I think you would agree that over the last few years, the amount of email autoresponder services have seem to double.
But essentially their capabilities all look similar. I mean everyone is raving about their favorite email autoresponder service. So you're stuck asking yourself..which is the best provider?
And I'm pretty sure you don't have the time, nor the desire to sign up and try them all out to see which works best for you and your business.
So here's the deal:
I've taken the time out and have done all the hard work for you. I've signed up and used all the popular email marketing services currently out there. It took some time and effort, but I wanted to put them through the test.
In this article I'm going to share with you 6 of the best autoresponders I've used. You learn how each email autoresponder works and their pros and cons. Hopefully this will help you on your quest in starting an email list.
Also, if you're in a rush, you can just skip to the end where I give my recommendations for the best autoresponders for your business.
Check out the 6 Best Autoresponders for 2021. Learn how each email autoresponder works, their pricing and the pros and cons.
What To Look For In An Email Autoresponder
Before we go further, allow me to point out a few main things I look for in top autoresponders.
The first thing to look for is how simple is it to segment your list. Segmentation is super important in email marketing because it allows you to fine-tune emails in a much more targeted way.
You'll notice, the more targeted your emails, the more engagement you will receive (open rate, conversions) because each email will resonate better with the people in your contact list.
Most email autoresponders use labels known as tags for segmentation. You can use these tags to attach to any lead. Let's say someone purchases a service or product from you, you can then tag them with a "buyer" tag.
Now you can send one set of emails to those leads with the "buyer" tag on how to use the product or service they just bought. And another set of emails to those without the tag to try and convince them to buy what you're selling.
The leads in each of the segments you create will vary in mindset and will respond differently to your emails.
The second thing I look for is the capability for marketing automation which is the life-blood of an email autoresponder.
Marketing automation is a very popular feature, and for good reason. You can use them for simple workflows like drip campaigns, content upgrades and you can even use feature called email list hygiene. Which automatically cleans your contact list of people who are no longer engaged (don't open emails) in your campaigns.
With the use of some creativity, automations can save you time and also help to increase your conversion rates.
What Else Do I Consider?
Finally, I also consider pricing, ease of use and additional features when I evaluate each email autoresponder service.
Now in general, one of the things I don't particularly care about are the built in form editors that services have. I think they are very basic and less functional. I much prefer a software like Thrive Leads which works so much better.
Another thing I won't be taking into account is customer support. I feel like they all do a pretty good job, I also find it to be highly based on individual experience. So everyones opinion will be different.
With that said, here's a look at 6 of the best autoresponders you can use in 2021
*If you're in a hurry you can scroll down to the bottom to find my recommendations based on needs.
#1 - ActiveCampaign
ActiveCampaign is one of the most popular email marketing softwares to date. It's also the current service I use for this site. It has one of the best combination of features and value in an email service that I've ever seen.
They use a list-based system, but use tagging extensively for segmentation. Tags can be added either manually or through automations.
All subscribers that enter your lists go into a single index of contacts so you avoid the hassle of having duplicate contacts across multiple lists. Also you don't get charged for contacts that unsubscribe which is pretty cool.
ActiveCampaign has a nice drag and drop email builder to create nice looking newsletters. The form builder though is nothing to be excited about, it's just alright.
Where ActiveCampaign really shines is its impressive marketing automation capabilities.
The interface is easy to use allowing you to build quick and simple automations, and it offers an extensive set of triggers and conditions. Depending on your business needs, this allows you to build both simple and complex workflows.
It's also one of the email autoresponders on this list that allows you to split test your automation workflows.
With all these features, you might expect ActiveCampaign to cost you a pretty penny. But there price is actually quite reasonable. I tried out the Lite Plan and it handles the needs of most small businesses.
Plus, as your business grows, you can also upgrade your ActiveCampaign to the Plus plan and add features like the CRM with sales automation.
#2 - ConvertKit
ConvertKit is one of the fastest growing email autoresponder services to date.
It specifically is targeted towards bloggers and creators, and it does a great job focusing on that group. So while it doesn't have as many features as ActiveCampaign, the ones they do consist of work very well.
ConvertKit's focus from the beginning has been to be a tag based email autoresponder. This allows them to offer a ton of awesome ways to segment your leads. That means in both sending your emails and automations.
They also include some pretty cool features like conditional email content and auto resend broadcast to un-opens. Both will definitely help increase the ROI of your emails.
What really impresses me with ConvertKit is how polished their user interface is. Sometimes softwares neglect the visual aspects and their importance. Not with ConvertKit! Everything about the software is clean and crisp, and it's simple to find what you are looking for.
ConvertKit has also got one of the cleanest visual automation editors in the market.
With other autoresponder services, creating your email automations usually require you to go to a separate page to compose emails and create forms when editing an automation step.
ConvertKit's editor is perfectly designed to do this within the automation editor itself.
It makes everything flow just right so you don't track of what you are doing while creating automations.
The only drawback to ConvertKit's automations is that it has no list management features. So you can't unsubscribe contacts from an automation which I find unfortunate.
When it comes to price, ConvertKit just recently added a Free plan for up to 1000 subscribers. This makes it a no-brainer to test out the service, especially if you're just getting into the game.
#3 - SmartrMail
I signed up to SmartrMail a few months ago because:
- I’d never heard of them.
- I was intrigued with their e-commerce integrations (Shopify, Neto, Woo-commerce and Big Commerce).
SmartrMail is great if you’re running an e-commerce store. Unlike others on this list, it’s been built purely with merchants in mind.
When you first sign up for SmartrMail you’ll find a list of pre-made best practice segments and email flows for ecommerce such as abandoned cart emails. But you can also built your own segments and flows with the tools in the app.
Given its narrow focus, the segments you can build mostly center around factors like subscribers’ past purchases, which products they’ve browsed on your store, whether they’ve left items in their cart etc. There’s also standard segmentation based on demographics such as where a subscriber lives and their engagement with your emails.
The email composer and flow builder isn’t going to win any design awards, but if you’re looking for easy-to-use email marketing for your e-commerce store, SmartrMail is definitely worth checking out.
While ActiveCampaign has more actions and triggers overall, I find SmartrMail's interface to be simpler to use.
SmartrMail also has a built in feature called Winback Emails. Something you don’t commonly see within email autoresponders.
So why isn't SmartrMail my overall recommendation? They are limited to E-Commerce platforms. Which is awesome if you are only running an online store, but if you’re an online marketer like myself, then you’re out of luck.
When you compare it to other providers such as Drip (my previous recommendation for e-commerce), I see a lot of upside. The pricing structure is much better and overall simpler to use. They even have a free plan for up to 1000 subscribers and 5000 emails which you can use to test their service.
#4 - MailerLite
MailerLite is an email autoresponder I use to use on this site. I've since moved to ActiveCampaign but MailerLite still has one of the best combination of features and prices in an email autoresponder I've seen.
When people think of low-cost email marketing software, usually their first thought is MailChimp and the Forever Free plan. But MailChimp has their limitations, such as capping you at the number of emails that can be sent per month.
But one autoresponder service that is truly offering the Forever Free plan is MailerLite. It has no limits and can be used for up to 1000 subscribers. This makes it the perfect solution for anyone just starting out in email marketing.
Now just because MailerLite is cheap doesn't mean they're sacrificing on their capabilities. They are a full-feature email autoresponder service that also includes marketing automations.
MailerLite uses segments and groups to assist you in segmenting your subscribers. Segments are rules where subscribers are added or removed automatically based on a particular rule. Groups are just another name for tags in MailerLite.
MailerLite also has a nice and extremely simple automation editor.
You can use it to put together many common automation flows as mentioned in the above autoresponder services.
As was mentioned above, MailerLite has the best free plan of any autoresponder service. But they also have very affordable pay plans as well. They start at $10/mo for less than 2500 subscribers and increases to $95/mo for under 30k subscribers.
Overall, there is plenty to like about MailerLite, and if you are on a budget, then it's one of the best budget autoresponder services out there.
#5 - GetResponse
GetResponse has been around for a long time, but hasn't been getting much traction in comparison to the newer autoresponder services.
So GetResponse is a list-based autoresponder. But you can still add tags to subscribers through automation, but unfortunately you can't add them manually.
Though it has this cool feature called Perfect Timing, which delivers emails to your subscribers at the most optimal time (based on their past behavior).
It also has a feature called Time Travel, which sends emails to your subscribers based on their local time. Neat right?
The visual editor is nothing to brag about, but it is drag and drop so you can put automation blocks anywhere and then connect them.
To be honest, I don't really care for it though. It's not the smoothest interface, and for them to have been around so long, they should be at the top of their game.
But the main issue with GetResponse is that they don't stand out amongst the crowd. The have good features, but none of them are best in class. They seem to be getting by, by just playing safe.
The best part about GetResponse is the pricing. It's on the lower end of the spectrum when it comes to autoresponder services, and they offer a 30-day free trial with no credit card requirement.
#6 - Aweber
Aweber now offers a Free Plan of up to 500 subscribers and 3000 email sends a month.
Aweber was once the most popular email autoresponder service going back several years. And then it wasn't. They seem to be taking their time to implement some of the same features as the other autoresponder service I've already mentioned, and now they've fallen way behind.
Aweber is a list-based email autoresponder service. So guess what that means? You'll have to pay for duplicate subscribers. Also, you'll have to pay for unsubscribes on your list, which many people dislike.
Aweber rolled a simple automation feature called Campaigns, but it simply can't compete with the other autoresponder services.
Their automation editor allows you to create linear automations, while quick and easy, it has no support for conditional branching. Which shows a lack of innovation.
Tags are also limited in use, so if you want to send a broadcast email, you'd have to send it to the entire list or a pre-made segment.
There is also no split-testing feature included in Aweber.
As far as pricing, Aweber falls in the middle of the competition. Starting at $19/mo, it's not the cheapest, but definitely not the most expensive.
Similar to GetResponse, there aren't any features that stand out. The biggest plus is that they are affiliate marketer friendly. They don't seem to restrict emails.
Overall, Aweber isn't a bad autoresponder service, but there are much better options out there.
Autoresponder Price Comparison
For some of us, price just doesn't matter. We just want to choose the best autoresponder service for the job.
But for others, cost is the most important factor. Also, you will likely stay with your chosen email autoresponder for a long time. So the autoresponder service you use will need to be factored into your business budget.
So here is a price comparison chart for your reference, keep in mind that these are for monthly subscriptions.
Most services like ActiveCampaign, Drip, ConvertKit and MailerLite offer a discount for annual plans.
Our Recommendations For Best Autoresponder Services in 2021
Your choice of autoresponder services should depend on where you are in your business and what your needs are. So below you will find some quick recommendations.
I know my business needs an autoresponder, but I'm on a budget...
I find all this tech to be overwhelming...
ConvertKit. Sometimes you just want get in and get to work without having to think so much. ConvertKit is easy to use and will handle most of your needs with ease.
I'm a tech geek..the more tech the better...
ActiveCampaign. There are a ton things you can do with ActiveCampaign if you are willing to put the time in. You can automate and customize every aspect of your email marketing with them.
I have a E-commerce store..
SmartrMail integrates well with Shopify and will pull all your store's history and automatically create new subscriber for you that do not already exist. Plus they have many more features for Shopify.
I want to do Affiliate/Network Marketing..
Aweber and GetResponse. Technically you can make any email autoresponder service work, but you'd have to be strategic about it if you are doing Affiliate Marketing. I've heard so many unfortunate stories about other providers closing peoples accounts due to affiliate marketing. However, Aweber and GetResponse have been more supportive of affiliate marketing and are currently the safest choice if this is what you want to do.
I just want to know what the best service is overall...
ActiveCampaign is my #1 recommended email service! Mainly due to its features and email deliverability rate. You can have a service with the best features in the world, but if no one is seeing your emails, then whats the point? Also, you want a service that can grow with your business without the high costs.
What are your thoughts of the best autoresponder service? Let us know in the comments.
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Mike Garvey Jr
Founder of BrandTheBoss.com
Work From Home
Want to learn how to start an online business and work from home like I do?
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