What’s the best cold emailing software in the market? 

Some say ones with a user-friendly design; others prefer tools with the slickest features. But the reality is that you need to consider a host of other factors.

In this blog, we’ll dig into SmartLead vs Instantly — two feature-rich and popular cold email tools. But which one of the two deserves your time and effort?

Let’s find out.

Comparison Table

SmartLeadInstantly
OverviewCold email automation tool with dynamic content insertion.Sales automation SaaS focused on B2B companies.
PersonalizationOffers Spintax support and dynamic content insertion.Employs AI personalization and variable features.
Deal conversationsIntegrates deal-related conversations but lacks easy focus.Unibox consolidates outreach inboxes and campaign analytics.
ComplianceAI warm-up feature not Google compliant.Email warm-up out of compliance with Google regulations.
Client integrationsLacks client-specific integrations, limiting personalization.Relies heavily on Zapier for integrations, affecting flexibility.
Reporting & analyticsBuggy reporting tools, challenges in navigation.Basic reporting at the account or campaign level.
DeliverabilityDecent deliverability, but room for improvement in warm-up.Email deliverability issues reported, not Gmail-approved API.
UI/UXUsers want UI enhancements and clearer documentation.User-friendly interface with a learning curve for certain features.
Lead visibilityUsers want better visibility, clearer tagging, and tracking.Needs improvements in lead management for clarity.
Subscription structureSingle monthly subscription for unlimited sender accounts.Users find subscription details somewhat unclear.

SmartLead Overview

SmartLead is a sales email automation tool that lets you create cold email campaigns and send follow-ups. With dynamic content insertion and Spintax support, you personalize communications. 

SmartLead also brings deal-related conversations together in one place. However, this integration comes with a drawback as the only method to focus on a specific client is to filter each time, which can be frustrating to users.

Other features include an AI-driven warm-up feature, but it's out of compliance with Google, plus the platform isn't Google accredited.

What's more, SmartLead lacks client-specific integrations, restricting the capacity to deliver a personalized service at scale. This limitation can impact the versatility and tailored approach that users may seek in managing their client relationships effectively.

Who is SmartLead Best For?

SmartLead may be suitable for businesses engaged in cold email automation, seeking unlimited sender accounts, easy campaign creation, and flexibility across channels like WhatsApp and Twitter. 

The platform can also align with the needs of businesses venturing into sales engagement automation and needing conversation management with a master inbox, email metric tracking, and auto mailbox rotation to save SDR time

That said, it's important to note that users can't check or confirm prospects within the platform, create lead lists from inbound emails, or add prospects to a new campaign at once.

What's Missing from SmartLead?

Feedback from users suggests several key areas where improvements could enhance user experience and functionality. 

Firstly, users want UI enhancements and integrations, particularly with platforms like LinkedIn, to create a more seamless and visually appealing experience. They're also looking for clearer documentation on features to understand and use the platform more effectively.

Users also want better visibility on leads and contacts, with clearer tagging and tracking across multiple sequences for improved organization. Lastly, users wish for more variety in sequencing patterns to diversify their outreach strategies, indicating a desire to expand SmartLead's communication capabilities.

SmartLead Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Easy outreach: SmartLead supports cold email automation with unlimited sender accounts, straightforward campaign creation, and omnichannel capabilities.

  • Responsive support: Users have praised the software's fast and effective customer support.

  • Auto-rotating email accounts: With SmartLead, users can switch sender accounts or domains in each email campaign to maintain consistent email deliverability.

  • Easy to scale: SmartLead's single monthly subscription places no limit on email sending accounts. This, in turn, makes scaling cold outreach initiatives more cost-effective.

Cons

  • Delayed inbox visibility: Users may experience delays in emails appearing in the master inbox. However, a real-time visibility solution is currently in the works.

  • Loading time: Some users experience occasional delays in loading, especially when fetching new emails in real-time.

  • Buggy reporting and analytics: SmartLead's reporting and analytics tools are buggy. All reports are grouped together, and navigating them can be challenging. Users have to search by campaign or client to find specific information, which may pose challenges when managing tasks at scale due to the system's clunkiness.

  • Compliance issues: SmartLead's auto-warmer feature doesn't comply with Google regulation, which can be a huge red flag for email deliverability.

  • Limited Integrations: While supporting webhooks and API integration, SmartLead will benefit from more built-in connections with other tools and platforms.

  • Challenging setup: SmartLead is tricky to set up initially, needing time to connect accounts, set up integrations, and optimize campaigns.

  • Decent deliverability: While inbox rates are good, there's room for improvement in delivery through enhanced warm-up techniques.

  • Steep learning curve: Due to its depth, users may need a few weeks to master all capabilities and efficiently optimize campaigns.

  • Lacks CRM capabilities: Focused on email and outreach, SmartLead lacks CRM features found in some other tools.

  • Minor bugs: Occasional bugs are noted, but the team is confident in their ability to address them promptly for ongoing product improvement.

Instantly Overview

Instantly is another sales automation SaaS designed specifically for B2B companies. It focuses on automated and personalized email campaigns through integrations to enhance communication with prospects.

Now, Instantly does have email warm-up — a service that uses a vast pool of real human accounts to give your email deliverability a boost. However, it's out of compliance with Google. It’s also unclear how outreach performance will be affected when Google shuts down auto-warmers.

The platform addresses bounce rates with email validation, ensuring outreach efforts target active addresses. There's also a Unibox that consolidates outreach inboxes and campaign analytics to provide performance insights for strategy adjustments. 

Note that Instantly doesn’t offer click-tracking, plus bounced emails and unsubscribes only display by number — not by percentage.

Overall, Instantly keeps things simple with a user-friendly interface, competitive pricing, multi-account management, and comprehensive analytics. But there are a couple of hiccups. For instance, it relies heavily on Zapier for integrations and experiences reliability issues with its agency portal.

Who is Instantly Best For?

Instantly targets B2B sales reps seeking to streamline their outreach efforts.

Business owners aiming to save time and resources may find value in Instantly's services. By automating cold email marketing, they can redirect their focus to more important tasks. However, you'll have to upgrade to the higher-priced plans to get certain key features (eg: unified inbox).

For marketers, Instantly aids in managing multiple campaigns for extensive outreach and broader audience engagement. But, it's important to note that AI-powered email follow-up isn't available on the platform and therefore needs manual handling.

Online retailers may also find Instantly useful in getting more visibility and sales by quickly connecting with potential customers. 

What's Missing from Instantly?

Instantly users are seeking advanced features and better integrations, but a significant concern is its deliverability. One major problem is that Instantly doesn't send through a Gmail-approved API, which poses a high risk.

Avadel CEO Dave Valentine shared that Instantly's email deliverability issues nearly "killed" his business. When Avadel switched to Instantly, their meeting booking numbers plummeted by 95%, resulting in significant client losses.

Another issue is the reliance on Zapier for integrations, which some users find limiting. Improvements are needed in lead management, with users wanting clearer and more user-friendly options. Additionally, concerns are raised about plan limitations, including the cap on uploaded leads and the need for more flexibility in subscription offerings.

Instantly Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Seamless integration and unlimited email accounts: Users appreciate Instantly's smooth integration with unlimited email accounts.

  • Intuitive interface: Instantly's intuitive interface simplifies campaign management, contributing to more effective and time-efficient outreach efforts.

  • Scalability: The platform allows easy scaling of email campaigns, which makes it a flexible tool to meet varying outreach needs.

  • Customer support: Multiple users praise Instantly for its customer support. Reps provide prompt and effective assistance in resolving issues.

  • AI personalization and variables: AI personalization and variable features enhance campaign results by improving engagement and responsiveness.

Cons

  • Initial learning curve: While generally user-friendly, there's a learning curve for certain features, such as email warm-up and lead management, requiring time for new users to grasp.

  • Lead limitations in plans: Some plans have limits on uploaded leads, requiring workarounds for users managing larger email lists.

  • Issues with leads import: Feedback suggests the leads import feature could be improved for a smoother process.

  • Subscription information clarity: Users find subscription details somewhat unclear, requiring direct contact with support to understand what features come with each level.

  • Limited integrations: Instantly has few direct integrations, connecting only four applications. Even its lead finder tool is part of an additional add-on plan, offering its email finder tool for free.

  • Lack of trigger feature: Instantly lacks a trigger feature for campaign setup, which allows setting triggers in drip campaigns, which some users dislike.

  • Inappropriate for agencies: In Instantly, dealing with client accounts gets tricky because each one needs a separate workspace. Also, there's no overall report or dashboard, so managing lots of clients means going into each account separately.

  • Basic reporting and analytics: Cold email metrics are restricted to statistics at the account or campaign level, covering emails sent, opens, replies, and opportunities.

QuickMail: The Best Alternative to SmartLead and Instantly

Based on reviews from G2 and Capterra, SmartLead users encounter issues like inflated open rates and occasional delivery glitches, which raise doubts about their email campaigns. On the other hand, Instantly users highlight issues with insufficient analytics and limited integration capabilities, making it less dependable for marketing efforts.

In contrast, QuickMail stands out as the top choice, addressing common user concerns effectively. With a robust feature set designed for email marketing and lead generation, the platform resolves worries about inflated open rates and delivery issues, ensuring seamless campaign execution.

QuickMail also simplifies email automation and lead generation, offering personalized responses and automated follow-ups for consistently engaging with leads. It can handle multiple inboxes through its inbox rotation capability, streamlining campaign management from a single, unified platform.

Additionally, QuickMail's email automation features boost outreach by automating personalized campaigns,  leading to improved open and conversion rates. Its focus on personalized automation ensures communication remains relevant, while the campaign management tools improve team coordination for a unified approach to campaign execution.

Who is QuickMail For?

QuickMail is designed to meet the needs of small and medium-sized businesses looking to grow with cold outreach. 

For starters, QuickMail is the go-to solution for sales teams relying on email-centric cold outreach. Using built-in deliverability, automated follow-ups, and scalable hyper-personalization, reps can elevate their cold email strategies and maintain positive sender reputation.

The direct result? More replies, booked meetings, and deals won.

Agencies also find value in QuickMail. Switching between client profiles and managing multiple campaign inboxes is seamless, enhancing efficiency for those handling multiple client accounts.

Demand generation teams consider QuickMail indispensable for automating manual email tasks such as prospect import, follow-ups, email verification, and CRM updates. The platform's flexibility in managing multiple sender inboxes within a campaign allows teams to prioritize crucial tasks, thereby enhancing productivity.

For sales leaders seeking strategic insights, QuickMail's features prove valuable. Track opened emails, analyze lead unsubscribes, and assess reply sentiments to provide essential insights for evaluating and optimizing outreach strategies.

Advanced Metrics

Key Benefits of Using QuickMail

  • Streamlines personalized outreach: Simplify multi-step email campaigns with QuickMail's AI. Handle tasks like unsubscribe requests and follow-ups effortlessly while enhancing personalization with lead enrichment for tailored cold email templates.

  • Ensures exceptional deliverability: Ensure a solid 95% delivery rate by seamlessly connecting multiple inboxes, rotating for anti-spam compliance, and utilizing tools like auto-warming integration.

  • Enhances team collaboration: Centralize your inbox to prevent prospects from slipping through the cracks. Manage replies, categorize conversations, and monitor all communication efficiently using timestamps for assigning response tasks.

  • Optimize email campaigns: QuickMail lets you conduct unlimited A/B tests, track open rates, and leverage sentiment analysis to address prospects' concerns. Get real-time insights into how your messaging resonates with prospects and ideal customers.

  • Reliable results and support: QuickMail offers two solid benefits: an unmatched 99.99% uptime for dependable prospecting performance and top-notch customer support — through human assistance and comprehensive courses and resources.

Experience the difference yourself! Get your free 14-day QuickMail trial and execute seamless cold email campaigns.