We analyzed the results of 5 Email Marketing expert studies. Sendinblue is the great winner. 1 Email Marketing provider is the second best and and by far most affordable. This is the Top 9 best Email Marketing automation software in 2021.
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You know you want to get started with smart Email Marketing but you don’t know which platform to choose. Not very surprising with dozens of providers of Email Marketing software to choose from. I was in the same position and spent a lot of time looking for the best provider. It had to be reasonably priced, easy to work with and have a comprehensive set of functionalities. I found what I was looking for and years later I am still very satisfied.
I spent many more hours researching the best Email Marketing Software and comparing the advice of various online marketing experts. You can read the outcome in this blog. I answer the question: what are the best Email Marketing automation software providers?
So you don’t have to do that tedious research anymore. So you can set up your first effective email campaigns as soon as possible.
These are the 10 best Email Marketing automation software providers
I’ll start with the best first because this is what you come for. These are the 10 providers (including 2 mavericks) of Email Marketing automation software that emerged as the best in various expert surveys on the best Email Marketing platform. Read on below on which features they outperform the rest and in which category they are the very best.
These are the winners after comparing studies on the best Email Marketing software:
#1 Best Email Automation software: Sendinblue
Sendinblue is praised for its excellent deliverability rate of 95%. From its inception, it has been a given that Sendinblue is the best for transactional emails. Sendinblue is the provider that combines the capabilities of email and SMS. She offers very impressive options in Email Automation.
Free trial as long as you like with up to 300 emails per day
Sendinblue starts from €44.10 per month. View prices.
ActiveCampaign is also praised for its excellent email deliverability rate. In addition, ActiveCampaign receives praise for the tremendous amount of value it offers for the fixed monthly fee. ActiveCampaign is recommended as the best choice for small businesses and enterprises. Highly recommended for startups who don’t want to pay much per month but want to have advanced Automation and analytics options. The platform grows with the beginner (ssst heads up ActiveCampaign is my personal choice!). Free trial for 14 days.
ActiveCampaign starts from $9 per month. View prices.
Drip is recommended for the possibilities it offers in terms of e-commerce. An ideal Email Marketing software provider if you run an online shop. The software is suitable for your entire web marketing strategy connecting dozens of platforms. Drip has an easy to use and attractive interface while offering more advanced functionalities.
Free trial for 14 days
Drip starts from $49 per month. View pricing.
Mailerlite is praised for its simplicity and affordability. This makes Mailerlite very suitable for personal projects. Don’t expect advanced options in Automation, but affordably sending out multiple emails is what they do well. Free testing up to 1000 contacts but with Mailerlite logo in your emails. Mailerlite starts from $7.00 per month. View pricing.
Convertkit is an excellent choice if you are a blogger, marketer, create or publish anything. It is a robust platform with powerful features. Also great for online course providers. Free trial for 14 days.
Convertkit starts at $29 per month. View pricing
#6 Constant Contact
Constant Contact is praised as the most easy to use and beginner friendly. It is one of the largest and fastest growing Email Marketing services worldwide. Their support service is world class.
Free trial for 60 days . (the only one with 60 days trial!)
Constant Contact starts from €41.65 per month. View prices.
Mailchimp can be a good choice if you’re looking for an all-in-one marketing automation package with CRM. Just be aware that the automation options are relatively superficial compared to other providers. But the offerings are broad and well-done. The free package is generous but after that those prices jump up.
Mailchimp starts from $14.99 per month. View prices.
Moosend is an excellent fit for small agencies and for nonprofit organizations. This software strikes a nice balance between a low price, being able to get started quickly without extensive training, and being powerful enough to get results. Just be aware that the analytics capabilities are very limited. Free up to 1000 contacts without Moosend logo in your emails.
Moosend starts from $8 per month. View prices.
Two outsiders – Email Marketing services with special features – that are also very interesting
GetResponse is great Email Automation software for a funnel with webinars
Consider GetResponse if webinars are an important part of your funnel or proposition. A landing page builder is also included. Free trial for 30 days.
GetResponse starts from €62.30 per month. View pricing.
Omnisend is an e-commerce star
If you’re curious about another real E-commerce killer – besides Drip so – take a look at Omnisend. Very impressive what they do; including an integration with whatsapp. Free trial for 14 days.
Omnisend starts from $13 per month. View pricing.
Discovering the best Email Marketing automation software by comparing studies (this is my approach)
To be able to say what the best Email Marketing automation software is, you have two choices. You subscribe to the Email Marketing packages from all vendors. And you spend hours, and preferably days, testing and assessing the features and results for each package. To then compare the platforms with each other.
Or you go out and find the Email Marketing experts who have done that, and you list their, compare and weigh their judgments. That’s what I did. This led to my top 10 best Email Marketing automation software in 2021.
In comparing Email Marketing software providers, I made certain choices and assumptions. These are my assumptions.
The assumptions and choices in my comparative research
I did not include the very professional (or opaque) Marketing services. Those are the systems that cost hundreds of dollars per month or where the price has to be requested.
The mentioned entry price per month of each platform is after I filtered on the absence of the provider’s logo in each email (there you only want your own logo) and on the presence of the automation option. Otherwise, it would be a very simple email program that simply sends bulk email. Without automation capability, you absolutely cannot take advantage of the opportunities of smart Email Marketing. Read about the benefits of Email Marketing when done smart here.
The blogs I came across that I thought were rattling, I didn’t include. I purely went for quality. That also led me to give one study a prominent place in this blog. After all, this study stands out head and shoulders and in capital letters above the other tests.
The best research on Email Marketing software programs
The software testers at Venture Harbour have built an extensive database containing the scores of 100 Email Marketing software platforms. They include the results of their own tests and user surveys, as well as other user feedback. For example, why they decided to swap one platform for another. This research takes a central place in this blog because it is by far the best research on the quality of Email Marketing providers.
At the bottom of this blog you will find all links to the articles I based my top 10 on.
This is the Email Marketing software criterion it’s all about
Some functionality is more clever and innovative than others. But in the end, you can peel Email Marketing off to the following essence. The only thing that ultimately matters is: does my email actually arrive in my contact’s main inbox? Is it not flagged as spam? This is where software providers have an influence and some clearly do better than others.
How well a platform performs on this criterion is expressed in the email deliverability rate. Email Marketing software is useless if it only delivers half of your emails correctly. Even if the software works wonderfully and you have all kinds of extensive features. This is why the email deliverability rate plays a leading role in this blog.
You can choose from three types of Email Marketing providers
You can roughly categorize Email Marketing services into:
- Simple Newsletter tools
- Marketing Automation tools
- All-in-1 Sales & Marketing tools
The focus in this blog where we compare Email marketing software is on Marketing Automation tools. For example, when comparing the entry-level prices of the tools, I only included the packages that also include the option for Email Automation.
First think about what category your needs fall into. There is nothing wrong with sending a simple newsletter every 2 weeks. But be aware that you are definitely not making use of the benefits of Email Marketing. For that you need a Marketing Automation tool.
Additional tips for choosing the best Email Marketing automation software
The price structure
As ‘real’ marketers do, Email Marketing software providers play around with the price structure of their packages and prices. Packages differ in functionality, restrictions in the number of contacts in your email list or the number of emails you can send per month. In addition, the jumps in price – if for example the number of contacts in your list or the number of emails you send per month increases – are very variable. All this makes comparing providers difficult and opaque.
The pricing models fall into two different categories:
- you pay for the number of contacts in your list without a maximum number of emails
- you pay for the number of emails per month without a maximum number of contacts
Whether your favorite platform falls into category 1 or 2; for each provider, a more expensive package has more features. But even here, the increase in features and functionality does not always correlate logically with the increase in price.
3 more tips for choosing the best Email Marketing automation software
1 Free is not better
Don’t get too carried away by the free package that almost every provider offers. In almost all cases this means that a logo of the software is included in your emails. Something you should in my opinion absolutely not want if you want to look a little professional. Only the free package of Moosend comes without a Moosend logo in your emails!
2 Choose and preferably stick to your Marketing service
It is advisable not to change your Email Marketing software too often or preferably never. This costs a lot of extra work. You can easily take your email addresses with you but the rest is much more difficult or not possible (automation flows for example and formatted emails, or additional information about your contacts). So don’t just choose the software you like for the coming months but choose an Email Marketing provider that can grow with your project or company.
3 Don’t aim for perfection; the ones in this Top 9 are all good
Don’t focus on who is better and who is the best. Most, and certainly the providers in the top 10 in this blog, are good enough. Have your top 3 most important criteria in mind and don’t wait too long to make your choice. The sooner you actually get started the better for your business.
Thanks to this extensive research you don’t have to worry about making the wrong choice. Remember: we did all the research for you!
Email Marketing Glossary
You will come across many words in your search for the best Email Marketing automation software that don’t mean anything to you yet. Here’s a handy glossary to help you quickly feel at home in the wonderful world of Email Marketing. Here are a few key Email Marketing definitions.
- the means of sending bulk emails with little work, but personalized and targeted;
- in online marketing, the word campaign refers to an individual marketing message. It is an email that you set up to subsequently send to one or more contacts;
- a signal that triggers something, for example an automation that starts running when a contact has visited a web page 5 times;
- a software provider is cross platform when it allows you to connect multiple platforms. For example, a certain activity on one platform puts a workflow into action;
- the series of emails that make up an automation;
Lead generation software:
- software in the form of, for example, a pop-up form on your website. Lead generation software turns website visitors into ‘leads’ as visitors sign up for your email list via a sign up form;
- a lead is a potential customer. When a website visitor signs up for your email list, the chances are higher that he will become a customer of yours in the future;
Email Deliverability Rate:
- the percentage of emails sent that actually end up in the inbox of the contacts, and also do not end up in spam;
- this type of email is the opposite of a marketing email. They are on an individual basis and serve a transaction. An example would be a confirmation email or sending a proof of payment.
- a model – in the shape of a cone – that helps you understand the different phases a customer goes through until he buys. You can link smart actions to each phase. For example: sending certain info, inviting for a webinar, offering a call, presenting a discount etc etc.
What are your criteria for choosing the best Email Marketing tool?
The question, “What is the best Email Marketing Automation software?” is one to which an answer is almost impossible. Rather, you should ask yourself what is the best Email Marketing Automation software for you. The answer depends on what your criteria are and how heavily they weigh against each other. Your criteria are probably closely related to what your goals are and what kind of project or business you have. So think about what you think is important and what you want to achieve.
Criteria you can think about when choosing your Email Marketing (automation) software
Below you can read what the most common criteria are for judging the quality and attractiveness of Email Marketing software. The 5 studies this blog is based on also used these criteria.
Examples of criteria comparing and choosing an Email Automation tool:
- Ease of use;
- Extensiveness of functionalities; of Email Automation among others;
- Price per month (depending on number of emails or number of contacts);
- Price / Quality ratio;
- Quality of customer service and training opportunities;
- Do you want to have tools across the length of building your funnel? Think landing page builder, signup forms, offering a webinar etc;
- Integration with e-commerce;
- Integration at all with external platforms like Paypal, facebook, activity on your website etc;
- GDPR compliance – to what extent does the software comply with the stricter European privacy legislation?
- Deliverability rate;
- Presence of a built-in CRM – capture your knowledge about customers in a CRM;
- Quality of reporting.
Think carefully about what your criteria are before you go into depth comparing providers and before you buy. My tip is to choose 1 or 2 or even 3 criteria – from this list or come up with your own – that are really important to you and not to compromise on them at all.
A prerequisite for formulating your criteria is having the basic knowledge about the possibilities and advantages of Email Marketing. If you are at the beginning of this knowledge I recommend you to first read my blog about Email Marketing: what it is and the benefits. A clear representation of the power of Email Marketing.
I’ve compiled the conclusions of 5 studies but 1 study on Marketing Automation software stands out
Venture Harbour’s research is by far the very best research. So my tip is to rely on their advice the most. And if you’re interested in a detailed assessment, get out their excel spreadsheet so you can choose based on the criteria you think are most important.
The top 3 from Venture Harbour
This is the top 3 coming out of Venture Harbour’s research along with their recommendation:
- ActiveCampaign – the best for small businesses and self-employed individuals
- Moosend– the best for small agencies and nonprofits
- Hubspot – the best for B2B service companies
Numbers 4 through 10
And these are the Email Marketing Automation providers that complete Venture Harbour’s top 10:
4 Omnisend – the best for eCommerce
5 Rejoiner – the best for managed email marketing
6 Convertkit – the best for bloggers
7 Sendinblue – the best for transactional emails
8 Autopilot – the best for marketing automation
9 Mailerlite – the best for personal projects
10 Moonmail – the best for developers
Results of my research into the best Email Marketing systems
This blog started with an overview of the top 9 resulting from my comparative research. These providers were nominated as the best Email Marketing software providers in 5 surveys (links at the bottom of this blog). The ranking is based on how often they appeared in the top 3’s and the top 10’s. For an equal number of occurrences in the top 3’s and top 10’s, the Email Deliverability Rate is the deciding factor.
Here’s the top 9 best Email Marketing Automation software:
Below you can read what the experts say about these Email Marketing platforms.
Email Marketing package including Email Automation from €44,10 per month.
Sendinblue has been called a king of functionality. The Premium plan has been extended with a landing page builder, live chat, CRM and facebook ads integration. In other words, more value for money. In addition, marketing automation and SMS were already there. It is an extremely easy to use platform with excellent tools to create engaging and beautiful emails. Sendinblue started out as a transactional email provider so they are super good at that. Sendinblue works cross-platform. That means, for example, that a certain activity on your website can trigger an email flow. How smart is it to send a targeted offer if an interested party has already visited a certain product 6 times?
Email Marketing package including Email Automation starting at $9 per month
ActiveCampaign owes its immense popularity to offering a product that is both very easy to use and one of the most affordable of all. ActiveCampaign pioneered a visual Automation builder and almost all Email Marketing Software parties followed suit. Venture Harbour calls the provider the one with the best balance of affordability, ease of use and power. And we completely agree. ActiveCampaign has ample functionality to improve your sales.
Free trial for 14 days. Email Marketing package including Email Automation starting at $49 per month.
Drip is both perfect for beginners and professionals who expect a lot from their automation tool. Drip also works cross-platform with many connection possibilities; dozens of platforms (like your website, facebook, Paypal etc.) can be connected to Drip. For example, apply an automation to webinar registrations. They have a large library of ready-made workflows. This provider is very suitable for your e-commerce purposes.
Up to 1000 contacts you can test for free but there will be a Mailerlite logo in your emails.Email Marketing package including Email Automation and without Mailerlite logo from $7,- per month.
Mailerlite helps you turn website visitors into subscribers to your email list with their landing pages, various signup forms and pop-ups and a form builder. Along with ActiveCampaign, Mailerlite is one of the providers that offers great value for money. Mailerlite stands out in simplicity and ease of use, yet offers most of the functionality that small businesses need. Still, Venture Harbour does recommend choosing ActiveCampaign if you are a small business. Because they offer built-in CRM and more advanced marketing options for about the same price.
The Email Marketing provider for bloggers and creators who want to establish a personal brand. Convertkit has a simple interface but one that is powerful. By combining ‘actions’, ‘events’ and ‘conditions’ you can build any automation you want. Convertkit has a number of similarities with Drip. One unique functionality is the signup forms that you can embed in your email. Convertkit encourages its users to connect with their customers through simple, no-fuss emails. Therefore you won’t find any email templates. The reporting is simple.
Free trial for 60 days. Email Marketing package including Email Automation from €41.65- per month. First month for free.
Techradar and also WPBeginner are very positive about this fast growing Email Marketing software provider. ConstantContact offers convenient Drag and Drop tools to compose beautiful visual emails. Within the Email Automation, surveys, polls and dynamic signup forms offer the opportunity to collect feedback. ConstantContact is extremely beginner friendly and their support team is among the top.
No free trial of Email Automation. The free package has very limited features. Email Marketing package including Email Automation starting at $14.99- per month.
Mailchimp is a well-known name that has been around for a long time in the Email Marketing business. You can create emails using templates and customizable components. And it is also possible to code your email from scratch. Mailchimp does well in terms of integrations with e-commerce parties such as Shopify, Magento and WooCommerce.
Mailchimp’s user interface can sometimes be complicated. Also, the Marketing Automation functionalities are not as advanced as, for example, those of providers like Drip and Convertkit. Attempts have been made to expand the options but the results remain somewhat superficial. The main reason Mailchimp is so well known and popular is because of the free package they offer. o not immediately choose this provider because their name happens to be familiar.
You can try them for free but that doesn’t include all features of the Professional Package.
Email Marketing package including Email Automation starting at $800- per month.
Hubspot is for the serious entrepreneur. Hubspot offers a very complete and professional Email Marketing tool. The word all in 1 sales & marketing software is more in place. Their promise is to provide everything you need to capture leads and turn them into customers. And then they really mean everything. Their cheapest package that includes the option of Email Marketing Automation is ‘Professional’ and requires transferring $800 per month. But then you get – at a very high quality level: Landing Pages, conversational bots that start talking to your visitors, SEO recommendations, split testing tools, and much much more.
Up to 1000 contacts you can test for free and then there is not even a Moosend logo in your emails!
Email Marketing package including Email Automation starting at $8 per month.
This provider is only mentioned by Venture Harbour – the one with the extensive research and detailed database – but it immediately ends up second in their list. And that’s a big deal! Moosend is perfectly suited for beginners. And that’s not at the expense of over-simplification or a lack of functionality.
You won’t be able to find an Email Marketing platform that’s easier to use. And yet it has all the essential options that are beautifully executed. How about automation triggers that are weather tuned? The feature set is not as robust as ActiveCampaign’s. The comprehensiveness of reporting also lags behind.
Two top 10’s of best Email Marketing automation software side by side
The two top 10’s listed side by side.
|Study Venture Harbour||Results 5 Studies compared|
|#1 Active Campaign||#1 Sendinblue|
|#2 Moosend||#2 Active Campaign|
|#3 Hubspot||#2 Drip|
|#4 Omnisend||#4 Mailerlite|
|#5 Rejoiner||#4 Convertkit|
|#6 Convertkit||#6 Constant Contact|
|#7 Sendinblue||#7 Mailchimp|
|#8 Autopilot||#8 Hubspot|
|#9 Mailerlite||#8 Moosend|
My personal choice and why this is my favorite Email Automation software provider
We have been using ActiveCampaign’s Email Marketing software for 3 years and we are very happy with it. Why? I already told you in the introduction. My ideal provider is not expensive, works easily and offers a comprehensive set of features. It sounds like sitting on the front row for a dime but in the case of ActiveCampaign it is possible. I don’t see this fantastic price/quality ratio with any other provider. I was pleased to see that Venture Harbour sees it the same way.
Final word on choosing the best Email Marketing automation software
The providers in this top 10 are all good enough. Except for Mailchimp, perhaps. Consider what your budget per month is and how “heavy” you are as a business. It makes quite a difference to what you need if you blog as a hobby and want to build your personal brand or if you run a webshop in more than 10 countries. Also incorporate your most important 2 or 3 criteria.
Make a first choice and without giving your credit card details get started with building your first Email Automation thanks to a free Trial Period. During the Trial Period be alert and critical if this provider is going to be able to offer you what you need and want for years to come. If not, try out your second choice thanks to another free Trial Period. Does your choice survive the Trial Period? Congratulations! You have found your best Email Marketing software provider!
The 5 Email Marketing software comparison studies as the basis of this blog
6 best email marketing automation tools – CodeinWP
7 Best Email Marketing Services for Small Business (2020) – WPBeginner
(9 Best “Email Marketing” Services for Small Businesses -2020 – IsitWP )
Best email marketing software of 2020 – Techradar
10 Best email marketing software & email automation tools of 2020 – Venture Harbour
Top 5 Newsletter Services – EmailToolTester
Bonus tips for working with the best Email Marketing Automation software
These two must-have tips I absolutely want to give you before you get started with your favorite Email Marketing automation tool.
Bonus Tip 1
In this article, I’ve focused on choosing the best Email Automation tool. But that doesn’t get you there yet. It’s all about setting up a well-functioning funnel. Building an email list and sending your contacts smart and targeted emails is only one part. There is another very important step.
And that is “catching” your website visitors. You often have only 1 chance and 30 seconds to turn that one visitor into a long-term contact. To increase your chances of success you need a good and appropriate ‘Optin tool’. These kind of tools offer an endless variety of registration forms on your website. After registration the visitor lands on your email list and you can start mailing.
How an optin works; 3 examples:
- After 30 seconds of scrolling, a subtle popup appears offering to sign up for the newsletter;
- At the bottom of the blog you offer to send the valuable free ebook, all the visitor has to do is leave an email address in the sign up form;
- Just before a visitor wants to leave your site by clicking on the cross in the upper right corner, a pop-up appears with an attractive offer. Of course it is necessary to leave an email address to take advantage of this.
We use the optin tool from Thrive Themes. A great tool with a wide variety of types of signup forms and options to customize to your style. We chose this tool from Thrive Themes in the same way we chose ActiveCampaign: great value for little money. Where many other optin tools work with a ‘subscriber model’, and so you spend a fixed amount each month, this tool lets you pay off in one go for not much money.
View the optin tool from ThriveThemes
Bonus Tip 2 – Email marketing automation software in practice
I cannot stress enough how important email Deliverability Rates are within Email Marketing. In part, your software determines how high this rate is. But you also have your finger in the pie.
The tip to get your numbers right: make sure you really start segmenting when you get to work with your software. In other words, distinguish between your contacts on the basis of certain characteristics. And send only the emails that match the wishes and experience of the contacts in a particular segment or group.
If you send targeted emails based on segmentation, the chances that contacts will open your email and click through on the links in your message skyrocket. And the email-open percentages and CTR’s influence the deliverability percentages. The result: better emails that also end up in the inbox much more often.