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Which free email marketing tool is best? Our top picks

by Kate Lindemann  |  April 9, 2021

8 min. read
Man visiting Mailchimp's website on a laptop computer.

Some of the world’s best email marketing platforms offer a pared down version of their tools for free. In many cases, these free versions offer more than enough features for basic email marketing.

How can you tell if the free version is enough for your marketing needs? And just as importantly, how do you sift through all the options to pick the right one?

This article will cover everything you need to know to find the perfect email marketing platform – and highlight some of the best free email marketing tools available today.

Woman using an iPad in a busy salon.

Should you use a free email marketing tool?

Free email marketing tools aren’t the right choice for everyone. Paid versions are still relatively affordable, starting at $10-20/month. For many users, that price bump is worth it to unlock all the features of a full-service platform.

But if you’re just getting started, maybe you want to dip your toe in the email marketing waters before you reach for your wallet. In that case, a free email marketing service might be all you need.

Here’s a good rule of thumb: The free version is a good option if you have fewer than 2,000 subscribers (and don’t mind having the email platform’s logo on your emails). Anyone with a bigger email list should opt for a paid plan instead.

Woman holding a phone displaying a marketing email.

How to pick a provider

If you decide a free email service is the right choice for you, the next step is to pick a provider. Here are the top things to consider.

How many subscribers? How many emails?

The biggest difference between paid and free versions of email marketing tools is how many emails you can send. Providers set limits within each price category, and free categories are (unsurprisingly) the most restrictive.

But these limits vary a lot from provider to provider, making it hard to compare plans. Here’s an overview of the free email marketing tools we’ll cover in this article and their limits.

Subscriber limit Monthly email limit Daily email limit
Mailchimp 2,000 10,000 2,000
HubSpot 1,000,000 2,000
Sender 2,500 15,000
Moosend 1,000 Unlimited

These numbers boil down to essentially two types of free plan.

With providers like Mailchimp and Sender, you can have up to 2,000-ish contacts and email them a few times a month. This is the model that works best for most companies looking for free email marketing tools.

With plans like HubSpot’s, you get as many contacts as you want (up to a million), but the number of emails you can send per month is much more restricted. This model works best for highly targeted campaigns that go to only a handful of subscribers.

Man sitting at a computer in an office designing an email.

Design and templates

The emails you send represent your brand, so it’s important they paint it in a good light. Before committing to an email marketing tool, ask yourself these questions:

Do the templates look good?

Unless you can create your own HTML emails, you’ll need to rely on your email provider’s templates. Make sure you like them, and that they’re easy to work with.

How easy is it to customize designs to your brand?

Emails are an important tool for building your brand identity. Make sure you can customize templates with your brand’s colors, logo, fonts and imagery.

Is the logo placement subtle?

Most email marketing providers will include their logo on emails sent with their free plan. Find out how that will look before you settle on a provider.

Hands hold a smartphone displaying a well-designed email.

Analytics and reporting

If you’re new to email marketing, you might be surprised by how much you can learn by studying email performance metrics. Your email analytics dashboard is arguably your most important email marketing resource.

Before you select a plan, consider what kinds of analytics and reporting it offers. Can you track opens and clicks? What about A/B testing?

Our top picks: Best free email marketing tools

There are a lot of free email marketing providers out there. To narrow your choice a little, we’ve pared the list down to four of our favorites.

1. Mailchimp

Mailchimp website introducing templates.

Mailchimp is a well-known brand and one of the biggest names in email marketing. Over 300 billion emails were sent through their platform in 2020. An industry-leading provider, Mailchimp is a solid choice, especially if you want a trusted product to grow into as you transition to paid email marketing in the future.

What you get for free

Mailchimp’s free plan gives you 2,000 contacts and lets you send 10,000 emails/month. It offers basic list segmentation options with tags and filters, as well as standard analytics and reporting. You’ll get access to email templates, and can generate sign-up forms and landing pages.

What you don’t get with the free version

You’ll need to pay if you want more advanced marketing features, like send time optimization and dynamic content. Support is available by email, but only for the first 30 days. Perhaps the biggest drawback of Mailchimp’s free plan: A/B testing is only available with paid subscriptions.

Who should use it?

Mailchimp is a great choice for companies that want to start off with free email marketing and eventually graduate to a more sophisticated paid plan with an established brand.

Learn more: Mailchimp’s free plan

2. HubSpot

Hubspot's free email marketing tool website.

Another industry leader, HubSpot is best known for their marketing automation tools. Their free email tool is a relative newcomer to the market, having launched in 2019. Compared to other options on this list, HubSpot’s plan gives you a ton of subscribers, but more drastically limits how many emails you can send per month. It’s best to think of HubSpot’s email tool as an extension of their other tools, like their free CRM.

What you get for free

At first glance, HubSpot’s email plan blows the rest out of the water, offering 1 million subscribers. But there’s a catch: You can only send 2,000 emails per month. That works great for highly targeted marketing emails, but might be an issue for bulk email marketing. You’ll also get access to a form builder and a drag-and-drop editor. Since they’re a CRM, HubSpot’s subscriber management tools are pretty top-notch.

What you don’t get with the free version

Depending on your email marketing needs, you may find that 2,000 emails/month isn’t enough. You’ll need to upgrade if you want to use templates, automations or landing pages. A/B testing is also not included.

Who should use it?

HubSpot is a great option for small businesses that need both an email marketing tool and a CRM, though you’ll need to keep the low send limit in mind.

Learn more: HubSpot’s free marketing tools

3. Sender

Sender's free email marketing website.

Mailchimp may be an email marketing giant, but there are lots of relative newcomers on the market nipping at their heels. Sender offers a pretty compelling free plan, which is similar to Mailchimp’s but offers a few extra perks.

What you get for free

Sender’s free plan offers a few more subscribers – 2,500 compared to Mailchimp’s 2,000. Even better: Contacts who’ve unsubscribed don’t count toward the total. You get access to all Sender’s features, including automation, transactional emails and analytics. There’s no credit card required, meaning you don’t have to worry about surprise charges for sending over your limit.

What you don’t get with the free version

While Sender’s free account is pretty snazzy, their advanced options don’t always stack up to more established brands. They don’t advertise A/B testing, and are purely an email marketing tool – though they do offer external integrations with other platforms like Magento.

Who should use it?

Sender is best suited for people who want a no-frills free email marketing experience and don’t expect their list to grow above 2,500.

Learn more: Sender’s features

4. Moosend

Moosend's homepage.

Moosend stands out as the only free email marketing platform that doesn’t put their logo on emails. The subscriber limit is low – just 1,000 contacts – but their free plan is otherwise generous, with unlimited emails and lots of other features.

What you get for free

In addition to 1,000 subscribers and unlimited emails, Moosend’s free email tool includes sign-up forms (including pop-ups). You can use their basic templates, or your own custom coded ones. Marketing automation tools are included, as are advanced tracking and reporting options – including A/B testing!

What you don’t get with the free version

Moosend doesn’t leave much out of their free version – most of their features are included. The few exceptions include landing pages, multiple accounts and transactional emails. Email and chat support are free (and don’t expire), but if you want to talk to a customer service representative on the phone, you’ll have to spring for a paid plan.

Who should use it?

Moosend’s free plan is a smart choice for anyone who has fewer than 1,000 subscribers, but still wants advanced automation tools and A/B testing.

Learn more: Moosend’s free version

Woman in a pink sweater uses a laptop computer surrounded by fabric swatches.

Let’s recap

Free email marketing isn’t for everyone. Large brands and established companies will appreciate the advanced options and higher send limits that come with paid subscription plans.

But for small businesses and teams just getting started with email marketing, free tools can offer a great introduction at no cost.

Whether you choose an established brand like Mailchimp or the extra perks of a smaller provider like Moosend, you’ll be well equipped with an exciting new tool to reach your customers.

Want some ideas to jumpstart your first campaigns? Check out our top email marketing tips.