Whether you’re just venturing into email marketing or you’re considering a switch to a new platform, researching your choices is an essential step to take before making the big decision.
There are so many email marketing software to choose from, and you want to find the one that fits all of your needs like a glove.
In this article, we’re going to go over Aweber vs Mailchimp, and how those two major email marketing platforms match up against each other.
Follow along with us as Aweber and Mailchimp go head to head to determine which platform can best help your company grow.
First things first: what are these platforms going to cost you? If an email marketing software is completely out of your budget, there’s no use even looking any further.
Luckily for you, both of the options we’re covering today are affordable, especially for small businesses with smaller list sizes.
Now we all love free things, right? This is why Aweber offers a 30-day free trial for any new users who want to give the software a test drive before forking over their hard-earned revenue.
Unfortunately, they don’t have any free plans, but a month free should be enough for you to decide whether you love the platform or hate it.
What I do love about their pricing is that once you join their initial paid plan ($19/mo for up to 500 email subscribers), you immediately get access to all of the platform’s available features. There are no limited plans, no tiers to choose from.
Sign up, and you have free rein to everything Aweber has to offer. Their pricing ranges are only determined by your list size:
These features include unlimited emails, automation, segmentation, analytics, support, sign-up forms, stock images, templates and educational resources.
So, like I said, if you have a small business with a list size on the smaller side, Aweber is definitely an affordable option for you.
Contrasting from Aweber, Mailchimp does have a free plan for lists under 2,000 subscribers. This plan grants users access to 5 of their premade themes, 1 audience, 7 marketing channels, one-click automation, and their marketing CRM.
Basically, if you’re just starting out with email marketing, it’s a good starter plan, but it doesn’t give you much to grow on.
Their paid options changed recently to tiered payment options. While they used to base their paid plans off of list count like Aweber, they now base it off of features.
As you can see in the above screenshot from their pricing page, there are three different tiers: essentials, standard, and premium.
The essential plan starts at $9.99 a month and increases based on your audience size: so it ranges from $9.99/mo for a 500 person email list up to $49.99/mo for a 5,000 person email list and so on, with a 50,000 person limit.
It grants users access to all email templates, 3 audiences, A/B testing, custom branding, and support.
The standard plan starts at $14.99 a month and allows up to 100,000 email subscribers.
It’s plans range from $14.99/mo covers 500 subscribers to $74.99/mo for 5,000 people and on, with access to everything from the Essential and Free plans, but also add on features like automation series, retargeting ads, custom-coded email templates, and advanced audience insights.
This plan also grants its users 5 audiences, rather than three, which is a strange way to set up pricing. I don’t know of another email marketing platform that limits its users’ audiences or lists, so it’s an interesting choice for Mailchimp.
Finally, we have the premium plan, which we can see has a rather large price jump from the plan right below it, starting at $299.99/month for 10,000 contacts.
This is the only plan that allows users to create unlimited audiences or lists, which is a huge price point for an extremely basic feature.
Its pricing ranges from $349.99/mo for 15,000 contacts and taps out at $1,099.99/mo for 200,000 contacts. Users have to create a custom plan after that.
The premium plan includes everything in the smaller tiered plans, and adds access to advanced segmentation, multivariate testing, phone support, and unlimited audiences.
These added features, at least to me, don’t seem to be worth an additional $200+ each month.
Aweber wins in my book. They don’t tier off any of their features based on plan/pricing. All features are available regardless, and they only price based off of list size. Their pricing is also much more affordable.
Before we really dive into any of the platform features, I first want to cover the user interface as a whole. The user friendliness, how easy it is to find the features you’re looking for and more.
If a platform is confusing to use, it doesn’t even matter if it’s super affordable, because you’re going to waste just as much time trying to figure out how to do anything as you would save money with the cheaper platform.
So let’s see which of the platforms, Aweber vs. Mailchimp, wins when it comes to user interface.
This is what the Aweber dashboard looks like. It gives you a quick snapshot into your subscriber stats as well as any scheduled broadcasts you may have ready to send to your list.
If you scroll down further, you’ll find information on the last broadcast you sent alongside stats from each of your lists.
It’s really nice to have all of this information at a glance — in fact, Aweber’s dashboard includes a lot more data than most email marketing platforms do on their initial login page. This is definitely a perk, but does it mean it’s better as a whole?
When first looking at it, Aweber’s user interface seems extremely outdated. Their overall design is very basic, and they use some interesting terminology.
For example, Aweber uses the term “Messages” to talk about all of their email communication. At the top of the dashboard, you see “Create a Message,” and they include “Messages” as a dropdown in their navigation bar.
Messages include email broadcasts, campaigns (which are automations), split tests, follow up series, and blog broadcasts.
(Blog broadcasts are basically an automated email to your audience letting them know a new blog post is up. Even this idea in itself is kind of outdated as you should be creating specialized emails to update your audience of new blog content rather than auto-updates.)
Not only is it outdated, it’s kind of complicated. There are multiple places to go to create a list.
You can’t send broadcasts to specific tags; instead, you have to create a segment based on that tag (which creates extra steps).
And your broadcast drafts are in a completely different area than the rest of your broadcasts.
Essentially, there are a lot of things on the platform that just don’t make sense. This can in turn make it a bit more difficult to use.
What Aweber lacks in design, Mailchimp most certainly makes up for. I love the clean and minimalistic look and feel, as well as the modern serif/sans serif font combination.
Similarly, Mailchimp also includes information about subscriber stats front and center on the dashboard. After all, this is one of the most important parts of email marketing. You have to have an audience, right?
Sometimes, though, Mailchimp’s minimalism is the very thing that makes it slightly more difficult to use.
The platform has added tons of different capabilities over the years, including the ability to create a landing page, social ad or even postcard directly from their platform.
However, they don’t fully explain how to use these features upfront, instead providing only a snippet of text.
While the platform guides users through setting each type of campaign up, it would be even more helpful to provide more information ahead of time, especially because many of these capabilities aren’t available on other similar platforms.
Mailchimp offers a ton of resources to its users, though, which can definitely help to answer any questions or confusion that someone might have.
Mailchimp wins this battle by far. The minimalism and overall look and feel really wins out.
While there are a few user experience changes I would make, the platform does a great job of making up for them in their how-to guides and tutorials.
Marketing automation is an important feature to have in your email marketing software. This is how you send welcome emails, email funnels, re-engagement emails and more.
Each of these types of email automations is important to your overall marketing strategy.
So you want to be sure that the email marketing platform you choose has the ability to create these automations, and is basic enough to do it quickly and easily.
To access Aweber’s automation feature, go to Messages > Campaigns in the top navigation bar.
You’ll be brought to your campaign or automation dashboard where you can create any type of email series you need. To get started, simply click Create a Campaign.
One very cool feature that Aweber has that I’ve never seen before is that you can share campaigns across accounts.
So if you created an automation on a previous Aweber account, or a colleague of yours created an automation on their account, you can import that campaign to your Aweber account.
Creating an Automation
After you click Create a Campaign, you have the option to create a new campaign or import an existing campaign.
All you need to do is turn on sharing in the original account, create a campaign sharing code, and type it into your new account to import existing series’ and funnels.
But for the purposes of this article, we’re starting from scratch.
Right off the bat, Aweber has several shortcomings. Users only have two trigger options: on subscribe and tag applied.
Basically, you can only start a campaign if a user subscribes to a list, or if a tag is manually or automatically added to a subscriber.
While this definitely solves the issue of a basic autoresponder or email series, it doesn’t allow for more in-depth automations.
However, when you add a Send Message action, you are able to add a further automation in the action’s settings.
You’re able to create an automated action based on whether the recipient opened the message or clicked a specific link.
Once you determine the action the recipient needs to take, you can decide to either remove the subscriber from the campaign or add/remove a tag.
This is perfect for re-engagement campaigns. You’re able to put together a funnel that attempts to re-engage inactive subscribers, and you can remove them from the campaign as soon as they open one of your emails or clicks on a specific link.
It’s important to have segmentation options that make sense for your email marketing strategy.
For example, if you only plan to send out a weekly email to your entire list, you don’t need to worry about creating segments as, say, a business who sends a newsletter to their free users and a separate newsletter to their paid users.
Segmentation is essentially the ability to create different groups or sets of subscribers and send emails just to them based on certain criteria.
Aweber has a couple of different ways to segment out your audience: through lists or segments. To add multiple lists, simply click Manage Lists in the very top bar, then click the green Create A List button.
To create different segments, you’ll have to navigate to Subscribers, search for certain criteria (i.e., tags, opens, clicks) and save it as a segment.
Then when you go to schedule a new broadcast, you choose the list and segment within that list that you want to receive that email.
These aren’t the best segmentation options, but at least you’re able to create multiple audiences based on opt-ins, funnels, engagement and more.
Mailchimp used to only offer automation to its paid customers. That was any automation. So free plan users had to figure out workarounds and other ways to send welcome emails and lead magnets.
This has recently changed so that even free users get access to one-click automation. Users don’t actually get access to multi-step automation, like email series and onboarding campaigns, until the Standard plan, which is the second paid level of pricing.
However, their automation is still very cool, and it’s very intuitive.
Creating an Automation
This opens a pop up that allows you to choose which type of campaign you want to create. For the purposes of this section, we’re going to choose Automated Email.
Although Mailchimp offers a lot of segmentation options, they also provide a few canned options upfront for you to choose from, like tagged contacts, new subscribers, first-time customers and more.
Go through the tabs to see if your preferred audience is already available. If not, click the light grey Custom button.
Then you’ll be able to choose what type of automation: a single email, an onboarding series or an education series.
Select your audience and click Begin.
Mailchimp’s automation setup is very unlike most of its competitors. While most other email marketing plans allow you to pick and choose your setup (i.e., trigger, email, wait, email, condition), Mailchimp only includes the emails.
The rest of the conditions, triggers, and segment options are settings you input for each individual email.
It’s really very simple to navigate, though.
- Set your trigger: this can be anything from an added tag to a certain time after a contact subscribes to a trigger set up through an integration with another software.
- Schedule: You can choose to send it as soon as the trigger has been met, or you can choose a set time or a time range for the email to go out.
- Filter by segment or tag: Create a segment, add a tag or put together some conditions for the audience that will receive the automation.
- Post-send action: Choose an action that will take place after the email is sent, like updated information, unsubscribe or tag added or removed.
Then you move onto the next email and set the same information.
You also need to design and write the content for your emails, whether you’re welcoming a new subscriber or putting together a funnel or series.
Although Mailchimp limits the number of audiences (or lists) its users can have, which I still think is very strange, there are a ton of segmentation options for various automations and funnels. This is essential to a successful email marketing strategy.
You can segment out your audience in a couple of different ways: creating a segment or adding tags.
Note that you can create multiple audiences if you have one of the paid plans, and this can be good for different email newsletters, like one for your consulting clients and one for your full-service clients as an example.
But for the most part, you’ll be working with segments and tags.
Tags are typically added based on specific actions your audience has taken, like whether they’ve made a purchase or signed up for a particular lead magnet or series.
Segments, on the other hand, are usually created by set criteria. For example, you can segment out your audience based on how often they engage with your email campaigns, the date they subscribed or whether their account has a name listed.
You can check out all of Mailchimp’s segmentation options here, and it’s pretty extensive.
The clear winner here is Mailchimp. The platform offers way more automation and segmentation options, and has many more than only two triggers.
You need to have a lot of flexibility when it comes to creating automations based on various tags and segments in your audience, and Aweber just doesn’t have that.
Reporting is yet another essential component of an email marketing software.
You can’t work on a marketing strategy without having any idea how it’s performing.
And you want to make sure the email marketing software you choose provides you with all the information you need.
Can we just talk about how outdated Aweber is for a second? Take a look at the design of this report
No one wants to look at 3D gradient bar charts anymore. It’s flat design or bust.
The silver lining is that they are redesigning their reports. And you can even try out their new report dashboard. It looks like this:
Much better, right? The only caveat at the moment is that there aren’t as many reports available with the new design as there are with the old design.
So we have to go old school for a minute to get the full scope of what Aweber’s reporting can offer its users.
Now there are two different areas to check statistics. You can click Reports in the top navigation to see your analytics as a whole. How many total clicks are your emails getting? How has your subscriber count fluctuated? How much revenue has your emails brought in?
You can also see stats specific to your broadcasts or campaigns.
Just go to Messages > Broadcasts and then click View Stats.
These statistics have a very basic layout and are better than the old school reports, but certainly nothing to write home about.
It is extremely helpful to have data on sales info and website visits that your emails drove straight from your Aweber dashboard.
This information can help you to prove ROI of your email marketing strategy, which is hard to do with some other email marketing platforms.
Opposite from Aweber, Mailchimp has modern, minimalistic design down, so there are no beveled graphs in their report dashboard.
Mailchimp offers a lot of information in their email report, like orders and revenue from the campaign, open rate and click rate compared to list and industry average, as well as information on which specific links were clicked, where recipients were located when they opened the email and the campaign’s social media performance.
Mailchimp doesn’t have a separate reports tab as all other data (subscriber growth and overall campaign activity) can be found on the home dashboard.
Mailchimp’s clean reporting saves the day here. Not only does MailChimp offer more overall data than Aweber (more revenue data, list/industry averages and more), but it offers it in a much more visually appealing and easy to read way.
With Aweber’s email stats, you have to click from tab to tab, but Mailchimp places everything front and center in a single-page report for you.
When it comes to your digital marketing strategy, you’re likely working with many different types of software. And it’s really nice when your software easily talks to each other without you having to mediate.
This is why integrations are so important when choosing software. Although third-party tools like Zapier can act as a mediator for you and connect software that don’t normally work together, it’s much easier to find direct integrations.
Aweber lists hundreds of possible integrations on their website, but not all of them are actually direct integrations.
However, it’s an extremely clever strategy. Although they might not talk to that software directly, they’ve researched which third-party integration tools will help connect various tools and included their logos at the top corner of the tool.
However, they still have 347 direct integrations available (trust me, I counted), so you’ll have plenty to choose from.
Their integrations page also includes links to step-by-step tutorials that cover how to integrate with every single tool listed. And remember, there are hundreds. This shows that they go above and beyond to assist their customers.
Mailchimp has 209 integrations listed on their website, which is just over half of the direct integrations Aweber has
This number does fluctuate as sometimes the platform loses integrations (like Shopify) and sometimes it gains new integrations (like Canva).
And it’s a great idea that the platform regularly highlights the new integrations it gets so its users are aware of new ways to use Mailchimp.
Aweber is the obvious winner when it comes to integrations. With almost double the amount of direct integrations, how-to guides for setting those integrations up and hundreds more integrations available through third-parties, they have definitely done this the right way.
Last, but certainly not least, we want to talk about customer support. When it comes to any software your company invests in, not just email marketing, you want to make sure the company you choose has a quality support team.
Glitches happen in technology; it’s just a fact of life. And when a glitch happens, you want it to get fixed right away. This is what customer support is for.
Not only that, if you accidentally mess something up in your account (we’re only human) or if you can’t figure out how to do something, you want to be able to go to customer support and receive genuine assistance.
If you’re more of a DIYer (I get it – I absolutely hate making customer service calls and will avoid it at all costs), Aweber has its Knowledge Base that offers FAQs and resources for how to use the platform.
You can browse the available questions on the initial page or type a keyword into the search bar to find what you’re looking for.
Each question includes step-by-step instructions that tell you how to do what you’re unsure about. You can also find related articles or even submit a request in the top navigation bar if you can’t find what you’re looking for.
If you’re having an issue with the software itself and aren’t sure if it’s just you or the platform as a whole, you can also check out Aweber’s System Status page to see if there’s an outage the tech team is working on.
Every account gets access to live customer support via phone, live chat or email. You can access the customer support information by clicking Help in the top navigation bar of your account dashboard.
Live chat is available 24/7, which is great for night owls that still have questions. Phone support is only available Monday through Friday from 8AM-8PM ET.
You can also chat the team on their social media channels and generally receive a response within 24 hours.
Mailchimp’s self-serve options for customer support are honestly incredible. Hover over the Resources dropdown on their website for all of these goodies:
Not only do they have multiple sections that cover using their own platform, but they also have multiple sections that just offer tips for email marketing as a whole and how to improve your strategy.
You can also access various pages while you’re working in your Mailchimp account that are shown in their tip blocks or are related to what you’re currently working on.
These are very helpful in offering even more information about the task at hand.
Every account gets 30 days of email support after signing up, even the free account. This is nice to have while you’re getting everything set up, even if your list is small enough that you’re not ready to pay for the service yet.
After those 30 days are up, free account holders are left to their own devices with Mailchimp’s knowledge base.
Users with any paid plan have access to 24/7 email and live chat support. This way you can send in any question you have and get a response generally quickly as they’ve always got team members managing incoming inquiries.
It’s important to note that while email is 24/7, live chat operators are only available Monday through Friday.
For phone support and priority response, you must have a Premium account.
Mailchimp didn’t even offer any type of phone support until they added this premium tier as they couldn’t justify the cost, which is why it’s only available to its highest paying customers.
Phone support is also only available Monday through Friday.
I’m going to call a tie for this one. Aweber’s live/agent options definitely win over Mailchimp as all support options are available for all customers.
However, Mailchimp definitely wins out over Aweber when it comes to self-serve options. But if we’re being honest, there aren’t many email marketing platforms that hold a candle to Mailchimp’s knowledge base.
Aweber vs Mailchimp: Who Wins?
Looking at each of the categories, Mailchimp is the overall winner. Its platform is sleek, clean, minimalistic and pretty easy to use while also offering a ton of capabilities for its customers. Its main fallback is its pricing structure.
If cost is a major factor in your business’s decision and you don’t need much more than just basic email marketing, Aweber is going to be the best choice for you between the two.
However, if you need the automation options and easy-to-read reporting and the price point is worth it, Mailchimp is definitely the better option.
Whether you go with Aweber (read our Aweber review) or Mailchimp (read our Mailchimp review), I wish you luck in your email marketing endeavors. Start uploading your lists and creating your email newsletters!,