8 Best Email Newsletter Platforms for Publishers in 2023
Disclaimer: Our top picks are based on our editors’ independent research, analysis, and/or hands-on testing. Editorial policy
Please note that because these are not deep-dive reviews, we’ve listed the following platforms alphabetically rather than in order of preference.
AWeber is one of the oldest platforms on this list, being founded in 1998, and is used by companies such as Investopedia, WLS and Tumblr.
The platform offers publishers a range of features aimed at helping them get the most out of the platform as quickly as possible. These include a drag-and-drop email editor, autoresponders for new subscribers and audience segmentation that tracks user activity.
AWeber integrates with Canva and provides access to free stock images. This means publishers can create unique and tailored email campaigns without leaving the interface, simplifying the design process.
AWeber combines systems tools with a dedicated email deliverability team to limit the number of newsletters ending up in the junk folder.
It also provides systems to help drive more traffic and downloads. One example of this is its customizable automated newsletter, creation and distribution of which is triggered when new content is published. This is massively helpful for outlets that publish at scale, alleviating some cross-platform distribution pressures.
AWeber not only offers a 30-day free trial but also provides a free plan with a limited feature set for publishers with up to 500 subscribers. While the Lite and Plus plans, which start at $14.99 and $29.99 per month respectively and offer unlimited subscriber counts, both come with additional subscriber fees. These two plans offer a discount for annual purchases.
Publishers with more than 100,000 subscribers should look to the Unlimited plan, which has a fixed price of $899.99 per month.
While beehiiv is one of the newer platforms on this list, having only entered the market in 2021, it has already attracted the likes of the Boston Globe, Cult of Mac and MissExcel. beehiiv pitches itself as the most “creator-friendly” newsletter software, serving as both a web hosting service and newsletter platform.
The platform also offers various monetization options — including affiliate programs, paid newsletters and access to ad networks — that publishers can incorporate into their marketing strategies. The software’s analytics suite can track revenue, helping to optimize future email marketing campaigns.
beehiiv’s Design Lab allows publishers to create custom landing pages with a focus on optimizing conversions.
A 14-day trial allows publishers to get a feel for the platform. After that, beehiiv’s free plan offers many benefits for publishers with up to 5,000 subscribers, including web hosting and unlimited newsletter distribution, yet certain features, such as custom domains or segmentation, are restricted. Still, this makes it an ideal choice for newer publishers with constrained budgets.
The Grow plan is marketed at publishers with up to 25,000 subscribers, unlocks features such as custom domains and costs $49 per month. The Scale plan, which costs $99 per month, is for publishers with up to 200,000 subscribers and comes with advanced features such as automated journeys and beehiiv’s AI. All plans offer an annual discount.
For publishers with a higher subscriber count, beehiiv also offers an Enterprise plan with negotiated pricing.
Campaign Monitor, launched in the early 2000s, is still making competitive strides in the digital landscape.
Though the landing page builder within Campaign Monitor lacks in formatting options, the platform is perfect for beginner users, maintaining an easy-to-use interface that helps publishers create memorable newsletters.
The platform comes with more than 120 templates designed to adjust to the viewer’s device and screen size automatically. Having responsive design woven into templates not only reduces the need for design-related resources, but also means newsletters are mobile optimized from the get go.
Access to free stock images eliminates the need to use personal photography or graphics, saving production budget.
The platform offers two pricing structures: contact-based and pay-per-campaign.
Pricing starts at just $9 per month for the Basic plan, scales up as subscriber counts grow and is aimed at publishers who only need to send up to 2,500 emails per month. The Unlimited plan’s starting price rises to $29 per month and offers additional features, such as unlimited emails. The Premier plan, meanwhile, includes advanced features such as send time optimization and email section locking but starts at $149 per month.
Launched in 2013, Ghost is an open-source platform intended for users to publish, share and grow a niche business. Notable users of the platform include The Atlantic, The Lever and Bklyner.
Featuring website building and publishing tools, Ghost can send personalized email newsletters and launch premium subscriptions for its users. It’s designed to make email marketing smoother and simplified for businesses of all sizes by creating and managing email campaigns effortlessly.
Ghost’s website offers hundreds of templates and a wide array of integration options. The platform’s simplicity and advanced customization were designed with publishers in mind.
The email marketing tool has an extensive network of resources — including expert guides, a help center and tips — that can assist publishers in researching and planning their own campaigns.
Not only does Ghost offer an extensive and varied array of third-party integrations — including the likes of PayPal, Slack and Instagram — but the platform also allows publishers to build their own integrations through embeds, webhooks or an API.
Ghost offers a 14-day free trial to test the platform, after which there are four paid plans.
The Starter plan starts at $11 per month for 500-2,999 subscribers and, while the most cost-effective option, it only offers one newsletter and lacks custom themes and integrations. The Creator plan, which adds additional features such as three newsletters and 100MB file upload limits, is for publishers with at least 1,000 subscribers and starts at $31 per month and scales in line with subscriber numbers.
The Team plan, which starts at $63 per month and is also available to publishers with at least 1,000 subscribers, offers additional benefits such as 10 custom newsletters. Pricing also scales with subscriber count.
The most comprehensive and expensive option is the Business plan — which starts at $249 per month for 10,000 subscribers — and boasts features such as unlimited newsletters, staff users and premium tiers.
A 20% discount is available across annualized plans.
LiveIntent, which is one of the first platforms to offer cookie-less products, is used by the likes of Vogue, CNN and Daily Voice.
LiveIntent aims to help boost newsletter revenue streams through optimization and diversification, particularly advertising. LiveIntent uses custom HTML code within its newsletters that allows users to manage inventory and revenue channels.
LiveIntent created the “ads in email” category, and while the platform may focus on ad-based solutions, the interface prioritizes impact and avoids being intrusive by accommodating different ad sizes and placements, ranging from standard IAB banners to tailored native ad experiences.
LiveIntent also increases the percentage of website visitors that publishers can identify without requiring them to log in. This leads to more detailed audience insight and — without compromising data or content — publishers are better able to leverage their first-party data when dealing with advertisers.
The platform also offers an “Email Reactivation” solution, allowing users to re-engage subscribers previously tagged as dormant. To do this, LiveIntent uses proprietary identity graphs combined with data science to score email lists and clean up subscriber data.
LiveIntent, however, is another platform that doesn’t provide pricing information on its website.
Mailchimp pitches itself as the email newsletter platform for users of all sizes and sophistication, offering drag-and-drop editors as well as developer APIs. Mailchimp also comes with an AI email creator, which can help users quickly generate and iterate on content.
Publishers can set up campaigns that target audience segments based on behavior. Moreover, campaigns can include multiple conditions to help granularize messaging. Mailchimp’s Customer Journey Builder actions can also add or remove contacts from lists.
The platform’s more than 300 third-party integrations available also make it a compelling choice for publishers looking for a platform that can complement their current tech stack.
Mailchimp does have a free plan for publishers with up to 500 contacts and 1,000 emails per month, but its feature set is extremely limited.
The Essentials and Standard plans come with a 30-day free trial, after which they cost $13 and $20 per month respectively for 500 contacts and 5,000 and 6,000 emails. Plan prices rise as contact and email limits increase.
The Premium plan, which starts at $350 per month and is almost identical in feature set to the Standard plan, offers unlimited contacts and 150,000 email sends.
It’s important to note that Mailchimp has adopted overage charges on all of its plans, so publishers should pick their plans carefully to avoid unexpected costs.
Substack has quickly become one of the most used platforms by publishers since its launch in 2017. The platform offers publishers the chance to grow a free or subscription-based newsletter.
Substack helps content creators build communities, making it extremely popular with both new and established publishers.
While Substack wasn’t specifically designed for publishers, it’s a versatile email marketing platform for companies of all sizes and goals. Publishers can quickly write and publish their content or put it behind a paywall to monetize it.
There could be more features for publishers looking to grow an online audience at a broader scale, however, such as limited SEO tools and embed options.
Publishing is free using Substack, though the platform does take a 10% cut of revenue generated through paid subscriptions.
Upland’s Postup is a smaller platform that offers several audience development tools designed to help companies build and maintain a relationship with email subscribers.
The platform, which counts HBO and Adweek among its clients, offers data gathering and audience segmentation features that don’t disrupt the user experience (UX).
The email marketing service allows publishers to automate some or all of their email creation and distribution processes. This includes automating personalized newsletters and breaking news alerts targeting audiences based on their interests. Postup can also integrate with WordPress and other content management systems (CMSs) to populate content from within the CMS itself.
Postup also uses responsive design in its newsletter creation, seamlessly displaying emails whether they’re viewed on desktop or mobile.
Demos are available for publishers to try out the software, however, pricing needs to be discussed with Upland’s sales team and based on individual use cases.
Since their conception roughly 20 years ago, email newsletter platforms have revolutionized the way publishers connect with their audiences. The array of benefits these platforms offer make them a powerful tool for any publisher looking to create a genuine bond with a target audience.
Publishers should, however, be careful to review what each can offer them. Creating engaging emails is just the first step on the road to success. Getting there will require access to advanced marketing tools to understand whether a particular marketing strategy is working out.
With that said, customization, segmentation, personalization and reporting features are essential when choosing a platform. And while these features are standard, only some plans contain all the features. That makes it vital that publishers don’t simply opt for the cheapest plan available but also consider their long-term growth strategy.
Whether a seasoned publisher or a new entrant, it’s important to understand the value that being able to send personalized newsletters directly to users represents. It not only allows media companies to build relationships with their audiences, but it also allows them to stand out in an increasingly crowded market.
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