Are you unhappy with your current ESP and looking to upgrade to a new one that fits your business better?
While there are many guides focused on email platform choices for beginners, there aren’t many guides for established publishers, with 50k or more subscribers, looking to switch.
That’s where we come in. We’ll help you find an ESP that fits your budget, email requirements, and business goals. We’ve analysed the key features across some of the most popular platforms, helping you find the perfect ESP.
Here’s a quick summary of our top picks for the best email service providers and who they might be best suited for.
|ESP||Ease of use||Affordability||Power||Overall Rating||Best for|
|MailerLite||*****||*****||****||*****||Ease of use, choice of features for email beginners and value for money|
|AWeber||*****||****||****||****||Simplicity for busy publishers|
|Sendinblue||****||*****||****||****||Large publishers creating complex workflows|
|Campaign Monitor||***||*****||****||****||Affordability with additional features|
|MailChimp||***||***||*****||***||Experienced publishers searching for a powerful platform|
|ActiveCampaign||***||***||*****||***||Publishers keen to go above and beyond with testing|
Now, let’s dig into the details and share how we came up with these ratings.
Who are we and why should you trust us?
Newsletter Glue is a newsletter publishing platform for WordPress. We integrate your ESP with WordPress and allow you to manage your newsletter operations in the same place you write your articles.
We integrate and work closely with over a dozen email marketing platforms, so when it comes to email platforms, you can rest assured we know what we’re talking about – and we’re always here to help.
What we looked at
Platforms: Mailchimp, ActiveCampaign, MailerLite, AWeber, Campaign Monitor and Sendinblue.
Full disclosure: The ESPs we covered in this article are ones we currently integrate with. We shortlisted them because they’re the top ESPs among our customers.
For this review, we looked at 7 of the most important features to consider when choosing a new email service provider.
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- Building, Testing, and Sending – We started with the basics. How simple is it to build, test and send a standard email campaign?
- Pricing – Affordability is often one of the most important factors when migrating to a new ESP. We also looked at the pricing structure across different plans.
- Segmentation – How simple is it to create segments and what do their advanced segmentation features look like?
- Integrations Marketplace and API – Will your new provider integrate seamlessly with your website and any plugins?
- Analytics – How in-depth is the analytics provided by your new ESP? What kind of data can you obtain and how easy it is to understand and interpret it?
- Importing Contacts – We also assessed how simple it is to import existing contacts into each ESP.
- Scalability – Can the ESP stay with you for the next 5-10 years? Finding a platform to scale is understandably important for most publishers.
- Ease of switching – We looked at the features, services and guides available to help with switching. While this only happens once at the start, the switching project often proves to be such a significant hurdle that some stay with their ESP for years despite being dissatisfied.
Note: Deliverability is also a key feature for all email service providers. However, all the ESPs in this shortlist have excellent deliverability. Hence, we did not factor this into our rankings.
The best email service provider for your publishing business
Let’s take a closer look at the best email marketing platforms based on their features. To help you choose the right ESP for your publishing requirements, we’ve categorised them into three key categories:
- UI/ease of use – finding a user-friendly platform that’s easy to navigate
- Value for money – considering cost in relation to features
- Overall power – choosing an ESP with the widest range of features and functionalities
Best email service providers for UI/ease of use
If simplicity is key, these are the ESPs for you:
Top pick: MailerLite
What we love: MailerLite is one of the best email service providers that stand out for its user-friendly interface and ease of use. Its simple yet effective UI is easy to navigate, helping you easily design and build your own email campaigns. They’ve recently upgraded their interface and made it incredibly intuitive. We particularly love how easy it is to navigate their drag-and-drop builder, with countdown timers, social media posts and product feature blocks all available at the tap of a button.
Dynamic content blocks also provide an opportunity to create personalised content, helping publishers reach their audience on a more intimate level.
MailerLite comes with some helpful advanced features too, including AB testing, segmentation options, and automation capabilities. If you have a blog, you can even use MailerLite to send an RSS campaign.
It’s also super affordable, but we’ll go into more detail about this in our value for money section!
Downside: Unlimited users are only available on Advanced and Enterprise plans, but the Growing Business plan does allow for 3 users.
Switching to MailerLite: If you’re planning to move to MailerLite from your current ESP, their service includes paid migration experts that can help you make the transition. The cost will depend on the scale of your migration. You can get started by requesting a quote and visiting their detailed migration checklist.
Runner up: AWeber
What we love: AWeber comes a close second in terms of UI and ease of use. One of its main strengths is the analytics dashboard, which offers an in-depth yet easy-to-understand insight into your email campaigns and how they are performing. You’ll find open and click-through rates clearly displayed on the dashboard alongside other key email metrics. They even have a stats app that offers a 360-degree view of your email analytics.
AWeber also offers over 600 pre-built and easy-to-customise templates, as well as support for stock images, making it simple to create visually appealing emails.
If you’re thinking about setting up an account with AWeber, you’ll be delighted to hear the setup process is pretty simple, making it an ideal option for those looking for a straightforward ESP.
Downside: It’s worth noting that some of the advanced reporting features are only available with AWeber’s Plus and Unlimited plans, but their basic plans do offer some insight ideal for small-medium publishers.
Switching to AWeber: Switching to AWeber is relatively straightforward, although you might find their terminology differs slightly from your existing ESP. For example, their automation emails are referred to as campaigns. Their knowledge base is a great place to start. If you need assistance with your switch, their migrations team can help also.
Best email service providers that are value for money
Looking to save money when switching ESPs? We recommend the following ESPs that provide affordable plans without compromising on the features.
Top pick: MailerLite
What we love: Championed for its range of features and ease of use, MailerLite operates a tiered pricing system that allows users to choose a plan that best suits their needs – allowing established publishers to decide what’s most important to them.
When it comes to value for money, we find it to be one of the strongest ESPs around. Their Growing Business plan is affordable and includes unlimited monthly emails, templates plus a handy unsubscribe page builder. The advanced plan includes promotional pop-up support, a custom HTML editor and multiple triggers for automated campaigns.
Downside: While it’s the most value for money, it does lose to its more powerful (and more expensive) competitors like ActiveCampaign and Mailchimp for advanced features like reporting, segmentation and automation.
Switching to MailerLite: MailerLite has paid migration experts who can help you switch from your existing ESP. Cost depends on your scope and you can begin by requesting a quote. They also have a detailed migration checklist, which you can use to plan and execute your switch by yourself.
Runner up: Sendinblue
What we love: Sendinblue also provides great value for money when it comes to choosing a new ESP. The platform has four plans to choose from, each with a different range of features and capabilities, as well as an enterprise option that can easily be customised.
One of its key strengths is the range of automation features available. This includes complex workflows, lead scoring, automated contact management, and send time optimisation, allowing publishers to save time and streamline their email efforts. Testing on the platform is pretty advanced too.
Sendinblue also offers multi-channel marketing, allowing users to reach their audience through SMS and other channels. With Sendinblue, you can expect advanced functionality for a reasonable price, making it our runner-up when it comes to value for money.
The Starter plan is best suited for growing businesses while larger publishers might prefer to test out their Business plan.
Downside: Advanced features like send-time optimisation and AB testing are only available on their Business or Enterprise plans, but these plans are well worth the investment.
Switching to Sendinblue: Sendinblue will provide you with maximum support when switching to their ESP. Simply create an account and import your contacts to get started. Their support team can assist with large migrations and complex contact importing.
A close third: Campaign Monitor
What we love: Campaign Monitor also deserves an honourable mention when it comes to value for money. The ESP is relatively easy to use and is packed with advanced features, making it ideal for established publishers. Unlimited users is undoubtedly one of its biggest advantages.
Their Basic plan alone makes use of segmentation, a free image gallery, AB testing and even custom-coded templates. Automated email support is supported on the Basic plan, but their Unlimited plan offers endless send volume for automated triggers.
Downside: Customer service support is limited and some users have reported difficulties with importing contacts upon switching.
Switching to Campaign Monitor: Campaign Monitor offers a quick and easy migration process. You’ll need to export your contacts from your existing ESP in a CSV format to get started. Read more about switching from popular ESPs like MailChimp here.
Best email service providers for power users (features and integrations)
If you’re a large publishing team looking to get the most out of your provider, we recommend these ESPs with advanced features and integrations:
Top pick: MailChimp
What we love: Mailchimp is a powerful platform that offers one of the widest ranges of features. The platform’s advanced analytics, reporting features, and ready-made dashboards provide publishers with real-time insights.
Design features are advanced but the platform does include a drag-and-drop builder along with HTML support, making it relatively easy to create beautiful and engaging emails.
In addition, Mailchimp integrates with over 300+ apps, including Newsletter Glue, and even includes free website and commerce features on the premium plan, making it a popular choice for businesses of all sizes.
Mailchimp also has the best API and API documentation. So if you’re looking to closely integrate your ESP with your website, CRM or more… Mailchimp has got you covered.
They also have a large bank of resources and guides to help users get the most out of their email marketing. With four plans to choose from, businesses can customise the features and integrations they need based on their specific needs.
Downside: With so many features and a somewhat complex UI, MailChimp can be a little overwhelming for some.
Switching to MailChimp: Thanks to their handy resources section, MailChimp has published a straightforward guide on switching to MailChimp from your existing ESP.
Runner up: ActiveCampaign
What we love: ActiveCampaign is a versatile ESP that provides advanced features ideal for established publishers, perhaps best known for its automation and predictive sending features. The platform also offers custom reporting and mail servers, as well as unlimited testing for its users.
They are also known for their CRM (customer relationship management) features, like dynamic lead scoring, which can help generate sales.
With over 910 integrations, ActiveCampaign seamlessly connects with a variety of different tools and services – including multi-channel integration with Facebook and mobile apps, making it easy to reach customers across a variety of different channels.
Downside: Their email builder can be tricky to use at first and template functionality is limited. Their user interface is also quite complex and has a steep learning curve.
Switching to ActiveCampaign: ActiveCampaign has made it easy to import your subscribers, CRM data, email templates and more. Their free Expert Migration service can take care of it for you.
How do I know which ESP is right for my business?
What does your publishing business want to achieve from switching ESPs? Once you’ve determined your goals, such as growing your audience or reducing costs, think about the features that will help you achieve this. You might simply opt for a lower-cost plan or if you’re expanding your email strategy, you might need an ESP with advanced features.
What are the benefits of email marketing?
Email marketing has many advantages for publishers. A great email marketing strategy can help to drive traffic to your website while building and maintaining long-term relationships with your subscribers. It’s a simple marketing tool that can generate big results, and that’s why choosing the right platform is so important.
What is an ESP and why do I need one as a publisher?
An ESP is an email service provider, also known as an email marketing platform, that allows publishers to create, send and manage email campaigns to their subscribers.
ESPs often come with a wide range of tools and features designed to help you build and grow your audience, increase engagement, and drive conversions.
Wrapping up: The best email service provider for established publishers
How can Newsletter Glue help?
If you’re a publisher on WordPress looking to upgrade your newsletter operations, you might also consider using us to save publishing time and grow revenue.
Newsletter Glue integrates your newsletters operations more closely into your existing publishing platform.
With us, you can build and publish your newsletters without leaving WordPress. This eliminates tedious copy-pasting between your site and your ESP. Our customers report saving at least an hour per newsletter on average.
In addition, with all your newsletter issues inside WordPress, you can now seamlessly apply subscription, advertising and growth strategies to your newsletters. In contrast, this isn’t something you can easily do when all your newsletters were hosted on your ESP.