Email

The Best Way to Send Newsletters [15 ESP’s Compared]

When you want to send newsletters to subscribers, you need something called an Email Service Provider (ESP for short). 

With so many options and features available, it can quickly become overwhelming. We’ve done all the research for you! In this blog post we compare 15 of the top ESPs on the market based on price, features and customer reviews. 

Here’s the three questions you have to ask yourself before choosing an ESP: 

  1. How quick is it to get started?
  2. Will the features help me?
  3. Does the pricing scale beyond what I want?

Your subscriber count is REALLY important when you send newsletters

The number of subscribers you have is going to play a massive role in selecting an ESP. The best way to send newsletters with under 100k subscribers is to choose an ESP focused on writing, ease of use,  and the reader.

Unfortunately, those ESPs have limited features and get insanely expensive as you reach the 100k subscriber mark.

We’ve split this article into two sections:

The best way to send newsletters if you have less than 100k subscribers:

  • Cheaper to start
  • Simpler email builder 
  • Less confusing features

The best way to send newsletters if you have more than 100k subscribers:

  • More automation tools
  • Better segmentation abilities
  • Can have multiple newsletters

The best way to send newsletters if you have less than 100k subscribers

Buttondown

send newsletters with buttondown

A simple, minimalist way of writing newsletters. With Buttondown, you won’t get caught up in all the hustle and bustle of Revue or Substack. It’s built by a developer (who’s also a newsletter writer) to solve many of the issues writers in particular have with bigger ESPs. 

You can still set up a paid subscription, and charge whatever currency you choose! This ESP really molds to what you need. 

Pricing

Starter: Free for up to 1000 subscribers

Mid-tier: $5 p/m for every 1000 subscribers. Eg. if you have 5000 subscribers it’s $20 p/m

Pro: A $29 p/m subscription is offered for advance features like API support and multiple newsletters

What users are saying

I’ve been a big fan of Buttondown for a while now. Mainly because it provides an interface that works for my workflow. – Michael Soolee

  • Great documentation
  • Cheap for what you get
  • Simplicity
  • Justin’s personal touch (founder) 
  • Minimalistic UI
  • Drag and drop editor

SendFox

send newsletters with sendfox

SendFox is specifically designed for newsletter creators. It’s simple, extremely cheap, and easy to use. 

Best part, you only pay for it once so it’s super cost-effective for creators. 

Pricing

Starter: Free for up to 1,000 subscribers

Mid-tier: Flat fee of $49 for life for up to 5,000 subscribers

Pro: Additional flat fee $49 for each 5,000 subscribers 

What users are saying

I was impressed with the interface in SendFox and how simple and intuitive to use, and can’t imagine anyone having problems with it – Katie Holmes

  • Includes landing pages
  • Simple automations
  • Auto roundup emails of your blog

Email Octopus

send newsletters with email octopus

Email Octopus is picking up in popularity among newsletter creators that are just starting out. It’s the new kid on the block when it comes to ESPs and is popular with serious newsletter creators who are just starting out. 

Pricing

Starter: Free for first 2,500 subscribers and 10k emails a month

Pro: Scales with number of subscribers. Eg $20 for 5k subscribers, $210k for 100k subscribers

What users are saying

Their UI is awesome and their API is great. Prices are good too. – Mick

  • Simple WYSIWYG Builder
  • Gentle learning curve
  • Cheap to start
  • Limited features (but API is included)
  • Segmenting via custom fields which allow data imports
  • Note: Email Octopus has also released a beta segmentation feature based on email activity

Substack

send newsletters with substack

Substack is a platform that allows users to create their own newsletter, host a site for that newsletter, and monetize through paid subscriber subscriptions. It blew up in popularity in 2020, but has seen some push back due to the flat 10% fee it charges users. Many users are previous journalists looking for an alternative way to make an income.

Getting started on Substack is super easy, you just create an account, select some settings, and start writing. Users have said it’s also useful to attract new subscribers.

Pricing 

Starter: Free to use

Paid: 10% fee on all paid subscriptions. Eg. 2,000 paying subscribers at $5 means substack charges you $1,000.

What users are saying

Gone from 0 to 2000 in three months. I think thats pretty good value. so Substack’s the best way to get started. – Liam, Policy People

  • No monthly fixed costs
  • Easy setup 
  • Baked in monetization 
  • Substack has a Medium.com feel 
  • No real SEO
  • Can’t customize the HTML/CSS of the template
  • No segmentation or detailed data 

Revue

send newsletters with revue

Revue has a pretty similar setup to Substack – it’s incredibly easy to get started. They offer more features than Substack too, with great ad ons like APIs and a browser extension.

Creating newsletters is drag and drop, plus you have the added bonus of integrating with Twitter easily. 

Pricing: 

Starter: Free to use.

Paid: 5% fee on all paid subscriptions. Eg.2,000 paying subscribers at $5 means substack charges you $500.

What users are saying

They have killed it on the UI. – Indie Hackers

  • The editor is easy to use.
  • The analytics is useful
  • GDPR friendly
  • supports custom domains
  • Stripe payouts are a plus
  • Has useful tools like the web clipper
  • Email deliverability is a bit poor (only relevant if you have a custom domain) 

MailerLite

send newsletters with mailerlite

Despite the name, MailerLite is heavy on features. They’ve optimize their UI to flow logically (keeping operations light) despite complicated functions. 

With MailerLite you get a website, automations, forms, and all the rest. The real differentiator here is being able to send out surveys to your subscribers. 

Pricing

Starter: Free for up to 1000 subscribers (12,000 emails p/m)

Mid-tier: $15 p/m for up to 5,000 subscribers (Unlimited emails p/m)

Pro: $360 p/m for up to 100k subscribers (1.2M emails p/m)

What users are saying

I’m loving the ability to view detailed statistics now on MailerLite’s site and mobile app. -Janel, BrainPint

  • Easy drag and drop editor 
  • Good free plan
  • Easy pop ups 
  • Logical to use
  • Great support
  • HTML is a bit bloated

ConvertKit

send newsletters with convertkit

ConvertKit is one of newsletter writers and conversion-marketer’s first choices. The company is focused on human connection and have built a platform that intuitively allows you to create, automate and sent.

ConvertKit has the big features like A/B testing, automations, and segmentation though both data and reader engagement.

Pricing

Starter: Free for up to 1,000 subscribers

Mid-tier: $79 for up to 5,000 subscribers

Pro: $697 for up to 105k subscribers

Note: They also have an optional ‘Pro’ addon that gives you a referral system, subscriber scoring, and advanced reporting.

What users are saying

ConvertKit only allows the same subscriber once and helps you give them specific tags. It gives me a lot of control over who I’m sending what to. And because it’s single-contact, I actually am spending less money every month on ConvertKit. – Jay Clouse, Freelancing School

  • It’s easy and direct to use
  • Tag-based segmentation
  • Convenient toolset that’s always growing
  • Easy to sell paid subscriptions
  • Auto-cleans your list so you don’t pay for duplicate subscriptions
  • Is expensive if you have many users

Sendy.co

send newsletters with sendy.co

Best described by their homepage, “Sendy is a self hosted email newsletter application that lets you send trackable emails via Amazon Simple Email Service (SES). This makes it possible for you to send authenticated bulk emails at an insanely low price without sacrificing deliverability.”

It’s a cost-effective option that requires a little more technical knowledge.

Pricing

Sendy prices per emails, so I’ll assume you’re sending your newsletter twice a week. 

Starter: $1 p/m for 1000 subscribers (10,000 emails) 

Mid-tier: $25 pm for 25k subscribers 

Pro: $50 p/m for 50k subscribers (500,000 emails) 

What users are saying

Curated.co

send newsletters with curated.co

Like the name suggests, Curated makes it quick for you to collect content and turn it into a newsletter. Curated’s email template is engineered to look great on every screen and avoid clipping.

You also get a website with fully searchable back issue archives for each publication. This web site is automatically created for you when you create a new publication/newsletter and you have the ability to easily customize it. 

Comes with a built-in sponsorship calendar.

Pricing

Starter: $24 p/m  for 500 subscribers

Mid-tier $129 p/m for 10,000 subscribers

Pro: $399 p/m for 50,000 subscribers

What users are saying

“I’ve been using your service for over 6 months now to curate my Software Testing Newsletter, and even though I was tempted by other trendy services such as Substack and Revue, honestly, you’re still the king for this kind of format. Loving all the features that allow me to quickly add links and compose the newsletter so easily each week!”Dawid Dylowicz, – Software Testing Weekly

  • Beautiful newsletter template
  • Easy to collect and save links with the Chrome extension
  • The secret email is a brilliant feature

HEY World

send blogs ane emails with hey world

This is something quite revolutionary. Hey World allows you to write and send newsletters to subscribers just like you would with any other email. And then it publishes that newsletter to a blog. 

Pricing

Business: $12 p/m

Personal: $99 per year

Tiny Letter

send newsletters with tiny letter

Tiny Letter is built by Mailchimp and apparently works off the same infrastructure. With one big difference. It’s totally free. Only catch is that you can only have up to 5,000 subscribers. 

Many users love Tiny Letter’s simplicity, but it’s definitely an entry-level service. If you want to do any kind of automation or segmentation you’re better off looking elsewhere. 

The best way to send newsletters if you have more than 100k subscribers

MailChimp

mailchimp esp compared

Mailchimp is one of the biggest and highly regarded ESPs out there. They send billions of emails and are the go-to option for many writers and marketers. 

However recently, newsletter creators have been calling them out for lack of features and poor segmentation logic

Pricing

Starter: Free up to 2,000 subscribers

Mid-tier $52 p/m for up to 5,000 subscribers

Pro: $270 p/m for up to 50k contacts

What users are saying

I absolutely hate Mailchimp because of its editor. I love minimalistic UI and simple content editors rather than bloated drag & drop type of wysiwyg editors. – Artjorm Vassiljev, Elmbits

  • Good deliverability
  • Easy to collaborate (known by most people)
  • Complex UI for email builder
  • Segmentation is lacking tags
  • More expensive than most other ESPs

Campaign Monitor

ampaign monitor esp compared

Offers a drag-and-drop builder that users love alongside a robust toolset. Well suited for business-related newsletters. A common thread among user feedback is that the UI is a bit complex when you first start out.

Pricing

Starter: $9 a month for 2,500 emails

Mid Tier: $29 for unlimited emails

Pro: $149 for advanced segmentation

What users are saying

Campaign Monitor’s got a lot of UI quirks I’m not a fan of. – Mike Cavaliere

  • API is easy to use 
  • Handles segmentation well 
  • A/B testing
  • Built-in spam check
  • UI can feel complex
  • Requires a bit of technical knowledge

AWeber

 aweber esp compared

If you plan to scale beyond the paid-user model, AWeber is a great choice. They’ve got advanced reporting and segmentation features in paid plans and even provide a free library of images. You even get a custom domain with the free plan.

AWeber includes landing pages and e-commerce capabilities so it’s a pretty flexible option. 

Pricing

Starter: Free for 500 subscribers and 2,000 sends p/m

Mid-tier $49 p/m for 5,000 subscribers

Pro: $149 for 25,000 subscribers

What users are saying

I’ve used a number of other tools for newsletters and automation (Mailchimp and ConvertKit primarily) and prefer how easy it is to add and manage tags based on the variety of ways people can interact with me (the forms they signup through, the custom fields they fill and their values, clicks and opens, and what pages they visit). -Chris Vasquez, Aweber

  • Easy powerful editor. 
  • CSS access if you want it, but you don’t need it
  • Zapier workflow and integration 
  • RSS to email
  • Subscriber list management, single & double opt-in options.
  • Easy email drip campaigns/automation

Constant Contact

constant contact esp compared

If you’re looking to run a newsletter on limited time, Constant Contact could work for you. However, they’re best suited to small businesses that want to quickly throw together promotional newsletters rather than writers. 

The toolset looks beyond just email and has built integrations into Facebook, WordPress, Salesforce and more.Their pricing can add up fast, so be careful if you intend to go beyond 10k subscribers. 

Pricing

Starter: $20 p/m for 500 subscribers

Mid-tier $65 p/m for up to 5,000 subscribers

Pro: $335 p/m for up to 50k subscribers

What users are saying

  • Intuitive UI
  • Not much flexibility in templates 
  • Pricing really adds up 
  • Features cost extra

Active Campaign

 active campaign esp compared

Active Campaign is built to grow with you. It’s a CRM meets ESP meets automation tool that’s used widely by businesses. For a newsletter writer who just wants to get started quickly, it might be a bit overwhelming. 

Pricing

Active Campaign’s pricing is as complex as its toolset! The pricing below is from their ‘lite’ version which should be sufficient for basic email campaigns. 

Starter: $15 p/m for 500 contacts 

Mid-tier $99 p/m for 5000 contacts

Pro: $505 p/m for 100k contacts

What users are saying

We use their ‘tagging’ system to help build automated email drip feeds.

  • Massive toolset
  • Offers CRM
  • Great at automation
  • Includes pre-built automations
  • Lots of integrations
  • Expensive if you just need to write a newsletter

So what’s the best way to send newsletters? 

It all depends on your preferences. If you just want to get writing and growing your list, something like Buttondown, Revue, or Email Octopus will serve you well. On the other hand, those ESPs all lack the automation power and robustness of ConvertKit, Mailchimp, and AWeber. 

Most importantly, remember that all these companies make it easy to switch. You could start off on one, change to another, and change again if you like! 

If you’ve started to collect subscribers and are ready to earn money from your newsletter, sign up to Paved and join our Marketplace. It’s where hundreds of writers find good-quality sponsorships every single day.