Regardless of whether you already own a successful website or are just thinking about launching your first online project, you need email marketing if you want to build healthy, long-lasting relationships with your visitors. Today, we’re here to compare two leading email marketing tools—ConvertKit vs MailChimp—to see which one of them offers more interesting features, better usability, and more attractive pricing, among other things.
The chart below outlines the features of ConvertKit vs MailChimp, giving you a summary of how the two email marketing tools compare.
|+||Extensive automation features||Landing pages|
|+||More affordable||Easy-to-use email builder|
|+||Landing pages||A variety of templates to choose from|
|+||Easy-to-use email builder||Free plan|
|+||All features included in all plans|
|–||No phone support||Opaque pricing|
|–||No fancy email templates||Limited email segmentation features|
|–||Limited A/B testing capabilities|
ConvertKit Email Marketing
ConvertKit is an email marketing tool that was launched in March 2013, and it went from $0 to more than $1 million in monthly revenue in just a few years. But ConvertKit wasn’t always the huge success story it is now. During its first two years, its founder, Nathan Barry, even contemplated shutting it down, but he eventually decided to double down, hire a full-time developer, and invest $50k from his other business to make ConvertKit a more attractive product.
That decision has obviously paid off big time since ConvertKit is now one of the most successful email marketing tools in the world. “The overall goal is to run this company for years. Everything we do is optimizing for the long-term rather than an exit,” said Barry.
“I finally have the resources to invest in projects that I’ve wanted to do for years, including a conference, a documentary series, and a print book. It’s really fun to have resources to invest in projects that help customers and the industry, but don’t necessarily have a clear ROI.”
ConvertKit currently has 45 team members across 37 cities, who are working hard trying to make it the best email marketing tool for content creators and bloggers. Of course, ConvertKit is also a boon to e-commerce site owners or anyone else with an audience and a message to spread.
MailChimp all-in-one Marketing Platform
As a result of its ongoing marketing campaign, MailChimp is arguably the most well-known email marketing tool in existence. It has been around since 2001, when it was founded by Ben Chestnut and Mark Armstrong. In 2017, MailChimp was gaining 14,000 new customers every day, and the company’s latest annual report revealed that it’s on track to reach an annual revenue of $700 million by 2019.
“MailChimp was designed as an alternative to the oversized, expensive email software of the early 2000s,” explains the company on its website. “It gave small business owners who lacked the high-end tools and resources of their larger competitors access to technology that empowered them and helped them grow.”
Today, MailChimp is often the first email marketing tool novice marketers try when they decide to give email marketing a try, largely because of its free subscription plan, which includes everything marketers need to get started (more about MailChimp’s subscription plans later).
Even though MailChimp associates itself with e-commerce site owners, anyone can use it to bring their brand to life and create integrated marketing campaigns in minutes.
Comparing ConvertKit and MailChimp Features
Opt-in forms are indispensable when it comes to building an email list because they serve as the gateway to the first contact between you and your new subscribers. As such, it pays off to give them the attention they deserve to make sure your visitors won’t find them confusing or even irritating.
The good news is that both ConvertKit and MailChimp give you all the tools you need to create effective opt-in forms without too much effort.
ConvertKit allows you to create two types of opt-in forms: inline and modal. Inline opt-in forms can be inserted in blog posts by entering a simple line of code, while modal opt-in forms appear when a certain condition is met.
Creating both inline and modal opt-in forms in ConvertKit is a breeze since all you need to do is choose a template and click on its elements to edit them. To give potential subscribers yet another reason to give you their email addresses, you can create a lead magnet, offering something of value in exchange for their contact information.
MailChimp doesn’t differ too much from ConvertKit when it comes to opt-in forms. It provides its users with a tool called Form Builder, whose purpose is to assist with the design of Mailchimp opt-in forms and signup response emails.
The Form Builder consists of three tabs: Build it, Design it, and Translate it. The Build it tab is where you add structure and content to your opt-in forms and response emails. The Design it tab is where you edit the style, color, font, and graphics. And the Translate it tab is where you translate your opt-in forms and response emails.
ConvertKit and MailChimp employ two radically different approaches when it comes to marketing emails. You can read an entire blog post on ConvertKit’s website that explains in great detail why the company doesn’t believe in fancy email templates, which have become virtually synonymous with MailChimp.
According to ConvertKit, marketing emails should feel natural, be easily digestible, and be mobile-friendly. That’s why you won’t find any graphics-heavy templates in ConvertKit’s email builder, and it’s also why so many former MailChimp users experience a massive culture shock when they migrate over to ConvertKit.
ConvertKit actively encourages its users to get by with basic text formatting, using bold, italics, and underlines to make marketing emails more readable without relying on CSS and images. Of course, ConvertKit does allow you to include images and even set up click tracking—just don’t expect to get a lot of pretty templates.
MailChimp, on the other hand, offers a number of attractive templates that you can easily customize to your liking using an intuitive drag-and-drop email builder. You can simply click on any template element and immediately see all customization options available. Thanks to MailChimp’s templates, even non-designers can create visually striking marketing emails that are guaranteed to stand out.
If none of the available templates suits your needs, you can use HTML and CSS to design your own template from scratch, complete with images and opt-in buttons. Or you can just piece together elements from various existing MailChimp templates to save yourself some time.
Because the purpose of this article isn’t to debate whether text-only marketing emails are more effective than graphics-heavy marketing emails, we leave it up to you to decide which approach is better. Just know that both ConvertKit and MailChimp are great at what they’re designed to do.
Not everyone who has a website or an online-based business actually enjoys being a web administrator and designer. If you would much rather dedicate your time to other things, you will be pleased to know that ConvertKit and MailChimp feature customizable landing page templates that you can use to create landing pages without any design experience.
The only caveat is that you can’t host landing pages created with ConvertKit and MailChimp on your own server, and you can’t also embed them on your site. Instead, all you get is a URL that you can include in your marketing emails or blog posts.
If you create landing pages on a regular basis, you should consider using a more comprehensive landing page builder like Leadpages or Unbounce. But if landing pages are just a way for you how to spice up your marketing campaigns, then both ConvertKit and MailChimp should be able to satisfy your needs.
Since its early days, ConvertKit has stood out with its strong marketing automation features. Not too long ago, the company introduced Visual Automations, which is essentially a visual editor that makes it extremely simple to build a complex email marketing sequence. With nothing but a few clicks, you can add steps based on conditions, actions, or events, and it’s just as easy to rearrange them.
The Visual Automations editor makes it possible to feed your blog posts directly into marketing campaigns just by connecting your site’s RSS feed. Connecting the Visual Automations editor with popular third-party services, such as LeadPages, Shopify, or Booklaunch, is a breeze, which is just one of many reasons why ConvertKit is considered to be the market leader when it comes to email marketing automation.
Not too long ago, MailChimp’s support for email marketing automation was abysmal, but the company has put a lot of effort in the past couple of years into adding more marketing automation features, and we’re happy to say that it has paid off. While MailChimp’s automation features are still not as comprehensive as ConvertKit’s, they are easy to set up and get the job done.
All good marketers understand the importance of analytics. ConvertKit and MailChimp support A/B testing, allowing you to compare two versions of a single variable, such as the subject line of an email or a header image to see which one performs better.
To A/B test in ConvertKit, you first need to enable the feature by clicking the Broadcast tab in your account. The A/B option will then appear next to the subject line, allowing you to easily send the same email with two different subjects. Unfortunately, that’s also where ConvertKit’s support for A/B testing ends.
With MailChimp, on the other hand, you can A/B test everything from the subject line to content to send time and more. Just keep in mind that A/B testing isn’t included in MailChimp’s free plan.
In addition to A/B testing, both ConvertKit and MailChimp give you a lot of information to help you determine how your marketing emails are performing, presenting it in the form of clear graphs and interactive dashboards. ConvertKit even lets you see the conversion rate of each form, which is something that’s not possible with MailChimp without Google Analytics.
ConvertKit and MailChimp provide customer support primarily via email, but live chat support is included in some subscription plans. The most expensive subscription plan offered by MailChimp, called Premium, even includes phone support, while ConvertKit doesn’t offer phone support at all.
That said, you probably won’t find yourself longing for someone you could call and ask for help because both ConvertKit and MailChimp are relatively straightforward email marketing tools that are designed from the ground up to be as easy to use as possible. What’s more, they both offer decent knowledge bases and tutorials, so you should be able to solve most problems by yourself.
To say that MailChimp’s pricing is rather opaque would be an understatement. The company deliberately tries to make its services seem less expensive than they really are by employing various questionable marketing tactics, such as hiding the real price being an asterisk.
After taking a quick look at MailChimp’s pricing page you might be lead to believe that the Essential plan costs $9.99 a month and includes 50,000 subscribers. In reality, $9.99 a month gives you only 500 subscribers, and you would have to pay $259 a month for 50,000 subscribers.
The situation is the same with the remaining two premium plans, called Standard and Premium. Even though the Standard plan seems to include 100,000 subscribers for $14.99 a month. It really includes only 500 subscribers —just like the Essential plan. The Premium plan at least includes 10,000 subscribers, but it seems to include 200,000 for $299.
When choosing the best MailChimp plan for your needs, you first need to take a look at the included features. For example, the Essential plan doesn’t include custom-coded templates, retargeting ads, delivery by time zone, and many other useful features that are available only in the Standard and Premium plans. After you select a plan, you then need to calculate your monthly price by telling MailChimp how many contacts you have.
Fortunately, things are much simpler with ConvertKit. To start with, all ConvertKit plans include all features this email marketing tool has to offer, so there’s no need to compare which features are included in which plan. ConvertKit plans different only in the number of subscribers included.
The most affordable plan costs $29 a month and it includes up to 1,000 subscribers. If your subscriber list exceeds this amount, you have to move a tier up and spend $49 a month to serve up to 3,000 subscribers. For up to 5,000 subscribers, expect to pay $79 a month. Do you have even more subscribers? In that case, you can calculate the cost of your plan on ConvertKit’s website.
MailChimp does have one trick up its sleeve that ConvertKit doesn’t have: its free plan. If you have 2,000 subscribers or fewer, you can use MailChimp for free, which is a pretty sweet deal. Of course, don’t expect to get access to all features, including A/B testing, custom branding, and 24/7 customer support. Still, being able to use one of the most popular email marketing tools in the world for free isn’t bad at all, which is why so many novice marketers gravitate toward MailChimp.
ConvertKit versus MailChimp Pricing Comparison
|Subscribers||ConvertKit||MailChimp Essential||MailChimp Standard||MailChimp Premium|
Pros and Cons of ConvertKit
- Extensive automation features
- More affordable
- Landing pages
- Easy-to-use email builder
- All features included in all plans
- No phone support
- No fancy email templates
Pros and Cons of MailChimp
- Landing pages
- Easy-to-use email builder
- A variety of templates to choose from
- Free plan
- Opaque pricing
- Limited email segmentation features
Recommendation: ConvertKit or MailChimp
Even though ConvertKit and MailChimp have more or less the same features, they take two vastly different approaches to email marketing. ConvertKit believes in the power of text-only marketing campaigns, which is why it appeals so much to content creators, bloggers, and all other people who want to have genuine conversations with their subscribers. MailChimp, on the other hand, is all about visual marketing, and it’s perfect for e-commerce owners who want to present their products in the most attractive way possible. Many marketers start with MailChimp to take advantage of its free plan and switch to ConvertKit when they start to desire advanced segmentation and other features which are included only in the most expensive plan offered by MailChimp.
The Importance of Your Email Marketing Mix
This article has laid out the features and benefits of ConvertKit vs MailChimp, in the hopes of helping you make a more informed purchase decision. But if you’re still on the fence about email marketing, and not quite ready to select a tool, it is important to understand the importance of email marketing for your business. Email marketing tools like ConvertKit or MailChimp should be part of every marketer’s toolkit.
There are now around 4 billion email users around the world, and the share of monthly U.S. internet users who use email is projected to grow to 90.9 percent by the end of 2019. Clearly, email is extremely popular even in the day and age of instant messaging and real-time voice and video communication
In addition to being widely used by people from all walks of life, email is also extremely effective as a marketing tool, providing an average return on investment of $44 for every $1 spent. In comparison, the average return on investment of telemarketing for every $1 spend is just $10, and the number is even lower for TV ads and radio commercials.
It shouldn’t then come as a surprise that t 86% of business-to-business marketers use email campaigns to generate new opportunities, setting a strong example for others to follow. In fact, consumers themselves prefer email for communicating with the brands they’re connected with, according to Adestra, but it’s important to realize that not all marketing emails are created equal.
When marketing emails don’t feel relevant or come in an excessive quantity, consumers are more likely to unsubscribe from them or, worse, mark them as spam. Email marketing tools like ConvertKit and MailChimp make it much easier to send customized emails to hundreds and thousands of recipients at once, and they seamlessly integrate with leading e-commerce, landing page, and membership site providers.