best email marketing software for small business featured image

As a small business owner myself, I understand you have limited resources (money, time, and energy).

Hence, we must make every effort and expenditure count.

Taking this into consideration, I’ve compiled 6 of the best email marketing software for small businesses.

Just so there isn’t any misunderstanding what an “email marketing software / tool / platform” is, let’s define it quickly in layman’s terms. Email marketing software is used to send bulk emails to people who have explicitly given you permission to email them.

Email marketing is not about cold email outreach where you send cold emails to strangers. It’s also not about sending emails from your Gmail or Yahoo or Hotmail account.

Now, let’s take a quick look at the email marketing tools we’ll be comparing today.

Don’t have much time? If you want to save 80% in email tool expenses every month while still enjoying high email opens, click here to try BirdSend free.

 BirdSendMailchimp (Standard)ConvertKit (Creator)AWeberGetResponse (Plus)ActiveCampaign (Lite)
Price 1k contacts
(per month)
$9$51.99$29$29.99$49$30
Price 2.5k$14$51.99$49$29.99`$59$61
Price 5k$19$79.99$79$49.99$79$99
Price 10k$29$105$119$69.99$95
$174
Price 25k$69$230$199$149.99$179$286
Price 50k$109$230$379?$299$424
Price 100k$209$320$679?$499$687
RefundsYesNo, not even partial refundsYesYesNo, not even partial refundsNo, not even partial refunds
Free planNo (why?)Yes, with the following caveats:

- Its clickable logo in every email of yours

- No automation at all; no sequence

- 2k contacts cap

- 2k emails/day max; 10k emails/month max

- Help from support only for 30 days
Yes, with the following caveats:

- Its clickable logo in every email of yours

- No automation at all; no sequence

- 1k contacts cap
Yes, with the following caveats:

- Its clickable logo in every email of yours

- No behavioral automation

- 1 list only

- 500 contacts cap

- 3k emails/month max
Yes, with the following caveats:

- Its clickable logo in every email of yours

- No automation at all; no sequence

- 500 contacts cap
No
Free migrationYesNoPaid plans onlyPaid plans onlyNoYes
Best forContent creators who want to save 80% in email tool expenses every month but still want to get high email opens (how is this possible?)Everyone and anyone who wants an all-in-one marketing software — FB and Google ads management, sales & CRM, postcard, SMS, online appointment tool, domain registration, etc.Creators who are more affluent who want online selling capabilities inside an email marketing softwareEveryone and anyone who wants a simple email automation toolEveryone and anyone who wants an all-in-one marketing tool that has webinar featuresEveryone and anyone who needs advanced marketing automation features, including SMS
Standout features- Build email sequences super quick with The 1-Page Sequence Builder

- Automatically tracks income generated from emails with The Email Earnings Tracker
- You can see replies to your emails inside the email editor- Segmentation is easy via its tagging feature- Can embed simple surveys within emails (yes/no, sentiment, 5-point how would you rate us, NPS)- App is available in 26 languages

- Dashboard is customizable
- Get a better picture of how your automations connect to one another with its Automation Map tool
Cons- Don’t have heavy “drag and drop” email email editor (why?)

- No landing page features insides an email marketing tool (why?)
- Can’t set up resend to unopened beforehand

- All paid plans have a sending limit

- Every plan also has a cap on the number of contacts — i.e. even when you don’t need extra features, you’re forced to upgrade when you grow your contacts size

- Confusing UI

- Has a history of not taking email privacy seriously — previously almost disabled double optin for all its users
- Subscribers can only unsubscribe from all (can’t unsubscribe from certain topics only)


- Email deliverability is outsourced — may respond slower compared to an internal team

- Auto resend is not available in sequences

- Can’t rename broadcasts for more intuitive naming (only shows the subject line; problem when you send the same email to different segments; confusion when there are many broadcasts and you forgot the intent of each one)
- A/B test feature is more a hack than an actual feature — have to manually set up 3 emails, no automatic winner

- Segmentation is not as easy as other tools

- Limited automation
- Tags can’t be added manually to a contact, it can only be added via automation

- Clunky and buggy interface

- Deliverability could be improved
- Clickable logo on forms can’t be removed even though you’re a paid user

- Slow UI and clunky visual builder

- Can’t set up resend to unopened beforehand
Only bills you for unique contacts? i.e. Duplicate subscribers in different lists are charged as 1 contact only?Yes, only charges unique contactsNo, bills you multiple times for same contact in different listsYes, only charges unique contactsNo, bills you multiple times for same contact in different listsNo, bills you multiple times for same contact in different listsYes, only charges unique contacts
Does it charge unsubscribed and unconfirmed contacts?No, only bills you for contacts that you can send emails toYes, bills you for unsubscribed and unconfirmed contactsNo, only bills you for contacts that you can send emails toYes, bills you for unsubscribed and unconfirmed contactsYes, bills you for unsubscribed and unconfirmed contactsNo, only bills you for contacts that you can send emails to

(mobile viewers, you can horizontally scroll left and right)

 BirdSendMailchimp (Standard)ConvertKit (Creator)AWeberGetResponse (Plus)ActiveCampaign (Lite)
Price 1k contacts
(per month)
$9$51.99$29$29.99$49$30
Price 2.5k$14$51.99$49$29.99`$59$61
Price 5k$19$79.99$79$49.99$79$99
Price 10k$29$105$119$69.99$95
$174
Price 25k$69$230$199$149.99$179$286
Price 50k$109$230$379?$299$424
Price 100k$209$320$679?$499$687
RefundsYesNo, not even partial refundsYesYesNo, not even partial refundsNo, not even partial refunds
Free planNo (why?)Yes, with the following caveats:

- Its clickable logo in every email of yours

- No automation at all; no sequence

- 2k contacts cap

- 2k emails/day max; 10k emails/month max

- Help from support only for 30 days
Yes, with the following caveats:

- Its clickable logo in every email of yours

- No automation at all; no sequence

- 1k contacts cap
Yes, with the following caveats:

- Its clickable logo in every email of yours

- No behavioral automation

- 1 list only

- 500 contacts cap

- 3k emails/month max
Yes, with the following caveats:

- Its clickable logo in every email of yours

- No automation at all; no sequence

- 500 contacts cap
No
Free migrationYesNoPaid plans onlyPaid plans onlyNoYes
Best forContent creators who want to save 80% in email tool expenses every month but still want to get high email opens (how is this possible?)Everyone and anyone who wants an all-in-one marketing software — FB and Google ads management, sales & CRM, postcard, SMS, online appointment tool, domain registration, etc.Creators who are more affluent who want online selling capabilities inside an email marketing softwareEveryone and anyone who wants a simple email automation toolEveryone and anyone who wants an all-in-one marketing tool that has webinar featuresEveryone and anyone who needs advanced marketing automation features, including SMS
Standout features- Build email sequences super quick with The 1-Page Sequence Builder

- Automatically tracks income generated from emails with The Email Earnings Tracker
- You can see replies to your emails inside the email editor- Segmentation is easy via its tagging feature- Can embed simple surveys within emails (yes/no, sentiment, 5-point how would you rate us, NPS)- App is available in 26 languages

- Dashboard is customizable
- Get a better picture of how your automations connect to one another with its Automation Map tool
Cons- Don’t have heavy “drag and drop” email email editor (why?)

- No landing page features insides an email marketing tool (why?)
- Can’t set up resend to unopened beforehand

- All paid plans have a sending limit

- Every plan also has a cap on the number of contacts — i.e. even when you don’t need extra features, you’re forced to upgrade when you grow your contacts size

- Confusing UI

- Has a history of not taking email privacy seriously — previously almost disabled double optin for all its users
- Subscribers can only unsubscribe from all (can’t unsubscribe from certain topics only)


- Email deliverability is outsourced — may respond slower compared to an internal team

- Auto resend is not available in sequences

- Can’t rename broadcasts for more intuitive naming (only shows the subject line; problem when you send the same email to different segments; confusion when there are many broadcasts and you forgot the intent of each one)
- A/B test feature is more a hack than an actual feature — have to manually set up 3 emails, no automatic winner

- Segmentation is not as easy as other tools

- Limited automation
- Tags can’t be added manually to a contact, it can only be added via automation

- Clunky and buggy interface

- Deliverability could be improved
- Clickable logo on forms can’t be removed even though you’re a paid user

- Slow UI and clunky visual builder

- Can’t set up resend to unopened beforehand
Only bills you for unique contacts? i.e. Duplicate subscribers in different lists are charged as 1 contact only?Yes, only charges unique contactsNo, bills you multiple times for same contact in different listsYes, only charges unique contactsNo, bills you multiple times for same contact in different listsNo, bills you multiple times for same contact in different listsYes, only charges unique contacts
Does it charge unsubscribed and unconfirmed contacts?No, only bills you for contacts that you can send emails toYes, bills you for unsubscribed and unconfirmed contactsNo, only bills you for contacts that you can send emails toYes, bills you for unsubscribed and unconfirmed contactsYes, bills you for unsubscribed and unconfirmed contactsNo, only bills you for contacts that you can send emails to

Note:

  • For Mailchimp, ConvertKit, GetResponse, and ActiveCampaign — make sure to do your homework as not all features listed on the table above (or anywhere in this post) are included in the stated plan in the above table.
  • For BirdSend and AWeber — everything is included since they basically only have 1 plan (the only difference in the amount you pay is the number of contacts in the account).

Criteria for assessing each email marketing software

The above table gives you a quick overview of the pros and cons of each tool, and who it’s best suited for.

In this section, let’s dive a bit deeper into the criteria we’re going to use to review each software. We’ll do that by asking these questions:

  • How quickly (and easily) can you move your data to the new software? Is free migration is provided?
  • Does the software allow people to unsubscribe from certain types of emails while remaining subscribed to others?
  • What kind of automation is available?
  • Any A/B or split testing functionality?
  • Are opt-in forms provided?
  • How is the email editor?
  • Is the software easy and quick to use?
  • Is the software affordable while still delivering results that you deem are important? (as a small business owner with limited funds, this is especially crucial)
  • Who is the software best for?

How quickly can you move your data to the new software? Is free migration provided?

When you’re a small business, every little bit of saving matters. Not just money, but also time saved.

Because we’re limited in resources, we need to be smart in executing our tasks. When moving email marketing platforms, you always want to ask: “How can I move over my data from my previous tool to the current tool in the fastest and hands-free way possible?”

The best answer is to look for email marketing software that offer a free migration service.

Does the software allow people to unsubscribe from certain types of emails while remaining subscribed to others?

You’ve probably heard the phrase, “Your subscriber / customer list is your asset”. And it’s true because you OWN the list.

The same can’t be said of traffic / exposure coming from social media or communities. There are many real examples of people getting their account banned. Regardless of whether they unknowingly violated the platforms’ terms and conditions or a hater / competitor sabotaged them, accounts getting closed will wipe out your small business overnight.

Surely, you don’t want the longevity of your business to lie at the hands of a hater 😅

Your email list is your asset, and you can take it anywhere you like, free from the captivity of anyone or any company.

Because a customer and subscriber list are the lifeblood of your business, make sure the email marketing software you’re looking to switch allows your subscribers to choose the types of emails they want to unsubscribe from and which ones they can remain subscribed to.

Otherwise, you’ll lose MUCH MORE subscribers (and earnings) than you should. I’m talking about some email marketing tools only allowing subscribers to unsubscribe COMPLETELY instead of giving them an option to unsubscribe from certain emails.

As a small business owner, this is even more true since… you guessed it… everything is scarce and we have to make everything count. Extravagance and waste are 2 words that simply are not in our dictionary.

What kind of automation is available?

In the email marketing world, there are basically 2 types of automations:

1/ Time-based automation a.k.a. sequences / drips / autoresponders

These are automated email messages that get sent to subscribers based on how long they’ve joined your list.

So for example, you can have the following sequence:

Day 0 (just joined) — send welcome email and deliver lead magnet

Day 3 — give another bonus tip not covered in lead magnet

Day 5 — another bonus tip

Day 6 — tell a personal story to give them a glimpse into your life

Day 10 — sell your offer

etc.

2/ Behavior-based automation

These are triggers → actions that automatically happen because of your subscribers’ behavior.

E.g. If subscriber opens a particular email or clicks a certain link in an email (the TRIGGER) → tag with X, subscribe to sequence X, and remove from sequence Y (the ACTION).

Again, for small businesses like us, it makes even more sense to automate as much as we can so that we have time to do other more important tasks. If repetitive tasks can be automated, why do it by hand?

Any A/B or split testing functionality?

Other big businesses can afford not to split test, but not small businesses.

Since resources are limited, small businesses should do A/B test to maximize returns of their investment, whether that investment is time or money.

Basically, you test one variation against another to find which one gives you a better result, and then you end the test and use the winner (instead of the loser).

The most common use case in email marketing is A/B testing the email subject line.

Are opt-in forms provided?

Opt-in forms are placed on your website(s) to capture visitors’ email addresses. The more of these you have scattered throughout your site, the better chance of getting more subscribers.

How is the email editor?

Remember the true purpose of emails — to keep in touch with subscribers and customers; to build positive and trusting relationships with them.

And you do that by helping them solve their pain points and problems → to make their lives easier → they buy from you.

Emails are not about trying to impress them with the greatest email design — i.e. how fancy looking your emails are.

With a simple email design (instead of a heavy, fancy “drag and drop” style design):

  • It helps with your deliverability → higher open rates

Because there is less backend html code → lightweight and cleaner code → less chance of getting hit by mailbox spam filters → higher change of getting to the inbox.

  • It’s much faster to create and crank out emails

You don’t need to care about how many columns your email should have, or how you should choose a certain type of layout over the others, etc.

Just focus on writing the most important things — your CONTENT.

  • Friends email to friends without any design at all

Humans want to open emails from other humans (friends, peers) but not from companies. If you use a simple design, it resembles how their friends write to them.

A simple email design typically uses a WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) email editor — like what you see in Google Doc or Microsoft Word.

Note: With a simple email editor, you can still insert images / logos / banners, gifs, and emojis.

Is the email marketing software easy and quick to use?

You’ve most likely heard this saying, “Money is attracted to speed”.

It’s true with email marketing as well. Especially when you’re a small business and you got no time to waste using a complex and slow email marketing tool.

The faster you can write and send emails, the more income you make.

You don’t want a tool that’s complicated with hundreds of features you’re most likely not going to use anyway (unless your needs are complex).

If the email marketing app is complex, you’d be frustrated when using it → less likely to use to send more emails → less earnings.

But it’s a totally different story if it’s quick and easy to use. Creating sequences, automations, broadcast / newsletters only takes a few clicks instead of digging deep into menus and sub-menus and loading endless pages.

Is the software affordable? (as a small business owner with limited funds, this is important)

See comparison table near the top of this post.

Who is the software best for?

This is also covered in the comparison table in the beginning of this article.

Next, let’s get into reviewing the top 6 email marketing software for small business.


Email marketing software for small business #1 — BirdSend

How quickly (and easily) can you move your data to the new software? Is free migration is provided?

BirdSend offers a free concierge migration service to move over everything from your previous email marketing tool. This include your contacts / subscribers, sequences, automations, forms, integrations, etc.

We offer this because many prospects who run small businesses told us moving things over is their biggest obstacle.

And to provide the highest quality of migration service, we do the migration 100% by hand, not using any script or tool.

A human teammate will go into your old email tool to move them into BirdSend. We will also replace / reconnect the opt-in forms on your site so they work with BirdSend. This is as hands-free as you can get.

review about birdsend email marketing tool migration service
(click for full image)

— —

How is the email deliverability of the tool?

I’d argue email deliverability is the most important job to be done for an email marketing software.

You can have all the features in the world, but what good is it if it can’t deliver emails to the inbox?

No one will read the emails → might as well not waste time and send emails in the first place.

Now… the next thing you have in mind is probably: “How can such an affordable tool like BirdSend provide good email deliverability / open rates?”

Answer: we don’t do any kind of paid advertising. We mainly rely on word of mouth recommendations to get new customers — existing satisfied customers refer us to their friends, peers, and network.

We save a lot of money this way and we pass the savings back to our customers.

I’ve written a longer version of how we’re able to achieve good email deliverability, in case you’re interested in further reading.

Here are some comments from our users on BirdSend’s deliverability:

birdsend’s deliverability as reviewed by this user
(click for full image)

what another person says about open rate for this email tool
(click for full image)

And here’s how Google rates us (taken from their Google Postmaster Tool):

ip reputation of this email marketing software for small business

domain reputation by Google Postmaster

— —

Does the software allow people to unsubscribe from certain types of emails while remaining subscribed to others?

Yes, with The Subscriber’s Preferences Page, subscribers can easily choose the types of emails they wish to unsubscribe and which ones to continue subscribing to. Of course, they can unsubscribe completely too.

The point is — they have complete control — which is how it should be.

subscribers can quickly choose which emails to unsubscribe from

— —

What kind of automation is available?

You can do both time-based automation and behavior-based automation.

BirdSend’s email sequence is the fastest to set up, courtesy of The 1-Page Sequence Builder:

build emails super fast using the 1-page sequence builder

If you can find another email marketing software that’s faster in building email sequences, I’ll give you a paid BirdSend account. Simply let me know by clicking bottom right icon on this page.

— —

Any A/B or split testing functionality?

Yes. You can A/B test subject lines, and you’re also able to set the email ratios that go out to each segment — the original, variation, and winner.

Setting the criteria of the winner is also possible — based on higher open rate, click rate, or sales revenue.

Plus, you’re also able to customize the duration of the split test — whether it’s 1 hour, 2 hours, 1 day, 3 days, etc.

Additionally, we have the (at the time of writing) exclusive “resend to unopened” feature inside an A/B test. Other email marketing software might have the resend to unopened feature, but not inside an A/B test.

a/b test is important for optimizing results

— —

Are opt-in forms provided?

We provide a WordPress plugin that you can use to quickly display opt-in forms on your site(s). It’s all point-and-click. No messing around with html or code.

You can even auto-deliver lead magnets with our opt-in incentive feature — which enables you to confirm the subscriber and deliver the lead magnet simultaneously.

There are few types of opt-in forms available:

  • popups
  • in-content forms
  • sidebar and bottom widget forms
  • welcome screens

We don’t have a dedicated landing page feature inside our email marketing software because we want to focus on our core strength — email marketing — and let other dedicated landing page tools do their best job of creating landing pages.

However… if you just want to create a simplistic landing page, you can use our “Welcome Screen” form types, that looks like this:

this can be used a simple lead capture page

You can, of course, control the behavior of these forms.

When the forms should show up:

  • Right when visitors are about to leave the page (exit intent)
  • When visitors scroll to a certain percentage of the page
  • Duration on the page

Where the forms should show up:

  • Exact URL
  • URL that starts or contains certain keywords
  • Specific WordPress categories or tags or post types
  • URL parameters that contain a certain value

Frequency of the forms:

  • Don’t show if shown in the last X days
  • Don’t show if submitted in the last X days
  • Don’t show if closed in the last X days

For non-WordPress sites, simply link over to our hosted forms or embed a html snippet into your site.

— —

How is the email editor?

BirdSend uses a simple WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) email editor that’s simple and lightweight.

You can still insert images, banners, logos, emojis, and gifs.

The difference between a lightweight editor like this vs the regular heavy “drag and drop” editor is that BirdSend’s simple editor allows you to crank out emails super fast and results in a clean and minimalist html code that helps with deliverability.

fast and lightweight email editor
(click for full image)

— —

Is the email marketing app easy and quick to use?

As stated above, BirdSend is a lightweight and no-frills email marketing software that focuses on simplicity and speed of execution.

We want our users (small businesses) to be able to execute things fast. Quick. Easy.

easy UI makes it easy to use the email marketing tool

— —

Is there a free plan?

BirdSend does not have a free plan because we want to focus on serving paid customers to the best of our abilities. It’s our utmost priority.

We’re a small and bootstrapped team. Having a free plan would dilute our efforts in achieving that priority. Because then we’d need to service free users as well.


Email marketing software for small business #2 — Mailchimp

This one most likely don’t need any introduction.

Mailchimp is the largest email marketing company in the world. It was founded in 2001 and was recently acquired by Intuit for $12 billion USD.

Mailchimp has outgrown what it initially set out to be — email marketing — and is now an all-in-one marketing tool that can do every marketing task you can think of: website builder, online shop builder, postcard marketing, email marketing, SMS, CRM, Google and Facebook ads management, landing pages, social media posting and scheduling, online appointment booking, calendar management, domain registration, etc.

It employs around 1,200 employees (see how huge this corporation is):

mailchimp is a big company with a lot of employees

— —

How quickly (and easily) can you move your data to the new software? Is free migration provided?

Mailchimp does not provide a free migration service. You’d need to do the tedious migration work yourself or pay someone to do it for you. As a small business with limited resources, this is bad news 😢

— —

Does the software allow people to unsubscribe from certain types of emails while remaining subscribed to others?

Yes. Mailchimp is a list-centric system — i.e. subscribers can choose particular types of emails to unsubscribe from while remaining subscribed to others, or they can unsubscribe completely.

— —

What kind of automation is available?

Mailchimp supports both time-based automation (sequences / autoresponders, drips) as well as behavior-based automation (if contact does X, Y happens).

Creating sequences is a hassle though. If you have 10 emails in a sequence, you’d need to go back and forth 10 different times to load 10 different pages. And that’s only for 1 sequence. Imagine if you have 5 or 10 sequences!

— —

Any A/B or split testing functionality?

Yes, for paid plans. You can test subject lines, email body, from name, and send time.

— —

Are opt-in forms provided?

Mailchimp provides you with both opt-in forms and landing pages.

The process of creating forms is complex and inconsistent. Luckily, its landing pages creation process is better and more intuitive.

— —

How is the email editor?

Like 99% of email marketing software, Mailchimp uses a heavy “drag and drop” editor to create fancy-designed emails.

Beware of the consequences of a fancy-designed email though.

— —

Is the software easy and quick to use?

Mailchimp is an all-in-one marketing platform that can do all kinds of marketing tasks. Plus, it targets everyone and anyone, regardless of business type.

As such, a tool like this is more complex to use since it has to take into account the use cases of all types of users from all types of businesses.

The result is an overwhelming UI that requires a steep learning curve.

complex UI of mailchimp email marketing software

— —

Mailchimp doesn’t offer refunds, btw:

no refunds for mailchimp

Email marketing software for small business #3 — ConvertKit

ConvertKit was founded in 2013.

It initially targeted bloggers before expanding to the more wider “creators”.

From only providing email marketing features, it has now grown into offering online selling features with its “ConvertKit Commerce”. With this, you’re able to sell products and services online. To enjoy this feature, ConvertKit charges you extra 0.6% on top of Stripe payment processing fees which is 2.9% + $0.30.

So the total fee is $3.5% + $0.30

— —

How quickly (and easily) can you move your data to the new software? Is free migration provided?

ConvertKit has a free migration service that moves your data from your old tool. The catch is that you must on their paid plans, which is understandable.

— —

Does the software allow people to unsubscribe from certain types of emails only while remaining subscribed to others?

No, ConvertKit uses an “all or nothing approach” — subscribers can only choose to subscribe to all or unsubscribe from all.

As I explained above, this is a HUGE problem. You’ll lose more subscribers than you could have → which translates to lost earnings.

— —

What kind of automation is available?

ConvertKit is able to do both time-based automation (email sequences) and behavior-based automation (i.e. if contact does X → do Y).

— —

Any A/B or split testing functionality?

Yes, with the following drawbacks:

  • Can’t customize the email ratios for the original email, variation email, and winner email
  • Unable to set the winner criteria — only based on higher open rate
  • Duration of the split test can’t be customized — it’s set at 4 hours

— —

Are opt-in forms provided?

It provides you with forms and landing pages to capture visitors’ or leads’ email address.

— —

How is the email editor?

Like BirdSend, ConvertKit believes an email message should be simple in design. As such, it also uses a WYSIWYG email editor instead of a heavy “drag and drop” editor.

Naturally, a simple editor like this makes creating and editing emails a breeze, which is most welcome for a small business who don’t have a lot of time messing around with design and just want to quickly send emails.

— —

Is the software easy and quick to use?

ConvertKit’s UI is intuitive and smooth. Things are where they should be. Although with the recent introduction of ConvertKit Commerce, there are now more menus and sub-menus to choose from.

There are 2 areas I find perplexing though:

1/ In some sections of the tool, it doesn’t provide you with a search filter.

Over time using the tool, you’d have accumulated a lot of data in your account — sequences, automations, rules, etc.

Let’s say you’re trying to search for a certain sequence out of the 30 sequences you have. In ConvertKit, you have to endlessly scroll through the page and use your EYES to manually search. Can you imagine how tiring and frustrating that would be? Especially when you login to your account on a daily basis… for years 😩

convertkit doesn’t have search filters, which is weird

2/ Email stats are randomly sorted, which isn’t useful:

stats in convertkit randomly sorted

Email marketing software for small business #4 — AWeber

Along with Mailchimp and GetResponse, AWeber was one of the more popular trio of email autoresponders in the early 2000s (email marketing tools were popularly called “autoresponders” back then).

When you asked for opinions on which email marketing platform is recommended, these trio almost always show up.

Around 2012-ish, AWeber started to lose momentum and significant market share as users flock to newer email marketing tools that promise better features and functionalities.

AWeber only has itself to blame for stopping to innovate. It seems to be complacent and thought new users would just keep signing up because of its strong brand. AWeber was wrong.

ConvertKit even calls AWeber “a tool stuck in 1999”:

this email marketing software for small business lacks development in recent years

In recent years though, it seems to be making a comeback with a revamp of its UI and introduction of new features that are more up-to-date with currents standards.

— —

How quickly (and easily) can you move your data to the new software? Is free migration provided?

AWeber has a free migration service that will help move over your data.

— —

Does the software allow people to unsubscribe from certain types of emails only while remaining subscribed to others?

Yes, being a list-centric email marketing software, subscribers can easily do this.

— —

What kind of automation is available?

Even though time-based automation (sequences) and behavior-based automation can be done in AWeber, both have drawbacks.

Creating email sequences is somewhat cumbersome. Just like Mailchimp, if you have 10 emails in a sequence, you’d need to go back and forth to load (and wait) 10 different pages. If you have many sequences that each contain many email messages, good luck 🙀

The behavior-based automation is also limited. For example, if a contact opens a particular email or clicks a certain link, you can tag with X and remove from current campaign. But that’s about it. If you want to not only tag with X, but also subscribe to another sequence Y — you can’t.

— —

Any A/B or split testing functionality?

AWeber claims it can do A/B testing, but I find it more a workaround / hack instead of a real feature.

Here’s how to set up an “A/B test”:

  • First, manually set up 3 separate emails messages — for the original, variation, and winner email
  • Then, write and send the original email
  • Then, write and send the variation email
  • Then, after a certain time has passed (based on your judgment), remember to login to your account to check and USE YOUR EYES to see which one performs better
  • Finally, copy and paste the content (that performs better) into the winner email and send it

Convoluted workflow?

convoluted workflow of aweber’s a/b test

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Are opt-in forms provided?

AWeber has opt-in forms and you can also create landing pages.

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How is the email editor?

AWeber uses a heavy “drag and drop” email editor. You can create a multi-column layout and design fancy emails, if that’s your cup of tea.

You already know I don’t agree with fancy-designed emails, because it hurts deliverability and a few other reasons as explained here.

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Is the software easy and quick to use?

AWeber is a simple email marketing tool for small businesses. The UI is intuitive and it’s pretty easy to navigate and use.

One thing to pay attention to is make sure when editing emails or changing the settings, you’re in the correct list. This is not obvious and you could be changing settings for the wrong list.

be careful of the list settings

Email marketing software for small business #5 — GetResponse

As mentioned above, GetResponse is one of the famous trio of email marketing tools back in the early 2000s.

It was founded by Simon Grabowski in 1997, making it one of the oldest, if not the oldest, email marketing tools around.

getresponse founded by Simon Grabowski in 1997

GetResponse got its start by offering email marketing features only. Today, it’s an all-encompassing marketing platform that has much more functionalities than just email marketing.

We’re talking marketing features such as: Facebook and Google ads management, website builder, landing page builder, webinar, full-fledged sales funnels, CRM, SMS, chat / customer support tool, etc.

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How quickly (and easily) can you move your data to the new software? Is free migration provided?

Unfortunately, GetResponse does not provide a free migration service. You must do the painstaking work of moving all data yourself — contacts, forms, automations, sequences, integrations, etc.

As a small business owner, you’re already wearing so many hats. Ain’t got no time for doing all the migration work yourself 😭

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Does the software allow people to unsubscribe from certain types of emails while remaining subscribed to others?

Yes, subscribers can select specific types of emails to unsubscribe from or they can unsubscribe from all emails.

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What kind of automation is available?

GetResponse offers both types of automation — time-based and behavior-based.

Unfortunately, for the time-based automation a.k.a. email sequences, it suffers the same fate as 99% of other email marketing apps — i.e. there’s a lot of back and forth clicking and loading pages involved.

Say you have 7 emails in a sequence — you’d need to load 7 different pages. Now, what happens if you have 5 sequences. You’d need to click click and click to load 35 pages.

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Any A/B or split testing functionality?

Yes, you can A/B test subject lines. You can also set the winner criteria to be higher open or click rate.

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Are opt-in forms provided?

It has opt-in form and landing page features to help you build your email list.

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How is the email editor?

Since GetResponse uses the regular, heavy “drag and drop” style email editor when building email messages, you can create beautifully-designed emails.

There are, however, cons with a heavy drag and drop email editor.

The UI, especially the email editor, is clunky and buggy.

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Is the software easy and quick to use?

Inside the UI, there are just so many options to choose from that you most likely are going to be overwhelmed. This is the Achilles’ heel for all-in-one tools.

Be prepared for a steep learning curve.

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GetResponse doesn’t provide refunds:

getresponse doesn't provide refunds

Email marketing software for small business #6 — ActiveCampaign

ActiveCampaign has become increasingly popular in recent years. You may have thought the company has only been around recently, but the fact is it’s been around since 2003.

ActiveCampaign has ben around for a long time

ActiveCampaign is also an all-in-one marketing software that targets everyone and anyone who wants to do email marketing, and more.

Here are its features: sales & CRM, SMS, email marketing, chat / support tool, lead scoring, landing page builder, etc.

In my opinion, ActiveCampaign is an overkill for small businesses. But I still include it in this post in case you’re the type of small business who is a perfectionist and wants super advanced automation.

— —

How quickly (and easily) can you move your data to the new software? Is free migration provided?

Free migration is provided, so there’s no need to worry.

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Does the software allow people to unsubscribe from certain types of emails only while remaining subscribed to others?

Yes, since it’s a list-centric email software, subscribers can easily choose which emails to unsubscribe from and which ones to keep subscribing to. Of course, they can unsubscribe from all types of emails too.

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What kind of automation is available?

Both time-based (drip emails / sequences) and behavior-based automation are supported.

You can create really complex automation and workflow — if you can imagine it in your head, you can probably build it in ActiveCampaign.

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Any A/B or split testing functionality?

You can split test subject lines, from names, and email body content.

You can also A/B test automation workflows — which is rare and is the only tool in this list to be able to do this.

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Are opt-in forms provided?

ActiveCampaign provides opt-in forms and landing pages for its users. The landing page features were added recently.

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How is the email editor?

It also uses the heavy “drag and drop” email editor. You know where I’m going next — yes, I don’t recommend using a drag and drop editor to build “fancy-designed” emails, unless your business is purely an online store selling physical products.

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Is the software easy and quick to use?

With so many menus and sub-menus to choose from, a steep learning curve is required to effectively use the software.

Also, the UI is clunky and slow — which really tests your patience, especially when you’re trying to get in and out of the tool quickly. After all, you want to spend the majority of your time writing good emails that convert, not spending time messing around with slow software.

email marketing software ActiveCampaign’s ui is slow and clunky

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ActiveCampaign also doesn’t provide refunds:

no refunds for activecampaign

Conclusion: which email marketing tool should you choose as a small business?

You probably already knew the answer — the famous “it depends” 😅

It depends on your needs.

If you’re a content creator and want to save 80% in email tool expenses every month while still able to enjoy good email deliverability / opens, go for BirdSend.

If you want super advanced marketing automation (beyond just email marketing), go for ActiveCampaign.

If you want webinar functionality inside your email marketing tool, go for GetResponse.

Welly Mulia

👋 My customers (Content Creators) send 30M emails/month via BirdSend. They save 80% in email tool expenses every month while still enjoying high email opens.

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Save 80% every month. High email opens. Super fast email sequence setup.

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