Which email marketing provider is right for your business? 

by Paige Hewlett in

You have decided that you want to start sending emails to your customers. Then you hit your first obstacle: how do you send them? We don’t recommend firing off emails directly from Gmail or Outlook. You need an email marketing provider that specializes in email campaigns to be able to scale your efforts.

Unfortunately, the number of options in the email marketing space is dizzying. Their features overlap, and comparing pricing gets confusing. 

To help, we’ve outlined the pros and cons of eight major email marketing providers, many of which come up often in conversation with our clients. We start with the options best suited for individuals and end with enterprise-level solutions. Overall, the best email marketing provider comes down to your business and its specific needs. 

TL;DR — Our picks for small businesses: MailChimp, Constant Contact, Keap, ActiveCampaign 

ConvertKit

In short: ConvertKit is a solid option for writers, freelancers, or other individuals or businesses who want to create newsletter campaigns. The biggest complaints are around their lack of designed templates and customization. 

Pricing: Choose from three options. Their Free plan offers limited features for up to 1,000 subscribers. The Creator plan starts at $29/month for 1,000 subscribers, and their Creator Pro plan starts at $59/month for 1,000 subscribers. The Pro plan seems to include more advanced reporting and a higher level of support. 

Best for: Bloggers, entrepreneurs, or others who focus primarily on text-only email newsletters and campaigns. They market themselves as the provider of “email marketing for online creators”. 

Pros:

  • Free option available for up to 1,000 subscribers
  • Easy-to-use platform
  • Landing page builder 
  • Customer service 
  • Tagging and segmentation system allows for targeted campaigns 
  • Tout increased deliverability compared to other providers 

Cons:

  • Becomes more expensive as your email list grows
  • Limited email template options are text only
  • Lack of ability to upload custom email templates
  • A/B testing and customization features not as robust as other platforms
  • Fewer e-commerce integrations

Flodesk

In short: You may have seen the Instagram ads — Flodesk is the new girl on the block. This email provider prioritizes creating beautiful, eye-catching emails. It’s also gaining popularity for its simple interface and fixed pricing model. However, Flodesk lacks many features available from other providers. They roll out new features regularly, but it may take some time to catch up with the main providers in the market. 

Pricing: They have one plan: $38/month for unlimited subscribers and all features. They’re running a lot of influencer campaigns currently, so a quick Google search will turn up affiliate links for $19/month. 

Best for: Bloggers, entrepreneurs, or others who appreciate a design-forward platform. 

Pros:

  • Beautifully designed email templates and builder tools
  • Easy-to-use platform
  • Integration with Zapier
  • Fixed pricing

Cons:

  • Do not have a free plan
  • Zapier is the only integration currently available 
  • Lack of advanced features like A/B testing, image library, auto-responder, or surveys
  • New in the game – users report frequent glitches, trouble getting in touch with customer service, and other issues that come with a young start up

MailChimp

In short: MailChimp is best known as a popular email provider (and for its podcast ads), but they’ve expanded their solutions to include website domain, online ad, and creative tools. 

Pricing: They have four plans for their marketing platform, ranging from free (up to 2,000 contacts) to premium (200,000+ contracts), which starts at $299/month. Their pricing is based on the number of contacts you have and emails you send. They also have a pay-as-you-go option for those who send infrequent emails. Here is a helpful plan comparison. 

Best for: Small businesses, non-profits, or individuals who need a basic, user-friendly email software provider.

Pros:

  • Variety of pricing and plans, including their popular “forever free” option
  • Intuitive platform and builder tools
  • Easy-to-use email builder feature
  • Ability to import email templates
  • Ability to compare your email performance against other MailChimp users
  • Integrations with many e-commerce, social media, and web hosting providers, including WordPress, Shopify, WooCommerce, Facebook, and more

Cons:

  • Only offers email support for subscribers of their free plan
  • Advanced segmentation and automation capabilities fall short of competitors’
  • Other, non-email features aren’t up to par with email solution
  • Becomes more expensive as your email list grows

Constant Contact

In short: Similar to MailChimp, Constant Contact has grown from a well-known email provider to a more well-rounded marketing software solution. Unlike MailChimp, they do not offer a free plan, but they do have a free trial period. MailChimp and Constant Contact have similar offerings — you can’t go wrong with either as a small business. 

Pricing: For email marketing, they have two options: Email (starts at $20/month for up to 500 contacts) and Email Plus (starts at $45/month for up to 500 contacts). Both plans include unlimited email sends and a variety of support options. Their Email Plus plan offers additional email and automation features. 

Best for: Small businesses, non-profits, or individuals who need a basic, user-friendly email software provider. 

Pros:

  • 60-day free trial
  • Intuitive platform and builder tools
  • Customer service is available by chat, email, and phone for both plans
  • Continued investment in advanced automation and reporting features
  • Integrations with Facebook, WordPress, Salesforce, Shopify, and others

Cons:

  • Do not have a free plan
  • Email templates may not satisfy more creative needs 
  • Becomes more expensive as your email list grows

Keap (formerly Infusionsoft)

In short: Infusionsoft rebranded as Keap in 2019, but its main offering still goes by the former name. While the previous providers on this list primarily focused on email marketing, Keap and the remaining on the list are more robust CRM solutions for businesses ready to take their marketing to the next level. Infusionsoft is a great solution for small businesses (fewer than 25 employees) who are willing to invest money, time, and resources in their sales and marketing strategy and processes. 

Pricing: Keap has three different solution levels. Keap Grow (from $64/month) is “best for startups and new businesses” and seems to focus more on client relationship management than sales and marketing. Keap Pro starts at $120/month and includes sales and marketing automation. Infusionsoft, the highest tier, begins at $160/month. In addition to the features in the other tiers, it adds on advanced reporting and e-commerce functionality and lead scoring. Each tier gives you the option to add on Expert Coaching for an additional fee.

Best for: This article from Forbes said it best: “The company is focusing on small service providers like consulting firms, contractors, interior design, home repair and fitness companies. Basically, any small business that needs a single resource for client management, appointment setting, billing, payment, quoting and, of course, basic CRM functionalities like lead and pipeline management would be a targeted customer for Keap.”

Pros:

  • One-stop shop for sales and marketing automation (see quote above)
  • Tracking and reporting features
  • Integrations with WordPress, Big Commerce, Zapier, and more
  • Generous training and customer service

Cons:

  • Do not have a free plan
  • Learning curve for using platform
  • Limited email templates
  • Lack of many major e-commerce integrations
  • More expensive than a standard email provider
  • Start up fee

ActiveCampaign

In short: ActiveCampaign is very similar to Keap but is better suited for B2B, e-commerce, and other online businesses. It was an email marketing tool first and then evolved to become a broader CRM solution. 

Pricing: Because we’re getting into tools that offer sales, marketing, and customer service tools, the pricing gets more complex. Take a look at their price options here. Their Lite tier starts at only $9/month, and Enterprise, their highest tier, begins at $229/month. 

Best for: B2B, e-commerce, or other online businesses that need an all-in-one sales, marketing, and customer service solution. This is a more affordable, easier-to-use CRM solution than HubSpot if you’re willing to go without some of the features. 

Pros:

  • One-stop shop for sales and marketing automation
  • Fairly user friendly for a CRM solution 
  • Affordable option for a sales and marketing automation provider 
  • Training resources and customer service 

Cons:

  • Do not have a free plan
  • More expensive than a standard email marketing provider
  • Less robust reporting, online and social media advertising, website tools than pricier competitors 

HubSpot

In short: HubSpot has become the industry standard in the sales, marketing, and CRM automation market. They are equally well-known for their inbound marketing strategy and content resources. 

Pricing: Like we said, it’s getting more complex. See their solution options here. They have sales, marketing, and customer service solutions and different pricing tiers within each. You can also bundle solutions together. In addition, they do offer a free version of each solution with basic functionality. 

Best for: Small businesses who can get what they need from the free solutions OR enterprise companies who can afford and put to use the entire HubSpot ecosystem.

Pros:

  • One-stop shop for sales, marketing, and customer service automation
  • Training resources and customer service 
  • Advanced reporting, online and social media advertising, and website tools 
  • Free options for all of their solutions

Cons:

  • Learning curve for using platform
  • More expensive than a standard email marketing provider
  • More expensive (and potentially more features than you need) for a CRM provider 

Marketo

In short: Marketo is an advanced marketing automation platform. For small- to medium-sized businesses, it is likely more than you need and more than you want to pay. 

Pricing:  They have four different solution options, none of which list pricing on their website. 

Best for: Enterprise businesses, particularly B2B, who are scaling their marketing strategy and processes. 

Pros:

  • Robust marketing capabilities, including SEO, digital advertising, social media, and personalization features
  • Hundreds of integration partners — seamless with Salesforce

Cons:

  • Do not have a free plan
  • Weak website form and landing page builder tools
  • Requires the addition of Adobe Experience Cloud if you want to have CRM functionality 
  • Learning curve for using platform
  • More expensive than a standard email provider


If you’ve made it down to the bottom, you likely are thinking hard about your email marketing strategy. 

Here are a couple other blogs that may be helpful:

Confused about what your email marketing strategy should be? That’s our sweet spot — call margo