Newsletter Reviews Newsletter Tools & Software

EmailOctopus Review 2021

EmailOctopus is aiming to be the affordable go-to email marketing tool. They launched 4 years ago, and today they have around 51,000 clients that have sent all together around 10 billion emails! If you are into supporting indie hackers/ bootstrapped makers, keep on reading. We’ll share with you a deep dive of the EmailOctopus platform as well as the background story. So let’s get right into the EmailOctopus review:

How did EmailOctopus start?

Back in 2014, the founder of EmailOctopus had scratched his own itch. He was working on another project when around 2,000 people opted into his email updates. There wasn’t much competition other than Mailchimp, but they were too expensive for small businesses. So he decided to build a SaaS product that will solve this. At first, the product was free (to gain users and learn from them). In 2015, EmailOctopus added a paid plan. The company did not raise money, rather they decided to focus on growing EmailOctopus sustainably.

EmailOctopus review – the platform

EmailOctopus has everything you need for your email marketing. They have a simple to use drag-and-drop email editor. You can also start with a pre-designed template. They are also offering automation and analytics.

Their free plan is pretty generous. It includes up to 2,500 subscribers and 10,000 emails per month.

Let’s see what you need to do to start a newsletter:

EmailOctopus onboarding

EmailOctopus signup

First, you only need to fill out your email and password. Then, you will need to activate your account by clicking the link in the email they sent you.

EmailOctopus pick a plan

The next step will be to pick out a plan. If you don’t have more than 2,500 subscribers, there is nothing stopping you from trying the free plan.

Now the process gets a bit more tedious, you will need to fill out some information about your company.

Emailoctopus fill out information

Next, you’ll need to fill out your address (it’s actually required by law, to add this address in each email you send out as a business – read more here).

That’s it, you are done with the onboarding process. They will now review your account as they are looking to keep out spammers and legitimate users.

EmailOctopus – create a list of subscribers

After the onboarding, you get to your dashboard screen.

EmailOctopus dashboard

You’ll notice here that a lot is going on, so let’s break it down. On top, you have the notice that they are reviewing your account. On the bottom right corner, there is a pop up that is prompting you to watch their video that explains how to create your first campaign. It’s a great tool for companies to make sure the user has a great user experience. The video is only 4 minutes long and contains everything you need to know in order to send your newsletter out in minutes.

To start a newsletter, first, you’ll need to have a list of subscribers that will get the newsletter. You can either add it manually or import it from a file. You can get to this list from the dashboard or from the navigation menu on top if you click on lists. If you don’t have already a list of subscribers, you can generate a subscription form. To get there, you’ll need to create a list (click on the button in the lists screen)

emailoctopus create a list

Give the list a name, and choose the I’ll do this later option

emailoctopus create a list 2

Now you can either click on the “create a form” button below, or on the forms in the mid page menu.

emailoctopus subscribe form

There are three options to create a subscription form:

  1. Hosted -Generate a subscription form that you can link to.
  2. Embedded – Generate code to embed a subscription form on any site.
  3. WordPress – Use an official plugin to add a subscription form to your WordPress site.

To start working on your campaign, you’ll need at least one subscriber.

emailoctopus- add a subscriber

Now that we finally have a list of subscribers that contain at least one subscriber, we can go ahead and start building a newsletter campaign.

Create a campaign

Click on the campaigns tab to start the first newsletter. Click on Create a campaign – this will prompt a pop up wizard that will let you pick between a regular one-off email to an automated campaign. The right one is the ‘Regular’ campaign.

create a campaign -email octopus

Here you’ll need to give a title to your campaign (it will only appear internally, so no need to think of a cool name yet).

Next, add the name your emails will come from and the email address (the replies will go to that address). Now is the time to think of a cool name. On the right in the subject field you have the options to add an emoji or an automated tags – like the subscriber first name or last name (it only works well if you ask those details in the subscribe form. If you only ask for the email, don’t use this).

Then, write a one-liner that will be displayed after the subject line as a preview in your users inbox. Finally, you’ll need to choose a list (the subscriber list you imported before. You can also choose just a segment from your email list, if you pre-defined it (or you can create a segment right there from that page – you can filter by first name, last name, created at, source, etc.).

EmailOctopus onboarding

On the right you will notice you have advanced settings. Decide if you’d like to track whether or not the subscriber opened the email, and if they clicked on any links in the newsletter. Some will argue against it (from privacy standpoint), and some will be totally pro this, as it lets you learn from the subscribers (if the issue was interesting, if they didn’t even open it, maybe the subject line wasn’t interesting, if the timing wasn’t ideal, etc.).

Campaign content

Finally, we get to the interesting part – working on the content! The next step in the setup process, is to choose a template to help you get started. If you know some HTML + CSS, you can go with the simple classic editor. Otherwise, it is recommended to start with a template to use in the drag-and-drop editor.

email marketing templates

Pick any one of those that looks like what you are trying to achieve (but no worries, once you are inside the editor, you can change and customize anything. On the left you have widgets you can add to editor. You just need to drag it to the right part of the screen and put it in the place you want. You can add a heading (title), text (paragraph), an image, button, social share buttons, divider and a code (HTML). On the right, you already have the template you chose. If you click on an element, you’ll have more options appear on the left (such as, change an image, image width, image alignment, padding and margin).

Content editor

Additional settings

You’ll notice that on the left, above the widgets, there are two more tabs (rows and settings). The rows will let you add boxes inside a row (if you need to show two images in the same line, or two paragraphs). If you drag one of those rows, you’ll then need to click back on the content tab to add widgets or elements inside the row block you added.

Editor rows

Finally, the settings tab on the left will let you decide the background color, font, font color, font size, add an image to the background (header/ body/ footer).

As you click on the text in the editor, a formatting editor will pop up and let you change the text to bold/italic/ underline, change the font size or color, insert a link, emoji, tags (like the subscriber first name), add a list and set an alignement.

Lastly, preview your newsletter before you send it. You can check it on desktop and mobile (it’s very recommended as not a few people will actually read it on mobile), and send a test email to your address.


After sending a campaign, you’ll be able to view the following metrics in the report tab (if you kept the trackers on)

  • Opened – how many and which of the subscribers opened the email
  • Clicked – which subscribers clicked on which links
  • Unsubscribed – how many and who opt-out from your newsletter
  • Bounced – how many and which didn’t receive the email
  • Complained – how many marked the email as spam (ouch)

Our thoughts – EmailOctopus review

EmailOctopus is a great way to start your newsletter! Their tool is very simple to use, you can basically do everything you want with it. It’s easy to customize, add widgets, and more. They also have a referral program that can help you reduce your next bill, which is compelling if you’re not using the free plan.

If you are looking for more automation possibilities, they also have an integration with Zapier.

Things to improve or that are missing: As far as I could tell, there is no way to monetize your subscribers, only to add ads or sponsors. It’s not a big deal if you are only starting out, but if you do have a large list of subscribers, it’s something to think about.

To sum up our EmailOctopus review, we do think they have a great tool and great pricing plans. Check them out!

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