5 Best Email Marketing Service and Software Platforms (2021 Review)

Regardless of your digital marketing approach, it's critical to have a reliable email marketing service that you can rely on. 

After all, you're email marketing list is going to be one of your top assets, therefore you've got to have something that has all the bells and whistles but more importantly will help you hit the inbox. 

Now, you don't need 5 different email services as the title of this post , but I wanted to go over what I consider to be the top services to choose from so you can determine which is a fit for your business because there are critical differences depending on what your business approach is. 

With that being said, let's get into this. 

Our Top Rated, Best Email Marketing Service and Software Platforms Reviewed and Rated 1 Through 9

It's critical you select the right service based on your type of business, because some have stricter requirements with affiliate marketing as we'll point out in this review.  

#1: Active Campaign 

Active Campaign is our # 1 pick packed with tons of features for a low monthly investment and a great trial offer. 

Active Campaign is still one of the newcomers to provide email marketing solutions compared to some of the others in our list.  In our opinion it's the top choice based on how you can create automation rules to use in conjunction with your lead generation, webinar marketing, follow up, and email broadcast. 

The interface is very easy to use and the pricing is very affordable and most importantly the service is reliable. 

We love the fact that you can integrate Active Campaign's API and set up multiple automaton rules to segment your list based on the user's intent so they only see what they're actually interested in. 

In addition to all of the bells and whistles Active Campaign has, the most important feature is it delivers to the inbox. 

Pros:

  • Great pricing
  • Reliable service that hits the inbox
  • Drag and Drop Editor
  • Easily integrates with other service providers
  • Super Easy to use
  • Advanced tagging and automation rules for converting customers
  • Great Support Desk

Cons:

  • Not for affiliate marketers

Conclusion:

The only drawback to Active Campaign is how strict they are with affiliate marketers which is one reason it's kept the service performing on a high level with deliverability.  You can't just email blast directly to an offer or you're going to get your account shut down.


So, if you're planning to email straight to an affiliate offer, then you'd be better off choosing another provider in the list like Aweber. 


With that being said, we've never had issues sending emails to our own offers as well as to our reviews on our own blog like what you see here on the site using Active Campaign.  

#2: Aweber 

We've personally had an Aweber account for over 10 years and it's still one of the most reliable platforms on the market. 

Aweber is one of the older email providers on the market and is one of the most reliable platforms you can ask for which is why it's our #2 choice. 

I'd say if you're planning to use email for heavily promoting affiliate products, then this would be my go to service because they're not as strict for mailing affiliate offers. 

Pros:

  • Great pricing based on the number of subscribers so you can grow as your business grows.
  • Reliable service that hits the inbox
  • Easily integrates with other service providers using there API
  • Easy to use for broadcast and setting up email autoresponders
  • Great Support Desk

Cons:

  • Not as simple to creating automations as Active Campaign.
  • Lacks some of the advanced tagging features included in Active Campaign

Conclusion:

If you plan to use Affiliate Marketing with your email marketing, then Aweber is our recommended service.  In addition, Aweber is reliable with deliverability of your emails which is the most important factor in choosing the best webinar platform. 


Aweber has added Landing Page features inside the platform, however we recommend using a 3rd party landing page builder and simply integrate the platforms together so you have more control over the look and feel of your optin forms. 


#3: Kartra

Kartra

Kartra provides email marketing but a slew of other business tools making it an "All In One" solution that's making it the Go To for digital marketers.

Kartra has an incredible service merging the need for landing pages, video sales letters, sales pages, in conjunction with your email marketing. 

This is what separates Kartra from everyone else and is our Number One choice if you're just starting out with digital marketing and looking for other tools than just an email service. 

Kartra eliminates the need of having to integrate dozens of 3rd party apps and makes it super simple with their interface to building evergreen styled campaigns that have automation rules happen based on the user's actions.   We've done reviews on Kartra in the past and is our top choice for building landing pages as well. 

See a screenshot of the Done For You Campaign Builder below

These are ready made campaigns to help you building your email list, launch a product, use a webinar, or conduct a sale.

Pros:

  • More than just email with the All in Once Campaign builder 
  • Great support desk
  • Simple to use Drag and Drop Campaign Builder
  • No need to integrate with other providers as this does everything under one roof.
  • Multiple Done for You Campaigns
  • Has Advanced Tagging for followups based on the subscribers actions and intent. 
  • Has a Landing Page Builder
  • Has a Video Sales Page Builder
  • Allows you to create your own Membership sites
  • Built in Shopping Cart
  • Plus a whole lot more.

Cons:

  • Not the lowest priced option but is affordable when you consider it replaces dozens of other tools

Conclusion:

If you're just starting out, then Kartra is our top choice because it has so many more options and tools under one roof.  Without Kartra, you'd be investing in a Landing Page Funnel Builder, Membership scripts, Support Desk, Email Service, Shopping Carts and more. 


Plus, you'd be having to integrate all of these.  Kartra has made it super simple by having all of these tools as one unified service - and the reliability is top notch too. 


Currently, Kartra has a 14 Day Trial, however there's a workaround so you can double your trial for a full 30 days for only $1. (Here's a tutorial on how to double your trial) 


#4: Sendlane

Sendlane is one of the newcomers on the market and many digital marketers, especially affiliate marketers have turned to this popular email service for it's reliability.

Sendlane has become a top tiered email provider and has excellent feedback across the internet primarily based around the deliverability.   The founder and CEO is Jimmy Kim, a popular digital marketer, that's launched numerous courses around affiliate marketing as well as email marketing.

Therefore, the platform represents a lot of what was missing from some of the older providers since it was created for marketers from a marketer. 

Sendlane is affiliate friendly, so if you plan to promote affiliate products you're good to go. 

Pros:

  • Easy to use 
  • Beginner to Advanced training for email marketers.
  • SMS Marketing
  • Create Automations and data based automations
  • Excellent Inbox Deliverability

Cons:

  • Sendlane is pricier than most of it's competitors to get started

Conclusion:

We like the fact that Sendlane is affiliate friendly and based on all of the feedback we've seen through our research, the deliverability is their greatest asset and selling point. 


While, Sendlane is pricier than most of it's competitors, many have reported being happy to make the switch. 


You can test out Sendlane for 14 days with 100 contacts by clicking below.

#5: Mailchimp

Mailchimp is a popular email provider that has great deliverables, pricing, but has strict limitations.

Mailchimp is one of the most popular software platforms for sending emails and providing automation rules within your email marketing campaigns. 

They provide great delivery however are super strict to the content you can mail. 

If you plan to do any form of Affiliate Marketing, then we'd highly recommend choosing another provider and not even entertain using Mailchimp as you'll risk getting your account banned. 

Pros:

  • Great, flexible pricing
  • Reliable support and service
  • Drag and Drop Editor
  • Simple to use
  • Great for small businesses that are just looking to mail occasionally
  • Great Support Desk

Cons:

  • Not for Affiliate Marketers or highly promotional emails.
  • Templates could be easier to customize

Conclusion:

In our opinion, Mailchimp would be a great service for your local businesses and if you're an agency helping local businesses, then this is a very reliable service that you can set them up with.  It's easy to use without having to be a "tech" genius and most small business owners can utilize without worrying about the advanced "tagging" or automation rules. 


However, if you're a digital marketer that promotes affiliate marketing products or aggressively promotes your products by mailing multiple times per day, then this isn't the service to go with. 


Also, the templates are a bit overwhelming as we'd prefer to mail simple text based emails like you see running through our own newsletter. 

What is Email Marketing?

Email Marketing is one of our favorite methods of promotion here at ThinkTankLab.com. 

It allows you to build an email list, establish credibility, create trust, while selling your own products and services. 

There are many different philosophies around email marketing but the main core principal revolves around creating an offer of a free item - this could be a training, newsletter, downloadable training program, anything of value in exchange for the email address. 

Once the email address is submitted, the user then is added to the database and is followed up with either through autoresponder messages with automations or through broadcast emails. 

Who Needs An Email Marketing Software?

Email marketing can be utilized by any business including:

  • Local businesses looking to stay in contact with their existing customers
  • Digital Marketing Coaches
  • Affiliate Marketers
  • Those selling your own products

Literally, any business. 

In addition to running my affiliate campaigns and selling my own stuff, I've helped HVAC companies, gyms, and spas to use email marketing to their advantage to connect with existing customers, promote special offers, and build their overall brand by having an additional touch. 

What is the difference between a Broadcast vs Autoresponder emails?

When you sign up for any of the best email service providers we mentioned early on, you'll have a couple of options of how to communicate with your list. 

You have Broadcast style emails as well as Autoresponder emails.

Our advice is to use both. 

First, let's dive into Broadcast emails. 

Broadcast lets you send or schedule a one time email but you're actually creating the email, then broadcasting it to your email list. 

For example, suppose I want to send a special offer this Friday - I would craft the email, then hit Send or Schedule for it to go out on Friday.

An Autoresponder is different. 

Autoresponders are automatically sent once someone signs up for your email list.

For example, in our own autoresponder sequence, we have a 30 day follow up. 

So if you sign up today, tomorrow or even 3 months from now, it doesn't matter, because you'll start in the same order getting the same Day 1 Email. 

If you want to know how to utilize our email system, then I'd recommend you grab our Five10 Training that outlines how to craft email sequences that can generate 5 figures inside of 10 days even with small list. 

What to Look For with the Best Email Marketing Platforms

It all depends on your current business model. 

For example, many of the email autoresponders like Constant Contact and Mailchimp, which are very popular amongst small business owners are the worst options available for someone looking to take part in affiliate marketing.  

Affiliate marketing is when you sell other people's products and services for a fee or commission. 

Email Marketing Software Automations

Many platforms have cut down and frowned upon this practice, so it's best to look at all the options to find one best suited for your needs. 

In addition, you must thing about whether you're needing only an email service or are you lacking landing pages, sales pages, and membership scripts? 

If so, then something like Kartra, which provides an all in one solution along with a variety of done for you campaigns is a better fit. 

How to Choose the Best Email Service for Your Business

Pricing is not the sole objective when selecting your email provider as this is your #1 asset to your business. 

When choosing a provider, you'll want to take the following considerations. 

  • Ease of Use
  • Automation and CRM features for following up
  • Inbox Deliverability
  • Uptime
  • Terms of service to make sure you can use the service for what you're trying to do.

While price is important, you can see it's the least important factor in our eyes because you've got to have something that's going to get your message to your subscribers or else you're wasting your time. 

The one thing we'd advise is using something you can grow into.  For example, Aweber and Active Campaign both have flexible pricing options and are a great start for someone looking to get started building their email list and growing it over time. 

What Are Common Practices for Email Marketing Software Platforms? 

Most of the email platforms these days are coming with prebuilt templates, however since we don't recommend using a template, these are pretty much worthless in our opinion but they are often promoted on the sales materials as having a pretty, easy to use, beautiful template.

When it comes to sending out emails, our goal is to take the Gary Halbert Letter Writing approach to our emails by making it look personal with no fancy graphics or any big logos just straight text. 

It makes reading much easier without having to load any graphics. 

Secondly, most of the platforms come with some level of automation tools and tagging. 

While we use many of these tagging and automation features ourselves - it's only a handful.

For most, these are overkill and too complex. 

Instead, you're better off focusing on simplicity of your offer, creating content, and making additional offers. 

In our experience, it's unrealistic to think you can automate an entire years worth of marketing through automation rules - we tried it and it failed miserably. 

Partially, because it took too long to test offers deeper in the funnel and secondly by the time someone gets to day 60, there could be shifts in the market.

For example, in the digital marketing world, things are always evolving.  So, the product you're promoting today, may be replaced by a better, cheaper alternative in 60 days. 

That's a large reason why we're huge fans of integrating both - Broadcast with Automated Autoresponders. 

Our sequence looks a little something like this. 

Day 1- 30 is fully automated. 

After Day 30, those subscribers get dropped into our daily email newsletter.

How much does it cost to have an Email Marketing Software?

It's largely dependent on how many subscribers you have an how many emails you intend to send. 

Some companies price these separately as you see in Kartra's pricing model. 

The basic package allows 2500 leads with up to 15,000 emails sent per month with the emails sending per month going to unlimited when you upgrade to their Silver Package. 

That's a contrast to Active Campaign's pricing you get Unlimited Email Sending with any package and the pricing starts out at $9 for 500 contacts when you subscribe to the yearly option. 

Most will have a free trial option, but it's important to look at the sending limitations and requirements. 

Can Email Marketing Help With My SEO?

Since I talk a lot about SEO and affiliate marketing, I often get the question - how is this email marketing strategy going to help me with my search results?

Here's the reality. 

Google is looking now more than ever at engagement on your website. 

That means if you get a bunch of people to look at your page, then they bounce, then that's not very good - right?

What we want are people that are actively reading, watching, and sharing our stuff. 

The higher the engagement and time on site, then that only helps our ranking. 

Think of it like a signal being sent to Google that your content is good stuff. 

That's why you want to build a following of people - you can share your best content, then reap the rewards from more traffic and placements inside the search results. 

That's why you see really high content pieces like the ones on this blog and why I'm dropping so much content - I know in the end it will be worth it and I'll be rewarded for it. 

If you're not building an email list, then you're leaving money on the table regardless of the approach or your business. 

Review the features, pricing, and strategy specific for your needs and begin building today.

Conclusion- Our Final Wrap-up and Top Rated Picks

Active Campaign: #1 Service for Selling Your Own Products

Active Campaign is our # 1 pick when selling your own building a list and selling your own products and services.  


Choose this option when you're not promoting affiliate products and when you only need an email service. 

AWEBER: #1 Service for Affiliate Marketing

Aweber is our #1 pick when integrating affiliate marketing into your emails.


Aweber is a great, reliable email software.  Use this option when selling your own products and services as well as promoting affiliate marketing products. 

Kartra: The #1 All In One Service

Kartra

Kartra is the all in one campaign builder of choice. 


Choose this option when you need more than just an email provider because this also includes:

  • Landing Page Builder
  • Video Sales Pages
  • Sales Pages
  • Done for your Campaigns
  • Membership platform
  • Done for you campaigns
  • Shopping Cart
  • Support Desk

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