There is intense competition between email service providers. Capterra has more than 480 different email marketing software companies listed on their website.
With so many options, which one is the best? Further, which one is the right one for political campaigns, 501(c)(4), and 527 organizations who have different needs than a private business?
We will look at the various options and explain why a few options are better than others for political organizations.
How do you judge email service providers?
Email marketing platforms are judged differently depending on the use case, but there are some key points that every platform should be judged on.
Here are some to consider:
Deliverability is defined as how many people receive your emails and where those emails are received. For example, one platform may have a slightly higher delivery rate than another, but more of their emails may end up in the Gmail tabs instead of the main inbox. Deliverability by the platform may vary by Internet Service Provider (ISP). Some platforms can struggle with Gmail or Yahoo from time to time.
User interface (drag and drop editor)
Email marketing platforms should have an easy-to-use user interface that includes a drag and drop editor. Whether your organization or campaign is big or small, it will likely have more than one person creating emails. It’s important that you have a platform that’s user friendly, that way email campaigns can be sent quickly and easily.
Nearly every email marketing service provider has some variation of marketing automation included in the platform. Some are more advanced than others, but it’s important to ensure that the platform meets your needs. For example, HubSpot and Active Campaign have more advanced automation than Mailchimp, but they also have a higher price to match. Knowing your needs is important when choosing a platform.
Your email marketing platform needs to be able to sync with other key applications including your CRM or your fundraising platform like Anedot. Any email marketing platform you choose should easily push and receive data from other services.
Many email marketing service providers promote their ability to allow you to create sign-up forms or other types of landing pages. We have found most of those solutions to be lacking unless you’re using one of the most expensive options. Generally, you will have better luck with alternatives in this area, so we do not recommend looking at landing pages as a reason to choose one provider over another.
Can you speak with a customer service representative? Is their knowledge base robust enough? One company may be cheaper than another, but how hard is it to get your questions answered? It’s important to choose an email marketing platform that provides prompt and responsive service to their users.
Best email service provider for small political campaigns and organizations (under 10,000 subscribers)
Cost: Free for under 2,000 subscribers; $75/month for under 10,000 subscribers
If you’re just starting out, it’s nearly impossible to beat Mailchimp. Mailchimp is the most well-known email marketing service provider and is completely free if you have 2,000 email subscribers or fewer. Their free platform is quite robust as it includes a basic CRM, segmentation, and automation. Their free plan allows you to send up to five emails per month to your email list.
Mailchimp is known for its ease of use, plentiful integrations, and excellent support. While they are very strict on spam, most should not have issues unless they are sending emails from purchased email lists.
Best email service provider for state-wide and congressional incumbents and established organizations (under 50,000 subscribers)
Cost: $500/month for under 50,000 subscribers
ActiveCampaign can be considered the next “step-up” as you’re looking for more automation capabilities. You will definitely be paying more for these capabilities, but you’re also purchasing a platform that has consistently placed among the best in deliverability over the past 3 years.
ActiveCampaign provides a fairly robust CRM, many email segmentation options, and advanced automation that can include actions that an individual takes on your website. For larger campaigns and organizations, they will appreciate the ability to integrate multiple platforms that they’re using.
Best email service provider for high volume senders (over 100,000 subscribers)
Cost: $210/month for 100,000 subscribers
As you grow your supporter list though, the cost to add subscribers can rack up very quickly. If you’re a very high volume sender, it’s worth looking at your options to work with a provider that can utilize Amazon SES to send emails. This will bring your costs down dramatically and provide you with more options.
There are a few options for Amazon SES platforms including Sendy and Pepo Campaigns. Out of all of these, our recommendation is Email Octopus. Their platform strikes a good balance of having some more advanced features while retaining the low cost.
There are a number of good email service providers. Once you have email figured out, you should consider what else you will need for your campaign or organization.
If you’re looking for a great platform to collect donations and take your online fundraising to the next level, consider using Anedot. We’ve been around for more than ten years and have served 18,000+ organizations.