Top 10 Best Email Marketing Tools for Small Business

Email Marketing must be the most misrepresented and misunderstood online marketing tool today. And yet, it is becoming more popular especially to ambitious small business owners and entrepreneurs.

If used wisely, email marketing can be a very powerful tool that will increase not only sales but customer retention through the strengthening of your relationship with your prospects and customers.

So often my clients say to me, I understand I should be using email marketing in my business, but where do I find the best Email Marketing tools available and how do I know they are the best.

It’s obvious that email marketing is a fast way to reach your target market and distribute information and marketing materials. Plus it is so easy and convenient since the good ones will automate much of the process for you.

Results are fast and astounding if you use the best Email Marketing tools.

Today, Email Marketing software are a dime a dozen. You have to be careful in choosing the right program for your business.

Here is a list of the best email marketing tools that you can choose from ranked from 1 to 10. I’ve ranked them based on my experience and from what feedback I’ve received from my clients and entrepreneur networks.

While I highly recommend and use personally Office Autopilot, I’ve ranked it 3rd due to it being not an entry level product so therefore it’s baby sister Send Pepper gets the #1 spot.

**UPDATE: I’m now recommending ActiveCampaign as my #1, here’s my in depth comparison review to explain why**

1. Send Pepper – Affordable, Scalable Email Marketing and Basic CRM

SendPepper takes the top spot in the Top 10 Email Marketing Tools For Small Business

This is perfect for small businesses, start-up companies and small-time entrepreneurs who do not have a huge budget for marketing but you’re looking for a high-quality marketing tool.

They have 3 affordable packages to choose from – starting from $29.95 per month, then you can upgrade as your needs change and as you begin seeing success from your email marketing campaigns up through two additional packages which gives you extra features like shopping cart plugins and more contacts.

What I like most about Send Pepper however is that once you outgrow all the Send Pepper packages – and if you are serious about Email Marketing you will –  is that it’s really the baby sister of Office Autopilot, an Email Marketing and Automation CRM that is designed for entrepreneurs and information marketers and all you need to do to upgrade to Office Autopilot is click a button and all your data comes with you – no painful migrations, or paying people to move your data.

So if you are looking to just get started and then get more advanced later on – This is where I’d start.

2. Aweber – The Most Used Email Marketing Software in The World

Aweber the most used email marketing tool in business
This is probably the most affordable and easy to use Email Marketing program for small business and entrepreneurs. For only $1 for the first month and $19.00 per month for the following months with a money-back guarantee, you get a great deal and great results.

The reason Aweber is the most popular system in the world today is due to it’s 99% deliverability rate, proven and tested. This means 99% of emails get through spam filters and are delivered to inboxes.

The thing that you might not like with the Aweber’s service is one of the reasons its so popular – its 99% delivery rate. To achieve this 99% delivery rate Aweber is extremely strict with its opt in process, not allowing you to Import your past or current customers that you have in another system without sending them all an email saying “You’ve just been added to a list, Click here to confirm” this can means you lose up to 50% of your database when you move to them.

As the most popular system, you should check it out. I’ve used it but definitely preferred Send Pepper due to Importing and scalability.

 

3. Ontraport (previously Office Autopilot) – Your Marketing on Autopilot (I personally use this for my email marketing)

Ontraport/OfficeAutopilot takes the 3rd spot in the Top 10 Email Marketing Tools For Small Business

This is a very useful tool that I highly recommend for most small businesses and for the serious entrepreneurs. It is very effective software that will help you market, promote, up sell, monitor and follow up marketing and sales efforts across all your websites and lead capture channels.

Now it’s not necessarily cheap, which is why I recommend starting with Send Pepper and upgrading as you need the features. Their starting package “Pro” is $297 per month and their Team package which allows you a team of 5 users is $597 per month.

This is the tool I myself and many of my marketing and high level entrepreneur friends use, due to its flexibility through the use of “active response rules” – which trigger based on certain actions your database contacts take.

If you are serious about your marketing and how you will automate your sales and prospect pipeline. Ontraport is a great choice to make.

 

4. InfusionSoft – Sales Automation and CRM for Small to Medium Sized Business

InfusionSoft ranks 4th in Top 10 Email Marketing Tools For Small Business

Infusionsoft is very similar to Office Autopilot feature for feature, but while Office Autopilot focuses more on the small business solopreneurs and businesses with a team of less than three staff, Infusionsoft’s CRM abilities makes it better suited to companies with sales staff and larger teams.

Boasting automation functions of email, payment processing, affiliate program and all the goodies you want for an automated online business or an offline business with strong online sales channels.

Packages do start from $199 a month going all the way up to $999 per month. But there is a required setup fee of roughly $2,000+

There are also some challenges if you aren’t based on the East coast of the United States, the time and date for all scheduling and all aspects in infusionsoft will not be in your time and you’ll have to manually convert the time yourself. It was for this reason mainly that I chose not to go with Infusionsoft myself, plus also a lot of features that Office Autopilot now has built in are additional monthly fees for in Infusionsoft.

If you have a team of 5+ and want a strong automation tool, check out Infusionsoft

 

5. MailChimp – Free Email Marketing Tool – Great for Startups

MailChimp is free and ranks 5th for email marketing tools for business

In the Australian startup community MailChimp is by far the most popular and I’m pretty sure it’s because it offers some great features, a really funky user interface and branding, and to get started its 100% free.

Mailchimp is a great email marketing tool for business who send out monthly marketing materials to regular and potential customers and they don’t really want to create sequenced marketing campaigns. It has been a while since I’ve used MailChimp but it doesn’t really handle Autoresponder marketing sequences very well and is better suited for individual email blasts.

Overall it’s an easy-to-use email marketing tool but I found it to be less professional and flexible when it comes to true marketing automation.

If you are a small startup just starting out, it might be a great place to start.

 

6. Constant Contact – Professional Designs Without A Designer

ConstantContact comes in 6th for the top 10 email marketing tools

With 400 templates to choose from, surely you will find one suitable for your business. Constant Contact offers a great 60-day trial and affordable monthly rates starting from $15 per month.

The platform also includes extra features like sending Survey’s but these are additional services that will be charged for.

If you are looking for a system that sends graphical and professional looking newsletters easily without needing a web designer – Constant Contact is a good bet.

 

7. GetResponse – Reports and Analytics That Marketers Drool Over

GetResponse at number 7 For Small Business Email Software

Another popular platform when it comes to Email Marketing. What GetResponse does well is its tracking and montitoring, very similar to Google Analytics, you get a huge amount of flexibility in how to interpret the data.

There is also heaps of documentation and tutorials on how to use it, but the feedback I’ve heard is that if you want to speak with someone, their customer support isn’t that reliable and you’ll often turn to a Google search to find the answer instead.

It’s worth a look, while doing your comparisons – I’ve not used it so can’t say for sure.

 

8. iContact – Easy, Intuitive and Affordable Email Marketing

iContact at number 8 in the top 10 email marketing tools for small business

Easy to use but sophisticated email marketing features. Outstanding user interface that is not intimidating to anyone. Their prices are affordable and iContact offers many customisation options when it comes to sign up and lead capture forms.

It’s a popular system, again I have no direct knowledge only what is passed on to me. Check it out and see if it suits you.

 

9. Vertical Response – Email Marketing Made Simple and Effective

Vertical Response ranks #9 out of 10

Simple but very effective email marketing tool for less than $10 per month. They have good tracking options and professional templates plus excellent customer service.

They’ve recently acquired and moved into the social marketing space as well, and the email platform will soon integrate with their Roost system that managed Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn all from one place, very similar to Hootsuite actually.

I’ve never personally used it, so can’t comment much more, but it has been recommended to me a number of times before. And I’ll be watching the Social Marketing space for a while.

Find out more about Vertical Response here

 

10. 1ShoppingCart – Lots of Features, Used by Many, Basic Email Marketing

1ShoppingCart ranks 10/10 for small business email marketing tools

A shopping cart system for your website that also offers basic email marketing. This platform is again quite popular but I’m not entirely sure why. As an email marketing platform it is very poor, which is why most people who use it then integrate it with another like Aweber.

Also if you are not a tech-savvy person, it may take some time to get used to the software, as its interface is restrictive and not always easy to follow.

It made the list, mainly because it is used a lot, but personally I wouldn’t actually recommend it.

If you want to find out more, take a look at 1shoppingcart.

 

So bottom line – What are the best email marketing tools?

From the list above, if it’s not already clear my recommendations are all affordable, effective and user-friendly.

If you are looking for entry level go with ActiveCampaign, Send Pepper or Aweber, just be wary of Aweber’s strictness on requiring double opt ins.

And if you are serious about your email marketing Ontraport and Infusionsoft are the best Email Marketing tools for today’s full service online marketing.

Do your own research, give them a try… and ensure you have a great system that meets your business needs.

Do you know a better one?

Have you found a different tool that works well for you?

Do you have any experience with any of the above and want to weigh in?

Leave a comment below, I’d love to hear from you.

14 Comments

  • Jacqueline

    Reply Reply September 8, 2012

    Thanks for that information on the different email marketing services. Quite informative!

    🙂

  • Sam

    Reply Reply June 12, 2013

    Thanks for the great review. We decided to go with Mailchimp (http://mailchimp.com.au)
    What an awesome service and website. So far so good.

  • Cortney Renae

    Reply Reply August 31, 2013

    Thank you soooo much! This was extremely helpful!

  • Thomas Olesen

    Reply Reply October 2, 2013

    I have recently recommended and set up MailChimp for a couple of clients because it is free at the volumes they will use and I didn’t undertake wide research before deciding what to use. It solved the problem of getting good looking mass emails delivered and tracked which is not possible with standard office tools. However, the database behind it is terrible and and for one client we had to completely start again because the data appeared to be corrupted and it was too time consuming to fix as there are no tools with which to make mass updates etc. So if I were to start again I would look for a system with a good database behind it.

  • Christian Burris

    Reply Reply October 17, 2013

    Good list. I myself used Infusionsoft and Office Auto Pilot. They are both great products. I do love the ability to go from Sendpepper (Ontraport’s entry level product) all the way up to their premium suite which is Office Auto Pilot. Honestly, you can’t go wrong with both. The thing I love about Infusionsoft is it’s visual campaign builder is absolutely amazing to create fast and complex if you want marketing campaigns very easy.

  • David Amer

    Reply Reply October 22, 2013

    Hi Carl, I know this is not a new article but it really does a great job of putting in one place all the options.
    I am about to start marketing my new website and on a recommendation I signed up for Sendpepper a few months back. But whilst I understand the benefits of the relational database functionality, I find the training tools they provide are not detailed enough a skim over important elements for a beginner.

    Also the Sendpepper and OfficeAutopilot Features are all intertwined, so I spent time learning landing pages only to find I didn’t get them with Sendpepper. .Also the templates for autoresponders are way behind aWeber, Can you recommend a good set of training videos just SendPepper<

    Thanks David Amer

    • Carl Taylor

      Reply Reply October 23, 2013

      Hey David,

      There’s a few elements in your question so I hope I can answer them clearly, let me know if anything is unclear.

      In terms of training I actually find Ontraports 9 Moves videos are really great at covering the general basics of using either Sendpepper or Office Autopilot and even the new Ontraport 3.0 thats currently in BETA.

      You are right about the features not all being there in Sendpepper and that’s a shame you learnt about features you didn’t have. Obviously you can get them pretty easy just by upgrading, but to be honest for landing pages I’d be looking at Leadpages as that’s what I use.

      regarding templates, I’m not a big fan of templates because if many people are using the same email template and someone marks them as Spam you are more likely to end up in their SPAM box instead of the inbox so thats why I like that Sendpepper and Office Autopilot don’t have built in email templates for HTML style emails. That being said you can easily create your own, or get nice templates done for you by a web designer and email template expert, then you use the Source button on the HTML version of the email in OAP/SP and paste in the HTML code provided from the template designer, save that as a Message and give it a title like “NEWSLETTER TEMPLATE” and just grab it every time you go to send a newsletter and edit it as needed.

      Hope that helps and thanks for stopping by the blog and commenting.

      — Carl

  • Marcus

    Reply Reply June 24, 2014

    Good article Carl, lots of solutions that I haven’t heard of. Seems we share similar opinions on GetResponse and Aweber too (I recently did a similar comparison here). Send Pepper looks like an interesting one, will have to check that out sometime. What’s your thoughts on Sendy? They’re a bit different to most in that they’re a hosted solution, but at 100x less than Mailchimp, they’re definitely a contender.

    • Carl Taylor

      Reply Reply June 28, 2014

      Hey Marcus, thanks for the post. Can’t say I’ve heard of or used Sendy before. Will look into it.

  • Bryan Ehrenfreund (@Ehrenfreund)

    Reply Reply June 19, 2015

    Hi Carl,

    Just stumbled across this post (btw thanks…great info!) when I was doing research on ActiveCampaign and found your posted titled “Why I’m Moving To ActiveCampaign And You Should Too”.

    Wondering if you checked out AutoPilotHQ (https://autopilothq.com/index.html) and if had any opinion?

    Thanks!

    Bryan

  • Kristin

    Reply Reply April 26, 2016

    Hi Carl, I am just doing some research between Mailchimp and Send Pepper but it’s now April 2016 so 4 years after your article was written. I am a small coaching start up business so am looking for inexpensive but something that I can easily grow with. One of my coaches has done his tutorials in Send Pepper but they are old as well. Can you tell me if you still like Send Pepper over Mailchimp now 4 years after writing this article?

    Great article by the way. Thanks –

    • Carl Taylor

      Reply Reply April 27, 2016

      Hi Kristin,

      Thanks for the great question.

      These days I would recommend ActiveCampaign instead of SendPepper, it’s more affordable and far more feature rich as well as being constantly updated compared to SendPepper no longer being actively developed.

      I did a review of it here: Why I’m Moving To ActiveCampaign

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