MailerLite vs MailChimp: Which Email Marketing Software Should You Use in 2020?

As someone who has sent thousands of marketing emails over the years, I have a pretty good grasp on what to look for in a quality email marketing software.

You want a platform where price matches quality, you want user-friendliness when it comes to creating and sending emails, and you want to be able to automate emails and track their performance.

Comparing different email marketing options is a great way to do your industry research and determine which email marketing software you should use for your business.

Check out our comparison of MailerLite vs Mailchimp to see which of these options would work better for your marketing strategy.

MailerLite vs Mailchimp: Pricing

Cost is always important when it comes to digital marketing software. If you don’t have a huge budget for technology, finding something that won’t detract from other important software matters even more.

MailerLite and Mailchimp are both definitely lower on the pricing tier when it comes to email marketing platform options, so let’s take a look at their free and paid plans.

MailerLite

This platform is extremely affordable while still offering a ton of features for businesses to take advantage of. While it doesn’t offer a free trial for you to test the software before investing in it, MailerLite does have a free plan for up to 1,000 subscribers.

Free Plan

If you’re someone who likes to try a piece of technology out before biting the bullet and jumping into a paid plan, MailerLite does have a way for you to do this.

They offer a limited free plan for up to 1,000 subscribers that allows you to send 12,000 emails a month.

Keep in mind that each individual email you send counts, so if you have a list size of 1,000 people, you could send them up to 12 emails each. So, while this won’t work if you’re sending a 25-day email series to a full list of people, it should get the job done for a few basic eblasts.

Other features that aren’t available in the free plan include pre-made templates (you must create your own using one of their drag & drop builders), live chat support, the use of custom domains, and more.

This is certainly a great option for businesses that are just starting to grow an email list or companies that want to test a new platform with a segment of their audience before diving in.

MailerLite’s paid plans are tiered, based on how many subscribers you have. They start at just $10 a month for up to 1,000 subscribers and go up from there:

  • 1-1,000 subscribers: $10/mo
  • 1,001-2,500 subscribers: $15/mo
  • 2,501-5,000 subscribers: $30/mo
  • 5,001-10,000 subscribers: $50/mo

Check out their handy dandy little pricing calculator to find the cost for your exact list size.

Mailchimp

Mailchimp just updated their pricing structure in May 2019. Their pricing structure used to be extremely similar to that of MailerLite, with a limited free plan before jumping up to paid plan options, but they’ve just introduced a different method of pricing.

Free Plan

Mailchimp still offers a free plan for its beginner subscribers, which is essential for this platform.

Although they’re trying to introduce more and more features to encompass all aspects of email marketing, they’ve always been known as a beginner platform and they still want to appeal to that audience.

You can utilize Mailchimp’s free plan if you have up to 2,000 subscribers. After you meet that threshold, though, you’ll have to choose from one of their three paid tiers.

The free plan comes with access to five of their premade themes, one audience, seven marketing channels, one-click automation, and their marketing CRM.

This means you have to create your own newsletter template or stick to one of only five available ones. You’re not even able to tell which ones you have access to unless you hover over it and don’t see an Upgrade to Use call-to-action.

One audience means you have no segmentation. This is fine for basic email marketing strategies but if you collect emails for a B2B aspect of your business and a B2C aspect and send them different marketing materials, you’ll have to upgrade to one of the paid plans.

The marketing channels, basic automation, and marketing CRM are available across all plans, so these are nice perks to still have access to at no cost.

Mailchimp has introduced three different tiers of paid plans: Essential, Standard, and Premium.

Mailchimp Pricing Options

Essential

This paid plan starts at $9.99 a month and increases based on your audience size.

So, you’ll pay:

  • $9.99/mo for a 500-person email list,
  • $19.99/mo for a 1,500-person email list,
  • $29.99/mo for a 2,500-person email list,
  • $49.99/mo for a 5,000 person email list.

And it goes up from there to a 50,000-person email list limit.

Once you hit 50,000 emails, you’d have to upgrade to the Standard plan to continue with Mailchimp. The Essential plan gives you access to all email templates, three audiences, A/B testing, custom branding, and support.

Standard

The Standard paid plan starts at $14.99 a month and allows up to 100,000 email subscribers. Once you hit that limit, you’re required to use the Premium plan.

  • Just like the Essential plan, $14.99/mo covers 500 subscribers and the cost increases from there.
  • This plan doesn’t offer a 1,500-person email list plan, so the second option is $49.99/mo for 2,500 people,
  • then $74.99/mo for 5,000 people.

In this plan, you have 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. Your audience limit increases to five different audiences with this plan.

Premium

Mailchimp’s Premium plan:

  • Starts at $299.99 a month for 10,000 contacts.
  • Increases to $349.99/mo for 15,000 contacts,
  • $399.99/mo for 20,000 contacts and up from there.
  • It taps out at $1,099.99/mo for 200,000 contacts and at that point, you have to get a custom plan created for your business and its email marketing needs.

The Premium plan includes everything from the smaller tiered plans and adds access to advanced segmentation, multivariate testing, phone support, and unlimited audiences.

Winner

If you’re looking for the more cost-effective option, MailerLite wins by far. Others agree, Mailchimp isn’t the cheapest option.

The features that each platform offers are similar, as you’ll see throughout this article, giving MailerLite the competitive edge when it comes to cost.

MailerLite vs Mailchimp: Features

MailerLite and Mailchimp are both very similar platforms and have many of the same features. But quality is always more important than quantity, so I went through each of these to see which platform wins.

Templates

While every email marketing software has the option for you to build your own email from scratch, it’s extremely helpful to have a template to get you started on the right track. 

If you don’t have a visually appealing email template, not many people are going to want to look at your emails for very long.

That doesn’t really bode well for trying to make sales or generating traffic back to your website or social media profiles.

This is why it’s important to use a platform that offers access to beautiful templates which help guide your email newsletter design.

MailerLite

MailerLite offers 51 templates to choose from, which are all very visually appealing.

I like that they all have different looks and feels and aren’t obviously using the exact same style.

The downside of MailerLite is that free plan users don’t have access to any of these templates. But, if you pay for one of their affordable plans, you can start with any one of the 51 template designs.

Mailchimp

Mailchimp easily one-ups MailerLite with 81 different templates to choose from.

Mailchimp Email Templates

However, Mailchimp’s templates are very basic and nearly all of them have a similar look and feel. You might as well start with one of their basic layouts and add in your own branding colors rather than choose one of their templates.

Winner

I’m going to call a tie here. Mailchimp wins when it comes to the number of templates, but MailerLite has better and more visually appealing templates to choose from.

While Mailchimp gives a lot of options, MailerLite offers more unique email looks.

MailerLite Vs Mailchimp: Integrations

Email marketing platforms must have good integrations so they appeal to a larger audience. This offers more options for business owners and marketers for lead generation and sales platforms.

Businesses want to be able to automatically input all of their new opt-ins and customers to their email marketing audiences, and integrating the two platforms together is the way to do this.

MailerLite

MailerLite’s platform offers 77 different integrations that directly connect to their platform.

A few of their most prominent integrations include Shopify, WordPress, Facebook, OptinMonster, Squarespace, and WooCommerce.

However, there are several options out there that allow a business to connect their MailerLite account to their sales platform to collect emails and more.

Mailchimp

Mailchimp has just over 200 different integrations available on their platform, like WooCommerce, Slack, OptinMonster, Leadpages, and FreshBooks.

One notable integration they don’t have, though, is Shopify. In fact, their Shopify integration was just shut down in May 2019, causing a lot of people to switch away from the platform altogether.

Because this is such a big loss for Mailchimp, they do have a featured section on their integrations page that lets users know how they can still create workarounds between the two platforms.

Mailchimp And Shopify Integration

Although it’s always ideal to have integrations directly available between two apps, working with a tool like Zapier can create such a perfect connection between apps that it’s by no means a dealbreaker.

There’s a lot of “he said, she said” surrounding the Mailchimp and Shopify breakup, with Shopify claiming that Mailchimp won’t respect their Partner Program Agreement and Mailchimp saying that Shopify’s updated terms of service would negatively impact their business.

So, while there’s currently no full story out there, Mailchimp still wants to make sure its customers that do use Shopify can continue to use both programs without issues.

Winner

Mailchimp has more than double the integrations that MailerLite has available, making that platform the clear winner, regardless of its beef with Shopify. It’s good to keep in mind, though, that an integration isn’t the end-all, be-all of two platforms working together.

There are plenty of tools, like Zapier for instance, that work as a third-party integration and can connect two separate platforms for you.

A/B Testing

A/B testing is a great feature to have to figure out what your audience likes best.

You can test different versions of capitalization in your email subject, personalization vs. no personalization, different email designs, and more.

MailerLite

MailerLite allows users to send two different variations of their email, differentiating the email subject, sender details, email content, or even your email design.

When creating your A/B test, make sure you click the dropdown next to Create Campaign to select A/B split campaign, otherwise, you won’t be able to get the A/B testing options. While that isn’t the most user-friendly, it’s extremely straightforward from there on in.

Once you’ve decided what to test and you’ve created both versions of each, you’ll then decide what percentage of your list will receive each option and choose what determines a winner.

Mailerlite A/b Settings

The highest percentage you can choose for version A and version B is 25% each. You can decide to send a test to smaller chunks, like 10% or 20% as well, if you would like. Choose a winner based on which email got more opens or clicks after a specified amount of time.

You’re also able to check out the reports for both versions of your email.

Mailchimp

With Mailchimp’s A/B testing, you must have an Essential plan or higher, as their A/B testing is not available in their free plan.

Getting started with your A/B testing campaign is a bit easier in Mailchimp. As I mentioned with MailerLite, you have to click the dropdown next to Create Campaign before moving forward, but Mailchimp allows you to take the same steps as normal.

You can go to the Campaigns tab, or click Create Campaign directly from your dashboard. Click Email in the pop-up to start working on an email campaign.

Create New Campaign In Mailchimp Dashboard.

Then click A/B Test to get started with your split test campaign.

Mailchimp Split Test Campaign

If you’re working with the free Mailchimp plan, the A/B Test option simply won’t be available for you to choose from.

Once you name your campaign, you can get started with your split test. You’re able to test subject lines, content, from names, and send times.

Mailchimp A/b Testing Options

You have the same options as MailerLite for selecting the percentage of your recipients to test, as well as determining a winning campaign.

Mailchimp’s A/B testing allows you to test up to three variables, which is already an improvement over MailerLite. However, if you sign up for their Premium plan, you gain access to Mailchimp’s multivariate testing feature, which allows you to test up to eight different versions of your email.

Winner

Although you don’t have access to their A/B testing in the free plan like you do with MailerLite, Mailchimp is the clear winner when it comes to split test campaigns. Not only is it a much clearer process for getting started, you’re also able to send up to three variations instead of just two.

Segmentation

When you’re creating more complex and built-out email marketing strategies, segmentation is key.

This allows you to create different audiences or groups of recipients for your emails. Instead of sending the same email newsletter to the same audience each week or month, you can segment your email list out by type of purchase, lead vs. customer, email courses and funnels, and more.

MailerLite

MailerLite has a pretty cool segmentation feature. When you add new subscribers to your email list, you’ll have access to all of them at once when you go to the Subscribers tab.

Mailerlite Subscribers Tab

You can then separate them into both Segments and Groups. These differ, based on the way subscribers are added to each–segments auto-populate based on a rule you set, while you have to manually add subscribers to groups.

Segments can be created based on things like signup source, activity, and more. You can manually add subscribers to groups, selecting a specific group when you’re creating a new signup form, or through automation triggers.

There is no limit to how many segments and groups you can create, which is extremely powerful for more involved email marketing strategies.

You can also add a single contact to multiple groups or segments without having them take up more space in your overall subscriber count.

Mailchimp

Mailchimp’s segmentation options are extremely limited, especially compared to those of MailerLite. The number of different audiences or segments you’re allowed to create depends on the level of paid plan you have.

You’re only allowed one audience with the free plan, which is a huge deterrent for customers. That means you can only create a single list of subscribers. This is fine for basic email marketing strategies, but there isn’t any way to branch out unless you move up to a paid plan.

The Essential plan comes with three audiences, the Standard plan comes with five audiences, and the Premium plan, which starts at $299/mo, comes with unlimited audiences.

So, unless you have the budget to pay at least $299/mo for your email marketing software, you’re capped out at five audiences or segments. Which can seriously limit your email marketing options.

Winner

MailerLite undeniably wins out when it comes to segmentation. Not only do they have multiple ways to create different audiences for your emails, but they also don’t put a limit on, based on your paid plan.

User Interface

The last feature we’re going to compare is the user interface of each platform. The user interface is important because it dictates how visually appealing the site is, as well as its ease of navigation and quality of user experience.

MailerLite

Overall, it’s extremely easy to navigate the MailerLite website. Its dashboard consists of mostly white and grey elements, so it’s light and easy to look at. MailerLite’s brand colors, green and orange, pop in to add color and draw your eyes to calls-to-action for using the platform.

Other than the single hangup that I mentioned when it comes to creating A/B test campaigns, MailerLite makes it incredibly easy to use and navigate through their platform. It’s easy to create campaigns, automations, segment out your audience, and more.

Mailchimp

Mailchimp Dashboard Ui

Mailchimp’s user dashboard is extremely minimalistic — black and white with pops of teal and yellow. That minimalism definitely makes sure that their overall user interface isn’t cluttered and that it’s easy for their customers to find what they’re looking for.

However, one thing that’s always driven me crazy when it comes to creating emails with Mailchimp is how you can’t place content blocks side-by-side unless you’ve chosen that kind of template.

Mailchimp has a few different options when it comes to template columns: one column, two columns, three columns, or a combination email.

If you choose a one-column email, you’re stuck with it.

Even after you’ve customized the design and branded it perfectly for your business, you can’t place blocks side-by-side. And, if you choose a two-column email, you aren’t able to have any blocks take up the full width.

This seems like a serious user experience issue to me, especially because nearly every other platform allows you to drag-and-drop content blocks to wherever you want, whether it’s above, below, or beside another block.

Winner

I’m going to call MailerLite a winner on this one. The platform is very intuitive and there aren’t any issues with the drag-and-drop email feature like with Mailchimp.

Support

Another very important element to keep in mind when shopping for your email marketing software is support.

If you’re just starting out with your email marketing strategy, you want to have that peace of mind, knowing there’s some kind of help available, whether it’s an FAQ page or an actual customer service representative.

MailerLite

One great thing about MailerLite’s platform is that they have built-in self-serve options, right in their user dashboard.

If you click the grey circle with a ? in the center of it, at the bottom right corner of your screen, a help center will slide out on top of your screen to help answer any questions you have.

Even better, it’s automatically customized with FAQs catered to the specific page you’re on.

Mailerlite Help Center

So, if you’re not sure how to create an embedded form, you can check out the Suggested For You section. You can also browse their overall help library for other helpful information, or press the Contact Us option to send a contact form submission.

When you click that option, the platform will first ask you to search around to see if you can find the answer in their help library. As they’ve spent extensive hours putting those helpful articles together, they push that option before having users request direct help.

If you don’t find the answer to your questions, scroll to the bottom and click No, then Next step. You’ll then be able to submit a question via the contact form, requesting additional help.

If you have a free plan, that’s the only type of support you’ll have access to. Once you jump up to a paid plan, you’ll also be able to take advantage of MailerLite’s live chat support.

Mailchimp

Mailchimp also has an extensive help library available with hundreds of resources to help you learn how to use your Mailchimp account to the fullest.

Their free plan comes with email support for the first 30 days, but after that, these articles are your only form of support. It’s a good thing they cover pretty much anything you need to know, but it can be frustrating not to have that help straight from the source.

Once you upgrade to a paid plan, you have access to their 24/7 email and live chat support for any email marketing obstacles you run into.

Mailchimp also offers phone support, but only for their Premium plan users. Those users also get priority response with their email and live chat questions.

Winner

Overall, I would have to say that Mailchimp is the winner when it comes to support.

Although it’s not ideal that their free plan users don’t get to take advantage of email or live chat support, their library of resources, tutorials, and helpful articles is so extensive and so intuitive for customers, that unless someone is experiencing serious issues using the platform, they probably don’t need any other form of support

MailerLite vs Mailchimp: Conclusion

In the end, it’s important to mention that both platforms are incredible options. They both offer robust features and have an easy to use interface.

MailerLite

If you’re working with a smaller marketing budget, MailerLite is the obvious choice for your business. Not only do they have access to more features and assistance in their free plan, their paid plans are much cheaper as well.

MailerLite also wins for more complex email marketing. With the ability to create multiple segments and groups of subscribers, you’re able to easily work with different types of audiences, newsletters, and more.

Check out our MailerLite review.

Mailchimp

If you’re looking to mainly DIY your email marketing templates and focus on just a few different audiences, Mailchimp is a great option for you. 

You’re able to A/B test a few different variables with your audiences and have even more options when it comes to integration.

Check out our Mailchimp review.

Overall Winner

Overall, when it comes to comparing the two platforms, MailerLite wins out completely in my opinion. 

While it may not have as many templates or integrations as Mailchimp, and you might only be able to A/B test two variables instead of three, I feel like the difference in cost, email builders, and segmentation easily make up for that.

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