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7 best email service providers for creatives and small businesses

Get your finger on the pulse of your email subscribers’ behaviors and write high-converting emails with these top 7 email marketing platforms.

November 7, 2019 by Taylor Barbieri

You’re ready to get serious about email list building.

Getting serious means you need a tool that’s dependable, intuitive, and affordable.

Making the “wrong” choice about that tool is as good as putting the coffin nails in your email marketing.

(It’s not, but no one would blame you for feeling that way.)

Either way, all of this translates to a serious challenge on your hands. With seemingly limitless email service providers (ESPs) that cater to small businesses, finding the right one is time-consuming, convoluted, and the last thing you need on your plate right now.

We’re here to help.

Today, we’ll take you through seven of the best email providers for creators, whether your list is in the thousands or small enough to ride a tricycle. 

We’ll look at core features, real-life examples, and the price point for each, in addition to calling out who they’re best for -- and who is better off with an alternative.

Without further ado, let’s dive in.

Platform #1: Moosend

If you’re an email marketing greenhorn with a teeny but growing list, you’ll want to give Moosend a look. 

Moosend comes with a drag-and-drop builder that makes it a cinch to craft gorgeous emails for email design newbies and pros alike. 

Moosend offers creators core email features at very reasonable prices, including list segmentation, email analytics, marketing automations, and more. 

List segmentation may not seem important when you have a small list, but it can often mean great things for how many opens and clicks your emails get, as well as your overall sales. 

For instance, one report found that segmented emails had a 14.31% higher open rate than non-segmented emails. Clicks were 100.95% higher for segmented campaigns, too. 

What makes Moosend particularly small business-friendly is that they offer a free forever plan that allows creators with under 1,000 subscribers to send an unlimited number of emails without Moosend branding -- that’s pretty generous by any standard. 

Features:

  • Drag-and-drop email editor
  • Email marketing automations
  • Unlimited email campaigns 
  • List segmentation
  • Real-time email analytics
  • Third-party integrations
  • Monthly, quarterly, and annual plans or “pay-as-you-go” payments

Who it’s best for:

  • Creators with under 1,000 subscribers who are looking for a free ESP as they learn the ropes of email marketing 
  • Creators who want an email marketing tool that provides core features and functions without bogging them down in bells and whistles 
  • Makers looking for reasonable and flexible payment plans for their ESP

Free trial: No, Moosend has a no credit card-required “free forever” plan

Email example: 

Pricing:

  • Moosend has a free forever plan for creators with less than 1,000 subscribers
  • The lowest premium plan is $96 per year of $10 per month
  • The highest premium plan is $35,040 per year of $3,650 per month

Platform #2: Sendinblue

Sendinblue is one of the best email marketing platforms out there if you’re looking for an ESP that rolls email marketing together with other essential small business tools like a landing page builder or paid ads. 

Like Moosend, Sendinblue offers a free plan where subscribers can send unlimited emails to a list of fewer than 300 subscribers. 

If you opt for one of Sendinblue’s no-hidden-fee paid plans, however, you could gain access to a greater number of paid sends, landing pages, Facebook ads, marketing automation, and more features. 

Sendinblue also offers subject A/B testing (also known as “split-testing”), so you can figure out which subject lines perform the best (although these email subject line formulas should get you on the right track). 

According to research by Litmus, around 39% of brands never or rarely A/B test their segmented and broadcast emails, and even fewer A/B test automated or transactional emails -- and that’s a huge no-no if you’re serious about winning customers via email. 

Know what’s even better? You can get access to all of these great features on top of support in six languages via email, telephone, and live chat. 

Features:

  • Drag-and-drop email builder
  • Email template library
  • Can build emails from scratch 
  • Email personalization 
  • List segmentation
  • Unlimited lists and subscribers 
  • Subject line A/B testing
  • Send-time optimization 
  • Pre-paid email credits in case you go over your limits

Who it’s best for:

  • Creators looking for an all-in-one marketing tool that combines email marketing with landing page design, paid ads, and other features 
  • Creators who are looking for an ESP whose features and offerings will grow as their business and budget expands
  • Creators who want the option of a typical monthly or annual subscription or a pay-as-you-go option 

Free trial: Sendinblue has a no credit card-required “free forever” plan

Email example:

Pricing:

  • Sendinblue has a free forever plan for creators for up to 300 emails per day and an unlimited number of contacts
  • The lowest premium plan is $240 per year or $25 per month
  • The highest premium plan is $633.60 per year or $66 per month 

Platform #3: Podia

Small business owners are responsible for an average of 4.2 roles at their company -- that’s a tall order for even the speediest entrepreneurs to manage. 

And you’re a creator, not a juggler, so if you’re looking to streamline your digital product business and lighten your workload, you can’t go wrong with Podia.

Podia’s email functionality comes with email analytics, list segmentation, unlimited email sends, and unlimited subscribers, too. 

Podia also allows thousands of creators like you to sell online courses, offer membership sites, and sell digital downloads without any hidden fees or sales limits. 

You can also create your business website, storefront, and unlimited landing and sales pages using the drag-and-drop Podia Editor.

Features:

  • Drag-and-drop landing and sales page builder 
  • List segmentation
  • Unlimited subscribers
  • Unlimited emails
  • Send drip campaigns
  • Send email newsletters
  • Email analytics

Who it’s best for:

  • Creators who want to manage their emails from the same place they host and sell their digital products and who want to lessen the technical hassle in running their business
  • Makers who need a simple yet reliable email marketing tool that will make email marketing a breeze so they can focus more on creating
  • Makers who are looking for a simple email marketing tool as they learn how to use email marketing in their own business 

Free trial: 14-day free trial with no credit card required 

Email example: 

Pricing:

  • The lowest premium plan is $390 per year of $39 per month
  • The highest premium plan is $790 per year of $79 per month
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Platform #4: ConvertKit

Like Podia, ConvertKit was designed with creators in mind. 

Specifically, ConvertKit designed their email marketing tool so creators like you could “grow your email list, grow your business, and get back to creating.”

ConvertKit’s email designer makes it easy to create clean emails without any design experience, and even claims you can create a landing page in less than 10 minutes. 

What makes ConvertKit stand out from many other ESPs is their focus on creating a community for their audience. 

ConvertKit has a Slack community where creators can ask questions, share their successes, and learn more about email marketing and blogging. 

Their customer support team also goes beyond just answering questions -- they also host office hours, live trainings, and weekly workshops for makers. 

Features:

  • Email designer
  • Marketing automation
  • Text-based emails so your emails will be less likely to be flagged as spam 
  • List segmentation
  • Email reporting 
  • Subscriber tags to further organize your list
  • Embeddable and customizable opt-in forms
  • Create your own landing pages
  • Integrates with over 70 services
  • Concierge migration if you have over 5,000 subscribers
  • Slack community for customers 

Who it’s best for:

  • Creators looking for an ESP designed specifically with makers in mind
  • Makers looking for continued training and a community from their ESP of choice
  • Creators looking for an ESP that has made it incredibly easy to design emails and landing pages, and understand how these emails are performing

Free trial: No credit card-required 14-day free trial or a product demo if you have over 5,000 subscribers

Email example:

Pricing:

  • The lowest premium plan is $300 per year or $29 per month 
  • The highest premium plan is $792 per year or $79 per month 
  • Higher-priced custom plans are available

Platform #5: ActiveCampaign

Email is about building relationships with your customers -- and ActiveCampaign knows that. 

ActiveCampaign offers creators multiple advanced email marketing features -- like multiple email types, dynamic content, and email personalization -- for brands looking to both bond with and nurture their subscribers. 

Dynamic content, or content which changes based on a customer’s behavior, is an especially valuable email feature to employ given consumers’ desire for more personalized content. In fact, 65% of marketers have said dynamic content makes their emails more relevant to consumers. 

Aside from its many features, ActiveCampaign is a great fit for brands that attend many in-person events. 

Even if there’s no internet connection, you can collect attendee’s email addresses and trigger email automations using iPad forms. Your contacts will then automatically sync to ActiveCampaign once you have an internet connection again. 

Compared to the ESPs we’ve covered so far, ActiveCampaign is definitely a better fit for those with larger lists who are looking for data-backed ways to send the “perfect” emails to their subscribers. 

Features:

  • Drag-and-drop email builder
  • Over 25 premade emails templates
  • Send multiple email types, including triggered emails, broadcast emails, and email autoresponders
  • List segmentation
  • Dynamic content
  • Email split-testing
  • Email personalization
  • Integrates with over 250 apps and services

Who it’s best for:

  • Creators with sizable lists who want to build precision-targeted campaigns 
  • Creators who are familiar with running split-testing and other advanced email marketing tactics (or, at least, interested in those features)

Free trial: No credit card-required 14-day free trial

Email example: 

Pricing:

  • The lowest premium plan is $108 per year or $15 per month 
  • The highest premium plan is $2,748 per year or $279 per month 

Platform #6: Aweber

If you’re looking for the features of a high-priced ESP at a more modest price tag, you’ll be hard-pressed to find something which beats Aweber

Aweber offers over 700 email templates, over 6,000 stock photos, and multiple integrations so you can design professional-grade emails without ever having to leave their website. 

Between Aweber’s multiple education guides, blog posts, videos, and a support team available seven days a week, you’ll never be left hanging for a question -- or the tools to craft a truly great email. 

Features:

  • Drag-and-drop builder
  • Access to over 700 email templates
  • HTML templates
  • Access to over 6,000 stock photos 
  • Send unlimited emails
  • List segmentation
  • Split-testing
  • Email analytics
  • Email automations 
  • Seven-day customer support 
  • Works with multiple integrations
  • Aweber educational guides, videos, blog posts, and more

Who it’s best for:

  • Solopreneurs and smaller teams who are looking for a straightforward, beginner-friendly ESP 
  • Teams looking for a feature-rich email provider at a reasonable price
  • Creators who want to DIY their way to more advanced email marketing without investing in a pricier or more technically complicated option

Free trial: 30-day free trial, but credit card information is required

Email example:

Pricing:

  • The lowest premium plan is $19/month
  • The highest premium plan is $149/month
  • Higher-priced customized plans are available

Platform #7: Mailerlite

Mailierlite is a great ESP for creators looking for email marketing features used by brands with hundreds of thousands of followers, but who themselves have modestly sized but loyal lists. 

You can create emails with Mailerlite, of course, but also A/B test those emails, use click maps to understand how your subscribers engage with your emails, and segment your list so you can send more relevant and targeted emails. 

Click maps are an especially valuable feature if you love digging into data to make your emails more subscriber-friendly. Click maps reveal where subscribers click in your emails -- and spoiler, it’s not always where you want them to. 

But Mailerlite’s benefits don’t stop there -- you can also use this ESP to create tools that can help you grow your list even further, like pop-ups and landing pages. 

With average-performing pop-ups converting at 3.09%, adding pop-ups to your website could be an easy way to bring in additional subscribers, especially when paired with great online sales copywriting

Features:

  • Drag-and-drop builder
  • Newsletter templates
  • Ecommerce campaigns 
  • Email automation
  • List segmentation
  • Subscriber management and tagging
  • Email personalization
  • A/B split-testing
  • Auto resend
  • RSS campaigns
  • Email delivery by subscriber’s time zone
  • Campaign reports
  • Click maps
  • Surveys
  • Landing pages 
  • Embeddable forms
  • Pop-ups
  • 24/7 support

Who it’s best for:

  • Creators with small but loyal lists who want to nurture their subscribers with advanced email features (without paying an advanced price)
  • Creators who want to build accompanying pop-ups and landing pages using the same tool they used to create their emails

Free trial: No credit card-required 14-day free trial 

Email example

Pricing:

  • Mailerlite has a free forever plan for creators who have up to 1,000 subscribers and who send 12,000 or fewer emails per month
  • The lowest premium plan is $84 per year or $10 per month 
  • The highest premium plan is $420 per year or $50 per month 

Try these 7 email marketing platforms for email success 

Will the wrong ESP break your business (and more importantly, your bottom line)? Realistically, no.

But the wrong one will limit your growth, so while there’s nothing wrong with experimentation, getting the right ESP is worth it sooner rather than later.

Here are some of our favorites for small businesses:

  • Moosend if you have under 1,000 subscribers and are looking for a free ESP as you learn how to use email marketing in your business
  • Sendinblue if you would like to use an all-in-one ESP who offers additional marketing services as you upgrade to more advanced plans 
  • Podia if you’re looking to build and launch email marketing campaigns from the same place you sell your digital products. 
  • ConvertKit if you want continuous community and ESP support as you develop your email marketing campaigns 
  • ActiveCampaign if you prefer an ESP that makes it easy to send highly personalized emails
  • Aweber if you’re a creator looking for a beginner-friendly ESP that comes with virtually all the email marketing features you would ever need
  • Mailerlite if you’re looking for technically sophisticated email marketing features at very reasonable prices

Ultimately, finding the right one for you isn’t something a guide or review can accomplish, but with these seven ESPs in hand, you should be that much closer to creating emails that wow your subscribers and boost your bottom line.