What’s more important than creating an email marketing campaign? Automating that campaign with the right email marketing tools.

When you automate everyday tasks, it frees you and your team up to focus on bigger projects and more pressing needs. Email marketing automation is not just a convenient concept, it’s an absolute essential for any business, from startup to global enterprise. It’s how you convert interested prospects into lifelong fans… on autopilot.

Increased efficiency, higher productivity, more lucrative profit margins and, of course, the always desirable happy customers who stick around for the long haul. You want that for your business, right?

Of course you do.

Successful email automation is a genuine game-changer that helps you hit and exceed customer expectations and build priceless loyalty.

Better yet, it’s remarkably easy when you have the right tools at your disposal. Which is why we’re here today: to show you the best email automation tools to take your campaigns to the next level, no matter how big or small your business currently is. Are you ready to find out more?

Get unlimited email sends & subscribers with Flodesk

We’ll never increase pricing because your email list is growing

What is email automation?

Email automation lets you create emails that get sent automatically at the exact second they’re needed, without you clicking send every time. You create the email, you define what needs to happen for it to be sent, and your email marketing tool does the rest.

For example, imagine you just signed up for a mailing list or bought something online; what’s the first thing you expect?

An email confirmation, right?

If you don’t receive it, you’ll probably start to get antsy. Maybe you’ll start worrying that something went wrong, or even that you might have been scammed.

This little story paints a picture of what email automation is and why it’s so important. Those welcome emails or order confirmations are examples of email automation in action.

There is almost no limit to the automated emails you can create. Most businesses automate a welcome email for their new subscribers, but you can get incredibly granular with how you target people and what events trigger an automated email from your brand—especially when you connect your website analytics tools to your chosen marketing automation tool. 

In order to pick the best tools for the job, you need to know what you’ll be doing with them. So, let’s take a quick look at the typical features and terms involved in email automation.

User segmentation

Audience segmentation involves categorizing your subscriber lists based on their commonalities so you can send the most relevant message to every contact. These categories are usually based on demographics (gender, age, location, ethnicity, etc) or psychographics (past behavior, beliefs, hobbies, personalities, etc).

Audience segments are how you show your subscribers that you understand them and are deeply relevant to their lives. Perhaps you have a segment of contacts who identify as leaders and another for creatives, or one for introverts and another for extroverts.

Any email marketing tool worth its salt gives you the ability to categorize your subscribers into these “segments.” It’s an incredibly powerful way to get your automated emails to deliver maximum value to every subscriber on your lists.

Automated workflows

Email workflows are the instructions you create within your email marketing tool to send automatic emails based on your subscribers’ preferences and user segments. Often, marketers create a series of these emails that work together to achieve goals like onboarding new users or enhancing the purchasing journey.

Workflows are the cornerstone of email automation. Also known as email nurture streams, they allow you to send the right message to the right people at the right time. They are endlessly versatile and fully customizable to your needs.

One of the most common Flodesk workflows we help with is automatically sharing a free download with your subscribers. Other common examples include (but are not limited to):

  • Emails for upcoming birthdays or anniversaries (typically including some kind of celebratory discount for those using email software for ecommerce).
  • Welcome emails to greet new subscribers.
  • Follow-up emails for contacts who abandoned their shopping cart or visited a specific page of your website.

Integrations

Integrations connect your email marketing tool to the other systems and software that you use. This is how you tie your email marketing platform to everything from your website to your ecommerce platform or your CRM system.

Many top email service providers include direct integrations with such industry giants as WordPress, Shopify or Salesforce. It’s also common to find hundreds more integration options via Zapier, which acts as an easy-to-use intermediary connector.

For the more tech-savvy among you, some providers include open APIs, which allow you to build your own bespoke integrations if you can’t find the existing integration that you need.

Triggers

Think of triggers as a catalyst for action. They’re what tells your marketing software to send out a particular email. The trigger effectively says, “Hey Flodesk, X person just took Y action. Send them the email for Y action.”

Triggers can be everything from a subscriber’s activity to a specific date or event. You get to choose what your triggers are and what messages are sent out when a trigger condition is met.

Here are some examples of automated emails:

  • Trigger: Someone subscribes to your mailing list.
  • Email: “Welcome!”
  • Trigger: A subscriber’s one-year sign-up anniversary.
  • Email: “Happy anniversary! We have a gift for you.”
  • Trigger: Someone leaves your site with unpurchased items in their basket.
  • Email: “We’re holding those items for you.”

8 best email automation software

Without further ado, let’s dive right into our list of the best email providers for email marketing automation. We’ve tried to include a selection fit for a variety of different business needs.

Flodesk

Best email marketing automation software for maximizing your ROI with a flat-rate plan.

Flodesk was built to make light work of creating beautiful, memorable emails, whether you’re a solopreneur or a team of marketers. Automation is a major part of this.

As with every aspect of our platform, our developers have prioritized making email automation as easy as possible. With one of the smoothest interfaces in the business,our goal is to get you creating powerful marketing automation within minutes so you can build, nurture and engage your subscribers like a pro.

Pros

  • Comes with pre-made automation workflows for marketing essentials like welcome emails and sales sequences—all ready for instant use.
  • Effortlessly simple workflow creator so you’re building your own custom automations in record time.
  • Easy-to-use customizable audience segmentation lets you treat your subscribers to only the most relevant emails.
  • Highly intuitive drag-and-drop email and landing page builder.
  • A large library of eye-catching templates.
  • Fully responsive emails that look perfect on every device.
  • Supplementary tools to improve your output, including in-built image designer and list-building aids like sign-up and pop-up form builders.
  • Clear and detailed reports to help you optimize your email campaigns based on key audience insights.
  • Highly rated tutorials to help you master everything from sending your first email to lead magnet automation.
  • Over 3000 integrations available through Zapier, plus a direct Shopify integration for ecommerce users.

Cons

  • No free plan.
  • With the exception of Shopify, integrations are currently limited to those offered by Zapier.

Pricing

We have no free plan, but we do offer unlimited access to everything Flodesk has to offer in a 30-day no-obligation free trial.

After that, Flodesk distinguishes itself from the crowd by being the only email service provider to charge a flat rate regardless of how many contacts you have or how many emails you send.

For just $38 /month (or $418 for the annual plan, giving you one month for free) you get unrestricted access to this powerfully transformative platform.

Get unlimited email sends & subscribers with Flodesk

We’ll never increase pricing because your email list is growing

ActiveCampaign

Best email marketing automation software for enterprise-level automation.

One of the most popular email automation tools on the market, ActiveCampaign lets you tackle every conceivable element of email marketing.

With machine learning, predictive tools, high email deliverability rates and an army of fans, this top-tier software is an ideal fit for anyone looking to dive in at the deep end, so to speak. Careful though, this provider has both a steep learning curve and a steep price increase as your list starts growing.

Pros

  • Industry-leading email automation workflows.
  • Intelligent and automatic segmentation features.
  • Exceptional deliverability rates.
  • Built-in CRM features.
  • Integrates directly with over 870 third-party tools including Shopify and Magento.
  • An incredibly powerful all-in-one marketing platform.
  • Drag-and-drop email designer.
  • Detailed campaign analytics and performance tracking.
  • Fully responsive emails that look great on any device.
  • Impressive mobile app for IOS and Android.

Cons

  • Not especially beginner-friendly—expect a steep learning curve.
  • No free plan.
  • More expensive than other equally capable options.
  • Some users report occasional glitches with the software.
  • Forms are not as customizable as they could be.

Pricing

You can get started with ActiveCampaign’s feature-restricted 14-day free trial. After that, their prices are based on your chosen tier and total contacts, with each tier unlocking additional features.

Here’s how ActiveCampaign’s prices start out for their Lite plan:

  • Up to 1,000 contacts: $30 /month
  • Up to 2,500 contacts: $61 /month
  • Up to 5,000 contacts: $99 /month

In our opinion, it’s likely that for a truly successful email automation campaign, you’d need access to their Plus tier at a minimum. Here’s how prices for the Plus plan play out:

  • Up to 1,000 contacts: $70 /month
  • Up to 2,500 contacts: $125 /month
  • Up to 5,000 contacts: $186 /month

Klaviyo

Best email marketing automation software for ecommerce businesses.

A fan favorite among B2C ecommerce brands, Klaviyo is one of the best email automation providers for anyone in the retail business. If you’re set up and selling via Shopify, you’ll find this software particularly suited to your needs.

While Klaviyo has many fans for this reason alone, if you’re not running a retail ecommerce store, we recommend looking elsewhere for your email automation needs.

Pros

  • Excellent pre-built automation workflows, particularly those focused on maximizing sales opportunities based on user behavior.
  • Highly customizable audience segmentation features, adaptable to respond to a rich assortment of rules.
  • Automatic segment updating based on customer interactions.
  • Predictive customer data.
  • Dynamic content driven by ecommerce events ranging from products views to orders placed and carts abandoned.
  • Easy drag-and-drop email builder.
  • Large range of email templates.
  • Mobile responsive email optimization fit for every device.
  • Excellent direct Shopify integration, with over 200 additional integrations available including WooCommerce and Salesforce.
  • Open APIs allow for bespoke integrations.
  • Real-time data synchronization allows for highly accurate reporting and timely campaign optimization.
  • Robust and flexible A/B testing.
  • Highly customizable sign-up forms.
  • Unique peer benchmarks to track your performance against similar brands.
  • SMS marketing features.
  • Free plan available.

Cons

  • Only really suitable for ecommerce purposes.
  • The platform can be a bit clunky to use and get to grips with.
  • Following Klaviyo’s tutorials isn’t easy, and you’ll likely need to look to YouTube or Google for clearer instructions.

Pricing

Klaviyo offers a free plan for anyone who has fewer than 250 subscribers and sends fewer than 500 monthly emails.

If that’s not you, then you’ll need a paid plan. As with most email service providers, Klaviyo charges you based on how many contacts you have and how many emails you need to send. 

Here’s how their prices get started:

  • Up to 500 contacts and 5,000 monthly emails: $20/month
  • Up to 1,000 contacts and 10,000 monthly emails: $30/month
  • Up to 1,500 contacts and 15,000 monthly emails: $45/month
  • Up to 2,500 contacts and 25,000 monthly emails: $60/month

ConvertKit

Best email marketing automation software for online creators such as bloggers or course creators.

As an email marketing software built by online creators, for online creators, ConvertKit comes packed with some powerful automation features designed to have you converting subscribers in record time.

The visual automation of ConvertKit is especially attractive and cuts out the complexity prevalent in other email service provider workflows. Careful though, their plan pricing can quickly get out of hand.

Pros

  • Targeted automation and segmentation based on user interaction.
  • Autopilot-type mode lets you set up rules and have ConvertKit do the rest of the work for you.
  • Simple to complex automation rules let you create a variety of customer funnels.
  • Customizable blueprints help you quickly adapt existing autoresponder templates for any given scenario.
  • A “no-frills” focus on text emails that’s perfect for anyone who wants to keep things simple.
  • An easy-to-understand visual layout and easily customizable email templates.
  • Over 80 integrations with third-party applications including Shopify, Gumroad, WooCommerce and WordPress, plus more through Zapier.
  • Some advanced CRM features without the typical CRM-associated costs.
  • Powerful subscriber insights.
  • A library of helpful creator resources.
  • A free plan.

Cons

  • Cost is higher than it should be and can quickly burn a hole in your profit margins, particularly if you manage multiple clients and/or large email lists.
  • Tricky interface with quite a steep learning curve at times.
  • A rigid focus on online creators, which limits the usefulness of ConvertKit for other users.
  • The lack of lead importing features means you’ll need to manually add your contacts.
  • The email template editor is pretty basic—you won’t be able to create the same beautiful emails as you can through alternatives like Flodesk unless you have basic coding skills.

Pricing

ConvertKit offers a free plan that allows for up to 300 subscribers and gives you access to unlimited emails, forms and landing pages.

Beyond that, they keep things simple with two plans, Creator and Creator Pro, which each get more expensive the more subscribers you have. They also only withhold a few features for their top-tier Pro plan, which is a nice touch.

Here’s how the prices for their Creator plan get started:

  • Up to 300 subscribers: $15/month
  • Up to 1,000 subscribers: $29/month
  • Up to 3,000 subscribers: $49/month
  • Up to 5,000 subscribers: $79/month

Compared with their Creator Pro plan:

  • Up to 300 subscribers: $29/month
  • Up to 1,000 subscribers: $59/month
  • Up to 3,000 subscribers: $79/month
  • Up to 5,000 subscribers: $111/month

Mailchimp

Best email marketing automation software for businesses that need a strong free plan.

Industry titan Mailchimp does it all, so it should come as no surprise that they’ve got automations a-plenty.

You can expect to find the usual automation tools within Mailchimp’s software: everything from simple autoresponders to more advanced campaigns driven by customized triggers like audience behavior. Because Mailchimp is something of an email marketing Swiss Army knife, it’s not laser-focused on automation specifically—but as long as you’re on one of the paid plans, you’ll get on just fine.

Pros

  • Strong ecommerce integrations which feed beautifully into ecommerce workflows like abandoned cart campaigns, product recommendations and order confirmations.
  • Send drip emails triggered by user activity or inactivity.
  • Handy template auto-saving gives a nice flexibility to the email and workflow creation process.
  • Automatic list segmentation and pre-built automation workflows make Mailchimp usable for automation campaigns right out of the box.
  • Easy-to-use drag-and-drop email builder.
  • A large library of customizable email templates.
  • Mobile-optimized emails that adapt to every screen size.
  • Strong website builder that’s especially effective for ecommerce users, who can also easily connect their existing ecommerce store.
  • Custom domains.
  • Detailed reports that give clear overviews and allow for a deeper, more granular analysis.
  • Plenty of campaign optimization tools, including A/B testing, send-time optimization, smart recommendations and real-time feedback.
  • Over 300 simple integrations are available.
  • A well-rated mobile app that lets you create and manage campaigns from anywhere.

Cons

  • Mailchimp’s free plan only allows single-step automation, which is often not sufficient for creating a truly powerful automation campaign.
  • Their list segmentation isn’t the easiest to understand.
  • The interface can be a bit tricky to navigate, especially for newbies.
  • Prices can skyrocket when your subscriber list grows.

Pricing

Mailchimp offers one of the most regularly praised free plans in the email marketing industry, which allows up to 2,000 subscribers and up to 10,000 emails /month.

When it comes to paid plans, these are split into three tiers with prices based on the total amount of contacts in your email list.

Here’s how their Essentials tier gets started:

  • Up to 2,500 contacts and 25,000 monthly emails: $34 /month
  • Up to 5,000 contacts and 50,000 monthly emails: $59 /month
  • Up to 10,000 contacts and 100,000 monthly emails: $87 /month

It’s likely you’ll need access to Mailchimp’s Standard tier if you want to get the most out of your email automation campaigns. Prices at this tier look like this:

  • Up to 2,500 contacts and 30,000 monthly emails: $59 /month
  • Up to 5,000 contacts and 60,000 monthly emails: $90 /month
  • Up to 10,000 contacts and 120,000 monthly emails: $115 /month

Get unlimited email sends & subscribers with Flodesk

We’ll never increase pricing because your email list is growing

Constant Contact

Best email marketing automation software for out-of-the-box email automations and decades of proven reliability.

Constant Contact doesn’t have the most advanced automation features in the business, particularly if you’re keen on building your own bespoke workflows. It is, however, ideal for anyone who wants an email provider that does all the leg work for you.

With pre-built automations driven by customer behavior on your website, Constant Contact is about making it simple for you to kickstart your automatic emails.

Pros

  • A well-established provider with over 25 years in the business and a focus on making online marketing easy—ideal for beginners!
  • Behavior-based audience segmentation and triggers.
  • Real-time analytics, detailed reports and heat maps give you incredible insight into user behavior to fully optimize your automation campaigns.
  • Comprehensive A/B testing.
  • User-friendly contact import features.
  • Automatic deletion of duplicate contacts.
  • Strong event management features, including invitations, registrations and tickets.
  • Excellent customer support.
  • Mobile app version for creating and managing your campaigns from any location.
  • Drag-and-drop email creator with over 300 premade customizable templates.
  • Loads of integrations covering everything from WordPress to Outlook, Shopify and even your social media accounts.
  • One of the best average delivery rates of any email service provider.

Cons

  • Constant Contact branding at the bottom of emails.
  • Quite rigid automation features that can be tough to customize.
  • Mobile-responsive designs don’t always adjust properly.
  • Limited design options when building emails.
  • Gets pretty pricey as your subscriber list grows.

Pricing

Constant Contact does not have a free plan, but they do offer a one-month free trial. After that, their plans are split into a Core and a Plus tier, with prices based on your chosen tier and how many subscribers you have.

The following prices are based on their Core tier:

  • Up to 500 contacts and 12,000 monthly emails: $9.99 /month
  • Up to 2,500 contacts and 60,000 monthly emails: $35 /month
  • Up to 5,000 contacts and 120,000 monthly emails: $55 /month

Mailerlite

Best email marketing automation software for newbies with a tight budget and basic automation needs.

Mailerlite is still making a name for itself, being a relative newcomer to the email marketing crowd. This software doesn’t have the most intricate or advanced automation features available, but it’s already famous for being one of the easiest-to-use tools in the game.

Perhaps the biggest selling point though is that you get access to all Mailerlite’s core automation features through the free plan—a generous offer, to be sure! That said, when your automation campaigns get more complex, you’ll probably need to upgrade to their Advanced plan to meet those needs.

Pros

  • Free plan grants access to all core automation features.
  • Advanced tier has more features on the way, including multiple automation triggers, auto-resend campaigns and RSS emails.
  • Advanced targeting features powered by demographic and psychographic insights allow for strong personalization, segmentation and automation.
  • Retargeting features to re-engage your unresponsive subscribers
  • Comprehensive campaign optimization tools like A/B testing and click maps.
  • User-friendly drag-and-drop visual email editor, plus additional editors including HTML and rich-text.
  • Automatic duplicate subscriber deletion makes list management super simple.
  • Create landing pages, pop-up forms, surveys and more to build your email lists.
  • Plenty of in-built integrations to the likes of Stripe and Shopify, plus API access for creating your own integrations.
  • Photo editing features.
  • 24/7 customer support.
  • Low prices plus plenty of features—a winning combination!

Cons

  • Somewhat limited audience segmentation features and email templates.
  • Price increases as your subscriber list grows.
  • Many features are quite basic, so it’s more suitable for users without complex email marketing needs.

Pricing

Mailerlite offers an enticing free plan that allows for up to 1,000 subscribers and 12,000 emails each month.

When your needs exceed that, you’ll have the choice of three tiers: Growing Business, Advanced and Enterprise. Each tier gives you unlimited monthly emails and unlocks additional features.

If you want access to multiple automation triggers, you’ll need their Advanced tier, which has the following pricing:

  • Up to 1,000 subscribers: $21 /month
  • Up to 2,500 subscribers: $30 /month
  • Up to 5,000 subscribers: $39 /month

For comparison, Mailerlite’s Growing Business plan prices start at:

  • Up to 1,000 subscribers: $10 /month
  • Up to 2,500 subscribers: $17 /month
  • Up to 5,000 subscribers: $32 /month

EmailOctopus

Best email marketing automation software for those who want the basics for a low price and have their own web developers.

Powered by Amazon AWS infrastructure, EmailOctopus is a natural choice for the tech-savvy email marketer. It brings the power and flexibility of Amazon’s SES (Simple Email Service) to bear, without requiring coding experience to actually create your emails.

Careful though, this is not the option we’d recommend for those of you without someone on your team who speaks the AWS language; opinions seem divided on exactly how technically-minded you’ll need to be if you want to use EmailOctopus’ marketing automation features. Thankfully, there’s a free plan available so you can try it before you buy.

Pros

  • Free plan gives you access to every feature EmailOctopus has to offer.
  • Unlimited automated email workflows, including multi-trigger sequences and time-based campaigns.
  • Pre-built marketing automations like welcome emails and drip campaigns.
  • Segment, target and tag your subscribers.
  • Up to 20 custom fields for your subscriber data.
  • Simple contact importing.
  • Option to use either the drag-and-drop editor or build emails through HTML.
  • Fully mobile-responsive templates.
  • Detailed real-time campaign reporting.
  • Unlimited users.
  • Integrations available via Zapier as well as API for customizing your own.
  • Very budget-friendly.

Cons

  • EmailOctopus branding is present if you’re on their free plan.
  • Reports are only available for 30 days on the free plan.
  • A limited number of email templates to choose from.
  • Generally offers quite basic features, particularly when it comes to audience segmentation.

Pricing

EmailOctopus offers a free Starter plan that allows you to send up to 10,000 emails /month to up to 2,500 total subscribers.

After that, they keep things refreshingly simple with one paid “Pro” plan which is priced based on your total subscribers. Here’s how their pricing gets started:

  • Up to 500 subscribers and 10,000 monthly emails: $8 /month
  • Up to 1,000 subscribers and 10,000 monthly emails: $10 /month
  • Up to 2,500 subscribers and 25,000 monthly emails: $14 /month
  • Up to 5,000 subscribers and 50,000 monthly emails: $24 /month

Choosing the right email automation tool

When it comes to the best email automation tools in the industry, choosing the right one for you can be overwhelming. Ultimately, your priorities are going to be the deciding factor nine times out of ten.

The most commonly compared factors include cost, usability, email deliverability rates, features and reporting, but only you know which element of an email service is most vital to your business needs.

We like to think that with Flodesk’s flat-rate plan, our email platform is the best for anyone who’s planning for success and wants the best return on their investment. Plus, it’s one of the easiest platforms to get going with, and no one needs their digital marketing efforts to take up too much of their time—that’s literally the point of marketing automation!

Does that mean Flodesk is right for you? It depends if that’s what you value the most.

Hopefully, this post helps cut through the fog and gives you a clear idea of which marketing automation tool is right for you. If any of the ones we’ve covered resonated with you, we suggest you trust your gut and give them a go!

Get unlimited email sends & subscribers with Flodesk

We’ll never increase pricing because your email list is growing