When looking for the most efficient marketing tools, content marketing and social media cross each marketer’s path. These are some hot pieces in the most marketing strategies, but what if you are a bee on a low budget among wealthy elephants?

Well, you start with the good old-fashioned email. Why? McKinsey & Company study in 2014 showed that emails are 40 times more effective way to reach and engage with customers. Yet, it does not cost you an arm and a leg. All you need is appropriate email marketing software and some practise.

Newsletters as one of the best things in the world of marketing since the sliced bread. It doesn’t matter how big or small you are, it is should be a part of your business. 73% of marketers agree that email marketing is an essential part of their digital strategy. Good old-fashioned newsletters that we are all trying to unsubscribe from. Who would have thought so?

It doesn’t matter if you are a newbie or a guru, I bet Googling for email marketing software doesn’t make life easier. There are multiple choices with different features with prices ranging from free to up to a couple of hundreds of pounds a month.

Some of the email software providers are unknown, while others such as MailChimp dominate Google results. I don’t like to put all my eggs in one basket. Therefore, I have tested several email marketing software providers. The time has come to share my experiences with Mailchimp and its alternatives.

Mailchimp: Funky professional for a start

I was a beginner in email marketing when I started this work. Mailchimp, that sweet little monkey came into my life right when I needed it. Design. That’s what brought me there first. Drag & drop editor is what had me hooked for a while. The whole Mailchimp interface is user-friendly, simple and professional-looking. With a few clicks you can create an outstanding newsletter – I could really feel that they invest in creating beautiful design. MailChimp is certainly a viable option if you’re a first-time user or you are still learning how newsletters work.

MailChimp is certainly a viable option if you’re a first-time user or you are still learning how newsletters work. Especially, if you are still learning how newsletters work. However, with practise I developed a knack for design and started noticing the lack of more advanced features. Moreover, a growing list of subscribers forced me to look for better options as calculating ROI did not meet my expectations. So I went hunting.

Constant Contact: More advanced & more complicated

Quite a catch. Constant Contact is like a library: it provides more than 400 custom templates. I love their campaigns which are not limited to newsletters. You can refine your search by the type of information you need to send or get: collect event registrations, create a coupon, grow a number of Facebook fans, etc.

This is the feature I have used a lot. Detailed search not only provides more suitable templates but also helps with listing available content types.

If you are more experienced or like to handle things yourself, Constant Contact provides you with advanced editing functions, training and more. Especially if you are willing to pay for it.

So, why have I left? This big player lacks an important feature – an automated A/B split testing that allows sending out different versions of email campaigns to see which one performs better, which changes have an impact on results. Plus, as I have already mentioned, Constant Contact is like a huge library. It has so many features it would take months to explore all of them. 60 days free trial might just not be enough to test it and taste it.

If you ask about user interface, changing from MailChimp doesn’t make things easier either. Constant Contact is quite complicated: many steps, even more information gaps to fill and, to be honest, boring design and communication. This alternative is a better option for the advanced users handling things on their own. For me, design is one of the key ingredients. I am sorry, Constant Contact. Next.

Verdict: Constant Contact if you are more experienced.

MailerLite: A light in the dark

If Constant Contact is the big fish, MailerLite is my gold one. Unlike Constant Contact, it offers automated A/B split testing. It is essential if your goal is to drive sales and attract new customers. This MailerLite feature enables you to test not only email content and subject lines but also entirely different email designs. That helped me realize that my chosen design was not the finest. By changing it I increased my conversion rate by 27%. How about that, Constant Contact?

What else? MailerLite is quite similar to MailChimp: both are well-designed, easy to use and have resembling features. Yet, I have discovered an essential feature offered only by MailerLite. That, my friends, is Auto Resend. There is always a chance a subscriber did not open an email due to important reasons. If so, he might go for it if you use Auto Resend feature which sends a newsletter to those who didn’t open it.

MailerLite might not have the largest template library but that is not an issue since they have such an easy drag & drop editor. Plus, every single template is mobile compatible. You can use a switch button and instantly see how your newsletter looks on mobile. Mobile preview seems like the simplest feature, yet it can save you from making crucial content and design mistakes.

As I constantly use pictures in my newsletters one of my preferred features is a built-in photo editor – no need to shift to another program.

At the moment, MailerLite is at the top of my alternatives list. Unlike MailChimp, MailerLite offers Autoresponders feature in free plans. Somehow with all these features they still keep the lowest price and have a wide selection of pricing plans which can basically suit anyone’s needs. It fully fulfils mine for now. Of course, there is always room for improvement.

Verdict: green light for MailerLite.

AWeber:  Yes, no, maybe so

MailChimp Alternative? Maybe. If you are not a design person it may be a good start. AWeber offers more than 700 mobile responsive templates, however there is no mobile preview. If your business requires an individual design input, AWeber is not my recommendation. You might need to do some hacking in order to adjust templates accordingly.

Support is usually not my thing, but for some it is a crucial point when making a decision. MailChimp falls behind significantly compared to AWeber’s support. AWeber offers email, chat and phone support 8 am-8 pm every day of the week while MailChimp has no support for free plans and can only be reached through email and chat 8 am-6 pm in paid plans. In other words, they might hang you out to dry. Trouble for MailChimp, applause for AWeber. Though, MailerLite provides email, chat and phone support 24/7.

Verdict: Even.

Emma: When I think of beautiful I think of Emma

I hunt for design. That’s how I found Emma, sweet and modern email marketing software. It offers not as many templates as other email marketing software providers but in this case it’s quality over quantity.

Besides, drag & drop editor is quite similar to MailChimp’s. If you are looking for something even more thrilling, Emma offers professional custom design services for a fair price. Another advantage is its reporting features. Real-time analytics in pretty graphs are easy on the eyes Also, Emma has a spam checking tool that looks for words which might be interpreted as spam.

I love beautiful but only beautiful can’t last a lifetime. I genuinely missed an automatic A/B testing. Another not that great part of Emma is the price. For the custom design it is ok as you work with a designer. However, a monthly plan for management tools and templates is quite pricey. Plus, if you are eager to start your email marketing campaign right after signing up, you will have to postpone it as Emma lets you use its services only after making a personal contact.

Certainly, Emma is great, but MailChimp doesn’t lag behind with its design. Same stands for other features, except for A/B testing which is not provided by Emma.

Verdict: Hm…MailChimp.

Email marketing software is like a candy – most of them are sweet, but you get to find your own taste, man. I am done hunting for now. Yet, there are plenty of other MailChimp alternatives. It definitely has its pros. After all, MailChimp is dominant in the market for a reason. Hopefully, you will find your own favorite among these alternatives. It is more efficient to stick to one option and invest your time and money. Too much sugar isn’t healthy for anyone, right?