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Campaign Monitor distinguishes itself from the email marketing competition through its easy-to-use features that deftly track and automate the customer journey. Small to midsize businesses (SMBs) will find a lot to like in the well-rounded campaign tracking analytics, which you can access at every pricing tier. On the design side, you’ll find additional useful tools, like drag-and-drop graphic elements and one-click access to a stock image library. Even with that going for it, Campaign Monitor stumbles in the customization and customer support areas. As a result, Campaign Monitor ranks behind our Editors’ Choice winners in the email marketing category: Campaigner, HubSpot, and Mailchimp. (Note: Campaigner is owned by Ziff Davis, PCMag.com’s parent company. For more, see the ethics policy in our Editorial Mission Statement.)

Campaign Monitor Pricing and Plans

Campaign Monitor is a little pricey for what it does, but the company makes finding your appropriate price range fairly simple. A plan’s cost is based on the size of your contacts list, so a slider on Campaign Monitor’s website lets you indicate the approximate number. Slide over to the number and you’ll see the requisite price for each plan.

The Lite plan is the cheapest tier, starting at $11 per month for up to 500 subscribers and 2,500 emails sent. From there, the price varies based on volume. For example, it costs $68 per month for 5,000 subscribers and 25,000 emails. The Lite plan maxes out at 50,000 subscribers and 250,000 emails, which costs $349 per month.

The Essentials plan eliminates email-sending limits by charging you based solely on the size of your contacts list. You’ll pay $19 per month for 500 subscribers, with an upper limit of $409 per month for 50,000 subscribers. It adds features beyond what’s available in the Lite plan, including unlimited automation and unlimited email design and spam testing.

The Premier plan starts at $149 per month for up to 5,000 subscribers and tops out at $989 per month for up to 50,000 subscribers. It unlocks Campaign Monitor’s high-end features, including email optimization, prebuilt engagement segments to calculate subscribers’ activity, scheduling, link tracking, and content-editing permissions for templates. Like the Essentials plan, Premier is priced solely on your subscriber list.

Campaign Monitor has custom high-volume plans if you need more than 50,000 subscribers, but you must contact sales for a quote. In addition, the service offers a pay-per-campaign plan that costs a flat rate ($5 per campaign and 1 cent per recipient) if you only occasionally email.

Comparing the Lite plan with Mailchimp’s Essentials plan (its cheapest paid tier) reveals that Campaign Monitor wins in price ($99 per month vs. $110 per month for 10,000 contacts). However, Mailchimp lets you send 100,000 emails; Campaign Monitor tops out at 50,000, which is notably less competitive.

Check out Brevo if you need basic email marketing features, but want to send a substantial amount of emails. It has an affordable Starter tier that scales entirely on the number of emails you intend to send. On the other hand, Campaign Monitor’s Essentials and Premier plans offer better features and unlimited email sends, while offering more competitive pricing. Campaigner has excellent features ideal for larger businesses, including a broad range of automation options, extensive third-party integrations, 24/7 live support, and a wide selection of templates and workflows. However, Campaigner is also a pricier alternative, with features like automated workflows, purchase history data comparisons, and sales engineering support locked behind its $649 per month Advanced plan.

Campaign Monitor supports SMS messaging, too. However, you need a specific subscription plan to add it to your account, and you must contact sales to discover its cost. This is an outlier compared with services offering SMS bundles (Klaviyo) or easy-to-find pricing tables for SMS add-ons (Brevo).

Campaign Monitor 2021 Get Started Template Creation

(Credit: Campaign Monitor)

Getting Started With Campaign Monitor

Signing up is simple. Campaign Monitor makes the process easy to follow with clear steps like “design your first email,” “add your contacts,” and “send your first email.” A nice touch is that you don’t need to provide payment information until you’re ready to send a campaign to more than five people. After you provide your name, company, email, and password, you need to choose an account type. The first option is aimed at marketers promoting their brands to outside customer audiences. Option two is for those managing someone else’s email communications and, therefore, reselling Campaign Monitor’s services. After that, you can jump right in and start creating campaigns. Campaign Monitor automatically creates a custom URL based on your company name.

As for mailing lists, you can import contacts, engage web signups, or draw from one of Campaign Monitor’s integration partners, such as Salesforce or WordPress. If you need help, Campaign Monitor has a useful resource section that covers importing contacts and other commonly referenced topics.

Campaign Monitor Subscriber List Template

(Credit: Campaign Monitor)

Adding Subscribers

You can add subscribers as part of your first campaign or as a separate process, which is how most companies with large lists will likely do it. You must assign a list to each subscriber, building a set of your most commonly targeted audiences. That is tedious at the outset, but it’s a good way to segment your recipients.

To add subscribers to a list, you can manually type or paste names, emails, and other information into a box, with information separated by commas, each on a separate line. For example: “Gabriel Zamora, [email protected], New York City.” Campaign Monitor tries to match your entries with custom fields. You can also upload a contact file via drag-and-drop or by selecting a file from your computer. We uploaded our set of test contacts by importing a CSV file.

Campaign Monitor has guidelines for acceptable uploads. Subscribers must have opted in on your website, purchased a product within the last two years, or shared their contact information in person or via another offline manner. Other restrictions include paid subscriber lists, those you haven’t emailed in more than two years, addresses obtained from a third party, or those you scraped or copy-and-pasted from the internet. All this is good advice, but we would have liked deeper anti-spam help as you get with GetResponse and Mailchimp.

Next, you match fields. Campaign Monitor correctly identified the email addresses we uploaded, but didn’t recognize full names or cities. Like Campaigner and Mailchimp, Campaign Monitor lets you use a drop-down list to correct a field or create a new one. Click Finish and you’re done. Using the List & Subscribers tab, you can manage subscribers and view unsubscribes, bounces, and deletes. You can also build a sign-up form for your website, create workflows (aka, automated emails), add custom fields, and create audience segments.

Campaign Monitor Template Selection

(Credit: Campaign Monitor)

Creating a Campaign

To create a campaign, you must give it a name, subject line, and email address for the From field (you can also set up a separate Reply To email). You can personalize the subject line by adding the subscriber’s first, last, or full name. Next, select a template or import your own HTML design. You can send a plain text email, but Campaign Monitor won’t track open or click rates. That limits your analytics data.

You must pick the type of email campaign you want to pursue. Campaign Monitor’s available options include Announcements, Newsletters, Deals, Offers, or Feedback and Events. Each of these has its own set of default templates. However, you can import your own HTML template, which is essential for companies with specific branding guidelines. This didn’t always work for us in testing, so you should prepare to tweak it. That means you’ll need someone with good HTML and Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) knowledge.

Once your template is set up, Campaign Monitor’s WYSIWYG-style editor makes it easy to drag and drop images and other elements into your email, such as call-to-action (CTA) buttons. You have free rein to format and resize your text. Again, this didn’t always work as advertised, so it’s probably a good idea to start with Campaign Monitor’s preview sandbox and not get too ambitious until you’ve got a good feel for the tool’s capabilities. Since we last tested it, Campaign Monitor received a link checker so you won’t suffer broken URLs and one-click access to a stock image library.

In a nice touch, Campaign Monitor previews how your email will look on various mobile devices. Since many people access email on their smartphones, most marketers will find this tool valuable. Campaign Monitor even provides previews for different screen sizes, which is helpful. We would have liked specific previews for the two main mobile operating systems, Apple iOS and Google Android, but a screen-based view is a good start for most marketers.

Campaign Monitor Preview Desktop or Mobile Newsletters

(Credit: Campaign Monitor)

Using Campaign Manager

To see how all this worked, we created a small newsletter campaign for our test business, a retailer focusing on lamps. We selected a template and customized our selection by dragging in additional graphic elements and rearranging the default text boxes. Most of that worked fine, though some graphic elements didn’t correctly render (so we replaced them).

We then checked our work in both the standard and mobile previews. That worked well and was on par with other mobile-aware competitors, like GetResponse and HubSpot Marketing Hub. We then chose contacts from the previously uploaded CSV file. After that, we sent a test and scheduled a delivery. Optionally, Campaign Monitor sends you a confirmation email when it finishes the send, which is helpful if you have thousands of subscribers.

Aside from this one-off process, you can set up automated emails from the Automation tab. Campaign Monitor has nine templated workflows, including popular ones like Getting Started, Happy Birthday, Thank You, and Blog Updates. You use these as part of a custom workflow usually initiated by a trigger, such as when the customer opens an email, reaches an anniversary, or some similar milestone. Just remember that you need to collect this information from your subscribers first. You then choose a template and design an email like a regular campaign.

Campaign Monitor does a credible job focusing on an individual customer’s journey. These days, personalizing communications is a major factor in campaign success, which is why so many of these packages focus on customizing their automatic emails. To make this easier, Campaign Monitor has a visual journey designer. This drag-and-drop view lets you see and plan your customer’s journey across different audience segments. You can automate emails for when a customer opts in, buys a product, clicks through to an affiliate merchant, or has a birthday. A good way to use this feature is for regular calls to action, like invites to an event or product promotions.

What we liked best about creating this personalized customer journey is that it helped us think as our customers would. That let us anticipate the best triggers for engagement. That may not help seasoned marketers much, but it’s invaluable for beginners.

Campaign Monitor Preview Desktop or Mobile mode

(Credit: Campaign Monitor)

Campaign Tracking and Support

For a tool that focuses on attracting new marketers, Campaign Monitor has a surprisingly well-rounded set of campaign tracking and reporting tools. These can quickly display open rates, bounces, link clicks, unsubscribes, and social shares. Opens are registered nearly immediately and Campaign Monitor gives you multiple visualizations to consume this data. For instance, you can see open rate spikes, which may occur at certain times of day and could inform you about when to send future emails. You can also drill down to recipients, view their location (based on their IP address), which links they clicked on, and which platform they use to view emails. That said, you’ll run into some trouble if you’re looking to build a custom report. For this, you need to export the data and then parse it using a third-party business intelligence tool, like Google Analytics.

If any of this becomes confusing, you’ll need product support. In this area, Campaign Monitor is something of a mixed bag. On one hand, it has an easily searchable Help section that offers detailed articles on everything from creating and editing campaigns to managing subscribers. The digital assistance tool, which is accessed via your account, can direct you to these pages or provide information excerpts. There are also user forums where you can ask for help troubleshooting any issues and get tips from other customers.

If all else fails, you can email Campaign Monitor’s support staff. Note, however, that customer support is only available from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and can only be reached via the contact form in the digital assistance tool. You can contact support via phone, but that’s only available to Premier plan subscribers. The real disappointment is that you can’t immediately reach Campaign Monitor using live web chat, which is a surprising oversight compared with the competition (most of whom have made live chat their primary support channel).

Verdict: A Good Place to Start With Email Marketing

Campaign Monitor is a fine tool for SMBs seeking an easy, versatile, and visually attractive email marketing solution. If you’re new to the game, it can save a lot of time with its step-by-step procedures and large template catalog. But don’t look for too much customization or you’ll wind up coding in HTML. Still, with its many good features and canned reports, Campaign Monitor ticks all the boxes that small businesses or new marketers need. However, lackluster customization and support options keep it from matching our Editors’ Choice winners Brevo, Campaigner, and Mailchimp.

Gadjo Sevilla contributed to this review.


  • Difficult contact importing when matching custom fields

  • Importing HTML templates doesn’t always work

  • Lacks live support chat

  • Phone support isn’t available with every tier

The Bottom Line

Campaign Monitor is an email marketing service with an intuitive interface, rich templates, and powerful analytics, but it trails the competition in customization and customer support.

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