Email marketing automation, otherwise known as auto responders or mailing lists, is easily the highest value asset you can have in your online business. Not only will you build up a stronger relationship with your customers, but you can keep reaching them over and over again to make sure that the lifetime value of each customer is drastically higher than if you only had one opportunity for a single transaction with them.
But there are a lot of providers in the space and it takes substantial time and effort to evaluate each of them. Here at NoHatDigital we’ve pretty much tried out all of the major players, so we figured it would be useful for you to understand their strengths and weaknesses so you can choose the best provider for your specific project’s unique needs.
The following providers are covered in this post:
I’ve went ahead and evaluated each provider on the following criteria:
* Integrations (how well they play with other software solutions)
* Double Opt-in Flexbility
* Ease of Use
If there are other considerations you’d like to see covered, please let me know in the comments below!
Price: $ (Cheap! Free for up to 12k subscribers, starts at $10/month for a list of 500 if you want auto responders)
Integrations: 5 stars; pretty much integrates with everything under the sun out of the box, one of the industry heavyweights.
Double Opt-in Flexibility: The best kept secret in the business – they talk a good talk about being super strict regarding enforcing double opt-ins, but in reality they allow you to upload previous lists and also onboard new subscribers without requiring double opt-in. I’m guessing they do this to prevent spammers from abusing their service, and it seems to work because NoHatDigital chose GetResponse over Mailchimp as a result.
Ease of Use: The user interface is friendly enough but the auto responder functionality is a bit lackluster / too simplistic in comparison to other providers. The other weird quirk is that they don’t recommend having separate lists; the “best practice” is to have all subscribers on a single list and added them to different Groups and Segments. Unfortunately the terminology is confusing and the actual functionality doesn’t seem that useful because it’s difficult to automate how a user is added to a group or segment; it’s mostly done through the opt-in form which isn’t useful, since in reality the segmentation happens as users perform particular actions in your sales funnel.
Verdict: Mailchimp is best for sending out email blasts (like a newsletter) as opposed to auto responders. It’s great for those just starting off that want a free solution and don’t need anything complicated such as multiple lists and just want to send occasional newsletters to their subscribers.
MailChimp (Non affiliate link)
Price: $$ (Pricey for the value, but there’s a $1 trial for 30 days to let you test it out)
Integrations: 4 stars; lots of integrations, they’ve been around for awhile.
Double Opt-in Flexibility: All subscribers are required to double opt-in when signing up.
Ease of Use: The interface looks outdated, like early 2000s websites, but it does its job. It’s really easy to move subscribers from one list to another.
Verdict: Aweber is a solid choice for intermediate marketers who are primarily using auto responders to sell medium priced products (~$50+ so the ROI is there), send occasional newsletters, and need some marketing automation such as moving subscribers from one list to another.
Aweber (Affiliate link/Non affiliate)
Price: $$ (Pricey for the value)
Integrations: 2 stars; some integrations, but not particularly popular.
Double Opt-in Flexibility: Subscribers via lead capture forms aren’t required to double opt-in, but subscribers via their API are required to double opt-in unless you submit a request to their support team for each list you want to waive.
Ease of Use: The user interface is honestly kind of clunky – many things aren’t particularly obvious or straightforward, and customer support is a bit lackluster.
Verdict: GetResponse is a second tier provider that doesn’t really do anything particularly well. The other providers in this list have a unique value proposition that makes them suitable for a particular group of people, but I don’t think this is the case with GetResponse. NoHatDigital only selected them because of their marketing message that basically promoted the ability to waive double opt-in requirements. We’ve since realized that Mailchimp provides the same functionality; however, we upgraded to Infusionsoft.
GetResponse (Affiliate link/Non affiliate)
Price: $ and worth it; best of all has a FREE plan including auto responders for up to 2500 subscribers, and paid plans start at $9/month.
Integrations: 1 star; very limited software integrates with ActiveCampaign unfortunately…
Double Opt-in Flexibility: You can upload lists and sign up subscribers without double opt-in.
Ease of Use: They have a really easy to use interface, with a very sweet marketing automation UI that allows you to set up a complicated email flow much like Infusionsoft. However, they’re sooo much cheaper and easier to use than Infusionsoft. The only downside to their UI is in the lead capture form customization; they have predefined templates / styles which look alright, but they’re hard to modify and customize which I found annoying.
Verdict: ActiveCampaign is an attractive choice for someone who doesn’t want to pay but still wants a reliable email marketing platform with solid auto responder support.
ActiveCampaign (Affiliate Link/Non Affiliate Link)
Price: $$$ (Plans start at $49/month for 2500 subscribers, no free plan)
Integrations: 1 stars; they’re relatively new so few integrations so far, mostly with e-commerce / payment processors, but I suspect this will improve rapidly in the future
Double Opt-in Flexibility: Non-existent. I’m fairly confident there is no way to upload existing lists, and new subscribers are required to double opt-in.
Ease of Use: By far the best in class that I’ve seen – everything is extremely simple but powerful. Just amazing how they’ve distilled all the functionality you need into intuitive menus and buttons. They have solid lead capture forms with a magnet (the popup is slick) and customization of forms is headache free. Best of all, there’s a free service they offer to turn your ebook / blog content into an auto responder series for you.
Verdict: Drip is a world-class solution for auto responders, especially if you’re giving away a long (30 day) course. It’s super easy to use but kind of pricey.
Drip (Affiliate Link/Non Affiliate Link)
Price: $$$$$ (Plans start at $199/month and require a $2000 setup fee)
Integrations: 4 stars; they integrate with a lot of stuff but some of it is achieved through third party addons, such as Stripe via Stripeyfuse.
Double Opt-in Flexibility: Quite flexible, no requirement for double opt-in for either lead capture forms or imports.
Ease of Use: Pretty complicated actually, that’s why the $2k setup fee is required so they can show you around the system. That said, there’s a ton of power available to you, you can set up extremely complex marketing automation flows with their flexible system, but it does take a lot of training to get used to how things are laid out within the system. It’s probably worthwhile to hire a professional to handle the actual implementation.
Verdict: If you need advanced functionality and are making good money online already, definitely take a look. Lots of big players use Infusionsoft to create focused marketing messages for laser targeted segments of their list. NoHatDigital is a happy customer.
InfusionSoft (Non affiliate link)
5 thoughts on “Comparison of Email Marketing Services”
Guys, what about self hosted solution (the one I’m looking at the moment) –> http://sendy.co/
Han Chang says:
I’ve personally used Sendy and liked it – that said, it does take a bit of technical knowledge to set up, including signing up for Amazon SES, configuring DNS records for the emails to be verified as sent from your domain, and obviously the actual installation of Sendy on a PHP/MySQL server as well.
There’s no real functionality for marketing automation other than the auto responders, but if you have some programming experience or are willing to hire, the API can basically serve as the interface for you to customize your customer’s flow through your sales funnel.
Personally as someone with in-depth technical knowledge I liked it, but with a larger team like NoHatDigital I became the bottleneck for any changes since non-technical staff weren’t able to make necessary changes. That’s why we moved to Infusionsoft, and most likely if your company grows you’ll need to do the same (move to another less tech heavy provider). Otherwise Sendy works as advertised though. Hope that helps!
I personally use which allows for a completely white label and the ability to set your own prices to your customers. They also give 10% discount to “agencies”. They also have a super awesome launch map with live open rates which always impresses clients. You can run this on your own URL so it just looks as if you’re running your own tool :)
Looks like i f’ed up that url: https://www.campaignmonitor.com/
Great article and super useful :) Are you sure you can onboard new subscribers without double opt-ins in Mail Chimp? Would that be possible with emails coming from a popup say?