There are a million email automation tools out there. Many smaller operations, freelancers, and individuals scraping together an online presence believe that automation is still the domain of big companies with deep pockets.
But that’s not necessarily true.
Almost all options ranging from MailChimp to GetResponse, as well as some of the lesser-known tools out there, offer plans catering to everyone from the self-employed to the mom-and-pop operation.
So whether you’re trying to build a mailing list or helping past clients remember you down the road, here are some tools that will help you create pro-level campaigns—complete with analytics.
5 best tools for email automation
Why you should automate
There are several reasons you might want to automate your email outreach efforts. For one, you’re looking at sending messages to the right people at the right time.
Another great reason is, you’ll be able to pre-schedule your outgoing messages and focus on other things in the meantime.
While you might think email automation is something offered only to “real companies,” it’s actually something all organizations should consider bringing into the fold.
Taking the time to nurture your leads can set the tone for a better relationship down the line. Without automation, it’s hard to juggle manual follow-ups with your day-to-day operations.
Constant Contact is one of the better-known email marketing services in the world. (Hello, they advertise on NPR!) It’s also a super easy to use, affordable marketing service ideal for overwhelmed small businesses.
Like the other tools we’ve mentioned, Constant Contact comes with a simple drag-and-drop approach to design. Users can pick from their 100+ deep template arsenal and customize newsletters accordingly.
What’s more, the automation features are SOLID. Send welcome emails, birthday wishes, and anniversary emails using the tool’s built-in autoresponder. Or, create a series of emails for new subscribers, aimed at keeping your audience engaged throughout. While the entry-level plan only supports 500 contacts at a time, that number makes sense for those just starting out. Ready to give it a shot? They’ve got a free trial.
Drip is known for its simple email automation builder and tag-based segmentation. Key features include automatic resend buttons, Zapier integration, and a huge collection of templates.
Drip aims to help users get a handle on things like mass emailing, tracking open rates, unsubscribes, and more — and it can scale. So your email marketing efforts can expand along with your business.
We found Drip’s intelligent marketing features set this one apart from the competition. It’s ideal for segmenting groups and creating campaigns, Facebook ads, and more.
The idea is to grow your reach across channels, not just inside the inbox — so e-commerce brands or those trying to grow their online presence can really benefit from this tool.
There are some limitations when it comes to customization options. For example, we found that you can only choose from a selection of preset fonts and sizes. So, those seeking complete control might be a little frustrated here and there.
ConvertKit‘s approach is actually pretty cool. It’s a platform that allows you to build landing pages and forms for lead capture — and design email campaigns for customized groups of subscribers.
The founder of this application wanted to design a suite of marketing tools aimed at helping professional bloggers, marketers, and YouTubers grow a larger audience without learning to code or buying a million different platforms.
So while an experienced marketer might find the tool lacks a few features here and there, the idea is, freelancers of all stripes have access to a curated selection of tools that allow them to collect emails and create segmented campaigns.
The visual automation editor allows you to customize the selection of templates and edit the associated messaging. You can create lead magnets like an e-book, webinar, or some other free resource, and do some A/B testing.
That said, if you’re looking for a variety of email templates, this probably isn’t the right tool for you. Founder Nathan Barry is committed to plain text emails—he says they’re less likely to land in the spam folder and promote a more personal message.
GetResponse has been around forever and is one of the very first email service providers on the scene. The platform comes with hundreds of newsletter templates that you can customize with your own photos and branding.
GetResponse starts at $10 a month for an account with basic automation features — and the ability to send emails to 1,000 subscribers. As you grow your operation, you can always upgrade to the Pro Suite, which will run you $32 per month.
This email marketing tool is a good one for those starting with a smaller email list. As you grow, you might want to look toward something a little more robust. But, the simple interface, easy automation tools, and basic functionalities make this worth a look.
The basic plan is just $9 per month and you’ll get 2,500 emails across campaigns, core email marketing features, and access to the insights analytics suite.
Between the easy campaign set-up and the ability to build a custom list, and track your results, Campaign Monitor is bound to help you level up your marketing strategy.