You’ve heard it for the last few years – “email marketing is the king of the marketing kingdom” – and it’s true. For a period of time, newsletters and email automation fell out of favor with marketers and business owners alike; email marketing was being abused, with marketers sending email newsletters too frequently, spamming users, providing too much information and, more generally and simply, not using this method to its full advantage.

The result is that users unsubscribed to such mailing lists, and messages were flagged as junk far more frequently. Some countries, like Canada for example, went so far as to create laws around email marketing. In Canada, the Canada Anti-Spam Law[1] (CASL) was created. CASL was launched in 2014 and sought to protect users against spam email. All users on email marketing lists were required to opt-in to receive email marketing or sales materials. That is, they need to give express consent instead of implied consent. CASL even went one step further, however; this law requires businesses to keep a record of consent confirmations, all message need to be sent with the name and the person who is sending it, and all unsubscribe requests need to be completed within 10 days. In a nutshell, users complained about spam messages through email and countries reacted – with a heavy hand.

Yet, after laws like CASL came into effect in 2014, email marketing experienced a revival. Spam messages were taken more seriously, and businesses placed greater emphasis on the importance of great email marketing campaigns. Marketers became educated in best practices, ensuring that their newsletters were welcomed, easy to consume and provided ROI for their respective companies.

The result? Users reacted well. Very well, in fact. Not only are you now able to generate 6x more click-throughs from an email campaign [2] than you are from a tweet, 72% of people actually now prefer to receive promotional content through email, compared to 17% who prefer social media. While social media is still providing businesses with a plethora of opportunity, it’s important to be aware of how effective and impactful email marketing has become. The best part? Users want it.

So, if your business is ready to explore the benefits of email marketing in 2017- or perhaps you’re already invested in email marketing and want to up your game this calendar year – it’s important to choose an email marketing software what will work for you. With so many options on the market, it can be difficult to decide on the platform that will work best for you with your unique goals and objectives.

That’s why we have put together our review of the best email marketing software on the market for 2017. We’ve focused on the top brands in the marketplace so you’re reviewing the best of the best for your business. Yet, before you endeavour to make your decision from our top email marketing software selections, it is important to consider your goals, objectives and needs before evaluating such software. We’ve helped you, the email marketer, make this process easy to begin.

[1] http://kb.mailchimp.com/accounts/compliance-tips/about-the-canada-anti-spam-law-casl

[2] https://www.campaignmonitor.com/blog/email-marketing/2016/01/70-email-marketing-stats-you-need-to-know/

What are my goals?

Before evaluating software that will work for you, it’s important to uncover what your goals are. Grab a notepad, or open your notes app on your mobile, laptop or desktop right now, and ask yourself – what do I need from my selected email marketing software?

Perhaps you are a B2B company and you are looking for software that will nurture leads that have not yet turned into a client. Or, maybe you’e a B2B company and you have a database of current customers that you are seeking to communicate with regularly.

Are you seeking to have email marketing become a generator of revenue for you? Are you looking to have your email software generate more word of mouth referrals or leads?

Determine what your goals are and write them down. Be sure to not stray from your objectives when evaluating software.

What are my requirements?

Think about your requirements in the sense of your physical software requirements. Do you need your software to work on both desktop and mobile? It’s often important to make changes on the fly, whether you’re traveling or commuting to work, so mobile could provide great benefit to you.

Do you need more than 5 users to have access? Do you need to build teams through your selected platform? Do you need to communicate through the platform, or can you rely on your existing communication channels to do the work?

Write down the requirements you need before evaluating email marketing software.

What features must be included?

Similar to requirements, determine what features must be included in your email marketing software system.

This should include considerations such as template building. Are you looking for a software that offers pre-built templates? Would you prefer to have your developer build your template from scratch? Do you have a developer on staff who will handle such work, or would you prefer to have your Marketing Coordinator drag and drop various elements, for example?

Do you need your selected software to connect with Salesforce for list building, or another CRM that your company is aligned with? Or would you prefer to manually upload CSV documents as part of the process?

Understand what your desired features are, and – just like goals and objectives – write them down.

What is my budget?

Finally, determine what your budget is for your selected email software. When making this decision, of course it is important to decide based on what you can afford, but consider this – how many business opportunities do you need to generate from your email campaigns to turn your selected software into positive ROI? This should not only help you in determining your goals and objectives, it should also help you determine what your business should allocate or can afford to work with your desired email software.

The Reviews

You’ve completed the first step in making a decision to partner with an email marketing software – congratulations! Now that you have determined your goals, objectives, desired features and budget, it’s now time to review the solutions that could work for you and your business.

We have decided to take the best email marketing software on the market now and and provide to you detailed overviews of our top selections. Within this article, we are reviewing:

Why you should read these reviews…

In the process of reviewing the top email marketing software on the market, we have spend over 30 hours dissecting each and every option. We’ve placed ourselves in your shoes – the Marketing professional – and throughly and thoughtfully helped make determinations on the features and benefits of each platform that you need to know about before making your decision. With these reviews, you can trust that there is no bias, only thorough research into the options we believe will work best for you and your business.

AWeberConvertKitInfusionSoftMailChimpConstant ContactiContactActive Campaign
Integrations with Other SoftwareYesYesYesYesYesYesYes
Support – Response Time and Channels Email, phone and text. Set business hours only.Phone and email. 1 hour 14 minute response time. 

Email, phone, Twitter. Set business hours only.

Email, Chat. 24/7.Email, phone. Set business hours only.Email, phone. Business hours only.Email, phone, chat. Business hours only.
Technical Documentation YesYesYesYesYesYesYes
Ease of Use EasyEasyEasyEasy to ModerateEasyEasyEasy
Security Protection YesYesYesYesYesYesYes
Best Fit for Small, Mid or Enterprise Business Small BusinessBloggers/Small BusinessSmall/Medium BusinessSmall, Medium and EnterpriseSmall BusinessSmall/Medium BusinessSmall/Medium Business
CostStarting at $19/moStarting at $29/moStarting at $299/moStarting at $0/moStarting at $20/moStarting at $14/moStarting at $9/mo

AWeber

AWeber is an email marketing software that promises to deliver professional, beautiful newsletters with powerful features. With this platform, you can create campaigns, such as automated emails, with a drag and drop feature, create autoresponder emails, create signup forms, develop email newsletters, manage subscribers and so much more more.

AWeber is used by over 100,000 small businesses, bloggers and entrepreneurs around the world. The company was founded in 1998 and is based out of Pennsylvania.

Read on for more details on AWeber…

Software Integration

When selecting your email platform, it is important to find a software that integrates with your favorite apps – and AWeber does just that.

For example, AWeber connects with LeadPages for lead generation tactics. If you are promoting an upcoming webinar, AWeber’s integration with LeadPages will connect the dots so all leads will be moved to your mailing list. The platform also integrates with Facebook, WordPress and PayPal to create, customize and deploy campaigns through email, so your list targeting, generation and subscriptions will be aligned within the AWeber.

Support

Live customer support is available 8AM-8PM ET Mon-Fri and 9AM-5PM ET Sat-Sun. AWeber provides support through telephone, text chat and email. They also have a database with FAQ and materials for self-help.

AWeber has won various awards for customer service, including a Gold Award Stevie Winner for Sales and Customer Service, and Service Team of the Year Runner-Up in the NCSA All-Stars Awards.

Technical Documentation

AWeber offers access to their platform on desktop, iPhone and Android. On desktop, you can build and launch campaigns through drag and drop features (making this platform incredibly easy to use). On mobile, you can view statistics through the iOS and Android devices.

AWeber also offers AWeber Labs, which is built with developers in mind. With AWeber Labs, developers can gain access to APIs and work within their own software and systems to develop applications, work through data, customize the email process and more.

Ease of Use

As AWeber is a drag and drop email software system, the ease of use is just that – easy! Similar to competitors in the marketplace, AWeber makes using their software a breeze. With little to no coding experience needed, it is ideal for marketing and developer groups alike.

Target Market and Cost

AWeber is ideal for small businesses. With packages starting at just $19 per month for up to 500 subscribers, which is often just what a small business needs, you can send unlimited emails for a small price. In these accounts, you also receive access to support, form tools and automation. The packages increase based on the size of your subscriber base, with over 25,000 subscriber databases requiring a quote. Yet, the budget required for AWeber is minimal, so this target market is certainly for small businesses or independent contractors looking to store their data, develop custom email marketing campaigns and generate ROI through the software.

ConvertKit

ConvertKit is an email marketing software with a target toward professional bloggers. While some brands and businesses decide to target industries or verticals, ConverKit has a plethora of experience with those who love to blog. So, if that’s you, you should read on.

ConvertKit is a small business themselves. Promising to be more than just a software company, they have 21 team members across 14 cities (much smaller than competitors), but promise agility and scalability when needed. This approach is unique to email marketing software, though, as the company boasts an impressive focus on custom tools for the blogging industry.

Software Integration

If you blog – or perhaps your company has built a large following on your corporate blog – you’ll likely be familiar with integrations like Shopify, SumoMe, LeadPages, WordPress and more. ConvertKit offers integrations with over 35 various tools, which means that your email platform can interact with a decent number of interactions natively. If a particular tool is not on the list of offerings from ConvertKit, the company uses Zapier to help fill in the gaps.

Support

Although the team is small, ConvertKit packs a punch when it comes to support. In addition to articles and guides (over 100) available on their website, the company also offers support via email and a phone call. On average, ConvertKit promise a 1 hour, 14 minute response time (precise!) and have nine employees on their customer success team around the world.

Technical Documentation

ConvertKit offers a variety of technical documentation and training elements, including user guides, blueprints, API and developer documentation. This allows for developers and strategists alike to learn more about the platform and understand more thoroughly best practices and integration information. All technical documentations are included in one unified database.

Ease of Use

Much like competition in the marketplace, CovertKit offers drag and drop functionality. With a focus on increasing conversions for those working in the blogging industry, the company has worked to develop a tool that is easy to use, yet functional at the same time.

The result is an email marketing platform that can also develop forms, sequences, automations and manage a database of users.

For those looking for an easy tool to deploy, CovertKit will do the trick.

Target Market and Cost

CoverKit is ideal for bloggers, yet could also work as a fit for small businesses. The price point is affordable. For up to 1,000 subscribers, users will pay only $29 per month. For 1,000 to 3,000 subscribers, the price point is $49. For a larger list, custom quotes are required.

It should be noted that this platform would not suit medium to large businesses. The subscriber base would be too small for medium to large businesses.

InfusionSoft

InfusionSoft is an email marketing software that serves over 125,000 users with support of 16 years of experience in helping small business. In addition to providing email support, InfusionSoft focuses on ROI – ultimately, the return on your investment with their program. They offer methods and tactics to capture more leads or your business, help you improve conversion rates, master e-commerce and aid in the sales process. InfusionSoft is targeted toward small businesses and, with their focus on e-commerce, the more strategic tactic is to B2C companies.

Software Integration

InfusionSoft offers an open API to developers, which will allow you to use third-party applications to communicate with the InfusionSoft application and process data for a variety of uses. This allows users to integrate existing tools and apps, as well as pass information through between InfusionSoft and other applications.

With that said, other email software platforms offer greater integration with tools. For example, ConvertKit offers native integration with SumoMe and WordPress. To do this with InfusionSoft, developers would need to work through an open API.

Support

The InfusionSoft team is available for contact on email, Twitter and telephone. Email and telephone availability is between 6:00AM – 5:00PM MST. Though the company claims 24/7 chat support, the chat support feature was unavailable in the multiple times that we visited InfusionSoft’s website.

Technical Documentation

InfusionSoft provides a learning database for users and prospects alike. From blog posts to open API features and functionality, the InfusionSoft Knowledge Center provides technical documentation and best practices to help make the most of their platform.

Ease of Use

In the form of a dashboard on desktop, users can build and launch email marketing programs with ease. We would rank this platform as “easy” to use.

The greatest feature of InfusionSoft’s software is the ability to use their CRM. With InfusionSoft, you can organize contacts and speak to their needs – via email, of course – using the software’s CRM technology. With this you can collect data about contacts’ behaviors, including visits and clicks to your website, and score them based on such interactions. By tracking engagement and customizing follow-up messages you can target users based on their profiles

Target Market and Cost

Although InfusionSoft’s target market is small businesses, our review would also encompass medium-size businesses. Reason being, the minimum investment for InfusionSoft’s plans begin at $199 per month for marketing automation and CRM with 2500 contacts and 12,500 emails sent per month. For $299 per month, sales automation is also included. Packages range to the top tier of $599 per month.

MailChimp

Mailchimp is perhaps one of the most popular email software providers in North America. With free packages as options for those looking to dabble in the software, Mailchimp promises to be easy to use with drag and drop functionality, in addition to custom HTML work.

Mailchimp has also recently paid a great deal of attention to e-commerce. The company has launched tactics through email to help businesses capture sales, recommend products, and generate ROI through email marketing.

It also boasts one of the largest email user bases in the world, with over 14 million people using Mailchimp’s services and solutions.

Software Integration

Mailchimp knows that integrations matter, which is why the company allows users to connect their Mailchimp accounts with hundreds of web services. These web services range from platforms like Shopify to Magento, WordPress to CRM software. This enables marketers and developers alike to customize their user experience and overall process through email marketing.

Support

For such a large company, it’s a wonder why Mailchimp doesn’t offer 24/7 phone support; but, that’s the route the company has decided. They do, however, have a great self-help database for users to browse through if they experience challenges while using the platform. In addition, users are able to submit contact forms, and the mailing address is public on Mailchimp’s website.

Technical Documentation

Mailchimp offers a plethora of training documentation, including guides and API reference. The guide is ideal for marketing users who are seeking to learn various tasks such as how to sync email activity and campaign stats with your database, manage various lists, and test calls before you push the emails or campaigns to production. The API reference describes each available resource in the MailChimp API; it is here where developer can learn about parameters, errors, and how to format requests.

Ease of Use

Mailchimp is easy to use for those who have a general understanding of marketing systems and platforms. We would rank this software as easy to moderate. Reason being, 24/7 support is not available through the phone, which might make the user process challenging if you experience difficulty in making changes or updates to campaigns. With that said, Mailchimp offers a great deal of updates and custom work within each campaign or template.

Target Market and Cost

Mailchimp is an email marketing software program that is ideal for small, medium and enterprise businesses. This software is free for 0 to 2,000 subscribers, which is ideal for a small business looking to get their feet wet in email marketing software. Yet, businesses with upwards of 1 million subscribers are paying $4,000 per month and more. It is clear that Mailchimp offers a variety of packages and solutions for a variety of business sizes.

Constant Contact

Constant Contact is the marketer’s dream. This business is truly targeted to marketing teams, whether it’s through Marketing Directors and their staff, or owners of small businesses that manage marketing and business development for their company.

Constant Contact has targeted mall businesses and non-profits through email software. Originally setting up shop in 1995, Constant Contact has evolved from a company that launched online surveys and event management tools to a business that truly understands the importance of email marketing communication. Today, Constant Contact offers everything a small business needs to get online and truly grow online, from web hosting, domains, e-commerce, e-marketing, and mobile business tools.

Software Integration

Constant Contact has a goal of helping users achieve move with their overall marketing efforts, which means that apps and integrations are part of the software. Constant Contact offers over 270 apps and integrations as marketing tools, from Zapier to Facebook integration to help aid in growing your marketing email list.

Support

Constant Contact offers two methods of contact and support – email and telephone. The company does not offer 24/7 solutions or chat services. Support is available from 9:00AM to 8:00PM ET through phone.

Technical Documentation

Constant Contact offers a variety of technical documentation, including learning and support services, seminars and training, tutorials, user community support and API documentation. In regards to API documentation, Constant Contact offers a unique developer website that includes documents, libraries, codes and API keys for business customization.

Ease of Use

This email software promises ease of use; in fact, it’s highlighted right on their home page. Constant Contact offers customizable templates with drag and drop, personalization, nurturing systems, contact management and a live dashboard. We’d call this platform easy to use.

Target Market and Cost

Constant Contact caters to small business almost exclusively. Much like their competitor, MailChimp, Constant Contact offers a free option, but only for 60 days. This gives users full access to email marketing tools and live expert help. For paid options, packages start at $20 per month, with custom package options available as well. $20 per month gives users drag and drop features and all of the bells and whistles. Moving up one tier to the $45 per month package gives you a free custom template from the company.

iContact

iContact is an email-focused platform that focuses on small to medium businesses, helping them create and launch results-oriented campaigns. With the ability to build email newsletters and marketing automation, iContact is truly focused on building ROI for brands and businesses. In fact, they find that $1 spent equals $44 made.

Let’s talk more about iContact…

Software Integration

iContact has made their API available to developers around the globe, which means that development teams can integrate iContact with their applications. For the marketing professional, however, who is focused on integrating ready-made, built-in solutions to their email marketing platform, iContact offers integration with Salesforce, 123 Contact Form and Live Chat. Native integration is light, though the API access will give businesses and their developers access to build custom integration.

Support

iContact provides support through email and phone. The interesting piece about this is that the company has divided their support teams between iContact and iContact Pro (the enterprise solution). iContact Pro has their own phone and email support line.

Technical Documentation

In terms of technical documentation, iContact offers guide, resource list and a code library for technical documents. There is also a plethora of resources available in terms of marketing insights, guides, webinars and strategic documents to assist marketing teams with technical support. The technical documental provided is relatively light compared to competition.

Ease of Use

iContact makes their platform easy to use for small to medium size businesses. The main reason being, this platform is built exclusively for email. The platform enables users to create messages, manage lists, create auto-responders, runs through a spam check and develops reports. Without the bells and whistles of other brands, iContact is entirely focused on email.

Target Market and Cost

The target market for iContact is small to medium size businesses. The company has positioned themselves as the leader in email marketing software and automation for small and medium businesses, though their cost does not necessarily reflect that of medium businesses. In fact, you may not even notice a pinch in your marketing budget. Starting with 500 subscribers for $14/month to just $117 per month for senders with 15,000 contacts, the budget allocation for email marketing is relatively small.

ActiveCampaign

ActiveCampaign is another great example of a company that has build themselves as an all-in-one marketing solution, with a clear focus on email. ActiveCampaign has built this all-in-one solution that combines email, marketing automation and CRM. Email marketing includes newsletters, email campaigns and a one-to-one strategy to keep in touch with customers. Marketing automation enables users to automate their marketing channels using person and behavioral data about their contacts (for example, if a contact has clicked on a link within their website, for example). The business has also developed their own CRM to help sales teams get more leads and close deals faster, similar to CRM companies like Salesforce.

With the said, talk more about ActiveCampaign…

Software Integration

ActiveCampaign comes with a wide variety of integrations, and relies heavily on Zapier to make this happen. Zapier connects many applications and platforms together to aid in integration. From lead forms and pages to social media channels. Zapier helps provide Active Campaign with access to a wide variety of software integration.

Support

ActiveCampaign provides support through phone, email and live chat. The support times are sporadic, from our review and experience with their website and customer service solution. For example, when we visited the website in the afternoon on a weekday, the live chat agent was unavailable. With that said, we love when companies provide live chat support on a website.

Technical Documentation

ActiveCampaign has a wide variety of technical documentation. From videos to written guides and resources, there is wide variety of documentation available for users to consume through their website.

One valuable company proposition that ActiveCampaign offers is Office Hours.  Active Campaign support staff are online twice per week to answer questions or talk about the platform. So, if your developer is experiencing a challenge with an integration, he or she can visit the Office Hours. Or perhaps you would like to learn more about best practices for email automation; Office Hours is available to you.

Ease of Use

We’ve used Active Campaign for a great deal of time and this platform is very simple and straightforward. From drag and drop solutions for email to easy to follow and build marketing automations, this is a very easy platform for marketing teams and developers alike to use.

Target Market and Cost

Much like competitors the marketplace, Active Campaign is priced based on the number of contacts or subscribers. Bonus: There are no set-up fees. For 500 contacts, programs start at $9 per month for Active Campaign Lite. Active Campaign Lite is targeted toward independent contractors or freelancers. For Small Businesses with 500 contacts, packages start at $49 per month. These packages build up to custom pricing solutions for over $25,000 contacts.

The Conclusion

When it comes to email marketing software, there are plenty on the market. The email market is inundated with options, much like email marketing was inundated years ago before best practices (and laws) were put into place.

That is exactly why it can be difficult to find, test and decide on the best solution for your and your business. From wants and needs for small and medium businesses, to those looking for more of an enterprise solution, goals and objectives differ based on your business size, industry and unique needs.

The questions you need to ask yourself before embarking on the journey of deciding on your selected email marketing software are:

  1. What are my goals? What are my goals for my department and my company?
  2. What are the requirements that I need? Do I need to manage the platform for myself, or is it a software that my developer can manage and adjust as necessary?
  3. What are the features that I need to have included?
  4. What is my monthly or annual budget for such a solution?

There is no wonder why email marketing has made a significant wave in increasing ROI for businesses. Tactics like email are still one of the exclusive ways to reach potential lead and prospects one-to-one. This is why your business needs to make communication decisions thoroughly, thoughtfully and with purpose.

When developing your email strategy for newsletters or one-to-one email, consider the following best practices:

Make it responsive.

Email newsletter and correspondence should be responsive in nature. This means that the mobile newsletter experience is the same as the desktop experience, tablet experience and so on. All of the email software providers on the list we have thoroughly resourced and reviewed have responsive design checks, which means that you can preview your newsletter templates to ensure it displays well across a variety of platforms.

Personalize your messaging.

Did you know that personalized email can [1]? It’s true. Personalization can come in many forms, and our recommendation is to always personalize the email body of your message – and be sure to test subject lines. All of the email software providers we have reviewed on this list give users the ability to personalize email marketing efforts.

Identity what you need from your analytics.

Want to track open rates? Reply rates? Click through rates? When putting together your email strategy, ensure you know what you need from your analytics features. All of the email providers we have reviewed have analytics features included, tracking everything from the top links clicked to the number of times unique users have opened your emails. Tracking process over time will not only help you measure ROI, it will also help you make key business strategic decisions.

If you are just embarking on your email marketing strategy, or perhaps you are ready to make changes for this calendar year, we hope our review of these top platforms on the market will help aid in your decision. Covering cost, features, integrations and technical documentation, we have provided an overview of what you need to know from each platform, including our review on the ease of use. Regardless of your budget, and whether you’re a small, medium or enterprise business, ensure you are making a decision that works best for you and your department. Consider this research before you sign on the dotted line, and consider the benefits that you need to see before partnering with an email marketing software. When it’s time to press send, you need to be confident in your selected partner.