Featured Image Courtesy of Persuasion Nation
There are a number of digital marketing tactics you can use to promote your brand and reach the right audience. However, email marketing stands out from all of them, as emails give you the opportunity to personalize communication with your customers. But to stay on top of your email marketing game, you need to get the right email marketing software.
Regardless of the size of your company or the number of your customers, every business can benefit from an email marketing tool. But not just any app will do the trick. You need to find something that offers personalization, automation, and robust reporting features to help you send the right message to the right person at the right time.
Software like ConvertKit and MailChimp allow you to send emails directly to users’ inboxes, creating one-to-one conversations. These apps are more advanced than a regular email service provider, as they allow you to create complex automated email campaigns, forms to generate leads, and landing pages.
MailChimp vs ConvertKit Overview
ConvertKit and MailChimp provide their users with all the tools they need to run a successful email marketing campaign, including list management, email creation, automation, and reporting. Both apps also offer landing pages and forms, allowing you to easily generate more leads right on your blog or website.
Even though these two apps are two most popular options in the email marketing space, they differ quite a lot in terms of A/B testing, sophistication of the email editor, and automated emails. Also, they have different pricing models.
MailChimp’s free plan doesn’t include all the advanced features of its paid plans. But the free version is still packed with powerful options for sending emails, building forms, and publishing landing pages. ConvertKit, on the other hand, doesn’t have a free plan, but does offer users a free 14-day trial.
In this article, we’ll explore the features of both tools and help you choose the one that will suit your email marketing plan and goals.
What is MailChimp?
MailChimp is one of the most popular newsletter tools, mostly because of their great marketing and great features. Those who are just starting out with email marketing will love the fact that MailChimp offer a free plan. However, there is one catch; you can send only 10,000 emails a month to 2,000 subscribers. But if you’re running a small business, then this will be more than enough emails for you!
What is also great is that you get access to almost all templates and plenty of advanced tools with the free plan, such as their built-in CRM. If you’re interested in upgrading your MailChimp account, then you can choose between a monthly plan or several pay-as-you-go options, which turn out to be a better option for low-volume clients. But, we’ll come to the MailChimp pricing a bit later. For now, let’s focus on its features and how this tool allows you to improve your email marketing strategy.
Who is MailChimp for?
Even though it is packed with excellent features, MailChimp is not the best choice for everyone.
You should get MailChimp if:
- Integrations are important to you. If you’re a small business owner, a blogger, an ecommerce business, or a non profit who wants a newsletter service that integrates with other tools, then MailChimp is the right choice for you. It offers hundreds of integrations to both popular and niche applications (such as Zapier and WordPress).
- You need an all-in-one solution for inbound campaigns and a CRM. MailChimp always emphasizes the importance of running opt-in based lead capture campaigns. They have great features such as landing pages and automated drip campaigns that allow you to do just that. Their CRM also allows you to set up customer profiles and assign customers a lifetime value.
MailChimp is not recommended if:
- You want automations that are easy to manage. Even though MailChimp says they are a marketing automation platform, their users say their automations are not that intuitive to set up. MailChimp lacks a workflow editor, making it a bit unwieldy to manage the steps in each automation.
What MailChimp Offers
MailChimp comes with some amazing features. What users love the most is the drag-and-drop email editor that makes creating attractive emails incredibly simple. Users can add and edit content blocks such as text blocks, images, video, and social media buttons. The editor automatically does a spell-check while you are creating your email.
The editor also includes a commenting feature, which allows multiple people to add comments on the email if they think there are areas that can be improved or if they notice any errors. MailChimp also offers excellent segmentation possibilities. Instead of having to build segments manually, MailChimp uses machine learning to build them automatically based on how likely a customer is to shop with you again, and how much they are likely to spend.
All segments are dynamic and MailChimp will automatically add customers when they start meeting criteria (e.g., they make a purchase). When the customers stop meeting certain criteria (e.g., they haven’t interacted with your brand in six months) MailChimp will automatically remove them.
One thing to keep in mind is that not all features are available in all plans.
All users have access to customer support, but the type of support depends on their plan. For example, users on the free plan can search through the Knowledge Center to try and find a solution for their problem. MailChimp’s Knowledge Center contains tons of useful articles, complete with screenshots and videos, to help you solve problems yourself.
If that doesn’t work out, then free users can try and submit a ticket. MailChimp does not make it easy to access this option, but it’s possible to find the contact details on their site (if you try hard enough).
Those who sign up for one of the premium plans get access to 24/7 email support. There is phone support as well, but it is available only to those with the highest-tier price plan.
Ease of Use
MailChimp is an excellent choice even for inexperienced email marketers since it is so easy to use. One tactic that MailChimp uses to make its software seem more user friendly is to create fun copy and visuals that are very accessible and easy to understand.
Another excellent feature MailChimp provides is personalized tips that are based on your answers to several questions. The tips depend on whether you sell products online, support online bookings or appointments, or measure success by the number of products sold online or people interacting with your software.
All tips are personalized, and they help users understand not just how to use the tool but also why they should complete a certain action (e.g., personalize a subject line) and how it can help their business.
Mailchip offers more than 200 integrations with various ecommerce, content management, accounting, and payments software. Some of the most popular software tools you can connect to Mailchimp include:
- Google Analytics
MailChimp also provides an API, so users can build their own integrations. The only downside with using the API is that MailChimp does not provide any support if you’re building integrations on your own. If you need help, you will have to contact a MailChimp integrations specialist.
One of the most important aspects of email marketing is having insight into your results with reports. MailChimp offers its users all sorts of reports, such as the basic performance report, hourly performance, ecommerce sales, click maps, performance by domain, social stats, and many more.
In addition, your reports come with some useful data, such as how your campaigns perform against industry average open and click rates, bounce rates, and even complaints received.
When it comes to contacts management, MailChimp allows you to create lists. All your contacts will be saved in certain lists, which is quite useful if you’re managing email campaigns for different business streams or clients.
But if you’re working on one project only, you’ll want to keep all your contacts in the same list and organize them using tags.
It’s important to point out that, if you use multiple lists, MailChimp will charge you for contacts that are duplicated across lists. This is a pretty big con for using MailChimp.
MailChimp doesn’t do the best job when it comes to marketing automation. First of all, their automations feel a little old-school and it is quite tricky to find them (they’re located in ‘Campaigns’ under the ‘Create an email’ option).
MailChimp automations editor lacks any kind of visual workflow, which is very useful as it can help you visualize how contacts will move through the workflow.
What many users love about MailChimp’s automation is that they provide a wider range of automated campaigns. For example, with MailChimp you can set up abandoned cart campaigns or campaigns triggered by webpage visits.
MailChimp Plans and Pricing
Earlier, we mentioned that MailChimp offers a free plan. Now, this might make you want to sign up for this marketing tool immediately. However, before you do that, you should get familiar with MailChimp pricing options. There are a few snags in their pricing model, especially when it comes to how they charge for contacts.
MailChimp’s monthly plans are based on the size of your ‘audience’ and each plan has a monthly email sending limit. MailChimp also offers its users a ‘pay as you go’ option, where you pay only for the emails that you send. This plan includes all the advanced features as the monthly MailChimp plans.
MailChimp Monthly Plans & Prices
The greatest advantage of MailChimp monthly plans is that you can never run out of credits, meaning your automation will never stop if you forget to refill. However, if you go over your contact limit, you will incur additional charges.
MailChimp offers the Free plan for up to 2,000 contacts and 10,000 emails per month. The Essentials plan starts at $9.99/month for 50,000 contacts and 500k emails. The Standard plan adds advanced automations, starting at $14.99/month, and Premium gives you all-areas access from $299/month. Keep in mind that the free plan comes with ads.
Besides the number of emails and contacts, each plan comes with a certain set of features that are not available in the previous one. For example, the Essentials plan removes the MailChimp branding, gives you access to A/B testing, and provides you with all MailChimp templates.
The Standard plan gives users more advanced CRM features, more sophisticated automation workflows, and retargeting ads for Facebook, Instagram, and Google. The Premium plan is the priciest one, but you get an unlimited number of emails and users, as well as access to Advanced Segmentation and Comparative Reports.
MailChimp Pay-as-You-Go Plans
These plans work similarly to a cell phone setup: you choose a desired email quota and you prepay to use it. It is important to point out that all the credits that you purchase expire after 12 months.
Here is an overview of the MailChimp Pay-as-You-Go plans, as of this writing:
|Emails||Price per Email||Plan Price|
Unsure which plan is the right one for you? If you plan to send email campaigns regularly, then it makes more sense to choose a monthly account with a subscriber limitation. However, if you want to send emails to your subscribers every now and then, you’re better off with email credits.
What is ConvertKit?
Now that we’ve covered MailChimp, let’s look at one of its top competitors: ConvertKit.
ConvertKit is a relatively new tool in the email marketing software industry. They describe themselves as the perfect tool for professional bloggers, as their goal is “to make email easier and more robust for professional bloggers like you.”
If you’re interested in blogging and affiliate marketing, then make sure to check out our guide on how to easily start a blog and make money!
Unlike MailChimp, ConvertKit offers all of the advanced features in all of its paid plans. The only excluded feature from lower tiers is the free platform migration. If you purchase a plan for more than 5,000 contacts, they’ll migrate your lists into their system.
Who is ConvertKit for?
Not everyone will find ConvertKit suitable for their email campaigns.
You should get ConvertKit if:
- You have less than 1,000 contacts. ConvertKit offers quite a generous freemium plan with advanced features for all users who have less than 1,000 contacts.
- You want to run ultra-targeted campaigns. ConvertKit has a very flexible tagging and segmentation system that allows you to run very specific and ultra-focused campaigns.
- You’re interested in easy campaign management. ConvertKit features a built-in landing page editor that allows users to manage end-to-end campaigns within the one tool.
ConvertKit is not recommended if:
- You want to send visual emails. ConvertKit offers its users only three email templates, and all of them are text-based. There is no option to create or upload your own email templates.
What ConvertKit Offers
Unlike MailChimp, ConvertKit offers a quite basic email editor with a very limited range of templates. But this was done deliberately. ConvertKit believes that their users don’t have to spend too much time to create visually-attractive emails to run successful campaigns.
Unlike many other email marketing tools, ConvertKit comes with excellent subscriber management and segmentation capabilities. This tool is focused on analytics and provides a detailed insight into customer behavior including:
- New subscribers
- Total subscribers
- Average open rate
- Average click rate
- History of past purchases
- Source channel (email, social media, display ad)
ConvertKit also allows its users to create specific segments based on as many conditions as they prefer, while both excluding and including customers based on these criteria. Users can apply conditions such as demographic data, purchase behavior, and subscription date.
It seems that ConvertKit doesn’t make any distinctions when it comes to its users and the plans they are subscribed to. All users can access support through the help button on the dashboard. The support is live chat and it is available to all users from 8am to 8pm from Monday to Friday. ConvertKit also provides limited support via both live chat and email at weekends.
If you’re more fond of peer-to-peer support, you can ask other ConvertKit user questions in the online support forum, which was moved to Slack. ConvertKit also has a Knowledge Base that contains loads of detailed articles and demo videos that can help users to solve issues on their own.
Ease of Use
ConvertKit prioritizes subscriber management and segmentation when it comes to ease of use. When you open the software for the first time, it will display a checklist that guides you and helps you set up your first email campaign.
The list doesn’t display some basic tasks such as “create an email.” Instead, it invites you to “create your first sequence” or “send a broadcast.”
The navigation isn’t that straightforward as ConvertKit doesn’t have a main dashboard and you can’t get an overview of all your activity. All information has to be accessed from a relevant menu.
ConvertKit can be integrated with many different solutions, allowing you to easily transfer data between different software. You can integrate ConvertKit with:
- Acuity Scheduling
Of course, this is not the end of the list. ConvertKit can be integrated with the majority of popular software. It only lacks integration with accounting software. But, to make up for this, ConvertKit provides an API, plus lots of helpful documentation, to enable you to build integrations with any software that is not supported.
The only feature where ConvertKit falls short of MailChimp is reporting, which is quite basic. ConvertKit doesn’t have a dedicated section for reports; instead, you need to find the individual email or sequence to view the data.
The reports display only open rates, click rates, links clicked, and unsubscribes. Those who are looking for bounce rate or geographical data will be disappointed to hear that ConvertKit doesn’t provide this info.
ConvertKit makes contact management easier. Instead of having to sort you contacts across different lists, all will be uploaded at the same place. However, each contact can be assigned a form, sequence, or tag, for the sake of better organization.
Users can also create segments of contacts with similar characteristics, regardless of whether they belong to the same form/sequence/tag.
ConvertKit excels at marketing automation. At the core of their system is the ‘Sequences’ feature, which allows users to build a sequence of emails (for example, a series of welcome or onboarding emails). What’s sweet about this feature is that you can create and edit the emails as you’re building the sequence. This means you won’t have to jump to another section of the tool.
ConvertKit’s latest feature is ‘Visual Automations,’ which lets you define how someone should enter a sequence (e.g., signup via a form, purchase, or when they are assigned a tag). You can also add steps based on conditions, actions, or events. You can even add multiple sequences to an automation!
Also, users can set up universal automation rules, which allows you to add/remove contact tags or subscribe them to a sequence/form, when they perform a specific action.
All these options for automation might seem overwhelming at first. But once you get your head around them, you’ll see how logical the system is!
ConvertKit Monthly Plans & Prices
ConvertKit’s pricing works slightly differently – you get all the features with (almost) any of the paid plans you choose. The only excluded feature from lower tiers is the free platform migration. When you purchase a plan for more than 5,000 contacts, ConvertKit will migrate your lists into their system so you don’t have to worry about it.
When choosing a ConvertKit plan, the only thing you’ll have to pay attention to is the number of your subscribers. Prices start at $29 a month for a maximum of 1,000 contacts, $49 per month for up to 3,000 subscribers, or $79 monthly for a list of 5,000 contacts.
ConvertKit offers pricer plans as well. For example, if you have 50,000 contacts, you can sign up for a plan that costs $379 a month if you’re an enterprise level.
ConvertKit doesn’t offer a free plan to all users like MailChimp, but they do have a fairly generous freemium plan for those with less than 1,000 subscribers.
Here is some additional info regarding ConvertKit pricing:
- The free plan includes 30 premium landing page templates and allows you to create as many landing pages as you like.
- There’s a 30-day refund period, no questions asked.
- ConvertKit comes with 70+ integrations.
- If you invite friends to join ConvertKit, you both can grow your list by 100 more subscribers for free.
- ConvertKit allows you to choose between purchasing a monthly plan or a yearly plan (pay in advance for one year of use). Yearly plan comes with a 16% discount. But if you choose to cancel the account, you won’t get a refund.
- Unlike MailChimp – which charges you extra if you go over the limit of your subscription plan – CovertKit automatically bumps you to a higher level.
- There are no hidden fees! You won’t have to pay extra for storage or any other random service.
Also, ConvertKit offers a free 14-day trial to all its new users!
MailChimp vs ConvertKit Head to Head Comparison
Both MailChimp and ConvertKit have some great features. In this section, we’ll point out the pros and cons of both tools, as well as give you a head to head comparison.
MailChimp Pros & Cons
- Thorough reporting. MailChimp gives you all the info you need, ranging from clients and geo-tracking to social media and Google Analytics integration.
- A freemium plan. MailChimp allows users to send 10,000 emails to 2,000 of their subscribers each month, for free. Also, a lot of tools are available in this free plan.
- Great editor. An email editing software that comes with a clean interface, a powerful editor and plenty of templates for visual emails.
- High-cost subscription plans. The freemium plan is quite generous, but if you ever need to increase the number of emails or subscribers in your plan, be ready to pay a high price for that.
- Limited email automation. MailChimp has a solid autoresponder, but lacks advanced automation features.
ConvertKit Pros & Cons
- Landing page editor. You can use ConvertKit to create a simple landing page, even if you don’t have a website. This feature is very useful for social media campaigns.
- Flexible user-subscription management. The tagging system makes it incredibly simple to add or remove subscribers from workflows.
- Responsive support. All users have access to excellent support team that answers really quickly.
- Pricey software. ConvertKit is packed with advanced features, but they come at a high price.
- Limited design options. ConvertKit team believes that you don’t have to create visually-attractive emails to run successful campaigns, so they included only three templates.
MailChimp vs ConvertKit
|Features||Drag & drop email editor with spell check and commenting feature; automatic and advanced segmentation.||Comes with excellent subscriber management and segmentation capabilities; focused on analytics and provides a detailed insight into customer behavior; users can create specific segments based on as many conditions as they prefer.|
|Support||Knowledge Center, email, and phone support. The quality of support depends on the plan.||All users have access to Knowledge Center and email/live chat support that is quick to respond.|
|Ease of use||Straightforward and user-friendly designed complemented with personalized tips.||Prioritizes subscriber management and segmentation; navigation is not that straightforward.|
|Integrations||About 200 integrations.||About 90 integrations.|
|Reporting||Many advanced reports, including basic performance, hourly performance, ecommerce sales, click maps, performance by domain, social stats, and more.||Basic reporting with data such as open rates, click rates, link clicks, and unsubscribes.|
|List management||Contacts can be saved in lists and organized using tags. MailChimp charges for contacts duplicated across lists.||All contacts are in one place; they can be assigned a form, sequence, or tag to improve organization and targeting.|
|Marketing automation||Automations are old-school, tricky to find, and lack visual workflow.||Advanced automation with ‘Sequences’ and ‘Visual Automations.’|
|Free Plans||There is a freemium plan, limited to 2,000 contacts and 10,000 emails per month.||There is a freemium plan for users with less than 1,000 contacts.|
MailChimp vs ConvertKit Wrap Up
We prepared this MailChimp vs ConvertKit guide to help you decide which tool would work best for you. If you’re not too experienced in email marketing or not willing to invest too much in it right now, we think you will be most happy with MailChimp. This software has an excellent (but slightly limited) free plan that allows users to send up to 10,000 emails to 2,000 contacts each month. You can check out MailChimp for free right here!
But if you are a business owner, blogger, or an affiliate marketer, then you are probably on the lookout for a more advanced and more serious tool. ConvertKit features an advanced analytical approach to managing subscribers that helps users understand their buying behavior.
In addition, users receive revenue-driven insight that can help you boost your return on investment. Its advanced segmentation options — especially the ability to include and exclude subscribers — help ConvertKit stand out from all other email marketing software in its price point.
The only downside of this tool is the email editor: it comes with only three templates and is not as stylish as that of MailChimp. But if you buy into ConvertKit’s claim that you don’t need to spend too much time on making your email visually attractive, then you’ve got a great tool from marketers who clearly know a thing or two about email.
If you’re interested in adding robust email campaigns to your digital marketing, then make sure to give ConvertKit a try!
Last but not least, if you’re interested in more ways to monetize your website or blog, check out our Ezoic review. After all, ConvertKit is not going to pay for itself. Best of luck on your email marketing journey!