Best Free Email Tools and Tips

For personal email, I use the following ESPs (Email Service Provider): Gmail is my favorite, but not far behind is Yahoo, Outlook, and Zoho. Here’s how to setup Gmail in a 3rd party email client.

For business email, Zoho allows the use of custom domain email for free, good for up to five users with 5 GB of storage space. The paid plan starts at $1 per user. They also have a WorkPlace plan annually billed at $3/user/month.

Gmail is part of the Google Workspace Business Starter plan, which costs $4.20/user/month, billed annually and limited to 30 GB of storage per user. Use email alias to save on cost. Here’s how to add an alias to an existing email account, so you can send emails using it. Aside from aliases, you can also use groups. It doesn’t count as additional account, but allow others to send emails to members.

Outlook is part of Microsoft 365 which is billed at $3/user/month (annual). With 1 TB of aggregate storage. Checkout Proton. MXRoute provides unlimited domains and email accounts for just $45 /year, but limited to 10 GB data. They have bigger size at extra cost. If you use this ESP, select CrossBox as the webmail.

A practical option is using the web host’s webmail (Horde, SquirrelMail) and connecting it to your Gmail. Here’s how.

A much better solution is to use a free email routing like the one offered by CloudFlare. Here’s how to use CloudFlare Email Routing with Gmail. Or use an email forwarding service like Anonaddy. They provide unlimited aliases, 20 domains but only 2 recipients, and 10MB monthly bandwidth. ForwardEmail is more generous in giving away unlimited domains, email addresses, and aliases. The attachment limit is  50MB.

If migrating from Gmail to cPanel’s webmail. Export email messages by selecting Gmail here. Using the Horde webmail application, import the .mbox file in a new folder. If SquirrelMail is the default, switch to Horde by logging in and replace the “/3rdparty/squirrelmail/src/webmail.php” portion of the URL with “/horde/index.php” so it would look like this: “”. If the .mbox file is too large, split it using this.

An easier option, is to use Google’s Data Migration Service. To account for time zone discrepancy, set the start date to at least a day prior to the oldest message date.

HubSpot offers a free email signature generator. Sender have a mail to link generator, MailToLinkGenerator is another option.

Email marketing is a very effective way to build loyalty, trust, and brand awareness. Plus, it is useful for advertising and/or selling. There are 2 types of email sending services: Marketing and Transactional.

Marketing email is used to send commercial or promotional content with the intent of generating income. It is strictly governed by local laws. The email is usually sent to a large number of people or subscribers. Used in newsletters.

Transactional email, on the other hand, is one to one communication that usually belongs to a transaction or process. Used in e-commerce for sending the order confirmation, or for sending a security email notification.

These services are pretty expensive, especially for startups. Luckily, there are enterprise-grade platforms that offer free plans.

First let’s take a look at free WordPress plugins: Newsletter, SendPress Newsletters, Email Subscribers & Newsletters and Newsletters are a cost-effective way of sending email campaigns when combined with an affordable ESP.

If you use the default WP mailer, the message will most likely end in spam. To prevent this, try sending via SendGrid. It is an API based Email Service Provider(ESP). Another option is Zoho Mail  plugin, it requires an account. If you have an STMP provider like Gmail or ReachMail, use WP Mail SMTP.

Brevo is a marketing email service that offers 300/day email sends to unlimited contacts. Integrate into WordPress easily with their plugin. It has SMTP feature, that can be used to enable websites and apps to send transactional emails. SendPulse is also a multi-channel marketing platform offering email marketing, SMS, CRM, web push, live chat, landing pages and popups. The free account is stingy with a limit of 500 contacts, however the subscription plans are a little cheaper.

Amazon SES allows 62,000 email sends/month for free, then charges $0.1 per 1,000 emails, which is very cheap. Here are guides for quick set-up and creating SMTP credentials. Spare yourself the hassle and use WP Offload SES Lite plugin which integrates it easily with WordPress. After the setup, replace it with Post SMTP which has logging and fallback feature in case of sending failure. For fallback use Brevo. Icegram’s Express plugin has post notification in the free version, option for no branding but no captcha.

BigMailer is a pay-as-you-go email marketing service connected to an existing SES account. Send 2,000 emails per month to 1,000 contacts for free. It charges $1 per additional 1,000 contacts per month, this is on top of Amazon SES fees. Has multiple brand support.

EmailBluster provides free plan with a limit of 62,000 email sends per month for unlimited subscribers. The paid plan just charges $0.20 per 1,000 email send, not including SES fees.

An alternative to SES is ElasticEmail, which charges $0.09/1,000 emails, IP is quite expensive though at $1 per day.

Take note that in contact based billing model, you pay for all the contacts/subscribers, even those that are not active. The email based, especially if its pay as you go, and you efficiently use segmentation, can be a more practical choice. If you decide to lessen the frequency of emailing, you save big on monthly cost.

CRM service bundled with email marketing is a sensible offering. Mautic is an open-source marketing automation project. CRM, email marketing, and other channels included in the package. Free to download and self-host. Here’s the hardware requirements and the installation instruction in Ubuntu server , Don’t forget to set up the cron jobs. If using cPanel, it is already part of Softaculous auto-installer.

GroundHogg is a free CRM(Customer Relations Management) and email marketing WordPress plugin, it has “funnels” automation but no post notification.

AgileCRM is cheap, while ActiveCampaign, Kajabi, PlatformlyKartra, WishPond, and Keap are pricey. Kajabi is suitable for websites that sell products and memberships. Platformly has an option to increase email sending by connecting to external SMTP providers. Kartra has a membership and and agency feature.

SuiteDash and TeamWave are CRM with a project management feature.

In case you need, BeeFree provides a free drag & drop HTML email editor with tons of templates. It’s responsive and no signup required. Another option is Topol.

Check for the “spammyness” of the email using Mail-Tester and GlockApp’s Inbox Insights.

Use email validation to reduce bounces. For single email address, use Hunter.IOCheck-Mail provides a generous 1,000 validation requests per month for free. Requires RapidAPI account and credit card details. For 50,000 validations, here are some cheap pay as you go providers: GamaLogic charges $60, MailMule $72, TheChecker for $79, and Bouncer $100. However, if you go higher MailMule is the most practical choice as it will only cost $135 for 250,000 requests!

When doing email marketing, its handy to include an email whitelist instruction link. Here’s a sample of what it looks like.

I am in a situation where I need to use a disposable email address. It is an effective protection against spam. As a Web Developer, I use it for testing registration forms, etc. There are lots of free services out there, but I’ve found out that most have serious bugs. One site doesn’t render the full message and in another service, the links in the message don’t work.

A further search led me to two ad-free services. FakeMailGenerator is very straightforward, upon visiting, it immediately generates an email address. You can specify your own, coupled with a variety of domain selections to choose from.

MailDrop suggests easy-to-read and editable addresses. But, the email address is limited to their domain. Yet, it offers a much-needed security feature. It generates an alias email together with the suggested one. The alias inbox is hidden from the public, and only you can access it using the original email. Great right?

EmailOnDeck is another site to try out since it renders the messages properly. The downside is the extra step. Also, there’s an exit pop-up ad. Other than these, it’s an exceptional service.

An important step is to secure the domain emails, so its use is exclusive to the domain owner only and prevents “spoofing“. This can be achieved by implementing SPF, DKIM, and DMARC. EasyDMARC provides lots of tools to analyze and create SPF, DKIM, and DMARC. Another option is DMARCIAN.

To generate a DKIM, use EasyDMARC and SparkPost tools.

PostMark a purely transactional email service, provides free DMARC reporting tool. It emails a weekly digest that’s very easy to understand and troubleshoot. ValiMail is also offering free DMARC reporting for Microsft Office 365.

To check if the email address passes the various sender authentication mechanisms like the SPF, “iprev” and DKIM, send an email to [email protected]. It will reply with results.

Google PostMaster shows Gmail delivery errors, spam reports, feedback loop, and more.

If the email goes to spam, check the domain’s IP at DNSBL if its blacklisted. If it is, request removal hereMultiRBL is a free multiple DNSBL(DNS BlackList or RBL) lookup and FCrDNS(Forward Confirmed Reverse DNS or IPRev) check tool.

To protect email forms from spambots, use hCaptcha, they pay you for using it. What’s better than a captcha? No captcha, haha. WeHateCaptchas doesn’t show any captcha at all. For Infusionsoft forms, SpamKill is a paid service but quite effective.

CloudFlare’s Turnstile is free and can be set to invincible.

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