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13 Best Email Marketing Services for 2018


Delivery is everything when it comes to email. Make sure your emails reach the intended recipients by choosing the right ESP for you.

Updated on January 30, 2018

"It's all in the delivery."

You've heard it said before about humor, but what about email? Now that you have the email list from Toofr and are ready to get to work, you are probably wondering what options you have for sending them. You want to make sure that your email is not only perfectly crafted, but also perfectly delivered. Navigating the many ESPs out there can be overwhelming, especially if this is your first go at email marketing. We went ahead and covered the basics of choosing an ESP so you can focus on writing up your emails!

What is an ESP?

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ESP stands for email service provider. These are services that make it easier for you to send mass emails, automate emails, make fancy looking marketing emails and track everything that happens after you hit "send". ESPs are used for transactional emails, marketing emails or both. Which type of emails will you be sending?

The difference between transactional and marketing email

You can get a myriad of answers and in-depth definitions of transactional and marketing email by doing an online search, but we like to keep things simple.

Transactional emails are triggered and automatically sent when a customer takes an action. For example, when a customer purchases something, an email will automatically be sent with a receipt and another one with shipping details. Those would be considered transactional emails and they are sent to just one person. Unlike transactional email, marketing email is typically sent to a predetermined list and with a commercial purpose in mind . For example, a weekly email with the most purchased products and limited time discounts or coupons. Or an email encouraging an upgrade to the paid version of your product sent to your full email list of users currently using the "free version".

The List

We've compiled a list of the worthy ESPs to consider when starting your quest in the land of email marketing. Some of them are based on our experience using ESPs for Toofr and some are research based.

Both Marketing and Transactional ESPs

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Amazon Simple Email Service offers marketing and transactional emails (think order status updates, password resets, confirmation messages) costing $4/40,000 emails. Their pay as you go platform ensures you only pay for what you use with no minimum monthly fee . Plus, if you are using an Amazon EC2 application the first 62,000 emails sent per month are complimentary! The drawback of note is that Amazon SES can be difficult to customize. However, utilizing a tool like Sendy can help with email customizations; so if Amazon SES is your ESP of choice, check it out!

  • Parent Company: Amazon

  • Cost: $4 for 40,000 emails/month + first 62,000 free if using and Amazon EC2 application

  • Both transactional and marketing email

  • Note: Difficult to customize but using services like Sendy solves this!

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SendGrid was founded in 2009 and has received over $80.36 million worth of funding with the last round of $33 million in November 2016. Safe to say they are not messing around! Companies like Uber, Spotify and airbnb use SendGrid and with features like email analytics, easy API integration and mobile phone compatibility, we're not surprised!

  • Parent Company: SendGrid

  • Cost: $9.95 for 40,000 emails/month [100 emails/day for free with trial, forever!]

  • Both transactional and marketing email

  • Notable Features: Email analytics available, easy integration with API, mobile phone compatibility

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Mailjet has all their servers located in Europe but is used by companies worldwide, so it's certainly worth considering if you're company is international. Founded in 2010, Mailjet has had over $17.46 million worth of funding go into their product with the most recent round of $11 million in July 2015 and big names have noticed! Avis, Trivago and MIT all use Mailjet for their transactional and marketing email needs. If you're curious how Mailjet can more specifically address your needs, read their customer stories.

  • Parent Company: Mailjet

  • Cost: $9.65-$15.50 for 6,000 emails/month

  • Both transactional and marketing email

  • Notable Features: Drag and drop builder and newspaper templates

  • Compliant with data privacy regulations in the USA and EU.

  • For Microsoft Azure users: Mailjet is the only EU data compliant ESP available on Azure.

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SendinBlue was founded in 2008 with small and medium-sized businesses in mind. SendinBlue has a variety of offerings and currently sends over 30 million emails and text messages every day. Their easy to use template gallery makes creating beautiful emails a breeze! SendinBlue's $36 million in Series A funding in late 2017 shows they have no plans of stopping anytime soon!

  • Parent Company: SendinBlue

  • Cost: Free for 9,000 emails/month or $25 for 40,000 emails/month and so on

  • Both transactional and marketing email

  • Notable Features: Text message/SMS sending, tracking emails, campaign tracking and filtering out spam emails

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Elastic Email was founded in 2010 by Joshua Perina and Michal Bochnak. They wanted to make email more efficient and 8 years later they are still going strong! Elastic Email's customizable templates, drip campaigns, A/X testing and 150,000 emails free make it stand out from the rest!

  • Parent Company: Elastic Email

  • Cost: Free for 150,000 emails/month, $0.09 for every 1,000 after

  • Both transactional and marketing email

  • Test emails from SPAM and guarantee email delivery

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Dyn started in 2001 and they offer DNS and email marketing services. Overall, Dyn has secured over $88 million in funding with the most recent round of $50 million in 2016! They specialize in making sure your emails make it to the recipient's inbox every time. If you're ever unsure of your strategy, they have a dedicated team ready to give you a custom email strategy or assessment!

  • Parent Company: Oracle

  • Cost is based on need

  • Both transactional and marketing

  • Notable Features: Traffic management of emails, high delivery rate

Transactional ESPs

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Pepipost was founded in 2015 and for such a new company they have really made themselves stand out in the ESP world! They are known as one of the top ESPs utilized by small businesses and are the only ESP that does not charge customers for emails opened.

  • Parent Company: Pepipost

  • Cost: Forever Free plan is 25,000 free emails/month or the Pro Plan is $0.20 per 1,000 emails/month

  • Transactional email

  • Notable Features: Easy configuration with major website creation tools and easily scalable.

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Known as "the email service for developers", Mailgun is perfect for software developers and anyone API savvy. Mailgun has been around since 2010 and received over $51.1 million in funding, with the latest $50 million in February 2017. While Mailgun is known to be reliable and have advanced email analytics, it is certainly developer-centric so only move forward if you're comfortable with this kind of platform.

  • Parent Company: Rackspace

  • Cost: First 10,000 free; 10,000-500,000 for $0.0005/email. To compare, it is $15/40,000 emails

  • Transactional email

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Mandrill is the transactional email API for MailChimp users. Feautures like in-depth analytics, templates and customization options make Mandrill a great option if your email marketing needs to go transactional and you want to stick with MailChimp.

  • Parent Company: MailChimp

  • Cost: $20 for 1-500,000 emails/month

  • Transactional email

  • Note: Sign up for MailChimp is mandatory = costly

  • Notable Feautures: Easy to integrate

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Postmark was founded in 2010 and is privately owned! It was built by the team at Wildbit specifically as a transactional email service for web apps . Their claim to fame is instant email delivery and they have a status page right on their website to prove it! If transactional email is all you need, Postmark should definitely be on your list of ESPs to try.

  • Parent Company: Wildbit

  • Cost: $10 for 10,000 emails/month (the more you send the cheaper it gets per email)

  • Transactional email

  • Notable Features: 100% inbox rate as only transactional, can view sent history and campaign statistics, extremely transparent

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Sparkpost started in 2008 and has had $65 million in funding. Their integration capabilities, detailed analytics and reliability have onboarded companies like Zillow, Pinterest and PayPal!

  • Parent Company: Sparkpost

  • Cost: $9 for 50,000 emails/month

  • Transactional email

  • Notable Features: Campaign management, templates and 35+ real-time metrics available

Marketing ESPs

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AuthMailer is the go-to email service provider if you are looking for encryption and security. Founded in 2013, AuthMailer has all their servers in Finland which enables them to keep your private communications private. Data travels through multiple servers, thus ensuring speed and reliability. In addition, AuthMailer is perfect for users on the go as their platform was designed specifically for mobile users, whether an individual or large company.

  • Parent Company: NetInch Corp.

  • Cost: $0.83 for 1,000 emails/month

  • Marketing email

  • Notable Features: suitable for an individual or large company, filters out 99% of spam from your emails, accepts Bitcoin as payment

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GMass is an ESP that "turns your regular Gmail or Google Apps account into a powerful email marketing platform". Founded by Ajay Goel, the intended use of GMass is for smaller scale customers (think sending to hundreds or thousands of recipients, but not millions). GMass must be used on the Chrome browser but their amazing features like advanced tracking, mail merge personalization and scheduling make it all worth it! For more insight on GMass, check out their blog!

  • 50 free emails/day or subscribed plan

  • Cost: $6.95-$12.95/month

  • Marketing email

  • Notable Features: Automatic follow-up emails, accepts Bitcoin as payment

Good luck!

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Email marketing can be overwhelming, especially when you're just starting out. It's important to be patient with yourself and your team, split test and utilize free trials until you are comfortable. Most of the ESPs in this list have amazing Support, so if you hit any bumps along the way, reach out! While we specialize in finding emails addresses at Toofr, we like to help marketers wherever we can along the way, so we hope this post was helpful. Happy emailing!

About the author: Tara Caguiat is a marketing professional with a passion for blogging, travel and yoga. She frequently writes for SarasotaYogaCollective.com and her personal blog, SheNeedsLess.com.

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