As marketers, it's easy to get wrapped up in shiny, modern digital marketing tools when you’re trying to promote your brand, products, or services.
However, there’s one tried-and-tested marketing strategy that has withstood the test of time and reaps powerful benefits for your business: email marketing.
Some marketers might ask if email marketing is dead.
But the truth is:
Email marketing is inarguably the most effective marketing strategy, and here’s why:
- Strong global reach: According to 2020 data from Statista, the number of global email users is forecasted to reach 4.3 billion by 2023 — up from 3.9 billion in 2019. That’s more than half the world’s population.
- Inexpensive cost: Unlike social media, where you have to pay to get any real exposure, there are plenty of free and low-cost email marketing tools.
- High return on investment (ROI): DMA’s Marketer Email Tracker 2019 report shows that for every $1 spent on email marketing, there’s an expected return of $42.
Creating effective email marketing campaigns requires effort and the use of a quality email template builder.
Perhaps you even ended up here because you want to create responsive email templates for your business, but aren’t sure where to begin and have a smaller budget.
If so, you’re not alone.
Here’s the good news — to help get you started, we’ll be discussing:
- The basics of email template building
- The benefits of using an email template builder
- The 11 best free email template builder tools
Let’s get started.
The Basics of Email Template Building
Before we dive into the benefits of using email template builders or the top software platforms to use, it’s essential to understand the basics.
Email templates can be built using two main methods: email coding or drag–and–drop email builders.
Email coding is a very technical procedure for creating responsive email templates, where you’re usually building an outline from scratch. This method requires in-depth knowledge of HTML, CSS, and various email rendering methods.
If this sounds extensive, it’s because it is. However, some see this as a benefit.
Unlike most email template builders where the code quality varies from provider to provider and can be limiting, coding your own emails gives you complete control over every aspect of how information is displayed.
Keep in mind:
Drag-and-Drop Email Builders
Drag–and–drop email builders allow those who are less technical to create attractive templates without the need for any HTML or coding knowledge. Instead, they generally rely on WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) editors.
Essentially, with WYSIWYG drag-and-drop editors, you put your text or graphic in the template where you want it, and what you see in the editor will look as close to the end-result as possible. Hence, what you see on the screen is nearly what you’ll get when you’re finished building.
This method requires significantly less effort and is great for beginners. You can use drag-and-drop email editors as standalone software or within your ESP.
If you prefer this design method, you’ll be happy to hear there are plenty of WYSIWYG website builders out there, as well as, of course, email template builders.
On the downside, WYSIWYG editors can offer limited functionality and customizability. For example, they may only allow you to move a block of text within certain margins of the template.
The Benefits of Using an Email Template Builder
Regardless of the method you choose, email template builders offer many benefits:
- Time saving: Pre-designed email templates and drag-and-drop editors speed up the email creation process.
- Better email design: Templates provide a clear structure for your email and blocks make adding dynamic content easier.
- Analytics: Email builders within an ESP often provide analytics to help you track and modify templates for marketing success.
Which Best Free Email Template Builders Should You Consider Using?
As a novice, it can be challenging to discern the proper email template builder for your business.
While choosing your email building tool, you should consider these key features:
- ESP integration options
- Drag-and-drop editing
- Email template libraries
- Responsive design capabilities
To help you compare tools and get started, we’ve compiled the 11 best free email template builders.
Image via HubSpot
HubSpot’s Email Marketing Software is an ESP solution that features a built-in email editor. It’s developed on top of HubSpot’s all-in-one, free customer relationship management (CRM) platform. As such, it comes with the platform’s suite of free marketing tools to power your email newsletter campaigns from start to finish.
You can choose from dozens of responsive templates, easily customize the design using the drag-and-drop editor, and change template colors to ensure brand-alignment.
HubSpot’s free version also lets you create personalized email templates based on a subscriber’s list membership, stage in the sales lifecycle, or relevant contact information.
The HubSpot ESP does allow custom coding as well, but only for premium-tier plans.
Once built, you can schedule and send your email newsletter — with up to 2,000 email sends per month. Best of all, you have access to a free analytics dashboard.
Image via Venngage
Venngage is a visual communication tool that offers, among other types of visuals, email newsletter templates. Their templates can be fully customized using their simple drag-and-drop editor. Their design features include a library of over 40,000 icons, thousands of stock photo images, and widgets for creating charts and infographics.
Achieving a cohesive look across your newsletter communications is easy, thanks to Venngage's Brand Kit feature. The Brand Kit adds your logos, brand colors, and brand fonts to any template with just a click.
You also have the option to save your customized newsletter design as a template. Their Team Folders then make it easy to share your newsletter templates with your teammates.
Venngage currently offers three pricing plans: Free, Premium, and Business. Their Business plan offers a suite of handy features to make your communications more effective and consistent, including their Brand Kit.
Image via Mailchimp
Mailchimp is the leading ESP on the market based on Datanyze’s 2020 data, which revealed Mailchimp’s market share at more than 68%.
This platform also has a built-in email template editor and it offers multiple pricing structures — including a free plan with all of the beginner essentials included.
Though limited, the free version of Mailchimp gives you access to basic, featured, and themed responsive email templates.
With their drag-and-drop builder, you don’t need any technical knowledge to create responsive layouts that wow your recipients. So stop waiting for designers to power through your workflow.
While there are many alternatives available, Mailchimp stands out with its new artificial intelligence (AI) design tool, Creative Assistant, which automatically develops and resizes designs for you after you share input about your brand.
You can also store media assets in Mailchimp’s Content Studio to easily access them later.
Similar to HubSpot’s Email Marketing Software, custom coding is only available for Mailchimp’s premium-tier plans.
After polishing your email templates, you can send up to 10,000 email newsletters a month to 2,000 contacts using this email marketing software program.
#4. BEE Free
Image via BEE Free
Self-touted as the fastest and easiest drag-and-drop email builder, BEE Free allows you to create mobile-responsive email templates for free. No signup is required.
The acronym, “BEE,” stands for “Best Email Editor.” A fitting description as the tool has been used by over one million people.
You can choose from hundreds of free, stylish email templates or start with a blank slate.
Unlike Mailchimp, BEE Free’s drag-and-drop editor is more flexible. It allows you to move entire rows in addition to moving individual content blocks. You can also clone blocks for easy rearrangement.
You can also preview your template structure on desktop and mobile as well as send a test email.
On the downside, you can’t save and edit multiple templates with the free version of BEE Free.
As a standalone drag-and-drop builder, you’re responsible for exporting the HTML template and uploading it to your ESP.
If you want to integrate BEE Free with your email client to push the HTML template to your ESP quickly, you’ll need to upgrade to BEE Pro.
Image via Chamaileon
Used by companies such as Vans and National Geographic, Chamaileon is a drag-and-drop, WYSIWYG email editor for building mobile-optimized templates.
It is exceptionally flexible with over 1,000 built-in content blocks for customization. You can also choose from more than 100 free, responsive email templates as a framework.
What sets this email template builder apart from competitors is its uniquely collaborative nature, which allows multi-user teams to work together on a single template. Like Google Docs, Chamaileon’s free plan lets you share a link with team members to preview an email and make edits.
You can also send unlimited test emails.
Additional noteworthy benefits of Chamaileon’s free plan include:
- Popular integrations to sync your email templates directly to your ESP
- Merge tags for subscriber personalization
- High-quality, responsive email HTML that has been tested and verified by Litmus and Email on Acid
- Block-saving function to reuse common content blocks in new templates
Image via Stripo
Stripo is a responsive email template builder that offers the best of both worlds. It features a drag-and-drop editor for those with no HTML experience and an HTML code editor for users who like to tweak their emails manually.
Their free version lets you choose from over 350 free templates, save custom templates in a library, and see what your email will look like in more than 90 test environments.
Arguably Stripo’s best feature is its built-in AMP email support for dynamic and interactive in-mail elements like image carousels and feedback polls.
Similar to Chamaileon, Stripo allows free users to integrate templates with popular email service providers such as Gmail and Outlook for easy transfer. You can also download emails as a PDF or a pure HTML/AMP code.
Image via SendGrid
Trusted by brands like Uber and Spotify, SendGrid offers a free email template builder with its free plan.
You can use it to customize your emails using HTML code, the drag-and-drop editor, or mix it up. Their email builder has a user-friendly interface that lets you add your company logo and update colors to ensure brand alignment.
Compared to email builders like Stripo and Chamaileon, SendGrid’s library of free responsive email templates is limited. Also, you only get three test emails a month.
On the upside, the free email marketing tools included in their free plan include A/B testing, segmentation, and detailed analytics.
Image via TOPOL.io
TOPOL.io is an easy-to-use email builder that features an intuitive drag-and-drop editor and over 100 free, pre-designed templates.
With the free plan, you can add video, change block colors, and control the email width.
Like BEE Free and Mosaico.io, you don’t need to sign up to get started with TOPOL.io. The email tool allows you to begin building a responsive template immediately.
It also offers an auto-save option via your browser, access to a stock photo library, and popular ESP integrations.
Ready for the final touches?
You can preview your email on desktop and mobile, then send test emails all from within the editor.
Image via Mosaico.io
Unlike the other email template builders on this list, Mosaico is an open–source builder, which means anyone can download and alter the source code of this builder.
This free email tool was built for quick, responsive design.
Instead of pre-designed email templates, Mosaico offers a choice between two template layouts: versafix–1 and versafluid.
Image via Mosaico.io
Mosaico.io’s email editor capabilities depend on the template itself and are not hardwired into the interface, providing more flexibility.
After you choose a layout, you can add and customize blocks and upload images using click-based design. Depending on the template layout, you can also change fonts and colors.
Need to save your project for later? No sweat.
Mosaico.io allows you to save your design in the email builder and stores a copy in your browser. When you go back to the platform using the same browser, your template will be available under Saved Sessions.
Image via Unlayer
Unlayer is a free HTML email template builder, perfect for those who like simplicity.
You can choose from any of their hundreds of mobile-responsive templates or start from scratch using their simple drag-and-drop editor and content blocks.
Short on images? No problem.
Unlayer has a built-in image library of royalty-free photos.
For easy reference, you can also save your email templates after creating a free Unlayer account.
To integrate directly with Gmail, there’s a free Chrome extension. Otherwise, you can simply download your email from this template builder to manually transfer it to your ESP.
Image via AWeber
AWeber is one of the oldest and most reliable email service providers.
To build email templates using their free plan, you can use the drag-and-drop editor or the AI-powered smart designer.
Additionally, AWeber allows you to select from hundreds of free email templates, incorporate dynamic content, and integrate ecommerce solutions.
Have any questions or need help?
Their free plan offers 24/7 phone, email, and chat support.
If you’re looking for a similar email marketing tool, here is a list of the best AWeber alternatives for you.
Final Thoughts: 11 Best Free Email Template Builder Tools + What to Look For
Every great email campaign starts with a quality email template builder. With so many options and a limited budget, it can be hard to know where to begin and what features to look for.
Before considering which free email template builders you should use, it’s important to know the differences between coding and drag-and-drop editors. This ensures you’ll select a tool that suits your skill level.
Regardless of the email template builder you choose, you’ll be in good hands with any of the 11 options above.
Need help to create an effective strategy for your next email campaign? Feel free to get in touch with us.