In this post, we review the best email marketing services for bloggers and small businesses. At the conclusion, we provide a recommendation based on your budget and desired feature set.
There are a few important features in the best email marketing services. First, it is important to be able to offer visitors downloadable incentives when they subscribe to your list, which converts more visitors into subscribers. Second, great email services offer multiple sign-up forms, track the conversion of each form separately and integrate with other tools such as email pop-up plugins. The best email services also help you to keep subscribers engaged by allowing you to set up multiple automatic email sequences. Finally, the best email services maximize the deliverability of your emails by allowing you to use a custom domain matching your website. A custom domain can increase the chance of your email landing in your subscriber’s inbox by helping to separate your email reputation from other users of your chosen email marketing service.
Choosing the Best Email Marketing Service
The best email marketing services allow you to easily create highly engaging emails. They also track and manage the success of your emails with metrics like deliverability, open rates, and click rates.
- Deliverability is a measure of whether an email reaches a subscriber’s inbox. Deliverability is calculated by taking the number of emails sent divided by the number of emails that were rejected by subscribers’ email providers (also known as a bounce). The result is often multiplied by 100 to express it as a percent, e.g. 90% deliverability.
- Open Rate is a measure of whether a subscriber opened or viewed an email. The open rate is often based on whether the recipient’s email client loads a tracking image embedded in the email or if the recipient clicks a link in the email. Open rate is calculated as delivered email divided by the tracking images/clicks. Again the result is often multiple by 100 and displayed as a percent out of 100, e.g. 20.3%.
- Click rate is a measure of how many subscribers click a link contained in an email displayed as a percent out of 100, e.g. 4.2%.
Email has to be delivered to be opened and a click also counts as an open, therefore email deliverability will always show the largest value followed by the open rate and then the click rate.
Delivery Rate > Open Rate > Click Rate
A MailChimp benchmark study calculated an average email open rate across all industries of ~20% and an average click rate of 2.43%. Creative and hobby categories like Food had higher than average open and click rates. The low average click rate might be discouraging but remember it includes all kinds of marketing, even the spammy kind that we all ignore.
Over time and with regular traffic to your website, you can build an email list of thousands of subscribers. Each time you send an email, those subscribers will click and return to your site in the hundreds or even thousands depending on the size of your list. This is a phenomenal source of dedicated followers that will engage with your content and take advantage of your offers. Even better, that traffic belongs to you and does not depend on a trending social media site or Google. You need to start building your email list today so you can grow it to a size that effectively drives traffic and is a source of income for your blog or business.
Let’s take a look below at some of the best email marketing services.
MailChimp is one of the largest and most popular email marketing services. MailChimp has a great selection of beautiful templates and many advanced features. MailChimp is one of the few services that offers a truly free starter plan. However, the free plan is missing some advanced features.
Our only complaint with MailChimp is that while it has many advanced features, it isn’t as easy to set up an automation, list segmentation or product integrations for small businesses and bloggers compared to some other options. Additionally, subscribers in more than one list count double toward your subscriber count and the price you pay.
MailChimp is a great choice for small and large business and can easily grow with your business. The free plan with limited features is available for up to 2,000 subscribers and paid plans start at $10/month and are based on the number of subscribers on your list.
ConvertKit is an easy to use and powerful email automation platform targeted at small businesses and professional bloggers. ConvertKit provides a WordPress plugin and easy to embed forms. With a few clicks, it integrates with the popular Gumroad.com to sell digital products.
What we like best about ConvertKit is how easy it is to set up a sequence of emails to keep subscribers engaged and to tag subscribers’ interests based on their clicks. For this reason, many professional bloggers use ConvertKit to market digital products including eBooks, courses and virtual services.
ConvertKit does not offer many templates or a template editor. Many of its users instead design a simple template matching their site colors based on the default modern template. ConvertKit does state that they are working on more template options.
ConvertKit plans start at $29/mo. While ConvertKit is a little more expensive than MailChimp per subscriber, using a custom email domain with ConvertKit is free while it is a $99 add-on with MailChimp. Additionally, since ConvertKit segments subscribers by tags, subscribers will never be double counted as they sometimes are with MailChimp lists and other providers.
ConvertKit is our recommended solution for professional bloggers who want to sell more digital products. You can get started with ConvertKit here.
AWeber is a popular email marketing service with a ton of templates, 700+. It is a little cheaper than MailChimp and ConvertKit. Unlike MailChimp, all of AWeber’s features are available from the start without add-ons.
AWeber also has intuitive segmentation and an efficient autoresponder interface. Aweber integrates well with WordPress and popular E-commerce platforms and shopping carts.
Our major complaint with AWeber is that we could not filter emails by including or excluding email recipients based on more than one segment. This might not be important to you but for those marketing multiple products and running promotions, it is an important missing feature.
AWeber offers a 30-day free trial and starts at $19/month.
GetResponse is another popular email marketing platform with an impressive set of features. GetResponse is initially a little cheaper than MailChimp or Aweber but useful automation features are locked behind the Pro plan upgrade which turns out to be more expensive for most users.
GetResponse’s Perfect Timing feature will try to predict the best time to deliver your emails to optimize open rates. Alternatively, you can schedule an email send to occur relative to each subscriber’s local time zone which is an interesting feature.
If you use complex sequences of automatically sent emails, GetResponse’s drag and drop builder is a great tool similar to ConvertKit.
While GetResponse offers a 30-day free trial, we do have concerns with their refund policy. GetResponse states that there are no refunds even if you cancel immediately after your credit card was charged for a new billing period. We think this is poor customer service and hope it is not an indication of their overall customer service.
GetResponse plans start at $15/month and a generous discount of up to 30% is offered when you pre-pay.
MailerLite is a relatively new email marketing service. MailerLite is popular with bloggers that are just starting out because it offers a free plan for up to 1000 email subscribers and is less expensive than many other services for additional subscribers.
We found MailerLite easy to use with good documentation. At this time, it lacks some of the more advanced features and automation offered by other services but is a great choice for a new blog and starting a landing page.
You can get started with MailerLite here.
Which email marketing software is best for a professional blogger?
A professional blogger should choose the email marketing software that fits best with their monetization strategy.
For a blog that primarily relies on advertising revenue and does not sell any products, the best choice is MailChimp. MailChimp’s templates are beautiful and can use your RSS feed to automatically send emails and promote related content.
For a professional blogger who sells digital or real products or has significant affiliate income an email marketing software with powerful automation features is best.
ConvertKit in our opinion has the best interface and automation features for a professional blogger who sells products. With ConvertKit you can divide your audience into interest tags and make separate offers to each tag. With a series of emails offering increasing discounts, you can even exclude a subscriber from an increasing discount the moment they purchase. You can read about an experience moving to ConvertKit here.
Sign-up for a free trial of ConvertKit now. If you have a list of 5,000 or more subscribers and you would like Brad the Geek to move you to ConvertKit for free, please sign up using the link above and email [email protected] to get started. This offer requires that we confirm your sign-up through the trial link above. There is no additional cost to you for using the affiliate link and you receive free professional setup, email template included.
Email marketing is one of the best investments you can make to reach and engage your audience. Your email list is not affected by Google’s ranking algorithm or Facebook fan page changes and you control your list. Is email marketing on your list of strategies to make money blogging? If not get started with your list today.
We recommend ConvertKit for bloggers and small businesses selling products and MailChimp for those just focusing on publishing content. If you are just starting out and keeping your expenses to a minimum try MailerLite’s free plan.
There are many other choices out there. Post your experience with any email marketing service in the comments below.