The ultimate guide to email marketing platforms
Email platforms have come a long way in the past few decades.
Consider the last time you signed up for a brand’s newsletter - you were probably sent a beautiful, personalised welcome email, right?
Maybe you clicked on a product in the email but forgot to finish the purchase. Maybe you subsequently received a friendly email reminding you that you’d left something in your cart. Perhaps you bought it - only to receive another email the following week featuring a great deal on a similar product.
You’re left thinking: ‘how do they do ALL that?!’
Easy – with an email marketing platform.
Email marketing platforms – or email service platforms (ESPs) – are designed to deliver the very best results from your email marketing campaigns while simultaneously making it as easy as possible. The features, functions and possibilities are endless – the trick is choosing the right one for you.
Key considerations when deciding which email marketing platform is best for you:
- Cost Be realistic about what you can afford – or want to spend. There are several great free plans available for you to test the waters and see what works best.
- Ease of use Do you have an email marketing team or are you just starting out? Pick a tool that aligns with the current skills and capabilities of your team because there’s no point paying for fancy features if you can’t yet use them yet.
- List management/size On some platforms, you pay more for the size of your contacts list. Understand your list management requirements before you pick a platform.
- Templates Do you have a designer on staff? If not, you may need to opt for a provider that has great pre-designed templates with easy-to-use design tools.
- Integrations Does it integrate with your store platform, or existing business and marketing tools? Clever integrations can not only save you time and make your team’s life easier, but also deliver advanced insights to develop more effective strategies.
- Recommended use What are you trying to achieve? Compare your goals, marketing channels, and the size and purpose of your business to the functionalities and purpose of the platform.
Now that you know what to look for, we’ve rounded up nine popular platforms to help you pick the best one for you.
Cost: Approximately AU$12.37 per month (basic), AU$39.8 per month (unlimited), AU$204.8 per month (premier).
Campaign Monitor doesn’t offer a free plan, however you can pay annually rather than monthly, or pay per campaign.
Top feature: Easy drag-and-drop design tools.
Best for: Teams wanting to create personalised emails with pre-designed responsive templates.
What it is: Campaign Monitor is an easy-to-use email service provider with all the standard features – template creation, list management, segmentation, analytics, A/B testing – with a focus on personalisation.
Best features: The platform is designed for teams collaborating on email campaigns, with tagging and role assignment functions, and the ability to integrate with over 250+ third-party applications (including team collaboration tools such as Microsoft Teams).
It offers 80 pre-designed layouts and templates, with easy drag-and-drop design tools. The templates are all responsive and optimised for mobile, and they also offer a preview option for 20+ different inbox views.
A key function for Campaign Monitor is personalisation and meeting customers at a specific point in the journey. The visual marketing automation tool is great for mapping flows, identifying customer segments, and building targeted and automated email workflows.
“What I like most about Campaign Monitor is that we can send really targeted emails to our customers,” said Brendan Downs, global webmaster at Rip Curl. “Girls specific content, or guy specific content – or we can even get more macro, [and drill] down to language and location.”
Using their analytics and data, you can heavily segment and create a range of personalised content based on available information – such as age, location, purchase history, point of purchase, etc. There’s also an extensive library of resources available.
Cost: Free up to 500 emails per month, approximately AU$26 per month (standard), AU$81 per month (pro).
Omnisend’s plans are restricted by the number of contacts you have, however they all include international SMS, with the ‘pro’ plan allowing unlimited emails and up to 3,540 international SMS to up to 500 contacts.
Top feature: Automations and segmentations across channels.
Best for: Omni-channel workflows that integrate email, SMS, push notifications, Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp and more.
What it is: Omnisend is an all-in-one marketing automation platform designed for e-commerce businesses. Focused on helping you reach customers throughout their journey, using different channels, it enables you to integrate email, SMS, push notifications, Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp and more into your workflows.
Best features: Omnisend allows segmented targeting across all your integrated channels. For example, some customers may not respond regularly to email communication, but they may to SMS. Omnisend allows you to create customised communication workflows to personalise the experience and communicate with your customers in a way that works for them.
As well as offering customisable pre-designed email templates with e-commerce features such as the ability to include dynamic discount codes, the platform also offers pop-up and lead generation form templates. The automations library includes pre-built consumer journey workflows, with welcome, abandoned cart, and transaction templates – enabling users to get started quickly.
As Omnisend is heavily focused on e-commerce, their reports and analytics track sales to identify which campaigns convert so that you can build winning success strategies.
Cost: Free up to 300 emails per day, AU$31.90 per month for up to 10,000 emails (lite), AU$82.32 per month for up to 20,000 emails (premium). For anything beyond that, they offer an ‘Enterprise’ plan with additional features on a quote basis.
Top feature: Automation capabilities and built-in CRM.
Best for: Small to medium sized businesses needing a quick and easy marketing solution.
What it is: Sendinblue is an easy and intuitive all-in-one marketing and communication platform that includes email, SMS, Facebook, chat, and CRM functionality. It focuses on helping you meet customers where they are, across platforms, with the goal of operating on ‘autopilot’ with clever and extensive automation.
Best features: Sendinblue makes automation ‘beginner-friendly’ with pre-designed workflows, pre-made automation templates, and over 60+ email templates.
Similarly, the platform simplifies lead generation with their lead forms tools that you can use to segment leads into lists and create targeted workflows for – and Facebook retargeting features.
Sendinblue also has a built-in CRM and a shared inbox to keep track of customer email history, which enables smart segmentation and automation functions, including using AI algorithms to select the best delivery time for bulk emails and A/B testing.
The drag-and-drop email editor function, along with a range of tools for creating emails is easy to use, however it’s worth noting that the emails on the free plan will have Sendinblue branding.
Cost: Free up to 100 contacts, paid plans start at AU$20.6 per month and increase based on contact list size.
Top feature: Conversion tools – pop-ups, flyouts, coupons, spin-to-win wheels.
Best for: Small eCommerce businesses focused on lead generation.
What it is: Privy is an SMS and email marketing platform that’s popular on e-commerce store platforms, as it focuses on converting and growing sales through your email marketing.
Best features: It is designed for generating online store leads and conversions with a range of targeting functions, unique features to run cross-sell emails, and extensive automation capabilities.
Automation options are designed specifically for eCommerce store needs – including automated newsletters, reminders, abandoned cart flows, purchase follow-ups and customer reactivation emails, as well as campaigns based on exit intent, cart value and behaviour.
With Privy you can create a range of intent-driven pop-ups and banners, including spin-to-win wheels. They offer unlimited segmentation and run automated A/B testing to find what messages convert, for both email and SMS.
Cost: Free up to 2,000 contacts; paid plans from AU$13.87 per month based on your contact list size.
Top feature: Over 300+ third-party integrations.
Best for: Beginners that need a good ‘freemium’ plan.
What it is: Mailchimp is one of the most well-known email marketing platforms, with all the needed features you need: templates, segmentation, automation, personalisation, A/B testing, lead generation forms and CRM integration. It’s easy to learn and even easier to get started with the extensive free plan.
Mailchimp also offers functions that enable you to build websites and landing pages, buy domains, create ads and post on social media, but email marketing is their bread and butter.
Best features: Mailchimp has more than 100 flexible email templates available that you can customise in their easy drag-and-drop email builder. They also have custom landing page creation tools.
One of the benefits of Mailchimp is that you leverage their extensive learning. The company collects data from customers worldwide to provide predictive and actionable insights that you can use to design personalised customer journeys. And it offers smart audience management tools that allow you to set segmentation and autoresponder parameters with ready-made segments, as well as set up delivery times based on the user's timezone.
Mailchimp accommodates businesses of all sizes, from start-up to enterprise, and has over 300 third-party application integrations – including WordPress, Magento, Shopify and other e-commerce stores – enabling you to integrate tools to suit your business needs.
Keep in mind that the free plan does restrict what features are available to you, such as advanced segmentation and send-time optimisation.
Cost: Free up to 250 contacts; paid plans start at AU$27.5 per month based on the size of your contact list.
Top feature: Ability to send personalised product recommendations and dynamic content.
Best for: e-commerce businesses.
What it is: Klaviyo is an SMS and email marketing service designed specifically for e-commerce businesses. It has specifically designed functions and features to help e-commerce stores generate sales alongside all the standard email marketing tools – segmentation, automation, A/B testing, sign up forms, analytics, etc.
Best features: Klaviyo has over 120+ third party integrations, including ShipStation and popular e-commerce store platforms. In particular, it integrates with social media platforms to support paid social media campaigns which allows you to sync data to build ‘lookalike audiences’ for Facebook and Instagram for lead generation. It also offers dynamic lead generation forms that you can A/B test to optimise and improve conversions.
Klaviyo has pre-designed forms, and over 50 email and automation templates, as well as ‘saved templates’ that give you pre-built layouts with your company’s logo built in. Alternatively, you can create your own emails using their drag-and-drop design tool, or plain text editor.
The platform also gives you the ability to to send personalised product recommendations and dynamic content based on a consumer’s preferences and interactions.
Reports and analytics are focused on business growth, sales, generating leads and converting. Klaviyo offers the same features for both free and paid plans, the only difference being the customer support that comes with a paid plan.
Cost: 14-day free trial, plans start at approximately AU$26.1 per month and increase based on the size of your contact list.
Top feature: Advanced e-commerce CRM.
Best for: More advanced e-commerce marketers wanting to further their automation and segmentation strategy.
What it is: Drip is an advanced SMS and email marketing platform designed for small-to-medium eCommerce businesses, integrating seamlessly with eCommerce platforms like Shopify and Magento. It’s eCommerce CRM allows for advanced personalisation and segmentation, as well as offering revenue attribution and sales funnel tools.
Best features: The Drip e-commerce CRM enables you to learn more about your customers and build deeper – and more profitable – relationships through more segmented and personalised workflows and campaigns. It has a focus on customer acquisition, with customisable lead generation forms, and an understanding of purchase behaviour so you can nurture customers.
Drip offers intuitive and advanced automation tools, with clever segmenting, split testing and list grouping abilities. You can segment based on a wide range of criteria – clicks, purchase history, engagements, relevant promotions, first-time users, returning visitors, abandoned cart – and A/B test to find what works best.
The platform has a visual workflow builder to help you create customised journeys and find purchase points, with a library of existing workflows and proven strategies you can try for yourself.
After connecting your e-commerce platform, you can also activate revenue attribution to see which campaigns are actually converting to dollars and driving sales. Drip also integrates with a range of other third-parties, including Facebook.
Cost: Free up to 1,000 subscribers and 12,000 emails per month, paid plans start at AU$13.75 per month and increase based on the size of your contact list.
Top feature: Award-winning 24/7 support.
Best for: e-commerce businesses new to email marketing with a small budget.
What it is: MailerLite is a user-friendly email marketing platform focused on helping small-to-medium businesses grow with all the functionality needed for successful email marketing, including advanced automation and segmentation, promotional pop-ups, and the ability to build landing pages.
Best features: MailerLite has a clean, easy-to-use interface and award-winning 24/7 support.
It integrates with dozens of marketing tools and e-commerce platforms, enabling automatic customer segmentation based on the e-commerce platform data – such as first-time customer, high-spending customers, etc. It offers the ability to track revenue and evaluate how emails impact sales, as well as monetising newsletters and selling digital products.
The platform offers advanced tools to generate leads, attract visitors and turn them into subscribers using landing pages, pop-ups, and embedded forms. You can also personalise campaigns using its advanced targeting features.
And you can also choose between a drag-and-drop template editor, rich-text or customer HTML editor, and test campaigns in multiple ways to find what works. (MailerLite also has a template gallery on their website, too, so you can get a feel for the themes before signing up.)
Cost: Free up to 1,000 subscribers, approximately AU$12.37 per month (creator), AU$39.8 per month (creator pro).
Top feature: Incentive emails for content upgrades.
Best for: Creators and eCommerce businesses wanting to drive engagement.
What it is: ConvertKit is an email marketing platform particularly angled at creators – artists, musicians, authors, podcasters, coaches, entrepreneurs – and e-commerce businesses.
Best features: It is feature-rich with landing page and opt-in form functions, email workflows, automation, personalisation, tagging, and segmentation, as well as intuitive design capabilities.
The focus is on automating your sales funnel by sending subscribers engaging content. In particular, the ‘incentive email’ feature enables you to offer content upgrades and special incentives. There are also special features for selling digital products – such as podcasts and videos – and a paid newsletter and subscription functionality, with a referral template.
CovertKit makes automation and segmentation easy with a visual automation builder that you can use to create advanced email rules, triggers and automated email funnels that convert visitors to purchasers. You can also create custom emails for individual subscribers, with funnel-driving landing pages.
The platform also integrates with dozens of third-party applications, including e-commerce store and social media platforms, marketing tools, and payment methods.
All references to any registered trademarks are the property of their respective owners. Afterpay does not endorse or recommend any one particular supplier and the information provided is for educational purposes only.