Email marketing is one of the most cost-effective ways to promote your products and services. In a recent study, Hubspot revealed that, on average, marketers who use advanced segmentation campaigns report a 760% increase in ROI!
While the return on investment of email marketing can be insanely good, that still leaves one crucial question unanswered — how much does email marketing cost?
Technically, you don’t have to invest a single dime. There are plenty of free email marketing tools that you can use to create and set up your campaigns. Most of them provide dozens of email templates that you can leverage to create professional-looking emails in seconds.
In theory, you just need to put together some images and a few lines of text, use the tool’s interface to set up a campaign, and you’re good to go.
That’s assuming you already:
Have a sizable email list
Know your way around autoresponders
Have relevant content and enticing offers to share with your subscribers
Know how to write compelling emails that get clicks.
Even if that were all true, there are quite a few limitations with free email software. Nobody’s going to let you send out thousands of emails for free. Regardless of which free email sender you choose, you’ll likely be limited by the number of emails you can send each month, as well as the number of subscribers you can reach with the tool.
To remove all limitations imposed by the free plans these email senders offer, you’d likely have to invest around $15/month. Apart from the autoresponder itself, there are quite a few aspects of email marketing that also necessitate an investment, whether it be time or money.
Let’s take a look at each one of these aspects, so that you can get a better idea of the true cost of email marketing:
Email service provider
Visuals and design
Setting up the campaign
Testing and analytics
There are dozens of email service providers to choose from, all of them providing pretty much the same capabilities — sending and receiving emails, creating email templates, managing your contact list, and tracking the performance of your campaigns.
When it comes to email marketing services prices, quite a few ESPs offer business packages, ranging from $1 to $15/month.
The choice of an ESP doesn’t matter much in the grand scheme of things if you’re only concerned with sending mass email campaigns. If you’re looking for additional features, such as added security and HIPAA compliance, for instance, you might have to do some digging and compare all the available options.
That said, our primary focus in this article is the cost of email marketing. In that regard, there are plenty of free options that will help you get the job done. Here’s a quick overview of the top 10 free email service providers.
Top 10 Free Email Service Providers
Any of these ESPs will get the job done when it comes to running email marketing campaigns. Which one you choose comes down to personal preference and whether you might use any of their additional features.
Overall, you’ll only have to invest a bit of time to compare a few ESPs and choose the one that best fits your business. If you’re already using one of these ESPs and are satisfied with it, you can move on to the next step.
Most email marketing rookies mistakenly believe that crafting an email comes down to writing a few sentences, pasting a link to your product/service page, and signing off with a quirky signature.
It doesn’t take a genius to realize that this couldn’t be further from the truth. Take a moment to think about how much time it takes you to write a business email — you’d most likely spend 30 minutes writing the five sentences, then at least as much time proofreading every single word and trying to think of ways to make the email sound better or more professional.
Now, apply that to marketing emails that you’ll be sending to thousands of people. Then, add to that the fact that every email in the sequence needs to be at least loosely connected to the previous marketing message you’ve sent them.
The emails also need to be:
You don’t just want people to read your emails — you want them to take action afterward.
We think you get the idea — writing marketing emails is anything but easy. Before you even start crafting your marketing message, you have to come up with a good subject line. Think of the subject line as the headline of your email. It needs to pique the subscribers’ interest, stand out from the sea of emails in their inbox, and make them eager to open the email and find out what it’s all about.
The general rule of thumb is that you should spend as much time on the subject line as you’d spend on the rest of the email.
When it comes to the body of the email — the marketing message itself — there are quite a few things to consider before you sit down and start writing.
First, you have to understand who you’ll be sending the emails to:
Who is your target audience?
Why did they subscribe to your mailing list?
What are their biggest pain points and the problems they’re hoping you can help them solve?
Which offers would they be most receptive to?
Your emails can’t simply be: “I have this awesome product — you should buy it.” To create an effective email marketing campaign that will generate sales, you must adjust the angle and your marketing message to your target audience.
Plus, you can’t start selling right off the bat. You could, but you won’t get the desired results. It’s necessary to nurture your leads first by providing them free, relevant, valuable content. You must first earn their trust before asking them to whip out their credit card and make a purchase.
In other words, you must carefully plan out your campaign — down to every last CTA (call-to-action) of every single email in the entire campaign. It gets even more complicated when you add segmentation in the mix — splitting off subscribers into different groups based on their engagement with your previous emails and behavior on your website and sending them personalized offers.
Technically, you don’t have to spend anything on writing the emails. The trouble is, your campaigns likely won’t generate any profit if you don’t know what you’re doing. And we can’t overlook the fact that writing 15-or-so emails will take you a full workday, at the very least.
What’s your other option? If you’re only planning on launching a few email campaigns, hiring a full-time copywriter isn’t really an option. What you could do instead is engage the services of a freelancer.
Hiring a good freelancer with experience in writing marketing emails for your niche will likely run you somewhere around $15–$20 per hour. For a simple, ten-email campaign, that’s $120, at the very least. Sure, there are people who would take the job for way less money, but you want to hire someone who knows what they’re doing.
Another option would be to pay a freelancer per project and spend some time finding a decent copywriter to create the entire campaign for you for about $100.
Plain text emails are a thing of the past. Professionally-designed emails with powerful visuals that provide context and bring the emails to life are the golden standard nowadays. So, unless you’re promoting a get-rich-quick pyramid scheme, superfruits, or some such nonsense, you’ll have to design every single email in your campaign.
Thankfully, email design is a bit different than copy. There are dozens of tools that provide stunning email templates that you can tweak easily through a simple drag & drop editor. In most cases, however, you’d have limited options, and will likely need to pay the monthly subscription for the tool in question before you can start utilizing all of its templates.
Another issue is that, while templates can be a great option for e-commerce businesses and companies selling their own products, they can’t really be customized for services. Plus, if you want to add your company name and logo to the emails, you will need to spend at least a few days learning Photoshop.
If you’re just starting out, you’ll also need to create visuals for all your different offers before you can start adding them to your emails. Unless you’re a graphic designer, you’ll likely have to hire someone to create all the visuals for your website and your business anyway, so you might as well ask them to design the emails for you, as well.
This adds to your email-marketing related expenses.
Depending on the complexity of the designs, you’re looking at at least another $100 on top of the money you’d spend on email copy. So far, we’re looking at $200, minimum.
It should go without saying that you won’t be sending emails to your subscribers manually. To create and launch an email marketing campaign, you’ll need to utilize an autoresponder — a piece of software that enables you to automate the whole process, from email creation to scheduling.
There are literally hundreds of different autoresponders out there, with various features and different pricing plans. Quite a few of them offer free trials or free plans, but unless you’re only planning on testing them out, the sending limitations generally mean that you’ll have to opt for one of the paid plans.
The cost of an autoresponder largely depends on the complexity of the tool and the number of subscribers you want to reach with your marketing messages, as well as the number of emails you plan on sending each month.
You should compare different options by looking at the email marketing cost per email, and different limits regarding the number of subscribers.
Here are a few autoresponders you can check out:
Top 9 Autoresponders on the Market
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$49/month for 1,000 subscribers
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$19/month for 500 subscribers
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$15/month for 100,000 contacts
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$16/month for 15,000 emails
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$49/month for 2,000 contacts
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$20/month for 500 contacts
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$9.6/month for 1,000 subscribers
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$10/month for 1,000 subscribers
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$25/month for 100,000 emails
Every autoresponder in the table above covers all the basic features and offers a little extra on top of email campaign creation. Most of them also offer free trials, so you can get familiar with the tools before you make a commitment to one of the paid plans.
The prices differ slightly, but on average, you’re looking at somewhere around $50 for a list of about 2,500 email subscribers.
Unless you know your way around an autoresponder, it might take a while before you figure out how to take full advantage of all of the features and set up the campaigns properly.
Most tools we recommended feature intuitive UIs, so there’s really no need to pay extra to hire someone who would create the campaigns for you. Sure, it may take a bit more time before you start sending out the emails and seeing results, but knowing how to create advanced email marketing campaigns is an invaluable skill you should learn anyhow.
You can view campaign setup as an investment in yourself. It might take a few days to get the hang of it, but developing this skill will pay off big time later down the road.
For most of the popular autoresponders, you’ll be able to find video tutorials on YouTube with a simple search, so creating the campaigns yourself shouldn’t be too difficult.
Email marketing campaigns aren’t something you can just “set and forget.” It’s necessary to monitor the performance of your campaign as a whole, as well as each individual email, in order to understand exactly what works for your business and your audience.
You might feel overwhelmed by the amount of data some tools can provide on your marketing campaigns, but that’s only the initial impression. Any decent email marketing tool will show the information using easy-to-understand charts, graphs, and lists, and will highlight the most important KPIs (Key Performance Indicators), such as:
If you combine analytics with A/B testing, it’s relatively easy to discern what generates the best results and which areas of your email marketing campaign you need to improve.
For example, if your open rates are low, you might want to experiment with different subject lines. The same principle applies to every other variable — the email copy, visuals, the offers, and the CTAs.
There are no certainties in email marketing — you have to test out different approaches and rely on trial & error to figure out what works for your business. In other words, hiring an expert to handle email analytics and tweak your campaigns is a complete waste of resources.
The best they can do is apply proven strategies and best practices and go through the trial & error process in your stead.
A lot more goes into an email marketing campaign that most people think. While it is possible to execute an email marketing campaign without spending a single dollar — at least in theory — you will be limited to sanding a handful of emails to hundred-or-so subscribers.
If you’re serious about leveraging email marketing to generate sales and maximize your profits, you will have to invest $250 upfront, at the very least. This shouldn’t be too big of an investment for any serious business. One cardinal rule to remember here is that you need to spend money to make money.
Speaking of making money, there’s another excellent way to create and run high-performing email campaigns, all the while creating an additional revenue stream! We’re talking about our white-label autoresponder.
You can leverage our powerful software to create anything from simple newsletters to advanced drip campaigns in minutes. There’s no limit to how many contacts you can report or how many emails you can send each month!
The software also includes a simple drag-and-drop editor, so you can create visually stunning, responsive emails with ease. Sell SaaS autoresponder also tracks your open, bounce, and click-through rates, so you’ll know how your campaign is performing at all times.
The best part, however, is that you can both use and resell our software! You don’t have to purchase any reseller licenses, and there are no additional fees. All you need to do to start reselling is add your:
We’ll take care of everything else, including setting up the payment links and providing customer support to your clients.
You’ll get to keep between 60% and 80% of every sale you make, depending on your partner status. Plus, you get to choose what price you want to resell the software for.
White-label software is an excellent way to boost brand awareness, establish yourself as an authority in your niche, and skyrocket your ROI by creating an additional, automated revenue stream.Sign up to become a Sell SaaS partner today — completely free — and shoot your ROI through the roof!
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