The best email newsletter software: 9 email marketing services for your business in 2021

By Kiera Abbamonte - Last updated August 5, 2021 -

You are reading: Chapter 2 of 12

Changes happening across search algorithms and social media feeds make one thing crystal clear: it's never been more important for businesses to own the channels where they communicate with customers.

Email is one such channel—and it's stood the test of time.

Today, email newsletters run the gamut from small-scale personal notes to massive automated campaigns—and so does email newsletter software. No matter where on the spectrum your email marketing operation falls, there are tons of email newsletter services that make it quick and easy to send professional-looking emails to hundreds or thousands of subscribers. We tested dozens of apps, and these are the nine that stood out.

The 9 best email newsletter services

What to look for in email newsletter software

Email newsletter apps are the tools that power the bulk emails you receive from businesses every day. They're a great way to share news, announce new promotions, show off new product features, promote your new blog posts, and curate content for your subscribers.

We focused our testing on apps primarily used to send email newsletters. There are plenty of options out there that provide a full suite of marketing automation features, but these may be intimidating for those solely looking for a way to send out emails en masse. We've mostly avoided anything too complex and focused on the core aim: being able to get the word out to your customers or clients in a simple and concise manner.

While some of the apps in this list offer additional advanced features like transactional emails, drip marketing campaigns, and A/B testing, each featured app makes it easy to send email newsletters.

We've selected apps to include based on the following key features:

  • Strong template choices. You don't want to waste time creating email newsletter templates from scratch every time. Each app on this list includes great template options so you can focus on the content of your message.
  • Segmentation options. If you have a large mailing list, it's useful to be able to divide up how you email people according to their demographic details and their behaviors. All the apps included here have appropriate segmentation options for doing exactly that.
  • Affordability. It's possible to spend a lot of money on email newsletter solutions. We've focused on apps and tools that are affordable, even for smaller businesses with tight budgets.
  • Usability. Creating and sending an email newsletter should be a simple process, so we excluded any tools that were so complex that we spent more time searching Google than actually testing and using the tool.

Best email newsletter software for automation

MailerLite (Web)

MailerLite email newsletter editor

MailerLite is an email marketing tool that can be as simple or complex as you want it to be. Creating an email newsletter in the editor is simple: choose from dozens of pre-designed content blocks for things like buttons, navigation menus, logos, images, videos, and text. When you're finished, choose a list, hit send, and you're done. Alternatively, pick out a template that suits your needs if you're in a rush, but keep in mind that templates are only available via the paid plan.

While MailerLite makes it easy to build and send email newsletters, it also offers more advanced features like A/B split testing; built-in photo editing; email automation; contact list segmentation by demographics, interests, and/or behaviors; and click-map reports. You can even schedule your emails to be delivered at a specific time to subscribers in every timezone.

If you run an eCommerce site, you can import your product catalog to add products to your emails easily, and if you're using your newsletter to promote your blog content, you can use its RSS-to-email feature to build and send emails automatically. Plus, you can create both embeddable subscribe forms and pop-up forms that display after a certain amount of time, after a certain scroll depth, or on exit intent.

These more advanced features are available in MailerLite, but they don't get in the way if you don't need them, so it's an ideal solution for a smaller business that simply wants to send out email and not get overwhelmed by the finer details.

Performance reports are particularly useful whatever the size of your company, with stats available on the average open rate, click rate, subscriber growth, and general engagement, so you can learn a lot about how your customers interact with your emails. All these features combined mean that MailerLite is a great one-size-fits-all solution that easily grows with your business.

If you connect MailerLite to Zapier, you can do things like add new subscribers to the service via a Google Sheets spreadsheet or automatically subscribe new Facebook Lead Ads leads to your account.

MailerLite Price: The Free Plan includes up to 1,000 subscribers, 12,000 emails per month, and limited features; from $10/month for up to 1,000 subscribers, unlimited emails, and all features including email templates.

Best email newsletter software for segmentation options

CleverReach (Web)

CleverReach's segmentation options

Email segmentation is key in reaching the right people with the right content, and CleverReach excels with its extensive segmentation options. You can divide your mailing lists according to the products connected to a user, how often they've read your past mailings or clicked on links, and even their last place of residence. It's also possible to send emails based on when the user first registered with you, meaning, for example, you could send offers or special emails to your first handful of subscribers.

CleverReach's interface isn't the simplest. Right from the start, it adds an extra step to logging in by requiring you to also enter an assigned customer ID alongside your regular login details. Once in, you need to dig around slightly more than on other services to track down a Create Email button. It's a similar story when editing templates, with many of the features taking an extra step here or there as you go along—although the results are still solid.

In CleverReach's favor, it offers comprehensive statistics along with colorful graphs so you can see precisely how well your targeted campaigns are performing. Just don't expect it to be the easiest—there's a learning curve and not everything seems as intuitive as it does elsewhere. (Note: CleverReach is currently beta testing a new email newsletter editor that's simpler and easier to use than the standard email editor.)

Connect CleverReach with Zapier, and you can automatically create subscribers in CleverReach whenever trigger events happen in the other apps you use most. Here are just a couple of examples.

CleverReach Price: From $16/month for a prepaid account with a monthly email quota. $30/month for an account with no restrictions on emails sent.

Best email newsletter software for scheduling emails

Sendinblue (Web)

Scheduling an email in Sendinblue

Timing is everything when it comes to email marketing, and Sendinblue handles this with razor-sharp focus. Most services allow you to schedule your emails, but few make it quite as simple as Sendinblue, thanks to an easy-to-use interface that allows you to plan even months in advance. It also updates to your time zone, whereas other email newsletter apps stick with a time that might not make much sense to you.

Upgrade to a premium plan, and Sendinblue will figure out the best time of day for reaching out to your specific audience. It's based on each individual recipient's past behaviors, looking back on when they were most likely to open your previous emails. That takes out a lot of the potential guesswork and testing involved in timing your campaigns.

Sendinblue offers a standard selection of templates that are easily tweaked via a drag-and-drop interface. The rest of Sendinblue's interface is a little more clinical than others on this list, but once you get used to its more text-heavy ways, it offers what you need.

Connect Sendinblue with Zapier, and you can automatically create Sendinblue subscribers from your other apps.

SendinBlue Price: Free with a daily sending limit of 300 emails; $25/month for the Lite plan with unlimited contacts and 10,000 emails per month; Premium plans include send time optimization and start at $65/month.

Best email newsletter software for upscaling your email campaigns

Mailchimp (Web)

Mailchimp editor

Mailchimp prides itself on being an all-in-one marketing platform for small businesses. That can sound intimidating if you simply want a good way of formulating email newsletters. But because it started out as an email newsletter service, it offers a lot of simple functionality for when you're starting out—along with the opportunity to upscale your campaigns as your business develops.

Its templates are more blank canvas than some other apps' polished choices, but that gives you a lot of flexibility. The drag-and-drop interface is reminiscent of website builder Wix, so if your website is built on Wix, this might be a good fit. Segmentation options are easy to manage, but expect to upgrade to a premium plan if you want in-depth statistical analysis and performance reports.

Overall, Mailchimp is intuitive and welcoming. Being able to sign up for free means it's easy to dive in without missing out, and you'll appreciate how it grows alongside your business. And Mailchimp's Zapier integration allows you to extend its value even further, automatically adding your leads to Mailchimp and sharing contacts across contact databases.

Mailchimp Price: Free for up to 2,000 contacts and 10,000 sends per month with limited features; from $10/ month for an Essentials package that includes more email templates, automation journeys, and A/B testing functionality.

Best email newsletter software for paid newsletters

ConvertKit (Web)

ConvertKit payment options

ConvertKit is built for creators. The app goes beyond email to include landing pages and digital products, but newsletters (called "broadcasts") are at the heart of it all.

The email editor in ConvertKit functions a lot like a website builder. Instead of the drag-and-drop you'll find in most email newsletter tools, you click the + button on the left and choose the element you want to add.

There aren't any pre-designed templates on offer—largely because the tool emphasizes a minimal, text-forward design for broadcasts—but you can create and save your own templates for reuse.

If you're sending a paid newsletter or other digital product, ConvertKit makes it easy to sell to your list, collect payments, and segment paid subscribers. Payments are powered by Stripe, but you can set them up without leaving ConvertKit's app. Once you're set up to collect payments, simply add a product, set the price, and you're in business.

You can start using ConvertKit—and even selling digital products—for free. If you sign up for a paid plan, ConvertKit includes free, done-for-you migration from your current email provider. Plus, ConvertKit integrates with Zapier, so you can do things like add event attendees as new subscribers and tag survey respondents automatically.

ConvertKit Price: Free for up to 1,000 subscribers and limited features; $29/month for the Creator package that includes up to 1,000 subscribers and additional features like automation and free migration from other email tools.

Best email newsletter software for curated newsletters

Curated (Web)

Curated editor

Curated lives up to its name: it's the best email app for building a newsletter from curated content.

Overall, Curated puts the content first, letting text and links do the talking. That comes at the expense of design customizability and templates (the app doesn't offer any). But Curated makes up for that by making super quick work of collecting links and turning them into a newsletter. You can save links—called "collected items"—several different ways:

  • Paste the URL directly into Curated (the app pulls in a title and suggested image automatically)
  • Install the bookmarklet and click the Save to Newsletter button directly in your browser
  • Add the Curated app to your Slack channel
  • Email links to your personal, secret email address
  • Use Zapier to automatically add links saved via Pocket, Feedly, and other apps to your Curated list

When you're ready to build a newsletter "issue," your collected items are in a list on the left—and it takes one click to add them to the issue. Or you can assign links to a particular issue right when you save them. Either way, you can be done and ready to schedule your next email in less than 10 minutes.

You can monetize your email list by adding sponsorships and sponsored links. And Curated integrates with Zapier, which means you can automatically collect links in the app without changing your workflow or publish your newsletters on social media.

Curated Price: Free to try the app; once you're ready to send, paid plans start at $25/month for up to 500 subscribers and all features

Best email newsletter software for eCommerce

Drip (Web)

Drip editor

Drip is email marketing built for eCommerce. The app integrates with popular eCommerce platforms, including Shopify, WooCommerce, Magento, and BigCommerce. Once you sync your store, Drip pulls in information on all your customers and orders, then suggests key customer segments you should focus on.

Speaking of: you can build segments based on all the behavior and characteristics you expect—but Drip also makes quick work of more advanced segmentation based on things like purchase history, average product ratings, and lifetime value.

Options for pre-designed email templates are limited, but you can save your own templates and even pull in branding details like color and font automatically, just by entering your website URL.

Once you're ready to edit, you'll find a streamlined, intuitive editor. Add elements by dragging and dropping from the left-side menu, then click on any element to edit right inside the email preview. Edit and rearrange blocks using the menu that appears to the right.

If you're sending triggered campaigns, you can build automated workflows from scratch or choose from Drip's library of over 40 pre-built workflows for product recommendations, abandoned cart reminders, and more. Plus, use Drip together with Zapier to automatically add new subscribers from other apps.

Drip Price: From $19/month for up to 500 subscribers, unlimited email sends, and all features

Best email newsletter software for agencies who handle email marketing for multiple clients

Campaign Monitor (Web, iOS)

Campaign Monitor newsletter builder

If you manage email marketing for multiple clients, Campaign Monitor makes that process simple. You can add as many clients as you want; create custom templates, emails, and automations for each client; allow clients to access their campaigns through a white-label version of the tool; and lock specific sections of emails and templates so they can't be edited.

Then, either have clients pay for their usage themselves by reselling the product to them, or you can pay for all of your clients yourself as part of a single package. You can even pay individually for a specific campaign if you have a client who only wants to send emails occasionally to a large list of contacts. Such flexibility is great if you're on a tight budget and need to plan accordingly.

Campaign Monitor's email editor initially encourages you to create a branded template based on the color scheme of your website. The whole interface isn't quite as user-friendly as some options here, but it's still a fast way to customize your messages with drag-and-drop functionality included. On the Unlimited plan, you can even preview what your email will look like in 20 different inboxes, helping you ensure that your emails look great for everyone.

Campaign Monitor offers Zapier integrations, so you can automatically add new Campaign Monitor subscribers whenever email addresses are added to a Google Sheets spreadsheet or receive a message on Slack every time a new subscriber is added, among other possibilities.

Campaign Monitor Price: From $9/month for the Basic plan to send up to 2,500 emails per month to 500 contacts; from $29/month for the Unlimited plan that includes 500 contracts and inbox previews for 20 inboxes.

Best email newsletter software for personal newsletters

TinyLetter (Web)

TinyLetter

If you're looking for something simple, TinyLetter is the email newsletter app that puts simplicity above just about everything else. While we wouldn't recommend the tool for larger senders or email programs, it offers just enough for small-scale personal newsletters.

Created by the folks at Mailchimp as a stripped-down alternative to other bloated email platforms, TinyLetter is basic. It doesn't offer templates—pre-designed or created and saved by you—and users can't edit much beyond the text itself and some basic text formatting.

That said, you can get completely set up and ready to write your newsletter in less than five minutes. When you sign up, you get a newsletter, subscribe page, confirmation email and page, and unsubscribe page—all of which can be customized or used as is, if you don't mind the boilerplate copy.

And it's 100% free.

TinyLetter Price: Free

How to choose the right email marketing software

If you send similar emails to groups of people regularly, you need an email newsletter app. You might not need all the features of advanced email marketing software, with automated sending schedules and landing page builders and personalization tools. Not yet, anyhow. But as your lists and marketing ambitions grow, you might.

That's the great thing about the wide variety of email newsletter apps available. Whether you want to send a curated set of articles weekly to build a following around a topic or need to send thousands of personalized messages for your multinational corporation daily, there are email apps to fit your needs.

You can start simple—even with a free email marketing app—then grow into the advanced email marketing features the top newsletter apps offer.

Start with the apps that feel most like they fit your needs today. Don't worry: when you need more features, you can always switch to another app—or keep your original, simple newsletter tool alongside a more advanced marketing automation app if you need.


In the next chapter, we'll look at tips to help you grow your email lists, along with ways to automate your email lists and ensure your messages don't get marked as spam.

Go to Chapter 3!

This article was originally published in June 2018 by Jessica Greene. It has since had contributions from Jennifer Allen.

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