Email marketing tools

February 19, 2024
17 min read
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Find one. Don’t be one.

Yep, this is yet another roundup of email marketing tools. You must have seen more than a few posts like this. Only this one is supported by our 50,000 literal hours of email marketing experience, which have taught us, among many other things, that the best email marketing tool is the one that best fits the -often very- specific needs and goals of each particular brand and project. Having said that, we’ve also been around enough to know the key things to look for when finding the email marketing tool with the best potential, and how to read between the sometimes blurry lines between what a platform offers and what it ultimately delivers. Let’s get to it.

Email is dead

In June 2010, then Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg announced at the Nielsen Consumer 360 conference that email was dead. We had been Mailchimp partners for a couple of years at the time. We still are. Ever since, not a day has gone by without some hotshot announcing the arrival of the proverbial final nail on the email coffin. Still ain’t happened. And it doesn’t seem to be happening anytime soon.

More than four billion people use email worldwide, and four in five consumers prefer email over any form of communication. Plus, 95 percent of marketers believe email marketing has an excellent ROI.


If everyone’s using it, buyers like it better, and it’s good for business, it’s no surprise that contrary to predictions, email is pretty much alive. What’s surprising is how most people still suck at it. 

Why is that? We believe it’s partly a combination of the wrong approach and the wrong tools. 

And then there’s the fact that things seem to become increasingly complex, increasingly fast, so approaching email marketing tools can feel overwhelming. But it doesn’t have to be.

The massive availability of diverse email marketing tools within an immense price range, beginning, of course, at zero budget, might lead you to think that there should be a perfect tool for each business, or almost. And there is. The challenge is to find that right one. And that, apart from the inevitable “know thyself”, requires knowing what to look for when trying to find an email marketing tool that fits. 

What are Email Marketing Tools?

Broadly speaking, email marketing is promoting a business through emails and newsletters, and email marketing tools are what marketers use to create, send, test, optimize, and report on their email campaigns. These can range from more specific to larger, all-in-one platforms that offer other functionalities. They often include features such as email creation templates, automation, analytics, and contact management.

Today, everyone needs to do more with less. Marketers too. They need to connect with their audience in a highly personalized way, while staying on budget. Marketers who are good at email marketing can connect with their customers in a highly targeted way, which increases the chances of success in delivering ROI and revenue back to the business. 

Key things Email Marketing Tools can do:

  • Campaigns: These platforms facilitate the planning, design, and execution of email campaigns that convert.
  • Integration: Email marketing tools integrate with content management systems or ecommerce platforms, providing condensed analytics data for actionable insights.
  • Automation: They do all the heavy lifting to handle complex tasks such as sending servers, deliverability, spam protection, and automated campaigns.

Why small businesses need Email Marketing Tools 

A bit more than everyone else, that is

Everyone can benefit from using the right marketing tools. Small businesses simply can’t do without them. Email marketing tools enable small businesses to connect with their audience in a highly targeted and personalized manner that would otherwise require more time, money and resources than you can spare.

Also because when you’re small, no risk is, email marketing tools provide valuable analytics for measuring how effective a campaign is, which allows small businesses to refine their strategies as fast and effectively as possible. Again, good for everyone, but invaluable for small businesses on tight budgets.

Best Free Email Marketing Tools

Well that’s a tough one

Some email marketing tools are free. Free as in email. We are not covering them here. However, most of the platforms we chose for this roundup also offer free plans for businesses just starting out with some serious email strategy. 

A few words of warning, though: Make sure you understand where you are in terms of campaign and planning complexity, integrations and goals, so you can figure out the best match. You can choose a free tool to get started, but past that point, in most cases, with free tools you kinda get exactly what you paid for.

Key things to look for in an email marketing tool

We’ve mentioned the key things email marketing tools can do. 

This section covers how they do them, in three key areas.

Email Marketing Automation

Email marketing automation streamlines repetitive tasks, which means more time and resources available to focus on strategy and customer engagement. It enhances efficiency, personalization, and the overall impact of email campaigns.

Automating email campaigns is more than a convenience. Through abandoned cart reminders, birthday rewards and annual specials, among others, automated campaigns nudge indecisive shoppers, celebrate loyal customers, and keep your brand in the spotlight year-round.

Check out our post on email marketing for eCommerce for more on automation and how it can help your email marketing strategy.

AI in Email Marketing

We have written quite a bit about AI here, here and here.

Hype and doom aside, Artificial Intelligence is reshaping the landscape of email marketing, offering innovative solutions to enhance campaign effectiveness and customer engagement. Leading the charge are tools that leverage AI to optimize various aspects of email marketing. Not all. Some things are still done best by humans.

AI in email marketing excels at personalization, content optimization, and predictive analytics. By analyzing user behavior, AI tailors content to individual preferences, leading to more engagement and higher conversion rates. It can also predict customer actions, allowing marketers to proactively address needs.

The best of AI is yet to come. Some would say the worst too. It may be too soon to know. So far, here are some platforms leading the way in AI email marketing tools, in no particular order: 

Mailchimp: A pioneer in AI-driven email marketing with AI functionalities focused on personalized recommendations and content optimization. Email content is tailored by analyzing user preferences and behavior.

DotDigital: A prime example of how AI makes predictive analytics in email marketing shine, enabling marketers to anticipate customer actions by providing insights into user behavior.

Omnisend: A noteworthy player in AI email marketing, excelling in automation and segmentation.

More on these later.

Email Marketing Performance Analytics

We keep repeating it, but analytics are key in marketing. Of course, email marketing is no exception. Analytics play a crucial role in email marketing, enabling data-driven decisions for successful campaigns. Understanding vital metrics provides actionable insights into audience behavior and preferences, facilitating targeted and effective email strategies. In other words, without it, you don’t really know what you’re doing. You need analytics to gauge campaign performance and refine strategies.

Understanding email marketing metrics gives you actionable insights into your audience's behavior and preferences. This, in turn, allows for targeted, effective email campaigns. Here are a few:

Open Rate measures the percentage of recipients who opened your email. It matters because it indicates your email's initial appeal and subject line effectiveness and works best with compelling subject lines and personalized content.

Click-Through Rate (CTR) measures the percentage of recipients who clicked on a link within your email. It matters because it reflects the engagement level and relevance of your email content and works best with clear and enticing calls-to-action leading to relevant landing pages.

Clicks per unique open: A less analyzed metric, it provides insights into the engagement level of recipients who not only opened the email but also clicked on a link within it. It matters because it provides a more nuanced perspective into engagement and works best by focusing on creating engaging content that encourages multiple clicks from each unique open.

Bounce Rate measures the percentage of emails that couldn't be delivered, categorized as either "hard bounces" (permanent issues) or "soft bounces" (temporary issues). It matters because it indicates the quality of your email list and sender reputation and works best by regularly cleaning email lists, removing inactive subscribers, and ensuring opt-in procedures are clear.

List of Top Email Marketing Tools

Meet the players

Renowned for user-friendly design and automation capabilities, Mailchimp is a go-to choice for businesses of all sizes, but specially for small teams.

Known for its advanced automation features, Dotdigital caters to enterprise-level marketing needs, providing sophisticated automation solutions.

ActiveCampaign is a versatile tool offering automation, email marketing, and CRM functionalities, making it a comprehensive solution for customer engagement.

Campaigner offers customizations, automated workflows and social media integrations for small and medium businesses focused on email campaigns and analytics.

Brevo is a budget friendly, efficient email marketing solution for businesses looking for simplicity and effectiveness. 

Tailored for ecommerce, Omnisend is known for its specialized features catering to the unique needs of online retailers.

MailerLite is a simple and affordable solution ideal for those new to email marketing and small businesses with basic requirements.

A comprehensive marketing platform, Hubspot integrates email marketing with other tools, providing an all-in-one solution for businesses of various scales.

Recognized for its deliverability and collaborative features, Mailjet is a popular choice for businesses focused on transactional emails and collaboration.

Specializing in ecommerce, Klaviyo is known for its data-driven approach, providing personalized and targeted email marketing solutions.

Positioned for thought leadership, Substack specialized in newsletters and content creation. 

Another platform tailored specifically for ecommerce, Drip offers advanced automation and personalization features to enhance customer engagement.

Comparing Email Marketing Tools

One thing we have learned along the way is that one size doesn’t really fit anyone. But there are so many options that finding the best email marketing tool for your business may seem a bit daunting. We can’t tell you which of the many tools available is the best fit for you, but we can surely give you a list of things to look at when you compare different email marketing tools. For each, you will have to consider how it stands against what your business needs, the goals you want to reach, and the resources available. 

When comparing email marketing tools, there are several factors to consider, and the first one is the budget. Assess the cost relative to your business size and needs. Beware of hidden costs and complex pricing tiers. Here are a few things to look at when analyzing costs.

  • If the price depends on the contacts vs a flat fee
  • What happens if you get more contacts than what your plan allows
  • What kind of training and tech support you get, and at what price
  • If you have to sign a contract vs more flexible, monthly pricing options

Another key thing to consider is what the tool can do. 

  • Check the basic functionalities you need, and those you may need in the future. 
  • Make sure the tool's features align with your specific requirements and that you choose an email marketing tool that can integrate easily with other tools in your marketing stack. This is the difference between a strategy and a nightmare, so make sure your tools get along with each other and save on Tylenols. 
  • You must also consider deliverability. Make sure your chosen platform is committed to guaranteeing excellent delivery rates.
  • Assess the variety and flexibility of templates and themes. Choose a platform that adapts to you, not the other way round.
  • Email Marketing AI Features: Virtually every platform now offers some sort of AI enhanced feature. Explore those capabilities for improved campaign performance.

Another thing to look at is ease of use. Evaluate the user-friendliness of the platform. Do you have -or can you get- the resources required to operate? What about the learning curve?  Consider the time and effort it will require for your team to master the tool and check the availability of comprehensive documentation and support to find a platform that provides the resources you’ll need to use it well.

Finally, consider the experiences and reviews of other users. A word of warning: In the wise words of Gregory House M.D., “everybody lies”. There's fake news, so there are surely fake reviews too. Having said that, being able to see what other people in your position have experienced can be extremely useful. Make sure you check real reviews that you can trust.

Best email marketing tools

With a twist

As promised, we will NOT give you a ranking of the best email marketing tools in general, but rather our opinionated list of the best email marketing platforms for specific business needs, Academy Awards style:

Best Email Marketing Tool for Small Businesses - Mailchimp


The chimp is ideal for small businesses seeking an easy-to-use platform with robust features. It offers automation tools, and detailed analytics.


  • User-friendly interface.
  • Extensive template options.
  • Automation features.


  • Limited advanced features compared to enterprise-level platforms.
  • Pricing can become expensive as the subscriber list grows.

Price Range: Tiers, free plan available 

Best Email Marketing Tool for Enterprise - DotDigital 


Our new UK-based partners cater to enterprise-level businesses, providing advanced features for comprehensive email marketing campaigns. DotDigital offers scalable solutions suitable for large-scale operations.


  • Advanced automation capabilities.
  • Scalable for enterprise needs.
  • Robust analytics and reporting.


  • May be too feature-rich for smaller businesses.
  • Higher pricing compared to platforms designed for smaller enterprises.

Its pricing is positioned for enterprise budgets with custom plans.

Best Email Marketing Tool for Advanced Automation - ActiveCampaign


ActiveCampaign stands out as a top choice for businesses requiring sophisticated automation solutions. Its advanced automation features empower marketers to design intricate workflows.


  • ActiveCampaign excels in creating complex, behavior-triggered automation workflows. 
  • It offers dynamic content capabilities for highly personalized email campaigns.


  • Its advanced features make the learning curve steeper for users new to marketing automation.
  • Pricing may be higher for larger subscriber lists.

Pricing is based on the number of contacts, with various paid plans. No free plan, but it does offer a free trial.

Best Email Marketing Tool for Simplicity and Affordability - Brevo (formerly SendinBlue)


Brevo is an email marketing platform designed for businesses seeking simplicity and affordability. It provides essential email marketing features, making it an excellent choice for small to medium-sized enterprises.


  • Brevo offers an intuitive platform, making it easy for users to navigate and execute email campaigns.
  • It provides basic features at a reasonable price point, making it a budget-friendly option for smaller businesses.


  • It may lack some advanced features compared to more comprehensive platforms, potentially restricting options for businesses with more complex needs.
  • The platform may have limitations in terms of scalability for rapidly growing businesses.

Though it does not offer a free plan, its competitive pricing makes it a good choice for businesses looking for a budget-friendly email marketing solution.

Best Email Marketing Tool for Analytics - Campaigner


Campaigner stands out for its reporting capabilities, making it a great choice for businesses that prioritize data-driven decision-making.


  • Robust analytics tools for detailed campaign performance analysis.
  • Advanced A/B testing capabilities for optimization.


  • Like ActiveCampaign, Campaigner may have a steep learning curve due to its feature richness.
  • Campaigner's template customization options may be more limited compared to other platforms, potentially impacting the ability to create highly tailored and unique email designs.

Price Range:

  • It does offer a free trial, but not a free plan. Businesses interested in Campaigner should carefully assess their budget and requirements to select the most suitable pricing tier.

Best Email Marketing Tool for eCommerce Integration - Omnisend


Omnisend is tailored for e-commerce businesses, offering features that integrate seamlessly with various e-commerce platforms.


  •  It provides a comprehensive solution for marketing automation.
  • It provides a user-friendly visual workflow builder for easy automation setup.


  • Some advanced features may require technical expertise.
  • The platform may have limitations in terms of customization for businesses with unique workflow requirements.


  • Pricing varies depending on number of contacts and email sends per month. Free plan available.

Best Email Marketing Tool for Collaboration - MailJet

Description: MailJet is designed for collaborative email marketing efforts, offering features that facilitate teamwork, including collaborative editing and real-time collaboration.


  • Collaboration features.
  • Scalable for growing businesses.
  • Advanced analytics.


  • May be complex for beginners.
  • Some advanced features require technical expertise.

Price Range: Moderate pricing with a free plan available

Best Email Marketing Tool for Thought Leadership - Substack 

Description: Substack is tailored for content creators and thought leaders. It simplifies the process of building and engaging with a subscriber base for newsletters and content distribution.


  • Simplified platform for content creators.
  • Focus on thought leadership and newsletters.


  • Limited features compared to comprehensive email marketing platforms.
  • May not suit businesses with diverse marketing needs.

Price Range: Offers free and paid plans

Best Email Marketing Tool for eCommerce Automation - Drip


Drip is tailored for e-commerce businesses aiming to implement advanced marketing automation strategies. It focuses on engaging and nurturing leads throughout the customer journey.


  • E-commerce focus: Drip is designed specifically for e-commerce, offering personalized product recommendations.
  • Robust automation: It provides advanced automation tools for creating complex workflows.


  • Drip may have a steep learning curve for its advanced features.
  • The platform may have limitations in terms of scalability for rapidly growing businesses.


  • Pricing based on list size and send volume. No free plan available.

Best Email Marketing Tool for eCommerce Personalization - Klaviyo


Klaviyo is particularly well-suited for e-commerce businesses aiming for highly targeted and personalized email campaigns. It integrates seamlessly with various e-commerce platforms.


  • E-commerce integration: Klaviyo integrates well with various e-commerce platforms for a comprehensive marketing solution.
  • Advanced personalization: It offers features for highly targeted campaigns, enhancing customer engagement.


  • Can be overwhelming for smaller businesses with simpler needs.
  • Higher pricing compared to standalone email marketing platforms.


  • Pricing based on list size and send volume. Free plan available.

Best All-in-One Solution - HubSpot 


HubSpot is an all-in-one solution, combining email marketing with CRM tools. It's suitable for businesses looking for a comprehensive marketing and sales platform.


  • Integration with CRM and other marketing tools.
  • Advanced automation capabilities.
  • In-depth analytics.


  • Can be overwhelming for smaller businesses with simpler needs.
  • Higher pricing compared to standalone email marketing platforms.

Pricing: Higher pricing, suitable for businesses looking for an integrated solution.

As we've explored the diverse functionalities, integration capabilities, and nuances of various email marketing tools, it's evident that one size doesn't fit all. Moreover, the integration with your ecommerce platform is not just an added bonus but a strategic imperative.

yAI or nAI?

You may have noticed we haven’t picked a recommended AI powered email marketing tool in this selection. Although it feels like we’ve been talking about AI for a million years,  the truth remains that it’s still early to define the full range of its possibilities - and limitations.  But that’s not the only reason why we haven’t taken our pick. It’s that perhaps more than with other categories, determining the "best" AI tool for email marketing will depend on specific business needs, preferences, and desired features. 

Having said that, some tools on the list, such as Klaviyo and Drip, are popular choices with unique features. And, HubSpot's combination of versatility, automation capabilities, and comprehensive analytics positions it as a strong contender for businesses looking for a well-rounded AI powered tool for email marketing.

Email Marketing Tools for Ecommerce

Email marketing provides a direct line of communication to your audience, unlike social media or search engine platforms. 

With a high return on investment (ROI), it’s a cost-effective strategy that allows you to reach interested customers directly without significant expenses, making it an efficient choice for ecommerce businesses.

Well-crafted and personalized email campaigns can prompt immediate purchases. Exclusive discounts, special promotions, and personalized product recommendations contribute to impulse buying, boosting overall sales. But beyond immediate sales, email marketing is a powerful tool for engaging existing customers. Regular, personalized communication fosters brand loyalty. Updates about products, upcoming sales, and loyalty rewards contribute to long-term relationships.

Email marketing allows businesses to segment their audience based on demographics, purchase history, and preferences. Targeted emails to specific segments ensure personalized content, creating a sense of connection and improving engagement.

Personalization and segmentation in email marketing contribute to a stronger customer-brand relationship. Understanding individual customers and tailoring messages according to their preferences and behaviors fosters a sense of care and individuality.

Segmented campaigns targeting specific customer groups receive higher engagement rates. Sending relevant content to distinct segments increases the likelihood of customers interacting with emails, leading to improved conversion rates.

Email marketing automation simplifies the process and ensures timely, personalized, and relevant communication. Automated campaigns such as abandoned cart reminders, birthday emails, and yearly rewards contribute to enhanced customer satisfaction and increased conversions.

We understand that success in the ecommerce world isn't just about finding the right tool; it's about finding the right tool that seamlessly integrates with your business strategy. Your email marketing tool and your ecommerce solution have to get along well.

Conclusion: Long live email

Email isn’t dead. It remains a vital strategy in the digital landscape and choosing the right tool is a nuanced decision that depends on specific business needs and goals. And don’t forget whichever platform you choose should integrate with your existing systems and internal processes and be aligned with your needs and goals. No amount of cool features will compensate for the major headache of finding a tool that ends up causing more problems that it fixes.

If you are having doubts, get in touch. We can help.


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