Picking an Email Service Provider that's Right for You: Our Shortlist
Working with Kajabi or MailChimp, and looking to switch to a more user-friendly email service provider, maybe even one that offers more possibilities?
There are dozens, maybe hundreds of ESPs out there - and although I’m sure a lot of those are really good, this article is just about our four favourite ones… and their pros and cons.
I’ve put them in order of simplicity, both from the user experience point of view and more sophisticated features. Simplest one first!
1. MailerLite: User-Friendly and Budget-Friendly
MailerLite is, without doubt, the simplest and most user-friendly email service provider out there, and the one I’d always recommend for beginners or companies that don’t need complicated funnels and intricate automations.
It integrates nicely with WordPress, Squarespace and any other type of website, it’s free until you have 1000 subscribers, it allows you to create beautiful forms, landing pages, email layouts (but you can also just keep it simple if you like)… and did I mention how user-friendly it is? Creating an email sequence, an email broadcast (or campaign) or a new sign-up automation is really a no-brainer after you’ve done it once or twice.
Their customer service is excellent, they have great support articles showing everything you could possibly want to do with your emails - and I actually love their newsletter. It’s always giving me new ideas!
The one situation I don’t recommend MailerLite for is if you need complicated automations (lots of tagging, segmenting, etc).
FYI: my own mailing list is hosted with MailerLite - has been for years. Before that, I used MailChimp for some time, then switched to ActiveCampaign as it came recommended. While MailChimp didn't allow me to do what I needed, the lower (paid) tiers of ActiveCampaign didn't have functionalities I consider pretty basic (see section about ActiveCampaign).
I've been happy with MailerLite ever since and as I don’t need complicated automations (for my own business), I don’t see myself switching anytime soon.
Want to know more? Visit their website!
2. ConvertKit: Reliable, User-Friendly, and Flexible
ConvertKit is one of my favourites out there. Reliable, user-friendly, it offers all the necessary integrations and automations… and on top of that they have a lot of small extra features that make a real difference (and make working with an email service provider so much easier)!
E.g. if you write a blog post on WordPress, the plugin will convert it into an email (draft) right away if you want that. Need to host your freebie somewhere? ConvertKit will do it for you. Connecting ConvertKit to something you’re selling? They keep track of how many people bought. And there’s more, but I don’t want to make it sound more complicated than needed ;-)
So what’s not to love?
The analytics. They only have very basic reporting - and I haven’t seen many dashboards integrating with ConvertKit really well. (don’t hesitate to reach out if you happen to know something I don’t!).
FYI: about half of our clients (give or take) are on ConvertKit. None of them have had any CK-specific complaints to date.
Pricing-wise: the “Creator” option is currently $9 monthly (and it’s the one most of my clients are on). They’ve got a free option, but it doesn’t allow for email sequences. I can’t think of a business that wouldn’t want email sequences.
Want to check out ConvertKit? Visit their website!
3. ActiveCampaign for Higher-Level Automations
Not everyone’s favourite - ActiveCampaign doesn’t look as great as MailerLite or ConvertKit do, and it’s really not something you’d want to set up yourself. Thankfully I’ve got an amazing ActiveCampaign person on the team who makes sure me or my clients never need to do their own setup :-)
ActiveCampaign is more than just an email service provider - a lot of people use it as a customer relationship management (CRM) tool as well. Which is probably useful for bigger companies with multiple sales funnels… because that’s what ActiveCampaign does best.
Intricate email automations, upsells, downsells, segmentation, customisation - it might not look great, but it does the job to perfection.
Pricing-wise: starting at $7.88 at the time of writing… BUT that “lite” version doesn’t unlock many of the features you really want. At that price, you don’t get to apply your own branding, set up pipelines, get great reporting, or do many of the things that would make you choose ActiveCampaign. So from my point of view, “real” pricing starts at $42 monthly (when paid yearly).
They’re not the cheapest; and take into account that if you’re not techy at all, you might need to hire someone not just to set it up, but also to handle ongoing automations, tweaks, new launches, etc. But it’s worth the money - if your business is making it.
However - I do recommend ActiveCampaign if you use it in combination with LeadPages. That being said, we don't recommend LeadPages for just anyone and everyone - but that's a story for a different day.
Want to check out ActiveCampaign? Visit their website!
4. Keap (Formerly InfusionSoft)
Formerly known as InfusionSoft, better known as Confusionsoft. In other words: don’t try this at home. Not for beginners. I’m actually not going to write much about it - because this is one you should only touch if you NEED it, and you'd normally hire a Keap expert to set it up and manage it for you. It does do all the things: email automations, advanced tracking (e.g. affiliate stuff), CRM, all the things.
Pricing-wise: not the cheapest either, starting at $79 monthly at the time of writing this.
(For full disclosure, I’ve been hearing more and more about Hubspot as an advanced CRM/ESP as well - I have plans to investigate further and one day, Hubspot might replace Keap in this list. Or maybe not, to be continued).
Want to check out Keap? Visit their website!