How to Pick an Email Marketing Platform

Email marketing is perhaps the single most important tool that farmers and local food businesses have for connecting with customers and growing sales. This resource summarizes the pros and cons of 10 different email service providers (ESP) with the goal of giving business owners a clear starting point for picking the right one. There are hundreds of options available and many e-commerce platforms (e.g. Square, Shopify, etc.) are starting to build native email marketing tools into their own technology stack. The ESPs below were selected because they are affordable, well-known, and integrate with many different software platforms that business owners may use already.

 

When considering options it is important for business owners to consider their near-term and long-term goals. Some will decide to send a simple newsletter once a month whereas others will use logic-based workflows to automate tasks and develop unique content for each customer segment. All of the platforms below offer Key Features that are important for every business. Many have more sophisticated features that will only be useful for some.

 

Most ESPs bill their customers based on the number of contacts they have saved, but a few bill based on emails sent. For the latter, the pricing table below assumes that the business will send one email per month to their whole list of contacts. Most ESPs also offer different tiers that come with different features. The price list below represents the entry level (paid) tier for each platform represented.

 

The most important thing to remember is this: if you’re not already using email marketing, pick a free plan and get started! If you don’t know where to begin, consider reading this article first.

—–

Name

Free Plan

500

2000

5000

10000

Pricing URL

SendinBlue

Yes

$25

$25

$25

$25

https://www.sendinblue.com/pricing/

GetResponse

No

$15

$25

$45

$65

https://www.getresponse.com/pricing

Constant Contact

No

$20

$45

$65

$195

https://www.constantcontact.com/pricing

Drip

No

$19

$29

$89

$154

https://www.drip.com/pricing

MailerLite

Yes

$0

$15

$30

$50

https://www.mailerlite.com/pricing

MailChimp

Yes

$10

$31

$53

$79

https://mailchimp.com/pricing/marketing/

ActiveCampaign

No

$15

$55

$99

$155

https://www.activecampaign.com/pricing

Klaviyo

Yes

$20

$60

$100

$150

https://www.klaviyo.com/pricing

MooSend

Yes

$10

$10

$30

$55

https://moosend.com/pricing/

—–

Sendinblue

PROS

Sendinblue has built in some very smart e-commerce features. For example, you can display conditional email content based on certain attributes (e.g. a special offer if someone is an existing customer or not). And thanks to their transactional messaging features, you can also send emails and SMS like payment confirmations and order summaries. Order data also gets exported from Shopify to Sendinblue, meaning you can view this information on individual contact records, and create segments and automations around this information. You can also integrate store products with email using the drag-and-drop builder.

CONS

To be able to use advanced features like dynamic content and lists, you need to generate a bit of code, which may take a bit of practice to get used to. Additionally, advanced template creation is a separate service and cost, unfortunately, and initial account setup can be tedious.

BOTTOM LINE

It is an easy to use platform with excellent tools to create beautiful and highly engaging emails. Their simple drag and drop email editor is well-suited for beginners with no experience in email marketing. SendinBlue includes beginner-friendly marketing automation tools that allow you to send transactional emails, create workflows for automatic follow-up emails, and segment users. It can also select the best time to send bulk emails using their AI algorithms to ensure the best email deliverability.

KEY FEATURES

Content Editor 

YES

Simple drag and drop email editor is well-suited for beginners

Sign-up Forms

YES

Form-builder allows customization and easy segmentation

Tech Support

YES

Email support for all, 24/7 phone support for Premium

Customer Profiles

YES

Profiles use imported data from integrated online stores; lists can be be used for segmenting

Integrations

YES

See the full list here: https://www.sendinblue.com/plugins/

Analytics & Reporting

YES

A/B testing not available with free plan; Lite and Premium plans include more features

VIDEO TOUR

Review by EmailToolTester on YouTube 

GetResponse

PROS

GetResponse comes with a wide range of handy, ready-to-go templates for building out automations for your store, including abandoned cart campaigns, post-purchase emails and sales promotions. You can also automatically add recommended products to your emails, which are personalized based on customers’ historical purchases – a super useful feature. Also, autoresponders can be used to send new email subscribers a welcome email or an educational series automatically.

CONS

Analytics are underwhelming and support could be better. Opt-in emails get sent to customers by default, which is a little annoying, although this can be disabled in your campaign settings. Contacts and products get imported every 24 hours, which could mean a delay in triggering automations.

BOTTOM LINE

GetResponse is a versatile platform with a strong focus on e-commerce. Their drag and drop builder makes it  easy to create campaigns, segment contacts, and send any number of emails designed for specific groups. GetResponse is best suited for large operations that would benefit the most from the advanced automations, segmentation features and CRM.

KEY FEATURES

Content Editor 

YES

Hundreds of templates to choose from along with a library of stock photos 

Sign-up Forms

YES

Customizable forms and surveys are available for all plans

Tech Support

YES

Email support and live chat only; large library of help content available to search online

Customer Profiles

MAYBE

Some of the more sophisticated features are only available for the Plus plan and above 

Integrations

YES

Over 150 integrations: https://www.getresponse.com/integrations

Analytics & Reporting

YES

Reporting and A/B testing are available for all plans; features are underwhelming

VIDEO TOUR

Review by EmailToolTester on YouTube 

Constant Contact

PROS

The entry level plan will do the trick for any business that wants basic, professional-looking emails. However, the “Email Plus” plan comes with more advanced features like subject line A/B testing, dynamic content, and automated behavioral campaigns that will help deliver stronger results for those who go the extra length to use them. Users of “Email Plus” also get access to personalized demographic data, coupons, polls, and surveys. Additionally, Constant Contact offers a wide range of third-party integrations along with social marketing for posting ads, scheduling content and tracking performance.

 

CONS

The email templates don’t offer much flexibility and the photo manager feature is out-of-date and clunky, which may become a perpetual annoyance since every email is likely to have at least one image. Also, the pricing for even the lowest tier will add up once a business has thousands of contacts. Their website states that list sizes over 10,000 contacts are automatically upgraded to their “Email Plus” plan.

BOTTOM LINE

For most small and midsize businesses, Constant Contact is a solid email marketing choice that’s especially friendly to companies just getting started as e-commerce retailers. The wide range of templates will easily satisfy most beginners, though more advanced creative designers might find them lacking a bit when it comes to customization.

KEY FEATURES

Content Editor 

YES

Smart email editor to design professional and aesthetically pleasing emails

Sign-up Forms

Maybe

Basic forms are included in all plans but pop-up forms are not included in the basic plan

Tech Support

YES

Chat and phone support are included with all plans

Customer Profiles

Maybe

Custom segments based on purchase history are only available with Plus plan and above

Integrations

YES

See full list here: constantcontact.com/features/apps-integration

Analytics & Reporting

YES

Easy-to-read reports to track marketing efforts in real-time

VIDEO TOUR

Review by EmailToolTester on YouTube 

Drip

PROS

Drip’s e-commerce revenue attribution feature shows us exactly how much revenue is generated from each email marketing campaign. Plus, creating automations in Drip is straightforward (and with their colorful workflow editor, kind of fun, too). You can make automations as simple or as complex as you like, with options to include actions, parallel paths, decisions and more within the workflow. Or you can simply choose from one of their pre-built templates – these include cart abandonment, coupon welcome series and campaigns to win back ‘at-risk’ customers. You can also send SMS to your customers. Plus, the documentation they offer for their product is more detailed than that of other email platforms.

CONS

Users will automatically get bumped up to the next plan if they go over the limit. It’s important to remember that customers who get synced over from Shopify will go towards the contact limit. Also, there isn’t a huge range of email templates available – at last count there were only 18.

BOTTOM LINE

What sets Drip apart from the competition is their intelligent marketing automation tools, smarter email segmenting, split testing features, list groups, and a visual automation workflow builder. If you invest the time to learn how to use them, these features will allow you to reach targeted customers in your email list to get more sales.

KEY FEATURES

Content Editor 

YES

Visual email builder and simple text email editor available; shop items can be filled dynamically

Sign-up Forms

YES

Customize forms with company branding and control who sees them on each page of website

Tech Support

YES

Great learning library + email support; customers on $99/mo + plans have access to live chat 

Customer Profiles

YES

CRM allows you to create targeted and personalized email marketing campaigns

Integrations

YES

See full list here: 

https://www.drip.com/integrations

Analytics & Reporting

YES

Reporting features are most useful when integrated with e-commerce platform

VIDEO TOUR

Review by Leslie Samuel on YouTube

MailerLite

PROS

MailerLite offers all of the essentials with none of the fat. It’s a great option for anyone who wants a straightforward email marketing service. You’re a creator who doesn’t need a ton of bells and whistles. You just need the tools to start your newsletter or send emails—and do so well. The platform still offers tools for automation, landing pages, pop-ups, and surveys, so new users have room to grow. Plus, deliverability rates with MailerLite are excellent, and they have a generous free plan, too.

CONS

Right now, users can only build automations around the different segments available (first-time customers, repeat customers, etc.) and product purchases. It lacks automations for more advanced triggers such as when they visit a page on your website. The integration process is slightly more involved than with other tools, requiring the use of an API key (rather than just simply entering your store URL), although it’s not overly complicated.

BOTTOM LINE

Sophisticated features like the landing page builder and the pop-up customizer make MailerLite stand out among free email tools in the market. In addition to the basics like the drag-and-drop email builder, the tool comes with a rich text editor and a built-in photo editor to create professional emails that deliver results.

KEY FEATURES

Content Editor 

YES

Drag-and-drop email builder with rich text editor and a built-in photo editor

Sign-up Forms

YES

Free email signup forms that are easy to create and customize to your company’s brand 

Tech Support

YES

Video tutorials and email support available for all plans, 24/7 chat support for paid customers only

Customer Profiles

YES

Free plan has many advanced features such as segmentation and A/B testing

Integrations

YES

Full list available here: https://www.mailerlite.com/integrations

Analytics & Reporting

YES

Reporting is simple and straightforward with a fairly spartan user interface

VIDEO TOUR

Review by EmailToolTester on YouTube 

Mailchimp

PROS

Mailchimp may sound familiar because they’re an industry leader used by millions. Their free plan provides users with basic email marketing features such as email creation and scheduling. What makes this a great email marketing tool is its smart recommendations feature, which provides you with valuable audience insights to optimize your marketing efforts.

CONS

Mailchimp is definitely a product designed for beginners. Campaign tracking is limited and somewhat difficult. For anyone wanting to lean into list segmentation and customer journey mapping, even the paid plans are likely to feel a bit limited.

BOTTOM LINE

Mailchimp has dominated the email marketing space for a long time and seeks to continue that trend by expanding into e-commerce, enabling merchants to create online stores, and evolving the platform into a multichannel marketing hub. It’s a great choice for anyone looking to dip their toes into email marketing, but more sophisticated marketers may want a platform with more workflows and automations.

KEY FEATURES

Content Editor 

YES

New editor makes it easier to build simple emails but limits customization; many templates available

Sign-up Forms

YES

Forms are easy to customize and available for both free and paid plans

Tech Support

Maybe

Great learning library but email and live chat support are limited to paying customers

Customer Profiles

YES

Assigns member engagement rating based on opens, clicks and purchases

Integrations

YES

Integrates with Barn2Door but not Shopify: https://mailchimp.com/integrations/

Analytics & Reporting

Maybe

Comparative reporting and A/B testing are only available for paid plans

VIDEO TOUR

Reviews by EmailToolTester on YouTube 

ActiveCampaign

PROS

Business owners can take advantage of features such as Active Campaign’s CRM, dynamic segments and tagging, conditional email content (e.g. different products and offers based on what a contact is interested in), and, of course, advanced automations. It’s great that users can see a contact’s orders, abandoned carts and spending totals within their contact profiles too – it gives users the kind of view one might expect to see in more purpose-built CRMs.

CONS

ActiveCampaign is an advanced tool, and its learning curve can be steeper than that of other email marketing services. For example, the personalization and conditional content require a little bit of code to be inserted, which is something to keep in mind if you really want to take full advantage of the tool.

BOTTOM LINE

ActiveCampaign works well for larger e-commerce businesses who need to be able to send more complex automations and segment their lists in a detailed manner. The CRM is pretty powerful, too, which may be useful for businesses that work with a lot of high-value customers, like wholesale clients.

KEY FEATURES

Content Editor 

YES

Drag-and-drop email designer lets users set up new campaigns easily

Sign-up Forms

YES

Choose from four, customizable form types to collect new email subscribers

Tech Support

YES

Live chat & email support; more customer success features for Plus and above

Customer Profiles

YES

Sophisticated customer profiles are included for all plans

Integrations

YES

Full list here: https://www.activecampaign.com/apps/

Analytics & Reporting

YES

Basic reporting available for Lite plan; more detailed reporting available for Plus and above

VIDEO TOUR

Review by Metrics Media on YouTube 

Klaviyo

PROS

Klaviyo is marketing software for e-commerce, which makes it a great match for Shopify shop owners. The integration with Shopify is quick and easy to set up. They have some attractive, modern-looking email templates that work with dynamic blocks, so business owners can determine what customers see based on their data. A/B testing is also available. Their selection of pre-built workflows is extensive, covering everything from welcome and abandoned cart emails to post-purchase followup and winback emails. Users can also set them up from scratch.

CONS

At $100 for 5,000 contacts, it’s one of the more expensive providers on this list, and in light of the cost, the customer support could be better. There is definitely a steep learning curve so advanced functionality may be harder for beginners to leverage.

BOTTOM LINE

Because of its focus on email marketing for e-commerce, Klaviyo is a great option when it comes to email marketing for Shopify owners. The fact that they offer a built-in CRM makes it a great choice for both small and medium-sized businesses with larger client bases and teams.

KEY FEATURES

Content Editor 

YES

Modern email builder with drag and drop functionality

Sign-up Forms

YES

Customize the size, background, font to complement your brand; multiple formats available

Tech Support

YES

Email and chat support are included for all customers

Customer Profiles

YES

CRM gathers all of the information about customers and subscribers in a single view

Integrations

YES

Especially well-known for their Shopify integration: https://connect.klaviyo.com/integrations

Analytics & Reporting

YES

See your business at a glance: performance, recent activity, even suggested next steps

VIDEO TOUR

Review by TechnologyAdvice on YouTube 

MooSend

PROS

The interface for Moosend is simple and easy to navigate. Users can design behavioral email campaigns based on customer’ information and activities. Marketing automations can cover a range of events, such as abandoned carts, user onboarding, and lead scoring, enabling users to define actions to be performed, by choosing from a range of event triggers and filters.

CONS

Moosend doesn’t offer many themes or templates to choose from and the free plan only allows a single user to log into the account. Their list of integrations is fairly limited so make sure your e-commerce platform is on the list before you sign up.

BOTTOM LINE

Moosend is a good platform for business owners who want a simple set of tools to help them get started. The free plan is fairly generous and there is enough functionality baked into the product that new users can feel comfortable knowing the product will grow with them over time—assuming it integrates with their existing tech stack.

KEY FEATURES

Content Editor 

YES

Modern email builder with drag and drop functionality

Sign-up Forms

YES

Forms are fully customizable and can be displayed in many different formats

Tech Support

YES

Email and chat support are available for all customers, phone support for Pro customers only

Customer Profiles

YES

Segmentation and automation are available but customer profiles are fairly simple

Integrations

Maybe

Integrations are limited: https://moosend.com/integrations/

Analytics & Reporting

YES

Reports are easy to use and easy to share with others on the team

VIDEO TOUR

Review by Sure Fire Web Services on YouTube