Looking for MailChimp alternatives?
MailChimp has been the first choice in truly affordable email management tools for a long time.
It is loved by digital marketers, bloggers, activists, hobbyists, and authors everywhere.
Ask any marketer to recommend a low-cost email marketing solution and they’ll probably answer with “MailChimp”.
Because it’s free.
And for years – because there was no competition – MailChimp owned the market.
But you now have additional low-cost and no-cost MailChimp competitors to consider like SendInBlue, MailerLite, Aweber, GetResponse, and Constant Contact.
So, should you stick with MailChimp or head for greener pastures?
We tested a number of MailChimp alternatives to see which ones are actually worth your time and/or money.
6 Best Mailchimp Alternatives
- Constant Contact
The Assessment Criteria
Isn’t it annoying when you’re looking for actual information on something and you find one of the following:
- Fake reviews
- Inconsistent information
- A combination of 1 and 2
Those “reviews” make us feel like this…
So we don’t do that.
The reality is that if you’re looking for an alternative to MailChimp, some features are more important than others, such as:
- Ease of use
Yes, there are dozens of other features we could cover like advanced segmentation, A/B testing, landing pages, etc.
But how often do you use them?
Probably as often as the gym equipment hiding in your closet…
Now, before we dig into MailChimp alternatives, we’re going to do a quick refresher on MailChimp itself.
The reason we’re doing this is:
- Some of you might already use it
- Those who don’t want to read an honest comparison
What made MailChimp such a hit was the pricing model – free.
They cleverly appealed to email marketing newbies – people who had a small audience and an equally small budget.
Other email marketing platforms were charging $30 – $90 per month even if you had tiny lists.
MailChimp arrived on the scene and offered 2,000 subscribers per month…free.
So, why would people look for Mailchimp alternatives?
After all, MailChimp is excellent, for what it offers.
One answer: Pricing.
Sure, you get 2,000 subs at no cost.
You also get a drag-and-drop email designer, templates, landing pages, and a pretty decent support system.
But when you start hitting 10k+ subs per month you’re looking at a bill of at least $75.
MailChimp captured the low end of the email list management market, but they’ve priced themselves out of the mid and upper-level market more than they seem to realize.
So, let’s take a look at what other options are available to you.
Mailchimp Alternatives Reviewed
Sendinblue is a relative newcomer to the scene, launching their cloud-based email marketing software back in 2012.
The first and most immediate comparison with MailChimp is that it also offers a freemium option for small businesses and solopreneurs.
With that, you get up to 300 emails per day on the free plan, forever.
If you’re considering high volume email campaigns then you’ll have two choices:
- Pay As You Go
- Monthly Plan
10,000 emails on PAYG would cost about $74, but only $25 when on a monthly plan. So in terms of costs, it’s comparable with MailChimp if you’re using their PAYG feature.
In terms of ease-of-use Sendinblue has a much more modern and streamlined interface.
MailChimp does a good job but they’ve always felt a bit amateurish in terms of their UX.
So, we really like the drag-and-drop editor in Sendinblue, especially being able to do a live preview on desktop vs. mobile design:
And then slide it over to get a mobile preview.
But their rich text editor is a hot mess.
The first issue is that it appears in a sub-window.
What’s far, far worse is the text is so small it’s physically difficult to work with.
This editor feels like a cheap Java applet instead of a full-blown text editor.
Something else to bear in mind is that there’s a distinct lack of on-screen help. This is fine if you’re a seasoned email marketer, but newbies might struggle.
With that being said the interface is pretty intuitive, which makes up for the lack of screen prompts.
Designing your email template takes minutes thanks to the drag-and-drop design interface:
And if you really mess up, you can reset your design to a blank slate:
You can jump forward and backward between campaign setup sections by saving and quitting to the main dashboard and choosing ‘Return to this step’.
Sendinblue scores bonus points for providing an interface that’s designed to get you from zero to sending your first emails as quickly as possible.
They’ve focused on keeping their interface simple, and it works remarkably well.
Sendinblue also offers email automation and a guided tutorial with options for beginners and experts alike in relation to their automation “workflows”.
You can choose from a slew of standard workflows or you can create custom workflows with custom triggers.
All the usual integrations are offered, including WordPress, Woo Commerce, and Shopify, amongst many others.
Their customer support team is also pretty good. We sent our support request at 3:10 pm and received a reply by 4:52 pm.
Beats Mailchimp on:
- A modern, fluid interface that helps prevent mistakes
- Affordable bulk email on monthly plans
- Fluid email designer, ideal for beginners
Loses to Mailchimp on:
- Absolutely awful rich text editor
Check our post on Sendinblue Vs MailChimp: Which Email Automation Tool Is Best For YOU or read our full review of Sendinblue.
This is another direct competitor to MailChimp in the freemium email marketing automation sphere.
The free version of MailerLite provides for up to 1,000 subscribers and a maximum 12,000 emails per month.
Except for a single proviso – the number of subscribers you can actively email depends on your “account approval” level.
Basically, you start off with approval to send emails to 100 subs, and then you kind of work your way upwards by providing their support team with additional information.
But the approval process is somewhat vague.
So, that’s something to be aware of if you have more immediate communication needs.
Creating a campaign is easy, and I really like that they added ‘personalisation’ at this stage because, as we all know, personalization can boost your open rate.
It’s also interesting to see that they feature emojis as part of the personalization process.
There’s a growing trend/belief that emojis have a positive impact on open rates. But I haven’t read anything definitive on actual results yet, so further testing is required.
You can choose from several types of campaign:
- Regular – send a normal broadcast email
- A/B – typical split testing stuff
- Auto Resend – resends the same email to people who didn’t open the previous email
- RSS campaign – uses a site’s RSS feed as email content for broadcast.
So there’s quite a bit of innovation there.
There are two drag-and-drop email design interfaces– ‘Classic’ and ‘New’.
I actually prefer the ‘Classic’ editor because it feels more intuitive and “fluid”. You also get a ‘Rich Text Editor’ suitable for email marketing Luddites like me.
The designer also allows you to preview mobile layouts from within the editor screen.
A major nuisance is that you can’t do inline edits on text blocks – you have to resort to using the sidebar menu instead.
And this isn’t just for headings – you have to edit text blocks this way too.
This might not seem like a big deal, but it will be if you’re dealing with a lot of text.
It bugged the hell out of me after working with it for a few minutes.
Another annoyance here is that once you’ve chosen one editor you’re stuck with it for that campaign.
The only way to select a new editor is to start all over again.
That’s an annoying “undocumented feature”, to say the very least.
In terms of automation, MailerLite gets bonus points because you get a visual representation of what your workflow/sequence looks like:
Advanced marketers will appreciate this feature because it solves one of the headache of mapping complex email marketing campaigns.
It’s also a whole lot easier than trying to map it out on paper.
Integrations are well catered for, including Shopify, Woo Commerce, Facebook, WordPress, etc. They also have an integration for BookFunnel which is a major plus for indie authors.
MailerLite responded to our support ticket in under 20 minutes, or roughly 3 times faster than any paid email marketing tool we tested.
Beats Mailchimp with:
- Visual representation of email sequence automation
- Auto Resend feature – can be invaluable
- Super quick customer support (under 20 minutes)
Loses to Mailchimp on:
- Needing approval for more than 100 subscribers
- A flawed email design interface
3. Constant Contact
This is the first “paid” marketing tool in this roundup but you do get your first month free of charge.
So, if you’re looking for a 100% freemium email marketing automation option, Constant Contact isn’t that.
What you’ll notice with many of the paid tools is they’re pretty strict about data sources.
You have to specify exactly where you got your customer data and whether permission to use it was “Implied” or “Expressed”.
You’re also prevented from adding “role emails” like [email protected] because they drive a high number of spam complaints.
One of the first features that stands out is being able to integrate Constant Contact with your social media accounts so you can upload images directly from them.
It’s a small thing but could save certain types of marketers and businesses a lot of time.
Now for a major annoyance…
I hate the logout timer.
Yes, it provides an additional level of security in a corporate environment.
But for a Joe Schmoe like me, it means having to log back in because I decided I wanted more coffee.
And I always want more coffee.
Access to the ShutterStock image library is an added bonus worth giving a special mention to.
This could save you an entire monthly subscription fee, so it gets a thumbs up from us.
The downside is that your Constant Contact media library is limited to 1GB.
How do you get more storage space for your media files?
You upgrade…which costs more money.
There’s also a distinct lack of a standalone rich text editor.
You do get a WYSIWYG editor, but what about people who don’t use HTML email?
Their WYSIWYG editor does, however, include copywriting tips for emails.
Will these tips change your life?
Probably not, but at least they tried to do something different here.
The drag-and-drop email designer is modern and easy to use.
For example, the icons are a simple touch, but they help make the interface far more intuitive.
But, for some odd reason, it lacks a mobile vs. desktop preview option…despite the fact the platform integrates directly with social media accounts.
Adding and editing text is a snap because you can perform inline edits, which should be the norm for any email marketing software worth its salt.
We’re on the verge of putting people on Mars and some interfaces are stuck in 2002.
The editor also allows you to personalize your subject line in a way that’s very familiar:
Creating an automated email series is what you’d expect from an email list management platform, and the interface is well structured.
The addition of several triggers is a nice touch – you can trigger an automated series based on a link being clicked, somewhat similar to what Drip offers.
There are 45 pages (literally) of integrations for this email marketing tool, so we’ll just mention that Gmail, Facebook, Office 365, WordPress, and Shopify are covered.
But here’s the complete list in case you’re looking for something specific.
Support was a disappointment.
Firstly you only have 140 characters to explain your request, but secondly, we never heard back from their support team.
Beats Mailchimp with:
- Integrations accessible from within email designer
- Unlimited emails for $20 per month
- Automation is a point-and-click affair
Loses to Mailchimp on:
- The logout timer which is an utter nuisance
- No response to our customer support request…days later
Now it’s time to cover Aweber – one of the elders of automated marketing emails, founded way back in 1998.
Products like Aweber aren’t MailChimp competitors – MailChimp came along several years later.
The only “free” aspect of using Aweber is the free trial you get when you sign up.
During your free month, you can have up to 500 subs and send up to 3,000 emails.
After your trial expires each paid plan allows for unlimited emails but throttles the number of subs you have.
So, $19 per month gets you 500 subscribers, $29 per month gets you up to 2,500 subscribers, etc.
And this pricing is exactly why MailChimp is still so popular for low-volume marketers.
It saves you having to pay a monthly plan when you don’t have enough subscribers to justify that.
But Aweber does have a lot to offer, including an interface that’s the result of almost 20 years of industry experience and feedback.
But what is it like using Aweber to actually design and send an email?
When creating an email you can choose between their drag-and-drop email builder or a plain text editor.
The visual editor is a breeze to use – it took me about 60 seconds to create this first draft:
And you can also preview a plain text version of your emails:
But you also have the option of just using a plain text editor to create your personalized newsletter/broadcast/campaign.
Another really important feature is ‘Spam Score’ – this tells you how likely your emails are to be snagged by spam filters.
This is a real time saver especially if you’re just starting out and want to avoid having your domain blacklisted for accidental spam.
The automation screen is probably a little over complex for some people. Aweber has updated this significantly in the last few years.
Once you select ‘Add Automation’ you choose what trigger you want to use to kickstart your sequence:
To be fair, some of the freemium tools have a more fluid automation interface when it comes to setting up autoresponder sequences, etc.
Aweber does also offer a full range of integrations including all the usual stuff like WordPress, PayPal, Leadpages, and Shopify.
But you can also integrate your email marketing with a number of freemium publishing platforms like Wix and SquareSpace.
Our support request was answered in 3 minutes, and no, that’s not a typo.
And the reply directly addressed our question.
Aweber gets a gold star for insanely fast support, but you also get access to a library of professional tutorial videos to help if you get stuck.
Beats Mailchimp on:
- Insanely fast customer support response times
- Spam scoring – get more of your emails through to inboxes
- Excellent email design interface
- Full range of integrations, including Shopify.
Loses to Mailchimp on:
- Pricing – Aweber is not a freemium service
- A cryptic email automation interface
The first thing you’ll notice with GetResponse is the interface.
It manages to combine a ton of functionality on a single screen, but without making it feel cluttered.
It’s always nice to see users taken into account when considering overall UX – that’s pretty rare these days.
One of the standout features of GetResponse for me is the ‘Quick Actions’ menu.
This is a breath of fresh air in a market where the lack of functionality can be really frustrating at times.
So, if you want to create a newsletter you simply choose ‘Newsletter’ and then your preferred method of design:
Then after some quick personalization of your ‘Subject line’ and ‘From’ fields, you choose a template
Even choosing the “Start from scratch” template doesn’t present much of a challenge.
It took maybe 2 minutes to create this basic email template for my test campaign:
The live ‘Mobile Preview’ is also a nice touch – it speeds up the entire design process by not forcing you to run separate resolution and device testing.
GetResponse also has a ‘Spam Score’ feature, which works in much the same way as Aweber’s i.e. are your emails likely to be bounced by paranoid servers:
Automated emails are a snap with GetResponse.
Choose ‘Automation’ from the main navigation menu and click ‘Start your first workflow’ to get started.
Then select your template, or choose to build things from scratch, and you get a very neat visual workflow interface:
Now to discuss the downsides, or rather the single biggest hurdle we ran into during testing.
We created a test data set that we used across each of these platforms.
At first, GetResponse provided the most fluid data import experience of all the platforms reviewed here.
Alas, importing test data also resulted in our account getting locked…even though we didn’t send any emails from the account.
Providing security for customer data is a good thing.
But having to provide a copy of your passport to some random tech support person is not.
This provided us with an obvious opportunity to contact their support team, and their reply took just over an hour.
But the reply itself asked for further information to verify that we are the owners of the account before they can begin the investigation….even though our request came from a verified domain.
I mentally quit at that point and went for a coffee.
Beats Mailchimp on:
- The best front-end of any email service in this roundup
- Quick actions – speed up what you’re doing
- Visual mapping of email automation
- Pricing for high volume email distribution
Loses to Mailchimp on:
- Locking our account because they didn’t like our sample data
Check our post on GetResponse Vs MailChimp: Which Is Best For You In 2020? or read our full review of GetResponse.
HubSpot is somewhat different from the other email marketing platforms featured here.
That’s because HubSpot is more of an all-in-one marketing solution.
But it does have dedicated email marketing functionality.
They’re obviously doing something right though because their services are used by a number of big brands.
So let’s take a look at how they compare to MailChimp for email marketer – we find this under their ‘Marketing Hub’.
The first place to start is with your “Setup Experience” – they’ve created a guide to help MailChimp clients migrate to HubSpot:
It’s a definite case of catering to people migrating from ‘MailChimp’ and then kind of “everyone else” – so they are focused on a very specific audience here.
Next up we need to look at pricing.
With their free plan, you can send 2,000 emails per calendar month.
But the HubSpot logo will appear in the footer of every email, so people will know you’re using a free service.
Their paid subscriptions, on the other hand, allow you to send a higher volume of email:
- Starter – 5x your contact tier list
- Professional – 10x your contact tier list
The terminology here is a little confusing.
But it appears to indicate that if you have 1,000 contacts then you can send 5,000 emails per month with the ‘Starter’ plan, for example.
We did reach out to their support team for clarification on this.
Something we discuss a little later.
Sending your first email is catered for quite well – there’s a nice 9-step tutorial that guides you through the process.
But if you choose to fly solo, then you just need to select a template to work from.
You will, however, have to upgrade to access their premium templates.
The email designer is a pretty standard drag-and-drop affair.
What it does it does well, with enough design options and functionality for any small business.
To their credit, they keep the entire design process remarkably straightforward with just two tabs: ‘Content’ and ‘Design’.
So you’re either working on the content of your email or how it looks.
This helps avoid the clutter you’ll find in other similar email marketing tools.
You do get the option to preview your email before it sends, but the functionality here is very basic:
Other freemium email clients offer far more in this regard e.g. being able to preview for tablets vs. smartphones.
You can personalize email subject lines with emojis, which seems like a bit of a fad.
But it’s a current fad, so it obviously has some value.
Also, they provide a link to a HubSpot guide on how to write great email subject lines.
Overall, the email designer is easy to use but it’s not outstanding in any particular way.
What is interesting though is the email ‘Health’ function.
This allows you to check your email “sending reputation” i.e. have you been blacklisted by certain servers or services.
A major annoyance though is the lack of split testing options available with the free plan.
This feels like a pretty big oversight, especially when their competitors are all trying to roll out more features for less money.
And now it’s time to discuss automations.
There are none available in the free plan.
So, we’ll move swiftly on to integrations instead.
HubSpot would appear to be able to integrate with every single app or service in existence, and this is done via their ‘App Marketplace’.
Support is something of a mixed bag though.
Right now they appear to be going all-in with the use of chat support bots.
The bot was unable to answer my question though, so offered human support instead.
A 30-minute wait resulted in no response.
And then we found was no way to test HubSpot email support because we used their free plan.
So ‘Free’ members have to rely on chatbots, the knowledge base, or the HubSpot community.
Beats Mailchimp with:
- Way more modern interface
- Vast number of available integrations
- Email designer feels more intuitive
- Innovative email ‘Health’ feature
- Campaign analysis tool integrated into the dashboard
Loses to Mailchimp on:
- Zero automations on free plans
- Lack of clear support channels
- You need a paid plan to get the most from HubSpot
- No split testing functionality in the free plan
Wrapping It Up
So, did we find anything that would convince us to consider options other than MailChimp?
And which of the services reviewed are the best MailChimp alternatives for small businesses?
Each of the platforms we reviewed had its own set of strengths and weaknesses, often proving to be easier to deal with than the paid platforms.
MailChimp still remains a really solid option if you’re just starting out.
But if you’re looking for an alternative freemium email marketing service then Sendinblue gets a thumbs-up for us.
What it lacks in one area (text editor) it more than makes up for with an intuitive interface and it also rates high on ease-of-use.
Choosing a paid email marketing platform was more difficult. In terms of overall features and ease-of-use GetResponse would have won first place.
But then they locked our account down, which just feels really heavy-handed.
So that leaves Aweber as the winner, although it’s not without flaws, like the oddly cryptic automation feature. Apart from that, and a sparse rich text editor, you really can’t go too far wrong.