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How To Choose The Best Email Marketing Provider For Your Small Business

blog, Email Marketing

By now you know that email marketing is one of the single most effective ways to convert first-time web visitors into avid followers, lifetime rebooking guests.

You know that your boutique hotel can’t get away without having a dynamic email marketing strategy—and that you’re ready to start delivering quality content to your followers and subscribers through emails regularly.

But now that it’s time to get started with an email marketing strategy, here comes the tricky part:

How do you choose the best email service platform or provider for your specific destination or property’s needs and goals to reach your email list?

First off, know that there is no right or wrong answer to this question. Every hotel has a different preference for their email marketing provider. Some are just easier and connected to Booking or POS systems. A lot of it depends on what experience you are creating, what packages or additional services you are offering and what booking goals you have annually.

As with most elements of being a successful hotel or resort, the most important element is to get started—don’t get so hung up on choosing an email marketing provider that it keeps you from making progress with your email marketing strategy. Just start somewhere, you can refine along the way.

Why You Absolutely Must Have An Email Marketing Provider

That being said, you absolutely must choose one of the various email marketing platforms or providers out there to mail from and support you in your delivery of email marketing strategy. There is NO way around it.

Sending bulk emails from your personal email address is frowned upon, will land you in spam and it could even get your account flagged as violating new regulations. Plus, as Bourne Creative so perfectly says it, not using a professional email marketing service provider sends a message to guests that your hotel doesn’t take them seriously.

Email marketing service platforms & providers also offer great additional tools, resources and analytics that allow you to get the most information out of your email strategy implementation.


  • Gather emails or interested potential guests from your website
  • Store emails in a secure database
  • Segment emails into different lists
  • Analyze email open rates and click-throughs
  • Track unsubscribes

And that’s just the start! Each email marketing provider offers slightly different services at different rates, so it is important to explore all of your options.

Detail of black manager sending phone message in a modern office. Closeup of african businessman hand checking cellphone. Smiling mature man using smartphone while working on desk at modern office.

While this is by no means a completely comprehensive list, here are a few of the more popular options:


Many boutique hotels and resorts begin with MailChimp because they offer a free plan if you have less than 2,000 subscribers. However, it’s not easy or fun to switch from MailChimp to other email providers later on, so it’s important to look at what MailChimp offers in their paid packages and see if that will be right for your hotel when you max out on 2,000 subscribers—which I know you will, and fast. 

MailChimp’s free offer includes automated welcome emails and the like, but may not be the best for a proper autoresponder option. I ALWAYS recommend having a juicy reason for people to sign up for your email list, MailChimp could be a long term strategy for newsletters if it works for you and your marketing team.

With a professional package starting as low as $10 a month, MailsChimp is definitely one of the less expensive options. MailChimp has basic templates with only 7 sequences, which is great for a smaller property, and the newly upgraded packages get better and better. 

One final note about MailChimp: some smaller hotels have noted that their accounts were blocked (with no prior warning) for incorporating affiliate links. This can be a huge deal breaker; if you’re blocked from your email list and can’t get access to it to funnel sales back into your business, then you’re losing serious potential profit.


Aweber is the email marketing service provider I used for many years in the past, and while it’s not perfect, it suited my needs as I was growing my list. There is a one-month free trial so you can see if their services are right for you. Pricing then begins at $19 a month and increases depending on how many subscribers you have.

The area where Aweber really shines is in it’s fantastic autoresponder. Aweber dubs itself “the original autoresponder provider”, and as such, they have great automation options that allow you to send exactly what you want, when you want, to your particular emails lists.

In comparison to MailChimp, I find that Aweber has more advanced list segmentation, which allows me to send out super individualized emails. There is also no competition between customer service—Aweber has consistent and reliable support.

In terms of design, Aweber offers over 700 free templates to choose from. You can also design your own template, which makes it easy to match your emails to your business’s brand.


ActiveCampaign is a fully automated and inclusive Email Marketing platform that will do everything right down to analytics for you. While ActiveCampaign doesn’t have a free version, it offers a sliding scale based on how large your email list is. 

Each of their tiers offers unlimited sending of emails, but things begin to get more interesting as you move up, as ActiveCampaign begins to offer chat services, integrations for social, and even workshops and training access. 

They are currently running a promotion on conversations, real-time chatting with your potential guests, as an add on as well. With things becoming more and more immediate, this is a great way to ensure your bookings are always tended to.



Experience Hotel is a fully automated CRM platform designed exclusively for hotels and resorts. They design and create check-in points for all of your guests before, during, and after their stay to foster a positive relationship, and repeat bookings. 

Along with a stellar email marketing component, Experience Hotel also handles check-in forms, guest satisfaction surveys, SMS messaging, and a Loyalty program. Best of all, their pricing is designed with boutique destinations in mind, and charges per room prices. This means your unique space could have all of the incredible CRM details for low price. 

Another dedicated CRM platform for hoteliers is For-Sight. They focus directly on guest relations to make sure that repeat bookings happen more often than not. 



Infusionsoft is much more than an email marketing provider. It also functions as an e-commerce platform, a sales manager, a customer relationship manager—and that’s really just the start.

Monthly prices start at $199 for their most basic package. You can also spend an extra $1500 for onboarding support so you don’t have to spend quite as much time watching YouTube videos and wondering how to get the most out of the package.

Infusionsoft is one of the priciest platforms on this list, but that’s because it comes with all the bells and whistles your hotel business could possibly want if also selling things online (programs, products, etc.). If you are going to use all of the features that it includes, then Infusionsoft might be worth it. You can schedule an appointment with an Infusionsoft expert to see if it’s a fit for your property. I mostly recommend it for Retreat Centers, offering programs and courses online.

However, for most of our readers are boutique hotels and resorts, it will probably be too much, and you’ll end up paying for tons of services that you aren’t using. There’s also a huge learning curve to getting the most out of InfusionSoft, so if you are going to invest here, make sure you have the time to get what you want out of it.


ConvertKit is a great option for an email newsletter that also includes landing pages and forms that all link together. You can start for free with up to 1,000 subscribers, but as you will quickly grow beyond that, ConvertKit offers a sliding scale that depends on how many email subscribers you have. However, it can get quite expensive quite fast for larger lists, so it may not work for you if you have a robust list. 


ConvertKit markets itself mainly to creatives, but this could be leveraged also for niche boutique hotels and resorts or retreat centers who want to capitalize or their unique destination or offering. 



Ontraport is a popular alternative, and it tends to be the one that I recommend if you want to affordably begin to offer online products & programs. Again, you’re getting much more than just an email marketing service provider when you sign up to Ontraport.

Ontraport includes a CRM, SMS messaging, Landing Pages and more along with its comprehensive email marketing platform. Another fun feature is their membership sites, which can be used for loyalty programs and special freebies for returning guests.

Ontraport’s basic plan starts at $79 a month for up to 1,000 subscribers; but you’ll outgrow that quickly if you already haven’t! I recommend their Pro package at $297. With space for up to 10,000 subscribers, it also comes with consultation to help Ontraport work best for you. 


My Emma is an increasingly popular email marketing platform, and those I know who use it, absolutely love it. My Emma boasts fantastic customer service, cool templates, and is a particularly great option for e-commerce businesses and nonprofits.

Packages start at $89 a month for up to 10,000 subscribers. After that, monthly cost depends on the details you want covered and how many users you need. For the amount of personalization and reports tracking you get with My Emma, the value is really phenomenal.


While not as well known as some of the other contenders on this list, MadMimi is a beautiful email marketing provider that does just about everything you need it to—at a very competitive price. Host up to 10,000 subscribers for only $42 a month with unlimited emails and full integration.

 Excellent customer service and the fact that it’s relatively easy to use make this a great option if you want something clean and professional. And while you won’t have some of the more advanced options like A/B testing, sometimes simplicity is exactly what you want. I don’t have personal experience using MadMimi, but you can read a full review here.




While it is possible to transfer emails from one service provider to another, it can be a serious pain. When choosing which email marketing provider is right for you and your destination, think not only about where your bookings are at now and how many guests you want to keep in touch with, but where you WANT and EXPECT (the numbers of subscribers and amount of correspondence) them to be in the near future. 

For most boutique hotels, I recommend starting with one of the more basic options, and as you continue to grow your guest base and start seeing a significant increase of heads in beds from your email engagement with your list, then you can consider the pros and cons of moving to a more comprehensive online marketing platform such as Ontraport only if you’re needing the technical capabilities which is rare.

This guide is only meant to serve as an introduction to the different email marketing services available, and how boutique hotels can choose the best fit for their email marketing strategy. As I noted in the introduction, there is no right or wrong email marketing service platform or provider. Take the time to do your homework, research your options, do a few free trials to explore and align your future booking goals with the individual features of each provider. And then, get started implementing the perfect email marketing strategy soon!

Which email provider do you use? If you have any tips for hotels or retreat properties that have worked for you, comment below. 

If you have questions or want to get your hotel’s email marketing strategy going or revitalized, speak to an expert. We have brilliant and experienced writers on-staff ready to create amazing, inviting newsletters by doing in-depth content extractions with your staff today. So you can be getting more bookings effortlessly tomorrow.

Schedule a discovery conversation with The Experience Experts to discuss your email marketing strategy!


Lynan Saperstein

2 responses to “How To Choose The Best Email Marketing Provider For Your Small Business”

  1. Jill Sessa says:

    The ability to easily integrate sign-up forms with your website has to be taken into consideration as well. I’m curious to hear if that is becoming easier for MyEmma and MadMimi. They now have Gravity Forms add-ons for both, so that’s a great way to accomplish it.

    Mailchimp has really upped their game in the last 12-18 months. Using Groups and automation based on actions- whether through e-commerce solutions, Google tracking or just plain old switching from one group to another, much more can be achieved. I marvel at the $10 plan for smaller clients. Add in something like Zapier and you really can cover a lot of the ground that the bigger names do.

    Another great round-up post, Lynan. Thanks!

  2. Thanks for this great post Lynan! I’ve been searching for a good resource to compare the different email marketing autoresponder services and this blog post really helped me to see the differences and make a choice that was right for me. Thank you so much!

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