Email marketing costs $10 to $25 per month for a basic software package, but can cost more or less depending on factors such as the volume of emails you want to send and the number of contacts you'd like to send to. The most expensive email marketing software plans can cost between $1,000 and $2,000 per month.
Can email marketing get pricey? Yes, but it's worth it. In a world of endless scrolling through posts and videos, emails are personal, memorable, and something that the recipient actually signed up for. It's one of the most effective forms of marketing, with an ROI of over 4,000%.
Sendinblue, with its unlimited contacts, strong range of features, and healthy capacity for sending up to one million monthly emails, is our top overall pick of the best email marketing platforms. However, depending on the size of your business and the features needed, plenty of other top contenders might save you the most money. Let's take a closer look in our comparison table of email marketing costs below:
$20/mo – $335/mo
$25/mo – $755/mo
$14.99/mo – $1190/mo
$15/mo – $505/mo
$15/mo – $580/mo
$10/mo – $1915/mo
$10/mo – $760/mo
$9/mo – $989/mo
$50/mo – $3920/year
$3/mo – $375/mo
In this guide, we'll walk you through the various factors to consider when pricing up email marketing options from various brands, and help you understand the likely costs to your own business.
In this article:
This section will give you an idea of the factors that can impact the price of email marketing.
List Quality & Size
The number of contacts on your email list is one of the biggest factors to keep in mind when looking for an email marketing software solution. Many vendors offer a minimum number of contacts, typically a 500-to-1,000 contact minimum. One outlier on our list – Moosend – has a 2,000-contact minimum.
The caps on the size of a contact list change with the type of plan you'll choose. Some vendors offer an unlimited number of contacts, but most do not, with many vendors topping out at 100,000 or 200,000 contacts. Some go higher (HubSpot supports up to one million contacts, while Sendinblue has no limit), while others go even lower (Campaign Monitor and Constant Contact's out-of-the-box plans both stop at 50,000).
If your list grows, your email marketing needs will change. Make sure you pick a provider that will remain cost-effective, even after you've hit your one-year or three-year target for list growth
List segmentation is another useful feature to know about. This ability lets you break your complete list down into sub-categories. For example, you may want to send a quick email about a flash sale only to the sub-list of contacts who make frequent purchases, ensuring you won't be bothering your more selective customers. It's a core ability, so all our top email marketing software choices offer it.
Design & Templates Used
Email design matters. Readers will get used to your specific look, so you'll want to pick a logo, typeface, and color scheme that speaks to your brand.
Plus, all high-quality templates must be responsive and readable across every mobile and desktop OS, as well as every email client – after all, what looks fine on Gmail might not work on Hotmail.
What looks fine on Gmail might not work on Hotmail
All of our top-recommended software options offer a range of templates, along with easy drag-and-drop editors. However, the number of templates depends on the vendor: The typical template library holds 75-200 templates, though ActiveCampaign only has around 25.
Meanwhile, HubSpot has over a thousand free templates included as part of its Asset Marketplace, which lets its community of graphic design firms upload their own templates. Even more are available for purchase.
For more, see our full guide to HubSpot Pricing
It's worth mentioning the A/B testing feature here, too. This allows you to craft two different email headlines or templates in order to see which one collects the most clicks or conversions. Your thousands of templates won't matter unless you know which one works the best for you, and A/B testing is the smartest way to learn.
Monthly Email Volume
How many emails will you need to send each month? You'll need to multiply your total contact list by the number of emails each contact will receive (unless you have sub-lists, which changes the math).
Unlimited email volume is not uncommon. That's what you'll find under plans from Constant Contact, ActiveCampaign, GetResponse, and Moosend. Other vendors start at five or ten thousand, and go as high as one million for Sendinblue, three million for Mailchimp, and even 20 million for HubSpot.
The ActiveCampaign contacts dashboard
Number of Users
In the context of an email marketing software plan, ‘users' refers to the number of separate accounts that can access the same platform in order to craft emails and view historical data. While many businesses will likely be fine with just two or three users, large operations may have an email marketing team of a dozen or more employees.
Several of the vendors we've picked out offer an unlimited number of users across all plans
The good news is that several vendors offer an unlimited number of users across all plans, including Moosend, MailerLite, and Campaign Monitor.
Others offer lighter plans for one or two users, alongside more costly plans that go as high as five, 10, or an unlimited number of users.
Campaign Automation Tools
Email marketing automation is an umbrella term for the tools that automate workflow to better nurture leads. This can include A/B testing, conversion tracking, send time optimization, customer profiles, or any basic task automation. The upshot? More automated processes means less work for your marketers.
Automation functionality can vary by price plan: Constant Contact's lowest plan is $15.58 per month, but its automation tools start at $35.06 per month. Other vendors offer their automation tools even in their cheapest plans, as is the case with Sendinblue's $22.50 per month plan.
You'll need to dig into the features offered by each vendor in order to find if it has the right set of automation tools for you. Sendinblue, Mailchimp, ActiveCampaign, GetResponse, Campaign Monitor, HubSpot, and Zoho all offer send time optimization, while Constant Contact, Moosend, and MailerLite do not.
Support & Reporting
As with most business software services, you should expect a responsive customer support team available through a variety of channels, as well as online resources to consult. All of our recommended email marketing services offer an online knowledge center, while many offer a community forum as well, for peer-to-peer feedback on common issues.
Live support may be available from some combination of phone, email, and live chat, depending on the vendor — indeed, Constant Contact is our only top service not to offer email support. The more resource-intensive phone support, however, varies by plan, with Mailchimp, ActiveCampaign, Campaign Monitor, and GetResponse limiting phone support to only their highest paid plan.
Finally, user levels offer greater security and fine-tuned reporting. Within each account, users can be assigned different levels of access to editing abilities or viewable data, depending on whether they are viewers, authors, managers, admins, or the owner themselves. While the exact terms for each role vary by vendor, all our recommended email marketing platforms offer user levels.
A template in the Moosend interface
Automation price starts at:
Free plan or trial?
Unlimited (if contacts are under 50K)-7.2M
1-3 (Increases to 10 with extra payments)
1-5 (Up to 10 with bespoke plan)
As the above table makes clear, no two email marketing services are the same. Your total monthly cost will vary widely depending on your contact list size, email volume, and the features included in your package.
Sendinblue offers great value, but if you're looking at the lowest price ranges, Zoho is the clear winner, with plans starting at an unbeatable $3 per month. Zoho does have one unique wrinkle to its pricing, in that it offers two sets of plans: email-based plans and subscriber-based plans.
The email plan's price is tied to your account's monthly email volume limit, while the subscriber plan price is tied to your contact list limit. The email plan is the one that starts at $3 per month for 500 emails ($2 per month if billed annually), while the subscriber plan starts at $5 per month for 500 contacts ($4 per month if billed annually). But if you have a larger number of emails or contacts, you'll pay more.
Zoho is great value for tiny businesses, while HubSpot offers good value for large ones, with its priciest plan supporting a massive list of one million contacts and 20 million monthly emails for a cost-effective three-figure monthly cost, billed annually for $3,920.
Different vendors are best for different types of businesses, as well as those of different sizes. Mailchimp's ecommerce features are unrivaled, for example, with social media post scheduling, granular analytics, and 41 ecommerce integrations.
Hiring an agency to handle your business's email marketing needs is another option outside of a software subscription. It removes the risk of overburdening your marketing staffers while allowing you access to precise industry expertise, in areas such as how to expand your contact list and increase your ROI on the contacts you already have.
Agencies are an investment, and not for everyone – a smaller business, for example, likely won't see a large enough boost in revenue to justify the cost of an agency. Here's a quick look at the factors that might make an email marketing agency right or wrong for you:
The Sendinblue dashboard
Hire an agency if:
- You have a large contact list
- You have strong growth
- You need strategy insights or a content calendar
Opt for software if:
- You have a small contact list or small business
- You have average growth
- You know or can learn the basics of email marketing
If you've been seeing strong growth and engagement, an agency may be able to push you to new heights. That said, with the right software service and a little research, most in-house workers can still deliver a lot of the same perks that an agency can, like mobile-friendly templates, social media integrations, and reported metrics.
Cost Of an Email Marketing Agency
The average costs of an email marketing agency typically range from a base price of $300 to $500 per month, with tiered pricing that rises with the monthly email volume or contact list size. The cost for a large business could be $2,000 to $12,000 per month. Some agencies may charge a flat $250 per 10,000 contacts after their base price.
The agency will send emails using its own software service, and this business expense might be factored into the agency's bill as a per-email send price – likely a few cents per email. Some agencies will offer a free 30-minute consultation to address any questions you might have about the process, and be happy to provide a custom quote as well.
The software isn't the only potential cost you'll face when working on your in-house email marketing plans. Here's a look at each of the additional tasks and areas that could cost you money.
Campaign Related Costs
Managing an email campaign yourself doesn't mean it's free: It means your marketers are taking time away from their other responsibilities. After the initial research process, your workers should pick a specific amount of time to work on email campaigns each week. Consider monitoring time and resources spent on email marketing in order to better establish its true cost.
Complex/Personalized Email Marketing Designs
All the best email marketing solutions offer a selection of email templates as part of their core packages, but paid templates might also be available. That said, unless your business has a contact list in the hundreds of thousands (and many do), paying extra for a template shouldn't be at the top of your list of expenses.
Unless your business has a contact list in the hundreds of thousands (and many do), paying extra for a template shouldn't be at the top of your list of expenses
Instead, we'd recommend picking out a freely available template and using A/B testing to see how to improve on it – Sendinblue, ActiveCampaign, HubSpot, and Zoho support A/B testing, but our other marketing solutions do not. Test long enough, and your campaign will arrive at a fully personalized email design that offers the best conversion rate.
Lead Nurturing Costs
Lead nurturing refers to the process of building relationships with contacts in order to convert them into customers. Relatively few email marketing software platforms include the built-in CRM tools needed for the task, but there are a few strong options, including Sendinblue, Mailchimp, ActiveCampaign, and HubSpot.
All these vendors include contact profiles and contact-specific interaction history. Mailchimp is light on CRM features, though, lacking task tracking, task automation, and lead scoring. Sendinblue offers the strongest range of lead nurturing CRM tools.
Drip Email Marketing Pricing
Drip campaigns are a big benefit of automation tools. With them, a business can set up a series of emails to be triggered by specific events. If a new contact signs up, for instance, they might receive a ‘drip' of one email a week for three weeks in order to introduce them to the business.
Sendinblue, HubSpot, and Zoho offer the strongest automation tools, enabling drip campaigns through both behavior and date based automation, with customizable workflows as well. Constant Contact offers the least abilities, but it still supports date based automation, meaning you'll be able to operate a basic drip campaign with any of our top picks at no extra charge.
Email Lists Gathering/Purchasing
Email marketing services can drive engagement, but they can't grow your email marketing database out of thin air. That's why gathering your own list can be another cost outside of your software subscription. Advertising, website pop-ups, giveaways, and referral programs are all options worth considering.
Social media integrations with your email marketing software can also pull in new readers who already enjoy your business's online presence. Not all software supports this, and indeed, social media support is one of Sendinblue's few absent features.
Whatever you do, don't buy an email list. It's a frowned-upon move, and it's likely to drive up your monthly email volume faster than it boosts your engagement.
Are There Any Hidden Costs?
Email marketing services can come with hidden costs, but with a little research, you'll be able to avoid any surprises. You'll need to know any limits your plan puts on contacts or email volume, or you may find you can't send your final email of the month. Be sure to check that your plan includes the features you expect it to as well.
One hidden cost, the onboarding fee, might kick in with more expensive plans. It's a one-time charge, so it's not included in the monthly price, and can be a lot larger than you'd think. Take HubSpot's priciest plan as an example: it'll set you back $3,920 annually, but comes with a one-time onboarding fee of $6,000.
The Mailerlite dashboard
The total value of your email marketing campaigns isn't measured just in the amount you spend on it. That cost must be balanced against the value that you recoup from your campaigns. Once you've settled on the software you want and considered your additional costs, it's time to take a hard look at what you're actually gaining.
Email Marketing ROI
Marketing pioneer John Wanamaker has been credited with saying: “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted – the trouble is, I don't know which half.”
Luckily, email campaigns have it easy: Unlike billboards or magazine ads, every single email view can be tracked. All our top email marketing software picks offer some form of campaign analytics, tracking email opens, bounce rates, and more.
A business's main ROI metric is the number of conversions per campaign. This typically refers to sales numbers, but could include other actions including subscriptions, event registrations, or downloads. But a number of other key product indicators, or KPIs, can give marketers the data they need to further streamline their sales funnel and boost conversions even more.
The larger your business, the more useful you'll find a comprehensive set of email marketing analytics and reporting tools. MailerLite is one of the best options, offering analytics tools even on its free plan.
To figure out the depth of your email software's metrics, compare their analytics tools with their CRM tools. Sendinblue and ActiveCampaign offer the strongest set of tools across both groups.
Time & Resource Optimization (Automation)
Automation tools can cut down the amount of time your in-house marketer works to send emails to the right sub-lists, while boosting effectiveness at the same time. As mentioned earlier, Sendinblue, HubSpot, and Zoho have the most comprehensive sets of automations, while Constant Contact has the slimmest.
Important Email Marketing Metrics
Here are the core key product indicators to track when launching an email campaign:
- Emails delivered
- Bounce rate
- Emails opened
- Click-through rate (CTR)
Once you've gathered this data, you can compare it against past campaigns to track your growth. You can also compare some metrics against other metrics from the same campaign: By matching the number of emails opened against the click-through rate for a specific link in the email, you can find the click-to-open rate, and learn how popular the link was among those who read the email.
Email Compared to Other Marketing Channels
At the end of the day, your email marketing campaign is only worth keeping up if you can't do better on another marketing channel – from pay-per-click ads to content marketing, to social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or LinkedIn. The good news here, though, is that email marketing more than holds its own.
Email conversion rates are as much as three times more effective than social media conversion rates, according to one McKinsey & Company study, while at the same time resulting in average order values that are 17% higher. Put simply, email readers spend higher amounts, more often.
A chart in the Constant Contact software
Email is one of the most effective marketing channels, offering a measureable, customizable way to slide into your customers' inboxes. Now that you've taken a tour through all the elements of email marketing software, its typical prices, and the extra costs to consider, you're ready to put it into practice.
We think Sendinblue is the most cost-effective marketing software, due to its solid features, unlimited contacts, and fair pricing. But only you can know which software is for you, and the other top options aren't at all shabby.
Constant Contact has more limited features, but is available at a low price, making it a good fit for many small businesses – though Zoho's low starting cost is attractive as well. Whatever your decision, be sure to research a few providers and compare them against each other to find the best fit for your needs.
That said, everyone's different, and smaller businesses in particular will likely find it more cost effective to spend a little time learning the fundamentals of email marketing in order to do the job themselves. Here's your first tip: use a lot of bad puns. People love them – don't ask me why.
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