how-to-choose-the-right-email-service-provider

A Countdown to the Top Ten Email Providers for 2021

I can only imagine how much you’ve been looking forward to this article being published. Safe to say, you’ve got chair marks running across the back of your ass from sitting on the edge of your seat all week. So sorry to do that to you. But wait no longer.

This is Part II of the two-part series on choosing your travel business’s best email provider in 2020/2021. If you missed last week’s article, where I delve into the 15 things you should consider when deciding on an Email Service Provider, you can go back and read that now. 

Just click <HERE>

Otherwise, grab your popcorn, sit back and let me walk you through my top 10 countdown of Email Service Providers.

a-review-on-email-service-providers

Number 10 – AWeber

I used to know a ton of people who used AWeber, so I wanted to keep it on the list, but honestly, I don’t know many people who still use AWeber. The general feeling about it is that many features just aren’t there for the price—no landing pages or CRM (client relationship management). I’d suggest giving this one a miss unless you have an uncle who works for them who can score you a deal – but even then.

Number 9 – GetResponse

I got a lot of great feedback about GetResponse, and that’s why it deserves a spot on the list. It doesn’t offer a free basic plan, so to get all the features that make GetResponse attractive (webinar hosting as an example), you need to bump yourself up to the mid-range Plus plan for $50/mo. It’s essential to have the ability to automate and segment, but again, I feel you would be paying more than what is feasible for a startup for the level of complexity this platform offers.

Number 8 – Drip

I’ve included Drip in my countdown because it was the one recommended to me at the very beginning by close friends in the travel industry. These are people I highly respect, so, at the very least, I needed to give it my due diligence and see if it made sense for me too. It turns out I am just too much of a cheapskate. Their starter plan came in at $50/mo for up to 1000 subscribers making it a non-starter right out of the gate. 

Number 7 – Flodesk

Flodesk is the new kid on the block. Still in its beta testing phase, what is noteworthy about Flodesk is that you pay a monthly lifetime fee that is not determined by the number of contacts you have on the list. Fantastic, there is no limit to your email subscribers. While priced at just under $40/ month – every influencer and their cat promotes this ESP with a 50% off an affiliate link. You cannot swing said cat and not find a link to get the 50% off deal. So for just under $20 a month, for unlimited contacts, it’s one to consider. It also receives the highest marks for ease of use, and its pretty factor is off the charts. Soooooo, so pretty.

I also love that, in a heavily male-dominated space, two female entrepreneurs founded it. Shout out to my sisters. Word on the street is that they are working tirelessly to develop the best all-around ESP ever. They confess that they are ironing out some bugs – but their call to action is ….hang with us as we work it out. We’ll get there. And as a member of the beta testing group, you lock yourself in at that incredibly low fee.

I want to love this company – despite the fact I probably would not use their fanciful curated emails, but the reason I have not signed up is they are just too new and don’t offer critical integrations that I need. There are workarounds, but I can’t be bothered with all the fiddling so until this gets addressed. It’s a NO GO TO FLOW.

Number 6 – Sendfox

I wanted to include Sendfox because it deserves a spot on the list. It’s also new. A lot of people are talking about Sendfox lately because their price is next to unbeatable. Purchased through App Sumo, you can get a FOR LIFE, one payment plan of only $49 regardless of how many people you have on your list and how long you use them. That’s attractive!

Cons: the emails are butt ugly. Okay…I think text-only email is OK but come on. Even standard email programs have more font choices than this ESP. Plus, as much as I like the idea of a one-time for life pricing, it doesn’t put my mind at ease. If you get my money, what is your incentive to keep delivering new features and more value? I’m not saying it’s terrible. Some of my friends really like it, but I think they are still in the honeymoon phase. I’m not sold yet. 

Number 5 – SendinBlue

Popping up in many online small business forums is SendinBlue. The thing that makes it a contender in the email marketing space is that the free plan comes with many of the premium plans’ features. There is one notable exception. While there is no limit to the number of subscribers or lists you have, you can only send up to 300 emails a day on the starter plan. Mind you; you could essentially do a workaround and break your list down into bite-size pieces of 300, sending out 300 emails per day that would give you up to 2100 emails per week. Meh…it’s a thought. But even if you bump yourself up to a paid plan, it’s only going to set you back $25 for the next tier. That’s not bad. SendinBlue seems to be built to grow with your business as you grow. 

In terms of negatives, it doesn’t allow A/B testing or landing pages with the free plan, and some users felt it wasn’t as intuitive to figure out as some of the other options.

Number 4 – Mailchimp

Probably the best known ESP on the market. The one almost everybody either starts with or at least considers at some point. It’s virtually impossible to find a review of any other platform that doesn’t make some sort of comparison to Mailchimp. That’s got to be flattering at some level to the hairy hominid with the yellow hat. And because I am a bootstrapper through and through, it’s the one I chose. 

Pros: free for up to 2000 subscribers, has landing pages, email templates, opt-in forms, basically everything you’d need to get started, plus a mobile app and excellent reporting.

Cons: One of the worst delivery rates – Gmail users may never see your email. There are very few automations available (almost none) and limited segmentation. And once you pass 2000 subscribers, the paid tiers climb at a rapid clip making this platform less desirable. I imagine that unless things change with Mailchimp, once I get beyond 2000 subscribers – I will be waving goodbye to this trusty primate.

Number 3 – MailerLite

If I were to go back in time, MailerLite is probably the ESP that I would have chosen to start. It gets my vote if you are starting out and on a budget. It’s free up to your first 1000 subscribers, and even though MailerLite lacks a lot of functionality like email templates and landing pages, and its reporting is a little behind-the-times, it does offer automations on the free plan. When you are beginning your email marketing journey, assuming you have a website to create landing pages, the ability to send automated emails is all you need.

Number 2 – ConvertKit

Just about every entrepreneurial guru is talking about ConvertKit these days. But why? They have a very aggressive affiliate marketing program that pays for influencers to recommend their platform. I’m not saying the platform isn’t great, but you have to decide if you even need all the features on offer for the price. ConvertKit offers a free plan for up to 1000 subscribers, but you don’t get any automations with that – and automations are what sets ConvertKit at the top of the ESP list to start with.

Most people told me they found it easy to figure out even though setting up the automations took time. Short term pain, long term gain and the payoff is worth it. 

Interesting sidenote, ConvertKit came out on top mostly when speaking to my male entrepreneurial friends. And what did the women most prefer…?

Number 1 – ActiveCampaign

If I won the lottery today, aside from buying a private jet and getting the hell out of Dodge, I would most likely move to ActiveCampaign. From all my research and all the interviews, it consistently came out on top. Further, many of the big names in the online digital marketing space use Active Campaign. I figure it has to be good. It’s priced at the high end but offers lots of bells and whistles, the best of which is the ease of use in both automations and segmentation. 

Again, there is no such thing as a perfect ESP. Still, of all the people I spoke with, Active Campaign came back with the highest report card marks overall. It edged out its closest competitor Convert Kit in that it organizes subscribers by both tags and lists, whereas CK only offered tags. Prices for both platforms are based on the number of subscribers and not the number of lists. This is a further plus. 

ActiveCampaign does not offer a free plan as Convert Kit does, but its “lite” plan comes in at $9/mo for up to 500 subscribers, and it includes automation, which Convert Kit does not.

Phew….that was a lot to digest, right?

 The good news is….

Choosing incorrectly is not nearly as bad as choosing a lousy marriage partner. It’s super easy to break up with an ESP, no messy red tape and expensive divorce proceedings. Maybe a bit of legwork but doable, and despite what people say in terms of ease of moving on, it’s not that complicated. Don’t let the fear of choosing the wrong one hold you back from getting started. 

Just get started. 

Please drop a comment below and let me know what ESP you are currently using.  Let us know what your favourite thing about it is and what drives you bananas. I’m sure others will find your insight helpful.

Diane

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