Bargain-hunter. Frugal. Thrifty. Whatever term you use to describe yourself, one thing’s for sure: keeping your expenses in check is smart business.
But the cheapest option isn't always the best for your needs. There are other factors besides cost to consider when choosing an email marketing tool. A real bargain strikes the perfect balance of affordability and value, without sacrificing essential functionality like deliverability, support, and features like email automations, tags, and segments.
When selecting an email marketing tool, it’s best to buy what you can afford, but without letting cost drive your decision—especially if a few extra dollars can get you exactly what you want.
So, how do you pick an email marketing service? What’s the best email marketing tool? How much should you pay for email marketing? We’ll dive into these topics and more as we break down the five best cheap email marketing tools for creators in 2022 and beyond.
How much should you pay for email marketing?
Your inner deal-seeker might tell you to find the cheapest service and not look back. Sure, you’ve taken care of your immediate needs—but what about the future? What feels like a practical choice today can turn into an expensive life lesson tomorrow.
It’s important to choose an email marketing service not only with essential features that meet your marketing requirements today, but that can grow with you as your business expands. Otherwise, you risk starting an endless cycle of email marketing musical chairs, moving your subscribers, templates, and automations from service to service.
Email marketing plans typically start between $8 and $30 per month, increasing depending on the number of subscribers you have, the features you need, and the level of support you want. Most email marketing services offer a limited trial or free account so you can try before buying.
6 email marketing features every creator needs
If you’re into lots of bells and whistles, there’s an email marketing service for you. If you like to keep things simple and easy to use, there’s a service for you, too. What you need will depend on where you are in your creator journey—newbies typically need far fewer features than pros—but there are a few non-negotiable email marketing features every creator needs to get the word out about their projects.
Email service providers (ESPs) usually offer free email templates that can be tailored to your preferences. If you prefer a custom look to your emails, you’ll need to hire a designer and a developer to bring your vision to life. Custom email design can be both affordable or expensive depending on who you hire and the amount of work needed. Fortunately, there are tons of great resources for finding designers and developers like Behance, Dribbble, Envato Studio, and our own ConvertKit Certified Experts directory.
(If you find yourself needing to migrate to an email marketing platform built with creators in mind, ConvertKit offers free email migration with any paid plan.)
Integrations make it easier for the services you use to talk to each other and share information—things like embedding email subscriber forms on your site, adding new course students to your email list, hosting a survey on your site, and automatically scheduling appointments. The more integrations your ESP offers, the easier it will be to expand and automate your business and marketing.
Promoting your projects and products is easier with a landing page. Custom media like images, videos, and files help make your landing page more engaging to increase your email list subscribers.
Creators make a living selling all sorts of things, from courses to subscriptions and everything in between. Email marketing tools with built-in commerce features make your life easier by letting you collect payments and donations from supporters without juggling multiple tools and payment platforms.
The percentage of your total subscribers who receive your emails is called deliverability. For lists both large and small, selecting an email marketing provider with a high deliverability rate can help you reach more people while optimizing costs. The closer your chosen ESP’s deliverability rate is to 100%, the better.
It’s exciting to dive into an email marketing dashboard for the first time, but sometimes you need a little help getting things moving or have questions about how things work. Good customer support is a must-have for creators. If an email provider has tons of complaints about support, that’s a red flag.
A few good rules of thumb for picking the right email provider:
- Write down the features you need
- Identify the extra features that would be nice to have
- Calculate the cost difference between needs and nice-to-haves
What are the cheapest email marketing services for creators?
Now you know what features to look for in an email marketing tool, what email tools are the best and most affordable? We’ve rounded up the top five low-cost email marketing services for creators.
ConvertKit Creator Plan
Cost: $15 monthly / $9 per month annually
ConvertKit is a creator marketing platform built by creators for creators.
Creatives of all types use ConvertKit including musicians, coaches, bloggers, artists, designers, YouTubers, authors, streamers, photographers, filmmakers, and more. Whether you’re sharing your latest work with the world or teaching what you know, ConvertKit is made for you.
Spending hours learning a new marketing tool isn’t an option for most creators. ConvertKit makes it easy to quickly send emails, create landing pages, and sell your digital products online so that you can focus on creating.
Pros of using ConvertKit
ConvertKit just rolled out a new pricing structure. The Creator Plan previously started at $29. With the new pricing update, that same plan starts at $15 per month and drops to $9 per month or $108 ($9 x 12 months) if you pay annually—a 40 percent discount on the regular monthly price.
There’s a lot to love about ConvertKit and its Creator Plan:
- Visual email automations
Create emails based on your customer actions and interests and deliver them automatically.
- Powerful tagging and segmentation
You can separate subscribers by behavior, activity, and interests and segment your emails to deliver to the right audience at the right time.
- Never pay for duplicates
Subscribers who sign up for multiple lists only count as one, unlike other services.
- 99.7% email deliverability rate
You can rest easy knowing that your emails will reach your subscriber’s inboxes.
- 24/7 live chat and email support
If you need help, it’s always available, fast, and super-friendly no matter the time, day or night.
Cons of using ConvertKit
Not everything is sunshine and rainbows with the ConvertKit Creator Plan. Some key features are missing, options are few, and functionality could use some improvement.
- Capped at 300 subscribers
Most competitors offer significantly more subscribers for a similar price.
- Small email template library
Available email templates are nicely designed, but there are few to choose from.
- Limited mobile functionality
Editing on mobile can be frustrating.
- Immature email editor
Working in the email editor can be glitchy and inconsistent, particularly with fonts.
- Lacks full-featured landing page customization
Going beyond basic, out-of-the-box customizations requires knowledge of CSS.
Why you should choose ConvertKit
If you’re a creator, it’s hard to ignore the value of the ConvertKit Creator Plan.
Not only do you have access to features that you’ll use, but your emails will hit subscribers’ inboxes with a high deliverability rate, and if you ever run into a question or problem there are excellent, friendly support staff ready to help you.
And what’s awesome is that you’re not alone. ConvertKit has built an entire community of pro and celebrity creators from Tim Ferris to Pat Flynn, James Clear, Gillian Perkins, Lindsey Stirling, Ben Rector, Mandy Moore, Leon Bridges, to motivate and inspire you with creator stories, creator performances, and lots of other content.
At just $15 monthly or $9 per month, if you pay annually, the ConvertKit Creator Plan offers a ton of value at an affordable price.
MailerLite Premium Plan
Cost: $10 per month / $7 per month if paid annually
MailerLite is a value-based, customer-centric email marketing tool with a clean, simple layout.
Companies of all types love using MailerLite, including startups, agencies, and enterprise businesses. Many of its features are business-focused including managing multiple accounts, in-depth-enterprise customizations, and eCommerce integrations, among others.
MailerLite also targets creators, namely authors, in their marketing. While they’re not a creator marketing tool, per se, they do have some features that may appeal to freelancers and solopreneurs.
Pros of using MailerLite
- Good deliverability
MailerLite has one of the best email delivery rates in the industry, according to Email Tool Tester.
- Easy to use editor
Both email and landing page editors are best in class and a joy to use.
- Low-cost plans
A top-notch builder and pricing that starts at $10 a month is a winning combination.
- Multiple features
MailerLite offers a range of features aimed at growing businesses, so the service can keep up with your audience as you grow.
- User-friendly analytics
The analytics dashboard is simple and easy to understand. No confusing charts or tables.
Cons of using MailerLite
- Clunky campaign creation process
Setting up a new campaign can be challenging if it’s your first time.
- Basic templates
There are plenty of templates to choose from, but they’re pretty basic.
- Overwhelming features
MailerLite has a ton of features—so many that you’ll probably never use them all.
- Confusing onboarding
Menu navigation is often confusing and unintuitive. Navigation becomes easier with time.
- Lacks integrations
MailerLite has a lot of great integrations but is missing ones for social media.
Why MailerLite may be an option for you
For a value-focused email marketing tool, MailerLite has plenty of bells and whistles. You can do things like run A/B split tests, create surveys, and even spin up a website. MailerLite offers great deliverability and multiple support options.
And for just $10 per month, you can get access to all the features above and more. If you’re a smaller business, startup, or enterprise business on a tight budget, or if you’re just getting started with email marketing, then the MailerLite Premium plan may be a perfect fit for you.
Constant Contact Email Plan
Cost: $20 monthly / no annual pricing
Constant Contact is an email marketing platform that focuses on business and non-profit users. They offer template creation, automation and management, contact list building, and customer relationship nurturing, along with dozens of other small business features.
You may be wondering “why in the world is Constant Contact on this list if they cater to business and their cheapest plan is $20 per month?”. Sure, Constant Contact focuses primarily on businesses and enterprises, but some features of its $20 monthly Email Plan may appeal to creators like artists, writers, and performers.
Pros of using Constant Contact
- Intuitive user interface
Clearly marked menus make it easy to navigate the email builder.
- Hundreds of email templates
There’s an email template for just about any small business industry you can imagine.
- Social posting
Manage your email and social media marketing from the one tool.
- Small business ads
Create Google and Facebook business ads right within Constant Contact.
- Logo creation
You can create a basic logo design in the editor. Text and icon options are limited.
Cons of using Constant Contact
- Costs rise quickly with list growth
Their Email Plan starts at $20 for 500 subscribers and climbs from there as your list grows.
- Limited email marketing automations
Automated email sends are only available on the Email Plus plan, which starts at $45 monthly.
- Inflexible email templates
While there are hundreds of email templates available, you can’t really customize them.
- Lack of segmentation options
Segmentation features are only available on the Email Plus plan, which starts at $45 monthly.
- No 24/7 support
Live support outside of normal US office hours is unavailable.
Why Constant Contact may be a consideration
Although Constant Contact is email marketing for small businesses, they do offer some interesting features for creators looking to build their email list. For their Email Plan alone, there are 40+ features listed, but keep in mind that too many features can make a tool difficult to use, create a steeper learning curve, and ultimately slow down your growth.
If you’re looking for a one-size platform that can do it all, including ads, advanced eCommerce, website creation, logo creation, and event management, then Constant Contact may be a great fit for you. However, at $20 monthly for 500 subscribers, those features come at a premium.
Mailchimp Essentials Plan
Cost: $9.99 monthly
Founded in 2001, Mailchimp is one of the oldest email marketing companies Mailchimp has worked hard to create a builder that’s easy to use and extremely flexible.
It made our list because creators often cite Mailchimp as the email marketing service that they’re currently using when deciding to switch to ConvertKit.
Pros of using Mailchimp
- Simple beautiful editor
It’s very easy to add blocks and components to templates or build an email from scratch.
- Solid mobile app
Preview an email that’s ready to send or get email sending stats while on the go.
- All-in-one marketing hub
There’s a feature or integration for everyone, no matter your industry.
- Detailed tracking and reporting
Email analytics are top of the class, with data about opens, clicks, and subscriber geography.
- Native eCommerce features
Mailchimp is built for business. eCommerce tools are built into the app. No integrations required.
Cons of using Mailchimp
- Double-counted email contacts
Mailchimp counts subscriber duplicates across lists, increasing your plan price.
- Email deliverability is spotty
Mailchimp’s email sending IP rating is impacted by its millions of users, which increases the chances your emails go to spam.
- Support needs some work
Customer reviews from G2 Crowd and TrustRadius point to Mailchimp’s support as an issue.
- Buggy software
The editor may be clean, but users cite software glitches as a point of frustration.
- Complex features
Mailchimp features feel simple to start, but quickly become tough to use as your needs grow.
Why Mailchimp may be a consideration
Mailchimp offers a mature product to millions of small businesses and eCommerce sites with more integrations than you can count.
Mailchimp is a solid tool built for startups and companies. And with its Essentials plan starting at just $9.99 monthly, it’s a bargain for any small business.
If you’re a creator that doesn’t want enterprise features, complex functionality, or advanced eCommerce features but need something simple and easy to use with consistent email deliverability instead, then there are better options for you.
ActiveCampaign Lite Plan
Cost: $15 monthly / $9 per month annually
ActiveCampaign is an email marketing platform that’s all about automation.
With its advanced marketing automation, segmentation, and marketing personalization features, ActiveCampaign’s features are perfect for businesses looking to extract more revenue from their email marketing campaigns.
Why are they on this list? Because ActiveCampaign connects to any piece of software you can imagine and some creators run large communities that need the advanced capabilities and workflows that ActiveCampaign offers.
Pros of using ActiveCampaign
- Complex yet simple
Built for advanced users. Infinite ways to customize email and subscriber personalization.
- Visual automations
Create simple automations and tags. Setting up advanced automation is more involved.
- Lifecycle marketing powerhouse
Create drip campaigns, lead nurturing campaigns, sales cycle / lead gen follow-ups.
- Connects with CRMs
Sales professionals can create custom fields and forms, and manage thousands of contacts.
- Good customer support
Users report that ActiveCampaign support specialists are easy to reach and helpful.
Cons of using ActiveCampaign
- Slow email builder
The platform can be sluggish depending on your browser and what action you’re performing.
- Rigid email and landing page templates
No shortage of email templates, but they don’t offer much flexibility for some users.
- Challenging automation setup
Setting up automations takes multiple steps and doesn’t always work as it should.
- Expensive pricing plans
Some users have complained about the high cost of the platform for lists above 1,000.
- Not for beginners
High customization, dozens of features, and multi-step actions are overwhelming for newbies.
Why ActiveCampaign may be a consideration
If you’re a business user who needs to do more than normal email automation, segmenting, tagging and sending, ActiveCampaign may be for you. Although its email editor scores high on the design and usability scale, ActiveCampaign isn't the easiest tool to use.
ActiveCampaign is built for marketing teams, agencies, and enterprise companies that have large email marketing lists and need segmentation features that allow them to speak to hundreds of thousands at a more personal level.
$15 monthly for 500 subscribers seems like a bargain for all you get. But most of the features that ActiveCampaign offers are complete overkill for new and even some pro-level creators. If you’re a star-level or mogul-level creator, ActiveCampaign may be a perfect fit for you.
How to pick the right low-cost email marketing platform for you
The best email marketing tool is the one you actually use.
Sure, we could’ve said, “ConvertKit is the best” and left it there, but we want you to do what feels right for you, even if that means you don’t choose ConvertKit.
The best tools keep things clean and simple. No complexity. The best tools make you forget that you’re working. That’s exactly what ConvertKit does. You get more value because the features you use are the features you need—no less, no more.
When selecting an email marketing tool it’s important to understand what you need and balance that with what you can afford, but not letting a few extra dollars stand between you and taking your business to the next level.