Marketing as a small business can be tough. Despite working with limited manpower, resources and small budgets, you need to find creative ways to outcompete with larger competitors to get your brand out there for a slice of the pie.

Compared to other forms of traditional and digital marketing, email marketing is ideal for small businesses because it is the simplest, most direct and most cost-effective way to connect with new and existing customers. All you need to do is sign up for an email marketing platform to get started, and there is the opportunity for excellent ROI.

 

What Small Businesses Need to Consider When Choosing an Email Marketing Platform

Employees in small businesses often wear many hats and they can have little time to learn how to use an email marketing platform from scratch. That’s why it’s important for your email marketing platform to be beginner-friendly and intuitive. Additionally, flexible payment plans that allow you to add or remove users and features as you scale are also great to have.

If you’re new to email marketing, it’s easy to be completely overwhelmed by all the email marketing platform choices out there. Each one tries to stand out with greater promises and features. To make sure you choose the right platform, you need to consider:

  • Your budget
  • Platform subscription costs
  • Number of contacts in your email list
  • How frequently you send emails
  • Level of email automation you need
  • Additional features like analytics and campaign optimisation

Ideally, whatever email marketing platform you choose should allow you to:

  • Create attractive and highly engaging emails using a simple interface
  • Automate the sending of bulk emails that are personalised and targeted
  • Manage and allow you to segment your contacts into groups
  • Track the performance of your email campaigns
  • Help you comply with anti-spam and consumer laws in your country

These are the key features every email marketing platform should have. They set up the foundation for you to run successful email campaigns. Once you have these features, your decision comes down to how easy each platform is to use, how the platform supports its customers, and whether its pricing plans meet your budget.

To help you make your choice, we’ve rounded up and compared 5 of the best email marketing platforms for small businesses today.

screenshot of Mailchimp homepage

#1 MailChimp

MailChimp is arguably the most recognised name in email marketing platforms. As one of the first brands in the space, they’ve been helping businesses grow using email marketing since they launched in 2001. Today, MailChimp is used by everyone from solopreneurs to small, medium and large businesses.

MailChimp Features

MailChimp has one of the most robust feature sets out of all the email marketing platforms thanks to how long they’ve been around. One of the platform’s key selling points is its ability to analyse data from the billions of emails they send in order to give you personalised recommendations for improving your campaign content, targeting and automation.

Overview of MailChimp’s key features:

  • Drag-and-drop email builder
  • Over 100 pre-designed email templates
  • Predictive audience segmentation based on behaviours and interests
  • Customisable, pre-built automated customer journey paths
  • AI-assisted content and campaign suggestions
  • Integrated with over 300 apps

Individually, MailChimp’s features are beginner-friendly and come with useful tutorials to help you learn the interface. However, the sheer amount of features available can add to the steep learning curve.

MailChimp Support

MailChimp offers 24/7 email and chat support for users on their paid plans. Phone and priority support is only available for premium users, while free users only have email support for the first 30 days.

MailChimp Pricing

Here’s an overview of the pricing and email/contact limitations for MailChimp’s free and paid accounts.

FreeEssentialsStandardPremium
Cost per month based on 500 contacts

(Price increases based on number of contacts)

SGD$0
(Free forever)
SGD$15SGD$25SGD$420
Maximum contacts allowed50050,000100,000200,000
Monthly email sends2,5005,0006,000Unlimited
Maximum number of users1245

 

MailChimp Summary: Pros and Cons

ProsCons
  • Free-forever plan with 500 contacts
  • A/B testing included with all paid plans
  • Robust automation and customer segmentation features
  • Widely integrated with popular e-commerce and social media apps
  • Sheer number of features can be overwhelming
  • Pricing can increase significantly as contact list grows
  • Limited customer support at lower paid tiers

 

Overall, MailChimp is ideal for businesses looking to start small yet not be limited as they grow. Businesses can take advantage of MailChimp’s free plan to launch their email marketing efforts at no cost until they reach the limit of 500 contacts.

 

screenshot of Constant Contact homepage

#2 Constant Contact

Constant Contact is an email marketing platform aimed at busy entrepreneurs and small business owners. The brand promises to make email marketing a seamless and easy experience so owners can focus on managing their businesses.

Constant Contact Features

Constant Contact’s features are consistent with the brand’s focus on a seamless experience for busy business owners. Everything is designed to be beginner-friendly enough so entrepreneurs can get their email marketing campaigns up and running whilst managing their businesses. If you feel stuck, Constant Contact offers robust and comprehensive support in the form of phone calls, live chat, video tutorials and written guides.

Overview of Constant Contact’s key features:

  • Intuitive drag-and-drop email builder
  • Over 200+ email templates
  • Sign-up forms, surveys and poll creation
  • Email list building tool
  • Real-time engagement tracking
  • Integration with popular apps like Canva and Shopify

Constant Contact Support

Constant Contact offers multiple forms of support with phone calls, live chat, video tutorials and written guides. Support is available even for the lowest-tiered plan, with personalised consultation for the highest tier.

Constant Contact Pricing

Here’s an overview of the pricing and limitations for Constant Contact’s free and paid accounts. Constant Contact offers a 60-day free trial instead of a free account.

CorePlus
Cost per month based on 500 contacts

(Price increases based on number of contacts)

USD$9.99USD$45
Maximum contacts allowed50,00050,000
Monthly email sends (24x the size of your contact list)12,000 (based on 500 contacts)12,000 (based on 500 contacts)
Maximum number of users5Unlimited

 

Constant Contact Summary: Pros and Cons

ProsCons
  • Send up to 24x the size of your contact list monthly
  • Beginner-friendly email editor and large collection of templates
  • Built-in sign-up form, survey and poll creation tool
  • Integrated with popular e-commerce and social media apps
  • No free plan
  • Steep increase of USD$9.99 to USD$35 when going over 500 contacts in Core plan
  • Automated audience segmentation locked behind higher tier plan
  • A/B testing only on email headlines
  • Advanced conversion features only available for higher tier plan

 

Overall, Constant Contact provides great basic email marketing features for beginners. It is an ideal option for businesses that want to run their own email marketing campaigns without having to hire a dedicated in-house team or outsource to an agency. It is best suited for businesses that send out lots of emails with smaller contact lists and are not looking to scale.

 

screenshot of Converkit homepage

#3 ConvertKit

ConvertKit is an email marketing platform aimed at online content creators. While creators spend lots of their time and energy on conceptualising and producing content, they can often find it difficult to market their productions and grow their audience. ConvertKit’s unique selling point is its focus on straightforward marketing tools to help content creators build targeted email campaigns designed to turn readers into subscribers.

ConverKit Features

ConvertKit’s UI/UX is uncluttered, straightforward and easy to understand. While its email creation features are fairly basic (limited design options), the email marketing platform’s strength lies in its email sequence builder, audience management and segmentation. For example, you can email customers based on the action they take (e.g. subscribing to a newsletter or purchasing a product) rather than sending mass sending irrelevant emails to the wrong people.

Overview of ConvertKit’s key features:

  • Landing page and form creator
  • Email designer and deliverability tools
  • Visual automation builder
  • Integration with Teachable, Squarespace and Shopify
  • Ability to embed commerce into emails

ConvertKit Support

ConvertKit offers live chat and email support for its paid plans. Priority support is available for higher tiers. There is no live chat or email support for the free plan, which is limited to asking questions on their community forum.

ConvertKit Pricing

Here’s an overview of the pricing and limitations for ConvertKit’s free and paid accounts.

FreeCreatorCreator Pro
Cost per month based on 300 subscribers

(Price increases based on number of contacts)

USD$0
(free forever until above 1,000 subscribers)
USD$15USD$29
Maximum contacts allowed1,000400,000400,000
Monthly email sendsUnlimitedUnlimitedUnlimited
Maximum number of users12Unlimited

 

Converkit Summary: Pros and Cons

ProsCons
  • Easy-to-use landing page and email creator
  • Visual automation builder enables simple automated email set up
  • Tag-based email system that allows you to send emails based on customer actions
  • Unique features that make selling digital products and subscriptions easier
  • Free forever plan up til 1,000 subscribers
  • Basic email editor with no preview
  • Limited design option and templates
  • Basic email analytics
  • A/B testing only on email headlines

 

Overall, ConvertKit does what it sets out to do — making it easy for content creators to grow and connect with their audience via email marketing. The email marketing platform’s dedication to simplicity is both a pro as well as a con. While users who are just getting started will find its features simple to understand, advanced users may find that the platform’s features lacking in control and customisation.

 

screenshot of Drip homepage

#4 Drip

Drip is an email marketing platform designed to be used together with popular e-commerce platforms like Shopify, Magneto and WooCommerce. Its brand promise is to help online stores improve their earnings by turning shopping experiences into useful data streams for more relevant, targeted email campaigns.

Drip Features

With its focus on e-commerce, many of Drip’s features are centered around customer segmentation and email personalisation. Drip’s philosophy is to give its users more time to scale their online business, not figuring out how to use the platform. As a result, the email marketing platform does a good job of not overwhelming its users with data. Instead, it gives users a curated feed of the essential data they need to make decisions based on customer behaviour alongside in-app insights and guidance.

Overview of Drip’s key features:

  • Email builder
  • Customer segmentation and personalisation
  • Pre-built playbooks like welcome series and abandon carts
  • Integrations with popular e-commerce platforms and other marketing tools
  • In-app insights and guidance
  • A/B testing

Drip Support

Paying Drip customers have access to email support from 9 am to 5 pm CT Monday through Friday. Customers on Drip’s USD$99/month plan will have access to live chat support at the same time.

Besides email and live chat, Drip offers self-help resources in the form of a blog, a help center and a workflow library.

Drip Pricing

Drip only has a single pricing plan that increases in cost based on how many contacts you have. There is no free plan. Instead, Drip offers a fully-featured 14-day free trial after which you will be prompted to link your credit card to continue using the email marketing platform.

Drip Paid Plan
Cost per month based on 2,500 contacts

(Price increases based on number of contacts)

USD$39 
Maximum contacts allowed2,500 
Monthly email sendsUnlimited 
Maximum number of usersUnlimited

 

Drip Summary: Pros and Cons

ProsCons
  • Easy-to-use email, subscribe form and pop-up builders
  • Pre-built automation playbook for quick set-up
  • Robust customer segmentation and email personalisation features
  • In-app insights and guidance to grow an e-commerce business
  • One-click integration with over 100 e-commerce platforms and marketing tools
  • No free plan
  • Limited and inconvenient support outside of US timezones
  • Only one pricing model
  • Not suitable for businesses without an online store

 

Drip’s focused features make it an excellent option for online businesses looking to grow and scale their e-commerce revenue. However, its inflexible pricing model can be a con for users who might not want or need all of the email marketing platform’s features.

 

screenshot of Mailerlite homepage

#5 MailerLite

MailerLite is an excellent email marketing platform for SMEs on a strict budget. In our email marketing comparison, MailerLite offers the most generous free plan and the most affordable paid plans. While it is one of the newer brands in the email marketing space, it comes with many of the same standard features one would expect from an established brand such as a drag-and-drop builder, automation workflows and segmentation.

MailerLite Features

MailerLite focuses on a customer-friendly approach that removes complexity while still offering advanced features. Their email marketing platform focuses on intuitive solutions with clean and functional design. However, while MailerLite gives its users all the tools they need to create and execute great email marketing campaigns, its reporting and analytic tools are lacking when compared to competitors.

Overview of MailerLite’s key features:

  • Landing page editor
  • Drag-and-drop email builder
  • Sleek and simple newsletter layouts
  • Automation workflow builder
  • Audience segmentation, tagging and personalisation

MailerLite Support

MailerLite provides 24/7 email support to its paid users and 24/7 live chat support for users on its advanced plan. Free users get basic support from Monday to Friday.

MailerLite Pricing

MailerLite has three pricing plans that increase in cost based on how many contacts you have. There is no free trial, but the platform offers a free forever plan.

FreeGrowing BusinessAdvanced
Cost per month based on 1,000 contacts

(Price increases based on number of contacts)

USD$0USD$9USD$19
Maximum contacts allowed1,00050,000500,000
Monthly email sends12,000UnlimitedUnlimited
Maximum number of users13Unlimited

 

MailerLite Summary: Pros and Cons

ProsCons
  • Generous forever free plan with 1,000 contacts and 12,000 email sends monthly 
  • Simple drag-and-drop editor and automation builder
  • Unlimited segmentation even for free plans
  • A/B testing of different email elements even for free plans
  • Commerce integration for emails only limited to paid plans
  • Limited email automation triggers for free plan
  • Lacks more advanced campaign recommendations and reporting features

 

MailerLite offers a feature-rich free plan that is comparable with well-known names in the email marketing platform space like MailChimp. It is an excellent budget-friendly alternative for SMEs looking to set up and run their own email marketing campaigns. However, SMEs that are scaling might find that it lacks the advanced data reporting and recommendations offered by other competitors.

Overall, MailerLite is good for businesses that need a budget email marketing platform that does the job well without any additional bells and whistles.

 

Comparison at a Glance

We hope this email marketing platform comparison helps you pick the most suitable platform for your business. As a quick summary, we’ve compiled the email marketing platforms covered in this article and their suitability for SMEs.

Mailchimp
Suitable for SMEs looking for a complete solution that will scale with them as they go from simple to complex email marketing campaigns.

Constant Contact
Suitable for SMEs with small subscriber lists that run sporadic email marketing campaigns.

ConvertKit
Suitable for content creators or SMEs with a content creation business model to grow their audience.

Drip
Suitable for e-commerce SMEs focused on growing online revenue through email marketing campaigns.

MailterLite
Suitable for budget focused SMEs that need an affordable email marketing platform with robust basic features.

Whichever platform you choose, email marketing is one of the best ways for SMEs to achieve consistent ROI and growth on a modest budget. While choosing the right email marketing platform is important, knowing the best practices when it comes to creating and running effective campaigns is an even bigger contributor to your success.

If you’re a complete beginner to running your own email marketing campaigns, there is often a steep learning curve you have to overcome before you start seeing results. This is true no matter which email marketing tool you choose. Rather than take weeks or even months to see a return on your email marketing efforts, why not accelerate your learning and become competent at email marketing in just a few days?

You can do so by learning from experienced industry professionals who can guide you and answer your questions as they come up.

FirstCom Academy’s Building Successful Email Marketing Campaigns Through Mailchimp is a WSQ-certified and SkillsFuture-eligible course that is ideal for complete email marketing beginners. Taught by expert digital marketers with real-world email marketing experience, the course provides learners with an in-depth understanding of Mailchimp’s email marketing tools and includes hands-on practice on how to set up successful campaigns.

Interested? Sign up for FirstCom Academy’s email marketing course today!

 

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