Best “Pay as You Go” Email Marketing Companies for Small Businesses

Best Pay as You Go Email Marketing Companies for Small Businesses - Sanders Design

As a small business owner, I can tell you that my web design company relies on email marketing as a cost-effective marketing solution and to drive meaningful engagement. Finding the right email marketing company among hundreds of email marketing companies, however, was a struggle.

I had so many email marketing companies to choose from and finding a company that offered the features I wanted at the right price was time-consuming, to say the least.

I did eventually choose MailChimp for my company’s email marketing needs. Still, I also realized that other small business owners were likely having the same problem if it took me so long to find the information I needed. So, I compiled the information that I found in a helpful guide for other small business owners.


MailChimp - Sanders Design

Mailchimp is the service that I use for my business, and they are one of the more popular email marketing companies. I chose them for their pricing and their features but having a free plan option is another big draw.

If you choose to use Mailchimp, you have three paid plans to choose from – Essentials, Standard and Premium. The Essentials plan costs £7.37/mo for up to 500 contacts, the Standard plan costs £11.06/mo for up to 500 contacts, and the Premium plan costs £220.65/mo for up to 10,000 contacts.

Each plan has tiers based on the number of subscribers and cost increases per tier. The Essentials plan covers up to 50,000 subscribers. The Standard plan covers up to 100,000 subscribers. The Premium plan covers up to 200,000 subscribers. Over 200,000 subscribers require a custom plan.

Mailchimp also offers a free plan that covers up to 2,000 subscribers, but the features of this account are extremely limited. For example, you have limited access to email templates.

Of the four plans, I don’t feel like the free plan is a viable option for any small business, but it is a good starting point as you learn how to use the Mailchimp system. The Premium Plan isn’t likely to fit most small businesses starting with email marketing, so we’ll overlook that for the time being, too.

As a small business owner, the two plans I would consider are the Essentials and the Standard plans.

Both the Essentials and Standard Plus plans offer behavioural targeting, pre-built templates, popup forms, email automation, A/B testing, 

The differences in the Essentials and Standard plans mainly refer to more advanced features. The Standard plan offers behaviour-based automation, custom coded templates, social post scheduling (this is great for focusing on social media marketing), dynamic content, send-time optimisation, and delivery by time zone where the Standard plan does not.

The Essentials plan only covers up to 50,000 subscribers where the Standard plan covers up to 75,000 subscribers. The largest plan available (top tier Premium) before needing a customised plan is the Premium plan for up to 200,000 subscribers which is £878.19 per month.

Overall, Mailchimp has a lot to offer if you can purchase their Standard plan, which starts at £11.06 per month. If you can make do with limited functions and limited customer insight, you could squeeze by with the Essentials plan, but I say go with the Standard plan for the price difference.


iContact - Sanders Design

iContact has been around since 2003 and is popular among newcomers to email marketing companies because they have an easy to navigate user interface.

If you choose to use iContact, you have two plans to choose from – Base Plans and Pro Plans. The Base Plan costs ~ £10.92/mo and the Pro plan costs £21.84/mo for 0-1,500 subscribers. Each plan has tiers based on the number of subscribers and cost increases per tier up to 5,000 subscribers. After 5,000, customised plans are available.

I feel that both of iContact’s plans are worth considering based on the features that they offer; however, their pricing is exponentially more than other companies who offer more features.

In case you want to consider using iContact, let’s compare the features offered by each plan.

Both the Base and Pro plan offer access to a stock image library, a template library, A/B split testing, email automation, custom template editor, list segmentation, and in-line photo editing.

There is one big difference between the Base and Pro – the Pro plan offers smart sending where the Base plan does not. Smart sending is an automated service where the email system determines the best time to send emails based on peak campaign performance times.

Overall, iContact has the features you need, but their pricing just doesn’t make their plans worth it in my opinion.


AWeber - Sanders Design

AWeber is an email marketing platform that claims it was built with small businesses in mind; however, their pricing structure does make me question that. While they offer a limited free plan, any small business will graduate from that plan in no time and need a paid option for more subscribers.  

If you choose to use AWeber, you have two plans to choose from – Free and Pro. The Free Plan is free for a lifetime and the Pro Plus plan costs ~ £13.83/mo for 0-500 subscribers. The AWeber Pro plan features various tiers that increase in price as your number of subscribers increases.

The AWeber free plan can only accommodate up to 500 subscribers and limits emails to 3,000/mo. The AWeber Pro plan covers accounts with up to 25,000 subscribers after this you must request a custom plan.

While the AWeber free plan is limited, it is a viable option for a new company looking to start email marketing. Some important features are missing from the free plan though, including A/B testing. So, if you want the most from your plan from the get-go, you’d have to go with the AWeber Pro option.

Both the Free and Pro plan offers email automation, email templates, dynamic content, image library, AMP emails, free migration, and unlimited team member access to your account.

Differences between the AWeber Free and Pro plans are mostly features that pertain to detailed reporting and customer outreach. The Pro Plan offers A/B testing, behavioural automation, cart abandonment tagging, the ability to remove AWeber branding, and email sales tracking for eCommerce accounts where the Free Plan does not.

The AWeber Free and Pro plans’ differences are not as significant as they are in Mailchimp, but you do get much more for your money with Mailchimp’s service.

Overall, the AWeber free plan isn’t a bad place to start if you are prepared to switch to a paid service once you hit your email contact limits. When it comes to paid plans, AWeber has the best per subscriber rates, but their list of features is much shorter than other service providers like MailChimp. That said, if it’s about budget, AWeber isn’t a bad choice for your email marketing service when compared to other email marketing companies.

Constant Contact

Constant Contact - Sanders Design

Constant Contact is the biggest email marketing company service worldwide, but their system is still easy for beginners to navigate despite its size.

If you choose to use Constant Contact over other email marketing companies, you have two plans to choose from – Email and Email Plus. The Email plan costs £15/mo, and the Email Plus plan costs £30/mo for 0-500 subscribers. Each plan has tiers based on the number of subscribers and costs increases per tier up to 10,001 subscribers when only the Email Plus plan is available.

Of the two plans, I don’t feel like the basic plan has enough features to make it worthwhile for a small business because it does not include email automation and customisation options are limited.

In case you are interested in the basic plan, though, I’ll cover the similarities and differences between the two.

The Email and Email Plus plan offers unlimited email sends per month, automated email resend to non-openers, subject line A/B testing, and access to branded and industry-specific templates.

The differences in the Email and Email Plus plans are when it comes to email automation and individual customisation options. The basic plan does not offer automated welcome series emails or automated emails based on behaviour. This plan also does not offer customisable popup forms, an rsvp feature, the option to take surveys or polls, or the option for dynamic content.

Both plans are available for up to 10,000 subscribers. Once you hit 10,001 subscribers, your plan is automatically upgraded to the Email Plus plan. Before needing a customised plan, the most extensive plan is the Email Plus plan for 35,001 to 50,000 subscribers, which is $215 per month.

Overall, Constant Contact has a lot to offer if you are willing to invest in their Plus plan for at least £30/mo. That said, they wouldn’t be my first choice simply because other companies offer more and have better pricing.


SendInBlue - Sanders Design

SendInBlue is unique among email marketing companies in that they offer email marketing and SMS marketing services through their platform.

If you choose to use SendinBlue, you have four plans to choose from – Free, Lite, Premium, and Enterprise. The Free plan covers up to 300 emails a day. The Lite plan costs £18.20/mo and covers up to 10,000 emails. The Premium plan costs £47.32/mo for up to 1,000,000 emails. The Enterprise plan is customised to your company’s needs. Each plan has tiers based on the number of subscribers and cost increases per tier.

Of the different plans, SendinBlue offers, the free plan is worth trying just to get a feel for their system. If you are looking for in-depth data on email readers, though, the Free plan just won’t cut it. Let’s take a look at the paid plans instead.

The Lite, Premium, and Enterprise plan all offer an unlimited number of contacts, no daily sending limit, A/B testing, and email template access. The free plan does not offer these features.

The Premium and Enterprise plan both offer marketing automation, retargeting ads, Facebook integration, landing pages, send-time optimisation, and multiple team member access to your account. The Lite plan does not offer these features.

The Enterprise plan offers priority sending, multiple landing pages, team member access to your account for more than ten users, priority support, and a dedicated IP. The other plans do not offer these features.

Overall, SendinBlue has a nice selection of plans for a small business and some solid features, but again, they can’t measure up to email marketing companies like Mailchimp.

Email marketing companies compared

Free trialNoYesNoYesNo
Free planYesNoYesNoYes
Cheapest paid plan£7.42/mo (0-2,000 subscribers)£10.92/mo (0-1,500 subscribers)£13.83/mo (0-500 subscribers)£15/mo (0-500 subscribers)£18.20/mo (unlimited subscribers)
Email sending limit for the cheapest paid plan50,000/mo9,000/moUnlimitedUnlimited10,000/mo
Audiences (lists)3UnlimitedUnlimited1,000Unlimited
Pay as you go credits5,000 / ~ £151,000 / ~ £3.64 (only available for overage)n/an/a5,000 / £24
Cost per email (plans)£0.00001484£0.0012n/an/a£0.00182
Cost per email (credits)£0.003£0.00364n/an/a£0.0048
Cost per subscriber signup£0.00371 – £0.00439£0.00728 – £0.018£0.028 – £0.00596£0.03 – £0.0043n/a
Smart sendYesYesYesNoYes

Why I chose MailChimp over other email marketing companies

You likely noticed that I mentioned that I chose Mailchimp quite a few times in the article above and you may be wondering why. I’ll keep it short and sweet, but here are the reasons why I felt that Mailchimp was best for my small business.

  • They are a reputable company.
  • They have some of the best prices AND a Free Trial compared to other email marketing companies.
  • They have high email sending limits per month for lower-tier accounts compared to other email marketing companies.
  • They have a Smart Send feature.
  • Their Standard plan is affordable and has a nice selection of advanced features compared to other email marketing companies.

You’ve researched email marketing companies and chosen one, what next?

What happens now that you have found an email marketing company with the features you are looking for? Your next step is familiarizing yourself with how to use their service – this can be a time-consuming process that not all small business owners can manage while running their business. 

Fortunately, if you find yourself in this category, Sanders Design offers email marketing services to get great results from your email marketing while taking another job off your hands.