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86 Comments

Which newsletter software do you use, and why?

For our Newsletter at TiliTribe, I've been looking into existing hosted newsletter platforms. After researching about a dozen, I've selected the following three :

  • MailChimp: Because I've used it before and I like their brand
  • Mailjet: Because they're GDPR compliant and we use them for transactional email as well
  • Buttondown: Mainly because of the ease of use and simplify, but also because it's indie

In the end, we went with Buttondown. It's lightweight, easy to use and easy to integrate. There is a chance we may need something more sophisticated next year. But for now, it serves our needs.

What do you use? Have you migrated from one to another at some point? And if so, why?

Which newsletter software do you use?
  1. Mailchimp
  2. ConvertKit
  3. Mailjet
  4. Buttondown
  5. TinyLetter
  6. MailerLite
  7. Other
Vote
  1. 11

    Emailoctopus.
    Because is super easy and I can just paste my coded templates.

    I regret not doing it before....dang.

    1. 4

      Haven't heard of EmailOctopus before, but it looks nice too.

      1. 5

        We're also Indie and, like you, based in the UK

        1. 2

          In the meantime, we've moved to Email Octopus.

      2. 1

        I heard a good things about them. They are UK based.

    2. 3

      How did you get your coded templates done?

      Keen to learn! I might do Email Octopus for my next newsletter.

      1. 1

        There are many ways to do it. I went for a quick one and looked for a template, I found one in Email Love, I started from there and then customized it to my taste and needs.

        I normally VS Code though.

        Also if you are you may want to have a look to:

        Emails made with Tailwind, I am thinking to use this for the future, in fact, I have already started. Is quicker.

        If you need more help just DM on Twitter and I see if I can help you.

        Have a good one Janel!

        1. 2

          Thanks Michael for taking the time to share.

          How long did it take you to customize?

          Will it be tough for someone who identifies as having basic CSS/HTML knowledge to code?

          Asking because my MailerLite html bloat is killing me, I want to improve by maybe getting my own custom templates.

          1. 2

            Well, I am too picky with how it looks, so is taking me time. I say is taking me because next Tuesday the my 4th time sending the newsletter with a custom template since substack.

            For example, last Tuesday I had my name on the top. Now I have under the text for next Tuesday. I keep improving, like I do with all my side projects. Ship n' improve.

            Taking into account that your skills, it shouldn't be so difficult.

            Look at the code, try to change stuff to see how it looks and then send it to yourself through emailoctopus for example. If the feature looks fine keep it. Then move on to something else.

            For example I had change the columns on mine, and I kept testing m testing...

            Yeah, you should move on from a drag n drop...

            1. 1

              Haha! Seems like a lot of work. I love your drive to make things better.

              After I ship Newsletter OS I'll look more into this. It's so nice to know that you've already been making it happen, and that it is not too far out of reach :)

              1. 1

                Is much more than it looks though. You have to make sure is responsive everyehere and so on..but you know that.
                If there's anything I can help let me k ow. Glad to help out.

                1. 1

                  Ya I figured. Thank you so much!

                  1. 1

                    Hey Janel, do let me know if I can be of some help. I would be more than happy to customise the template for you.

                    It would be of help for me because I want to see if those custom templates are possible to be created in Notion for my tool NoCodeLetters.

                    I am trying to create a custom template library.

    3. 2

      Can you paste coded templates with the starter plan or only the Pro where you have to pay?

      1. 3

        you can do it with the free one!!!

        1. 1

          Hell to the yeah!!! 🤘

          1. 1

            yeap, I reacted similarly. here is mine as an example.

            1. 1

              I noticed you have a sweet URL for your web view link. I was just playing with EmailOctopus and testing it out, and my web link is like crazy long. How did you get it to look super nice?

              1. 1

                manually! I made my template with Antwort, and all I did is add a link to my site page instead.

                1. 1

                  Are you using a free account or a paid account?

                  1. 1

                    I am a cheap arse, so free. I am only at 1.5k subs soon will be paid I guess...but is only 15 dollars

  2. 6

    EmailOctopus ❤️
    It just works, and the first $ tier comes with automations setup.

    1. 4

      It looks like I really have to give EmailOctopus a try.

  3. 4

    I use Substack for 🌀 Refactoring. Quite sure many people use that as well. Maybe it can be added to the survey? 🤔

    1. 2

      Yup! I'm using substack for Deliberate Python as well.

    2. 1

      Me too. I'm using it at the moment mainly because there is no fee at all, and I havn't monetized yet, just working on list building. Gone from 0 to 2000 in three months. I think thats pretty good value. so Substack's the best way to get started.

    3. 1

      I've been on Substack's website a few times. My first impression was that's it's more a platform for writers, not so much for product marketing. That's what I got from it at least, which is probably the reason it's not in the list. :)

      I tried adding it, but the poll is locked.

      1. 2

        Oh ok! I didn't get the poll was about product marketing :)

        1. 2

          No worries, I agree that's not completely clear from my question.

  4. 3

    SendFox because I'm building it, so my opinion is biased.

    1. 2

      I haven't heard of SendFox before but checking it out now. Love the fact that your email editor looks like an email app. :D

      1. 2

        haha I'm glad you liked!
        let me know if you have any feedbacks ✌️🙏

        1. 2

          I started using sendfox 2 weeks ago. Love it so far only one thing confused me. At the onboarding I get random 10 emails for my list I did not like that, as I do not know where the mails come from and whether they suit my product. Otherwise really great!

  5. 2

    I am building and using NoCodeLetters. NoCodeLetters allows me to send newsletters directly from Notion. It does not have the advanced functionalities yet like A/B testing but it is meant for users who are satisfied with Notion formatting. What are your thoughts?

  6. 2

    I use EmailOctopus because of its simplicity and right amount of features for VenturesList.com

    Other than that, I use MailChimp for my full time role, for newsletter and quick landing page

  7. 2

    Currently a user of both Mailchimp and Mailerlite, but seriously considering moving everything over to https://sendy.co/. Solution seems very elegant, built on top of Amazon SES and all flexibility... at a fraction of the costs.

    1. 1

      Be careful with self-hosting though since a lot of SES IP addresses can be in the spam lists, so your emails might end up there for some users.

      1. 1

        That is good advice. I see that there is an option to get a dedicated IP address for SES though. With high volume that may be the alternative.
        documentation

    2. 1

      Thanks for the suggestion. Self-hosted is something I thought about. I couldn't immediately find something that appealed to me, but Sendy looks nice!

      I wonder if there is a self-hosted alternative for Amazon SES. Like a MinIO but for Mail. I'm trying to avoid Amazon services as much as possible.

  8. 2

    In case anyone is interested in finding sponsors for their newsletter, we run a marketplace that connects newsletters with sponsors https://audiencehunts.com

  9. 2

    Hey @wout! I’ve been using Buttondown for my personal newsletter — https://michaelsoolee.com/newsletter/

    My main reason for choosing it over MailChimp, the previous solution that I used was I wanted a platform that simply got out of my way so that I can consistently connect with my list of subscribers.

    I’ve been a big fan of Buttondown for a while now. Mainly because it provides an interface that works for my workflow. I enjoy writing things in markdown and it works seamlessly. It also helps that Justin @buttondown — is super responsive to all my inquiries.

    Justin has done a great job also providing documentation over various features in Buttondown which has been a lot of fun to get into. I recently started using metadata to capture things like name in my opt-in form which I can then use in my emails to my readers to make it more customized https://twitter.com/michaelsoolee/status/1314388048482840578?s=20

    Another benefit that Buttondown provides is the ability to use their mailing address versus my own https://www.notion.so/Do-I-really-need-to-supply-a-home-address-164a40bedd444dcfb6990cfefbe11dcd

    Where I’m from setting up a private mail box to forward physical mail is quite expensive. A cost I can’t justify right now for the size my newsletter list. I think ConvertKit is the only other service that provides a physical mailing address to use in your own list.

    Obviously the service itself can’t solve the problem of consistently writing and staying in touch with your audience, but its simplicity definitely helps.

    Would love to hear some of the benefits you’ve found with Buttondown, Wout.

    Have a great day!

    1. 2

      Buttondown looks really cool, and I like that it's a solo founder doing his own thing as well. I've got a subscription mailing list (data-driven content, so everything gets pushed programmatically) and a website with archives.

      If I'd known when I started what I now know, I would have done the whole thing with Buttondown and Ghost, instead of a monstrous hackjob WP plugins thing. Sigh.

      1. 1

        Whoa sounds like a cool setup Nat! Could you share the website? Would love to see it in action.

        1. 2

          Sure thing; this is a weekly/monthly data analysis newsletter about the Kindle Store for self-publishers. It's quite specialised, but the people who need it, really need it. I'm just finishing a new site right now:

          https://kindledata.com/

          It's connected to Stripe's test mode, so you can't sign up using a real credit card just yet (maybe in about two weeks).

          Uber-short technical description: scraping the Kindle Store is done in Python using the scrapy library, and the data is extracted to JSON format and aggregated. Text analysis is done using spacy, and image analysis using imagehash. Plots are done using seaborn.

          The actual interesting code is mostly Python. It's running either at Scrapinghub (for the web-scraping part) or as Google Cloud Functions (which are basically free if you're not doing huge amounts of work). Once I produce a data-driven report in HTML format, I poke it through to MailerLite where the subscriber lists are, and post it on the website. The site itself isn't the 'product' - it's just the place where you go to sign up, choose the newsletters you want send, and download back issues. Most users won't hardly go there, and that's fine.

          More generally, this is a clunky-but-it-works framework for 'data-driven subscription newsletter generated by scraping stuff or other cloud analysis'. I'm quite keen to branch out and adapt it to other areas.

          1. 1

            Whoa this really neat. Definitely sounds like a niche product, but as you say is relevant to a specific group of people. How did you find this problem or the audience? Are you yourself a kindle author? I love that this is all automated.

            1. 1

              Yeah, I was an indie author, and I started doing research and thought 'this would be a hell of a lot easier if I just had all this data in a goddamned Excel spreadsheet'. So I did that, and then sort of branched out.

              It's definitely a vote for solving problems that you know (although tbf that's easier said than done sometimes). There are a bunch of subtleties in how the data is interpreted and presented that you wouldn't know unless you'd actually been an author. I'm sure this is the case for many other fields as well.

              For instance, Kindle books have 'price breaks' at 0.99, and 2.99, because of the way Amazon's royalty share structure works; there are almost no books at 1.99. So calculating 'average' price of a Kindle book is not meaningful - you want to know the proportion in various bins - but you wouldn't know that if you were coming to the problem from outside.

              The NL generation is all automated, but it does require constant work, albeit of a different type - trying to figure out what metrics are actionable for the target market, and tweaking them. Also, webscraping, which is a PITA and always breaking of course.

              I've been looking for people doing similar data-driven NLs for other markets, and I was quite surprised I couldn't really find any. I think it's got some potential.

              1. 1

                I love these couple of points!

                So calculating 'average' price of a Kindle book is not meaningful - you want to know the proportion in various bins - but you wouldn't know that if you were coming to the problem from outside.

                trying to figure out what metrics are actionable for the target market, and tweaking them.

                I think that's super valuable!

                Taking the data and making it not scary so that you can take action.

                One of the things I hate about Google Analytics is that it gives a ton of data and quite honestly isn't anything but a vanity metric to me. There are of course a ton of other data Google provides for developers but it's hard to connect the dots.

                But when I saw SEM Rush and how it provides a score to your site's health, I was like wow! Now that's super valuable. It motivates me to take action and it takes all the same data Google provides for "free" and sets me on the path to taking real action towards meaningful results---which is a better performing website which hopefully will yield better search results.

                One thing I think SEM Rush also does really well is breaks down the technical jargon---de-nerding so to speak. So that as a user, you're like oh that's how that's hurting my site's performance, let me go tweak it now. It's almost like a cheat sheet.

                1. 1

                  Yeah, that sounds really good. I spend a lot of time wondering about what's 'actionable' for authors in different situations, and it's really not easy.

                  A lot of people are like 'just tell me what to write!', but that's like saying to an investment advisor 'just tell me what to invest in!' - it is totally dependent on your specific situation. Any 'just do this' advice is by definition not accurate, and possibly not very ethical.

                  So finding data visualisations that are general enough to be useful for everyone, but still specific enough to be actionable, is tough.

    2. 2

      I'm loving Buttondown for the same reasons: simplicity and Justin's personal touch. To be honest, I started using it last week, so I haven't sent out emails yet.

      It was kind of a panic move because Mailjet blocked our account for no obvious reason, leaving our sign up forms blank. Their support system is rubbish, and so is their support. They didn't even reply to my emails, just unblocked the account without as much as a word.

      So, that's how I landed there.

      1. 2

        Nice! Would love to hear what your experience is once you send off an email :)

        Sorry to hear about your experience with Mailjet. I've never used them but it sounds like a sub-par experience.

        Thanks for sharing @wout!

        1. 2

          I'll let you know ;)

  10. 2

    We use Active Campaign. Really nice solution. Allows transactional emails and it plays nice with Ruby.

    1. 1

      Thanks! I'll have to dig a bit deeper into Active Campaign because it looks very interesting. It's more like Newsletter and CRM combined, isn't it? And the fact that it integrates well with Ruby is definitely a plus. :)

      Do you use their other services as well? Besides the newsletter functionality, I mean.

      1. 2

        We use their 'tagging' system to help build automated email drip feeds. To be honest, this is the main reason we use them. We've never used any of the other features.

        We used to use customer.io but switched when our customer base grew.

  11. 1

    I think if it's for your personal brand and not for your company (e.g. SaaS product) I like substack a lot (no need for a landing page and you can also be discovered on Substack) and use it for my startupbusiness tips newsletter.

    Obviously, it's not great for a company newsletter and has only limited features.

    What tool would you recommend now after having done this survey? Keen to hear an update.

  12. 1

    substack because its free and easy to use.

    use it for my personalisation & A/B testing newsletter

  13. 1

    I use Mailchimp for my newsletter https://sex.sc/.

    I previously considered flodesk but they don't allow any adult keywords for now (as they're new). How ever mailchimp accepted it as my newsletter is about information and they don't have problem in working with adult keywords.

  14. 1

    BirdSend.

    Because I gave birth to it :)

    And because (I maybe biased) it's so fast to setup and send emails. And super affordable too.

  15. 1

    I'm using Mailchimp for elmbits, although have been considering to move away to Buttondown or Tinyletter. I absolutely hate Mailchimp because of its editor. I love minimalistic UI and simple content editors rather than bloated drag & drop type of wysiwyg editors.

    Elm Bits is my hobby newsletter on a very niche programming language. I'm not planning on commercializing it in any way, and writing it just for fun.

    1. 1

      I'm with you on Mailchimp. That's why I considered Tinlyletter, tried ButtonDown and landed on EmailOctopus.

  16. 1

    I'm using MailerLite for LookingforWisdom, as well as Ghost's built-in newsletter sending via Mailgun.

    So MailerLite is for welcome emails (which Ghost doesn't do), and also links with my Carrd landing pages. Then I use Zapier to add the subscribers from MailerLite to Ghost (or vice-versa if they sign up via Ghost).

    This works pretty well. I really like MailerLite (I use them for another project as well), their support is really good, and their free plan is pretty generous. However, if the next version of Ghost has the option of sending welcome emails, I'll have a rethink.

  17. 1

    We went with Mailchimp. My cofounder was familiar with it, and having 100% control of our list was critical to us. With Substack you cannot, for example, segment your list to do an A/B test.

  18. 1

    Building our own - As current products available are not technical savvy. We require behavioral intent segmentation.

  19. 1

    Used Mailerlite for startup. Personally I decided to explore ConvertKit because saw many people use it. And it is quite easy and direct, so I'm having fun right now :) And it is free for first 1000 subs. Con is there is a signature at the bottom of the email! (for form you can hide it with css)

  20. 1

    I use, and work for, AWeber for my newsletters and email products like nicewords.email

    We've been around for decades and are obsessed with deliverability, and over the past 2 years we've retooled our product organization and are constantly improving the platform.

    I've used a number of other tools for newsletters and automation (Mailchimp and ConvertKit primarily) and prefer how easy it is to add and manage tags based on the variety of ways people can interact with me (the forms they signup through, the custom fields they fill and their values, clicks and opens, and what pages they visit).

    I also love using conditionals in my emails to make them super personalized, which is pretty easy in AWeber. I've used them to send year in review emails in the past and am working on a pretty heckin' rad one for this year.

    1. 2

      Thanks for the suggestion. We're with Email Octopus now and so far we're very happy.

  21. 1

    I use mailtrain, an open source newsletter solution in combination with amazon ses

  22. 1

    Mailchimp because:

    • I know how it works
    • They provide API

    In both case, not particularly interested to spend more time on the subject, so it works, it works.

    1. 1

      That is both a great and a terrible reason :P

      1. 1

        Haha yeah you are right 😂

  23. 1

    I started with Mailchimp because it's what I knew and love the company as a whole. But actually it's not that great, and getting expensive as we add more subscribers. Thinking of migrating to MailerLite which looks clean and 3x cheaper.

  24. 1

    I use CampaignMonitor, IIRC because their base plan had less limitations than MailChimp's base plan back in 2015 when I started my lists. I'd probably go for MailChimp first nowadays. CM's got a lot of UI quirks I'm not a fan of.

    I've heard great things about ConvertKit though.

    1. 1

      I've looked at ConvertKit a few times but it's a bit too complicated to start out I think. But I've heard a lot of good things too.

      Initially, we started out with Mailjet. But like CM, their UI is quite buggy. And support is not really helpful either.

  25. 1

    Similarly to some others, I use Mailchimp, because I am used to it. I have also used Mailerliter, which is OK, but has a let integrations.

    Main reason for sticking to Mailchimp are integrations and their API, it's easy and does the job well.

    I have also used WP plugins like Mailster, but simply it wasn't good enough so I came back to Mailchimp.

  26. 1

    MailerLite is quite nice. Does everything that other services do and is a bit cheaper.

    1. 1

      I've started the signup process but abandoned it in the second step. They're presenting a massive form with more than 25 HTML inputs, so I was put off.

      Is it really worth the trouble?

      1. 1

        Sadly, all of email services have those forms in some part of the process as it is mandatory before you start sending out anything. That's a necessary evil. I think it's worth the trouble.

  27. 1

    I use Revue because I wanted a platform focusing on editorial newsletters. Plus it supports custom domains and has a nice web clipper for saving links and accessing them from the editor.

    1. 1

      Revue looks great too.

  28. 1

    Mailchimp, mostly because I am used to it. I don't particularly like it though.

    1. 1

      Yeah, that's where I started too. I used to love it, but not so much anymore.

  29. 1

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