Email Marketing

Smartlead vs Instantly Review: Which Email Outreach Tool Drives Superior Customer Engagement?

Clash of the Email Titans


Qasim Farooq


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Email marketing, particularly cold email campaigns and personalized email campaigns, has become an indispensable strategy for businesses looking to expand their reach and engagement with potential customers.

However, with 347.3 billion emails sent and received each day in 2023, the challenge is not just to reach the inbox but to make an impact once you're there. For this an effective email marketing software is key.

Smartlead and Instantly are at the forefront of email marketing tools, each known for its robust features that have transformed how businesses communicate with potential customers. While they share many features, they also cater to different marketing needs and user preferences.

Knowing how they pan out against each other, in features critical for customer engagement like deliverability, personalization, automation and integration can help us better understand the underlying aim of which email tool drives superior customer engagement.

Moreover, as the digital marketing landscape continues to evolve, the choice of an email marketing tool should not only reflect current needs but also accommodate future growth and technological advancements. This comparison will also consider how each platform aligns with emerging marketing trends and the growing demands of a digitally-savvy customer base.

Such an understanding will help us better understand what each tool offers and how they stand up against each other, and with other email outreach tools, in the critical facets of email campaign management.

Smartlead: An Overview

G2 Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars

"I’ve used almost every email platform for cold outreach and this has been the best to date in terms of email warmup, deliverability, and campaign management" - Capterra Review

Smartlead is a sales email automation tool designed to streamline the creation and management of cold email campaigns, including automated follow-ups.

Main Features

The tool offers sales teams a variety of features useful for their outreach campaigns.


Smartlead’s technology is crafted to enhance how effectively emails reach their intended recipients, which is crucial for successful direct email campaigns. Improved deliverability means more people see the emails, potentially increasing engagement and conversions, and lowering the chances of your cold email outreach efforts landing in the spam folder.

Unlimited Email Accounts Warmup

This feature helps create unlimited email accounts to send large volumes of emails reliably, helping to prevent emails from being marked as spam and sent to the spam folders. This is particularly beneficial for marketers focusing on lead generation, ensuring that potential leads actually receive and see the emails.

Email follow-up automation

Smartlead automates the sending of follow-up emails, saving time for teams by reducing the manual effort needed for such tasks. Continuous follow-up helps maintain engagement with potential clients, which could lead to increased sales.

The cold email tool has also recently unveiled it's SmartAI Bot, which would allow users to reply to their leads using reply context and AI in one click.

Unified inbox

This feature helps users in managing multiple email accounts and allows the sales team to manage all their email interactions from one centralized place, enhancing the efficiency of addressing customer inquiries and responses.

Where It Lacks

Despite its strengths, Smartlead has some limitations. The platform consolidates all deal-related conversations into a single location, which can lead to inefficiencies as users must frequently apply filters to focus on specific client interactions

Another significant concern is that Smartlead's AI-driven warm-up feature is not compliant with Google’s standards, and the platform itself is not accredited by Google. This might affect its usability for businesses that rely heavily on Google's ecosystem for their operations.

The platform also lacks client-specific integrations, which could hinder its ability to offer personalized services at scale.

Instantly: An Overview

G2 Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars

"The user friendly interface is very easy and useful. We easily can implement and intregate many emails for outreach. They provide all the functionality on from dashboard and its easy to use." - TrustPilot Review

Instantly is a sales automation Software as a Service (SaaS) tailored specifically for B2B companies.

The platform has a user friendly interface which is designed to streamline the process of automated and personalized email campaigns through robust integrations, enhancing communication with prospects. Its primary focus is on optimizing email campaigns to improve engagement and conversion rates.

Main Features

B2B Lead Finder

Instantly uses advanced search techniques to scan databases, social networks, and websites, identifying leads that match specific business criteria. This feature is crucial for sales teams looking to rapidly build a database of qualified leads.

Email Warmup

This cold email software offers unlimited automated email warmups using a pool of over 200,000 real human accounts. This helps in building a positive sender reputation, which is critical for maintaining high deliverability rates.

Automated Outreach Campaigns

Instantly supports automated, targeted email campaigns that utilize smart scheduling and inbox rotation to maximize response rates. The integration with Zapier allows for further automation by connecting with numerous third-party tools.

Where It Lacks

Despite its strengths, Instantly faces several notable challenges that may impact its effectiveness for certain businesses.

Firstly, the platform's email warm-up service, a key feature for maintaining high email deliverability, reportedly does not comply with Google's policies. This non-compliance raises concerns about the future usability of this feature.

Additionally, Instantly lacks sophisticated tracking capabilities; it does not support click-tracking and only displays bounced emails and unsubscribes as raw numbers.

Furthermore, Instantly relies heavily on third-party integration via Zapier to connect with other tools, which might not suit businesses looking for more direct, native integration options. This dependency can complicate workflows for users who prefer a more streamlined, all-in-one platform.

Smartlead vs Instantly: How Do They Compare

Now that we know what each tool offers, let's do a side by side comparison of smartlead vs instantly - based on different features that are essential for any cold email outreach.

Campaign Creation

Smartlead stands out for its capability to handle high volume outreach effectively, employing features like unlimited auto-rotating email accounts, which are essential for maintaining sender reputation across multiple campaigns. This functionality is beneficial for businesses that engage in extensive cold outreach strategies.

The platform’s strength lies in its ability to manage multiple email accounts seamlessly, providing a straightforward setup for users.

Instantly offers a user-friendly approach to campaign creation as well, with a straightforward interface for setting up linear email sequences. This setup is perfect for sales professionals looking for simple, direct outreach campaigns.

Instantly also provides options to add different email content variants within a step and utilizes pre written email templates and variables for faster personalization.


Deliverability is where Smartlead truly excels, providing unlimited mailbox warm-ups and auto-rotating email accounts, features not available in Instantly's basic package.

These capabilities are vital for users looking to maintain high deliverability without manual effort, automating the rate limits for email warmups and supporting multiple mailboxes.

Instantly, while strong, focuses more on integrated email warming and simulating email opens and reads to maintain a good sender reputation. It allows control over the number of emails sent daily to avoid triggering spam folder filters and supports numerous email accounts, enhancing outreach capabilities.


In terms of personalization, Smartlead allows for unlimited custom fields, offering a high level of tailoring for each email, which significantly enhances engagement potential.

Instantly while offering strong customization through placeholders and templates, lacks the unlimited custom fields feature that Smartlead provides.

However, in today's day and age, there are better cold email software out there offering features like hyper-personalization. GoCustomer is one such lead management platform, that stands out as a more modern alternative to both Smartlead and Instantly, primarily through its extreme personalization capabilities.

With its unique LinkedIn Agent feature, GoCustomer delves into LinkedIn profiles to extract detailed insights, enabling the creation of emails tailored with an unprecedented level of detail and relevance.

Additionally, its Website Agent feature pushes boundaries by scraping information from websites to craft emails that are not only relevant but seem custom-made for each recipient.

This level of hyper-personalization sets GoCustomer apart, offering a significant advantage in engaging effectively with leads.

AI and Automated Workflows

Smartlead leverages custom column values to personalize emails effectively, though it doesn't support full AI sentence generation.

On the other hand, Instantly lacks robust AI features for sales sequences, which limits its effectiveness in crafting highly personalized and automated sales messages.

This makes Smartlead a better option for teams that employ advanced AI technology to enhance their cold outreach strategies

Social Automation

Smartlead offers comprehensive social automation capabilities, supporting outreach via SMS, Twitter, and WhatsApp. This integrated approach can be crucial for strategies that include social media as a core component of outreach.

Instantly lacks built-in social media automation, requiring additional tools for actions on platforms like LinkedIn. This might necessitate a more complex setup for users who need extensive social media engagement.

Integration Capabilities

Integration is key for streamlining workflows and enhancing campaign analytics. Smartlead integrates seamlessly with a wide range of tools, providing flexibility and ease of use for sophisticated marketing strategies. It supports standard integrations like CRMs and advanced setups via APIs.

Instantly provides essential integration capabilities, suitable for basic needs but may require additional configurations or third-party tools for more advanced requirements.

Pricing Plans: Which Tool offers the Best Value For Money

When comparing the pricing structures of Smartlead and Instantly, it's important to evaluate the details of each plan to determine which offers the best value for money based on your business's specific needs.

Instantly Pricing

Instantly offers three main pricing tiers:

  • Growth Plan: Priced at $37 per month, this plan includes unlimited email accounts, email warmup, support for 1000 active leads, a cap of 5000 emails per month, and live chat support.

  • Hypergrowth Plan: At $97 per month, this plan upgrades to 25,000 active leads and 100,000 emails monthly, along with premium support.

  • Light Speed Plan: The highest tier, costing $358 per month, significantly increases the limits to 100,000 active leads and 500,000 emails monthly.

Smartlead Pricing

Smartlead also segments its pricing into three tiers:

  • Basic Plan: For $39 per month, users get features suitable for marketers or businesses looking to scale up. This includes 2000 active leads, 6000 emails per month, and unlimited email accounts and warmups.

  • Popular Plan: Costing $79 per month, this plan increases support to 10,000 active leads and 40,000 emails per month, and includes additional features such as a custom CRM and email guide assistance.

  • Pro Plan: At $94 per month, this is designed for larger scale operations with 30,000 active leads and 150,000 emails per month. It also includes webhooks, API access, and unlimited seats.

Comparative Analysis

Both tools offer competitive features, but the choice between them may depend on specific business needs such as the volume of emails sent, the level of support required, and the need for advanced features like API access or custom CRM integration.

  • For smaller businesses or those new to email marketing: Instantly's Growth plan may be more attractive due to its lower cost.

  • For businesses needing more robust features and higher lead and email capacities: Smartlead's Popular and Pro plans provide more depth in functionality, which could be crucial for effective scaling and integration with other business systems.

In essence, when choosing between Smartlead and Instantly, consider not only the monthly fees but also the strategic value each plan offers in terms of support, features, and scalability.


As we wrap up our comparison between Smartlead and Instantly, it's clear that both platforms offer valuable tools for enhancing email marketing strategies. Both platforms offer powerful features that can significantly improve your email marketing efforts and overall customer engagement strategies.

Emerging platforms like GoCustomer introduce features that focus on very detailed personalization. This kind of specificity in crafting messages might help in making email campaigns more effective by speaking directly to the unique needs and interests of each contact.

In the broad spectrum of digital marketing tools, the choice often comes down to the specific needs of your business and the complexity of your campaigns.

While Smartlead and Instantly offer robust functionalities, exploring new tools like GoCustomer could provide additional capabilities that might be better aligned with the latest marketing trends and consumer expectations.

Overall, choosing the right platform is about finding a balance between comprehensive features and innovative approaches that keep pace with market developments.

As such, considering newer platforms could be worthwhile as part of a strategy to enhance engagement and achieve better results from your marketing efforts.

Try GoCustomer, today!

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Reach more customers with your cold emails

Table of Contents

    In a nutshell

    Smartlead and Instantly are email outreach tools designed to help businesses automate and manage their email marketing campaigns. They offer features such as campaign creation, email automation, and detailed analytics to enhance marketing efforts and streamline communication with potential customers.
    Both tools are suitable for businesses of all sizes that rely on email marketing to generate leads, engage with customers, and drive sales. Smartlead is particularly beneficial for businesses looking for advanced features like API access and custom CRM integration, while Instantly might be better for smaller businesses or those just scaling their email operations.
    Both tools use advanced techniques to ensure high email deliverability. Smartlead uses AI-driven warmups and dynamic IP addresses, while Instantly offers unlimited email warmup and robust support to help prevent emails from landing in spam folders.
    Smartlead provides general support within 24 hours, with active support available in higher-tier plans. Instantly offers live chat support in its basic plan and premium support in its higher-tier plans, ensuring users receive timely assistance as needed.
    Yes, both Smartlead and Instantly allow you to upgrade or downgrade your plans as your business needs evolve. This flexibility helps ensure that you can always align the tools' capabilities with your current marketing strategies.
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