Free doesn’t have to mean crap.
Not even when it comes to email marketing software.
Sure, your email list is valuable. 4,000% ROI-level valuable. But, that doesn’t mean every tool you use to execute an email strategy needs to be expensive.
In fact, there are tons of free options out there, and they don’t even entail accepting compromises just to get work done.
In this post, we’ll round up the best free email tools you should consider using. Then, we’ll show you how to build an entire workflow using free resources.
Whether you’re operating on a shoestring budget, or just need a gadget or two to tackle certain tasks, you’re sure to find something you can use.
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Introducing the Email Subject Line Tester
You get one chance to write the perfect subject line for your email.
Of course, there’s no way to be sure how it’ll perform until you hit “send.”
But, wouldn’t be great if you could tilt the odds in your favor?
That’s where our Email Subject Line Tester comes in. It's the best way to:
- Optimize subject lines: Understand which elements to adjust for best performance.
- Do better subject line A/B tests: Test multiple options, choose your best scores, and repeat.
- Improve open rates: 33% of recipients open emails based on the subject line. Test yours to make sure you're getting as many opens as possible.
All 28 Email Marketing Tools This Post Will Cover
You might just want a roundup of all the tools mentioned here. In that case, browse through this list and pick out what you need.
Free Email Planning and Research Tools
Before you get started creating email content, you have some legwork to do. Here are a few resources to help you plan.
- Free Email Marketing Calendar Template: We’ve included one in this post to help plan all your send dates.
- Feedly: One of the best RSS reader apps out there. Follow sources in your industry and surface the best content to share with your audience.
- Scope: Curious to know how a cool-looking email was coded? Use Scope to dissect it and see what you can learn.
Free Email Writing Tools
Writing email copy isn’t easy. Neither is dealing with shame after sending an email with a spelling error. Tips the odds for success in your favor with a couple free editing tools.
- Grammarly: There’s nothing worse than sending an email to your entire list with a typo. Use Grammarly to catch them before you hit publish.
- Hemingway: Is your email copy clear and conversational? Use Hemingway to analyze your writing and make sure it’s easy to read.
Free Email Design Tools
Most email service providers make it easy to create designed emails using WYSIWYG editors and templates. If you prefer to hard code your own emails, though, there are free tools out there to help.
- BEE Free Responsive Email Builder: This responsive email builder lets you design email newsletters, and then deliver them with whichever service you prefer.
- Free HTML email template roundup from Colorlib: If you need HTML email templates, you’ll likely find several useful options amongst this enormous roundup.
- HTML to Text Email Converter: Plain text emails might not look as attractive as designed emails, but they serve plenty of purposes (they’re easier to read, quicker to load, for starters). Use this tool to convert designed emails into plain text, if you plan to send two versions.
- Free Formatter: Building emails with HTML? Use this tool to cleanly format your code.
- Da Button Factory: Use this to build CTA buttons for your HTML emails.
- PicResize: If you have images in your email, and don’t want to fire up Photoshop to resize them, use PicResize to get the job done quickly.
Free Landing Page Building Tools
Each of these tools are meant to do one thing: create conversion-optimized landing pages to direct traffic toward from your emails.
- MailChimp Landing Page Builder
- Ucraft Landing Page Builder
- Vertical Response Landing Page Builder
- OntraPages Landing Page Builder
- Xtensio Landing Page Creator
Free Email Testing Tools
Once you hit Send on an email, it’s gone. Outta there. Not coming back, no matter how bad you need to fix something. Get it right before you deliver with these free resources.
- Mail Tester: Make sure your email isn’t likely to trip spam filters before you send it.
- Email Deliverability Test: Ensure your email has a high probability of landing in your recipient’s inbox.
- Email Subject Line Tester: Optimize subject lines before you send to maximize opens and clicks. This one was built by CoSchedule, and its available as a web-based landing page, or within the CoSchedule platform itself.
- A/B Split Test Calculator: Use this calculator to determine the statistical relevance of your A/B test results.
- A/B Split Test Duration Calculator: How long should your A/B tests run for? Here’s one way to find out.
- Email Rendering Preview: If you’re building HTML emails, it’s always good to know how they will appear in people’s inboxes. This tool lets you take a sneak peek.
- PutsMail: Test your subject line and body content appearance before sending your email.
Free Email Service Providers and Delivery Tools
Getting emails built and sent is much easier with an email service provider. Here, we’ll recommend a couple, plus one additional tool for easily automating email promotions from RSS.
- MailChimp: Free for up to 2,000 subscribers and 12,000 emails per month. Integrates with CoSchedule to plan and schedule emails on your marketing calendar.
- SendInBlue: Free for 300 emails per day.
- ChimpFeedr: Create RSS-based email subscription feeds effortlessly.
Free Email Measurement and Analytics Tools
Most ESPs include built-in analytics, but there are a couple tools we recommend using for building tracking URLs.
- Google Analytics Campaign URL Builder: Use this to create trackable URLs to use in your email content.
- Google Analytics: Measure referral traffic and conversions from your emails.
Plugging Free Tools Into Your Email Marketing Workflow
So, now you have a giant list of free tools. Now, how to actually use any of them? Let’s walk through where they fit in your workflow.
Step 1: Planning Your Email Newsletter
The first step is figuring out what your email will include. Are you putting together:
- A sales email.
- Something informational.
- A product update.
Once you have that down,
Then, if your newsletter will be rounding up curated content, check out your feeds in Feedly to find relevant content to share:
Finally, plan your send date on the email calendar template we’ve included in this post:
Using this template, you can map out the following for each email send:
- Send date
- Email creator/owner
- Email type (promo, newsletter, etc)
- Target Persona
- Email List (name of list segment that should receive it)
- Supporting details on each piece of content included in your email
And more. In short, using a calendar is an easy way to keep every email send organized.
Or, if you’re a paid customer, in CoSchedule (you can snag a free 14-day trial here):
Step 2: Writing Your Email Content
Next, fire up a word processor and start crafting your next masterpiece. To make sure it’s readable, scan your content in Hemingway. Then, run it through Grammarly to help catch any typos you may have missed:
After that, try CoSchedule’s Email Subject Line Tester and write several email subject line options you think might work.
First, enter your subject line:
Then, review your analysis. It’ll start by letting you know if you’re using words that either increase or decrease opens (and includes links to word banks showing you which words to consider adding, or avoiding):
You’ll also get recommendations on which style case to use:
Then, you’ll see suggestions for word count, number usage, and emojis:
Finally, you’ll get an illustrated preview of how your subject line might appear to a reader:
Try writing several subject line options until you narrow it down to two that you’ll A/B test.
Step 3: Designing Your Email
Hand-coding marketing emails is not for the faint of heart. It’s also not necessarily essential, with ESPs offering much of the functionality most marketers might need to develop emails.
But, there are benefits to designing emails yourself. You get total control over how your email designs look, and it makes sure your emails are unique and more difficult to duplicate.
Using the free tools in this post, you can either create emails totally from scratch (which, realistically, you would probably have a developer take on this task), or use freely available templates and tools to create your own, separate from the templates available in your ESP.
First, you might want to snag some inspiration from another email you’ve seen.
Next, pull open an email you want to examine in Gmail, and click Scope It in your toolbar:
The next step is to click the arrow pointers in the middle right to see the source code, or use the Code/Design toggle switch on the upper right:
If you choose to go this route, fire up BeeFree.io and select one of the available templates:
Or, select Start From Scratch and create your own:
As you’re adding content and graphics to your email, use PicResizer to keep images within a reasonable size before dropping them into your newsletter:
Then, once you click Save, you can download your email as HTML and send it with your ESP (or, you can upgrade to a paid plan).
Now, according to MailChimp, it’s wise to send a plain text version along with designed emails. So, use their HTML to Text Email Converter to make this process easy:
Step 4: Create and Schedule Your Email
If you’re not building your email by hand, then create and schedule it using MailChimp. This video will show you how to get it done:
If your email has links, you’ll also want to use trackable URLs. Use the Google Analytics Campaign URL Builder to help you track referral traffic from your email:
Step 5: Design Your Landing Page (Optional)
If you’re sending marketing emails, there’s a good chance you’re promoting something. That means you might also have a campaign landing page where you’re directing traffic.
MailChimp makes it easy to create a landing page quickly with their landing page builder. Here’s how it works:
Step 6: Test Your Email Before Delivery
A lot can go wrong with email marketing if you aren’t careful. So, let’s make sure your email is well-optimized for success before hitting send.
Start by making sure you’re not likely to end up in the SPAM folder using Mail Tester. First, send your email to the address you’re shown:
Then, you’ll receive a report checking your spam score.
Next, let’s check your email deliverability. This email deliverability test tool from Send Forensics will help you determine your deliverability performance according to industry benchmarks, and more.
To start, the tool will ask for some information:
Then, you’ll get an analysis back with some useful stats and data.
Now, most ESPs (like MailChimp) make it easy to set up A/B tests to see which subject line influences the most opens. You might want to test all kinds of different elements, from email layouts, to CTAs, to subject lines, and beyond.
To calculate how long you should run an A/B test in order to drive a desired increase in conversions, use VWO’s A/B Split Test Duration Calculator. You can use this for all kinds of different A/B tests (like split testing landing pages, for example), but it works well for our purposes here, too.
How do you know if your split test results mean, well, anything? Use this A/B Split Test Calculator. It’ll tell you whether there’s any meaningful statistical correlation between result A and result B, based on your total sample size:
Finally, if you’re curious how your email will display in various email clients, use Email Previews. It lets you see how your email will look across 90+ different apps:
Step 7: Measure Your Email Marketing Performance
Now, once your email is sent, you’ll need to measure its performance, and apply what you learn to your next email send.
If you’re using MailChimp, you can find a lot of data right in the app.
Follow these three guides:
- How to use Email Campaign Reports in Google Analytics.
- How to connect your MailChimp account to Google Analytics.
- Where to find MailChimp data in Google Analytics.
If you’re building your own emails, check out this guide from Smart Insights on using Google Analytics to measure email marketing performance.
What Are You Getting Done With Free Email Software?
If you’re serious about email marketing, you’re probably paying for an email provider, and maybe some other tools, too.
But, if cost has prohibited you from getting started, hopefully you were pleasantly surprised to learn what you could get done completely for free. Even if you are using a sophisticated email tool stack, hopefully you did find something here you could use, and know exactly where to incorporate it into your workflow.