10 of the Leading Mailing List Managers

Email marketing is a major part of doing business online and staying in touch with your customers. When compared to other types of marketing and advertising, the return on investment is often higher with email marketing than any other method of advertising. Whether you are looking to gain new customers, get more repeat purchases from existing customers, or just to stay in touch through newsletters, email marketing offers plenty of potential.

One of the challenges of getting started with email marketing is to find the right service. There are plenty or options, and in this post we’ll look at 10 of the leading options. The options listed here will meet the needs of most small businesses and online marketers. If you are in need of something more robust (and more costly), you may be interested in InfusionSoft or OfficeAutoPilot.

AWeber

AWeber

AWeber is one of the leading options for email marketing, and it is the one that we use for the Vandely Design Newsletter. We’ve been using AWeber for about a year and we’re extremely pleased with the features, ease of use, dependability, and customer service.

With AWeber you can send newsletters to your list, set up autoresponders and a sequence of automatically delivered messages, automatically create emails from your blogs RSS feed, and of course you can track everything with helpful analytics.

AWeber provides more than 150+ pre-designed templates that you can use for HTML emails (emails can be sent with a plain text version as well), or you can easily use your own template. After sending a message you can track who opened it, who clicked on links, and you can even track the amount of revenue generated by the message. You can create list segments and control which subscribers receive a particular message (for example, send only to people who opened a previous message or clicked on a specific link in a previous message).

One of the best things about AWeber is that they are great at getting your messages to the inbox of your subscribers. It sounds like a simple thing, but with aggressive spam filters it’s not uncommon for a well-intended email to be wrongly flagged as spam. After moving our newsletter from MailChimp to AWeber we immediately saw a substantial increase in open rates and clicks on links within the emails, without changing anything related to the subject lines or content of the emails. Before sending your campaigns, AWeber will give that message a score based on its likelihood of being flagged as spam. A high score here can alert you that you should make changes to your email or it may not reach the inbox of most of your subscribers.


Another reason that we recommend AWeber is because of their customer support. You can get support by email, online chat, and even by phone . I have only needed customer support once or twice since using AWeber, but my experience was positive. I got support by phone, which is something that many of AWeber’s competitors do not offer.

Pricing for AWeber starts at $19 per month for unlimited emails to a list of up to 500 subscribers. The first month costs only $1, so you can try it out with little risk.

MailChimp

MailChimp

As I mentioned in the info about AWeber above, in the past we used MailChimp for the Vandelay Design Newsletter. We had a good experience with MailChimp for that year that they managed our newsletter, but ultimately decided to switch to AWeber because of some issues that other MailChimp users were experiencing. We had some friends who had problems with MailChimp locking their accounts and taking a guilty-until-proven-innocent approach to spam complaints. Also, MailChimp’s terms of use prohibit the use of affiliate links in your emails, and if you do use any affiliate links you risk the chance of your account being locked.

That being said, there is a lot to like about MailChimp. The user interface is very well-designed, it provides plenty of features, and it is free until your list reaches 2,000 subscribers. MailChimp offers features for building your list, segmenting your list, sending campaigns to your list, setting up autoresponders, RSS to email campaigns, and analytics to track your campaigns.

MailChimp users can benefit from a good selection of well-designed email templates, and their template builder allows you to create and customize a template without coding.

Pricing starts with a free plan for lists of fewer than 2,000 subscribers and you can send up to 12,000 emails per month. There are a few feature limitations on the free plan. For example, you don’t get the use of autorespdoners and a MailChimp badge will be included on all of your emails. Once you reach 2,000 subscribers, pricing will start at $30 per month. At 2,501 subscribers you will move into the $50 per month plan. View more pricing details here.

As I mentioned, we had a good experience with MailChimp even though we’ve moved on to AWeber. Their Forever Free plan for lists of 2,000 or less is a big selling point, however, if you are considering using your list for affiliate marketing you should go with another option.

Support is available by email and online chat.

Campaign Monitor

Campaign Monitor

Campaign Monitor is an option that may be particularly intriguing for freelancers and agencies that manage email marketing for clients. It is designed with creative professionals in mind, and you can manage all of your clients from one account. Even better, Campaign Monitor can be re-branded with your own logo and to match your brand. You have control over the prices that you charge clients to use the service, and you’ll profit the difference between the price that you charge and Campaign Monitor’s base pricing.

The features of Campaign Monitor include a template builder that allows you to create email templates without the coding, RSS to email, A/B testing, auto responders, spam testing, analytics and reporting, list segments, and more.

Pricing starts at $9 per month to send up to 2,500 emails to a list of 500 subscribers. Or you can get unlimited emails to a list of 500 subscribers for $29 per month. Support is available by email.

iContact

iContact

iContact is another leading option for email marketing. Their features include hundreds of pre-designed template to choose from, a drag-and-drop MessageBuilder, a MessageCoder for those who want to import their own HTML templates, SpamCheck to help your messages reach the inboxes of your subscribers, tracking, split testing, and more.

iContact also offers an Agency Solution that is similar to Campaign Monitor in that it will allow you to manage the email campaigns of your clients. You can also re-brand it with your own logo.

Pricing for iContact starts at $10 for a list of 250 subscribers. A free trial is available. Support is available by email, online chat, and phone.

Constant Contact

Constant Contact

Email marketing with Constant Contact will offer features like customizable templates with one-click editing, anti-spam checker, social media integration, open and click tracking, and more. They offer support by email, online chat, and phone. They also offer a Partner Program for those who are interested in re-selling Constant Contact to their clients.

A 60-day free trial is available for lists up to 100 subscribers. Pricing starts at $15 per month for a list up to 500 subscribers.

Vertical Response

Vertical Response

Vertical Response offers the use of more than 700 different email templates, use your own HTML template, tracking, a Click-to-Conversion tool to track sales, and more. Pricing starts at $10 per month for a list of up to 500 subscribers. Support is available by email, online chat, and phone.

ActiveCampaign

ActiveCampaign

ActiveCampaign’s features include a campaign creation wizard to help with designing and creating your messages, list segmentation, autoresponders, reporting and analytics, email testing, and more. Pricing starts at $9 per month for unlimited emails to a list of up to 500 subscribers. Support is available by email, and you can talk to sales via online chat or phone.

Emma

Emma

Emma offers features like pre-made email templates, drag-and-drop email editor, autoresponders, list segmentation, tracking and analytics, surveys, and more. Pricing starts at $30 per month for lists of up to 1,000 subscribers. Support is available by email and phone.

Mad Mimi

Mad Mimi

Mad Mimi’s features include a theme designer to create the design/layout of your emails, list segmentation, tracking and reporting, drip campaigns, RSS to email, and more. Pricing starts at $10 per month to send unlimited emails to a list of up to 500 subscribers. Support is available by email and online chat.

GetResponse

GetResponse

GetResponse offers a drag-and-drop email creator, templates to choose from, a landing page creator (additional cost), tracking and reporting, autoresponders, inbox preview, and more.  Pricing starts at $15 per month for a list of up to 1,000 subscribers. Support is available by email, online chat, and phone.

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15 Responses

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  • Jia, March 6, 2013

    Mail Chimp is very nice, I am using that

    • Steven Snell, March 7, 2013

      Jia,
      Thanks for your feedback.

  • karen, March 7, 2013

    I would LOVE iit if you would do a feature on emailing software you don’t have to pay a monthly fee for & which you use your own server – but don’t need to be a tech hero to figure out how to use! Many thanks!

  • karen, March 7, 2013

    Just to clarify my request above – I mean a software with a one time purchase fee. I’ve heard there are several – and you set them up yourself. I’ve heard programs like that don’t even have to be terribly expensive. I’d just love a review of the range of what’s available. I used to use one – and my ISP showed me how to get out a different port that port 25. I haven’t used it in years but would love to know what options are out there now.

  • Lynn, March 7, 2013

    @karen – Have you tried Benchmark? They have a free-for-life edition for new marketers and/or nonprofits: http://www.benchmarkemail.com/FreeEdition

    It’s similar to Aweber, ‘though. It’s not the kind you install on your own server.

  • Julian, March 7, 2013

    One you should know about is Newsletter Mailer. It’s the only good-looking self-hosted option I’ve seen. It has an elegant template option, and is about to get a super-facelift.
    (preview here: http://ynhwebdev.tumblr.com/)

    Karen, this would be a good one for you to look at. You can find the existing version on codecanyon.com

  • Steven Snell, March 7, 2013

    Karen,
    I used a program like that many years ago (it’s no longer available or supported) and wouldn’t recommend it for the average small business. I’m not familiar enough with the options out there to recommend any over another. In general though you might face more issues with email deliverability.

  • I’m coming to a point where I really need to make a decision on this, so good timing.

    My problem is that whenever I am busy, newsletters are often the first thing I just auto delete… basically, I’ll read them if I have some time or otherwise they are automatically deleted. I would hate to develop a list of people who are this indifferent about my own content.

    At the same time, the pro with email is that you know someone will at least glance at it… if you share your content through social media sites, it’s just a matter if someone happened to notice it or not.

    Thanks for discussing the options!

    • Steven Snell, March 15, 2013

      Hi Derrick,
      With email marketing you’ll never get 100% open rates. Most people are like you, they’ll read sometimes when it’s convenient, and most people also have a few newsletters that they read more often than others. From my experience you want to try to develop as many loyal readers/subscribers as you can by producing a good newsletter, but don’t expect everyone to open it all the time. Just because some people will delete each of your emails doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do it.

  • Paul, March 18, 2013

    Why not buy a plugin like GWA Autoresponder? It’s a one time payment option, unlimited lifetime support and can save you a packet compared to the main email marketing options above. Try the free version first http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/autoresponder-gwa.

    • Steven Snell, March 18, 2013

      Hi Paul,
      I can only speak for myself, but the main reason I would not use GWA Autoresponder is because I would not want to be dependent on a plugin for a necessary function if it can be avoided. Probably half of the premium plugins that I’ve purchased over the years have been abandoned in about a year or so and never updated again. Personally, I’d rather pay more for a service like AWeber that is more likely to be around for the long run. Also, with other premium plugins I’ve purchased, the support has never been very good. I can’t say anything about GWA because I haven’t used it, but I’d feel more confident in the customer service that I’ll get from an app that I pay a monthly payment for. If their support sucks they’ll lose my business, but with a 1-time purchase plugin they have nothing else to gain from me, so often the support is lacking.

  • alexandre, March 19, 2013

    I am using Mail Chimb. I like it. But mail isn’t referer plantios

  • Paul, March 19, 2013

    Hi Steven,

    Point taken and I understand your concern for reliable and effective email campaigns with full support.

    When it comes to email marketing, deciding to use a pay-per-month service versus a one-off cost is dictated by available finance. It makes good business sense to choose the cheaper option with a view to upgrade as your business grows.

    I personally have used GWA and it’s been upgraded twice since I bought it. At 20 pounds or dollars (can’t remember which currency it was) it didn’t break the bank and its fully automated, money well spent in my books.

    • Steven Snell, March 19, 2013

      Hi Paul,
      I agree that starting with a cheap option and upgrading as the business grows is an appropriate approach at times. When it comes to email marketing though, one thing to be aware of is that if you want to switch to a 3rd party service they may force your subscribers to re-optin in order to avoid spam complaints, which would probably mean losing a lot of subscribers in the process. I have moved two lists from MailChimp to AWeber in the past year and in both cases I was able to import the existing list without requiring subscribers to optin again, but in both cases I had to get in touch with AWeber ahead of time and give them access to the MailChimp account so they could verify that it was in good standing and that all subscribers had gone through a double opt in process. The purpose of saying all that is, moving a mailing list is usually a pretty big deal, and I think it’s good to consider that before even starting a list.

      In the end, there is no one approach that is right for every situation. If you’re happy with GWA that is great.

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