Best email marketing software 2019

Email might seem old hat compared to the raft of shiny new social media marketing tools on offer, but the personal touch of gliding into someone's inbox means email marketing has survived - and even thrived - in today's all-digital world.

It's a relatively inexpensive tool that can bring weighty returns - a 2018 survey by the Data and Marketing Association found that on average, email scores a 30 to one return on investment. No wonder then, that 95 percent of the organisations surveyed rated email marketing as 'important' or 'very important' to their organisation.

However, with GDPR coming into force, the days of popping up in someone's inbox uninvited are over and with sophisticated spam filters on most mailboxes these days, it's important to up your game when it comes to e-marketing.

To help you find the best email marketing software for your business we have put together a buying guide, as well as our top picks for 2019.

Read next: Nine best email providers for business.

What to consider
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What to consider

Whether or not you choose to use email marketing as a major part of your business strategy will obviously come down to your objectives. Are you trying to gain signups for an event? Are you looking to gain traction with a new product? Or perhaps you're just looking to improve your audience numbers. Email marketing should be able to help.

It's always harder for businesses that span a lot of different sectors and 'interests', as email marketing works better when audiences are defined. Although, some good email marketing segmentation should solve any issues there.

Email marketing offers businesses numerous advantages, the most obvious being customer engagement and user data. Email marketing also enables businesses to provide personalised creative content, provide real-time message responses and segment user and customer database information to hit them with the right offer at the right time. This is particularly important in retail as email campaigns can be twinned with automated responses following a sign-up or purchase.

The obvious drawback of email campaigns is over-populating consumers' inboxes. No business wants to be labelled as spam. So choosing not only a platform that addresses this problem but one that provides 'best practices' as standard is a desirable move.

Businesses should also think about what to email out. Some businesses might opt for newsletters, invitation emails and surveys, while business-to-business marketers will prefer platforms with advanced transactional email capabilities.

A good email marketing platform should provide automation, content management, social media integration and detailed analytics.

The bigger email marketing cloud companies such as IBM, Oracle, Salesforce and Adobe were built on acquisitions, with all offering a holistic marketing solution with email marketing products and solutions. There are smaller players touting some impressive AI-powered features these days too though.

Bronto (Oracle)

Bronto (Oracle)

Bronto, courtesy of Oracle, is a sleek email marketing solution optimised for ecommerce and retail companies. The platform boasts a whole range of essential features, spread across three stages of the consumer journey: Acquisition, Engagement and Conversion.

The platform offers highly customisable options: this means sending personalised campaigns to the right people at the right times. Integration with third party apps like Shopify, Magento and Netsuite also helps streamline the consumer journey.

Retail giants Clarks and Everlast are customers of the software.

Key features:

- Drag and drop simplicity
- Advanced reporting
- Dynamic content
- Campaign management
- Drip/waterfall campaigns

HubSpot

HubSpot

HubSpotoffers an all-in-one CRM, email marketing automation, content management system and landing page builder for businesses. Its platform is split neatly into CRM, Marketing Hub, Sales Hub and Service Hub.

The analytics capabilities are excellent, allowing you to easily spotlight insights like conversion rates on specific data sets.

You can trial most of its features for free, by signing up to a demo.

Key Features:

-All-in-one solution
-
High quality and intuitive analytics
-
Free demo

IBM
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IBM

Launched in 2015 as IBM Marketing Cloud, IBM's email marketing offering Watson Marketing provides web, social, mobile and offline channel integration with real-time email responses available to push out instantly and keep up with large amounts of company engagement. This is all powered by IBM Watson, the company's all-purpose AI platform, promising customers intelligent analytics and optimised campaigns.

IBM and Adobe were the initial cloud marketing services rivals, with Salesforce and Oracle picking up the pace behind them. IBM and Adobe both offer an inclusive marketing platform with an integrated email service.

Key features:

- Drag and drop web form builder
- Personalised URLs
- Automated A/B testing
- Personalised hyperlinks
- SMS

Campaign Monitor

Campaign Monitor

Campaign Monitorhas evolved from solely an email marketing platform into a fully-fledged customer relationship management (CRM) tool. It has recently invested in machine learning to boost its predictive and data-driven capabilities.

The platform allows you to create high-end, glossy email marketing campaigns by selecting from an extensive range of templates and the ability to automate while reserving a personalised touch.

You can sign up to a basic package for £9 which allows 2,500 emails across campaigns and automated emails. Upgrading to £29 per month buys you unlimited everything.

Key features:

- Professionally designed templates
- Visual journey designer
- Detailed lists and smart segments
- Audience building tools

Experian

Experian

Experianoffers a cross-channel marketing platform that enables users to personalise interactions using advanced customer data insights. Experian claims to offer a ‘detailed picture of the individuals behind the addresses’.

Experian also provides email insights including global email activity, consumer optimal day of week targeting, time of day and device preference, automated subject lines, performance comparisons and demographics and interests.

In addition, Experian also offers a B2B email marketing solution with email lists that draw from over 700,000 named and generic business email addresses from the National Business Database.

As an additional extra, Experian can provide email insights, which offers full engagement data.

Key features:

- Customer history checks
- SMS
- Cross-channel platform
- Re-targeted social campaigns
- Mobile optimised

ConvertKit

ConvertKit

ConvertKitoffers a solid email marketing tool to SMBs, bloggers or marketers. It offers plenty of all important automation and reporting tools, as well as tools for driving both engagement and increasing number of signups.

The most basic package offers you to sign up 1000 subscribers for $29 (£22) per month. Upgrading to $49 (£37) will buy you access to up to 3000 subscribers.

Key features:

- Audience building tools
- Powerful automations
- Tags and segments

Oracle Responsys
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Oracle Responsys

Founded by Anand Jagannathan and Raghu Raghavan in 1998 and acquired by Oracle in December 2013, Responsys is a cloud-based enterprise marketing platform with mobile, web, display and social capabilities.

Responsys' core features centre on deliverability, content development, testing and optimisation.

Oracle also offers Deliverability Plus, an insight engine that provides lots of meaningful data about your readers and customer base, including a feature which lets you see what your competitors are sending out and their effectiveness.

Also available from Oracle, is Eloqua, which is aimed at B2B marketers with core features centering on automated emails, advanced email tracking and drag and drop segments.

Services include email, display search, video, and mobile marketing which can be incorporated into its broader Responsys platform.

Key features:

- Deliverability analytics
- Simple email editor
- Competitive research
- WYSIWYG tools
- Store images, logos, text, HTML files
- cloud-based content library
- A/B testing

Mailjet

Mailjet

Mailjetoffers a scalable email marketing service, ideal for growing businesses. You can choose from one of its many plans, from trying it for free (6,000 emails/month) to its premium plan (30,000 emails/month).

Its email editor is really intuitive, providing a simple drag and drop editor, plus businesses will be able to take advantage of its database capabilities, offering a widget that can be integrated on your site to capture visitor email addresses and sync them with your databases.

Key features:

- Email segmentation
- Automated emails
- A/B testing
- Real-time email monitoring
- Unlimited contacts

Salesforce Marketing Cloud
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Salesforce Marketing Cloud

Through the acquisition of ExactTarget Salesforce built its Marketing Cloud, an email studio that offers digital, mobile, B2B, B2C and social media marketing, as well as a performance measurement dashboard with data-driven analytics.

This platform provides automation and analytics software and takes a one-stop-shop approach to marketing and email marketing in general with services such as the Email Studio. It also includes email-specific capabilities such as mailing lists, email schedules and click-through reports.

Salesforce Marketing Cloud has a mobile presence setting it apart from rivals such as Adobe that lack an iOS app and phone support.

Key features:

- Drag and drop content tool
- Personalisation Builder
- A/B testing
- Cross-channel marketing
- Easy subscriber database filter
- 1-to-1 messages

Constant Contact
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Constant Contact

Headquartered in Massachusetts, USA, Constant Contact is best suited to smaller, growing businesses.

If you're after a simple but effective email tool, then Constant Contact is definitely worth considering. It provides lots of good looking email templates, a clean drag and drop editor and great email tracking.

Plus, its email plan comes with unlimited emails, 1GB of file storage and contact management. Although this plan only comes with one user, so you'll need to plump for the top plan as your team grows.

Key features:

- Good email tracking
- Customisable templates
- Email scheduling
- Third-party integration (like Shopify)

Drip

Drip

Drip is an email marketing platform optimised for bloggers, ecommerce sites and marketers, and is particularly suited for those testing out this ecosystem - namely startups and SMBs.

A range of tools are available including integration add-ons with WooCommerce and Wordpress, so you can easily embed 'sign up' boxes on different web pages. They also offer sophisticated marketing automation tools such as email segmenting that lets you refine your audience.

You can get started with Drip for free, on a package that includes up to 100 subscribers. Upgrading to a Basic package for $41 (£31) per month will allow you to reach between 101 and 2500 subscribers with an unlimited number of emails allowed.

Key features:

- Visual email builder
- Easy marketing tool integration
- Ecommerce data tracking
- Apply custom tags, fields, events

SparkPost

SparkPost

Claiming to send 25 percent of the world's non-spam emails, SparkPost, from Message Systems, is aimed at small and medium-sized enterprises.

This platform is a cloud-integrated email delivery platform supporting business scalability, real-time insights and email marketing best practices.

SparkPost is API-based, using the Momentum platform to offer analytics, templates and insights either via the cloud or on-premise to suit most business models.

SparkPost offers a desktop and a cloud platform setting it apart from competitors such as Oracle Eloqua.

Key features:

-Triggered emails
- A/B/C/D/E testing
- Real-time data integration
- Email design tool
- Inbox preview

Sailthru
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Sailthru

Founded in New York in 2008, Sailthru is an email delivery and marketing platform that claims to send more than 70 billion personalised email messages each year. In addition, Sailthru offers business personalisation and synchronisation over email, mobile and web experiences.

Sailthru also offers a service developed to make automated decisions on behalf of the customer from their user activity data. For example, the response to a survey or a consumer's interaction routine, will determine the automated action taken i.e. a follow-up email.

The main difference between Sailthru and its competitors is the level of support it offers. For example, Sailthru provides phone, online and video support while Responsys only offers video tutorials.

Key features:

- Cross-channel coordination
- Predictive analytics
- Advanced personalisation
- Email best practices

Adobe

Adobe

Adobe's Campaign email marketing service offers a multi-pronged approach to audience engagement and communication.

Through Campaign businesses can manage email campaigns from start to finish. Adobe will provide a framework depending on your business objective and measure its effectiveness.

Adobe Campaign also provides solid email segmentation and detailed analytics. Plus you can use Adobe Target to create highly personalised email campaigns.

Key features:

- Integrated customer profiles
- Targeted segmentation
- Real-time interaction
- Operational reporting
- Contextual email marketing

Active Campaign

Active Campaign

Active Campaign, while offering a platform for small businesses also provides enterprise-level email marketing software. This platform offers a custom campaign designer, automation design consultation and a dedicated account rep.

If you're a smaller business its email editor is really easy to use, an auto-responder, scheduled email campaigns, automated workflows and one-time emails.

Key features:

- Unlimited apps and integrations
- Unlimited users with custom permissions
- Social data for individual contacts
- Unlimited email testing

MailChimp
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MailChimp

MailChimp, while aimed at SMBs, is a very popular mailing service, offering a 'free forever' package that allows users to send emails to up to 2,000 subscribers and up to 12,000 emails per month, as well as packages for larger organisations.

MailChimp users will receive data insight reports, customisable built 'sign-up' forms and have their pick of a large template gallery with a drag and drop email editor attached.

Key features:

- Ecommerce integrations
- Drag and drop designer
- Marketing automation
- Full reporting
- Social media integration

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