MailChimp Alternatives: 6 Email Marketing Tools Reviewed

In the tricky world of digital promotion, there’s one channel with performance reliable enough to bank on — and that’s email marketing. Still the top dog for ROI after many years, it’s the perfect blend of automation-friendly targeting and creative freedom, and any business (or freelancer) with the patience to build up an email database can use it to great effect.

But to use it well, you need a suitable email marketing tool: something that can help you put together your marketing emails in a high-quality way (clean email design is just as important as clean website design), then distribute them in the manner of your choosing. When it comes to popularity, Mailchimp is the clear frontrunner — but it isn’t the only option out there.

There are actually plenty of strong email marketing solutions on the market, with each one having unique strengths and weaknesses. If you’re looking to start a campaign but you don’t want to use MailChimp for whatever reason, you should try one of these tools:

Campaign Monitor

Popular opinion on Campaign Monitor is that it’s great for visually composing emails and has a superb set of reporting options, which is extremely useful for gauging performance. Email marketing is all about getting clear results, after all, and you can’t improve if you don’t know how well your campaign is going.

Starting at $9 per month for 2,500 emails and up to 500 contacts, it’s significantly more expensive than MailChimp when you consider that the latter offers a sizeable 500,000 emails to the same number of contacts, so that’s a reason to look elsewhere. It’s definitely a solid choice, but other options are more compelling.

Omnisend

More expensive still, Omnisend starts out at $16 per month for the same 500 subscribers and up to 15,000 emails, but it may be worth it depending on your needs. It’s aimed at high-growth e-commerce businesses that want to heavily employ automation, so it’s built around customisable triggered workflows, and it offers potent integrations (if you’re running a store on Shopify infrastructure, for instance, there’s a highly-rated app you can use).

If you’re not running an e-commerce business, though, it isn’t as strong, and you’ll find more features elsewhere. This really comes down to the focus of your operation, then — and if you’re a merchant, this might be exactly what you’ve been looking for.

MailerLite

A fairly new contender, MailerLite stands out through having a solid free plan. It’s limited to 1000 subscribers, but that’s really not bad when you consider how much you have to pay for 500 subscribers when using other platforms — additionally, access to features is largely unaffected, so it’s a great option for anyone who wants to dabble in email marketing with no funds.

It also has solid support for different languages (plenty of people worldwide would prefer languages other than English) and offers various integrations (though they’re not all very strong — the Shopify app has a much lower rating than that of Omnisend, for instance, but it does have an official WooCommerce integration). However, it isn’t great for nuanced campaign tracking. If you’re into granular performance optimisation, look elsewhere.

ConvertKit

Also somewhat new on the scene, ConvertKit is another automation-centric tool, but it’s more expensive still than anything else we’ve looked at. Not only is there no free plan of any description (outside of the trial), but the basic tier of up to 1000 subscribers is a substantial $29 per month (sends are unlimited, but even so, that’s a significant cost).

Another issue is the template lineup: it’s relatively meagre, and the visual editor doesn’t stack up to others we’ve looked at, so ConvertKit users need to put in more time and effort to create interesting designs. I’d only recommend giving this a try if you want high-end email automation but not involving e-commerce (promoting a blog, for instance) — but even then, just run the trial to see what you think.

ActiveCampaign

Pricing for this tool is quite familiar in some regards (starting at $9 per month for 500 subscribers), but the unlimited sends immediately give it an edge, and the included support is rated highly (though some say it can be slow). You might need it, though — the interface doesn’t have the polish and ease-of-use demonstrated by newer competitors.

What’s undeniable, though, is the potency of the automation options. You can get extremely sophisticated with your targeting and triggering, and almost every facet of your campaign can be customised. It also has plenty of integrations, for everything from Facebook to WordPress. If you don’t mind facing a steep learning curve, you’ll find a lot to enjoy in ActiveCampaign (and if you’re selling online, try seeing how it stacks up against Omnisend).

SendInBlue

What you’ll immediately notice about this Paris-based company is that it doesn’t restrict contacts. From the free plan up, contacts are unlimited, and pricing for most of the tiers isn’t scalable. The Lite plan, for instance, works out to $17.29 per month for 40,000 emails, putting it somewhere in the middle of the pack.

SendInBlue is more powerful than MailChimp as far as workflows go, but it lacks the polish that makes the latter so appealing to users of all kinds. It also doesn’t offer much in the way of integration, so it’s tough to recommend if you’re looking for something to fit alongside other software tools. In isolation, though, there’s a lot to like.

Mailchimp is a great all-around option: powerful, flexible, and intuitive. But it isn’t right for everyone. If you need something cheaper, or better for e-commerce, or more powerful, then think about these options. One of them might be perfect for you.

To take email marketing one step further, we came across Spencer’s guide which will walk you through the 3 core phases of email marketing, and how to pull off each one like a pro. These are building your email list, managing your email list, and mailing your email list. Check it out here.

Nathan da Silva - Profile

Posted by: Nathan da Silva

Nathan is the Founder of Silva Web Designs. He is passionate about web development, website design and basically anything digital related. His main expertise is with WordPress, Magento, Shopify as well of many other frameworks. Whether you need responsive design, SEO, speed optimisation or anything else in the world of digital then get in touch. If you would like to work with Nathan, simply drop him an email at [email protected]

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Our top 10 used plugins for WordPress – 2019 Edition

Every WordPress developer has a bunch of plugins they tend to install on pretty much every WordPress site they develop, and we are also those kind of people. These plugins give great solutions for caching, security and adding other improvements that build on WordPress core.

That’s the beauty of WordPress – there are loads of plugins to choose from and they are so quick and easy to implement. Some plugins are just a case of downloading and activating, others provide a shortcode which you can copy and paste within your pages and others is a simple as dragging and dropping a widget where ever you wish to display it.

With so many free and premium plugins available, how do you distinguish from the good and bad plugins out there?

Do note, overloading your web site with too many plugins can cause plugin conflict and reduce the speed of your web site, so if you can avoid a plugin and just code it in, that’s even better!

Below you will find our selection of essential plugins, all chosen based on their usefulness, quality and popularity.


1.) WooCommerce

WooCommerce is a great plugin and is really quick and easy to install. It turns your standard WordPress website into a an eCommerce store and creates all the necessary pages for you (My Account, Checkout, Cart etc). It allows intergration with secure payment methods such as Bank Transfer, PayPal, SagePay and many more. With a huge range of features that can be quickly changed in the Control Panel, this is definitely one of my favorites because of the speed you can set up a fantastic eCommerce website.


2.) Advanced Custom Fields

Advanced Custom Fields is an amazing plugin and without a shadow of a doubt, it’s installed on every project I build. I would definitely recommend getting a licence for the Pro version which you can find out more information about here. You can use the Advanced Custom Fields plugin to take full control of your WordPress edit screens & custom field data. It makes it super easy for clients to change text / images any many other things within your WordPress site without any risk of breaking the site.


3.) Contact Form 7

Contact Form 7 is another plugin I use on pretty much every WordPress site I develop. You can manage multiple contact forms, customise the form and the mail contents and again, it’s really easy to use. The form supports Ajax-powered submitting, CAPTCHA, Akismet spam filtering and many more. All the form elements are generated for you so you don’t even have to know any PHP code. If your not already using this plugin for your forms, I suggest giving it a try now!


4.) Yoast SEO

SEO Yoast is a fantastic platform for SEO. I have used this plugin on 100% of the WordPress sites I have developed and it is the only plugin I use in terms of SEO. If set up correctly, it will improve your site’s SEO on all needed aspects. WordPress SEO forces you to choose a focus keyword when you’re writing your articles, and then makes sure you use that focus keyword everywhere, it also ranks the SEO of all your pages and posts from ‘Bad’, ‘OK’ to ‘Good’ so you know if your content is going to have any chance of ranking on search engines. The best feature about this plugin is that it even tells you how you can improve the performance of each and every page on your site. It may say things such as, you need to include

tags or include an outbound link on your page/post. You will learn a lot about SEO if you run this plugin on your websites. We actually use the SEO Yoast Premium version which allows up to 5 keywords on each page/post/CPT including many other great features which you can read about or purchase here.


5.) Hummingbird Page Speed Optimization

The next 3 set of plugins I’m going to be talking about are plugins offered by WPMU DEV which you can read about more here. There are free versions of these plugins but they also have premium versions which offer a lot more features which I would highly recommend. Hummingbird PRO is an awesome caching plugin. It zips through your site and finds new ways to boost page speed with fine-tuned controls over file compression, minification and full-page, browser and Gravatar caching. Load your pages quicker and score higher on Google PageSpeed Insights with Hummingbird site optimization.


6.) Smush Image Compression and Optimization

This plugin is one of my favourites; it will resize, optimise and compress all of your images with the incredibly powerful and 100% free WordPress image smusher. This uses Lossly compression which will significantly reduce the file sizes of all images on your web site which will definitely increase your sites speed. Again, the premium version of this plugin is 100% recommended as it will allow you to SUPER-Smush all your images along with a few other great features which will allow you to further optimise your site. Need a high Google Speed Test score? This plugin combined with Hummingbird will make the job a piece of cake 😉


7.) Defender Security, Monitoring, and Hack Protection

Security is definitely important when it comes to WordPress, the amount of sites I’ve had to restore/repair and remove Malware from is crazy. So make sure you have fully configured a great security plugin to prevent your web site from these kind of attacks. Defender is layered security for WordPress made easy. And by easy, I mean amazingly easy! No longer do you have to go through hideously complex settings and get a virtual PhD in security. Defender adds all the hardening and security tweaks you need, in just minutes!


8.) Akismet Anti-Spam

Sick and tired of spam comments and junk email from your WordPress site? Akismet has you covered! Akismet checks your comments and contact form submissions against their global database of spam to prevent your site from publishing malicious content. You can review the comment spam it catches on your blog’s “Comments” admin screen.


9.) MailChimp for WordPress

MailChimp for WordPress allows your visitors to subscribe to your newsletter very easily. This plugin helps you grow your MailChimp lists and write better newsletters through various methods. You can create good looking opt-in forms or integrate with any existing form on your site, like your comment, contact or checkout form.


10.) Classic Editor

Finally, our last plugin which we have made a lot of use from since WordPress 5 is classic editor! Classic Editor is an official plugin maintained by the WordPress team that restores the previous (“classic”) WordPress editor and the “Edit Post” screen. It makes it possible to use plugins that extend that screen, add old-style meta boxes, or otherwise depend on the previous editor. By default, this plugin hides all functionality available in the new Block Editor (“Gutenberg”). Since a lot of people are finding it difficult to get their heads around Gutenberg, this is a great quick fix plugin which will restore the editor back to the way you’ve known and loved for a long time.

Nathan da Silva - Profile

Posted by: Nathan da Silva

Nathan is the Founder of Silva Web Designs. He is passionate about web development, website design and basically anything digital related. His main expertise is with WordPress, Magento, Shopify as well of many other frameworks. Whether you need responsive design, SEO, speed optimisation or anything else in the world of digital then get in touch. If you would like to work with Nathan, simply drop him an email at [email protected]

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