How Much Does Email Marketing Automation Software Cost? Comparison of Pricing Plans

How much does email marketing automation software cost? It depends on many factors, mainly feature set, deployment and integrated modules. It can be priced at a monthly cost on a per-user basis or with a one-time license per device. Or, it can be totally free as an integrated freemium to a larger system.

Here are the different pricing models we’ll be discussing:

  1. Freemium
  2. Tiered pricing
  3. Monthly subscription
  4. Annual subscription
  5. Usage-based pricing
  6. Quote-based pricing

Knowing how much does email marketing automation software cost is crucial. Price is usually among the primary considerations for startups and SMBs because it impacts your budget, revenue, and overall operations, especially when you take into account the features that come with the particular plan you choose.

There are many pricing models and plans offered by vendors of email marketing software. After reading this article you’ll have a better picture of the typical plans of email marketing software provided by well-known vendors. We’ll focus on the price tiers and inclusions; if you need to know the fundamentals of this software category we recommend that you start with our what is email marketing software guide.

Email is still a favorite medium of marketers because it is cost-effective, has the broadest reach among available channels, and can be delivered across all devices, especially mobile. Consider that almost 68%of teens and 73% of millennials prefer to receive communication from a business through email, and that 86% of consumers use smartphones for email communication.

Another of the many compelling reasons why email marketing matters is that it has over four times greater ROI than social media, and leads all other tools (direct mail, paid search, online display) by a wide margin when it comes to direct marketing.


Marketing solutions and email marketing software providers have many features and capabilities foremost of which is automation. It helps you streamline tasks such as gathering contact information, categorizing contact list, creating template based email content and design, sending targeted emails and generating autoresponders. Much of these capabilities are defined by pricing, so it’s important that you get the right plan right off the bat.

Understanding Pricing Models

The growth and popularity of Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) – normally cloud or online platforms – has introduced a number of pricing models and subscription plans, including the following:

  • Freemium
  • Tiered Pricing
  • Monthly Subscription
  • Annual Subscription
  • Usage Based Pricing
  • Quote-Based Pricing

While there are other pricing models such as flat-based pricing and per feature pricing, the ones listed above are the most popular offerings. Flat based pricing is being eased out since it is a limited option and doesn’t target a wide range of users, while per feature pricing is hard to balance both for vendors and users – often the bulk of features end up in the cheapest plan while crucial functions are stuck in overpriced tiers.

A common variable among the widely offered plans today is flexibility and scalability. Both terms are used in more or less equal footing. While free plans basically limit features and number of users, the premium models are designed to cater to different users – from freelancers and professionals, to startups and SMBs, and to large enterprises. Moreover, the plans and features are flexible enough to be customized to come up with special pricing packages depending on the needs of the user. Also, the license to use the software can be paid through monthly or annual subscriptions.

The point with these plans is that you can easily upgrade to the next more featured filled offering anytime you need to when your business grows with more users, customers, and marketing activities. Below we take a look at these commonly offered pricing models and the email marketing software that best represent these plans.

Examples of Pricing Plans


The freemium or free edition is usually offered under the Tiered business model and is an ideal entry level point for startups looking to quickly get things up and running. The free plan supplements regular paid packages and may limit you up to a certain extent such as number of features, campaigns, and users (one or two users or a small team of five members) after which you’ll have to upgrade to the next paid plan up the tier. Our example product has built its reputation not only around the inbound marketing method it pioneered but also on its free offerings to the point that many of its users don’t realize that it also has paid plans.

HubSpot Marketing

HubSpot marketing and sales solutions start off as free while its CRM has been 100% free ever since. While it is essentially a tiered business model, HubSpot is uniquely positioned because you can utilize all three solutions into one platform at no cost, giving you numerous tools to manage contacts, analyze leads, schedule and track emails, generate reports, and automate tasks, among others. The tools are robust enough to get you started on solid ground and get results quickly without worries of marketing budget or capital outlay. HubSpot has consistently been our top marketing platform and is #1 in six other categories including email marketing, content marketing, campaign management, demand generation, marketing automation, and social media monitoring. You can easily start with the free marketing app when you sign up for the HubSpot free trial here.


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At zero cost, HubSpot Marketing provides tools for soloprenuers and beginner marketers such as lead analytics dashboard, lead flows, collected forms, contact activity, contact management, and contact and company insights. Pair off the marketing hub with the freemium sales solution and the free CRM and you get nearly three dozen tools to empower your lead generation and marketing campaign activities. With the free marketing tools and free CRM, you can collect up to 1 million contacts; beyond that then you will have to upgrade to the paid plans. However, for all intents and purposes, HubSpot’s no cost offerings will give you adequate means to scale and grow your business.

Tiered Pricing

This pricing model has almost become a standard in the SaaS industry because it is able to cater to various types of users (from beginners, middle level to established ones) and operations (light, medium, heavy). You also provide users with a direct path to the next higher plan when they have outgrown their existing plan. Likewise, it allows you to scale the features and customize the price to match exact requirements of users. Tiered pricing is usually offered in three or four plans starting to with a free edition, a basic or standard plan, a professional plan, and an enterprise plan or custom package.

Constant Contact

Constant Contact is an email marketing software designed to help you effectively connect with your customers with a best-in-class email editor. The tool lets you create and share professionally-looking emails in minutes through mobile-optimized email templates, drag-and-drop functionality, personalized message, branded email, and action blocks to drive engagement. With the software, you’ll be able to manage and build your contacts, track email opens and clicks, share in social media, produce performance and engagement reports, integrate with other business tools, and automate marketing tasks.

The software is available in three tiers with starting prices – Lite at $5/ month, Email at $20 month, and Email Plus at $45/month. Those are initial prices based on your number of contacts; the price increases as you add on more contacts. However, the Lite plan already gives you 10,000 email sends per month, 500 MB of file storage, and one user. The higher priced tiers give you unlimited email sends, bigger storage space, and up to 10 users. You also get more features and capabilities. Constant Contact stays true to the tiered pricing strategy which is to offer multiple packages with variable sets of features available at several price points.

Monthly Subscription

Monthly payments, together with annual billings, are not actually price models but more of subscription types. This allows you to pay for the use of the software in affordable monthly terms without having to cough up a sizeable amount and subscribe for the whole year, although paying for an annual subscription may be a more viable option. It’s because vendors usually offer two or three months free if you opt to pay for one year, an offer you’ll likely to take if you also want to get rid of the hassle of doing successive monthly payments.

Wix ShoutOut

Wix ShoutOut is an email marketing platform that lets you create personalized content and responsive email designs, thanks to its email editor with comes with customizable styles and dozens of ready-made templates. Coming up wit stunning emails complete with your own branding – colors, fonts, log and more – is a breeze. You’ll be able to choose from a library of images and ready-made layouts to match any type of message you deliver. The software brings with it a stats tracker so you’ll know how many opens, clicks and views your emails garnered. You’ll also have easy contact integration, letting you reach out to your contacts by adding and storing their details. With Wix ShoutOut, you’ll be able to manage your mailing list, create custom sign-up forms, and build your subscriber base. If you want to try this software you can quickly do so when you sign up for a Wix ShoutOut free trial here.

Wix ShoutOut comes in three monthly payment plans – Basic at $4.90, Business Essential at $12.90, and Pro Unlimited at $44.90. You get 30% off with the last two plans if you pay straight for a year. The plans let you do a certain number of “ShoutOuts” or social media shares per month (unlimited with the highest plan), add and store up to a set number of contacts, and send from 9,500 to a million emails per month. All paid plans come with premium customer support as well as access to a gallery of designs, styles, and images.

Annual Subscription

Annual billing is a subscription option alongside monthly payment. As mentioned earlier, vendors offer generous discounts if you pay subscription for the whole year. The downside to this is if in the course of that period you decided to cancel the subscription for one reason or another. Check with the vendor if at any time you can opt out of the one year plan, downgrade or upgrade your subscription, or if you can get a refund of the unused months or period remaining. Settling for a whole year can be convenient as far as payments go, but it may also unnecessarily bind you during times when you need to make changes in the tools that you use.


vCita is an all-in-one business management and customer service platform that brings an assortment of tools for CRM, SMS and email marketing, online calendar and scheduling, online payment, client management, and billing and invoicing, among others. Sort of a light ERP package that gives you a lot of functionalities in one platform, vCita helps you manage your day-to-day operations especially if you are a busy professional or a small team. You’ll be able to organize your schedules and appointments, accept online bookings, manage your financials, launch lead-generating campaigns, undertake text messaging and email marketing, and manage your clients and contacts. You can check its features at no cost when you sign up for a vCita free trial here.


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vCita offers four tiered pricing plans starting with a free plan, which has a couple of core features, that lets you build and manage up to 300 clients. The next three levels are paid plans that adds more features and functionalities, and the number of clients that you can manage – Essentials for emerging businesses at $29/month for up to 1,000 clients; Business for growing businesses at $59/month for up to 5,000 clients; and Platinum at $99/month for established businesses and unlimited clients. When subscribed to for a whole year, those prices go down to $24, $49 and $79 respectively. If you need an enterprise solution, you can contact the vendor and request for a quote.

Usage Based Pricing

Price is dependent on usage. In email marketing, usage may be dictated by the number of contacts because that’s how many emails you will be sending. It may even be more depending on the delivery frequency of your email campaign. The benefit of user based pricing is that there is no big upfront cost; it’s simply “pay as you go.” In the same vein is the user based or per user pricing where prices go up as you add more users to the software. Startups or those on a tight budget can take advantage of usage and user based pricing knowing that prices only increase alongside usage or number of users – a perfect example of the scalability of SaaS pricing.


ActiveCampaign is a marketing automation software intended to help SMBs deliver the most effective message in order to convert visitors into leads and eventually become customers and advocates. The email marketing platform utilizes AI wherein as you learn more about your contact, it helps you craft and send personalized messages that align with your recipients’ interests regardless if they’re on mobile, browsing their inbox, or visiting your website. The software provides you features such as dynamic email content, drag-and drop email designer, CRM and sales automation, site and event tracking, email split testing, advanced lead scoring, SMS marketing, and many others.

ActiveCampaign has four plans that follow the tiered pricing model but the prices are variable, depending on the usage or, in this case, the number of contacts. From a minimum of 500 contacts you get the lowest prices for the four plans, and for more than 100,000 contacts you’ll have custom pricing. As you grow your business and add more contacts, the price scales to meet your usage. The vendor’s pricing page features a slider tool for the number of contacts and the equivalent price for the respective plans which you can pay monthly or on an annual basis. 

Quote Based Pricing

This pricing model is normally reserved for large enterprises that may have unique business requirements as a result of their bigger operations or more advanced processes. Quote based or custom prices are offered by vendors either as dedicated plans or as part of a tiered pricing model where the “ultimate” or “enterprise” plan is marked with a “contact our sales” or “request a quote.” If a pre-bundled solution won’t suffice, the vendor will then try to mix and match features and functions to come up with a special package (and the corresponding price) that meets your specifications.


Marketo is a marketing automation platform built to help businesses manage B2B marketing, email marketing and campaigns, consumer engagement, lead generation, and more. It provides functionalities and capabilities to help you attract the right customers, nurture the best prospects, and undertake focused sales. It has tools for the creation and personalization of CTAs, landing pages, forms and web pages; automation of campaigns across multiple channels; and optimization of your marketing programs and activities to effectively close sales and realize better revenues.

Marketo’s pricing strategy is based on the number of contacts on your database and not on the number of emails you send. This takes on the character of a usage based pricing, but they don’t offer a scalable price tag. Instead, what they make available is a pre-packaged bundle that contains all the essential solutions and tools to optimize and streamline your marketing or, if you prefer, have a configured bundle that addresses your particular needs. Even if you choose the latter, the number of contacts will still be factored in coming up with a price point.

Which Pricing Plan is Right for You?

This will largely depend on your situation and requirements. For startup and SMBs, the natural course would be to start with a free plan and go up the ladder as the business expands. For more established businesses where budget is no problem, they can go right into full-featured enterprise offerings. The great thing about SaaS pricing plans is that there is one to fit your business needs. The tiered pricing model has come to the point of being the de facto offering of software vendors and would likely suite you well whether you’re a startup or a long-time business. It combines all the best elements of the other pricing models to give you scalable choices when it comes to cost and features.

Jessica Stewart

By Jessica Stewart

Jessica Stewart is the resident marketing analyst at FinancesOnline and a pioneering member of our research team. She believes that data is at the center of business and marketing technology is its enabler, a point not lost in his articles published in major outlets such as BusinessInsider, USA Today and Entrepreneur. Beyond assessing the standard tools for workflow automation, campaigns, messaging, and real-time alerts, Jessica focuses on the software’s bottom-line ROI— how it helps marketers perfect their data-driven method to collect and process customer data, measure the KPIs, and, ultimately, realize profits.

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