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Email Marketing Tools for Startups

One of the most effective ways to encourage repeat visitors to your startup, to engage paying customers, and to improve conversion rates is to get people to sign up with their email address.

Sure, we may spend more time scanning Facebook and Reddit for interesting bits of news, but nothing is quite as direct as email marketing. It can also be great for users who want to keep up with your product but don’t want to set a reminder to come back every week and check on it.

So, how do you go about building an email list and sending regular updates?

The great thing about email marketing tools like these is that you can start building an audience before you launch. You don’t have to know how to write email-compliant HTML (which involves lots of tables and is a huge pain), you don’t have to have an email server, and you (usually) don’t have to write any code.

Here’s a rundown of great email marketing tools for startups and a little bit about them.

Startup Email Marketing Tools

Autopilot ($39.20) - Autopilot covers more than just in-app chat; you can use it to build complex customer journeys as well.

ActiveCampaign ($9) - Lets you create automated marketing workflows and manage emails and newsletters.

ActiveTrail ($8) - ActiveTrail is an “All-in-One” marketing automation software. It offers various features, such as responsive mobile emails, SMS campaigns, sales boosters, and landing page builders.

Aweber ($0) - Allows you to create newsletters, AMP emails, dynamic content, and much more for free, if you have less than 500 subscribers. It also offers a nice drag-and-drop email builder and thousands of professional images.

Benchmark Email ($0) - Although their campaign customizing is slightly limited, Benchmark Email is still an excellent choice when it comes to effectiveness. It offers many sign-up forms and landing pages, no matter which plans you choose.

BigMailer ($0) - Has a startup-friendly free tier (up to 5K contacts). It runs on Amazon SES and has a built-in brand and multi-option management.

Buttondown ($0) - Buttondown lets you write emails in markdown. That’s pretty awesome.

Cakemail ($8) - Doesn’t offer as many features as MailChimp, but provides great value for the money. It comes with a user-friendly designer which allows you to create beautiful emails and newsletters.

Campaign Monitor ($9) - A mixture of versatile email templates, WYSIWYG interface, and customizable auto-responders. However, Campaign Monitor lacks direct online support.

Campaigner ($19.95) - Used by many Fortune 500 brands, Campaigner is an excellent choice for any business size. It offers advanced customization and precise real-time reporting.

Charley ($0) - A pretty decent email marketing solution.

Constant Contact ($20) - Allows various commerce integrations and comes with a user-friendly interface. However, Constant Contact doesn’t offer flexible template customization.

Convertkit ($29) - This one is good if you’re primarily using your email newsletter to promote your blog.

Drip ($0) - Drip helps you build sales automation email flows. This looks interesting although I haven’t personally tried it.

Drip Scripts ($0) - Coming up with drip email campaigns is time-consuming and creatively tough. Drip Scripts helps you by packaging up templates of drip campaign emails for you.

Elink ($0) - Turn web links into visually appealing newsletters, web pages, and website embeds.

Email Monster ($0) - A free drag-and-drop email editor.

EmailOctopus ($0) - Email marketing for less, via Amazon SES.

Flashissue ($10) - Unlike most email creators, Flashissue works with Gmail, so you don’t even have to leave your inbox to send out newsletters. It’s a novel approach to email marketing that I’m excited to try, plus it’s free.

FreshMail ($11.05) - An excellent service for sending personalized newsletters, with very flexible template customization.

GetResponse ($10.50) - An excellent email marketing solution for small businesses. It offers various options for building subscribers list and features an easy-to-use template editor.

Google MailApp Scripts ($0) - This is kind of an unconventional option, but if you’re a developer, you might like working with the command line rather than a GUI. Google’s MailApp API could be perfect for you.

Hubspot Email Marketing ($0) - If you already use Hubspot, this will integrate nicely with their CRM.

iContact ($30.60) - With flexible template customization and unlimited emails, iContact is ideal for small-sized businesses. However, it has a limited image storage space.

Litmus ($79) - Provides accurate renderings for various devices, as well as an interactive Litmus Builder. However, loading an email might take slightly more time.

Mailchimp ($0) - You may have heard about them in a podcast advertisement, but Mailchimp is great for a number of reasons. Their email template builder is simple to use and they have a generous free tier for up to 2000 subscribers. Sign up today to get a free $30 credit!

Mailget ($29) - With no hosting or complicated setup process, Mailget is an excellent email marketing solution. It comes with SMTP routing and an intuitive list management system.

Mailgun ($0) - Mailgun is an API-only email sending tool, so if your service needs to send transactional emails or you prefer writing your emails in vim, Mailgun is for you.

Mailjet ($0) - Allows both developers and marketers to work in real-time on the same email template. Also, it offers decent pricing plans.

Mailshake ($19) - Especially for cold email outreach.

Mad Mimi ($10) - I’ve used Mad Mimi as a lower-cost alternative to Mailchimp, but I’m not as keen on their email creation UI.

MailerLite ($0) - Email Marketing Service for Small Business with all features (Segmentation, Automation, A/B testing, etc.) for up to 1,000 subscribers & unlimited emails for free.

Mautic ($0) - Mautic offers a whole suite of open source marketing automation software. I still haven’t tried it, but I’ve heard good things.

Mixmax ($0) - Engaging emails with polls and link previews, as well as professional template packages. Awesome!

Mustache ($0) - Free email marketing solution for businesses.

Privy ($0) - Privy helps you build popups, landing pages, spin to win campaigns and more to capture new contacts and grow your email list.

ReachMail ($0) - Provides a fantastic image library, lots of space for free accounts, and helps you achieve outstanding delivery success.

Replybutton ($29) - Replybutton is a simple email follow-up automation tool with quick reply buttons. They follow up your emails automatically until you get a reply and help you get more replies by adding quick reply buttons below your emails.

Revue ($0) - Makes the sending process super simple by allowing you to add links to your newsletters from Pocket, plus you can start with 50 subscribers for free.

Sendgrid ($9.95) - Sendgrid has long been my go-to for API-driven email, and now you can actually create campaigns and templates in Sendgrid as well.

Sendy ($59) - A great bargain option that is backed by Amazon SES. The $59 fee is a one-time price instead of monthly.

Sumo ($0) - Helps by emphasizing better email capture through popups.

Upscribe ($0) - Embeddable email newsletter forms.

Vertical Response ($11) - Comes with tons of templates suited for computers, tablets, and phones. It’s currently being used by over 1,400,000 businesses worldwide.

Yesware ($14) - Yesware is a Jack of all trades. It’s not perfect at anything, but offers nice quality for the price and comes with some useful features.

Did I miss a tool that you love? Email me to suggest your favorite startup email marketing tool.

Karl Hughes

By Karl Hughes

Karl is a former startup CTO and the founder of Draft.dev. He writes about technical blogging and content management.