How much does email marketing cost?

You may have heard email marketing is a worthy investment, but it can difficult to gauge the actual cost of email marketing services. Just how much does email marketing cost? How much should I expect to spend? And is it worth it? These are questions to ask when budgeting for the upcoming quarter.

Today we’ll discuss how you can break down the costs of email marketing, and we’ll discuss why it’s a worthy investment. Even for a highly budgeted business, email marketing can be the difference between good KPIs and great ones.

Let’s get started.

How much does email marketing cost? Here’s the breakdown:

The average cost of email marketing fluctuates depending on your business, but there are other things to consider, such as:

  • Investment fees

  • Email service provider costs

  • Time spent on campaigns

  • Email marketing ROI

How much you choose to invest in your campaign will largely depend on your goals, budget, company, size, and number of subscribers. On average, however, a mid-size business can expect to spend anywhere from $9 - $1,000 per month when self-managing a campaign.

Grow your list organically

To create an email marketing campaign, you’ll first need a healthy list of subscribers. Gaining subscribers fast (and ethically) involves growing a list through strategy and know-how.

Sign-up forms

One of the best ways to grow your list is by making it easy to sign-up on your website. This happens through things like opt-in forms, pop-ups, and optimized landing pages. By promoting your email list across different channels and mediums, you maximize your ability to reach potential subscribers.


Instead of asking people to sign up, you may wish to make it worth their while. If you have a brick-and-mortar shop, you might consider hosting a local giveaway. You can provide entries, both for email signups and social media followings. With these new subscribers and followers, you will likely cover the cost of whatever you’re giving away.

Upgrades and discounts

You may also consider content upgrades and signup discounts. These cost little more than your time, making them well worth the investment. For instance, you can offer a 10% coupon just for signing up to your list. Or you might offer subscribers a download they can keep using again and again, like an ebook or a printable pdf.

However you decide to grow your list, it's important to make sure that it is populated with highly engaged subscribers who are interested in what you have to offer.

Focus on retention to provide maximum ROI

If you already have a list, there are plenty of ways you can continue to grow it. This is a great way to counteract the natural churn that comes with an email list. However, it’s essential to retain the customers you have when possible.

This means personalizing content for the subscribers you currently have, as well as ensuring they’re happy with the email listing. To do this, consider sending a survey and gauging subscriber satisfaction.

And if you haven’t emailed your subscribers in a while, send them the option to opt out or continue receiving messages. While this may seem counterintuitive, it’s better to have a small list devoted to your emails, rather than an extensive list that trashes or spam-filters your content. Paring down a list is cost-effective. Plus, spam filters can be dangerous for your email game.

Start with the fundamentals

If your past email campaigns weren’t very robust, you may feel intimidated about investing— especially if you’re looking at a high cost of email marketing services.

In this case, just start small. You can do a weekly or monthly newsletter describing what your brand has to offer. This newsletter may include tips, related reading, or product information. This requires less time and fewer resources than a daily blast, and newsletters often don’t require much design.

Feel like a newsletter isn’t enough? Supplement with automated messages, such as welcome emails and transaction emails. This will legitimize your company and personalize your brand—all while giving you a strong foundation for building out your email marketing program in the future.

Weigh email service provider costs

When it comes to automation, investing in the right email service provider is essential. Most email service providers (or ESPs) will require a monthly payment, so it’s essential to consider your email marketing budget and goals.

If you only have a small pool of subscribers, you probably don’t want to spend bank on an ESP. Luckily, many ESPs base their pricing on list size so you can find the right fit for your needs. There are modestly priced providers for people who want to start small and eventually go big.

At this stage, you'll also want to consider ease-of-use. Look for an ESP with a drag-and-drop builder that makes designing, testing, and sending emails a seamless experience—otherwise, what you make up for in platform cost might be lost in time spent trying to edit in a clunky email builder.

For email marketers who are looking to scale their current efforts and grow their business, you may want an ESP with more robust features. Companies with specific needs, like distributed businesses or franchises, might look for a platform that was built specifically for them (shameless plug for our newest plan, Emma HQ).

Likewise, B2B marketers have different requirements than B2C marketers, which often means they require a more unique resource—something robust and optimized for their needs. Automation-focused platforms are often a great fit for B2B marketers, offering tools like segmentation, reporting, integration, and more. If you could teach a course on email marketing and need an ESP that can keep up, this might be the one for you.

Of course, there are dozens of other email service providers out there. (We just discussed some of our favorites here.) Research is your greatest tool as an email marketer, though, so find the ESP that’s perfect for you, both in terms of features and cost.

Consider time spent on email efforts

The time you spend on any given project is valuable. You’re asking yourself, “How much does email marketing cost,” right? Well, “time” is a significant part of the answer.

While email marketing is worth the investment, it’s possible you may need to delegate tasks when designing your campaign.

Campaign creation

For instance, if you’re the CEO of your company, your time isn’t just valuable—it’s essential. Your role requires around-the-clock leadership, which may leave little time for campaign creation.

After all, campaigns often require thoughtful strategy, artful design, and clear copy. The purpose of your campaign is not only trust-building—it’s also to make money. This means a poorly constructed campaign may potentially lose revenue for your company.

Since your time is valuable, consider what new roles your budget allows. Can you hire a person for your campaigns? Multiple people? If so, this may be the route to take.

But what if you’re a one-person company? Maybe you don’t have the budget for new hires. If this is the case, consider freelancers who can empower your emails.

Analytics and optimization

Like other forms of marketing, successful email campaigns require the collection of analytical data. You want to know how many people are opening your emails, clicking through, and making purchases based on your content.

You can use this data for KPIs, comparing your current metrics to past metrics and goals set. Still, this requires time. If not on your part, then on the part of other marketing members of your team. Collecting this data, however, will provide you with date-specific information regarding your emails.

Customer service and support

Finally, it’s important to consider your support team. Depending on the size of your company, this could be a single person with multiple tasks, or it could be a whole team with individual expertise.

Your emails will raise questions no matter what. This doesn’t necessarily mean there are problems with your messaging, but it’s natural for customers to have questions. In other words, you’ll receive customer service inquiries.

Your service team will require the resources to approach these requests. Your team will need to be familiar with the emails being delivered, the messaging, and how to respond to customers.

Why the cost of email marketing is worth it

If you’re feeling a bit torn on the issue of email marketing costs, consider this: Everything to do with your business is an investment of your time. Luckily, email is an investment that is more measurable and profitable than other forms of marketing.


Email marketing generates the highest ROI for marketers, even when compared to affiliate, paid, and social channels (just to name a few).

Plus, email is superior to social media when it comes to customer acquisition, and it generates $44 for every $1 dollar spent.


We discussed how analyzing data has the potential to be time-consuming, but data collection can be completely painless. The process actually couldn’t be easier.

In fact, you can measure the effectiveness of your data with Google Analytics in as little as three steps. This measurability is both practical and superior to the measurability of other forms of marketing.

To give you an example, only 23.3% of CMOs can measure the impact of social media on their business. Email allows you to measure exactly what impact your efforts are having on the metrics that matter to your business.


The above examples aren’t the only reasons to invest in email marketing. Email marketing is worth the cost, partly because of its streamlined process.

Once you’ve taken the time to create automated emails, the emails begin to do the work for you. Automated emails keep your users both engaged and nurtured. And unlike other forms of marketing, email can be surprisingly hands-off after the initial investment of time and finances.

Wrap up

Hopefully, you’re no longer asking, “How much does email marketing cost?” Instead, we hope you’re now asking how much of your budget you should spend on email marketing.

While it does take money and time to focus on a campaign, spending these resources is well worth the ROI, measurability, and ease of email marketing. So, now that you know, what will your email marketing budget look like?

About the Author

Kaitlin Westbrook is a content writer who covers business and creative content. When she's not writing, she enjoys movies, baking, and her Pomeranian.

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