5 (Awesome) Free Email Marketing Tools to Use on a Small Budget

January 29, 2018

Are you using email marketing? If your business has any type of online presence, the answer should be yes. According to data compiled by Magnetic, a digital marketing and artificial intelligence company, 44 percent of people in the U.S. and Canada check their personal email one to three times a day. Email marketing allows you to create personalized messages delivered straight to your audience’s inboxes that can help drive engagement, advocacy, and conversions. The return on investment isn’t bad, either.

The Email Marketing Benchmarks 2016: Relevancy, Frequency, Deliverability and Mobility report by Direct Marketing Association and Demand Metric found email marketing has a median ROI of 122 percent, which is more four times higher than marketing platforms including social media, direct mail, paid search and online display, eMarketer reports.

If you’re not marketing to the more than 240 million email users in the United States, you’re missing a big opportunity to grow your audience (and your business) for less than you might think. In fact, there are several free email marketing platforms you can start using today to take advantage of this powerful marketing channel. Many offer more in-depth paid plans you can move into as your needs grow.

Here are five free email marketing tools to consider:

1. MailChimp

Offering email services since 2009, MailChimp is one of the most well-known and widely used email marketing providers around. It’s forever-free Starting Up plan has great advantages in terms of users and number of emails you can send, including:

  • Send up to 12,000 emails to 2,000 or fewer subscribers per month
  • Marketing automation features enable automatic emails based on behaviors and interests
  • Sign-up forms integrate with platforms like Facebook and WordPress
  • Free templates help you save on email design costs
  • Free reporting includes mobile device email usage

MailChimp is easy to use and is a trusted email client of customers around the world. As your monthly email need grows, you can upgrade to paid plans starting at $20 a month.

2. VerticalResponse

For marketers who also wear the designer hat, VerticalResponse gives users the ability to create and publish a landing page that drives subscribers for business emails. The platform also integrates with Facebook and Twitter, allowing email sharing through social platforms. Other features of the free plan include:

  • Ability to send 4,000 monthly emails to up to 300 contacts
  • Simple and elegant email editor
  • Basic reporting and analytics
  • Email automation for new contacts
  • HTML editor and mobile responsive custom templates for email design, with access to an image library
  • Contact list management

The paid plans for unlimited emails start at $11 month, based on the size of your email list. All plans, including the free one, come with customer support access included at no additional charge.

3. SendinBlue

SendinBlue offers its free users one of the most important features of email marketing: personalization. The more relevant and personal an email is, the more likely the message is going to drive action and engagement. Simply including the recipient’s name in the email subject line increases open rates by 42 percent for consumer products and services, reports behavioral analytics and engagement platform Kissmetrics. SendinBlue allows users to personalize messages with contacts’ first names, birthdays, and more. Also included with the free plans:

  • Send up to 9,000 emails a month to an unlimited number of contacts
  • Newsletter editor includes email templates, all of which are mobile-friendly
  • Unlimited contact upload
  • Customizable sign-up forms
  • Create advanced email marketing automation based on client email behavior
  • Real-time reporting of email campaigns
  • Integrates with platforms including Shopify, WordPress, and more
  • Phone and email support included at no additional cost

4. Benchmark

Slightly edging out MailChimp in terms of the number of emails free users can send, Benchmark allows users to send 14,000 emails per month to a base of 2,000 subscribers. While the free plan lacks the more robust automation features of Benchmark’s paid plans, the free plan does come with automation capabilities like basic drip campaigns. Free plan features include:

  • Responsive templates and a drag and drop editor for easy email creation
  • Email sign-up forms
  • Email delivery management
  • Data tracking with Google Analytics
  • List hygiene to clean up unresponsive subscribers and maintain a responsive and effective list
  • List management and segments

Sign-up forms can be added to Facebook or WordPress to grow your subscribers, and lists can be imported from apps that integrate with Benchmark, like Zendesk and Shopify. Get free 24/7 support with the free plan, too.

5. Drip

If you’re looking to test several free email clients at once before you commit to a paid plan or to a single platform, Drip is worth considering. While the free plan only allows for 100 subscribers, you can send an unlimited amount of emails to them for free. Other features include:

  • Email marketing automation with a visual workflow builder, featuring 18 triggers and 16 actions
  • Third-party integrations with platforms including PayPayl, Shopify, and Stripe
  • Email opt-in widgets
  • Lead scoring to track most engaged subscribers

All paid plans include free trials, so you can try out the more complex features with zero obligation.

Test Platforms Against Each Other

Busy marketing coordinators need platforms that are simple, intuitive, and provide easy-to-navigate analytics so you can show the ROI of email marketing to your team. Find the free platform that works best for your business by:

  • Sending the same email to different segments of your list on different platforms to identify performance differences
  • A/B testing emails on individual platforms to gauge effectiveness of reporting capabilities
  • Discussing anticipated marketing needs with your team, and identifying paid plans among free email clients you enjoy using that offer those features

Most paid email marketing plans also include free trials, so you can test and share them with your team before committing to a payment. Want to learn more email marketing tips from some of the top experts from around the country? Check out a Digital Summit event for troves of tactical email marketing advice and more.