The Best Email Marketing Providers for Newbie Bloggers

Posted on 2 September, 2016 in Email Marketing / 19 Comments

The Best Email Marketing Services for Newbie Bloggers

Note: this was originally published in July 2014 and has been updated as softwares and best practices change. 🙂 It also contains affiliate links.

RSS and Bloglovin’ are great. They’ll always be some people’s preferred method of reading content. It also makes a lot of awesome things possible. I mean, just look at how many Zapier zaps use RSS.

But from a marketing standpoint, RSS ain’t so hot. We’re in an age where tracking and analytics are going crazy, but the data available for RSS subscribers is stuck in the past.

Email marketing isn’t just for big businesses sending newsletters promoting themselves anymore. Over the past year or two, we’ve seen startups, bloggers, media companies, and more dive head first into email strategy. And I love it!

It doesn’t matter what kind of blog you have – lifestyle, photo-based, business, or otherwise. It doesn’t matter if you’re blogging on behalf of a company or for yourself. If you have marketing metrics to track, email is more useful to you than RSS.

So what do you do instead? Push email subscriptions.

5 reasons your blog needs an email list

That link above is a post I wrote years ago about why bloggers should push email subscriptions over RSS subscription and start growing their email lists. And it’s only become more important since then. Let’s review:

  1. People are obsessed with their inboxes: they pay much more attention to the individual items that come through their inbox than their Facebook news feed or Twitter timeline.
  2. RSS newsletters are too easy & affordable to ignore: RSS newsletters, which we’ll talk about below, are the most basic form of blog email marketing, and they’re so easy that you have no excuses not to use them. If you do nothing else with email, you can do that. Plus, you could easily do it for free, so it’s no more expensive than RSS.
  3. Emails are more noticeable: reach on social media sucks ass. It just does. And while most people’s inboxes are pretty out of control, it’s still so much better. Go to someone’s inbox for a chance of actually getting seen.
  4. It’s totally measurable: RSS is an old technology, and it has metrics to match. With feeds, it can be hard to learn enough to make data-driven decisions that are usually so easy with today’s marketing technology.
  5. They build community: email is still considered a pretty personal medium. You can build a closer connection with your readers through email – where they can reply privately and confidentially

If you’re still not convinced, check out this post from Melyssa Griffin. You’re probably more likely to listen to her than me, anyway, and I’m cool with that. 😉

You’re back now? Great!

So clearly, you need an awesome email marketing provider.

There are some fancy choices out there – ones that are more for marketing automation than a simple sending of new blog content.

The first time I’ve logged into apps like HubSpot, InfusionSoft, and Marketo, not gonna lie – it was like a religious experience for me. So many things to do, so many awesome things.

But they’re not for you – or even me. Not yet, at least.

If you’re just looking to send out new content like blog posts and newsletters, or deliver content upgrades, you don’t need something fancy.

I’m a big proponent of not using tools that are too big for your britches. Yes, you might need fancy stuff later, but there’s no point in having it there now.

You’ll likely pay more than you need to, the advanced features may make other stuff confusing, and you want to focus on what you are doing now, not what you might do later.

There are probably thousands of email service providers (ESPs) that offer RSS-to-email features (what you’ll need to set up an automatic blog campaign), and weighing the pros and cons of each is no doubt daunting.

I know I’m not an expert, but I have tried about everything, so here are my three choices that I think you should seriously consider when you’re first starting your blog:

1. MailChimp

MailChimp is listed first because it’s my first choice, and what I used for this blog up until just a few months ago (insert obligatory “Subscribe to my blog! There’s a form in the sidebar! comment here).

Reasons why it’s awesome:

  • Awesome monkey mascot.
  • It’s free until you hit 2,000 subscribers, and still cheap after that.
  • It took me about 15 minutes to get a basic RSS-to-email campaign up and running.
  • It has a ton of integrations – easily put sign-up forms on WordPress sites, Facebook pages, mobile apps, heck, even on Twitter with a Twitter card
  • Awesome monkey mascot

This is the only service I’ve extensively used for RSS-to-email, because I’ve frankly never had a reason to try anything else. They’re awesome.

Plus, out of the “beginner tools,” MailChimp scales the best by far. You won’t need to switch to something else as soon as you’re list really starts going. While you can easily keep things simple at first, it also has a really decent list of advanced email marketing features, too.

For example, you can create custom fields, tag subscribers, segment your list, and deliver content upgrades. It’s soooo much more than a newsletter tool!

Note: To learn eeeeverything MailChimp has to offer, I highly suggest my friend Paul’s Chimp Essentials ecourse! I had been using MailChimp for years when I took it, and still found tons of new ways to use it!

2. Mad Mimi

Mad Mimi is a simple solution that’s best if you’re only sending out blog content, in my opinion. It’s also your best option if you’re not super tech-savvy and want a really simple way to email people your blog posts.

Reasons why it’s awesome:

  • Even simpler than Mailchimp, so you can set up a campaign in even less time.
  • They also have a free plan.
  • Another long list of integration partners.
  • Perfect for beginners.

Now, the “perfect for beginners” part can be a con if you’re not a beginner. Mad Mimi feels like a tool for beginners only, whereas MailChimp is good for beginner, intermediate, and even some advanced bloggers.

In Mad Mimi, there’s basically one layout option, which led me to switch back to MailChimp like 15 minutes after signing up to take it for a test drive. I lurve me some options, even though I’m indecisive to my core. 😉

But if you really don’t want to be bothered with trying out and testing different designs, Mad Mimi is probably your best bet.

3. AWeber

So, I could list a ton of other ESPs that offer free plans, but I’m not going to. Because their features aren’t optimal for bloggers as much as AWeber is. If you’re primarily using email marketing to deliver blog content, an RSS-to-email feature is going to be pretty darn important.

Reasons why it’s awesome:

  • Your first month is just $1, and for smaller lists it’s just $19/month after that, which is still cheaper than most paid plans.
  • RSS newsletter feature. Once again, this is really important for the purposes we’re talking about.
  • Their auto-responder feature can be used to expose new subscribers to older content.
  • Lots of RSS campaign customization options.
  • I can’t speak to campaign setup time, but it seems really easy from watching the demo.
  • It includes automation features for when you’re ready to step up your game.

So, there you have it. Fifteen minutes from now, your blog could have a newsletter campaign set up and it could quite possibly be free.

If you send out blog content to your email subscribers, how are you doing so? Share your tips in the comments or tweet them to @bberg1010!

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  • Great list Brittany! MailChimp is really awesome. it’s hard to think that anyone could compete with them. 😉 They’ve got everything nailed down — from delivery to templates to statistics… all of it!

    The only reason I don’t use MailChimp is because I didn’t want to pay their price tag, haha. I feel bad saying that, but it’s true. 🙁 But luckily, there’s a great alternative for coders like myself.

    MailChimp has a second system called Mandrill ( http://mandrill.com/ ). Mandrill is the power of MailChimp without the interface. You get similar statistics and they send all your emails for you… BUT, they don’t have an interface for holding subscribers or anything like that. So that’s where coding comes in.

    I created a WordPress plugin for myself where all the subscribers are stored on WordPress itself. Then when I send out a campaign (be it a manual one or an RSS-to-email campaign), I send my subscriber info to Mandrill and they actually send out the emails.

    This is NOT a user-friendly system and it’s only for coders, but it’s an excellent alternative! And the price is great: the first 12k emails per month are always free, then it’s $0.20 per thousand emails. So in total, I probably pay like $1 per month.

    Just through I’d throw out an alternative for any coders out there who are too cheap to use MailChimp, like me, haha!

    • Wow, a comment from Nose Graze Ashley…that’s a huge compliment! I’m still on the free plan on Mailchimp since I have way less than 2,000 subscribers. I’m the kind of blogger that when she needs to do something, she’ll learn just enough code to be able to do it, then promptly forget it. I don’t know if that alternative is in my reach. 😛 Luckily, unless I decide I really need to do drip campaigns, I should be able to stay on the free plan for awhile. I guess that’s one perk of having a small blog!

      • Well the other limit to consider is that you only get 12,000 emails free as well. So if you blog every day, you would send 30 x (number of sucsbscribers) emails per month. If we work backwards, you’re allowed: 12,000 emails / 30 days = 400 emails per day.

        So if you post every day (and thus send an email every day) you can only have 400 subscribers because that will total out to be 12,000 emails per month. That’s where I ran into an issue. I would have had to pay $15 per month straight away and I was too cheap to do that!

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  • Albert Bob

    You are prioritized
    correct list. My choice is too the same. Mailchimp compare with other others,
    Which contains user friendly email list creation, and import the list and add
    the campaign html or text content finally send the test email activities and
    its settings are easy to use. Now a days small business concern opt mailchimp
    and Aweber email marketing tools. Both are getting good open and delivery
    ratio with accurate Click Through Rate. I am getting valuable prospect leads
    from those email marketing tools. I wish you for your great posting here.
    Thanks with pleasure.
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  • Thank you, Mailchimp is really best when it comes to email marketing campaigns. Try omevo.com small business

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  • Sagrikâ Paliwal

    Thanks for sharing this wonderful blog.I was using MailChimp since very long, but then due to advanced requirement i wanted a marketing tool which serves mid size organisation in less price,so I switched to Easysendy pro which is roving a good option to me though Mailchimp was a good deal,and i liked it service.

  • BlogHunt Plus

    Brittany, to-the-point article! Add this new kid on the block. Retainly https://retainly.co/email-marketing-for-bloggers

  • Anil Gupta

    Nice To read your blog . Further if you want to buy email marketing software for your office uses visit us as http://www.hit6crm.com

  • Julia Jackson

    Hey Brittany, That’s a really good list! We at SendOut (https://sendout.io) have many users who switched to our Product because of the value it offers for Bloggers specially.

    We have built SendOut in a Subscriber-centric way to help increase the number of subscribers and retain the current ones by activity specific targeting.

    Request you to check it out once and add it to your list if you feel it offers value.

    Either ways, thanks for helping people take informed decisions.

  • Thank you for publish this awesome story… It is so nice.