Let’s get personal real quick: What do you call your audience? Friend, sister, babe? What would you never call them?… Friend, sister, babe? The same word you love using for your audience might be on the no-no list for another brand. This is 100% okay because, as we all know, your brand voice—along with your logo, your colors, and your design aesthetics—are so, well, personal.
It’s what sets your brand apart and makes it uniquely yours. Another brand differentiator that everyone always forgets about? Software. Especially when it comes to email marketing. And here’s why: Your email marketing platform is what you use to build your know-like-trust factor with your audience.
If you were handwriting a letter pen-pal style to your audience, you would think twice about the stationery you picked, what color pen to use, and whether or not you add stickers or a wax seal, wouldn’t you? Everything that comes from you is an extension of your brand. And it’s no different with email (it’s just faster—no stamps, envelope licks, or post office trips required!) So it’s only natural (and wise!) to choose an email marketing software that allows you to send emails that look and feel and sound like you.
Need some help picking the right email marketing solution? We put together a short list of the top email marketing platforms for entrepreneurs, including Flodesk vs. Mailchimp, ConvertKit, ActiveCampaign, and Mailerlite. Keep reading to learn about the pros, cons, and pricing of each—and our top pick.
Pros of Flodesk:
Templates: Flodesk takes templates to the next level with their proprietary collage Layouts. They include just enough design so that you’re never starting from scratch (unless you want to), and you can quickly customize your entire email with a few clicks. With Layout blocks, you can use specialty fonts and designs to match your emails to your brand. Once you send your email, a Layout block will render as an image element so your email looks great on any device.
Pro Tip: Learn how to customize a template in Flodesk here.
Automations: Easily personalize which emails your subscribers get based on certain conditions, like if they opened an email or clicked a specific link (and send an entirely different email to those who didn’t open or didn’t click)—automatically. Perfect for sending welcome sequences or sales funnels to convert more of your subscribers without lifting a finger.
Ease of use: Billed “the world’s most intuitive email builder,” Flodesk makes it super easy to send emails people love to get. Start with a template or create your own from scratch. And use Layouts to create beautiful graphics all in one place, without having to create branded graphics in a third-party app like Illustrator or Canva.
Forms: Create pop-up or inline forms to grow your list. No website yet? No problem. This is my favorite part! You don’t need a website to start and grow your ist. You can create a beautiful full-page form to start collecting subscribers. Flodesk hosts it for you so all you have to do is share your link!
Reports: Track your email and workflow analytics to see how every email and automation’s performing—and know where to make improvements. The analysis stage of list building is so important and seeing the reports allows you to refine your strategy!
Integrations: This is so important! Flodesk likely integrates with tools you’re already using! Connect your favorite apps—including Thinkific, Typeform and Google Sheets to name a few—through Zapier or integrate directly with Shopify.
Support: No matter how big or small, get all your questions answered via 24/7 email support and the Flodesk Insiders, a Facebook group of thousands of entrepreneurs, sharing best practices, resources, and more.
Cons of Flodesk:
- No chat support available.
- Landing page functionality limited to full-page forms.
- 30-day free trial, no credit card required, with access to all features.
- $38/month for unlimited email sends, unlimited subscribers, and unlimited access to all features. Lock in right now and you can save 50% off your membership here! That’s right, only $19/month for unlimited features, no restrictions.
Pros of Mailchimp:
Templates: Instead of templates, MailChimp has a Creative Assistant that helps create designs for you, automatically.
Ease of use: MailChimp’s drag-and-drop builder is straightforward and easy to use.
Automations: Automate emails based on rules (if/else; wait or delay) and actions (send email, add or remove tag). You can also set rules based on campaign activity, like If this person did not open any of the last 5 campaigns.
Reports: View email analytics based on campaign type or by status (all, ongoing, completed); comparative reports also available for specific plans.
Support: While all plans get 30 days of email support, the free plan does not get any support after the 30 days is up. You have to upgrade for 24/7 email and chat support.
Cons of Mailchimp:
- Complex functionality: Once known exclusively for their email marketing service, MailChimp now offers a comprehensive marketing solution that includes a marketing CRM and a website builder. If you don’t need either of these things, Mailchimp may be an overly complex solution. Also, with all of their new solutions, they’re no longer focusing on email marketing alone, which may mean less frequent updates and optimizations to provide the best email marketing experience.
- Lack of templates and design ease: While the builder is straightforward to use, the lack of templates to use as a starting point can feel like staring at a blank page. It’s not always easy figuring out how to add design elements that match your brand. Also, while the Creative Assistant is a nice idea, the auto-generated designs feel a bit generic and not truly reflective of my brand.
- Automations: Mailchimp has automations, but unfortunately, you can’t try it out on their free plan and must upgrade to try it out.
- Reports: Comparative reports are only available to pro users.
- Free plan: Available for up to 2,000 contacts (some features, including automations and 24/7 email support, not included).
- Standard plan: (which includes automations and 24/7 email support) starts at $14.99/mo.
Pros of ConvertKit:
Automations: Visual automations are available and very similar to what many other providers, like Flodesk, MailChimp and Mailerlite, offer.
Forms: Lots of templates are available for full-page forms for collecting emails.
Reports: You can see email performance on the individual email level.
Support: Chat support usually responds in a few hours.
Cons of ConvertKit:
Templates: The lack of email templates makes designing beautiful emails difficult as you’re starting from a blank canvas. You’d have to build branded graphics in Illustrator or Canva and bring them in.
Ease of use: Their email editor isn’t the most intuitive. You hover and click on a plus arrow to bring up different elements you can insert like an image or heading.
Automations: Automations are available, but unfortunately, you can’t access it in your free trial and have to add your credit card info in for a 14-day trial of the Creator plan.
Landing Page: Landing page functionality limited to full-page forms.
Pros of ActiveCampaign:
Templates: Basic email templates are included to get you started.
Automations: If you’re a mid-size or enterprise business, you’ll likely enjoy the wide variety of intricate automation triggers available. Some of these include if a CRM field changes or if a specific web page is visited. From there, you can set your workflow actions, including send an email, send a site message, send an SMS, add delays, use if/else conditions and more. You can also use the workflow to update contacts’ information and CRM fields.
Ease of use: With drag-and-drop blocks, their builder is easy to use.
Forms/Landing Pages: Basic forms are available with drag-and-drop blocks. They also have landing pages (not just full-page forms) and have templates to choose from.
Reports: Reports are available for campaigns, automations, goals and more.
Support: Chat and email support are available.
Cons of ActiveCampaign:
- Templates: While templates are available, they’re very basic, making it hard to visualize how to customize your email into something really beautiful, quickly.
- Automations: Lots of options may add unneeded complexity for small business owners who work solo or with a small team.
- Email features buried: Some of their email marketing features feel buried within menus because there’s a lot of other functionality within the product.
- $9/mo for lite (up to 500 contacts; landing pages not included).
- $49/mo for plus (up to 500 contacts; includes landing pages).
- Note: Monthly price increases with additional contacts.
Pros of Mailerlite:
Automations: Automate emails based on lots of trigger options that include when a subscriber joins a group, completes a form, clicks a link, when a subscriber field is updated, the anniversary of a date, or on a specific date. You can send emails, add time delays, or add conditions based on campaign or workflow activity.
Forms/Landing pages: You can create pop-up or embedded forms for email capture. They have a variety of well-designed forms and landing page templates to choose from.
Reports: Check out analytics for each email send and automations’ performance.
Support: Email support available; live chat available on premium plans.
Cons of Mailerlite:
- Templates: Mailerlite’s email templates have some basic blocks included to get you started, but their design is basic, lacking the “wow” factor and personality that make it easy for you to quickly inject your brand.
- Mailerlite logo: You can only hide the MailerLite logo in paid plans.
- Free plan for up to 1,000 subscribers and 12K emails/mo (limited features).
- Plans starting at $10/month for up to 1,000 subscribers and unlimited emails (all features).
Our top pick: Flodesk
Flodesk makes sending beautiful, on-brand emails easy for beginners and experts alike with their proprietary Layouts feature and clean interface. Many other email marketing providers have templates that are either too basic or overly designed, making it difficult to customize and make it your own. And their intuitive forms and automations make growing your business through email marketing fun.
If you’re looking for an email marketing software for small business that puts the focus on your brand, delighting your customers—and making both easier to do than ever—then Flodesk is for you!
If you’re switching over to Flodesk from another platform, watch this step-by-step video for a seamless transition.