As you may know, email marketing is a potent tool for digital marketing. It is one of the highest returns on investment per cost and growing every year. Making it super affordable, and everyone should be doing it!
From designing a beautiful email to seeing results as your audience opens them to be sent to your website to make a purchase.
When someone signs up to be on your subscriber list, they want to see your promotional emails!
We know how these promotional emails work. You probably have heard of the different email marketing platforms. This is where you collect email addresses and make the process of sending emails possible.
Each email marketing service can be excellent in one area, so the question is which service is right for you?
It can be scary not to know what each platform excels and worthy of your time. So we'll start by showing what exactly is an email marketing service.
What is an email marketing service?
An email marketing service is a system you use to build an email list to create emails to send people who signed up to receive them.
The email marketing service is a business that offers email services. Because email services come in different shapes and sizes, they can be a complex strategy for your business.
To make this easier for you, we'll break this down into how this works.
Many businesses use email applications as self-service. This means you can design and send emails, newsletters, and product promotions by yourself without help.
Some of those services will also offer a free version of the email software to use and get familiar with the platform.
While these email marketing services can vary in features, they all share the same basic benefits that include:
- Create email templates or use design templates
- Keep an email subscriber list
- Used by the owner of the subscriber list for sending messages
- Send an email, allowing users to distribute their messages to subscribers
- See reports and statistics of emails sent to measure success
What are the benefits of using an email marketing service?
While every email marketing service can capture and create emails to be sent to them, there are differences. Some are better in ecommerce integration, automation system, and analytics.
We'll break this down into three sections that help the big focus for your ecommerce business.
- Ecommerce support
- Ease of use
1. Ecommerce Support
Since we're in the business of ecommerce, the ecommerce support from an email marketing service is super important to know.
The biggest reason why understanding this is because not all website platforms support all the email marketing service platforms!
We'll continue later in the article about all the different kinds of email marketing services. It's essential to note what your website can determine what email services are available to you.
Another important note is most email marketing services use automation emails. These are the kinds of emails that will send to your subscriber list without you manually sending them.
This also includes emails such as order confirmation, new account sign-ups, and receipt of purchase. You save precious time for every email to be sent to every customer automatically.
Like with all businesses, there is a cost in usage. Due to the number of upkeep it takes for email marketing service business's servers and tools for creating & sending emails, and they often come with a monthly fee.
Fear not though; quite a few also have free tier to use! Is there a catch? Not necessarily.
Most free tiers are usable until you reach certain criteria. This can be like the number of subscribers on a list or the number of emails you send a month.
If there's no free tier, there's a good chance there's a free trial for you to test and try out for a few weeks to decide if this is the correct platform for you.
3. Ease of use
With the number of features you can do with creating and sending emails, there are many settings and menus to sort through. As you can imagine, some service platforms handle it better than others.
The accessibility from flowing from one email to another or looking at the open rate data can be a breeze or a struggle. That's why it's important to test the platform to know just how challenging it can be.
The 8 best email marketing services for ecommerce stores
While there are many email marketing services out there, we picked out the top six that are worth your time and money.
Factors that went into are finding out:
- The quality of features. Most email marketing services use basic features like capturing emails to build a list and designing emails to send. Other's specialize or have access to special features no other email marketing service has.
- The ease of use. There can be many menu systems when it comes from navigating and designing emails to reading the analytics. This is why some email marketing services are better at presenting information better than others.
- The pricing. The pricing is different for each email marketing service due to the specialties and pricing structure based on your email list size. Some will be pricier than others, and we'll look at if it makes sense for you.
Are you ready to find the best email marketing service for your ecommerce store?
If so, let's begin!
Who it is made for: Anyone who wants to explore what email marketing can do for you.
The Klaviyo, email marketing automation, is for the newer online business with smaller groups.
If you are looking to take its first steps in the world of marketing automation, Klaviyo's platform is user-friendly and has the tools to help you reach your audience.
What makes Klaviyo great is an easy-as-pie automation system. Emails can be customized for anything from customer lifetime value to brand loyalty, and emails can trigger messages based upon what consumers do.
Examples are like if people make a purchase or click on an email, they can be placed in a special group that allows more specific ad targeting.
They also have a simple visual drag and drop builder. If you are looking to design emails for advertising campaigns and flows, Klaviyo's drag and drop editor is a breeze to use.
Many fonts and brand colors can be used for automation flows and default templates, and uploading your very own templates and designs is also there for you.
It is not a perfect platform though. Klaviyo does not have a lead scoring. Lead Scoring is a must if you would like to trigger any automation based on how engaged your customers are with your website and digital ads.
All is not lost though, you can get a 3rd party application integration for it, but that'll be another bill to add to your expenses.
- Generous free tier. You get the full Klaviyo experience for free for up to 250 contacts, or up to 500 email sends a month.
- Strong Automation System. Scheduling out your next emails to create a trigger when they open the email is simple and works well. Most ecommerce users will be pleased.
- Klaviyo has all the most known integrations. From Shopify and Magento into Facebook lead ads and personalized Facebook audience segments, Klaviyo has it all!
- Customer support is limited. An email support option is only available at the lower tiers and can be upgraded to including phone calls with the more expensive subscription.
- No Lead Score. A standard used in every other email marketing platform, and it's a huge miss Klaviyo does not have it. As great as the automation system is, the no lead scoring does limit its use.
Klaviyo's pricing is known for having an amazing free tier and it doesn't disappoint.
You're getting the full experience of up to 250 contacts or 500 emails sends a month!
As your list continues to grow, the cost increases with it. The unfortunate part is the features never really improve with it. You will gain the ability to call the support team, and that's it.
Who it is made for: Beginners and small business owners who have a low or no budget.
Even if you're new to the email marketing world, you probably have heard of Mailchimp.
The company got its start in 2001 and has a reputation for being a fundamental email marketing platform for everyone.
It features a user-friendly interface which is perfect for small online businesses looking to keep their existing clients and shoot out easy and quick email marketing campaigns.
What MailChimp excels at is data reporting. You will never second guess what's and is not working for your email marketing. MailChimp has all the data you want to make smart marketing decisions.
Affordability is another key strength of MailChimp. This means if you're on a tight budget trying to get your business to become profitable, you'll become a big fan of MailChimp's free tier.
Mailchimp makes it easy for most of your tools to play nice together. The platform integrates with more than 200 different applications and web services.
There is a huge problem Mailchimp has compared to the competition about platform integration. They no longer support the largest ecommerce platform, Shopify, due to indifference in using customer data.
If you would like to connect the two accounts, you'll have to go through a 3rd party application.
Limited automation options are another area Mailchimp struggles with. If you are searching for a robust automation platform, Mailchimp is not your go-to.
Sure there are basic automation tools such as abandoned cart emails and product retargeting emails. Still, if you need a larger variety of automation such as workflows and behavior patterns, Mailchimp will not do the job.
- The leading industry standard. Mailchimp is the most known and popular email marketing platform. A strong one size fits all solution.
- Super affordable. The free tier can go a long way, making it one of the most budget friendliest email marketing platforms out there.
- Allows quick and easy email creations. From the number of choices and ease of use, designing emails can be as powerful and simple as you wish.
- Lack of compatibility with Shopify. Due to terms of service disagreements between MailChimp and Shopify, the largest ecommerce website builder is no longer supported.
- Recent design updates. MailChimp used to have a great navigation experience, but recent updates have made finding menus within menus feel cumbersome.
- The automation system. While not terrible, it does leave a lot to be desire. The basics of email sequence are easy to set up, but there is nothing else for serious power users.
MailChimp's pricing is the standard of what to expect per feature from an email marketing service. The free tier is beloved and responsible for MailChimp's huge popularity and success.
The more expensive options are featured filled upgrades that you wouldn't get in the free tier. These features are A/B testing, customer support, and custom templates.
Who it is made for: For those who want to connect with customers on every digital platform.
Omnisend is an all-in-one email marketing service built for ecommerce. That said, it focuses on making creating beautiful email campaigns easier while having apps to support ecommerce.
It's where the name Omnisend comes from - being omnipresent on all platforms!
Using Omnisend's automation, you can use personalize messaging to customer information, campaign participation, and shopping behavior.
Omnisend allows you to add multiple channels in the same automation workflow. This means email, texting, and browser notifications can all be used together!
Users may also sync sections to Google and Facebook retargeting ads to get return visitors or abandoned carts. Omnisend is designed to ensure this multi-channel advertising isn't just possible. It is easy to use.
Omnisend presents pre-built automation templates that consumers need to set up, like banners, cart abandonment emails, order updates, and order follow-ups. Drag and drop content editor allows users to design newsletters with no requirement to code.
There are email templates, Product Pickers, interactive Click-through rate boosters, and discount coupons - pretty much everything you need to give your customers a unique experience.
Outside of non-ecommerce, integrations aren't there, so if you like to do events or any physical retail-based stores, you're not going to find it at Omnisend.
- Has powerful ecommerce tools. Omnisend is built for ecommerce in mind, making sense they have rich features designed for product-based online stores.
- Great use of working with other platforms. From all the different types of online ads to reaching your customers via text and browser notifications, you're able to be everywhere. Like that of an omnipresence.
- The price per feature is fair. As you look at the competition, the ecommerce features you would pay for are often in the premium tiers. In comparison, Omnisend has them available at lower tiers.
- No support for anything retail-based. Omnisend has a fantastic use for ecommerce but doesn't offer anything besides online stores.
- Email template designs could use more customizability. You'll find them to be more limiting than what other email designs can offer.
- No phone call support: Omnisend does not offer phone call support if you need help. This can be a deal-breaker, depending on your way of communication.
Omnisend's paid pricing plans start at $16.00 per month, and the pricing can scale upwards based on the number of subscribers you have on an email list.
However, the great thing is that they have a free version that you can use with no limitations with features like automation.
Just keep an eye on your subscribers' count since the free plan is for a maximum of 250 subscribers that you want to reach.
Who it is made for: for those who want to experience a well-rounded email marketing service.
ActiveCampaign is an email promotional tool with almost all you need, whether you're just starting or already a known brand.
This platform focuses on automation with the most important goal of helping its user send fewer emails while getting better results.
Autoresponders are a standard with ActiveCampaign, and these may be based on broad selection conditions to ensure that the return to your clients is simpler than ever.
For example, when someone purchases from your website, they receive an email with order details and ways to upsell more products.
Additionally, they also use a customer messages feature to send you targeted messages directly to your site for a personal experience.
ActiveCampaign is an attractive choice because they pride themselves on helping you build better relations with your customers using their platform.
- Powerful automation system. One of the leading platforms in this category. Multiple options while being beginner-friendly.
- Fantastic deliverability in sending emails. ActiveCampagin has the highest success rate of delivery and opening of emails than the competition.
- Reliable reporting system. The platform will give you reporting on all areas, such as page visits, click maps, and geo monitoring.
- Customer relationship management (CRM) is overwhelming. As powerful as it is, there's tons of information and data to work with that can be used. Not all of it is relevant for what you may need, and there's no way to change that.
- Underwhelming email design tools. While it covers the basics of what you need to design an easy and professional email, it lacks the competition's full customization.
ActiveCampaign's pricing starts at $9/mo, and you'll get the basic package of everything you need to start out designing emails and engaging to an email list.
The higher tiers will enjoy these extra features: personalized product experiences, predictive content, split automation, and unlimited email testing.
Who it is made for: Business owners who are looking to expand their digital storefront to physical locations.
Constant Contact is one of the earliest email service tools out there. They've become one of the most popular email tools globally, with over 650,000 customers.
They've added several features like social campaigns and polls, which other platforms don't have through the years—the range of features already available such as repeating newsletters and automation tools.
Their service has over 400 apps and integration with something for each product or service. It'll work with whatever you're using well.
Constant Contact has easy-to-learn navigation and email creation that makes the platform beginner-friendly. The problem with the email design is the basic and rather unpolished feeling to them.
While Constant Contact has automation features, they're set to basic emails that can be sent in a timed sequence or based on simple actions like opening a previous email.
Unfortunately, that's all there is, so if you're big into that feature, you're going to be disappointed.
- Holds more features than the competition. Features like event management and thousands of app compatibilities mean Constant Contact can work with sent up and website.
- Great for companies that run events. By having a wide range of features for you to handle event invitations, registrations, and tickets.
- Cost-effective for those with big email lists. When you are in the thousands of subscribers, the cost only increases about $20, making it a lot of value as you're growing.
- Fantastic deliverability. Reaching the top-rated email marketing services most of the time. Helpful reporting tools including click hot maps, open and click trends, and impactful subject lines.
- The automation tools are bare-bones. The sequencing tools work, but that's all there is to it. It leaves a lot to be desired when you want more control of the process.
- Personalization and customization of the emails. It's disappointing how generic and cookie-cutter the available design choices are. You'll be investing in your creations outside of their builder tool to make great-looking emails.
- Expensive for smaller email lists. To compensate for the powerful and featured filled tools, there's a hefty price tag for what you're getting.
Constant Contact's pricing likes to keep this simple to just two tiers.
The entry tier is at $20/mo that covers the basics such as analytics reporting, app integrations, and design templates to get you started as easily as possible.
The premium tier covers all of the cheaper tiers while also including additional features like creating polls and coupons. Another feature worth looking into is ecommerce segmentation for advanced email targeting and customizable pop-up options to get more email subscribers from your website.
Who it is made for: Those who have a big budget and want the top-of-the-line tools for ecommerce success.
GetResponse wants to be the simplest newsletter tool with a lot of features.
You probably think that's an impossible dream, but they do make it a reality. The catch is though, is their pricing is noticed higher than the competition.
Feature-wise, they do boast more than other email marketing platforms, from simple A/B testing (the testing between two different design emails sent to the same group of people) to custom landing pages, in-depth design testing to video mail advertising.
The landing pages are useful as they're part of the funnel for your customer to experience, so they feel comfortable purchasing from your store.
This is a brand new feature for traffic generation and may be used as a website for payment processing of an order. Bear in mind the best features that allow you to use analytics to the fullest
Their automation system is more notable than other email marketing services. They allow for advanced automated campaigns based on triggers/conditions like sales or location. Other tools have automation, but many aren't as strong or user-friendly.
On higher grade plans, you also receive access to their web seminar feature, in addition to an inbuilt Customer relationship management - extras you do not commonly see in email advertising platforms. It had been enough to catch our interest and, eventually, our business.
- Powerful landing page creations. Simple and easy to set up. They look and feel like professional websites you can trust.
- Has access to A/B testing and video integrations. These features are either nonexistent or only available on the more expensive to the competition.
- The navigation system. It's clean and a breeze to use. Finding and navigating throughout the website works well.
- No free tier available. However, there is a free 14-day trial to try out.
- Pricey ecommerce features. Although there are some at the lower tiers, the best start at professional which is less than what you would get from the competition
- Delivery rates. They are erratic and difficult to predict, which mess up your analytics accurately.
- The automation system. It's a cluttered mess and feels like an afterthought compared to the rest of the platform.
GetResponse's pricing is about the standard for what you're getting across the tiers.
The plus tier is great if you like to do a live demonstration of your products or connect with your customers in a more interactive experience.
The professional tier if you want to be super serious about your automation goals and have fun control over their journey in experience your business.
Who it is made for: To those who want the ultimate automation systems.
Drip is one of the newer email marketing platforms, and because it doesn't have the history of the others, it makes up for having a powerful niche feature.
That niche feature, as you may guess it is the automation sequence. It's like you're dripping one email at a time - hence the name Drip!
Drip is hands down the king in that department of email marketing. 'If this, then that' rules, email campaigns, and workflows can be created to automatically move customers along to one step closer to checking out your store to purchasing a product they'll enjoy.
Drip gives you easy rules that allow you set automatic reactions that happen when a customer does something. You can even set multiple actions for some serious control over the email experience.
Rules and workflows can be as simple or detailed as you want.
Drip also allows you to set goals inside of workflows so you can control the greatest customer experience. You can rest assured nothing will go to waste about adding joy to your marketing strategy.
Drip's point and click visual mail builder gives you total control of the way your emails look and feel. Email sections are simple to organize and customize. The interface can upload pictures easily.
There are also plenty of integrations with Drip:
- Facebook Custom Audiences
- Facebook Lead Ads
- Even a completely revamped Shopify integration lets you see what your clients like and the way they shop.
Drip isn't perfect, though. There's a lot of personalization that goes into every email. Sometimes it's a bit too much and overwhelming because Drip has a 'by humans, for humans' mindset where every email feels like you have to put a lot of effort into it.
Once you can get past the rather steep learning curve, you'll find Drip to be powerful with a ton of control for the price.
- The best automation system. With the name drip, you better believe they will make sure the better than any other email marketing platform, hands down.
- Customizability is fantastic. Drip can design every email to the smallest detail that feels unique every time.
- Tons of integrations with your favorite platforms. Facebook custom audiences, Shopify, PayPal, and many more to make your customer's purchasing experience as smooth as possible.
- No free tier available. Just a 14-day free trial for you to try everything out.
- A steep learning curve. Every email you'll create needs extra care for the amount their platform requires, which can be overwhelming for beginners.
- Other features feel half-baked. It's the unfortunate trade-off by using a platform that does one thing super well but mediocre at best with everything else.
Drip's pricing starts at $19/mo up to 500 subscribers and moves to $29/mo up to 2,000 subscribers.
From there it's $10 extra per 500 subscribers, past 2,000 subscribers.
Although steep for beginners, it's cost-efficient at the higher subscriber numbers.
Who it is made for: Beginners who want the simplest email marketing experience.
Sendinblue is a simple email marketing service. Design specifically for small businesses. You'll find the necessary tools for designing emails with automation and other ecommerce tools to send to your customers.
It is quite easy to create an account and create an email when compared to other services. It is also user-friendly for people who might not be technically savvy.
In case you have a larger mailing list or regularly import lists from outside SendinBlue, you might choose to look elsewhere.
Sendinblue is great if you keep it inside the system but may cause problems if you import email lists out of the system.
- Super simple to use. Sendinblue has a no-nonsense process in signing you up and using their service as easily as possible.
- Useful analytics system. You'll find an easy-to-read display of data based on your email engagement rates, such as opening and clicks.
- The email design system is too simple. In comparison, they want to make it as easy as possible to design and use emails, the features to make a great experience aren't there.
- Mostly for beginners. As you grow in size, you'll find the features will not satisfy in more ways to engage with your subscribers like what other service providers do.
Sendinblue's free tier is generous with unlimited contacts and up to 300 emails/mo.
You'll find the next tier starting at $25/mo and the premium tier at $65/mo, including Facebook ad integration and automation.
What is the best email marketing service for beginners?
It can be scary and overwhelming to jump into this strategy. That's why there are email marketing services that are built with the absolute beginner in mind.
We've looked at the most competitive email marketing platforms that offer the most intuitive ways of sending emails with ease while also being the most cost-effective for your budget.
The most affordable while offering tons of features we recommend for a beginner is Klaviyo.
With a free tier until 2000 subscribers and full access to automation, email creation, and analytics, there's a lot to love. Once you grow out of it, the pricing is reasonable to stay with them for a long time.
Can you change your email marketing service later on?
The answer to that question is: Yes you can!
For every person that signs up to be on your subscriber list, you fully control and own their emails. This means no email marketing service can keep you permanently.
You're free to move to another service as you wish and will not be bothered in doing so.
Depending on your email service, though, the process of moving from one to another can be as simple as a few clicks. The worst-case scenario is having to contact support to help you move.
The change is doable and won't take a day to move your email list to another service. It's generally recommended you look at other options when you reach every ~500 subscribers to know if the price per feature on your service provider is worth it.
Example of a real business using an email marketing service
Koia sells protein shakes, and they said a large reason for their success is with ActiveCampaign. Let's take a look at how a brand new Koia subscriber to their email journey looks like:
- A brand new subscriber signs up for the Koia newsletter or enters a giveaway, giving the Koia team their email address and location.
- The subscriber enters a welcome series that nurtures the lead, shares promotions and coupons, and entertains them as they learn about Koia.
- If the new subscriber is active, clicking on opening and links emails, they’re added to a Facebook Custom Audience.
Koia uses the Facebook Custom Audience to find a similar audience on Facebook to target with future giveaways.
Active subscribers also get the Koia Krew loyalty program recruitment email. (Source)
Collecting subscribers’ locations when they register is important to Koia’s segmentation strategy. Koia uses location to know they should add subscribers to the Amazon Fresh automation, which sends product promotions to them at the cities where Amazon Fresh is.
To every location, Koia gathers different facts about subscribers through the consumer lifecycle, such as:
- Hobbies and interests
- Where they shop
Segmenting subscribers based on their store helps the Koia team assign missions to Koia Krew members.
For example, all members who shop at Whole Foods have been given a secret mission to download a Whole Foods product request form and circle the flavor they want most, then submit that to Whole Foods’ store manager.
This not only gives the consumer the power to get their favorite Koia flavors in their store but also allows Koia’s business-to-business sales personnel to follow up with Whole Foods about stocking that particular flavor.
When assigning secret missions, store personal preferences help the Koia staff send the right emails to the right customers. The Koia team sets the store sections into two categories:
- Grocery stores like Whole Foods and Sprouts
- General stores like Albertsons, Kroger, and Wegmans
Depending on their favorite store, customers will get special emails. For example, when Koia launches in a store similar to Sprouts, the Koia staff will promote subscribers who shop at natural grocery stores to help notify them of the launch.
By collecting info on subscribers’ hobbies, the Koia marketing group can develop more targeted advertisements and find out more about their target audiences.
An example, the Koia team finds a rise in new subscribers being mountain bikers. The marketing group can then design advertisements around mountain biking and target mountain bikers on social media platforms.
The ideas of what you can do with email marketing come down to your creativity and knowing who your target audience is and what they love doing.
How to get started with email marketing for your ecommerce store
If you're interested now in using email marketing for your ecommerce store as well, but not sure yet how to get started, then good news!
We created an awesome beginner's guide that will guide you through everything you need to know. You can find it below:
As you drive through the world of email marketing platforms, you'll feel more at ease in understanding what features will be best for your ecommerce business.
Remember to look at the pricing as you grow your email list to know if it's worth continuing. Some platforms are great at certain sizes than others, so do take note.
Best of luck on your chosen platform, and may your readers enjoy the ride!