Association, which is three times higher than social media. 

Q: How can I make my email marketing stand out?

A: With so many businesses using email marketing, it's important that your campaigns are relevant to your customers and subscribers. Selecting the email service that best fits your business is the first step in helping your campaigns stand out. After that, you'll want to use tools like list segmentation and automated responses to best cater to the wants and needs of your customer base. 

Q: What are the most important elements of email marketing?

A: Your business should aim to provide a balanced mix of promotional content and organic content. Much like a social media marketing strategy, you need to add value to the inbox or feed of your subscribers. If a customer subscribes to your emails, send them emails that relate to them. This is where segmentation becomes valuable. Writing in a tone that matches your business's brand is also a best practice. If you stick to your brand identity and send emails that add value to your subscribers, you'll be in good shape. 

Q: How can I decide which email marketing service is best for my business?

A: Businesses have different needs, and email marketing services have different strengths. If you're running basic email marketing campaigns, the least-expensive services probably make the most sense. If you're a bigger company sending emails to thousands of people, you need an email service that can easily handle that number of contacts while ensuring maximum deliverability with few errors. 

The most important factor driving your decision will be the number of emails you plan to send each month and how many subscribers you plan to have. This will give you a ballpark price point. Once you know the number of emails and contacts, then you need to determine which features you must have, which ones you'd like to have but are nonessential, and which features you do not need or want. Start with our best picks above, then read our review of the service or services that appeal to you most – we have listed the plans each service provides, the number of emails and contacts each plan supports and the features that come with the service. Be sure to read our pros and cons, too, so you get a sense of whether the software will meet your needs. 

When looking for the best email marketing service for your company, what are your needs? Are you looking to send email newsletters or are you looking to send mostly promotional emails? What metrics are the most important for your business to track? Some business value click-through rates, others value other metrics like the open rate of your emails. 

You may also want to look at features like opt-in forms, which help you legally obtain the email addresses of subscribers. 

Finally, choose a service that offers has a clean and intuitive interface so it's easy to find the tools you need. You'll also want the service to have an easy-to-use email editor, contact management tools, and drag-and-drop automation tools.

State of the Industry

Email marketing is in a good place in 2020. Businesses use it frequently as part of their overall marketing strategy and companies are getting $44 per every dollar spent on email marketing, according to a recent report from Campaign Monitor. Email marketing is a popular marketing channel.

Automation is an emerging trend in the email marketing space. The ability to send pre-written emails to customers once they trigger a cue is a great marketing tool. For example, a clothing store might send a special discount coupon to a customer on their birthday. This email can be identical for each customer, aside from their name, and the email can be scheduled to send every time someone's birthday comes. Marketing automation allows you to reach customers without having to put together a unique email every time an event occurs. Depending on the size of your business, automated emails can save tremendous amounts of time.

Monitoring the popularity and usefulness of email tools is important. As the industry changes and different trends emerge, you want to stay on top of what your customers want. If you run an extremely small business with a subscriber list of 200 people, automation might not be for you. You might benefit more from very personal email campaigns that engage those people, while larger businesses with thousands of subscribers might see better results from automated emails. As the industry changes, it's important to understand how your business works and that some tools might not make sense for your business. Don't jump on every email marketing trend.

The email marketing industry also has a lot of different companies in the space. This can make it difficult to sort through all the various offerings, but it also leads to more specialized offerings. Businesses of any size should be able to find an email marketing service that suits their business needs and improves their overall marketing strategy. To find the right service, it requires thorough research and comparisons between software you think might work best. Take advantage of the free trials that many companies offer.

Our Methodology

To find the best email marketing services, we started with nearly 90 email marketing vendors. We researched each provider thoroughly by investigating its services and reviewing features we deemed key, including pricing, ease of use, the platform's creation tools, contact management tools, segmentation tools, A/B split-testing features, analytics, deliverability and the company's customer service. 

We then narrowed down the list by eliminating vendors that don't specialize in email marketing campaigns, are not based in the United States, do not have enough information available online or don't work with small businesses. We also eliminated vendors that did not have a good online reputation as determined by online reviews and the Better Business Bureau. 

This brought our list down to 60. We then grouped contenders into each of our best pick categories – best overall email marketing service, the best service for larger business, the best free service and the best low-cost service. 

We took advantage of free trials or free versions, where possible. We uploaded contacts that included both Gmail and Outlook addresses, and designed and sent an email using the platform of each of our best picks. 

We rated each software program based on how easy it was to create the email and whether our email succeeded in landing in the inbox of our Gmail and Outlook addresses. Some emails landed in the spam folder or the promotions tab in Gmail, which we counted against the software. It's critical that businesses have their email campaigns delivered to a person's inbox. We compared the sent version of the email to the original email to make sure there were no wild, unpleasant discrepancies. As part of our evaluation, we also considered how easy the programs are to use, whether you can create email campaigns from scratch, use a template or import a fully designed email. 

Finally, we evaluated the support you'll receive from these email marketing services. We visited websites and assessed the number and quality of help resources available to clients, such as webinars, guides, and tutorials. As a busy entrepreneur, you need access to resources (often during evening hours or weekends when you have time) to quickly find answers to your most pressing questions and concerns. We also wanted to evaluate the personal touch these companies offer with their customer service. We contacted each company and posed as small business owners asking questions about the pricing and features. We evaluated how quickly we received a response to our questions and the quality of the support we received from the company. 

Be sure to check out our guides and white papers below, as well as questions posed by members of the business.com community. If you're not yet a member of our community, we highly encourage you to join and post your email marketing questions on our advice page.

What to Expect in 2020

Despite predictions that email marketing will become obsolete, it's still widely used and will remain so through 2020. 

While it's true that text message marketing has grown, consumers use email daily, which means there are daily opportunities for businesses to connect with their customers. 

Email marketing will become more technologically advanced in 2020, adopting and integrating more use of artificial intelligence into its capabilities. AI's primary function in email marketing will be to gather and analyze data to deliver better and more targeted experiences to customers, like specific subject lines or personalized email bodies. AI will also make emails more interactive by allowing customers to purchase products directly from the email, streamlining the buying journey. 

Additionally, we anticipate email marketing will become more personal as companies get more adept at obtaining and using personal data. Marketers will be able to pinpoint their customers' locations from wearable and mobile devices more accurately. They will then use that data to send targeted emails and personalized automated emails based on behavior, location and other personal information, and automatically reformat emails depending on what kind of device the recipient is reading the email on, like a smartwatch or tablet. 

Integration with smart devices like Alexa, Google Home, Cortana and Siri is also expected. Consumers are more comfortable talking to smart devices and having them talk back, so they should soon be able to have their emails read to them in addition to things like hearing the news or setting reminders.

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Email marketing software vs. email marketing service?
20 Responses
Marty Stalvey
Marty Stalvey
Answered
The email software can be learned and used to benefit your business. But the time it takes to learn how to use it and the best way to use it can be time consuming and a lot of trial and error. Although a email marketing service can get that out their for you, the cost can be overwhelming. So, you are going to want someone that also does your social media work as well in order to know your product and get the message out that you want. There are companies out there that can do both and...
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What are the characteristics of a great email marketing campaign?
40 Responses
Lauren Monitz
Lauren Monitz
Answered
Your goals and objectives need to be different for whether it's an eblast (promotional email) or regular enewsletter. Eblasts are great for getting quick leads/sales, while enewsletters are better for staying top of mind, educating customers on new offerings, or providing helpful industry updates. I have found them to be very successful, but what works and what doesn't requires testing (of both the subject line and creative) and varies per business. Best practices for both types include have...
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Is there a time of day where email marketing is the most effective?
14 Responses
Rory Collins
Rory Collins
Answered
I agree with David. Testing is important. Each demographic is going to work differently, so it honestly depends on who you're trying to reach. With health and wellness, you're looking at probably 58% male and 42% female audience between the ages of 18-35. Test through email and social to determine when your audience is most frequently online. Send out newsletters weekly on different days and different times of the day and see who is viewing the email and what % of success you have with each...
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What is the expected customer response rate to email marketing?
12 Responses
Charlotte Chipperfield
Charlotte Chipperfield
Answered
Hi Lexi! Email marketing metrics can differ based on industry. Often times email marketing can be another way to stay in touch with the customer and remind them of your great service. I would evaluate your current emails and see if there is too much content in a monthly newsletter. Are people clicking? Are they even opening? Sometimes increasing emails to two a month with one featuring an employee or client testimonial which the other gives customers an offer such as a discount can increase...
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What's the best affordable email marketing software you've seen?
8 Responses
Scott H. Zucker
Scott H. Zucker
Answered
Anne: How many "contacts" do you have on your list. Most plans charge by the number of contacts. Some charge by the total number of contacts, some by the contacts per list (which means you pay for duplicates if a single contact is on multiple lists due to your segmentation activities). As both Ray and Gee indicated, most email service providers will meet your functional requirements. I have used MailChimp successfully but switched to ActiveCampaign because of the marketing automation...
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Is it true that email marketing is dead?
29 Responses
Dustin Baly
Dustin Baly
Answered
Email marketing effectiveness is largely determined by your relationship to the subscriber list. Below are some common list relationships, that largely determine how successful you will be. Email Marketing With No Prior Relationship Mostly Dead. While the FDA does allow you to send emails to recipients who you have no prior relationship with, or consent to mail to, nearly every email platform will not allow you to send to subscribers who have not given you permission first....
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Kiely Kuligowski
Kiely Kuligowski,
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Kiely is a staff writer based in New York City. She worked as a marketing copywriter after graduating with her bachelor’s in English from Miami University (OH) and now writes on small business, social media, and marketing. You can reach her on Twitter or by email.
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