Best Email Marketing Systems for Shopify eCommerce Stores

We’re lucky enough to live in an age where starting an online business is something literally anybody can do.

Shopify is one of the most popular eCommerce platforms around for making business happen online, so it’s no surprise that plenty of other tools use integration with it as a selling point. Specifically with email marketing tools, there are so many options available, and all of them sound so similar. It can be a minefield, even if you have experience in marketing!

Here, we’ll take a look at some of the top names in email marketing solutions for integrating with Shopify.

MailChimp

As with all entries on this listicle, MailChimp works with a tiered pricing system, where they offer an increasing amount of features for every extra amount of money you give them. Unlike all the others though, MailChimp’s lowest tier is entirely free. That in itself is one of the main reasons why it’s such a popular platform.

I’m forever preaching that you get what you pay for, in anything at all that you part with money for, so does that mean that an email platform that doesn’t cost anything will be terrible? The answer is no, and for something that’s free, it’s more than enough to get somebody started in the world of email marketing.

Of course a free thing has limitations. With MailChimp, that limitation is that you can only contact up to 2,000 subscribers, with a maximum of 12,000 emails per month. That’s fine if you have less than 2,000 email addresses on your list. In terms of functionality, it’ll be skin and bones. You’ll have some templates to create your email, it’ll still carry MailChimp’s branding, and the analytics will be minimal.

Moving up to the next tier, and for as little as $25 per month, you’ll be able to remove MailChimp’s branding from you marketing emails, start some automation, and what we need here: integrate it with Shopify. You’ll also be able to integrate it with Google Analytics to keep your data analysis sharp.

The top tier of MailChimp is something I’d only recommend if you have a dedicated email marketing, or at least general marketing person. It costs $199 on top of whatever you pay for your second tier. It predominantly gives you even deeper data stuff, but it’s to the depth that will only be of value if you have somebody onboard who can interpret it into business actions.

ConvertKit

ConvertKit only started in 2015, so it’s still quite a baby as these things go. Don’t underestimate this startup just because it’s young – as an email marketing tool, they absolutely have it together, and know what they’re doing.

So how does a fledgling email marketing company distinguish itself from so many competitors? Well, ConvertKit are very focused on a particular market for their product, and that’s professional bloggers. It’s a good idea. The top bloggers aren’t making money from advertising revenue alone, and may well need to sell stuff to make a living. An email platform focused on helping them with that is sure to appeal.

In terms of pricing, an important distinction of ConvertKit compared to other services on our listicle is that they offer the exact same features across all four of their tiers – that includes Shopify integration. The only thing that makes the price go up is the number of subscribers you want to contact. I have a feeling that might bother some people, but clearly not enough people to stop them running a great product.

The minor exception to that pricing system is the top tier, and it’s not so much as an additional feature, but more of a service. If you have more than 7,500 subscribers on your list, they’ll offer you a migration concierge service to help you move from your existing email marketing platform to ConvertKit. I think that’s a nice touch.

While ConvertKit doesn’t have any ongoing free service, you can try it free for 14 days.

As it’s aimed at bloggers, whose passion is to write, ConvertKit have cleverly kept their service as free from technical stuff as they could, meaning you’ll be hard pressed to find something easier to use, down to the point of it having a WordPress plugin to manage the integration.

GetResponse

GetResponse have been around since 1998. They’re not the most prominent email marketing solution, so that implies they’ve just been quietly working away, building the business.

GetResponse are rocking four tiers of pricing. The lowest option is $15 per month for up to 1,000 subscribers. I think that’s a very reasonable price. Of course, for that price, it doesn’t let you do very much, but it’ll certainly get you introduced to how to “do” email marketing.

Things certainly kick up a notch on the next tier up, which introduces one of the most curious features we’ll see throughout all the products here, and that’s a webinar function. I find it a very strange thing to include, but I see the benefit for certain niche organizations.

getresponse webinar function screenshot

For example, if you’re selling a specific product and need to provide a demonstration, or if you’re offering some kind of a service and you want to offer some training. This second tier will allow you to deliver webinars for up to 100 people, a number that increases with the more expensive tiers.

Apart from that, GetResponse offers pretty much the usual slew of features: segmentation, automation, tracking. I always feel as if GetResponse wishes it was a CRM system, as if it was designed like a CRM, and then stripped of most of the functionality to focus on email marketing. And that’s perfectly cool.

In terms of usability, GetResponse is super-easy to use. It’s the kind of program where it’s difficult to actually make a mistake. The layout is clear, and it’ll double-check decisions you make.

A negative point for myself in particular, is that the analytics GetResponse provides simply aren’t that deep. I’m a nosey marketer, and I like to know as much as possible about my audience. That’s how I know what content to create for them.

Campaign Monitor

Like GetResponse, Campaign Monitor are a well-established company, who seem to have been quietly and solidly working on a customer base. Campaign Monitor’s clients include Disney, Coca-Cola and BuzzFeed – those are brands who won’t risk substandard email marketing!

Campaign Monitor have a four-tier pricing system, with incremental features. None of the tiers have any limited on the number of subscribers you can have with them, but their initial tier has a limited of 2,500 emails per month to you to send. If you want to email your subscribers once per week, that means you couldn’t have more than 625 subscribers.

That doesn’t sound like much, but if you’re at the ground floor of a business venture, it only costs $9 per month. Obviously you won’t get anything too fancy for $9 per month, and this really is bare bones email marketing, but, it does have more of a professional feel than other entry-level products.

All tiers include some level of automation, and these increase as you go up. At the second tier, you’ll get access to inbox previews, which is a nice feature. One of my favorite things that I like to see in email marketing though is time zone delivery. It’s actually somewhat of a rarity.

What it means is that your subscribers will receive the email at the same time, regardless of time zone. For example, if you set an email to be delivered at 8pm, it’ll be delivered at 8pm in New York or 8pm in Dublin: it depends where the subscriber is.

Campaign Monitor is incredibly simple and intuitive to use, but if you find yourself struggling, they have plenty of support available, at increasing level as you go through the tiers, starting with basic email support at the first tier, right up to one-on-one support at the top tier.

ActiveCampaign

The way ActiveCampaign do things is actually very similar to Campaign Monitor. ActiveCampaign’s userbase grew by 250% in the past year, so they’re certainly a company on the rise!

Also like Campaign Monitor, ActiveCampaign have four tiers, where the lowest price is $9 per month. The key difference is that ActiveCampaign caps the number of subscribers at this price point at 500. But, at the same time, you can send those 500 people and unlimited number of emails.

Outside of that, the pricing is determined on the tier you select, relative to the number of subscribers. As you move up to the tiers, I find the price jumps to be fairly substantial, to the point where I’m not 100% convinced of the value of those jumps.

You need to be at least on the second tier if you want ActiveCampaign’s branding off your emails, and a wider range of customization.

In terms of usability, ActiveCampaign is perfectly fine, but I’m not sure it’s the ideal tool for somebody who’s completely new to digital marketing. I can’t quite put my finger on it, but it does feel like you would need some existing knowledge. It gives the impression that it really is aimed at professionals, and they don’t have time for babysitting.

If you go as far as ActiveCampaign’s top tier, it starts to feel more like a marketing agency, rather than a SaaS. It’s common practice for email marketing companies to increase the personal interaction with the user, but this feels like another level. They include: design services, an account rep, phone support, and an uptime SLA.

That top tier also includes a thing called “social data,” which from what I can make out means they’ll tell you the demographic information that you can get for free from Google Analytics.

I feel like ActiveCampaign is more of a sales tool than a marketing one.

Drip

Drip only started in 2013, but I’m surprised the name was available. In case you’re not au fait with the email marketing buzzwords yet, a drip campaign is essentially a sequence of emails that have been set to be delivered upon certain action undertaken by a prospective customer. Their first couple of years were so impressive, in 2016, they were bought by Leadpages, one of the top landing page creation tools.

Probably the most distinctive aspect of Drip compared to others on this list, is its pricing structure. It still has a tiered system, but only two tiers: free and premium. In saying that, the price of the premium tier varies depending on how many contacts you have, which I guess makes it similar to ConvertKit. The prices look like this:

101 – 2,500 contacts $41 per month
2,501 – 5,000 contacts $83 per month
5,001 – 12,500 contacts $124 per month

In terms of the actual functionality difference between the free and premium tiers, well, firstly, the free version will only let you contact 100 people. That probably makes it OK for doing some initial testing internally, but it’s unlikely that it’s practical for a busy business. The only other difference I can make out is that the free version will include Drip’s branding.

Drip puts social media integration front and center of their selling points, because that’s ever so sexy. That’s cool – you’re reading this article because you’re looking for a solution that integrates with Shopify, so integrating it with your social selling with Drip means you’ll be keeping the main digital marketing channels together.

Like Campaign Monitor, Drip offers the time zone delivery feature that I love.

Mad Mimi

Mad Mimi is an email platform that Shopify themselves tout for using with their system. It’s owned by GoDaddy, and I can’t work out if their mentions by Shopify are from an overlapping business interest somewhere.

Like Drip, it has a free version where you can send to up to 100 subscribers. And, like Drip and ConvertKit, it has a set number of features across the rest of its pricing options, where the price increase is relative only to the number of subscribers. These start at $10 per month for up to 500 subscribers.

The weird thing I found when investigating Mad Mimi, is that it seems so focused on selling itself based on price, the amount of additional features to standard emailing gets hidden away.

And it comes with an astounding number of additional features! It feels like it’s taken some of the main features of the other products on this list and just made them casually available for all their price points.

The main ones are:

  • Web forms to get email addresses to send to
  • Integration with Facebook so you can create a form there that will also sign people up
  • Integration with Google Analytics, Etsy, SurveyMonkey, and Salesforce

Those are just the tip of the iceberg.

I find the interface similar to MailChimp, in that it’s cartoonish. I’m not sure I like that. I think it’s fine to start with, but feels condescending after a while. Starting email marketing with Mad Mimi is OK, but if you were to start integrating all the features, it would get time-consuming, and you would need somebody who’s very clear about what they’re doing.

 MailchimpConvertkitGetResponseCampaign Monitor
Pricing optionsThree tiers, starting with a free versionThree tiers, starting at $29 per monthFour tiers, starting at $15 per monthThree tiers, starting at $9 per month
Features- Forms for signing up subscribers
- Data and insights reports

Paid versions:
- Automation
- CRM integration
- Segmentation, targeting and tracking

Pro version:
- Further automation options such as triggering
- Comparative reporting
- Multivariate testing
- Forms for signing up subscribers
- Automation
- Segmentation
- Set up sequence of triggered emails
- Forms for signing up subscribers
- Automation
- Webinars
- Landing pages
- Standard email marketing functionality
- Limited sends at lowest tier
- Automation
- Inbox previews
- Spam testing
- Deliverability experts
- Design consultant
- Customer Success Manager
UsabilitySimple with room to develop technical knowledge as business requirements - and therefore email marketing requirements - expandSimple and intuitiveSimple and intuitiveSimple to use - just follow the instructions
ConclusionGood for marketersGood for bloggersGood for sales professionalsGood for dedicated email marketers
 ActiveCampaignDripMad Mimi
Pricing optionsThree tiers, starting at $9 per monthTwo tiers, starting at free; price increases are based solely on number of contactsFive tiers, starting with a free version
Features- Standard email marketing functionality
- Unlimited sends at lowest tier
- Automation
- CRM integration
- Some branding features for your company
- Complimentary design service
- Dedicated account rep
- Integration with Facebook advertising
- Unlimited number of sends
- Automation
- Standard email marketing functionality
- Unlimited sends
- Exceptional number of additional tools and integrations available at no extra charge
UsabilityStraightforward, but prior digital marketing knowledge would be beneficialFeels slightly techy and some familiarity with terminology would be usefulEasy enough, but cartoonish interface may annoy some user
ConclusionGood for salespeopleGood for salespeopleGood for those looking to integrate their email with everything

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