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  5. 5 Best (REALLY FREE) Email Marketing Tools in May 2021

5 Best (REALLY FREE) Email Marketing Tools in May 2021

Anna SonnenbergAnna Sonnenberg
April 20, 2021

Many email marketing services offer free trials or accounts, but most have limited features or allow access for only a short time. Very few serious email marketing tools offer no-cost plans that you could actually use to promote your business successfully.

When my digital agency clients first begin building their email lists, I recommend they start with a free service. Yet any free platform I suggest has to support at least 500 subscribers and have a deliverability rate that instills confidence – as close to 100% as possible. After all, if an email platform can’t meet those basic requirements, then it isn’t worth your time – even if it’s free.

I spent several weeks testing all the major free email marketing plans out there to find the platforms that provide reliable service. These tools let you access the most important features without you having to pay a dime.

Short on Time? These Are the Best Free Email Marketing Services in May 2021:

What We Look For in the Best Free Email Marketing Software

When I try out free email marketing plans, one of my biggest priorities is making sure they don’t have frustrating limitations. If I’m going to use a free platform, it should have features that I’d consider paying for – not restrictions that slow down workflows. In this round-up, all of the options that made the cut include these basic features:

  • Subscriber capacity: Free email marketing plans can restrict your number of subscribers and the pacing of your email sends. Any free plan I choose has to allow at least 500 contacts.
  • Deliverability: Because I want to make sure the emails I send land in subscribers’ inboxes, I look for free plans from platforms that have deliverability rates as close as possible to 100%.
  • Responsive email templates: Designing emails from scratch takes time and skills that you might not have. I look for well-designed templates with mobile-responsive layouts to make everyone’s job easier.
  • Contact list segmentation: As your list grows, you don’t always want to send every email to every subscriber – but some free plans make it hard not to do so. I seek out email marketing platforms that allow tagging and segmentation.
  • Reliable customer support: Some free plans offer limited support options or no support at all. I look for an email marketing service to have reliable support at convenient times.

1. Benchmark – Unlimited Contacts and 1,500+ Integrations on the Free Plan

Benchmark email template gallery
Benchmark’s templates are conveniently organized by type and industry

Benchmark’s free plan has all the email marketing basics covered. With a free account, you can add unlimited subscribers and send up to 250 emails per month. You can also send both email newsletters and simple drip campaigns, which my colleague tested in our Benchmark review. Because I prefer using premade email layouts rather than designing my own, Benchmark’s gallery of more than 200 responsive email templates came in handy.

Benchmark doesn’t have some of the built-in features that other platforms offer, such as a customer relationship management (CRM) tool, social ads, or SMS marketing. But this isn’t a problem, since it does integrate with more than 1,500 third-party marketing apps. That means you could link it with an external CRM or SMS platform to set up a more full-featured marketing tool.

What You Get with the Free Version + Limitations

When you sign up for a free Benchmark account, you get access to basic versions of almost all of the platform’s features. This includes basic segmentation, simple automations, and signup forms.

However, the free version doesn’t include behavioral emails, advanced segmentation, or pre-built customer journeys. It doesn’t offer landing pages either (which you get for free with AWeber, for instance).

What Do You Get If You Pay?

If you sign up for a paid plan, you can design landing pages for lead generation, send targeted behavior-based emails, and create an image library with 10 GB of storage (the free plan only has 10 MB). Benchmark’s Pro plan also includes list verification, which could help improve deliverability.

When Should You Upgrade?

Consider upgrading to a paid Benchmark account if you need to send more emails. Although the free plan allows unlimited contacts, it only lets you send 250 emails per month.

Number of ContactsUnlimited
Monthly Email Sends250
Email Templates200+
Automated EmailsYes

2. Sendinblue – Offers Advanced Automations and Workflows for Free

Sendinblue automation builder
With Sendinblue, you can design automations for new subscribers, anniversaries, and other events

Sendinblue is a solid email marketing platform, and its free plan lets you send a generous 300 emails per day, or about 9,000 per month. Although its gallery of free email templates is a bit smaller than most other options, the premade designs are responsive and easy to adapt to your brand – something we tried out in our expert Sendinblue review.

Sendinblue also offers a wide range of marketing tools in addition to email. You can leverage SMS marketing, track contacts with a CRM, and create simple chatbots directly in Sendinblue, without having to integrate external tools.

What You Get with the Free Version + Limitations

With a free Sendinblue plan, you can access most of the platform’s features. You can set up advanced segmentation and customizable signup forms. The free plan also includes an automated workflow editor, so you can put lead generation campaigns on autopilot.

The free version of Sendinblue does have some limitations, of course. Unless you have a paid plan, you can’t access email or phone support or advanced statistics.

What Do You Get If You Pay?

If you upgrade to a Premium plan, you get access to all Sendinblue marketing tools, including a landing page builder, Facebook ads, and retargeting ads. You’ll also get A/B testing and send-time optimization, which can improve the results of your email campaigns.

When Should You Upgrade?

Consider upgrading to a paid Sendinblue plan if you need team access or more support options. Paid plans include email and phone support and offer access for 10 or more users.

Number of ContactsUnlimited
Monthly Email Sends9,000
Email Templates60+
Automated EmailsYes

3. ConvertKit – Supports Unlimited Email Sends and Landing Pages

ConvertKit landing page builder
ConvertKit’s landing page builder has a user-friendly content editor

ConvertKit provides all the essentials for email marketing, including broadcasts, sequences, and funnels. With this platform, you can also tag and score subscribers, which is great for identifying highly engaged audience members to target with later campaigns.

In addition to emails, ConvertKit offers broader marketing tools like landing pages, signup forms, and a customizable domain. Although ConvertKit doesn’t limit landing page traffic or email sends, it does cap subscribers at 1,000 for free accounts.

What You Get with the Free Version + Limitations

With a free ConvertKit account, you can send email newsletters and segment subscribers. You can also create unlimited landing pages and signup forms, which is ideal for generating new leads and building up an email list.

However, the free ConvertKit plan doesn’t include automations or drip campaigns, so you’ll have to create and schedule all emails manually – an issue we discuss in our ConvertKit review. It also doesn’t include app integrations (unlike Benchmark’s free plan, where you can connect marketing apps at no cost).

What Do You Get If You Pay?

If you sign up for a paid plan, you can grow your list beyond 1,000 subscribers and access time-saving automation tools like drip campaigns and funnels. You’ll also get premium support instead of having to rely on basic ticket-based support.

When Should You Upgrade?

Consider upgrading to a paid ConvertKit account when you’re ready to automate your email marketing. With a Creator or Creator Pro plan, you can set up automated workflows and marketing funnels.

Number of Contacts1,000
Monthly Email SendsUnlimited
Email Templates7
Automated EmailsNo

AWeber app integrations
AWeber connects to e-commerce, social media, blogging, and other apps

AWeber has everything you need to get started with email marketing, as you can add up to 500 subscribers and send up to 3,000 emails per month on its free plan. It also has newsletters, automations, segmentation, and a large stock photo library. It provides one of the largest selections of responsive email templates, with more than 200 options.

Beyond email marketing, AWeber offers unlimited landing pages, an e-commerce solution, and more than 1,000 app integrations. When it comes to reporting, however, you’ll only get access to basic subscriber and message analytics with the free plan.

What You Get with the Free Version + Limitations

With a free AWeber account, you can create newsletters, automated emails, and landing pages using templates and the drag-and-drop editor. You can also add as many users as you want, which would be ideal for larger teams. AWeber also provides 24/7 phone, email, and chat support for free accounts, which is something you don’t see often. Even better, AWeber scored highly for the quality of its support in our AWeber review.

However, sending just 3,000 emails per month may not be enough. If you’re sending email campaigns to the maximum of 500 subscribers, that only allows for six campaigns per month. In addition, all emails you send with the free plan include AWeber branding. If you have a larger list or if you want to remove the branding, it’s worth looking at Benchmark’s free plan.

What Do You Get If You Pay?

If you pay for AWeber’s Pro plan, you get extra features like split-testing, behavior-based emails, and advanced reporting. With a paid account, you can also optimize your e-commerce setup with sales tracking and purchase tagging.

When Should You Upgrade?

Consider upgrading to a paid account if you want to split-test your emails or set up behavioral automations. With the Pro plan, you can tackle both of these tasks and build landing pages without the AWeber logo.

Number of Contacts500
Monthly Email Sends3,000
Email Templates200+
Automated EmailsYes

5. MailChimp – Best Free Marketing Suite

MailChimp creative assistant
MailChimp’s creative assistant helps you save time on design

With more than 100 responsive templates, email newsletters, and signup forms, MailChimp has all the email marketing tools you need to start growing your list. The free plan also includes about a dozen premade automations and a customized automation builder, which are ideal for nurturing leads and driving sales, as we found in our Mailchimp review.

In addition to email tools, MailChimp also provides landing pages, a website builder, social ads, and a design assistant, essentially allowing this platform to serve as an all-in-one marketing suite. If you need help navigating these features, the free plan gives you 30 days of email support.

What You Get with the Free Version + Limitations

With MailChimp’s free plan, you can send up to 10,000 emails a month, including standard email broadcasts, behavioral targeting, and single-step automations. The free plan includes a marketing CRM with tagging and basic segmentation to help you organize your subscribers.

The free version also lets you build a website and create Facebook and Instagram ads. If you work as part of a team, bear in mind that MailChimp’s free plan doesn’t allow teams, while Aweber’s free plan gives you support for unlimited users.

What Do You Get If You Pay?

If you opt for a paid MailChimp plan, you get more sends, additional features, and 24/7 support. The Essentials plan allows 500,000 email sends, compared to 10,000 on the free plan. The Standard plan offers retargeting ads and more complex conversion funnels, which would be ideal for sales campaigns.

When Should You Upgrade?

Consider upgrading to a paid MailChimp plan if you want more support or optimization tools. You get round-the-clock support with the Essentials plan and behavior-based automated emails with the Standard plan.

Number of Contacts2,000
Monthly Email Sends10,000
Email Templates100+
Automated EmailsYes

Which Free Email Marketing Solution Should You Choose?

When you want to get started with email marketing for free, you now have several solid options to consider. Along with basic email marketing, each platform offers a unique advantage. These are my top recommendations:

  • If you want to connect your email platform with all your other marketing tools, go with Benchmark. It supports the widest range of app integrations for a free plan.
  • If you’re looking for a free automation tool, go with Sendinblue. You can build custom automated workflows without having to pay for an account.
  • If you want to promote a long list of offers and downloads, go with ConvertKit. The free version includes unlimited landing pages, forms, and traffic.

When you’re ready to build an even bigger subscriber list or add more automation to your marketing campaigns, all of these platforms offer reasonable upgrade options. Browse our list of thebest email marketing services in 2021 for more in-depth insights to help you transition to the next stage of growing your business.

Number of ContactsMonthly Email SendsEmail TemplatesAutomated Emails
BenchmarkUnlimited250200+

 

Yes
SendinblueUnlimited9,00065+

 

Yes
ConvertKit1,000Unlimited7

 

No
AWeber5003,000200+

 

Yes
MailChimp2,00010,000100+

 

Yes

FAQs

What is the best free email marketing service?
The best free option depends on your priorities, so I’d start by looking at our roundup of the best email marketing services, as many of these offer free plans. If you need to send a large number of emails, consider ConvertKit. For a bigger choice of templates, Benchmark or AWeber may be a better option. For the best all-around free email service, consider Sendinblue, which offers advanced segmentation and automation.

If the free options don’t quite meet your needs, consider upgrading to a paid plan and bring the cost down with one of our coupons.

What email marketing service is best?
Overall, Sendinblue is the best email marketing platform, whether you want a free or paid plan. A free Sendinblue account supports unlimited contacts and includes a sales CRM. With a paid account, you can also get A/B testing, advanced reporting, social ads, and much more.
What are the best free email marketing templates?
For the best free templates, take a look at Sendinblue and AWeber. TheAWeber email template gallery is massive, with hundreds to choose from, while Sendinblue has dozens of free templates in categories like e-commerce, blogging, and more.
Which service is the best for getting free email marketing automation?
Sendinblue offers the best free automation options. With afree plan, you can create automated emails and design workflows that will help your business run more smoothly.

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