You need an email marketing service which will do the job but is cost effective for your needs in the start-up stages of your business.
Because there are so many email marketing applications out there, I have listed what I think are the best of options available and how choosing one of these email marketing applications might be an excellent option for you.
I also have completed a review of each email marketing application, so you can quickly choose the best option for you. Just click on the provider's name in the list to take you to its summary.
Free email marketing applications for you to choose from
See all the best email marketing applications available, ordered by the number of free features you can get from each of them.
Apps available and their features
TinyLetter - 5000 subscribers
Mad Mimi - 100 subscribers
Campayn - 12,500 for 500 contacts
Benchmark Email - 7 emails to 2000 subscribers for a month
MailChimp - 2,000 subscribers and 12,000 emails per month.
SendinBlue - 300 emails per day to an unlimited
Mailjet - 6000 emails for free per month (200 per day)
SendWithUs - unlimited emails to 1000
VerticalResponse - 4,000 emails per month to up to 300 per day
Sendicate - 1000 messages to 500 subscribers, forever
The offers listed are all correct at the time of writing. If you notice that something needs updating, then just leave a comment and I will sort it out.
Tinyletter is a smart, clean solution for sending emails. Tinyletter is a MailChimp product, so you know it will be dependable too as MailChimp is used by millions of companies without any issues.
Most importantly, Tinyletter is easy to use and simple to set up. I had no difficulties navigating around, and everything is explained clearly, perfect for those who are just getting started.
You can email up to 5000 subscribers (the number of email addresses in your sending list) completely free.
You could be sending emails within minutes if you wanted to, meaning that you are going to be spending less time preparing and more time sending.
They also have a subscriber feature which you can add to your website, which I think is pretty neat.
Plus, they already have some basic designs for confirmation and unsubscribe emails built from the word go, meaning you don’t have to think about these.
The reduced email functionality of Tinyletter can be its most significant asset if you are purely content focused emails. Bloggers such as James Clear follow this simple text-based approach to emailing. His emails are all focused on the quality of the words, and he doesn’t include images.
However, if you want to get creative with custom designs, then Tinyletter may not be for you. It is perfect for the beginner but isn’t as comprehensive as some of the solutions out there.
Mad Mimi sends over 40 million emails every day, so is relied upon by over 125,000 customers as a reliable email marketing solution.
While you can only add 100 contacts for free, they have templates you can use if you need them. Also, Mad Mimi has thousands of royalty free stock images you can include within your emails.
It is easy to create a webform to add to your website so you can start building your subscriber lists. Plus, it is easy to import your current subscribers over to them.
The template builder is easy to use, with a drag and drop approach, meaning you can create beautiful emails, without having to mess about with code behind them.
If you don’t have many subscribers, Mad Mimi provides you with the functionality to do some cool stuff from the word go. If you are looking to test the water with email marketing, then Mad Mimi might be the best solution for you.
That being said, with only 100 free subscribers, Mad Mimi doesn’t give you a lot to play with before you get pushed into a monthly payment plan. Payment plans start from $10 per month for 500 users, so might be suitable for you if you find that email marketing is giving you a good ROI (return on investment).
Overall, Mad Mimi is a perfect free solution for those who are just getting started but need a creative solution from the word go. Just be aware that if you gain lots of subscribers, that Mad Mimi won’t stay free for long.
Campayn provides you with the opportunity to send 12,500 emails to 500 listed contacts. That means you could send up to 25 emails per contact on your list. That should give you enough time to test if the platform works for you.
For those of you who like a cost model based on the number of emails you send rather than the number of subscribers, Campayn might be the perfect email solution for you.
This modal is vital to understand because if you do eventually upgrade to their paid option, the model will impact how much you do end up paying.
Campayn have the options to set up standard and automated email campaigns from the get-go using their API integration. Automated emails are great for customer action based emails such as the purchase confirmation emails you might want to send.
For e-commerce businesses, getting their automated emails set up is likely to be more beneficial than sending newsletters. The cost model also means you would only be paying when an action is taken, which means that Campayn can quickly become a cost-effective way to set up the transaction side of your e-commerce site.
The template builder is clean and easy to use. While Campayn does have premade templates you can use, I found their new email template builder so simple to use that I wouldn’t suggest leaning on these existing templates.
Campayn also has sign-up forms which are easy to set up and have a library full of royalty free stock images which you can use within your email templates.
With Campayn, you get a fully fledged professional email marketing application which you can use efficiently, for free. Campayn is an excellent option for those who want a professional solution, straight away.
Benchmark Email has an excellent design interface which is easy to use and change. Their templates are tidy, meaning you remove all the complications behind creating great emails.
Their offer is up to 7 emails to 2000 subscribers for a month. After that, you need to start paying. Their paid benchmark begins at up to 600 subscribers, meaning you would start paying for this service even if you only had 20 email addresses.
Unfortunately, you do not get royalty images included, which means you will have to make sure you have all the images you need before starting to send. For some people, this may be a problem.
If you want to start testing the performance of your emails, then you can with Benchmark Email. This is a great feature which isn’t included in most of the email applications included in this list.
Benchmark Email also as a neat automation program called Automation Pro which lets you customise your subscriber’s experiences based on their engagement with your website or emails. For example, if a customer views a particular piece of content, you might want to send them an email related to it.
If you want to make customer surveys and polls, then Benchmark Email has this feature. Surveys and Polls can help improve the engagement you have with your customers, but may not be relevant to a startup business.
What I do like about Benchmark is that they have a reputation health score to help you rate and manage your customer contacts. Good quality data is the essential backdrop to any email marketing campaign, so I love the fact that you can start thinking about data from the moment you begin emailing customers.
Overall, I think Benchmark is quite an advanced tool for the user who knows quite a bit about what they want to do with their email marketing.
For the user who is just starting to get to terms with email marketing, Benchmark Email might not be the best solution for you.
I don’t think the pricing structure works if you are trying to start building customer lists from scratch, mainly as you have a limited month window before it starts costing you money.
MailChimp is the world’s largest marketing automation platform. It helps millions of businesses send billions of emails. They are a proper email application to consider for your business needs.
Plus, they have an excellent free package for any start-up business; as part of their forever free package, you can send up to 2,000 subscribers and 12,000 emails per month.
MailChimp has a very user-friendly and easy to use interface which reduces a lot of the complexity to create great emails. They have loads of premade templates for you to use or you can load your own code if you want to.
Plus they have automated emails ready to go and can connect to Magento, WordPress, WooCommerce and Squarespace easily. This functionality makes Mailchimp pretty compelling option for the user to who wants to get up and running quickly.
Their A/B testing is included with the basic package too, which I think is excellent.
Now, Mailchimp may not have some of the advanced features that some of the other email providers in this list may offer, but for most businesses, they won’t need these options yet.
MailChimp is, therefore, a high all-rounder with a fabulous free starting package. You can get to grips with all of the features and work out what works for your business long before you have to spend even a penny. You can’t get much better value than that!
If you are interested in sending all of your messages from one app, then SendinBlue could be a great email option for you.
With customer support in 6 Languages and supporting the delivery of 30 million emails & SMS daily, you know they are a reliable email partner.
Their current free pricing is 300 emails per day to an unlimited amount of contacts. This price will be enough to get you up and running with all of your automated emails quickly (confirmation, thank you emails), without any cost.
While the email creator is not as beautiful or straightforward as some of the other email providers in this list, SendinBlue does provide you with a few templates to use if you need them.
Managing your contacts is straightforward with SendinBlue; you can specialise to your heart’s content, and then email all of your different groups at the same time.
Plus, you can add SMS text messages into the mix if you want (at a cost), this can be a great addition to your business if you need it.
You can send individual messages to particular customers (e.g. a hairdresser might send a text to remind a customer of their appointment), or you can schedule SMS campaigns to market to your customers automatically (e.g. remember took book your hair appointment before Christmas).
Overall, I would say that SendinBlue is great for the business who needs to send several different mediums (emails and SMS). If you are a business who is just getting started with email marketing, SendinBlue might not be the best option for you.
Mailjet sends nearly 2 billion emails every month and includes clients such as Avis, Visa and Microsoft. As you might expect, Mailjet has a considerable amount of functionality and advanced options for you to be able to use.
You can send up to 6000 emails for free per month (200 per day), but please note that you can only use some of the premium features for 30 days before you have to upgrade to use them again.
Mailjet prides themselves on their strong templating language; this means that your emails are less likely to break when viewed across multiple devices.
Mailjet covers automation and transactional emails as part of their offering. They also provide SMS solution should you require them. I would argue that Mailjet is the most advanced email solution you can find for free.
Mailjet provides lots of information for developers, which means that you can be really inventive if you want to be as you know exactly what you are working with.
That being said, there is a lot here that could distract. It all depends on how you see email marketing and how involved you want to get with it. For those who already have an email solution, but are looking to take their email marketing to the next level; Mailjet might be just what you are looking for.
SendWithUs provides you with a lot more flexibility than most email providers. They are code driven, which means that you get the ability to see the changes you are making, perfect for those who are more technically based and want to make unique custom email templates.
What I like about SendWithUs is that it encourages you to see emails from a coding perspective, I think this is an important skill to have, but might not be relevant if you are just getting started with email marketing.
I also think that SendWithUs explain the process of setting up email acquisition processes on your site very well, and they lead with this. For those who are looking to build up a following online, SendWithUs puts your needs first.
They have A/B testing, drip email marketing and automated email functionality should you need it.
SendWithUs has a happy balance between technical and straightforward. Their email application is also concise, beautiful and easy to use. You won’t find anything here which confuses you.
For free users, you can send unlimited emails to 1000. But please note SendWithUs will only retain the data for your sends for the last 90 days. Three months should be long enough for you to get up and running in, but it is essential to keep this data period in mind.
VerticalResponse lets you combine your social media posts alongside your emails, something that none of the other email applications in this list currently provide.
Facebook and Twitter are the only social media platforms currently available, but you should seriously consider VerticalResponse if you are looking to streamline your social media and email activity into one place.
You can schedule your emails and social media posts to go out at times which are most likely to increase your sales. A layered approach to marketing can help boost followers and sales over the long term.
The email templating isn’t as user-friendly as some of the other competitors on this list, but the landing page creator is a practical tool which you won’t find elsewhere. VerticalResponse also gives you the power to create your own customisable surveys, which is a great additional tool for you to use.
Overall, even though there are aspects of VerticalResponse which are beneficial, you will find you get more give from some of the other platforms on this list. I found the core email functionality wholly lacking and the site less sleek than I would like.
If you need to combine email and social media, then VerticalResponse could be an excellent option for you. Otherwise, I would suggest looking elsewhere.
If you are currently emailing from your email and want something which is a step-up in design and reporting, but without any of the distractions of a full email application, then Sendicate is your answer.
There are no advanced functions here; you get an essential email sending tool where you can create and save a few simple templates for your needs. That is it.
No APIs, not drip campaigns etc. Sendicate is for the person who wants to get something simple out the door to see what happens.
I commend Sendicate on how simple they are, for some email marketers, this application will be everything they need.
Choosing the best free email provider option for your needs.
There are a few things to consider when making your choice as to which email provider you want to use. The key factors are:
1. Functionality – How much functionality do you need rather than how much do you want. Having bells and whistles can be an attractive offer, but pointless in the long term. Remember, you can always upgrade once you need more functionality at a later stage.
2. Time – Some people have lots of time to dedicate to email marketing, most people don’t have that luxury, pick a solution which is going to save you time and effort as this is your single most important business resource.
3. Your business needs – Do you need transactional emails, do you need to depend on APIs. Weigh up your needs in this area before thinking about anything else. So many businesses overstretch themselves thinking about everything they could do tomorrow. With email I find it is better to improve what you have and then move on from there, you will end up running much faster in the long term.
4. Cost – While all of these options are free, most have cost implications over the long term. Some are based on a free period; some are based on limited functionality. Build these cost implications into your decisions before choosing the right email provider for you.
5. Images – I find this single point a hard one for most businesses, as they don’t have the resources to fill their emails with beautiful pictures from the word go. If this is your issue, then go for an email provider which provides you with royalty-free stock photography from the beginning.
6. Customer base – How many customers do you have currently? How many customers are you expecting? Make sure you model your decision based on how many customers you have and how many you hope to get over the long term.
7. The funnel – How do your customers get into your email list? For those who are building a following from scratch might need the ability to include this functionality on your website. You need to think about the most efficient way to do this via your email provider.
Of course, there are other options out there, I have just included the options I think could be the best for a business with a limited budget. If you think that there are any other companies I should review then please get in touch.