Updated: January 28, 2014
ActiveCampaign offers one of the best free email marketing software programs, allowing you to send emails to up to 2,500 contacts while accessing the same features as paid plans. The free subscription from ActiveCampaign will never expire; so, as long as you keep your contacts under the limit, you won't ever have to pay a cent for your email marketing. With ActiveCampaign's free email marketing offer, you can access their wide variety of templates and create custom forms just as you could if you were paying for a subscription. A credit card is not required to sign up for this plan, so you don't have to worry about being hit with any unexpected costs down the road. You won't find an email marketing service that provides you with this many tools at zero cost, so ActiveCampaign is definitely worth checking out if you are looking for free email marketing software.
MailChimp's Forever Free plan is great if you have less than 2,000 contacts. You can send up to 12,000 emails per month completely free, and you will never have to worry about your plan expiring. A credit card is not necessary to sign up, and you can cancel your account at any time. If you decide to upgrade later on, you can do so easily right from your account. Although MailChimp's free email marketing plan gives you access to the majority of their tools, certain functionalities like autoresponders and spam filter diagnostics are unavailable without an upgrade. All email campaigns delivered through the Forever Free plan will have MailChimp's badge in their footers, though this, too, can be removed with a simple upgrade.
IContact is another email marketing software program that offers a free edition. You are allowed up to 500 contacts, but if you're new to email marketing, that may be all you need. This plan allows you to send up to 2,000 emails per month and gives you access to several pre-built templates for your emails. If you run into problems with your account or have a question, you can contact iContact's support representatives via email or live chat. Another great benefit of iContact is that they don't put limits on the tools available to users of its free email marketing plan. Autoresponders, survey tools, and message archiving are all available to you as part of the free edition. And, if you happen to outgrow your free plan, you can easily upgrade to one of iContact's many available paid plans.
Benchmark Email's Free for Life plan allows you to send up to 10,000 emails per month, which is far more than what some of the other free plans offer. You get access to all of Benchmark Email's extensive array of features, enabling you to create online surveys, use email templates, and track email statistics. All that's needed to sign up is an email and a password, so you could be up and running in just a few minutes. The only problem with Benchmark Email's plan is that you are only allowed to build your contacts list with users who subscribe through your signup form. If you already have a ready-made list of contacts, it can be a big hassle to get them all to subscribe to your Benchmark Email account, and if this is the case for you, it is probably best to choose another company from this list.