Picking an email service for marketing sucks! There are so many providers with too many options. It’s hard to know which email marketing tools are for when “I make it big” and which to use right away as a beginner.
So here’s what I’m gonna do in this article, my friend:
1– Help you determine your email marketing goals + needs
2– Give you my top 8 email service providers
Here’s what you’re gonna do after this article:
1– Pick two platforms from the list below that interest you
2– Set a timer for 20 minutes
3– Go on YouTube and watch reviews/tutorials on these two platforms.
4–Pick the one that best suits your needs and budget.
Boom! Then you’ll be good to go and ready to start email marketing.
(I like to keep things simple. Hope that’s okay.)
Define Your Email Marketing Goals
Remember, there’s no one-size-fits-all platform, so getting clear on our brand’s individual needs is numero uno. Let’s take a look at some of the factors that go into choosing your email service provider as a beginner.
Why do you want to start email marketing in the first place?
- increased engagement between launches
- brand awareness + authority
- higher sales
- building an asset for sponsor attention
- product awareness when you have a long customer journey
If increasing your engagement is most important, a simpler email service may work for you. One where you just send out weekly or monthly newsletters. You might even be able to get away with some of the “freemium” offers out there. (Not my fave option for you, but I don’t know your budget.)
If your #1 goal with email marketing is to have higher sales than ever, you might need a more feature-friendly email service provider. One that can segment and run many automations simultaneously. (Only sounds scary. I promise with the right email service, you’ll be more than fine to figure all that out.)
What features will you need?
It’s worse than trying to pick something out at the Cheesecake Factory. Each email service provider seemingly has better features than the next. What the heck do you even need? Are all of these things important?
Let me keep it high-level for you. As a beginner to email marketing, you only really have a few must-haves… or at least must-knows.
#1–You’ll want an email provider that can accommodate the volume of emails you plan on delivering. Likely, that won’t be a lot and most of them can get you there.
#2–List management is key. It might be tempting to go cheap and skip out on these features until you grow a bit, an email provider that offers automation and segmentation capabilities is best. If you plan on growing your email list to any number higher than you have right now in the next 12 months, it’s better to bite the bullet and pay a little extra to get these features now.
The biggest mistake I see people making is they go cheap, have limited features, and decide email is too hard. It’s not too hard. It’s just too hard with the wrong software.
#3– Ya gotta know how your emails are performing, so find an email service provider that shows you analytics like email open rates and click-throughs. Of course, most of them do, so pick one that has a dashboard that makes sense for your brain. (That’s where going on YouTube and watching tutorials comes in.)
Setting a budget for email marketing
Yep. I’m gonna encourage you to spend some money on your email marketing, but not all your money! I started out with a free plug in on WordPress and told myself when I got to 100 subscribers, I’d buy a real email service provider. That made sense to my budget and brain.
It was like “If I get to 100, I’ll know I’m serious about this email marketing thing.” And it worked! I hustled my booty off for a few months and hit my 100 subscriber goal. Sure, I still wasn’t making any money, but it allowed me to see that I was taking my business and getting leads for that seriously…which allowed me to find the money in the budget for my email service provider.
It made searching for and finally purchasing an email service provider a really fun thing!
And then when I was spending the money? You’re damn skippy that I was sending emails. I wasn’t going to let my money go to waste!
Don't get distracted by the bells and whistles.
When it comes to making decisions, it can be all too easy to get distracted by shiny objects. These email service providers are great marketers, after all.
But like…Can I be honest with you?
It’s expensive and time-consuming to try out every little thing that looks cool—don’t waste your time. You love yourself and your business more than that, right?
8 Email Service Provider Options
Finally! Let’s get to the fun part. Shopping! Remember, there’s no best email marketing service for everyone. It comes down to your business’s needs, goals, budget, and ability.
At this point in the game, many email marketing platforms have overlapping features like drag and drop editors, popular integrations, and landing page options. They’ve all got some form or another, so…Here’s a look at 8 of the most popular email service providers for marketing.
Shoutout to my favorite of the whole bunch. I personally use ConvertKit and haven’t felt the need to switch over to anything else since 2016. Of course, I’m the kind of gal that makes a decision and doesn’t look back.
While many email service providers constantly update their platforms, from new interfaces to new features, ConvertKit has stayed steady. CK is like that stable friend you’ve had all your life. Sure, they’ve updated things for the better. But for the most part, they’ve stayed relatively the same, easy-to-use platform I fell in love with all those years ago.
I don’t want something that is constantly adding bells and whistles. I want something that works and rarely glitches. For me, that’s been ConvertKit.
ConvertKit is relatively simple to use with a clean dashboard so the technical learning curve may not be as steep as other platforms. It integrates seamlessly with other programs like:
- +100s more!
Price Range: $0-$29/month (varies with lists above 300 subscribers)
I really do recommend ConvertKit. I love it! It’s super simple to use and it can grow with you. So whether or not you’re just trying to find your first $1k in business or trying to scale to seven figures, ConvertKit, pretty much can do it all in that regard.
I really like ConvertKit. When I started, I struggled to understand the tech side of things and convertkit customer service held my hand through the experience. I’ve been easily able to navigate it on my own since then. – Caroline Crafts
I’m a convertkit fan for sure. It’s grown with my business, I’ve now sent over 7 million automated emails! Plus their conference is the jam so I’ll probably never switch–Carly Banks
This one’s for my slightly-more-complicated business model friends. If you’re looking for something more robust, especially if your business uses webinars and segmentation as part of your sales funnel, ActiveCampaign might be worth looking into. It’s kind of like ConvertKit on steroids. Keep in mind, it’s slightly more complicated because of the additional features as well.
If you’re in the scaling stage of your business, having a virtual assistant or online business manager to assist with your email marketing within ActiveCampaign can make a huge difference. It’s a dynamic email service provider that could support a multi six figure business transition into a seven figure business.
ActiveCampaign connects to 910+ apps, so it’s definitely easy to see why I feel like it’s robust compared to other email service providers. If they don’t have an integration, you’ll likely be able to set one up using Zapier.
HONEST SIDE NOTE: I’ve heard ActiveCampaign has been making a lot of changes recently that (as the cool kids would say) are not the vibe. I’d definitely look up recent reviews before committing to this email service.
I use and recommend ActiveCampaign! I did a lot of research when comparing email service providers and ActiveCampaign had the best price point with the most advanced features. Their automations are very advanced and offer a lot of customizations but are still easy to use. And it’s optimized for all industries, not just bloggers. Plus, with advanced reporting and integration options, you can easily connect it to many other tools and platforms that you already use in your business. – Allison Sicking, Viva La Travelista
Price Range: $29-$149/month
Are you a visual girly/guy/pal? Flodesk is great for service providers or brands where aesthetics and visual design is very important. They offer beautiful templates to format your emails which align with very visual brands. Their platform is pretty darn easy to navigate, too.
Reference: I once audited a Flodesk account and had never seen the platform and was able to find everything I needed just by playing around for about 30 minutes.
Their workflows are easy to set up, too. Remember, this is very much a visual platform. So if you’re a visual learner, you should be good with this one.
Flodesk’s integrations include:
- Google Sheets.
While it’s not my fave, it might be yours!
I use flodesk and I love how easy it was to set up the workflows/sequences.-Neyssa
I use Flodesk– I LOVE the layouts, the beauty, and that I have unlimited subscribers. The downside is you have to use Zapier or a similar service due to no integrations. –Sunshine Boatright
Price Range: $38/month
Meh. Mailchimp has never made any sense for my brain. And honestly? They were bought out by Intuit a while back and seem to be making lots of changes that I can’t keep up with.
While I used to recommend MailChimp to email marketing newbies, it seems like a platform that is getting away from small or microbusinesses and targeting businesses with more complicated email marketing needs.
If you still wanna play around with it, their free plan includes up to 1,000 “monthly email sends” and customer support for the first 30 days.
MailChimp has definitely grown over the years adding tons of features like landing pages, appointment setting, and more so it can get overwhelming if you’re just starting out.
They now have 300+ integrations so it’s fairly powerful to connect and automate areas like booking, design, e-commerce, and more.
Not as many integrations as ActiveCampaign, but still touts 300+ options like:
- Acuity Scheduling
- QuickBooks Online
- and more.
I consider myself a highly intelligent woman who has a brain for complex processes and can learn to use most marketing tech quite quickly. But with MailChimp, every time I go in it’s like my brain doesn’t remember where to find what. Its UX is confusing and totally counter intuitive. Hate it! -Pepita
The User Experience just sucks. The clients that have come to me with MailChimp started using it because it was one of the originals & because it was practically free. But then they get into it and can’t figure out how to do anything or than just send a basic email. It’s just not intuitive at all.-Laci
Price Range: $0-$350/month
I’ve never used this one, but I hear great things about Constant Contact for beginners. It’s got all the right features to create effective email campaigns, with the convenience of pre-made templates and advanced analytics.
(We love a good template around here.)
With Constant Contact, you can personalize messages pretty easily…along with some other features that will help you stand out in the inbox and increase engagement. Tracking metrics like your open rates, link clicks and unsubscribes is also pretty simple. Ultimately, a solid email marketing platform.
Constant Contact has 300+ integrations including:
- Survey Monkey
- and tons more!
Price Range: $9.99 – $45/month
Mailerlite seems to be growing in popularity as the years go by. Honestly, it seems more and more of my community is picking this platform. It offers powerful features such as automation, segmentation, A/B testing, mobile optimization, and integration with third-party applications.
It’s also got an easy to use drag-and-drop editor. This means you can create bea-u-tiful emails without having to code HTML. And of course, Mailerlite is giving us advanced analytics to track email open rates, clicks and more.
I can definitely see why my folks love Mailerlite. It seems like an excellent choice for businesses looking to automate email campaigns while still remaining in control of their budget. #smartmoneyfolks
MailerLite integrates with 100+ apps and software including:
- and more.
I started online in the early 2000s, with the gold standard at the time – Aweber. I took a break when I became a mom and since coming back to blogging I’ve tried ConvertKit, FloDesk, BirdSend… and landed on MailerLite. The amount of features you get is at a much lower price point than any of the other big name providers, and the interface is simple to understand and straightforward. Their block-style email building tool is easy peasy if you’re used to blogging in WordPress! Deliverability is great too. – Kim Luker, Lake House Mom
Mailerlite! I love that its free plan didn’t have limitations like no automations like ConvertKit. I also find the analytics excellent. Once I had to start paying, it was also cheaper than the competitors and more intuitive. I do ConvertKit quiz segmentation for clients and those tags are so confusing! But I will say Mailerlite charges by “active subscriber” not full subscriber count. So if someone signs up then unsubscribes, it counts them as a subscriber for a full 30 days. If you just did a bundle this can really raise your subscriber threshold and cause you to pay more than you actually should for subscribers who stick around. Overall though, I much prefer it to Mailchimp and Convertkit – Nina Clapperton, She Knows SEO
MailerLite is my favorite. I like it for its simplicity and ease of use. 🙃 – Sadie Smiley, Sadie Smiley Blog Coach
Price Range: $0 – $21/month
Shoutout to my ecommerce family!! Klaviyo is hands down what I recommend for any ecommerce brand looking to get into the email marketing game! It is so freaking powerful. Honestly 10/10.
With its advanced automation capabilities (that actually make sense for my non-techy brain?!?!?), you can set up personalized emails based on
- customer behavior
- demographic information
There are also segmentation options so you can target specific groups of people with tailored campaigns. #saywhat?
Furtherrrrrr….Klaviyo has great analytics tools to track your email performance and engagement.
This email service provider is banging when it comes to the ultimate personalized and customized email marketing journey. I mean dang.
Klaviyo touts 300+ integrations like:
- and more…
My favorite for eCommerce is Klaviyo because of Revenue Traceability. That’s the
biggest consideration for me. Show me the money and where it came from… followed closely by the following:
I use Klaviyo for my ecommerce clients. I like it because it was built for ecommerce first. They are BFFs with Shopify, you can easily sync your catalogue and pick your products to drop into an email (boosts your click rate so more traffic to your site).
Klaviyo offers dynamic email automations with advanced segmentation functions. With a great and visual customer journey builder to build automated flows.
They are constantly updating their app and adding features. And don’t charge more when they release new features to everyone.
All this really allows you to be creative and innovative with how you reach and engage your customers and email subscribers. – Krispahlyn Daria,
Price Range: $0 – $35/month (Higher depending on list size)
Aweber is the OG, in my book. It’s been around since 1998, so they have seen the industry grow first hand. What’s cool about them is they still see themselves as a small business serving other small businesses. Their customer service reflects that level of commitment. You can even DM them on Instagram and they’re pretty responsive there, too.
Aweber’s got an intuitive user interface. It’s easy to customize an email design and create personalized content for each recipient. New users like you will find it as an easy-to-follow platform where you can learn how to create emails, campaigns, segmented lists, automated workflows, and more. A solid choice, honestly.
There’s 100’s of integrations with software and apps like:
- and more.
I’ll say it again, babes. There is no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to finding an email service provider. For your business, you’ve got to consider your individual needs and resources before making a decision. The good news? There are lots of great options to choose from. So remember to set that timer, pick out two from the list above, and get to picking!
I can’t wait to hear what email service provider you pick!