Email marketing is the highest-rated channel for ROI. However, many small businesses don’t pay enough attention to it, thinking that it would cost them too much of their budget.
However, there are plenty of free email service providers that will allow you to build an email list and send out email newsletters and promotions to your subscribers.
Mailchimp is probably the most well-known one; it is also one of the oldest, as it was founded back in 2001.
However, over the years, many other free email service providers have emerged. Some of them have better features or let you collect more free email subscribers than Mailchimp.
Today, we will be looking at five free alternatives to Mailchimp – and help you figure out which one is the best.
Sendinblue is unique in that its free plan has no limit on the number of subscribers you can have – rather, it limits how many emails you can send per day.
In addition, Sendinblue allows you to integrate SMS marketing into your campaigns.
However, besides outreach campaigns, Sendinblue lets you manage your customer support requests. Their CRM lets you build meaningful relationships with your subscribers, manage your lists, and increase your conversion rates through segmentation.
Finally, they help you create advertising campaigns to get more subscribers and leads – to be clear, this is not part of the free plan.
It’s easy to use Sendinblue’s drag-and-drop email editor. You can use premade templates to save time or create your own template from scratch.
The emails can be personalized using dynamic fields to build better relationships with your subscribers. The same goes for the SMS messages – each message can be personalized for its recipient.
SMS messages can be scheduled in advance or sent in bulk. You can use them to announce upcoming events or promote new products.
It’s important to note that although you will have access to SMS marketing on the free plan, you will have to buy credits. SMS messages work on a credit system – each message will cost you a certain number of credits depending on the country you are in.
Sendinblue lets you create automated campaigns where users are sent messages at times that are scheduled in advance. The best part is that you can include both email and SMS messages in these campaigns.
These workflows can be simple if you have a small list and are not looking for advanced automation rules.
For example, if you just want to send a welcome email to a new subscriber, it will still go a long way in establishing a relationship with them and letting them know what to expect.
Free Sendinblue users will also be able to use the Sendinblue chat box on their site. This chatbox can be personalized – you can add your logo, choose your colors, and select the design you like best.
Visitors to your site will then be able to contact you directly from the page they are on if they have any questions or need help from your support team. It only takes a few seconds to install, and all of your messages can be seen and responded to from a centralized dashboard.
You will even be able to see which page your visitor is on so that you can help them quicker.
The CRM is central to ensuring your success. It allows you to organize all of your contacts so that you can keep track of what each one of them has been doing.
You can also segment them into different lists – for example, you might want to create different lists for different age groups or depending on how you got their information.
Not all of Sendinblue’s features are available on the free plan. For example, the advertising features are not – on a free plan, you will not be able to create Facebook ads from your Sendinblue account, nor will you be able to create retargeting ads.
However, you can certainly run these ads straight from your Facebook account. It is just more convenient to have them in a central dashboard.
In addition, you won’t be able to have your emails sent to subscribers based on their time zones. A/B split testing is also not available.
You also won’t get a dedicated IP address or be able to use the landing page builder (you can still use the email builder).
However, all the main features are available, and that is what makes Sendinblue so great. You can import contacts, use advanced list segmentation rules, and even add team members so that you can assign them different tasks and work together remotely.
Most of the automation features will be available as well – not only can you create advanced workflows, but you can even track your visitors’ behavior on your website and send them emails accordingly. However, the marketing automation features do have a contact limit – 2,000 contacts maximum.
This is one reason Sendinblue is a great alternative to Mailchimp. Mailchimp is limited in that free users can’t get access to advanced automation features.
With Mailchimp, you can only get access to one-step automation tools. For example, you can send new subscribers a welcome email or send confirmation emails to people who have just made a purchase.
The free Sendinblue plan gives you access to real-time reporting but not to advanced reports such as heat maps.
The free plan lets you send up to 300 emails a day. If you have more than 300 subscribers and want to email all of them, you can simply split it up and send it to different subscribers over the course of several days.
You will get access to email support but not phone support on the free plan.
Convertkit is the second on our list. It has one advantage over Sendinblue – if you are looking to build landing pages on a free plan, Convertkit lets you do that while Sendinblue does not.
Convertkit has all kinds of free email and landing page templates you can use. These are all customizable – for example, you can add personalized fields, add pictures, and more.
Using the premade landing page templates, you can have a beautiful landing page within 10 minutes or less. It really is that simple.
The landing pages let you customize which data you want to collect from your subscribers. You can also increase conversion rates on the landing pages themselves by optimizing the fields and CTA buttons.
The landing forms can collect data and feed them directly to a list you are building.
All the templates you can use with Convertkit are optimized for mobile devices. The same goes for landing pages – they are fully responsive and will bring you great conversion rates regardless of which device they are being seen on.
With the free plan, you can segment subscribers by tagging them based on categories.
However, there are some important things that make Convertkit a less exciting option if you are looking for a free plan.
First, you can only manage up to 500 subscribers on the free plan. This is a lot less than Mailchimp’s 2,000, making Sendinblue a much better alternative.
In addition, automation features are not provided to free users. This makes it lose another point to Sendinblue, which does provide automation to free users for up to 2,000 contacts.
It also does not give you access to reporting. This is another area where Sendinblue wins.
Finally, integration is one more area where Convertkit loses points. Mailchimp gives its free users access to over 200 integrations; however, although Convertkit offers 90+ integrations, they are not provided to free users.
All in all, Convertkit is a good option but Sendinblue still wins.
Mailerlite is next on our list, as it also gives free users decent access to features.
First, it gives free users the ability to send up to 12,000 emails a month to up to 1,000 contacts. That is a bit less than Mailchimp, but it is still decent.
In addition, it gives free users access to most features, including email automation.
The email designer gives you access to blocks, which you can add to your email using the drag-and-drop editor. You can choose between different styles for displaying your blocks.
These blocks include basic stuff like header and text but also include advanced things like eCommerce products. You can insert products straight from your store, including product recommendations based on what people purchased in the past.
An awesome feature is the ability to insert your social media posts straight into your email newsletters. You can also personalize the emails using dynamic fields.
Like Mailchimp and Convertkit, the free plan will also give you access to landing pages. You will get to use more than 25 free templates to create everything from simple signup forms to advanced landing pages.
You will be able to create up to five free landing pages; unlimited landing pages will cost you extra. However, your free landing pages will come with all sorts of awesome features – you will be able to add popups, they will be SSL secure, they will be GDPR compliant, and they will be optimized for mobile devices.
Some features will be missing on the free plan – for example, you can not use landing pages on your own domain and you will not be able to run A/B split tests or get access to advanced reports such as heat maps.
Automation is available to free subscribers as well. Whether you want to send a welcome email, a confirmation update, a birthday greeting, or an abandoned cart reminder, you can do so easily.
You can create different segments and tags. Then, you can mix and match to create the exact sequences and workflows you want.
One of the cool things that Mailerlite offers, and which is included in the free plan, is the ability to include surveys in your emails. It’s easy to get feedback from your customers and subscribers – simply choose the survey block in your drag-and-drop email editor.
There are many survey types you can include in your emails. For example, you can have customers rate their satisfaction level on a range from one to five using interactive smiley faces or even include multiple-choice and open-end questions.
As with all of your emails, your survey emails can be personalized. You can have different questions sent to different subscriber groups based on their demographics or previous activity.
Not all features are included in the free plan, but most of them are.
For example, although you can use the drag-and-drop editor platform to create your own beautiful emails, you will not be able to use the premade newsletter templates, nor will you be able to use the separate HTML editor to create custom HTML emails.
Although you will get access to most automation and RSS features, you will not have the ability to automatically resend emails that were not opened or have emails sent based on the time zones your subscribers are located.
You will get access to most reporting features, such as your open, click, and unsubscribe rates, but you will not get access to heat maps or data on opens by location.
All in all, Mailerlite is an excellent alternative to Mailchimp and includes features that Mailchimp doesn’t, such as automation. However, they will only give you access to 1,000 subscribers for free and won’t include SMS marketing like Sendinblue does.
Mailjet is not as well known as other email marketing services, but it offers a free plan with decent features and is a solid alternative to Mailchimp.
Unfortunately, it does not give you access to a lot of advanced features if you are a free user. However, the good part of it is that instead of having a subscriber limit, it has a sending limit, like Sendinblue.
However, Mailjet only allows you to send up to 200 emails a day. This is 100 emails less per day than what Sendinblue gives you.
For most plans, the sending limit is per month. However, with the free plan, not only can you only send 6,000 emails per month but you can not send more than 200 per day; this means that you can not skip days in order to be able to send more emails another day.
However, the good part is that you can have unlimited contacts. This works out better for some people, as services such as Mailchimp and Mailerlite limit the number of subscribers you can have.
Let’s go over the features that will be available to you as a free user.
First is the advanced email editor. It is called Passport, and it is a drag-and-drop editor that you can use to create beautiful templates within minutes.
You can drag and drop blocks such as images, texts, buttons, HTML code, and more into your emails. There are tons of premade templates you can choose from, and all of them are mobile responsive.
As a free user, you get access to API and SMTP relay. The sending API can be set up within minutes to send emails with your preferred integrations.
The SMTP server integrates with any platform and lets you send emails from other platforms.
You will also get access to advanced reporting. These reports include open, click, bounce, and spam report rates, as well as engaging charts that make it easy to check how well you are doing and whether you are seeing an improvement in your campaigns.
Now, let’s go over some features that are NOT included in the free plan to help you make a comparison to Mailchimp and Sendinblue.
First, segmentation is not included, which makes Mailjet lose points against all the other services on this list so far. Email automation is also not included.
A/B split testing is not included, but it is also not included in the other free plans mentioned so far. Multi-user collaboration and additional sub-accounts are not included.
It’s worth mentioning that Mailjet also allows you to send SMS messages. However, you will have to buy credits to do so.
All in all, although Mailjet is a decent alternative to Mailchimp, Sendinblue still comes out as a better choice.
Email Octopus doesn’t seem to be very popular or well known. It doesn’t make the big list of email service providers such as Hubspot and Omnisend.
Email Octopus doesn’t have a lot of fancy features, and it is not meant to be fancy. Instead, their goal is to provide simple and easy to use email marketing services for a low price.
Included in that low price part is the fact that they offer a free plan. The free plan lets you have up to 2,500 subscribers, which is more than what Mailchimp gives you.
In addition, it lets you send up to 10,000 emails per month, which is more than Mailjet and slightly more than Sendinblue. However, Sendinblue will still come out as a winner against Email Octopus, simply because it lets you have more than 2,500 subscribers and gives you access to a much wider range of features.
Email Octopus integrates with Zapier; through Zapier, it integrates with more than 500 other services and platforms, such as Salesforce, Eventbrite, Survey Monkey, and Shopify.
It includes automation, and the good part is that it is easy to figure out and even a total newbie can get the hang of it. It won’t confuse you with advanced trees and sequences; instead, just create an order for how and when you want your emails to be sent.
There are tons of designs you can use to create beautiful templates for free. You can create different list segments and personalize your emails.
Although Email Octopus doesn’t come with landing pages, you can host their signup forms on their site. This way, you can collect subscribers even if you don’t have your own blog.
If you do have your own blog or website, you can embed the signup forms on it.
On the free plan, you will have your statistics and reporting stored for up to 30 days. In addition, you will get access to basic customer support.
If you want to add subscribers, it is not expensive. It is much cheaper than most of the other mainstream email service providers such as Aweber and GetResponse.
For example, 10,000 subscribers will only cost you $30. $30 will only get you 2,500 subscribers with Aweber.
Wrapping It Up – What Is The Best Free Alternative To Mailchimp?
Sendinblue is the first one on our list for a reason – it is by far the best alternative to Mailchimp if you are looking for a free email marketing service.
The other ones on our list are good, but not as good. For example, Convertkit does not give you access to automation features, reporting, or integrations if you are a free user.
Mailerlite is a good alternative to Mailchimp if you are looking for automation features on a free account, but it actually cuts the number of subscribers you can have by half.
Mailjet only lets you send ⅔ of the daily email amount allowed by Sendinblue. While Email Octopus is a good company, it is limited in the number of features it has – for example, it certainly does not offer SMS marketing.
Sendinblue comes out as the winner for a few reasons:
- It lets you have unlimited subscribers and instead limits you to 300 emails per day
- It allows you to send SMS messages
- The free account gives you access to advanced automation features
- You get access to a CRM where you can manage your subscribers
- You can segment your list for better personalization and increased conversion rates
- Team collaboration for your CRM is available on the free plan
- You can personalize the emails you send based on website visits
- You get in-depth reports
- You can add a chat box to your site for free
Getting started with Sendinblue is easy. Just go to their website and create your free account.