The Best Free Email Marketing Software For Small Businesses
The ultimate goals for a successful email campaign are connecting to your customers and increasing sales, but you’ll need the right tools to make it work. Whether you have a tight budget or you are just testing the waters before making a bigger commitment, we found the best email marketing software companies that go above and beyond with their free versions.
Let’s take a look!
Read more below to learn why we chose these options.
Table of Contents
Best Free Email Marketing Software
The best email marketing software should provide reliable, secure services and have an established reputation in the industry. It should also help you meet basic marketing goals, have basic reporting tools, and offer room to grow, too. Programs like Mailchimp, Sendinblue, Benchmark, and Tiny Letter are our best suggestions for free marketing software.
1. Mailchimp: Best For Cross-Channel Marketing
Mailchimp’s free email marketing service is best for retail or eCommerce businesses that have a modest list yet ambitious goals in marketing. Mailchimp provides cross-channel marketing support not typically offered in free software.
As a company, Mailchimp is one of the most trusted and widely recognized leaders in email marketing software. But despite all of that, Mailchimp doesn’t slack with improving features and services that can help simplify sometimes complex email marketing goals.
- Easy to use
- Generous contact and email send limits
- Cross-platform support
- Limited customer support with the free plan
- No A/B testing
- One-audience limit
The Mailchimp Free plan includes:
- 2,000 contacts
- 1 Audience
- Basic templates
- Website (beta)
- Landing page
- Facebook and Instagram ads
- Social posting
- Sign-up forms
- Marketing calendar
- Single-step automation (e.g., welcome email, abandon cart email, and more)
- Basic reports and recommendations
- 30 days of email support
When your contacts grow, or you need some additional functionality that you just can’t find in the free version, Mailchimp offers very competitively priced plans starting at $9.99/mo. At this price point, you’ll get A/B testing and more templates, however, pricing can start to jump up fast depending on how many contacts you have.
All plans scale with your contacts, so be sure to calculate your actual costs instead of looking at the “teaser rate” you’ll find displayed as a quote. Standard plans start at $14.99/mo and the Advanced plan is $299/mo.
For more on Mailchimp’s higher-tiered plans and further details on all the features, pricing, and more, check out our full Mailchimp review.
Mailchimp offers some generous features to dip your toe in the waters of email marketing plus cross-channel promotions for added value.
- Email Designer: The easy-to-use drag-and-drop editor and a wide variety of templates make it easy to create an email readily optimized for mobile.
- Single-Step Automations: Offering single-step automation is a nice touch and something you typically won’t find for free. You can set triggers that will send your new contact a welcome email, order notification, abandoned cart, and more.
- Social Posts: Mailchimp gives you access to drag-and-drop templates with images you can use to create social posts, too. With the free version, you aren’t able to schedule in advance but including the designer and social integration for posting is a nice touch.
When To Use Mailchimp
MailChimp is ideal when you’re ready to do more than just send a newsletter or two. That’s because it has a variety of features that allow you to reach customers at more points in the buying journey as well as cross-channel marketing.
Mailchimp offers a lot more than just email marketing, and its easy-to-use platform helps you explore as your business expands. We think it’s one of the best free email marketing services for businesses that want to synchronize their efforts across more channels.
2. Sendinblue: Overall Best Free Email Marketing Software
With unlimited contacts, a mobile-friendly email designer, generous templates, and advanced segmentation included, the free option delivers much more than expected. The Sendinblue free plan is fantastic for businesses that are wanting to try it before making a purchase. No credit card is required for this plan, and when it’s time to upgrade, you’ll find pricing and comprehensive features to be a breath of fresh air.
Unlike most other email marketing software companies out there, Sendinblue does not cap your contacts with each tier. No matter what tier you opt for — even the free version — you’ll have no limit on the number of people whom you can email. However, Sendinblue does cap your sending limit to 300 emails a day for the free version.
You can see how functionality may become an issue with larger lists despite the absence of the cap. Still, if you plan your email calendar thoughtfully and take advantage of the free contact management tools, such as advanced segmentation and CRM, you can stretch the impact of your campaigns. The robust functionality is what sets this option apart from your typical free email marketing software. However, you can’t A/B test until you get into the higher-paid version. Admittedly, the company needs to keep some things behind the curtain if you are ever to consider upgrading.
- Generous email marketing features in the free plan, including no limit on contacts and 300 emails/per day
- High consumer rating and customer reviews
- No limit on contacts
- No mobile app
- Limited integrations
- No A/B testing
Sendinblue has a straightforward pricing model, with everything that’s included listed for each tier on its site.
The Free plan includes:
- No contact limit
- Advanced segmentation
- Customizable signup forms
- Sales CRM
- Up to 300 emails daily
- Mobile-friendly email designer
- Email template library
- Email and SMS personalization
- SMS marketing is available at this tier as pay-as-you-go pricing that varies by country
- Transaction email and SMS sending
- Core API features
- Advanced templating languages
- Workflow editor
- Page tracking
- Marketing automation workflows (up to 2,000 contacts)
- Real-time reporting
- API and plugins
- Email customer support
When it comes time to upgrade, these next few options are waiting for you starting at $25/mo for the Lite plan, $39/mo for the Essentials plan and the Premium plan options start at $66/mo. Each plan scales with the number of emails you’ll be sending a month.
For more information about the customized plans with Sendinlblue and full feature lists, visit our full Sendinblue review.
Sendinblue offers an above-average value. Here are a few of the core features we love about the free version of Sendinblue:
- Advanced Segmentation: Since there is no one-size-fits-all email marketing campaign, despite our best wishes, segmentation allows you to better customize messaging. You can divide by demographics, behavioral criteria, and more.
- Sending Automations Through Workflow Editor: Sendinblue offers a fair amount of premade templates, including transactional activity, welcome emails, newsletter activity, page visits, and anniversary dates. Or you can create a custom workflow and define your starting points.
- Real-Time Reporting: The easy-to-navigate dashboard and metrics provided in real-time allow for rapid analysis when you’ve launched a campaign, and that is a huge asset to include with the free version. You can track events, deliveries, click-through rates, opens, and bounces — all live as they happen.
When To Use Sendinblue
If we are just to look at the free email marketing tier within the Sendinblue platform, we find that the no-contact limit and features that are in front of the paywall are noteworthy indeed. For many small businesses, this is probably enough to keep a simple campaign going without the bells and whistles. And if you have a big list, a basic campaign, and you don’t desire to A/B test your messaging, Sendinblue’s free plan is a smart option for you.
However, where Sendinblue really shines is in the all-in-one platform when creating cross-channel marketing campaigns. You’ll have what you need here when you’re ready for it, all at a highly competitive price point. For lots of reasons, Sendinblue offers one of the best free email marketing tools out there.
3. Benchmark Email: Best For Low Learning Curve
Benchmark’s free email software plan is best for any type of small business, but it’s built with ease of use for beginners in mind when it comes to creating your first campaign. Guided workflows with an attractive UI provide clear direction to create a complete campaign.
While Benchmark certainly puts a focus on making things accessible and easy to use for small businesses. At the core, it is built to adapt and scale. So when it is time for your business to upgrade, you’ll find plenty of support and tools to do so.
Customer reviews and ratings continue to show high praise for Benchmark from various skill and experience levels, citing top-notch, highly engaged support, and effective features across all plans. So you can put this option as a top contender with confidence.
- Intuitive editor
- Fast reporting
- Robust integrations available
- Occasional bugs reported
- Limited FAQ
Benchmark pricing is very upfront and scales with the number of contacts you have. While the free plan has somewhat low email sends a month, the company includes some nice features to help you acclimate to email marketing if you’re new to the game.
The Free plan includes:
- Unlimited subscribers
- 250 emails per month
- Easy drag-and-drop email editor
- Responsive templates
- Signup form
- Basic drip campaigns
- RSS email campaign
- Email delivery management
- Google Analytics tracking
- List management and segments
- List hygiene
- Live engagement reports
- Opens-by-hour reports
- Surveys and polls
- Unlimited video storage
- 10MB of free image gallery storage
- Social media integrations
- eCommerce integrations
- Email template integrations
- Contact list integrations
When it comes to upgrading, the PRO plan starts at $13/mo. You’ll get unlimited emails a month. However, calculate your cost for the PRO plan (the next and only tier up) and get an accurate quote by entering your subscriber count on Benchmark’s site calculator.
For example, 2,500 contacts will run you $30/mo for unlimited emails and more advanced features. For more information about Benchmark’s features and services, visit our full Benchmark review.
- Email Designs: Benchmark is generous with templates, providing customers with a library of 19 categories and over 400 templates to choose from. Designs are tailored with unique industries in mind, and you’ll even find some social post templates included as well.
- Video Email: A great advantage to Benchmark is the video emails along with unlimited video storage. Because video is a highly engaging medium, you can start to test it in your emails and potentially improve engagement in your campaigns.
- Hourly Email Reporting: Benchmark provides reporting, so you can track the success of your campaign. Your report provides all the basics, such as open rate, bounce email rate, unopened rate, link clicks, unsubscribes, and forwards.
When To Use Benchmark
Benchmark offers an excellent option for small businesses that want to create more engaging campaigns in the coming year. While Benchmark does not put a cap on subscribers, the cap on emails is comparatively a bit low to other free plans. However, with an intuitive design and guided workflow, the Benchmark free email marketing software provides unquestionable value to start and test some campaign ideas without committing quite yet.
4. TinyLetter: Simplest Interface + Best For Twitter Engagement
TinyLetter is best for businesses that need something simple and straightforward to craft messages for their audience. While this platform lacks advanced reporting and other features, you can send unlimited newsletters and updates to your email list and, simultaneously, your Twitter following with TinyLetter.
TinyLetter can be a breath of fresh air to an artist, mom-and-pop, or anyone who wants to connect with their fans. That’s because it is so simple to use, without cluttered dashboards or meddling reports. It is just you and your audience. And for some, that’s enough. Those who love TinyLetter use it for both personal and professional purposes, sending updates, digests, and regular dispatches to followers, fans, or friends.
Owned by Mailchimp, TinyLetter lets you go back to the basics and focus on your message. Though TinyLetter is a small fish in a big pond compared to the other options listed here, it has a generous contact limit and cuts through the clutter for those looking for something clean and simple.
- Easy to use
- No credit card required
- Unlimited emails
- All-time limit of 5,000 subscribers
- Limited design ability
- Limited integration
The TinyLetter platform is entirely free to use, with no upgrades available. If your list maxes the 5,000 subscribers, or you need something with advanced reporting and testing, TinyLetter refers you to its parent company, Mailchimp.
The Free plan includes:
- Up to 5,000 subscribers
- Unlimited emails
- Code for embedding subscriber signup
- Import from Google or CSV
- Confirmation email form letter for new subscribers
- Simple newsletter editor
Additionally, at your dashboard, you’ll have the option of connecting your Twitter account so that you can invite new readers to sign up through Twitter, Tweet your posts and newsletters, and display your Twitter handle on your signup page. As far as advanced reporting or purchasing space for additional subscribers, you won’t find that at TinyLetter. For that, the company will refer you to sign up with Mailchimp.
TinyLetter is straightforward to use and provides just a few tools to create what you need.
- Composer: Having no bells and whistles, TinyLetter offers a simple composer to craft your message, add a few images and links, and send it to your subscribers.
- Twitter Connection: While TinyLetter doesn’t offer integrations in the typical sense, you’ll have the option to connect to Twitter at your profile page to make your messages Twitter-friendly for you and your followers. Additionally, you can set things up so that your Twitter followers can sign up for your email list as well.
- Sent/Reply Pages: You can track your sent messages and any replies you receive on these standalone pages at your dashboard.
- Easy List Adding: TinyLetter makes it easy to import all of your contacts from your Gmail account or a CSV file, and it doesn’t store your credentials.
When To Use TinyLetter
TinyLetter would likely be a great fit for an individual or small company that only wants to send updates, simple marketing emails, and newsletters to their list. Lacking advanced reporting, design, and integrations, you can focus on connecting to your followers and fans.
Looking For One Of These Email Marketing Services?
While the names below didn’t quite make the best-of list because they lacked some of the features and extras in the list above, they are still worth an honorable mention. And the runners up are…
This is a tough call as a runner up because there’s a lot to love about Campayn. With its stellar reviews, usability, and a sleek, intuitive UI, there’s not much I don’t like. However, as this list focuses on the free tier, the 500-contact limit is a bit on the low side. However, Campayn offers all its core features as far as email design and reporting as well as email support and one autoresponder for you, so the free version might be a fantastic choice if you have the intention to eventually go with a paid plan.
The Mailjet free version offers nice functionality and freedom when it comes to the email designer, and the reporting tools are certainly on par with its competition. However, you really are down to the basics with this one, with no segmentation or ability to set up simple email autoresponder “triggers,” such as a welcome email. And for that reason, I think there are some better options out there for folks who want to explore more features in the free version.
Additionally, it’s always important to keep growth in mind. And with that in mind, customers in higher tiers report spotty customer service and limited features for the price. If you are starting small but keeping an eye on the big picture, you might be better off choosing something else.
Despite the limitations, Mailjet still provides a nice value for those who are happy with the email editor and reporting tools, so it’s worth the mention.
When To Upgrade To Paid Email Marketing Software
It’s entirely possible that you could remain happy with these best email marketing services for a long time.
So when is it time to upgrade to the paid version? It may be time when…
- You’re ready to target and segment your audience
- You want to take advantage of advanced reporting and analytics
- Your list grows or email sending needs increase
- You want to tag and track customers on social media and your online store in addition to how they respond to your email campaign
- You are ready to experiment with new features and set advanced marketing goals for the year
Even when you upgrade to a paid plan, keep in mind that email remains one of the cheapest marketing initiatives for a reason. It helps you reach your customers and get insights into what they want from you. Studies consistently show that the return on investment for email marketing is very high at $38 returned for every $1 spent!
Choosing The Right Email Marketing Software For Your Business
When it comes to choosing the right marketing software, I recommend researching the options on our list so that you get a good lay of the land. You probably already have some email marketing goals in mind, but knowing what features the software has can help you clarify your strategy as you learn more about what’s possible.
While email marketing might just feel like one more thing to check off your list, it serves a profound purpose when you do it right — and that’s connecting with customers and encouraging them to purchase from you again and again. And that’s why you should look for software that empowers you to send timely, personalized messaging that helps your customers know more and inspires them to buy.
For tips on using these free email marketing tools, check out How To Create A Successful Email Marketing Strategy For 2020.