There are a few names in the email marketing world that just keep coming up.
Campaign Monitor and MailChimp are two of them.
Campaign Monitor was born in 2004 and has more than 250,000 customers worldwide today – including fancy names like Disney and Buzzfeed. MailChimp is a little older – founded in 2001, by the “Rocket Science Group.”
Customer-wise, Mailchimp leaves Campaign Monitor eating its dust, with millions of customers around the world. That little grinning monkey in the company’s logo is probably one of the first things you see when you think about email marketing.
Of course, what we care about is how good they are at supporting your advertising efforts.
This Campaign Monitor vs MailChimp review will show you what each of these software giants can do, and which one could be best for your business.
Let’s get started.
Campaign Monitor vs MailChimp: Pricing
Remember the last time you got to go shopping for marketing software without worrying about your budget?
Nah, me neither.
Finding a solution with the right features and functionality is important, sure. But I always check the “pricing” pages before I continue my research into any tool.
I’ve got cash flow to think about.
So let’s start by seeing how much Campaign Monitor is going to set us back, shall we?
The cheapest option here is $9 per month, which gives you up to 500 subscribers and 2,500 emails.
$9 isn’t exactly a fortune, but I was disappointed here.
You need to choose at least the middle tier ($29 per month) if you want unlimited sending. Additionally, the most expensive tier (Premium at $149) has way more to offer in terms of features. While at first, the pricing doesn’t seem too bad, remember that you’re only looking at 500 subscribers.
With a little luck, you’ll end up with a bigger email list than that pretty quickly.
If you do – the pricing goes up.
The more subscribers you have, the more you pay – even for the Basic subscription.
Campaign Monitor might not be the most expensive tool out there, but it comes close.
So, what can MailChimp do for my poor battered budget?
Well, it gives you a free pricing tier for one!
The “Forever Free” plan will only give you access to the very basic email marketing tools in the Mailchimp suite. That means some simple 1-click automations and basic templates.
However, even in this tier, you can send up to 12,000 emails per month to 2,000 subscribers.
MailChimp is already making Campaign Monitor look bad.
If you go up to a “premium” plan, then you can choose between:
- Essentials: $9.99 per month with support for 500 contacts, A/B testing, custom branding, and email templates -(about the same price as Campaign Monitor’s basic tier)
- Standard: $14.99 per month for 500 contacts, automation, retargeting ads, custom templates, and advanced insights.
- Premium: $299.00 per month for 500 contacts, advanced segmentation, phone support, multivariate testing, and unlimited seats.
Wait, what happened between Standard and Premium?
The prices in MailChimp may be better at first, but they really jump up when you get to the higher-quality feature sets.
MailChimp recently changed their pricing structure so you can choose between a “paid monthly” or a “pay as you go” plan. Monthly contracts allow you to decide how many contacts you want to store in your suite, and you get charged accordingly. Pay as you go arrangements are more flexible.
With Pay as you go, you buy email credits as you need them, without and monthly recurring fees to worry about.
On top of that, MailChimp offers a handy two-factor authentication discount to reward super-secure customers.
All in all, neither Campaign Monitor or Mailchimp are particularly “budget-friendly” – particularly if you’re looking for Enterprise level tools.
However, MailChimp is the winner in pricing just because it offers a free tier. This could be an excellent entry point for small companies and solo entrepreneurs. Plus, you get to choose between pay-as-you and monthly payments.
We all love extra choices, right?
Campaign Monitor vs Mailchimp: Campaign Builder
So you’ve chewed through the pricing options for each solution. Now you’re ready to get to the meat of what these two tools can offer.
You can’t have an email marketing tool without a system for building emails.
Fortunately, Campaign Monitor seems to put emails at the heart of everything it does.
Let’s start by looking at the templates:
They’re really nice. Clean, simple, and modern. You can even select between options that are “ready to go,” and forms that you build yourself.
Since I’m the creative type, I wanted to get a feel for the Campaign Builder, so I went the DIY route.
In terms of section-based builders, Campaign Monitor is one of the nicest I’ve tried on the market.
It’s really easy to decide what you want your email to look like, and adding new text, images, and buttons feels seamless. You can also adjust the footer with your company’s name and address, to ensure that you’re not falling victim to any anti-spam regulations.
Campaign Monitor is also pretty good at guiding you through the process of making your email look pretty. If you’re new to this kind of marketing, dragging and dropping content will allow you to play around until you find something you like.
Oh, you can also test your email before you send it.
The form builder for your website works using pretty much the same technology.
You can choose between pre-made templates or design your form yourself, and there’s also the option to add tracking permission checkboxes to your subscribe forms. This is crucial for GDPR.
Want to do your part to fight back against the robot revolution?
You can also add a Captcha to catch out those sneaky robots.
So, is Campaign Monitor giving us the most incredible, innovative campaign builder of all time?
Nah. But it’s pretty good.
You can easily create embeddable forms and lightboxes for your landing pages, but most competing products offer more options for lead capture, such as pop-ups and slide-in content.
Additionally, the email builder is nice, but you won’t get a lot of support from the team if you don’t know how to use it – not unless you pay for the extra face-time.
So, how does MailChimp measure up?
I find MailChimp’s email templates to be some of the best on the market.
They’re diverse, versatile, and ready to adapt however you like. There are fewer templates that are fully-built and ready for you to use – but that works fine for me because I prefer to get started from scratch anyway.
As you can see, the templates are more “bare bones” than the one you get from Campaign Monitor. However, they’re there to get you focused on actually telling a story in your emails, not just throwing messages together.
So, what happens when we click through to the template editor?
Well, it’s just gorgeous.
The visual editor comes with all the drag-and-drop functionality you like.
There were no options to adjust the bottom and top margins on your email – which was a bit weird, and the changes you implement can take a few seconds to show up (but that might just be my computer lagging). Still, I couldn’t find much to complain about.
Additionally, MailChimp offers you a bunch of options when it comes to lead capture forms too.
One issue? I had a hard time finding the forms, as there was no central tab labelled “Forms” on the UI. Call me a bit of an idiot – but I need better navigation.
For those as lost as me – the Forms are in the Audience segment, at the bottom of the page.
Again, everything feels pretty much the same as building an email.
There are a lot of lovely templates to choose from, which honestly feel a lot more modern than the ones you get from Campaign Monitor. Plus, you can integrate your form capture strategies with Shopify – which is handy.
It’s difficult for me to choose a winner here because both of the campaign builders are pretty solid. They work in a very similar way and offer plenty of templates between them.
If I were choosing based on my own preferences (which I am), I’d select MailChimp. I just like the aesthetics of their builders a little more. However, you could probably argue that this one’s a tie.
For a tool that’s 100% dedicated to awesome automation and auto-responders, try ActiveCampaign (review). This solution delivers “true” marketing automation with plenty of tools for personalized customer follow-ups, and unique interactions.
Campaign Monitor vs MailChimp: Segmentation
Fancy-pants campaign building is great and everything, but you don’t want to send emails all willy-nilly, right?
I mean, personalized emails do deliver 6 times higher transaction rates.
To segment your audience on Campaign Monitor, you’ll need to rely on “Lists” and “Segments.”
Lists are just the full groups of subscribers that you load up into your email marketing tool.
Segments are the individual groups that you create according to things like Location or Age.
Unfortunately, there are no tags available, so you can’t remind yourself of which subscribers have made a purchase in the past, or which might have complained about your service before.
However, you can apply multiple rules to a single segment. So, you could create a list based on people in a specific postal code who have bought your products in the last month.
You do get everything you need to segment your audience – but it’s nowhere near as comprehensive as the kind of segmentation you get from brands like ActiveCampaign.
MailChimp, unfortunately, is very much in the same camp.
The main difference, you get both “Groups” and “Segments.”
So, what the heck are groups and segments?
Segments are based on specific activities like who opened your emails in the past. Groups are how you break those chunks of subscribers down even further by things like purchasing interests, location, and so on. Once again, we don’t get any tags, which is a real shame.
I always find that tags make it much easier to get your Sales and Marketing teams on the same page. It’s also much easier to create those highly-targeted email campaigns, or even find out which customers you want to target for loyalty schemes and advocacy strategies.
Not only is MailChimp’s segmentation limited, but it’s just clunky and awkward to use too.
It feels like you’re doing thing backward, organizing your lists by behavior and then breaking them apart by demographics. Usually, I’d go the other way.
Additionally, MailChimp counts the subscribers on different lists as two separate contacts. That means you can eat up your allowance really quickly if you think a subscriber belongs to multiple groups.
Both MailChimp and Campaign Monitor are just getting participation trophies here. I wouldn’t pick either as my top tool for segmentation, for me GetResponse (review) is a much better option for segmentation – as it allows you to easily build unique segments based on audience preferences, behavior, buyer history and more.
However, since I need to choose a winner, let’s go with Campaign Monitor. At least the segmentation here is easy to use – even if it’s not very immersive. Still, it’s a “must try harder” from me.
Campaign Monitor vs MailChimp: Automation
Who wants to handle an entire email marketing strategy themselves?
I certainly don’t.
I’d go as far as to demand at least some automation from any email marketing tool these days.
Campaign Monitor offers autoresponders, which means that you can set up a series of drip emails whenever someone joins your mailing list.
Setting up subscriber journeys in Campaign Monitor is simple.
Only issue? If you want to add a new email to a user journey, you have to put the campaign on hold, head into your records, and do it that way.
It just feels a bit more awkward than the experience you’d get on MailChimp – where you can add subscribers to journeys with a single click.
Still, the autoresponders themselves are good. You can build campaigns based on subscriber activities and create multiple journeys for the same segment.
One thing I liked was how visual the whole automation process is. You can see exactly how your campaign is going to pan out, including what kind of emails your customers will get based on their actions.
The flow-chart yes/no style interface also makes the whole experience feel very straightforward. You can also trigger email broadcasts directly with RSS.
MailChimp also provides plenty of options for automation.
You can set up campaigns based on what you want to accomplish. For instance, maybe you want to welcome a new subscriber or share a blog update.
It’s nice to start the whole process focusing on your goal, rather than just seeing what happens when you start building.
One particularly nifty thing about MailChimp is that you can integrate your automation with your website, and send emails based on what people do when they’re jumping from page to page.
You can also establish triggers based on user activities, like when someone adds an item to their cart but doesn’t buy it. (So frustrating, right? )
I love the fact that you can infuse crucial purchasing data and customer history into your strategy, which means that you can send personalized product recommendations with follow-up emails, identify VIP customers, and even send Happy Birthday messages.
My only niggle here?
Guess how much you can do with a free plan?
Pretty much nothing.
You get single-trigger welcome emails and order notifications, sure. But retargeting ads, multi-step custom workflows, and optimizations are all reserved for higher-paying customers. You don’t even get them on the “Basic” tier.
I’d love to give MailChimp the medal here for its fantastic automation workflows. However, I’m going to make Campaign Monitor the winner because you have to pay pretty high prices just to get any automation from MailChimp.
Campaign Monitor vs MailChimp: Reporting and Analytics
Once you’ve segmented your campaigns, you want to make sure they’re performing well.
Or at least, I assume you do.
Campaign Monitor makes it easy to find and review your stats. You can get a big-picture overview of things like unsubscribe rates and click-throughs, or you can dive deeper into what each customer has done with your emails.
It’s quite a nice little set-up.
Plus, if you need to share your findings with someone, you can export your stats to PDF format.
I’d say the reporting and analytics here are very beginner friendly – but they’re also quite basic. For instance, you can’t see what time a customer opens your email so that you can improve your delivery stats.
You can also split-test emails based on sender, content, or subject header.
However, you can’t split-test entire campaigns like you can with other email marketing tools.
You can’t even split test send-times. I found that a bit disappointing.
GetResponse allows users to test up to 5 messages against each other, and
MailChimp also offers up to 8 variants depending on the plan you choose.
In other words? Campaign Monitor does okay, but it’s not winning any awards here.
MailChimp is a lot more immersive when it comes to analytics and reporting.
You can view basics like email open rates and click-throughs on the Campaign page or visit a Comparative overview to see how different campaigns are performing.
MailChimp also shows you how your emails are performing against industry benchmarks.
If you’re looking at the bigger picture, MailChimp offers insights into how many of your emails were delivered, how many bounced back, and so on.
Additionally, there are plenty of options for A/B testing.
However – this is important – most are only available on a premium account.
You gotta pay to play here.
On the free account, you can test your “from name,” subject line, content, and send time.
The system is very easy to use, and you can track your results in seconds.
However, if you want to get really in depth, then you’re going to need a Premium profile.
One particularly cool feature is the Send Time Optimizer, which calculates the best time to reach your audience based on your existing analytics. There’s even a handy “Time Warp,” which shows you when you need to send a message in your time zone to reach a customer in theirs.
You might need to upgrade to a premium account for some of the more in-depth tools with MailChimp, but even their free and basic analytics are better than what you get with Campaign Monitor.
You can A/B test send-times, dive deeper into customer analytics and industry benchmarks, and track more crucial metrics.
The best tool I’ve seen for analytics is probably Klaviyo, which offers deep-dive insights into virtually every aspect of your email campaigns and marketing strategies.
Campaign Monitor vs MailChimp: Usability and UI
Pretty much all of the email software you check out today is going to say it’s “Easy to use.”
No-one’s going to say, “Hey, come try us, our software will make you want to tear your hair out.”
Still, Campaign Monitor really does seem to deliver on the usability front.
As soon as you log into your Campaign Monitor account, you’re presented with a super-simple email-building dashboard.
You can drag and drop things into place, browse through segments individually, and play around with different features. The language is friendly and easy-to-follow if you need help too.
It feels a lot like you’re designing your email campaigns with a super-helpful high school teacher.
(Try to remember one of the teacher’s you actually liked…)
There are tons of handy features for beginners too – like inbox previews so you can see how your email will look when it arrives with your customer.
Weirdly though, some features like “spam testing” were higher-tier tools, whereas they usually appear in the free or basic segments for other software providers.
MailChimp also offers a pretty straightforward experience usability wise.
You get tones of flexibility in the campaign builder when it comes to layout and image placement, and there’s unlimited storage for all of your images – which is super handy.
There’s plenty of useful tips and guidance to show you where you need to go when you’re building your campaigns, and you don’t necessarily need to know any coding to get started.
You can even edit your images directly within your templates.
The only difference here is that MailChimp offers a few more features than you’d get on Campaign Monitor, like more in-depth reporting and landing pages. That could mean it takes more time for beginners to get used to.
I’d have to call this one a tie for the most part. Neither UI is particularly challenging to use – although there was less to learn with Campaign Monitor if you’re a total beginner.
I’m quite fond of the ActiveCampaign UI. It feels way more smooth and sophisticated than the experience you get on most email marketing tools – so consider that if you’re looking for ease of use.
Campaign Monitor vs MailChimp: Customer Support
Let’s check one more thing before we bring this review to an end.
I’m a stickler for excellent support.
Campaign Monitor’s options for service are a little sparse.
I mean, where’s the phone number? Heck – where’s the live chat I love so much?
All you get is the option to send an email or check out the knowledge database.
Apparently, you can get phone support too – but only if you upgrade to the Premier plan.
If you ask me, it’s a little cheeky for Campaign Monitor’s team to assume they’re worth $29 a month just for a conversation. Unless I’m talking directly to Morgan Freeman, I’m not so sure.
Additionally, the more you pay, the quicker you get a response. It seems that money speaks louder than words in Campaign Monitor’s world.
Still, you can always “serve yourself” on the knowledge base – which is very comprehensive and well-organized. There are forums where you can chat with other users, and guides complete with video content if you need some extra help.
MailChimp also doesn’t offer the best level of customer support I’ve ever seen.
There’s only an email support service for the premium plan – which makes MailChimp’s time even more expensive to access than Campaign Monitor.
If you’re on the free tier – I hope you like doing things DIY.
There’s no phone number, no instant chat – not even a Twitter.
You could always try sending a letter through Snail Mail I guess
There are some guides and tutorials available – but that’s not always what you need when you’re setting up campaigns for the first time.
For a really solid approach to customer support, try GetResponse. They don’t offer phone-based customer service, but their chat is fast and responsive, which is great if you’re in a hurry for an answer.
Which Tool is Right for You?
Campaign Monitor is a comprehensive tool with a simple user interface and excellent drag-and-drop builder for your email campaigns. You can design and implement email campaigns in a heartbeat, and you get more support than MailChimp from the get-go.
On the other hand, MailChimp provides more extensive analytics, but only if you’re willing to pay for them. There’s also a beautiful campaign builder for both emails and landing pages, and you get more options when it comes to A/B testing – even if you’re just on the free plan.
Choose MailChimp if:
- You love a free tier option
- You like DIY campaign building
- You want a lot of landing page and opt-in form features
- You’re willing to pay more for advanced integrations
Choose Campaign Monitor if:
- You’re all about those email templates
- You don’t need a lot of integrations
- You need more support from a professional team
- You want easier-to-use segmentation
I personally think that both Campaign Monitor and MailChimp are very similar. Neither are particularly great at customer support or segmentation, but they offer excellent campaign building tools and fantastic functionality.
For me, MailChimp comes out on top because of the wide range of A/B testing and analytics options it offers. In today’s age where “data is king,” it pays to have the opportunity for building highly segmented and automated campaigns.
Want to dig a little deeper into your email marketing options? Check out our guide to the best email marketing software for 2019. On the other hand, if you’re eager to try Campaign Monitor, you can start your free trial here, MailChimp’s free trial is available here.