How to Choose the Right Email Marketing Software for Your Business

Email marketing should be an essential tool in every small business owner’s toolkit. It’s the most efficient way to drive repeat traffic, build strong relationships with your audience and ensure your messages are being seen. But before you can begin incorporating email marketing into your business, you need to choose the right email marketing software program to help you do this.

An email marketing software program is a powerful tool that allows you to collect email subscribers, design professional looking emails, track the performance of your communications and automate emails to send themselves.

Choosing the right email marketing software for your business is an important decision. There are lots of different options to choose from and unfortunately there’s no one perfect solution. While they’re all quite similar, each email marketing software program is slightly different and is tailored to different types of businesses.

To save yourself the headache of making the wrong decision and having to switch platforms in the future, here’s what you need to know when choosing the right email marketing software for your business.

1. Email Design: Can You Easily Create Professional Looking Emails?

Receiving permission to appear in someone’s inbox is a privilege. Every email you send to your subscribers should look professional, be full of value and leave them feeling compelled to take action.

Whether you’re sending highly designed emails, text-based emails or custom coded emails, you want to make sure the email marketing software you choose allows you to easily create the types of emails you’d like to send.

2. Subscriber Management: List Centric vs. Subscriber Centric Platforms

Email marketing software companies generally charge you for your subscription based on the number of email subscribers you have. Email marketing software programs are usually either:

  • List centric: List centric programs charge based on the total number of subscribers in your account. That means if one subscriber happens to be on two different lists, you’ll be charged twice for this one subscriber or:
  • Subscriber centric: Subscriber centric programs charge based on the number of unique email addresses in your account, regardless of how many lists they’re on.

When choosing your email marketing software program, you’ll want to find out if they’re list centric or subscriber centric as this will impact how you organize your subscribers. Knowing this upfront will likely save you time, money and a few headaches down the road.

3. Automation: Can You Easily Turn Your Emails on Autopilot?

The email automation tool is by far my favourite tool when it comes to email marketing software. This tool allows you to email subscribers automatically s based on a trigger that you choose. For example, you might want to automatically send a welcome email to each new subscriber immediately after they sign up.

When choosing your email marketing software, take a very close look at how their automation tool is built and how easy it is to use. As you get more experienced with your email marketing, the automation tool will become your best friend. You’ll want to make sure that it’s intuitive, easy to use and capable of doing what you’ll need it to do.

4. Integrations: Does Your Email Marketing Software Work Well With Others?

As a small business owner, you’re likely using a bunch of different tools to help run your business. Your email marketing software program will be just another tool in your toolbox. Before making your final decision, take a look at the built-in integrations provided by your email marketing software to see if it can seamlessly integrate with the other tools that you’re already using.

For example, if you’re an online educator selling a graphic design e-course, you’ll want to make sure that the data from your e-course hosting site integrates seamlessly with your email marketing software so that you can leverage that data in your email communications.

5. Customer Support: Will They Be There When You Need Them The Most?

Customer support is very important when it comes to choosing the right email marketing software for your business. Whether you’re having difficulty understanding a feature or you’ve made a mistake in an email, you’ll need to count on their support team.

Take a look to see what types of customer support they offer: Do they have live chat to help you in an emergency? Do they offer phone support so that you have the ease of knowing help is just a phone call away? Do they only offer email support? Understand their customer support offering before making your final decision.

6. Price: Do They Offer Pricing Packages That’ll Grow With Your Business?

Like most SaaS companies, email marketing software programs usually come with a free trial which allows you to take the product for a test drive before making any final purchase decisions. Even better than a free trial, some email marketing software providers offer a free plan based on the number of email subscribers you have.

While a free plan is a great option for anyone just starting out, it’s important to understand what you’ll be charged once you’ve outgrown their free plan to ensure it’s within your budget. Take a look at their pricing plans to ensure that the email marketing software that you choose can grow with your business…affordably.

My Recommendation: Top 3 Email Marketing Software

When shopping for your email marketing software, it’s important to try a few different options to see which one is best for your business. Unfortunately, this can be an overwhelming experience due to the sheer number of choices out in the market today. Let me make this easier for you…

As the Email Marketer for FreshBooks, as well as my small business clients, I’ve used more email marketing software programs than I can count and here are my top 3 suggestions for small business owners:

  • MailChimp – I highly recommend MailChimp for email marketing beginners or e-commerce companies. MailChimp is extremely easy to use, has a drag-and-drop email design tool, loads of pre-built automation programs and a wide variety of integrations. However, MailChimp is a list centric platform which makes it not the ideal choice for content based businesses with various opt-in points and multiple different lists. MailChimp offers a free plan for up to 1,000 subscribers (automation not included) and their paid plans start as low as $10/mo USD for up to 500 subscribers. MailChimp is a great way to get your hands dirty with email marketing without being too hard on your wallet.
  • ConvertKit – I recommend ConvertKit for any content-based businesses (bloggers, online educators, service providers, etc.). ConvertKit is a subscriber centric platform with a really easy to use automation tool that allows you to set up some pretty fancy email sequences and sales funnels. It focuses on text-based emails only, which means ConvertKit is not a good choice for those who need to incorporate lots of design in their emails (ie. e-commerce businesses). ConvertKit is also one of the pricier options as they don’t offer a free trial and the cheapest subscription starts at $29/mo USD for up to 1,000 subscribers.
  • MailerLiteMailerLite is one of the newer email marketing software programs out in the market. In my opinion, MailerLite is the perfect option because it can work for any type of business as it’s a subscriber centric platform with the ability to create highly designed emails. Best of both worlds! They offer a free plan for up to 1,000 subscribers which includes automation and their paid plans start as low as $10/mo USD for up to 2,500 subscribers. Again, another great platform to get started with that’s even easier on the wallet than MailChimp.

about the author

Email Marketing Manager, FreshBooks Nicole Murphy is an email marketing expert, entrepreneur and podcaster. As the Email Marketing Manager for FreshBooks and Founder of Learn To Love Email, Nicole is on a mission to help as many small business owners as possible learn how to love email marketing and everything it can do for their business. To learn more about how you can incorporate email marketing into your business, tune into her podcast or check out her blog over at