While much of the focus in online marketing has been on social media over the last few years, there's still something to be said for the value of good, old fashioned email. Marketing via email can be highly effective, but smaller companies don't necessarily need all the bells and whistles offered by most email marketing service providers.

In an effort to attract more small business and nonprofit customers, email and social marketing platform iContact is now offering a free version of their service.

In doing so, the company takes aim at their biggest competitor, Constant Contact, whose pricing plans start at $15 per month.

iContact has long offered several paid pricing options based on the number of email subscribers, starting at $10 per month. With this move to a freemium model, they're offering organizations with 500 or fewer subscribers access to the service for free. Free subscribers will also be limited to 20 design templates (paid subscribers get over 500), lower sending priority and no phone support (only email and chat).

For many smaller organizations on a shoe string budget, these concessions will be well worth it. Of course, if your email marketing efforts are successful, it won't be long before you exceed 500 subscribers and thus will have to start paying. Then again, there are worse problems for a small business to have.

If your business hasn't gotten started in email marketing yet or you're the market for a new provider, you can give the new iContact free account a shot.