This had me looking at of course the big ones like Aweber, MailChimp, SimplyCast, ConstantContact as well as WordPress plugin like WP Newsman.
First I will show you the plan comparisons, of course these screen captures and prices could change at some point after this article publishes so make sure you always do your own comparisons as well.
SimplyCast Send Based or Contact Based
I was looking at 20,000 email plans based on either number of emails per month or contact based which means you can send unlimited number of emails to those 20,000 contacts every month.
With simply cast you can send 20,000 emails per month for $29 per month, this is 20,000 emails, so you can send 2 newsletters to 10,000 people, or 4 newsletters to 5,000 emails. Or the $59 contact plan which means you can send unlimited emails to up to 20,000 contacts. If you plan on sending emails once a week or more frequently than once per month, the contact based plan is clearly a better value. If however you have a small contact list of say 5,000 or less and want to send a newsletter every week, then the send based plan works well.
SimplyCast has a very easy pricing solution and this is the company I am using because of the value and they were cheaper than competitors.
Aweber has the RSS to email feature that SimplyCast, Constant Contact, iContact and GetResponse do not which is a great way to turn your RSS feed and send it to your email contacts, they don’t have a send based plan as SimplyCast does, but their contact based plan which is unlimited emails to number of contacts is dramatically more expensive than SimplyCast.
Aweber for that same 20,000 user contact plan with unlimited emails costs $130 per month, this is more than 2x the cost of the same SimplyCast contact based plan. I really like the Aweber Blog Broadcast feature and to me that is one of the better benefits it has over some other services for recapping RSS feeds to your email subscribers but this may not outweigh the cost of the price being double. Also many people associate Aweber with affiliate marketing and sales pitches, this can be a pro and a con depending on your audience and may not be ideal for newsletters but more for direct affiliate marketing.
Mailchimp also offers contact based subscription plans with unlimited emails but is also more expensive than even Aweber or SimplyCast for a 20,000 contact plan with unlimited emails. MailChimp also offers RSS to Email functionality but doesn’t
However, MailChimp has more flexibility and has better pricing than Aweber if you are in the 10,000-19,000 contact list plan than Aweber, but SimplyCast still has both Aweber and MailChimp beat by a long shot when it comes to contact based email subscriber plans.
Even if you look at MailChimp pay as you go feature where if you want to purchase 20,000 emails to send (not contact based, the closest match is 25,000 emails)
They sell 25,000 emails for .01 cent per email, this is $250 for 25,000 emails. But SimplyCast lets you send 20,000 emails per month for $29.00 per month, so for that same $250 dollars you would have spent on MailChimp you can send over 172,000 emails with SimplyCast instead.
Constant Contact offers an unlimited email subscriber based plan and has one advantage over Aweber and MailChimp if you are exporting and importing contact lists from another plan and that is that they don’t force an opt-in email to your imported email contacts. However to get their price for a 20,000 contact plan I had to call them on the phone where I spoke with them to understand their pricing model above 10,000 contacts.
10,000 – 25,000 contacts was $190 per month, with another $100 for 25,001 – 50,000 contacts and another $100 per month for each block increase of 25,000 contacts. This makes them more expensive than SimplyCast, Aweber and MailChimp but they do have some other nice features too.
Constant Contact has an actionable do not open report, which will show you a full list of emails that did not open the last marketing email so you can instantly pull them into a separate list for a repeat send or a different type of email report, this allows you to separate your lists based on action responses to get more clear granular lists based on who responds to what email contact. They also have integration with Hootsuite and allow for analytics and broadcasting your newsletter to your social media channels on Hootsuite (any number of social channels you have connected, whereas most just do simply sharing to your basic Twitter/Facebook…etc).
GetResponse falls into your similar plan and contact based model as MailChimp and Aweber at $145 per month for 25,000 subscribers, but if you by the plan annually you get it discounted to $118.90 per month making it the closest in price to SimplyCast out of these services compared but also still almost twice as much per month as SimplyCast for 20,000 users, since you have to pay for the next tier once you are at the 10,001 contact mark.
iContact is another very popular service for handling email marketing plans and I specifically wanted to compare a basic self service plan and not compare premium managed plans. Their website only listed up to 15,000 contacts so I had to contact Live Chat to get more pricing and Matt from their Live Chat told me that 25,000 contacts is $149 per month, but it goes up to $239 per month for 35,000 contacts which is a large jump between 25k and 35k compared to other services. Even with the annual 15% discount you get from pre-paying your year this makes the service much more expensive than SimplyCast but falls right in range with Aweber and MailChimp being slightly cheaper if you pre-pay annually.
Other Email Marketing Providers
So I could have kept going with other companies that offer email marketing plans but they all seem to range around the $140 – $200 mark for either 20,000 or 25,000 contacts based on what I can find. I didn’t review actual dashboard, analytics and other features, remember my comparison was strictly based on contact based plans and number of emails per month only. I did note the RSS to Email feature of Aweber and MailChimp which the other platforms lacked.
WP Newsman and Amazon SES
I did a full write up and review of WP Newsman which is a WordPress plugin that ties into Amazon SES and allows you to create and send marketing emails and newsletters right from within your WordPress blog.
The plus for WP Newsman is it is very inexpensive compared to other platforms and at any contact list above 10k you really start saving. At the annual fee of $79 or $97 (with no discount) plan for unlimited emails, unlimited contacts, combined with your Amazon SES which is $2.00 to send 20,000 emails, you would be looking at a cost of about $11 per month to send 20,000 emails per month to 20,000 contacts which is vastly cheaper than any other email marketing plan.
This detailed write up can be found here to learn more, but a quick summary is that it is very complicated to setup compared to using one of the email marketing companies and you are relying on your WordPress site to store all of your email contacts as “subscribers” so this means people are signing up to be part of your WordPress “subscribers” to be your email contacts too which also makes them subscribers of your blog. This isn’t ideal if you aren’t tied to WordPress and you want to really and truly unbundle your email marketing from your WordPress blog, but it is very cheap if you want to just run a newsletter and don’t mind getting your hands dirty and doing all the setup work yourself. The Amazon SES was the most time consuming part of the setup, but Amazon SES at .10 per 1,000 emails is cheaper than any email marketing platform if you are willing to do the overhead.
My Summary and What I Recommend
Again, comparing contact based plans only and some apples to apples without going into full review of dashboards, analytics, social media broadcast and extra features, WP Newsman and Amazon SES are the cheapest but also the most overhead to setup and are not for the technical beginners. SimplyCast is my recommended email marketing program based on contact pricing alone and the added bonus of not forcing all new subscribers imported to have to Opt-In again or else they are dropped which can cause huge losses to your existing email subscriber list if you export it and try to import from another contact plan service.
I highly recommend that if you are in the market for an email marketing solution and don’t want to have to set your own up from scratch, try SimplyCast and see if it will solve your email marketing needs.
All prices were snapshot during the review of this article, prices may fluctuate as article ages and if you notice different pricing let me know and I will update article accordingly.