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When Mailchimp Isn’t the Champ: 8 Great Email Marketing Alternatives

Author

Sept 20, 2018

Florian Tanant

Mailchimp alternatives

Here’s a fun game: ask anyone to name an email newsletter tool. Chances are their answer is going to be Mailchimp. Thanks to an enormous marketing presence, these guys seem to be completely ahead of the competition. Launching in 2001, they now have 15+ million users and process more than one billion emails every day. That’s billion, with a B.

But because they are hugely popular doesn’t mean they’re right for you. So is this dominance deserved or are there better Mailchimp alternatives? Let’s have a look at who the chimp company works for.

Who should stick with Mailchimp:

  • You need detailed reporting. Mailchimp has probably the best reporting system for tracking your newsletters’ performance. It offers robust options such as Google Analytics integration, Geotracking, Social media and click maps. If you want to pinpoint why people open your emails, where they are in the world, or understand how you can reduce churn, these insights can make a big difference.
  • You want a good solution for free. Mailchimp’s freemium plan is pretty generous compared to competitors. Sure, you must keep the Mailchimp badge in the footer and get a limit of 12,000 emails/month. You also miss out on priority support and certain advanced features, but it’s really enough for most people.
  • You want to easily design good looking emails. Their editor is fast, simple and drag and drop. It’s very easy to create stunning emails that will stand out from the rest and engage your audience.
  • You use emails as a sales channel. Mailchimp is hard to beat when it comes to ecommerce. You can connect it to your store, use segments to target certain subscribers, track your website to see who abandons their cart, send targeted campaigns and much more. They really help merchants increase their sales through email marketing, which is not a channel to be neglected.

Who should look for Mailchimp alternatives:

  • You are on a tight budget. As soon as you leave the freemium plan, things start to add up at MailChimp. Working out how much your newsletter tool will cost is not always straightforward. For instance, some will make you pay depending on the number of emails you send, others on your amount of subscribers. Luckily, we’ve created a handy cost calculator to help you get a clearer idea.

Better alternatives: MailerLite, SendInBlue, Benchmark

  • You need complex automations. If you are really aiming to get the most from your email marketing campaigns, Mailchimp will appear limited in terms of marketing automation features. Their autoresponders are ok, but for campaigns based on user behavior, tagging, split tests and advanced workflows, you might want to look elsewhere.

Better alternatives: ActiveCampaign, GetResponse

  • You want to manage multiple mailing lists. Because Mailchimp keeps every list isolated from each other, it limits the amount of flexibility, creativity and precision you can have for your complex campaigns. For example, if user X belongs to 2 of your mailing lists, they will appear as subscribers twice. There is no good way to merge lists or create interdependencies between them.

Better alternatives: ActiveCampaign, SendInBlue, Omnisend

  • You require a landing page. While it’s hardly a deal breaker in our book, some email marketers do like to create special pages to send users once they click a certain link. These pages can offer tailored content and act as a powerful sales funnel or segmentation tool. Mailchimp's landing pages are very basic at this time, not even offering any themes let alone A/B Testing.

Better alternatives: GetResponse, MailerLite, Omnisend

  • You need strong data privacy. Mailchimp isn't the most data protection-conscious company. For example, a short while back they suddenly announced that they are about to deactivate the double opt-in feature for all customers. After an outcry from (mainly) EU-based customers, they retracted the change. Customers from Europe also usually prefer to have their data stored inside an EU country, which Mailchimp doesn't offer.

Better alternatives: Newsletter2Go, SendInBlue

The best Mailchimp alternatives

After all our tests we believe that the following are the best Mailchimp competitors. Keep scrolling for a detailed breakdown.

ActiveCampaign

This self-described “all-in-one marketing platform” is focused on letting you reach your email marketing goals with fewer emails. To that end, they offer one of the best marketing automation features we’ve ever tested. You can easily create very complex sequences of emails and add a huge number of parameters such as “wait x number of days before sending”, “split test between two messages” and much more.

  • Where ActiveCampaign beats Mailchimp: In terms of email sequences automation, ActiveCampaign is unbeatable. Whether you want to tag users based on behaviour, A/B tests or create complex timed automations, they have you covered. Their CRM system does the job, and they are often launching interesting features such as their new “site messages” which lets you create personalised content on your website when users arrive there from your emails. List management, which Mailchimp isn’t great at, is also a strong suit. Finally, they also end up cheaper than Mailchimp and the customer support is excellent.
  • Where Mailchimp wins: ActiveCampaign doesn’t offer a free plan. Mailchimp’s template editor is smoother and their ecommerce tracking is more robust. If you want to get a good idea of your conversions through ActiveCampaign, there is nothing out-of-the-box. You’ll need to check with their support how to integrate your ecommerce platform, but you will likely need a custom solution developed, which could be a pain.

Try ActiveCampaign for free

GetResponse

Also a very good solution when it comes to automations, GetResponse offers a wide range of unique pro features such as a landing page creator and a webinar editor. They also claim to be one of the easiest newsletter tools available, and give you loads of extra tidbits like access to free iStock photo images and an iOS and Android app to send your campaigns on the go. Is it enough to choose them over Mailchimp?

  • Where GetResponse beats Mailchimp: Email marketing automations are very powerful, letting you trigger sale conditions, A/B tests and removal conditions, amongst other things. You can easily move subscribers between lists. If you’re an international team, you will appreciate the 25 languages available in the interface. If you want a landing page editor or the ability to create webinars, you’ll find it hard to do it with many platforms other than GetReponse. Their multimedia center, which lets you access stock photos and generate QR codes, amongst others, is also a nice extra.
  • Where Mailchimp wins: GetResponse’s analytics isn’t as powerful as Mailchimp’s as it lacks heatmaps. Also no free plan. Additionally, GetResponse limits the amount of files (e.g. images) that you can store in their media center to 1 GB, while Mailchimp doesn’t.

Try GetResponse for free

MailerLite

This new Lithuanian email marketing solution prides itself on its modern and sleek aesthetic – and it shows. They also offer good multilingual options as well as an incredibly generous offer for free users, which they call the “Free Forever” plan. However, just because it’s free doesn’t mean it’s great, but surprisingly, as you’ll see below it also includes all the pro features!

  • Where MailerLite beats Mailchimp: The free plan, which is limited to 1000 subscribers, lets you use all the pro features! That includes a landing page editor and better automation than Mailchimp’s. Their paying plans are also significantly cheaper, making them a great choice for small businesses on a tight marketing budget. If you want to work in your native tongue, they offer 10 languages and support in 7 of them. It is a great free Mailchimp Competitor.
  • Where Mailchimp wins: MailerLite falls short when it comes to its reporting tools (very basic) and tracking tools (no geo, social or ecommerce tracking), which makes it less than ideal for optimizing your ecommerce sales.

Try MailerLite for free

Benchmark

Focusing on international markets with a presence in 15 countries around the world, Benchmark’s paying plans place them in the middle to higher end of other email marketing solutions. Unfortunately, their advanced features aren’t as impressive as others, but they are worth considering for their free and low price plans.

  • Where Benchmark beats Mailchimp: The free plan is fairly generous. Even if it is limiting the amount of features you can access, you can still send messages to up to 2000 subscribers and up to 14,000 emails without spending a cent. They are also a much better choice for multilingual teams.
  • Where Mailchimp wins: As soon as you look at advanced features like reporting and automation, Benchmark ranks lower on our list. They also give you very limited amounts of image data storage – which is unlimited with Mailchimp.

Try Benchmark for free

SendInBlue

A relatively new player on the newsletter scene, SendInBlue is a Paris-based company who have decided to make waves by offering some of the cheapest plans available. And they’re also surprisingly good when it comes to email automations and list management.

Sendinblue homepage screenshot

  • Where SendInBlue beats Mailchimp: SendinBlue is cheaper than MailChimp. Their automation system is more advanced and their workflow editor makes it easier to use. EU-based customers will love the fact that their servers are located in France.
  • Where Mailchimp wins: Mailchimp is still more intuitive and easier to use for beginners. Their template editor also beats SendinBlue’s and not many companies can beat their social media tracking for accurate reports.

Try Sendinblue for free

ConvertKit

Designed with digital marketers in mind, they are the new kid on the block. ConvertKit claims to be all about transparency and they even make their financial situation available to everyone online. Since they first started in 2013, they’ve managed to get more than 35.000 subscribers. Which is not bad. Generally speaking, Mailchimp is a more mature and developed tool, but let’s check this in more detail.

  • Where ConvertKit beats Mailchimp: ConvertKit tries to make email marketing automations easy and smart. Their automation system is generally easier to use than Mailchimp’s and managing lists and contacts is more flexible. This is why ConvertKit allows you to create better-targeted campaigns.
  • Where Mailchimp wins: ConvertKit doesn’t come with a free plan. If you’d like to use their platform, you’ll have to purchase a paid one. Mailchimp has a generous free plan and one of the best template designs. Their editor is also really flexible – ConvertKit’s doesn’t even compare. With Mailchimp, you can’t have several team members, unfortunately this is not available with ConvertKit. Reporting is also something Mailchimp does very well.

Try ConvertKit 14 days for free

Newsletter2Go

newsletter2go english

Berlin-based Newsletter2Go has a subscription model that is different in a few ways. For once, you can buy ‘pay as you go' credits as well as a subscription. What's more is that you get charged for the emails you send and not by the number of contacts in your database. If you don't send out a newsletter every month, this can save you money.

  • Where Newsletter2Go beats Mailchimp: their paid plans are a lot more affordable than Mailchimp's. Also, you'll receive 1,000 free email credits every month (even when using a paid plan). For EU-based customers, it's a big advantage that they have their servers located in Germany and also, more generally, that they take data protection very seriously. Newsletter2Go also offers the editor and support in six languages while Mailchimp's software is monolingual.
  • Where Mailchimp wins: overall, the monkey-branded newsletter software offers more features and more templates. Their free plan is a bit more generous with up to 12,000 free emails per month.

Try Newsletter2Go's free plan

Omnisend

Omnisend email marketing service

Omnisend is an email and SMS platform with a strong slant towards ecommerce – something that shines through in their conversion-focused automation and segmentation options. And while MailChimp does a decent job of ecommerce, there are some clever little extras that we think give Omnisend the one up here.

  • Where Omnisend beats Mailchimp: Like MailChimp, Omnisend offers stacks of automations for online stores, including browse abandonment and cart recovery (these are editable through visual workflows). But it goes a step further with unique features like ‘wheel of fortune’ incentives for sign ups, interactive gift boxes, automated product recommendations, and even ‘live view’ website tracking – all of which are designed to boost conversions. You can also segment your lists based on very granular data, including customers who purchased a specific product or used a discount code. Another point in Omnisend’s favour – it also includes some very modern landing page templates.
  • Where Mailchimp wins: Outside of ecommerce, MailChimp is probably the more versatile tool, offering more options for email templates and automation. MailChimp also includes automation and segmentation in its free plan, while Omnisend doesn’t.

Try Omnisend for free

An overview of Mailchimp and its competitors

 

Criteria Ease of use Price Features Review
Mailchimp Very easy. The editor is perfect for beginners and the email templates look good. Paid plans start at  $30 per month Great for reports and amazing for ecommerce integration. Not so good for automations and list management. Full review
ActiveCampaign Fairly easy. Even if it seems more overwhelming, the support and wizards are very good. Paid plans start at $9 per month Very powerful automations. A/B tests, timed automations and much more. Good list management. The reporting is good, but not as powerful as Mailchimp’s. Full review
GetResponse Very easy to use. Their knowledge base is a bit confusing though. Paid plans start at $15 per month Powerful email automations and list management. Interesting extras such as smartphone app, landing page editor and webinar creator. Not so good for analytics and reports. Full review
MailerLite Excellent editor – fast and logical. Good support too.  Paid plans start at $10 per month They offer automations and reporting – not as powerful as other solutions, but available for free and/or much cheaper. Full review
Benchmark Very good editor and outstanding support.  Paid plans start at $31.99 per month Good for multi languages. Not great for automations, and the file storage charges are an extra worry. Full review
Sendinblue Not the easiest to use for absolute beginners.  Paid plans start at $25 per month Pretty good automations and list management in 6 languages. Reporting and analytics aren’t as good as Mailchimp’s. Full review
ConvertKit Automations are easier to use than average. Other features, like creating forms, can be overcomplicated. Paid plans start at 29 per month Good automations and list management functionalities. Newsletter design and reporting should be improved. Full review
Newsletter2Go Pretty straightforward to use, fast editor.  Paid plans start at $9 per month Responsive newsletters and a great way to manage different clients from one account (Address Book feature). Supports many different languages. Try for free
Omnisend Their interface is simple, and they have a fresh and speedy email editor that’s similar to MailChimp’s. Paid plans start at $8 per month (paid yearly) Automations specific to ecommerce – web tracking, abandoned cart, order confirmations etc. Plus, some cool interactive features like scratch cards and gift boxes for maximizing conversions. Try for free

Final thoughts

As you’ve seen, it is worth putting in a bit of extra research time for anyone interested in promoting their services or products through email marketing. Just because Mailchimp’s name is on everyone’s lips doesn’t mean it’s the perfect platform for you, and there are competitors (even free) that will work perfectly for you depending on your needs.

To summarize, we would recommend sticking with Mailchimp if you have a decent marketing budget and want to convert it into sales for your ecommerce. For users with small subscriber numbers who just want a simple and free solution, they are also one of the best platforms. Your newsletters will look good, as long as you don’t mind the Mailchimp logo in the footer, which could make them look slightly less professional.

However power users should really look to ActiveCampaign or Get Response if they want to create complex automations that react to the way your subscribers behave. Interestingly enough, while Mailchimp is good for its free plan, they quickly become expensive. So if you want quality features with a smaller price tag, it’s worth investigating other companies such as MailerLite.

Hopefully, this little overview save time in choosing your next solution! And don’t forget to add comments or questions if you need any more information.

 

PS We have a detailed comparison of Mailchimp & ConstantContact that you may want to check out.

 

Update:

20 Sep 2018 – Added Omnisend to list

 
 
 
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