When I first started a health blog years ago, MailChimp was a natural first choice for an email service. First of all, it was FREE for the first 2000 subscribers. Second, it was insanely easy to design beautiful email templates and newsletters in a flash.
Years later, email became a different game. My livelihood depended upon attracting and nurturing future customers. I was building my first sales funnel complete with social media ads, free opt-in downloads, a tripwire offer, and an opportunity for people to talk directly with me about their copywriting needs and get advice.
Now that I had autoresponder email sequences to create, my business coach recommended ConvertKit. After comparing both options, I found each to be a strong choice – depending on the goals of the sender.
If you’re wondering which email provider is best for your needs, keep reading. Here’s a comparison on four points: Price, Integration, Features, and User interface.
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1 – Price
MailChimp’s’ free plan includes
- up to 2,000 subscribers and
- 12000 emails per month
Once you break 2000, the cheapest plan is $30 a month for unlimited emails. Depending on how much you pay, MailChimp offers additional features. These include product recommendations, inbox previews, advanced segmentation, predicted demographics, and comparative reports.
MailChimp, like almost every other mail service provider, counts each subscriber separately in each list in which they appear.
ConvertKit’s $29 per month plan allows
- up to 1000 subscribers.
- unlimited emails
With both services, the price ascends with the number of subscribers. However, it’s important to note that ConvertKit only charges one time for each name – even if that name appears on multiple lists and forms. This allows business owners and bloggers freedom to segment without penalty. Each reader can remain on five lists and still only be counted as one subscriber. If your goal is highly targeted marketing with multiple offers, this is likely the more affordable option for you.
2 – Integration
MailChimp plays nicely with hundreds of digital products and eCommerce platforms. Seriously. It’s a huge list all ready-to-go.
ConvertKit has ready-made integration with just over 30 digital products. However, with Zapier, you can connect hundreds of services using “zaps”. If you’re a developer, you can also create your own integration, and the CK team says they’ll help you out if you’re not sure how to structure it.
3 – Features
Preheaders show up in your inbox right after each subject line. They usually consist of the first few words of the email body, but can be adjusted with HTML or strategic design to include any other specific text you want.
In ConvertKit, the default preheader is automatically the first few words of your email (make them enticing or include a call to action). If you lead with a picture, beware of unwanted text popping up appearing as a result. You do NOT want your readers to see “View this in your browser” immediately after your subject line.
Although you can specify your preheader with code, it’s easiest to simply put your best words first and send a test email to make sure there are no surprises.
MailChimp, on the other hand, provides gorgeous email templates with dedicated fill-in-the-blank sections for preheaders. Add your copy to the proper space for a foolproof way to ensure your emails show up properly in each inbox (and test anyway).
With ConvertKit, text rules over all other graphic design elements. Predesigned forms provide a clean professional look. This makes autoresponders look and feel like everyday real emails from friends, coworkers, and colleagues … the people we generally know and trust. There are no distractions from the message. This is marketing designed for response.
Of course, if you still want to get fancy, you can upload photos and change font size and color. And if you’re a techie who wants total design control with all the bells and whistles, just paste in your own custom code to create a new template.
For opt-ins, you can choose either a form or a landing page. Each can be customized with a visual editor and CSS.
Add forms to any website, sales page, or landing page. Easily link freebies that lead to autoresponder sequences. Or offer an email course in the form of an autoresponder sequence as the lead magnet.
Even the most basic level of ConvertKit comes with a landing page creator. Hosting is automatically included, so you can run a promotion for an online course or any kind of event without even having a website or separate lead page platform. You can choose from among four form styles. Take advantage of the freebie custom background patterns or fully customize your own with the perfect graphic or photo for your brand.
With MailChimp, it’s easy to create beautiful sign-up forms and customize email templates with a drag-and-drop designer. You can add forms to Facebook, your WordPress website, and other locations all over the web. They have templates for everything from lead collection to confirmation thank-you pages. Most come with pre-fab text you can customize or use out of the box.
If you’re sending out a monthly newsletter, MailChimp makes it a breeze to look professional even if you dreaded art class in 3rd grade. Drag and drop to create newsletters and emails. Customize a simple form or save time by plugging your text, logo, and photos into one of the many professionally pre-designed theme templates included in the service.
ConvertKit allows you to view all your subscribers both in individual lists (connected to each opt-in form) and in one huge list. Add tags to subscribers for easy segmentation. Set up automated rules for who gets what and when, and only pay once for each enthusiastic subscriber – even if he’s on 27 lists.
With MailChimp, segmenting ultimately results in more lists. You won’t have the “big picture” list you can divide 50 different ways. And MailChimp will count all your biggest fans as brand new people every time they download a new printable and land in a new list – even if they do it 37 times.
ConvertKit doesn’t yet offer this feature. However, it’s possible to hack a split test by dividing your list into 2 random segments (use Excel) and tagging each for separate email versions. This YouTube video will show you how:
MailChimp makes it easy. Click the “Create Campaigns” tab in the upper right-hand corner of the campaign tab and choose “A/B Testing Campaign.”
ConvertKit’s simple, text-based choices provide clean design and fast loading. With more than half of emails now being checked on mobile, loading speed and simplicity are important. It all depends on your list … for readers primarily using desktops, this could be less of an issue – but if a large percentage are seeing your messages on mobile, it could be the deciding factor.
However, MailChimp’s email templates automatically provide beautiful mobile versions. It’s easy to get the smartphone preview of each broadcast with the simple click of a button.
(For more hints about getting your emails read on mobile, see 5 Ways to Optimize Your Email Marketing in a Mobile World)
In ConvertKit, you can upload social link images from your computer into any broadcast (set it for sending to zero subscribers) and then grab and paste that code into a design template. If you’re at all comfortable with HTML, this is easy to set up.
If you want to go code-free, you can either get MailChimp or hire help to set up re-usable templates in ConvertKit.
Autoresponders and Broadcasts
ConvertKit makes setting up nurture, welcome, and launch sequences easy. They give suggestions for which kinds of emails to send and when. And you can make rules so that people on similar sequences don’t get spammed with duplicate content.
With MailChimp’s free version, all broadcasts must be sent out manually or triggered by an opt-in form.
Both ConvertKit and MailChimp provide performance reports with stats on subscriptions, views, opens, click-through rates, and unsubscribes.
4 – User Interface
No contest here – the Monkey’s K.O.’d and the ref‘s in the final countdown. ConvertKit’s user interface is clean and intuitive. With plenty of white space, clear visuals of all products, and easy access to features, CK saves me hours of time.
MailChimp’s website is unnecessarily complicated. You practically need a map and guidebook to do simple things. Even the “next” button is hard to find when designing forms (hint: buried at the lower right-hand corner of the page and glowing faintly against an overpowering black background).
|Price||Free for under 2K subscribers
|$29 for up to 1K subscribers
|Subscribers||Pay for each appearance on each list||Pay only once for each subscriber|
|Autoresponders||Paid plan only||Included in all plans|
|Graphic design||Fuss-free templates provided||Do it yourself – the way you want|
|Mobile||Responsive design||Fast loading|
|Social||Icons options in email designer||Add to a template|
|coding||Not needed||Helpful but not necessary|
|User interface||Non-intuitive, time-wasting||Fast, easy, and intuitive|
|Landing Pages||Not included||Included in all plans|
|Integrations||Oodles ready to go||Many available or in development. Others available with Zapier.|
|A/B Testing||Create a campaign||DIY with tags|
If you …
- are a brand-new blogger
- don’t depend on autoresponders
- send only a monthly informational newsletter
- are willing to tolerate a less user-friendly interface in exchange for fabulous templates
- use OODLES of integrations and don’t want to be bothered by having to add another step to the process with Zapier
MailChimp may be the best option for you.
If you …
- are a direct marketer looking for higher conversion with text-based messages
- need to automate
- want the best way to reach a younger crowd that does everything on mobile
- are comfortable using current integrations (or Zapier)
- can tweak HTML or hire someone to set things up for you
- or would benefit by saving HOURS of time working within your email platform
I recommend ConvertKit.
Need help with your email sequences? Contact me today.