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The 8 best free email marketing apps in 2021

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The 8 best free email marketing apps in 2021

The best tools to send email newsletters

By Kiera Abbamonte · December 14, 2020
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You're ready to start using email marketing to grow your business. Maybe you've been sending customers emails via bcc in Gmail, and now it's time to find a better solution—something that's actually built for businesses.

Better often means more expensive, but there's actually an entire ecosystem of free email marketing tools available, and they have all the features you'll need for an email newsletter (and then some). We researched and tested dozens of free email marketing apps to find the best ones for a variety of use cases and business types. 

Here are the eight best free email newsletter apps.

Once you've selected an email marketing tool, here are 4 ways to automate your email marketing for better communication.

The best free email newsletter tools

  • Mailchimp for a growing email marketing program

  • HubSpot for scalability

  • ConvertKit for selling digital products and subscriptions

  • Sendicate for a simple email marketing app

  • MailerLite for advanced email marketers

  • Omnisend for eCommerce businesses

  • Sendinblue for building automated workflows

  • Mailjet for collaborating with developers

What to look for in a free email marketing app

Full-featured email marketing apps and free ones are far from mutually exclusive. There are tons of options that offer flexible subscriber and send thresholds along with the robust features small businesses need—for free. If you're just getting started or want to try out a few options before committing to a paid plan, you have plenty of choices.

Here's what we looked for when testing free email marketing software:

  • The number of subscribers and sends included for free. Some apps are generous in this regard, offering thousands of free sends per month, while others include low caps that mean your "free" platform isn't free for very long. We kept this in mind while testing.

  • Email templates and customization. You shouldn't have to start your email marketing operation from scratch. The best free options come with at least a few fully-designed and professional templates to get your campaigns started.

  • Audience segmentation. Success with email relies on being able to deliver the right emails to the right people at the right time. For growing businesses, that means you need capable audience segmentation features with any email marketing app you choose.

  • Automation. From transactional emails to triggered campaigns and more, a growing business needs to be able to automate email marketing as your efforts scale.

  • Scalability. Speaking of, the best free email app can grow with your business—from free to paid when necessary, adding more features and higher limits as you go.

With those criteria in mind, here are the best free email marketing apps.


Best free email marketing app for growing email marketing programs

Mailchimp

Mailchimp screenshot

One of the most popular email marketing apps thanks to its friendly branding, Mailchimp is a great place to start your email marketing program if you're planning to scale it quickly. Following a recent expansion and rebrand, the app now includes a landing page builder, customer journey mapping, marketing automation, list segmentation, retargeting ads, and even A/B testing—all in its free plan.

An approachable drag-and-drop editor that includes helpful tips and best practices along the way makes Mailchimp an accessible option for both new and experienced email marketers. For example, when setting up a subject line, a sidebar reminds you about  recommended character length, emoji use in subject lines, and more.

Once you're ready to move beyond what the free plan offers, Mailchimp makes scaling accessible with three different paid tiers. Plus, Mailchimp can handle email programs of any size: if you can afford to let it grow with you, you'll never have to switch to another app.

Mailchimp integrates with Zapier, allowing you to do things like automatically subscribe new form responders, leads, or spreadsheet entries to a Mailchimp list.

Mailchimp pricing: Free for up to 2,000 contacts and 10,000 sends per month

If you choose Mailchimp, here are 6 ways to automate your email marketing with Mailchimp. And if you love Mailchimp but just need a super simple, bare-bones option for email newsletters, the brand also offers TinyLetter.

Best free email marketing app for scalability

HubSpot

HubSpot email editor screenshot

HubSpot has everything you need under one roof. The email marketing features are well-rounded and offer a lot for free: up to 2,000 emails per month, 30 lists, and reporting. When you're ready to scale, you can add additional HubSpot tools for CRM, full marketing automation, customer services, sales, and more.

The email tool throws you into the editor as soon as sign-up is finished, so you can get moving quickly. For those new to HubSpot or email marketing more broadly, the next stop is the user guide, detailing everything you need to know to build beautiful, effective campaigns in HubSpot.

Included in your 30 lists are 25 static and 5 "smart" lists, which include super quick segmentation options to segment, say, hard-bouncers or recipients who open but don't click.

Plus, HubSpot integrates with Zapier, so you can do things like automatically create and update HubSpot contacts from new form entries and copy new leads from your ads into HubSpot.

HubSpot pricing: Free for up to 2,000 emails per month and 30 contact lists

Take a look at 5 ways to automate business operations in HubSpot to make the most of your email marketing.

Best free email marketing app for selling digital products and subscriptions

ConvertKit

ConvertKit screenshot

Targeted toward creators, ConvertKit offers everything you need to create and grow an email newsletter—and nothing you don't. The app is hyper-focused on landing pages, forms, and emails (called broadcasts), offering all three features (unlimited!) on the free plan.

For those selling digital products or subscriptions (including paid newsletters), you can add products and collect payments all within the same app.

The email editor skews toward the basic: it's rich text, and the experience is similar to a website builder. ConverKit's broadcast feature makes quick work of filtering and segmenting your audience for each email, too. The dropdown filters (for everything from cold subscribers to distance from a city) are easy to find and intuitive to use.

As a bonus, ConvertKit also includes a landing page editor, which includes dozens of beautiful, fully-designed landing page templates and four different types of forms to choose from. And ConvertKit integrates with Zapier, so you can do things like automatically add new Teachable customers to a ConvertKit sequence or add new subscribers from a Google Sheet.

ConvertKit pricing: Free for up to 1,000 subscribers

ConvertKit and Mailchimp both offer excellent email marketing solutions. See how they stack up against each other in our ConvertKit vs. Mailchimp showdown.

Best free email marketing app for a simple solution 

Sendicate

Sendicate screenshot

Sendicate is the epitome of easy-to-use email marketing software. With its stripped down, simple interface, you can add a column, headline, image, or video block. Column blocks are the core email sections: they let you add a title, body text with basic formatting, and a link to get readers to open your blog post or product page.

You can send an email with one section, or add additional sections to build longer emails. Then, preview your email with Sendicate's handful of simple-yet-elegant themes to complement your content. For even more customized emails, Sendicate allows you to input custom HTML, too. And if you can't finish your message right now, Sendicate's dashboard shows each draft message with a snapshot preview on your email dashboard to quickly pick up where you left off.

Sendicate also integrates with Zapier, allowing you to do things like subscribing new Shopify customers or FreshBooks clients to Sendicate automatically.

Sendicate pricing: Free for unlimited subscribers and up to 1,000 sends per month

Best free email marketing app for advanced email marketers

MailerLite 

MailerLite screenshot

MailerLite doesn't offer pre-made templates on its free plan, but the dynamic, pre-designed content blocks more than make up for the lack of templates. With blocks for highlighting multiple articles, videos, RSS lists, products, apps, events, and more, MailerLite helps experienced email marketers make quick work of building new campaigns and custom templates. 

Your emails can include more than just text and images, too. There's a countdown timer that dynamically shows the time remaining until you launch a product or before a sale is over. You can add product details, embed a video, pull in your most recent blog posts with a dynamically updating RSS block, and more. It's a great way to send interactive emails instead of just digital letters.

Plus, MailerLite integrates with Zapier—meaning you can automate things like adding new MailerLite subscribers from Google Sheets and sending Gumroad customers to MailerLite.

MailerLite pricing: Free for up to 1,000 subscribers and 12,000 emails per month

Best free email marketing app for eCommerce businesses

Omnisend

Omnisend screenshot

Omnisend is made with eCommerce business owners in mind. It allows you to connect your online store, pull dynamic product details into your emails, and create fast audience segments among your customers.

The app offers a stripped down, minimalist drag-and-drop editor with more than a dozen pre-designed templates to choose from. Set a color theme to maintain your branding across campaigns, and pull product listing details into your emails with one click. You can even customize pre-made discount blocks. Segment building is easy with a pop-out inside the editor that features dropdown menus. And with 15,000 emails per month for free, you can scale your email operation without breaking your budget.

You can also integrate Omnisend with Zapier, opening up automations like adding new Sumo subscribers to Omnisend and updating subscribers based on new Leadpages submissions.

Omnisend pricing: Free for up to 15,000 emails per month and 5 segments

Best free email marketing app for building automated workflows

Sendinblue

Sendinblue screenshot

The more you use your email marketing tool, the more you'll need to rely on automation. And Sendinblue offers a variety of templated automation flows, based on your goals. You can choose your workflow to improve engagement, increase traffic, grow revenue, or build relationships.

Even with this kind of advanced automation, you can get from account setup to actually editing emails in just a few clicks. Once you're there, you can build your emails with dozens of pre-made templates and a drag-and-drop editor. Then, either send them as email newsletters or use Sendinblue's automation workflows to send them on a schedule. 

You can't send as many emails at once as you can from other free email marketing tools, but you can manage more contacts and split them into focused lists. Sendinblue also lets you buy pre-paid credits to send more than your daily email limit.

Expand Sendinblue's capabilities by integrating it with Zapier to automatically create new Sendinblue subscribers from new Google Contacts, Typeform submissions, and more.

Sendinblue pricing: Free for up to 2,000 contacts and 300 emails per day

Best free email marketing app for collaborating with developers

Mailjet

Mailjet screenshot

At first glance, Mailjet is a perfectly capable email marketing service. It offers several dozen fully-designed email templates, the drag-and-drop editor you expect, and support for transactional emails. Its free account is a great way to start your email strategy.

But during setup, Mailjet offers a choice between its Marketer and Developer interfaces. In Developer mode, you can hand-code emails or customize premade designs, then create separate versions to A/B test. You can plug Mailjet into your app or eCommerce store and set up transactional emails, too.

If you move to Mailjet's paid plans, you can add anywhere from 5 to more than 15 user accounts, so marketers and developers can easily collaborate on your email marketing. Plus, Mailjet integrates with Zapier, so you can do things like automatically send emails to people who complete your Typeform or create Mailjet subscribers from new Facebook lead ads leads.

Mailjet pricing: Free for unlimited contacts and up to 6,000 emails per month

Automate your email marketing app

Writing email newsletters is only part of the job. You also need a list of subscribers who will read your email every time you send it. Zapier can help you do things like automatically add form entries, leads from ads, or customers from purchases directly to your email list.

Once you've picked your app, here are a few ideas for how to automate your email marketing tool. Then take a look at 4 ways to use marketing automation to grow your business.

Originally published February 13, 2015 by Matthew Guay. Previous contributions from Jessica Greene, and most recently updated by Kiera Abbamonte.

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Kiera Abbamonte picture

Kiera Abbamonte

Kiera’s a content writer who helps SaaS and eCommerce companies connect with customers and reach new audiences. Located in Boston, MA, she loves cinnamon coffee and a good baseball game. Catch up with her on Twitter @Kieraabbamonte.

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