Today we are going to find the best cheap email marketing software for you.
So if are wondering:
What is the best email marketing software?
What is the cheapest email marketing software? And…
Can I have BOTH?
You have come to the right place. 🙂
But which is the best email marketing tool for you specifically? Lets walk through that.
Realise, you don’t need a big budget to begin with email marketing.
1. A lot of email software offers a free trial. So you can take them for a test-drive and take a look.
2. Tools are so good, you don’t need any real custom work done to get started.
3. Some systems are very cheap or even have a free email marketing software tier.
I personally tested and reviewed the 7 well-known systems below.
Let’s dive right in – meet our brave contestants:
Moosend is a Email Marketing platform for newsletters and simple automations, with a very nice email designer.
Included for free
GetResponse is a popular all-in-one email marketing platform with list management, marketing automation and full newsletter functions.
30 day free trial
SendinBlue is email blast software, founded in 2010, now has over 50.000 companies using the system.
Included for free
MailerLite is a very simple and user friendly email tool. A clean interface, simple personalization, especially attractive for small businesses.
Mailjet is an email service provider with an advanced email editor. They deliver mass marketing emails and are very strong in transactional emails.
Included for free
ActiveCampaign is advanced email automation software that will handle your email marketing and build marketing funnels. Includes Sales CRM.
14 day free trial
ConvertKit is especially for bloggers and content creators. It is a lead generation, email marketing and email autoresponders platform. Includes opt-in forms, drip email marketing, landing pages.
14 day free trial
Email software Price comparison
I know this article is about affordable email software, so you are probably looking to compare prices. To make it a bit easier, here is a Email software Comparison Chart / table. Just click on the number of contacts and the price and Extra’s will show you what the different solutions cost. All of the ESPs have a free trial, which is linked on the right.
How many contacts are on your email list?
Forever Free 3 months free,
then $153 months free,
then $27 3 months free, then $363 months free, then $1853 months free, $252
Exclusive 10% extra discount
Extra swag; a mug or t-shirt
Free email marketing certification
20% discount on yearly plan
* Above numbers are based on the normal edition, with a monthly plan. Some ESPs have additional or extra functions in a higher plan. Our exclusive discounts are already in the shown pricing. Mail-based prices are calculated to let you send at least 4 mails a month. We do our best to update and check the pricing each month, but no guarantees.
Reviews of Free & Cheap Email Marketing Software
To give you a better overview of the Email Marketing Software listed. I am going give a mini-review of each one. All reviews highlight my findings and considerations.
Moosend is a european hosted email marketing system, founded in 2011. You could say they are a real MailChimp alternative, only much cheaper. There is even a MailChimp synchronisation to let you automatically import all the contacts.
Email newsletter creation
The drag and drop editor is just updated in 2018 and pretty easy to use. You can simply change text inline and adjust the design of the newsletter blocks on the left. All of the free email templates are responsive. But you can also add / code your own.
Nice about the editor is a “helper grid”, you can turn it on and off and it will show exactly the structure of your email. With columns and rows, and you see buttons to add more blocks.
For the a bit more tech-savvies, there is an HTML email editor with a split-screen view, you can change the code AND use the WYSIWYG editor at the same time. It updates in real-time, which is often lacking in other systems. The email tool has a direct chat support.
With Moosend you can easily manage multiple email campaigns and mailing lists, while most of the integrations should go through Zapier or direct API.
Email automation and autoresponders work in a linear fashion. You can start your own, or use template automation flows called “Marketing Automation Recipes”. The automated email streams include website based automations like follow up from a site visit, abandoned cart, fields changed, but also welcome campaigns, up and cross selling campaigns, etc.
Free email marketing plan
Moosend‘s free email marketing plan comes with 5.000 subscribers and unlimited emails. The free account has access to all features that Moosend offers such as email analytics, an email drag-and-drop editor, email drip campaigns and more for 3 months.
They don’t ask you to display their logo in your footer in the free plan, so that is cool.
What is great about Moosend?
* Modern responsive email editor with free templates
* Support and help directly via Chat
* Sexy smart subject line recommendations and countdown timers included.
* Simple automations and free email autoresponder are all there
What to know before starting with Moosend
* They have one of the most generous free email marketing plans, 5.000 subscribers, all functions.
* Support is available through multiple channels on European business hours.
* To make it easy, register with your business email address (not gmail, hotmail), as it is a requirement before you can start sending.
⍟ Moosend discount and Extra’s
Oh yeah, this is the juicy part. Because you’ve taken the time to review the software here, there is an extra discount on the email software.
When I contacted the Moosend team to get some facts checked on the review and asked them. “Can you do a discount and some extra’s?” They were like: let’s do it!
So… this makes it one of the cheapest email marketing software. If you register for a new account, start your free trial via this secret page you get…
- Moosend discount of extra 10% once you hit paid plan (on top of any other discounts for yearly plan if you choose that).
- Extra Moosend T-shirt or Mug if you have > 50K subscribers
- Exclusive email List growth Guide + Excel email growth template
MailerLite is a popular choice for simple email marketing. More than 450.000 businesses, startups and freelancers around the world use MailerLite. Together sending more than 1 billion emails every month.
MailerLite is really easy to use, and it has enough features for small business email marketing needs. Planning to send some mass newsletters or simple promotional email blasts? It can be all you need, if you are not looking for anything too advanced.
Creating emails in MailerLite
When creating newsletters, you can start with a drag and drop editor or use one of their free email newsletter templates as a start. There is help text with every step and everything is explained in videos if you need it.
During editing you see your email on the left and you can change text and design on the right. While it updates instantly so you can see how it looks.
They are keeping it basic, as you would expect: Reporting is no more than you need, and inside the templates there is no conditional content.
MailerLite offers Zapier and API integrations, so that covers a lot of different software. There are direct integrations for the most popular platforms like WordPress, WooCommerce and Shopify and a lot of opt-in subscriber growth plugins.
MailerLite has autoresponders for simple marketing automation campaigns, don’t expect the world of it. But you can send a welcome email autoresponder flow or automated birthday emails, with follow up emails etc. These are also included on the forever free email plan, so that is great.
True free email marketing software
MailerLite has a Forever Free plan that gives you all the features that they offer. It includes for 1.000 subscribers and unlimited emails. The only thing they ask is to display a small Mailerlite logo in the footer of your email newsletter.
There is no spam testing or design testing functionality, but you can preview the designs in the browser and send yourself a test. If you can live with that, it is hard to beat free. (price wise)
There is a form builder and landing page builder available that includes pop-up subscription forms, embedded signup and unsubscribe forms to include in your site pages, as well as hosted forms.
Some older reviews online, report on email list imports to be slowish. We are going to check and find out by uploading some huge lists and see if that is true. 😀
What is cool about MailerLite?
* Automated Resend option, to send another mail if the first one wasn’t opened.
* See your email being sent internationally timezone by timezone (if you like). It is in 7 languages.
* The price: Free and if you have more than 1.000 subscribers the price is still very low.
* A/B testing – although you can only test 2 versions (A and B) at a time.
* Track changes while editing your email template, you can undo if you make a mistake.
* Create landing pages and pop-ups, they also integrate with a LOT of opt-in plugins as well.
Mailjet sends over 1.5 billion emails per month with 100.000 clients in 150 countries. The system started out as purely transnational and focusing on developers, but now it is a full email marketing platform.
The free plan from Mailjet will let you send out 6.000 emails per month if you plan it exactly right, because it is limited to only 200 / day. But that is enough to really check them out. There is a good case for free transactional email here, because you get full API access and unlimited contacts.
Mailjet Responsive Email Editor and templates
Lets start with the editor, it is well rounded and incredibly smooth, modern email creator. Drag and drop elements can be picked from the left and all editing is done inline so you immediately see what you are doing. With moving and making changes there is some animation, which makes the UX feel really good.
Unique is that you can edit / make changes with multiple people at the same time in collaboration. If you have ever used google docs, it is sort of the same thing.
Free templates are available, some specific for travel, sports, ecommerce. All templates are 100% Responsive, so they render well on mobile and smartphones. And they look great. Mailjet is the company behind open source mobile email framework MJML, which is fully integrated. (if you are a bit of a huge emailgeek, you might like that).
Stats and reporting
The stats show all the email metrics you’d like to see, cool is the comparison view of up to 10 campaigns. New is a view of real-time stats where you can see the clicks roll in as they happen.
There is a widget and pop-in creator to make sign-up forms, all can be customized.
The small package starts at $8 for up to 30.000 emails per month and has 24/7 support and features like A/B testing, segmentation and simple automation built in. Which makes it one of the most attractive email marketing services for small business, but with room to grow.
What we like about Mailjet
* Very modern editor and templates – creating emails is enjoyable
* Transactional email and API / integrations are well rounded
* Price: Very cheap 🙂
What to know before testing MailJet?
* The free package is really for testing out the system, with a limit of 200 mails per day.
* Not for you if you are looking for very advanced email automations.
Starting out as a transactional email provider, sendinBlue now is a full email marketing solution with drag-and-drop email designer, statistics, simple automation and free templates.
SendinBlue has pricing based on the number of emails you send. The free email plan from SendInBlue is good for having a look inside the software, but it also has a daily limit of 300 emails. If you want to send out mass email blasts, it is still very cheap. Starting at 19 euro for 40.000 mails per month.
Creating emails in SendinBlue
The email editor is pretty fast and it auto-saves your progress. The text and font editing is in the middle section and options to the right. Minor point: When moving over elements to edit them, there is a dotted line to show where you are. This takes a bit of getting used to, not a big deal-breaker.
The necessary content block types and options are there. With SendinBlue it is best to prepare your images outside of the platform, as you can resize images in their original ratio, but there is no image editor to crop your email’s images.
If you want to integrate the email newsletter tool, there are direct plugins available for popular platforms like WordPress, Prestashop, WooCommerce Drupal and Shopify. There is also an API and Zapier integration available.
The free email software plan
The free plan has some functions disabled. Most important seeing where in the email people have clicked (a heatmap). Probably you want to shift to a paid version quickly if you choose to go with SendinBlue. Even then it is still cheap email marketing software, starting at 19 euro starting for 40.000 emails per month.
SendinBlue has automations and email autoresponders included, so you can send for instance welcome emails and anniversary campaigns. You can also trigger automated campaigns based on web pages visited and actions on your site. Product purchase and abandoned cart mails are also there. And recently they have added a very well rounded landing page builder.
Price: Very cheap email blasting software.
Simple: You need very little technical know-how to launch a campaign.
The system offers text messages (SMS) as well, so you have two channels to reach your customers.
Site triggered automations, and email autoresponder available
Editor works fast, but highlighting can take some getting used to.
Not for you if you want to do very complex automation campaigns.
⍟ SendinBlue discount and Extra’s
If you try out SendinBlue email marketing software here, there is an extra discount in it for you.
Because when I spoke to the SendinBlue team, they wanted you to get started on your favorite plan – basically totally free.
If you register for a new account, start your free trial via this secret page you get…
- 99% discount off of your first month of paid plan
- Another 20% discount if you pay per year
- Additional -10% discount
- Depending on the plan, you get a email marketing training and certification for free (worth $199)
- Marketing automation and autoreponders
- Segmentation and email lists
- Responsive Email templates
- Price (Ok, I put this here – because that was sort of the point of this post)
- A contact signs up for your newsletter. A welcome email autoresponder is dent, followed with two or three timed messages.
- A subscriber has been on your “list” for three months, and you have an automation set up to thank them and send a special offer.
- A message goes out to subscribers on a date, for instance their birthday. Wishing them a great day (possibly with a gift or discount).
- A subscriber looks at several blog posts about widgets on your site. The automation software tags him as “interested in Widgets”. An automated email sequence follows to foster that interest and promote the Widget category.
- A subscriber adds a product to their shopping cart, or starts filling in a form but doesn’t finish. The abandonned cart / form email sequence brings them back to finish the job.
Instead of email newsletters and mass mailings, the focus of ActiveCampaign is on Marketing automation and marketing funnels. That is where they are really strong. There is even built-in CRM, on-site messaging and SMS.
Automation systems like Pardot or Marketo can get very, very expensive. ActiveCampaigns pricing makes it a great solution for small businesses, or senders that like to put more smarts into their email marketing automation and funnels.
Segmentation, tagging and conditional content makes that email targeting can be everything you want.
The email editor is drag and drop, yet a bit less great in comparison – there are some pre-made templates available.
What is especially nice is the option to import automation campaigns that others have built. It makes it very easy to get a running start on automating your emails. If you have never seen an automation system, every system is going to take some time to know. That is because of the many options. ActiveCampaign gives weekly “getting started webinars”, one-on-one design help and concierge onboarding (if you choose).
What is great about ActiveCampaign
* Pricing is great for such advanced automation and email targeting
* A/B testing works well even on automated and drip campaigns (which isn’t as common as you’d expect)
* Helpful community of funnel building and automation enthusiasts
* The platform is quite actively developed with frequent updates and new features.
What you should know before using ActiveCampaign
* 14 day free trial
* If you are planning to send out mass mails only, no automations, try one of the other systems.
Try ActiveCampaign for free >
⍟ ActiveCampaign discounts and extra’s
I will be working on launching a secret page for ActiveCampaign and will annoy the AC team until they start giving more extra’s or discounts (alternatively, I’ll create / arrange them for you myself 😀 ).
You already get an ActiveCampaign discount of ~ 25% if you sign up for a year vs monthly. You can sign up starting with a free trail here, and if you Let me know once you’ve signed up for a paid account, and i’ll make sure you get the extra’s once available.
ConvertKit was only founded in 2013. They as software for Creators. Like bloggers, authors, YouTubers, podcasters and course creators. I have been looking at why people like ConvertKit – and think it is because they really focus on the creators and bloggers audience.
Email software for the Bloggers community
Monthly new “tradecraft” guides are published to improve your professional blogging. For instance on running a successful webinar, influencer marketing etc.
They run a Product Creation Masterclass several times per year – teaching bloggers to actually make money. I think making money is pretty darn important.
Next to Zapier and CMS integrations, there are a lot of direct integrations with membership and software for online courses like Thinkific, Teachable, Wishlist member (wordpress), Memberpress, etc, etc.
Sequences (Formerly Courses)
Nathan Barry built the software as an outgrowth of his own teaching courses. The main structure in ConvertKit are “sequences” (formerly courses) – email drips sent over time, for instance for your course, of course!
The email app has a 14 day free trial, then the cheapest package starts at $29 for 1.000 subscribers which is not cheap in comparison. The email editor is very basic, no drag-and-drop blocks. While part of the blogging community seems to like the simpleness and “rawness/realness” of not being able to add CTA buttons or columns. Well… everybody can have their opinion.
Stats are there, but nothing advanced. There is no heatmap, or ecommerce conversion tracking.
What I like is the tagging system. Tag subscribers for their preferences, the downloads they made – etc. Tags make it easy for people to come in and do multiple downloads without any problems. There is a visual automation editor in there, to set up welcome and product / course campaigns.
* For bloggers: Comprehensive training, the whole community is about professional bloggers and creators.
* Segmentation: Use tags to store preferences and segment your groups.
* Visual automation and email autoresponders.
* Price – This overview is about free and cheap email systems. In comparison ConvertKit asks more of the green;
* The email editor is limited;
* No heatmap in your reporting, so no visual way to see where people clicked in your emails.
GetResponse has been around since 1997. Is is a mature email marketing software, serving over 350,000 email marketing customers. They have been added some cool features over the last couple of years.
Marketing Automation and email autoresponders
Getresponse always had an email autoresponder function. Autoresponders allow you to do timed follow up mail. It is still in there (I guess for nostalgic reasons). But realistically, you can now use the new marketing automation functions for that.
In 2016 GetResponse added advanced visual marketing automation workflow builder, tagging so you can create profiles with the preferences of your subscribers and there is support for website event tracking. Learning the marketing automation is really easy, you set up a first one with a sort of marketing automation guided tour – it is really a snap.
In the pro plan there is a (sales) CRM function, for small businesses looking to get more out of the automations. You can score and move people down the pipeline from contact to customer. This is pretty unique for low priced email marketing software. We didn’t test the CRM emails elaborately, but good to know it is there.
Editor and free email templates
There is a big selection of pre-designed email templates, the top 32 templates are fresh and look 2018. Other templates look a bit dated. But who really cares, 32 is enough as you can also start directly from the drag and drop editor.
There is a handy testing wizard that will let you do A/B testing for up to five variants at a time. The editor needs a bit of getting used to Especially for the editing icons, need to figure out what everything means exactly. Create a newsletter or two and it works fast. Editing text is inline, and as a bonus there is a 1000+ free image gallery.
Unique Webinar feature
Getresponse is the first email marketing service to provide webinar marketing solution included.
You can control the scheduling, fequency and number of webinar invitations, reminders and follow ups your contacts get. Pre-designed invitations and reminder templates get pre-filled with webinar details. That is pretty cool. And there is an auto-login hash so contacts can enter the webinar without logging in. (also pretty cool)
What to love about Getresponse:
* Chat support available 24/7
* Webinar Feature
* Visual automation and tags
* Free image gallery with 1000+ stockphotos
⍟ Getresponse Discounts and extra’s
When I emailed Taylor Barr from the Getresponse team, and asked if we give a discount for Getresponse for the registrants here? Guess what he said? Yes. 🙂
Normally you already get a getresponse discount if you pay yearly or for 24 months. But… if you register for a new account via this secret link you get…
Email Software selection tips for marketers on a budget
Here are 4 tips for those who are especially looking at cheap email marketing software.
1: Have a look at more than one system
It is a good idea to look at more than one email marketing system. This makes sense – and you were probably thinking about doing so already. Check for 2 or 3 options that seem to be a good fit and create an account to have a look inside. All of the email software on this page has a free trial and some even free sending plan, so there is no risk to give them a try to see if you like what you see.
2: Don’t be afraid to spend a bit if you like the tool
Don’t be afraid to spend a bit if you tried and like the email platform. Squeezing pennies is the worst mind-set for growth. As long as the ESP fits in your budget range, don’t mind a few dollars. Go with the best option for you. You are worth it. 😉 Email marketing can be such a great channel, the investment will seem small in comparison to your results.
Selection tip 3: Think maximum of 1 year ahead
Of course you want an email marketing solution that will do what you want in the near future. Don’t look too far ahead though, especially when shopping for an ESP for the first time.
Think of what you will be needing this year, it will be more realistic. You save time, evaluating only things you need and prevent over-buying. At least you are not paying for features you won’t be using!
Selection tip 4: Today is better than tomorrow
Get started. Just take a first step by trying out some of the software. Add a list, build it out and send those first emails. If your needs are simple enough, you don’t need to take a lot of time comparing each and every solution. There is nothing more expensive than waiting to start with email marketing.
Selection tip 5: Get the discount and Extra’s
Many email providers give discounts (10 – 20%) for taking a yearly subscription. If you like the system, don’t forget to grab that discount. Non-profits might even get an extra discount. From the vendors we talk about here, 2 already give an extra discount if you sign up via this page. (No need to thank me, I do it with pleasure.)
What to look for in selecting cheap email marketing software
Now you have seen the tools available one-by-one, and and overview what they have to offer. I’d say you probably have one or two favorites already. But let’s talk about comparison and what you should actually be looking for when comparing cheap or free email marketing software.
As with all software, there are a lot of shiny gimmicks and hyped features that will easily distract you from the real things you need.
When it comes to email marketing systems, there are only a few key factors that’ll move the needle for you.
Let’s see what is important on each of these, I am sure it will make it much easier to pick the best tool for your business.
Finding the right marketing automation / best email autoresponder software
Check if you want to keep your email marketing to newsletters and promo mails this year. That is the first advice.
Or if you are already looking what is the free email autoresponder software which is the best for you this year.
Because if you are not starting to use more advanced automation, no real need to look into it.
Almost all ESPs will allow you to do a simple drip campaign (like a welcome email autoresponder).
Examples of simple email marketing automation (that most software has):
If you really want to get into advanced automation triggers, that will take more than simple email blast software.
Examples of more advanced automations
There is much more possible with advanced automations. But at least marketing automation software should be able to build flows, tag subscribers and set business rules (to determine who to send your emails to or not).
Responsive Email Templates
Templates are very valuable to get started quickly and save time with each newsletter send. If you go for custom templates or use your own HTML, you don’t have to look at email templates.
The best email software has a good starting selection of well-designed and modern looking templates. The email editor allows you to customize them and they should be completely responsive.
Modern drag and drop email designers, don’t require that many templates though, as the building blocks are almost templates by themselves.
Email segmentation and list management
See if you can easily manage your lists and selections in the tool. For list management, think about the ways imports work. Or even better automated importing / integration with your other systems.
You’ll have to see how granular you want to go with segmentation. If the plan is to do one newsletter or just a few groups, most can do that.
Want to go very detailed into the selections and often use several fields at the same time for segmentation to make your selections, test ‘m out.
Reporting and statistics
All email marketing tool have built-in statistics and reporting of the most important email metrics.
Delivered, open, and click rates are standard. You can find in all email marketing software.
A tad more advanced reporting lets you see:
* New subscriber list growth (per source)
* Email client reports (desktop versus mobile)
* A click overlay to quickly see where people have clicked in the email
* Automation and drip campaign reporting
* Stats integrated with site and google analytics
Here you want to see what type of support you can expect. In the free tier support can be less than in paid tiers. (you can imagine)
Support and customer service is always important in choosing the right email software. But on a budget think channels, response time and namely DIY (Do it yourself). Look for great documentation, chat (or phone) support, a ticketing system. An added plus would be videos.
Good hunting, I hope you have some more insights into which cheap email marketing software will be right for you. So take your pick and try out the tools! Have any questions? Do feel free to get in touch.