What’s The Best Email Marketing Service in 2020?

By Chris Shaffer •  Updated: 03/12/20 •  11 min read

If you've been following along with the amazing seller for any length of time you've probably heard Scott or myself talk a whole lot about email marketing and one of the questions that we get most often is “what email service should I use?”

Should I use ConvertKit, MailChimp, Activecampaign, or one of the other million services that are out there?

After having tried nearly every email marketing platform that exists, from free services like Mailchimp to multiple 5 figure per year services designed specifically for large companies (like Marketo), the clear winner for us is ConvertKit.

When ConvertKit Might Not Be The Right Choice

 If you're running a multi 7 or 8 figure e-commerce business, ConvertKit may not be the right choice for you, because of the complexity that's involved in making sure that every single email you send results in dollars coming back into the business, if this is the situation you find yourself in you may want to take a look at Klaviyo which is designed specifically for e-commerce businesses. 

That being said, even if you're running an e-commerce business ConvertKit has some features and are launching new features designed specifically to address this difference.

Depending on when you're reading this article, ConvertKit has launched many different Integrations with e-commerce platforms and payment processors, like Stripe, to allow you to track eCommerce sales or sales from your website directly inside of the ConvertKit platform. So make sure to check back regularly.

For everyone else, I would always start by using Convertkit.

Why Do We Prefer ConvertKit?

I can probably sit here all day and tell you a million different ways to think about email marketing platforms and all of the different criteria that you evaluate, but at the end of the day it comes down to three simple things ease-of-use, deliverability, and marketing automation or as you'll often hear us refer to it “the nerdy stuff”

Ease of Use:

One of the biggest concerns that we often hear from people when they're considering getting started with marketing automation is that they feel like they're going to be overwhelmed with all of the different features and things that they can do and quite honestly most email marketing platforms are very overwhelming because they want to show you all of the crazy things that they can do.

The downside to this is it actually leads to overwhelm and it means that most people even if they send their first email may never use the platform to send their second or third much less doing like we recommend and sending at least one email per week.

This is an area where ConvertKit really shines. 

While they have all of the fancy features of many more expensive email marketing providers, they do a great job of boiling it down and using a very simple user interface (what you look at when you go to the site), making it super simple to do just about anything you want in one or two clicks.

One of the best examples of this is sending an email to people who did not open a previous email, you'll hear us refer to this as resending to unopens. 

While many platforms have this functionality it's often buried or hard to use, with ConvertKit you can literally do it in as few as two clicks from any email that you sent previously.

While other platforms may have many of the same features as Convertkit, they're often much more difficult to find or to use.


 Although ease of use  is probably the biggest hurdle for people in terms of using an email marketing platform, the real reason that many people choose a platform and one of the things that should be the biggest concern for you is deliverability.

Deliverability simply means the total number of emails that actually get delivered to the email addresses that you're sending them to, I know you're probably thinking “Well I'm paying this email service provider shouldn't all of my emails get delivered “ and that's a great question.

The answer is yes, in theory they should, but many email providers like Gmail/ Yahoo/ Hotmail all have their own criteria for what constitutes spam and what in the case of Gmail shows up in the main inbox versus the promotions folder.

If you searched long and hard for any email service provider, you'll likely find somewhere on their website that they claim to have the best deliverability ( just like the way that every cell phone provider claims they have the best or fastest cellular network). 

When it comes down to it you simply have to test. For us here at the amazing seller we've run this test with our own email list in fact you may have come to this very hard to go from one of our emails.

Before we were using ConvertKit, we used several of the providers who are generally regarded as having the best deliverability rates around.

The end result of that was we ended up with tens of thousands of emails that we thought were no longer interested in receiving our emails, because they simply weren't opening anything that we were sending them even if we sent it to small portions of the list or if we sent them a specific email they just were not opening them.

 What we discovered, is that even though our other email service provider claims that they had us on the best server meaning it had a good reputation and that there was nothing wrong with the way that they were sending these emails, after uploading those same exact “dead emails”, we were able to start re-engaging that list simply by sending those same email addresses emails via ConvertKit.

It turns out, those people, were still interested in the things that we're talking about here, but they simply were not receiving those messages, they were going to spam to the promotions folder or just disappearing entirely.

Since ConvertKit manually approves every new account and they verify the way that you're collecting email addresses and what you're doing with those emails, meaning the types of emails that you're sending and making sure that you're not spam, they're able to make sure that everyone sending from their platform has a good chance of ending up directly in the inbox. 

We've seen this type of deliverability increase several times now with ConvertKit and that's yet another reason why we love the platform.

Marketing Automation:

Something that most people overlook when they're evaluating an email service provider, is what the platform can do other than just send an email to their entire list, what most platforms call a “broadcast”.

 While sending broadcast emails is extremely important, We need to also consider the other ways that that platform can make our lives much easier.

For example, one of the things you often hear talked about in email marketing is an onboarding sequence or a series of emails that go out automatically after someone fills a form out on your website.

 While most email service providers have this functionality, it can often be difficult to set up, edit, or trigger.

With ConvertKit, not only is it as simple to set up as a standard email broadcast, but you get in-depth insights into every email that has been sent opened and clicked exactly the same way that you would if you had sent each of those emails as a broadcast to the entire list.

Beyond email sequences, ConvertKit makes it very easy for you to do some really interesting marketing thing (or “nerdy stuff” as I like to call it), which make it very easy to know exactly where every email address in your database came from, what sequences they've been through, what products they purchased, And a whole lot more.

ConvertKit Marketing Automation Drag and Drop Editor

they have some of the most advanced marketing automation features of any email platform and the thing that's even better especially for people like me is that setting up any of these Advanced features is just as simple as everything else in the platform.

Convertkit uses a very simple to understand and easy to use drag-and-drop editor to allow you to do all of these things meaning there's no difficult setup process and you can easily see at a glance exactly what you've done in the past and what you want to do in the future.

ConvertKit Vs MailChimp:

ConvertKit Vs MailChimp in 2020

The biggest platform that people often ask us about and compared to ConvertKit is MailChimp. The biggest reason for this that people often tell us is that MailChimp offers slightly better pricing than ConvertKit, meaning it's a little bit cheaper.

Well that does tend to be true, in fact MailChimp offers a free plan up to a few hundred email addresses, it's not exactly comparing Apples to Apples.

MailChimp is not nearly as easy to use as ConvertKit, especially when it comes to setting up email sequences and sending to people who didn’t open previous emails, two things you're going to be doing very often.

The other big thing that people get caught up in with MailChimp, is that they have lots and lots of beautiful email templates that you can choose from they're full of images and colors and they look really really good, but the truth is these types of emails don't perform nearly as well as simple text-based emails.

The thing that no one tells you is that you can design any kind of email templates you want inside of ConvertKit, so if you really want to try and send your audience one of those beautiful looking email templates you can easily do that inside of ConvertKit as well.

When MailChimp Might Make More Sense For Your Business:

The only time I would suggest potentially using MailChimp over ConvertKit is if you're trying to manage multiple audiences from one account, meaning you have different websites that are targeting people who are interested in different things  and you only want to have one email marketing service provider.

Since MailChimp uses a list based approach, you can have multiple distinct businesses running out of the same account.

 That being said, there's two problems with this approach.

Keeping Your Businesses Seperated

 If you ever want to sell one of those businesses you have to try and separate all of those email addresses, which is a lot more difficult than it seems, the new owner won't have access to all of the historical information like which types of emails worked which didn't and all of the data behind the sequences that you've been send it,  which makes it very difficult for a new owner to hit the ground running from a marketing perspective. 

Email, like everything else in your business should always be kept separate from any other businesses that you're working in. 

Tags Vs Lists and Paying Multiple Times For The Same Email Address

The other downside to this approach and you will see this in other platforms that use a list based approach, like Aweber, is that if you have the same email address on multiple different list, which can happen if they fill out more than one form on your website, you are actually paying twice (or even more if they’re on more than two lists), because of how MailChimp counts contacts. 

Since ConvertKit uses a “tag” based approach (vs a list based approach), you never need to worry about paying more than once for the same email address.

ConvertKit Vs ActiveCampaign

ActiveCampaign Vs ConvertKit in 2020

The other platform that we almost always get asked about, in comparison to ConvertKit, is ActiveCampaign. 

People often will reach out to us and let us know that they were looking at ActiveCampaign and saw some of their very Advanced marketing automation features or crazy dashboards that people set up to track what was going on inside of their campaigns.

Well it's true that activecampaign lets you do a lot more customisation of the look and feel inside of the platform and they can do some really interesting marketing automation things that aren't currently available inside of ConvertKit, for 99.9% of people the customization and additional features, not only result in confusion, but will just go unused.

When ActiveCampaign Might Make More Sense For Your Business:

Just like with MailChimp there are certain circumstances where it might make more sense for you to use ActiveCampaign.

If you need direct integration with Enterprise platforms, like Salesforce or other customer relationship management platforms ActiveCampaign maybe worth a look, because it's designed more for an enterprise-level user( meaning a company that has a dedicated marketing department and not a business that has either a solopreneur for a couple of employees. 

If you don't need this Advanced functionality and 99.9% of you reading this article do not need this functionality ConvertKit is absolutely the platform for you to check it out.

Chris Shaffer

Chris lives at the intersection of business strategy and growth tactics. Having consulted with dozens of different businesses (as well as building several of his own), he brings a unique perspective on what's working across the eCommerce world in businesses of all shapes and sizes.