The granddaddy of email marketing applications, since its inception in 2001 MailChimp has been the go-to email newsletter service for startups, small businesses, agencies and independent marketers, especially following the launch of its freemium option in 2009. 

However, in recent years an apparent decline in quality of service to all of its clients, restrictive freemium features aimed at pushing you to upgrade to a paid subscription, increasing costs and other factors have seen Mailchimp fall out of favour with many smaller businesses. 

Certainly the platform seems to be unabashedly moving toward expanding its business footprint by chasing larger corporations at the expense of SMEs, marketing agencies and freelancers.

In doing so the incumbent market leader has created a vacuum in the market that dozens of new upstart email marketing platforms have rushed to fill. 

But while the plethora of choice is better than ever – and great for consumers – the sheer number of new email marketing platforms has also created way too many options, which can make it difficult to decide which one to settle on if you want to move away from MailChimp. 

Fortunately for you, while I am no email marketing guru, a client recently commissioned me to research all of these email newsletter marketing platforms, in order to recommend to them which one besides MailChimp might be the best for his business, an ecommerce website.

This is what I discovered.

Basic Criteria

Before I go on though, I will go through and summarise in list form the criteria I adopted.

Firstly, the level of compatibility with online selling was key to my shortlisting. While most platforms of course include features aimed at ecommerce vendors, some are more focused on this aspect than others. 

Cost was the next, including a reasonable freemium offer and an affordable subscription rate – should you wish to upgrade in the future – were also vital points for my client, who is an independent entrepreneur on a limited budget. 

Audience management aspects (tagging, segmenting, importing audience databases etc) were also key aspects, as were sending options (frequency, contact limits etc), along with performance tracking and analytics functionalities.

Key Points Summary

  1. Level of compatibility with ecommerce platforms
  2. Cost – preferably free with an affordable upgrade with good features 
  3. Audience management options (tagging, segments etc, importing external databases)
  4. Sending options and contact limits
  5. Performance tracking / analytics functionalities.

So without further ado, here are our top contenders, which I hope you will find helpful if you are looking to escape the clutches of MailChimp for your email marketing…

Omnisendhttps://www.omnisend.com/

  1. Omnisend seems geared toward ecommerce and is compatible with most major platforms including WooCommerce and Shopify.
  2. There is a free option, with next level up starting at an affordable $13 / month.
  3. The free version allows only 5 segments; this increases on paid subscriptions.
  4. Omnisend allows 15,000 sends per month, the number of contacts allowed is unclear, but I am assuming it is unlimited as it is not mentioned anywhere on their site 
  5. Their free plan seems reasonable but basic, and most of the best performance tracking / analytics functionalities and features can only be unlocked on paid plans.

Conclusion: This platform won out for us. My client signed up for the free version and sent out his first newsletter, which was great and well-received by his audience. I have also signed up for one of my own projects and while I have not yet sent out my first email, it all seems great so far and is a nice change from MailChimp, which I have also been using for several years and I am finding increasingly frustrating to use.

MailerLitehttps://www.mailerlite.com/

  1. MailerLite’s compatibility with major ecommerce platforms seems solid.
  2. Their free option seems limited, but the paid version stars at an affordable $10 / month.
  3. External imports are allowed but it is unclear how complex / restrictive this might be; audience tagging is included but without using it, I can say how efficient it is. 
  4. Sending options and contacts – MailerLite Starts at up to 1,000 subscribers and 12,000 emails per month for the free version; from then onwards pricing is based on a sliding scale, starting with $10 version for 1,000 subscribers and unlimited emails.
  5. Performance tracking / analytics functionalities seem limited on free plan, but look to improve markedly with the advanced $10 option.

Conclusion: I have no direct experience with this platform, but a fellow content marketer who specialises in email marketing has used it extensively for several clients and highly recommends it. 

Active Campaignhttps://www.activecampaign.com/

  1. Active Campaign’s compatibility with major ecommerce platforms seems good, though only WooCommerce, Shopify and Big Commerce are specifically mentioned on their site.
  2. There is no free version, but basic ‘Lite’ version $10 / month for 500 users, which then escalates on a sliding scale, starting with a big jump to $49 for 1000 users for the ‘Plus’ subscription.
  3. External imports allowed but unclear how complex / restrictive this might be; tagging is included but it is unclear how efficient it is or event if it is included in the basic plan.
  4. Pricing is based on contacts but AC features unlimited email sending from even the cheapest version.
  5. Says it has ‘Site and Event Tracking’ for the ‘Lite’ version but it is unclear how effective this is.

Conclusion: With no free version you will need to enter a paid subscription after trial period, though this is quite reasonable at $10 / month. Certainly seems like a good option though, especially for ecommerce businesses.

SendinBluehttps://www.sendinblue.com/

  1. SendinBlue does not specifically mention ecommerce on its website.
  2. There is a free option, then it jumps to $25 a month, but with many more features than the entry level version.
  3. Unlimited segmentation is available even on the free version.
  4. You are allowed unlimited contacts and 30 emails per day on free version.
  5. Real time reporting included on free plan; more advanced reporting and analytics functionalities are only included on paid plans.

Conclusion: The free version seems very limited, but the $25 paid sub seems to offer a wider number of great features compared to the first tier paid versions of the first three platforms. Also comes highly recommended online.

Constant Contact – https://www.constantcontact.com/global/home-page

  1. ‘Say hello to smart ecommerce tools – and results’ claims the Constant Contact website.
  2. However, there is no freemium option, and the platforms seems to have a completely different payment structure with what looks like heaps of features; entry level cost is $20, based on number of contacts.
  3. Whether segmentation and tagging etc is included is unclear on their website. 
  4. There is the option for a two week free trial then you have to choose a paid subscription.
  5. Tracking and reporting is included in the $20 entry level version.

Conclusion: Seemingly geared both toward ecommerce and the professional email marketer, this platform could be the most attractive to those who rely on email newsletters for most of their business turnover and have the budget to afford a $20 a month subscription. However it seems it is hard to determine how you will be charged for the number of contacts, unless you make the effort to sign up for the trial version and take it from there.

Benchmark – https://www.benchmarkemail.com/

  1. Though recommended as such online, from what I could glean digging further on their website, Benchmark does not seem to be an ecommerce-driven platform.
  2. There is a free starter option, with the next level up starting at $13 / month.
  3. Whether segmentation and tagging etc is included is unclear on their website. 
  4. it seems to feature unlimited emails from the most basic plan, but paid plan prices escalate sharply based on contact numbers.
  5. Pricing is based on number of contacts.

Conclusion: Also widely used and highly recommended on many content marketing comparison websites and blogs, this platform is seemingly not geared to ecommerce – but it might be a good option for those seeking other forms of email newsletter marketing solutions.

Other Email Marketing Platforms

That’s just a tip of the iceberg. There are many other email newsletter marketing platforms out there that might provide a decent alternative to MailChimp. 

Though we took a quick look at all of them, most did not make our shortlist based on our criteria and we did not have the time to go through them all in as much detail. 

But we thought we would at least share them, as most seem viable and decent options, depending on your needs:

Zoom – https://www.zoommail.co.uk/

Drip – https://www.drip.com/

Email Octopus – https://emailoctopus.com/

Hubspot – https://www.hubspot.com/

Campaign Monitor – https://www.campaignmonitor.com/

Get Response – https://www.getresponse.com/

Sendy – https://sendy.co/

Aweber – https://www.aweber.com/index.htm

Moosend – https://moosend.com/

That’s it. So if you are looking for an alternative to MailChimp, I hope this helps you out.

Cheers, 

Miles

Photo by JESHOOTS.COM on Unsplash

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