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Everyone needs an online home – your website for people to come to you. But what if you want to go to them? Then you need an Email Service Provider. The days of just opening your Gmail and sending a mass email to the people are long gone – the bots are sophisticated enough to recognize that as spam and it won’t get delivered. Those filters are strong, like my coffee this morning.
Choosing an ESP can be overwhelming – if you just read the sales promo, they all look the same. Most people start with MailChimp – I think because they have the strongest marketing. I’m here to tell you, you can do better than that.
Here’s my review of six ESP’s. I’ve used all but one of these and still do. They have strengths and weaknesses, but you can decide for yourself.
ConvertKit – this is my current favorite. The emails are standard, easy to write, easy to format, they have templates available if you want something else, but their plaintext emails are fine. I don’t feel like I need an engineering degree to build my newsletter. I use this for my personal newsletter – it’s great for folks who consider themselves creators.
What they do best: Landing pages – their sign-ups are easy to use; easy to add your freebie too, no hoops.
Needs improvement: Not enough choices for fonts, colors, blocks if you want more than a plain-text email (but since people read plain-text, maybe that’s not such a bad thing.)
Cost: Zero to 1000 subscribers! To add funnels and sequences, it is $29/month
Flodesk – the prettiest, by far. Flodesk has gorgeous emails, their templates are drag and drop, easy to design. If you are sending plain-text emails, Flodesk has no advantages for you. It’s very feminine. I use it with my e-commerce store.
What they do best: Pretty, for sure, great for a very pink vibe.
Needs Improvement: doesn’t integrate well with anything. To be fair, they consider themselves still in Beta. If you want to use Zapier integrations, they can do almost anything, but not on their own. My biggest frustration is their timing, you can’t just click a button to say publish now – every time they’ll tell you – you can’t publish in the past – to me that’s just dumb.
Cost: $19/month (this is half the regular price with my link) Regular price will be $38/month
Constant Contact – this is my oldest provider. Constant Contact has been around for a long time and does a lot of things well. Their email templates are practical, their deliverability is great.
What they do best: events. If you do more than just send emails, Constant Contact can be a lifesaver. You can host event registrations right through your email, collect fees, gather information, even create landing pages for your events. It automatically captures everyone who purchases a ticket for your list too – that’s the added bonus.
Needs improvement: Their reporting system is awful. While they let you register people for events, the information you can easily pull from that is convoluted at best.
Cost: $45/month for Email Pro
Aweber – most practical. Talk about a no-frills email provider. Aweber fits the bill for just getting things done, easily. I use this for magazine subscribers. This one is probably the most efficient.
What they do best: No-frills airline here, go in, get the job done, no extra steps thrown in. Easy to compose, easy to send.
Needs improvement: the Help section is lacking, after two years with them, I still feel there is a lot of information I don’t know.
Cost: Free up to 500 subscribers, then $19/month
MailChimp – typically where people start, the best part is that you don’t have to stay. MailChimp has recently added a bunch of restrictions to what you can do with your emails, including no affiliate links, that’s pretty ridiculous in my book. They’re limiting how you can earn money.
What they do best: their own marketing
Needs Improvement: limited in scope for its’ users
Cost: free to 2000 subscribers
Klaviyo – this is the only one on the list I haven’t used personally. It’s best for e-commerce. The girls I follow swear by it.
What they do best: Automations and integrations. If you want to connect your e-commerce store and measure revenue from your emails – this is your jam.
Needs improvement: I don’t have the experience to say (but I’ll update when I do!)
Cost: $20/mo up to 500 contacts
The best part about all of these platforms is that you can move your list if you find it doesn’t work for you. Email marketing is portable, it just means you have to set up your flows again. Which may not be a bad thing. We’ll talk about flows in another email.