The Best Email Marketing Service Providers for Every Political Campaign Budget

Political campaigns usually struggle when it comes to the area of technology. For many county and state level campaigns, the idea of “digital” means finding the techiest local College Republican, Democrat, or Young Americans for Liberty member.

The unfortunate result is that many campaigns spend far more than they need to on email marketing. Every campaign has different needs. A statewide campaign, for example, may have an email list that is in the hundreds of thousands. That scenario is very different than your Clerk of the Court who is typically running a countywide campaign on a budget under $15,000. Here are the best email marketing service providers for every budget.

Small Campaigns (Under 2,000 Emails)

MailChimp (FREE)

MailChimp is probably the most well-known email marketing service provider in the world. They have been a small business favorite for many reasons including its user-friendliness and excellent support. MailChimp is entirely free for 2,000 subscribers/12,000 emails a month.

You also can access nearly the entire MailChimp feature-set including landing pages, pop-up forms, marketing automation, and segmentation. The only things that you must contend with on the “Free” plan have the MailChimp footer at the bottom of every email, not being able to optimize your email sends by time zone, or have access to advanced segmentation. Small campaigns with under 2,000 emails are unlikely to use those features anyway.

Unless your campaign plans to spend dollars to build an email list (which I do recommend), MailChimp will serve your needs at no cost to your campaign.

Why Not MailChimp for Over 2,000 Emails?

That answer is simple: cost. MailChimp charges $30/month for up to 2,500 emails, $50/month for up to 5,000 emails, $75/month for up to 10,000 emails, and $150/month for up to 25,000 emails. This is more than double the cost of our mid-sized campaign recommendation that offers the same feature-set and better-reputed deliverability.

Mid-Sized Campaigns (Under 20,000 Emails)

MailerLite ($20–65/month)

MailerLite is the best bang-for-buck email marketing service provider right now. MailerLite has solid deliverability, excellent price scaling, a rich feature set, and provide a great user experience.

For those unfamiliar with MailerLite, it shares a lot of similarities with more popular companies like MailChimp and Constant Contact. All offer drag-and-drop email editors that even the technically challenged can use. All offer landing pages and email list segmentation. All offer differing levels of email marketing automation. All also have Zapier integrations for those who are a bit more technical. MailerLite’s relative newness and lack of market share are a big reason why they are cheaper despite offering a very competitive product. For any campaign with a list larger than 2,000 emails, I highly recommend MailerLite.

Here’s a price comparison between MailerLite and MailChimp

MailChimp Pricing
MailerLite Pricing

Larger Campaigns (Over 20,000 Emails)

SendGrid ($120+/month)

Larger campaigns have very different needs than smaller ones. They generally have larger budgets and have more stringent deliverability needs. Many times they need to plug into a proprietary database and need to be extremely developer friendly. Dedicated IP’s are an absolute must to ensure the campaign or organization are not reliant on the service providers pooled IP’s.

SendGrid checks off every single one of these boxes. Their client list includes Uber, eBay, Spotify, Glassdoor, AirBnB, and Yelp. Politically, you can add the Maryland Republican Party to the list as well. Their calling card is deliverability and 50%+ of the world’s email addresses were sent an email from SendGrid in the last 12 months. SendGrid is the best plug-and-play option for larger organizations that have email lists that exceed 20,000 emails. They offer much of the same functionality as MailerLite, but their infrastructure far exceeds MailerLite’s capabilities.

The Amazon SES Alternatives

Amazon SES is another service that has offered a cost-effective alternative in the past few years. Amazon SES uses a pay as you go model that is designed for high-volume email sending. Unfortunately, they do not provide a user-friendly interface to work with, unlike the other email providers we’ve mentioned. Fortunately, many providers can be stacked on SES to provide a cost-effective solution. Those include Email Octopus, Pepo Campaigns, EasySendy, and MoonMail.

We found that MoonMail is the best SendGrid alternative. MailerLite provides a similar cost for smaller campaigns, so it doesn’t make sense for those to use an Amazon SES option as it is a little more cumbersome to manage. Where a service like MoonMail shines is in cost efficiency for large volume senders.

Let’s say you want to send 500,000 emails a month. MoonMail will save you a lot of money in that case. Here’s MoonMail compared to some other email service providers:

SendGrid would cost between $350–450 a month for that number of emails. If you have built a massive list of emails, a solution like MoonMail could save you a lot of money over time.

Conclusion

This list was put together after analyzing over 15 different email marketing service providers. There are many great options in the market as I have used multiple options that are not on this list including

Shoutout to Maryland Republican Party Deputy Data Director Garrick Ross for his work on this article to compare pricing and feature-set for many of the options…including those, we didn’t select.


Patrick O’Keefe is the Executive Director for the Maryland Republican Party, leading state party operations.
He is also the Program Director and Chairman of the Advisory Council for the Online Master’s in Political Communication at the University of Florida; the first program in the country focused exclusively on “digital in politics.”
He was previously the Chief of Staff for Delegate Christian Miele and the Head of Growth for the education-technology start-up Clutch Prep.
If you want to partner on a project, feel free to email at patrick.okeefe3 [at] gmail.com