One is probably the best-known email marketing platform in the world.
The other has earned a reputation as the best money a content creator can spend on audience growth.
The question is, should you be investing in MailChimp vs Convertkit as your email marketing solution?
These days, email marketing might not be the sexiest promotional solution on the web, but that doesn’t make it any less impressive. Just because email isn’t as trendy as influencer marketing or social media doesn’t mean that it’s not useful.
Email is probably the best way to capture and maintain the attention of your target audience.
However, you’re gonna need some state-of-the-art software if you want to do email marketing right
That’s where ConvertKit and Mailchimp come in handy.
ConvertKit vs MailChimp: Basic Features
On the surface, ConvertKit and MailChimp are two relatively similar tools.
Both solutions offer landing pages, contact tagging for segmentation, and even automation options.
However, if you look beyond ConvertKit’s committed following of bloggers, and MailChimp’s excellent branding, you can start to see what makes the two tools so different.
MailChimp might be the most popular monkey in the email marketing industry, with a free tier for beginners and easy-to-use technology – but it’s not perfect.
MailChimp is limited with its feature sets, and its campaign builder isn’t the best.
On the other hand, ConvertKit offers a killer if-this-then-that email builder, and an amazing visual interface, however, it’s not the best at A/B testing and reporting.
Convertkit also has a bit of a learning curve, according to reviews like this one:
Let’s explore each tool in greater depth, to help you make your choice.
Budget might not be the only thing worth considering when choosing your email marketing tool, but it’s definitely one of the first factors I look at.
There’s a chance that (unlike me), you have endless cash to splash on the right software for your team.
However, even if your budget is limitless, you’ll need to make sure you’re getting the correct value in return for your investment.
So, how much does ConvertKit cost?
Well, like most email marketing vendors, ConvertKit gives you the option to choose between monthly and yearly billing, with a discount for annual spenders.
For up to 1,000 people, you can expect to pay $24 per month annually, or $29 per month on a rolling basis.
The best thing about ConvertKit is that you get access to every feature on every plan.
That means that you’re only paying extra based on the number of subscribers you have. I love that kind of transparent pricing, as it makes it easier for your email marketing software to grow with your business.
There’s also the option to sign up for a 14-day free trial of ConvertKit here. Alternatively, if you have more than 5,000 subscribers, ConvertKit will also allow you to schedule a demonstration with a member of their sales team.
If at any point, you outgrow the subscriber limit on your ConvertKit pricing plan, then you’ll be automatically upgraded to the next payment level.
So, how does MailChimp compare?
Not so long ago, MailChimp updated its pricing structure and upset several dedicated customers in the process.
The pricing is a little more expensive now, but I’d still say it’s quite budget-friendly.
There’s a free tier for beginners, which is excellent, and the Standard and Essentials plans are very affordable. The only time you’re going to take a real hit budget-wise is when you decide to upgrade to Premium.
I should say that the free tier of MailChimp isn’t exactly generous.
Although you do get some basic features to start your email marketing campaigns, you won’t have access to things like 24/7 support or A/B testing. Additionally, MailChimp adds its branding to all of your content on the free tier.
On the plus side, there are some money-saving options if you decide to upgrade. For instance, you can add two-factor authentication to your account for a 10% discount for the first 3 months of your usage plan. What’s more, non-profits get a 15% discount too.
MailChimp is the winner budget-wise, all the way up to the Premium tier. If you’re looking for a basic email marketing tool, then MailChimp will help you to get the functionality you need, for a low price.
However, if you’re looking for something particularly cheap, check out other options like Sendinblue (check out our Sendinblue review or read our Sendinblue vs Mailchimp comparison).
Templates and Editor
Now that you know how affordable both ConvertKit and MailChimp can be let’s take a look at the kind of emails you can design.
After all, one of the best things about using an email marketing tool is the fact that you don’t have to design your content from scratch.
If you want to build an email in ConvertKit, you’ll need to click on the “Broadcasts” tab.
Honestly, I found the fact that ConvertKit uses a lot of its own unique language a bit annoying, as it means that you need to spend more time figuring out how to find the tools you need.
You’ll need to specify the sender details and the subscribers that you’re going to be sending your content to before you can send your email.
Once you get through to the editing options for your email, you’re pretty limited in what you can do with your content.
There didn’t seem to be any fancy templates available to choose from here, although maybe I was looking in the wrong place.
What’s more, even the “updated” editor doesn’t offer any drag-and-drop functionality if you’re looking for ways to add widgets, buttons, and images to your messages.
Your editing options are limited to making your font bold or italic, changing font color and sizes, and other essential things like adding pictures.
While the experience is very straightforward and user-friendly for beginners – it’s also incredibly dull.
Compared to solutions like MailChimp which come with a host of templates to choose from, there’s no competition.
MailChimp has an interface that’s easy to navigate and brimming with potential.
With MailChimp, you’ll take a step-based and flexible approach to design the perfect email, deciding whether you want to jump into the email design immediately or add sender and recipient details first.
What’s more, there are dozens of amazing templates to choose from with MailChimp, including newsletters, event invites, holiday emails, eCommerce promotions, and more.
There are even 14 different blank layouts to apply your own designs to.
Once you reach the editor for MailChimp, you’ll find that it’s super easy to add and remove elements to your content thanks to the drag-and-drop functionality included.
Changing images and styles is a breeze, and there’s so many options that you’ll be spoilt for choice.
In terms of templates and email editing, MailChimp and ConvertKit are practically chalk and cheese.
The editors ae completely different, with ConvertKit focusing on simplicity, and MailChimp offering more versatility and flexibility.
MailChimp definitely comes out on top for people who appreciate the versatility of a drag-and-drop email editor.
There’s just so much more functionality to explore here than you can get with ConvertKit.
Automation is essentially a standard of the email marketing world today.
The more automation you have, the easier it is to set up an effective marketing campaign that speaks to your target audience, without too much back-end complexity.
Automation is one of the areas that ConvertKit prides itself on the most. The recently introduced “Visual Automations” feature from ConvertKit is very similar to the option that ActiveCampaign uses.
If you’re just looking for something basic, then you can use the “traditional”, sequence builder:
The straightforward trigger and action functionality available from ConvertKit means that anyone can start setting up their campaigns in seconds.
You can also exclude certain subscribers from specific sequences:
For those who want to get really in-depth with their automation strategy, ConvertKit also offers a fantastic visual builder that’s very similar in style to ActiveCampaign or Drip:
You could argue that this builder is more agile and straightforward than ActiveCampaign.
You can see your workflows in the context of the goals that you’re trying to achieve, which makes it much easier to duplicate and upgrade your campaigns:
Even reviewers love the automation features:
The only real downside of ConvertKit when it comes to automation workflows is that it’s built with bloggers in mind, rather than marketers.
ConvertKit might be more streamlined than ActiveCampaign, but it doesn’t offer the same power and flexibility.
Check out the difference between ConvertKit and ActiveCampaign (read our ConvertKit vs ActiveCampaign comparison article) when it comes to trigger options, for instance:
Still, even if ConvertKit’s automation isn’t perfect, I’d still say that it’s better than MailChimp.
There’s something seriously outdated about the automation experience available from MailChimp today.
First of all, you need to find the automation editor hidden under the “Create an Email” option in the Campaigns tab.
Once you do find what you need, it’s all pretty basic looking.
The experience isn’t nearly as clean or intuitive as the one you’d get from ConvertKit.
However, it’s worth noting that you do have access to a slightly wider range of automated campaigns with MailChimp.
For instance, with MailChimp, you can set up emails triggered by webpage visitors, and abandoned carts – this doesn’t seem to be possible in ActiveCampaign.
One point worth noting about MailChimp is that you don’t get access to any kind of autoresponder functionality until you move into the higher-paid pricing packages.
There’s nothing available for “Standard” or “Free” package users. However, $14.99 is a small price to pay for advanced automation.
Another benefit of MailChimp is that you can integrate your email automation with your CRM, website, and other crucial tools.
However, integrations aren’t available for every tool, so make sure that you can access the connections you need before you sign up:
It’s difficult to choose a winner here. In terms of easy-to-use and straightforward automation, ConvertKit comes out on top with its intuitive visual editor. However, you do get more trigger options with MailChimp.
The winner for you will depend on whether you’re looking for advanced functionality or simplicity.
Tagging & Segmentation
One of the main things you’ll need to do if you want to accomplish great things with your email marketing, is segment your audience.
Different people in your lists will need different email sequences, and that’s what segmentation is all about.
ConvertKit has built it’s segmentation strategy around a tag-based system, which is often regarded to be a more efficient way to run automation and manage your lists.
The great thing about using tags is that you can apply specific information to your subscribers based on their behavior.
For instance, you might apply a tag to a subscriber whenever they click on a link in your email, which will make it easier to target the same subscribers in the future.
ConvertKit also comes with the option to create merge tags for dynamic emails, which means that you send an email that displays differently according to the tags that each subscriber has.
Another great thing about ConvertKit is that it comes with WordPress integrations that make it easier for businesses to track visitors on their websites and apply the appropriate tags.
Even uploading subscribers into your list is easier with ConvertKit. You can create segments with specific characteristics or add particular people from a list to an existing sequence.
MailChimp works differently to ConvertKit.
The solution allows users to create lists which keep contacts in different locations, separate from each other. This is ideal if you’re managing emails for different business streams.
However, keep in mind that MailChimp will charge you for contacts that are duplicated across various lists.
Uploading your contacts to MailChimp is very simple, with the option to use CSV files.
Additionally, once all of your contacts are present in your system, you can use “groups” to define customers based on user demographics and behavior.
Although MailChimp has a lot of great functionality to offer when it comes to things like tagging and segmentation, it’s important to note that there are some issues.
For instance, you can only access list-based segmentation when you’re in the Premium tier.
$299 per month is a lot to pay for a feature that most people regard as a basic necessity for email marketing tools.
Additionally, you can’t use tags to target people from different groups at the same time. All your lists are siloed, which means that you have to constantly create new lists to suit various campaigns.
I much prefer the simplicity and versatility of ConvertKit’s approach to tagging and segmentation. If you’re looking for something simple and streamlined when it comes to managing your contacts, choose ConvertKit.
Contact Forms & Landing Pages
Fancy email templates and subscriber management tools are great. However, if you want a comprehensive email marketing tool, then you also need the option to create forms and landing pages that speak to your target audience.
ConvertKit comes with the option to create both simple forms, and entire landing pages, depending on what you need
ConvertKit is excellent at recognizing the need for different kinds of forms, which means that you can create everything from slide-in solutions to modal options.
In the past, if you wanted to do anything with your form beyond changing a few colors, you needed to learn how to use custom CSS.
Now, the upgraded visual editor means that you can accomplish a lot more without complex coding. You can add drag-and-drop checkbox fields and dropdown menus to connect with your target audience.
What’s more, there’s even a smart option that allows users to hide their forms from return visitors, to keep duplicate subscriptions to a minimum.
If you’re looking for a way to do something special with your landing page, you can also choose from a range of templates, including those for eBooks, videos, and more.
MailChimp offers similar options when it comes to pop-up forms.
The form building tool is relatively easy to use, with basic drag-and-drop features, and the ability to edit various field values.
Saying that the editor for the embedded forms on your website is completely different to the editor that you get for pop-up forms, which is a bit confusing.
I’d generally prefer an email marketing tool that provides a consistent experience from one feature to the next.
MailChimp offers 8 templates for your landing pages too – which is a few more than you get from ConvertKit. There are even a few blank layouts to choose from so you can build your own design from scratch.
The landing pages available from ConvertKit come with drag-and-drop content blocks and an easy-to-use interface.
One downside with MailChimp’s landing page editor, however, is that you need to add extra form fields into your environment through the separate form builder linked to your list.
Both ConvertKit and MailChimp offer reports on your clicks, visits, subscribers and conversion rates from your landing pages too.
However, with MailChimp, you can only host landing pages on your domain if you’re willing to pay extra.
Once again, I’d call ConvertKit the winner in this round for people in search of simplicity and straightforward design.
However, if you’re looking for flexibility and a wider range of templates to choose from, then you might prefer MailChimp.
A/B Testing and Analytics
Once you have your forms, landing pages, and even email templates set up, it’s essential to get to work on testing your campaigns as quickly as possible. A/B testing and analytics help you to ensure you’re getting the best ROI from your campaigns.
Ultimately, A/B testing and analytics is an integral part of running a successful online business.
Unfortunately, when I tried using ConvertKit for this purpose, I struggled to find anything particularly impressive.
When you launch a sequence with ConvertKit, you can see click-through rate, unsubscribe numbers and open rates, but that’s about it.
There’s no test for delivery timing or email content, and you don’t have any way to check out the performance of your automation either.
From a reporting perspective, things are frustratingly limited too. You do get stats on things like subscriber acquisition over a specific period, but that’s about it.
There’s no bounce rate, no click heat maps, no geographical data, or anything else.
Ultimately, if you’re looking to learn and grow as you go with email marketing, then ConvertKit just isn’t going to give you the insights that you need.
MailChimp also seems to offer an endless range of reports on the other hand.
Alongside basic performance reports, you’ll also be able to access things like social stats, hourly performance opens by location, performance by domain, click maps, and eCommerce sales, among other things.
On top of all that, MailChimp also gives you some useful extra information to explore too, such as insights into how your campaigns compare to industry averages for click rates, open rates, and even complaints received.
The only significant downside with MailChimp’s A/B testing and analytics is that you only get the option to test 3 variations of each campaign on the low-price tiers.
If you want up to 8 variants at a time, you need to upgrade to the full Premium plan.
Even though you need to pay a little extra for the more advanced analytics and A/B testing capabilities from MailChimp, it’s still the best choice.
Overall, MailChimp offers a lot more functionality when it comes to testing the performance of your campaigns.
Ease of Use
Before you start spending your hard-earned cash on any piece of software, it’s essential to figure out how simple each tool will be to use
The first thing you need to know is that ConvertKit is very straightforward and convenient.
From the moment that you log into your ConvertKit account, you’ll be able to find all the tools you need on your dashboard. What’s more, there’s plenty of guides and videos to get you started.
When you sign up, you get a welcome video with useful information included:
What’s more, ConvertKit has upgraded its functionality in recent years to provide more drag-and-drop options for customers who prefer to stay away from complicated coding.
One downside with ConvertKit is that it can take some time to get used to at first. Reviewers say that there’s something of a learning curve with this tool, and I can see that.
As I mentioned above, I was a little confused by the way that ConvertKit uses its own vocabulary throughout, making it harder for users to understand exactly where the tools they need might be.
For instance, the term “Sequences” refers to your automated emails on ConvertKit, while “Broadcasts” refer to emails.
One great thing about ConvertKit is that they do send you a personalized welcome email to get you started.
These videos are made specifically for you, which sends a positive message about the commitment that the team has to making sure you figure out how to use the service.
MailChimp also has a lot to offer when it comes to simplicity and usability. The interface is very similar in structure to ConvertKit, with a top-line navigation list that tells you everything you can do straight away.
The word choices that MailChimp uses are a lot more basic too, as they use familiar words like “campaigns,” and “templates.”
Many of the editing experiences on MailChimp are drag-and-drop, which adds to the simplicity.
However, the fact that MailChimp offers more versatility when it comes to things like automation triggers and campaigns could mean that you need more time to get used to the whole experience.
Some people note that they would love a more intuitive landing-page building experience from MailChimp, which may have something to do with the fact that MailChimp only recently branched out into forms and landing pages:
The “Templates” tab on MailChimp only shows templates for emails. If you want to find models for a landing page or form, you need to go into Campaign or Audience instead, which might be a bit confusing for some people.
One thing that may make MailChimp easier to use for some companies, is the fact that it integrates with more third-party tools. The popularity of MailChimp means that it can integrate with hundreds of different eCommerce, CRM, and lead capture tools.
Of course, ConvertKit has a lot of integrations too, including links to big names like WordPress and Shopify. What’s more, ConvertKit has integrations with Zapier, which makes it easier to connect to a wider range of apps.
Both MailChimp and ConvertKit are relatively easy to use, with plenty of simple functionality for beginners. However, I’d say that ConvertKit is a lot more suited to beginners if you’ve never dealt with an email marketing tool before.
Finally, before you make your million-dollar decision between ConvertKit and MailChimp, it’s worth checking out the kind of customer support you can expect.
Customer service from ConvertKit is pretty straightforward. You can schedule a call with a professional if you’re going to need some in-depth assistance, or you can open a ticket via email.
ConvertKit claims that the average response time is around an hour and 14 minutes – which isn’t bad compared to most of the providers on the market today.
Although it’s challenging to get any instant response from ConvertKit, such as an immediate phone call or Live Chat, there is a comprehensive knowledgebase. There are plenty of workshops and guides that you can use to access information on how to use your new tool.
Although ConvertKit isn’t the best at providing customer support (try AWeber for something more significant), MailChimp is even worse. If you’re not on the Premium tier with MailChimp, then you won’t be able to use email or contact someone via the phone.
Your only options as a Standard customer is to use the popular guides and tutorials on the website, or you can send a letter via snail mail.
ConvertKit is a little better at customer support than MailChimp but by a limited margin. It would be a lot better if you could call a member of staff whenever you needed to or get in touch via live chat functionality.
ConvertKit vs MailChimp: The Verdict
MailChimp, in my opinion, offers a more flexible range of features and functionality to explore. On the other hand, ConvertKit is incredibly easy to use, with straightforward functionality and plenty of great tools. However, this solution is very restricted when it comes to things like email marketing templates, A/B testing, and analytics.
You get the feeling that you’re getting a much more advanced and sophisticated tool with MailChimp, particularly if you’re lucky enough to have the Premium version. However, there are some things missing here, too, such as great customer support and beginner friendliness.
Whether you should choose ConvertKit or MailChimp for your email, marketing depends on a lot of different things.
Choose ConvertKit if:
- You want a simple and straightforward email marketing solution
- You appreciate slightly more intuitive customer service
- You want a transparent and affordable pricing structure
- You need a great landing page and form builder
- You love the idea of visual automation tools
Read our full review of ConvertKit.
Choose MailChimp if:
- You need plenty of drag-and-drop functionality
- You want a range of trigger-based automation options
- You need advanced A/B testing and analytics
- You want access to plenty of integrations
- You’re in need of various email templates to choose from
Read our full review of Mailchimp.
If you’re not convinced that either ConvertKit or MailChimp are the right options for you, then you can always consider one of the many other options available too!
For instance, check out our email marketing guide for an insight into some of the top-performing tools online today.