I did some research yesterday into the top five providers of email newsletter/contact services. They all offer design and list management tools, a sign-up function for your website, and usually a free trial. The pricing doesn’t vary much, but there are important differences in services. Three offer a pay-as-you-go option for people like me with small lists who plan to use the service infrequently, and only two offer RSS services. Here’s a brief guide:

Vertical Response

  • monthly plan or pay as you go
  • PAYG: .015 per email for lists under 1000 ($7.50 for 500)
  • monthly: $10 per month for 500 or less
  • discounts on monthly plans if you buy 6 or 12 months at a time
  • free trial (first 100 emails free)
  • tracking, segmentation, and ROI reporting
  • free customer support
  • offers surveys and direct-mail postcards

Constant Contact

  • monthly plan only, no pay as you go
  • monthly plan: $15 for 500 or fewer
  • free 60-day trial
  • lots of customer support/phone, e-mail, library, videos
  • reporting details (who opened, what links clicked)
  • direct download from Microsoft outlook


  • $9.95 month for 500 or fewer
  • 15-day free trial
  • RSS features for blogs
  • offers survey services/features
  • offers lots of e-mail marketing information

Vista Print

  • $14.99 a month for 500 or fewer
  • also offers per-mail options (.03 per-email for 500 or fewer)
  • one-month free trial
  • reporting tools
  • set-up limited to Internet Explorer or FireFox browsers
  • can be integrated with Vista Print website (if you have one)

Mail Chimp

  • monthly plan or pay as you go
  • monthly plan: $10 for 500 or fewer
  • PAYG: .03 per email for small batches (uses a prepaid credit system)
  • RSS to email list
  • no call center phone support
  • offers Mail Chimp Expert, service that will do all the work for you
  • lots of marketing tools: segmentation, analytics (many of which I don’t understand)

I’ve decided to go with Vertical Response because I need a pay-as-you-go option for once or twice a year mailings. Vista Print offers that option, but it’s more expensive, and Mail Chimp (with little customer support) is not for beginners like me. If you know what you’re doing and need RSS feeds, then Mail Chimp is probably a great option. Vertical Response also had direct-mail post cards, which I might use someday, and also has a good reputation in the writing community.

What service do you use? Are you happy with it? Any advice for a newbie?

  1. nice report!
    you do good work.
    thanks for posting this.
    I think I’mm gonna go with Vert. Resp too although my list is bigger.

  2. I have done just one campaign with MailChimp and it worked well for me. My problem is that my list is already greater than 100, and I had to trim it down for the free newsletter. I might end up paying for the next run, but I’ll see.


  3. I’ve been using Topica for 10 years now. It’s free. My newsletter is not html. I don’t know what the charges might be for that. I once surveyed my subscribers and asked if they would prefer html. Of those that responded, the answer was no, so I didn’t change.

    Straight From Hel

  4. How does this compare to a service like openzine.com?

  5. I didn’t even know these services existed. I plan to check them all out. Thanks for the post.


  6. I’ve been using Vertical Response for about a year, and I’ve been very pleased with it.

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