Mailchimp is one of the best-known marketing automation platforms on the market, thanks to its hefty advertising budget. The platform promises to make email marketing more accessible and recently rolled out a slew of ecommerce features. The brand has certainly reinvented itself, so we decided to see how it stacks up against other market players in this review.
Top Mailchimp Alternatives to Consider for Email Marketing
Mailchimp didn’t make it onto our top list of the best email marketing services. Firstly, the platform doesn’t support affiliate marketing, so you’ll need a different solution if you want to explore that revenue stream. Secondly, the software lags in critical areas, including lackluster automation, difficult segmentation, and overly basic CRM features.
Most users are going to be better served by one of our top picks in the category:
- Constant Contact – Best email marketing service for most
- MailerLite – Best for beginners
- Omnisend – Best for boosting ecommerce with shoppable emails
- AWeber – Best for agencies with advanced marketing campaigns
- Sendinblue – Best for getting unlimited contacts and emails without upgrading
- HubSpot – Best for merging your CRM with email marketing
Still, Mailchimp isn’t all bad. There are many things to get excited about, including some of the most advanced reporting capabilities on the market. The platform also offers numerous integrations, is easy to use, and sports modern, visually appealing email templates. As a result, we think Mailchimp deserves a review and comparison with popular alternatives that made it to our top list.
You can check out our top list of the best email marketing services here. We’ve put a lot of research and testing to curate the best email marketing services, so you don’t have to.
Mailchimp: The Good and the Bad
Mailchimp succeeds in some areas but falls short in others. We’ll take a quick look at what we like about the service and what could be improved.
Excellent Email Templates: Mailchimp offers some of the most visually appealing email templates you could hope for. You can start with Mailchimp’s pre-designed templates, which you can customize for your purposes. Alternatively, you can go with the platform’s themes which require little more than adding your text and firing off the emails.
Mailchimp is undoubtedly a top choice if you’re trying to present a professional image. The platform also supports various email types, including autoresponders, classic newsletters, and transactional emails. Finally, the platform has a decent A/B testing feature, so you can figure out which emails work best.
Ease of Use: Mailchimp is one of the best entry-level email marketing platforms. It’s a great introduction to email marketing, with a very intuitive interface. In addition, the drag-and-drop email builder makes creating your first campaign a breeze.
Overall, the interface is simple to understand and navigate. You also don’t need any coding knowledge to develop your campaigns from scratch. Mailchimp also supports more advanced users. For instance, you can create a unique email template with your own HTML code using the platform’s custom builder.
AI-Powered Recommendations: The platform has advanced artificial intelligence (AI) capabilities to help you streamline your campaigns. For instance, Mailchimp can automatically detect your best-selling products or customer preferences. Next, the platform recommends the best content blocks based on these metrics.
Similarly, Mailchimp’s smart feature identifies and segments your high-value potential clients and customers who are most likely to purchase from you again. The software even provides actionable suggestions to improve your campaign performance based on billions of related data points.
Advanced Reporting: Mailchimp beats the competition with its robust reporting feature. You get a simple visual report dashboard to monitor your campaign’s success easily. The reports cover all the critical metrics like open rate, bounce rate, click-through rate, and unsubscribe rate in real-time.
The reporting feature also extends to your landing pages and ad performance. For instance, you can track your ads’ exact ROI, views, clicks, and acquired customers. Similarly, you can track landing page metrics like clicks, views, revenue, and list signups.
All-in-One Marketing Hub: Mailchimp has significantly increased its list of services and features following several recent acquisitions. Most notably, Mailchimp acquired Inspector 6, an AI content platform, Sawa, an automated design platform, and BigTeam, a survey platform.
These acquisitions have allowed Mailchimp to offer digital marketing features not available with a standard email marketing platform. For example, Mailchimp supports SMS marketing thanks to its merger with Chatitive, a two-way SMS platform. Other digital marketing add-ons include multi-channel campaigns, built-in CRM, custom domains and hosting services, and a website builder.
Again, Mailchimp is far from perfect. It has its flaws, just like any other email marketing service out there.
Low-Level Automation: Mailchimp offers sufficient automation for starter campaigns. The platform covers the basics, including auto-responses, automating Google remarketing ads, automated email reminders for abandoned carts, personalized product recommendations, and feedback. Again, the available automation features are good enough for your first small-scale campaign.
However, there’s a lot you cannot automate on Mailchimp. This includes critical features like automated customer segmentation or deleting people from a sequence. As a result, Mailchimp has weak automation, especially compared to top contenders like MailerLite.
Difficulty Managing Lists: Mailchimp focuses on simplicity. This approach is what makes the platform so popular. But it is also its Achilles’ heel. Specifically, managing your mailing list is difficult with Mailchimp.
Mailchimp lists are siloed. This means that you cannot manage across lists. Instead, you’ll need to create a single list to get the most out of the service. However, this approach limits how well you can target audiences given Mailchimp’s underdeveloped segmentation feature.
Doesn’t Support Affiliate Marketing: This downside isn’t a deal-breaker for most people. However, it’s worth noting that Mailchimp penalizes affiliate marketers. The platform doesn’t allow affiliate marketing under its terms of service.
Technically, Mailchimp does allow affiliate links in some instances. But which ones and how to take advantage of them is very confusing, so affiliate marketers are better off finding a different email marketing service.
Mailchimp Pricing and Options
Mailchimp offers four pricing tiers, one of which is free. The platform’s pricing is also flexible. For instance, you can pay a monthly recurring charge or opt for the pay-as-you-go plan. The latter option lets you purchase email credits as you need them.
Mailchimp Free Plan
Mailchimp offers decent features on its free plan. For example, the monthly email send limit is capped at 10,000 emails. There’s also a daily limit of 2,000 emails on the free plan. Similarly, your contact list is limited to 2,000 contacts in this tier.
Additionally, you get decent features considering you aren’t paying a dime. These include
- Built-in marketing CRM
- Mailchimp domain
- Website builder
- Creative assistant
- Forms and landing pages
For example, MailerLite lets you send up to 12,000 emails per month for free. However, you’re limited to 1,000 subscribers compared to Mailchimp’s 2,000 contacts. AWeber limits you to only 500 contacts on its free plan.
Mailchimp Essentials Plan
The next step up is the Essential plan. It costs $11 per month for 500 contacts. However, you can store up to 50,000 contacts, but this increases your monthly price. Your monthly send limit is 10x your maximum contact count. You also unlock more features in this tier, including:
- Email and landing pages templates
- Custom branding
- Customer journey builder
- A/B testing
- 24/7 email and chat support
MailerLite has a slightly cheaper Growing Business plan costing $9 per month. Here, you’ll get unlimited monthly emails, dynamic emails, selling digital products, unlimited websites and blogs, and auto resend campaigns.
Mailchimp’s Essential plan isn’t terrible. But, you can get a better deal elsewhere, and with even more features thrown in.
The contact count is also worth mentioning. This refers to the number of individual members who can receive or view your emails. Unfortunately, non-subscribed and unsubscribed contacts also make up for this count, which makes this pricing structure a bit disingenuous—you’ll be paying for your inactive contacts unless you clean up your contact list, which is not clearly stated.
Mailchimp Standard Plan
The standard plan lets you store up to 100,000 contacts. However, the base price of $17 per month only applies to up to 500 contacts. The price goes up as you increase your contact count. For example, the plan will cost you $155 per month for 10,000 contacts.
However, Mailchimp has a price calculator so you know exactly what you’ll be paying for your estimated number of contacts. The Standard plan also comes with extra features, including:
- Customer journey builder
- Behavioral targeting
- Send time optimization
- Dynamic content
- Custom templates
It’s a fair price compared to the going market rate. However, your spending can get out of hand if you don’t keep an eye on your inactive contacts.
Mailchimp Premium Plan
The Premium plan starts at $299 per month. Your send limit goes up to 15x the plan’s contact limit of 10,000 contacts. However, you can store up to 20,000 contacts. You also get more advanced features, including:
- Advanced segmentation
- Unlimited seats & role-based access
- Comparative reporting
- Multivariate testing
- Prone & priority support
Overall, Mailchimp is reasonably priced. Still, the pricing structure can be a little difficult to understand. The price also rises dramatically as you scale your marketing campaign. AWeber might be a better choice for large agencies with complex marketing campaigns. It is cheaper and offers more robust features that an agency requires.
Now let’s look at what Mailchimp offers compared to its main competitors.
Mailchimp Audience Management
Mailchimp offers a slew of audience management features. Some of these are run-of-the-mill features. However, others provide exceptional value to your email marketing efforts. Some of Mailchimp’s audience management features include:
- Signup forms
- Built-in customer relationship management (CRM)
- Behavioral targeting
- Predicted demographics
- Tags and contact profiles
Mailchimp’s best feature in this category is the built-in CRM. It’s available in all tiers, including the free plan. Competitors like MailerLite let you integrate with your favorite CRM. However, Mailchimp comes with this functionality out-of-the-box.
The built-in CRM includes useful capabilities like connecting your customer data to ready-made segments, filtering your audiences with custom segments, a unified audience dashboard, and automated messages.
Mailchimp also has a useful behavioral targeting feature available with the Standard and Premium plans. This feature helps to improve the platform’s lackluster segmentation feature. Here, you can use your audience’s behavioral data that the platform collects to segment your audience accurately.
For instance, you can send special offers to people who visit your landing page and send reminders for abandoned carts. Furthermore, the predicted demographics is by all accounts an advanced feature. The platform uses data science to predict demographic variables, such as your client’s age and gender.
You can also use this predictive data to further segment your audiences. These are great features. But, they don’t take away from the siloed, list-based structure. It is still difficult to manage contacts across lists.
Mailchimp Creative Tools
Mailchimp offers everything you need to build your email marketing campaign from scratch. The platforms’ creative tools feature-set is geared towards simplicity. These features include:
- Content studio
- Dynamic content
- Creative assistant
- Subject line helper
- Campaign templates
Now, Mailchimp isn’t the perfect platform for people who value granular customizations. For example, importing contact data for large lists can be cumbersome. The customization options are also limited to what the templates offer, and you’ll need to stick to the template frame.
However, it’s hard to beat Mailchimp’s simplicity. As a result, it is the perfect tool for creating your first-ever email marketing campaign. For example, the subject line helper gives you real-time feedback for crucial criteria like word count, character count, and punctuation.
Similarly, the AI-powered creative assistant automatically creates and resizes your designs based on your brand’s data. Alternatively, Mailchimp offers the option to import your custom HTML templates. It’s a great option for people with HTML coding knowledge.
In short, Mailchimp isn’t perfect for intermediate designers. The standard templates may be too simple and rigid, while creating one from scratch using Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) may be too complex. However, beginners and experienced admins or developers will feel right at home creating the ideal campaign using Mailchimp.
Mailchimp Marketing Automation
Automation helps reduce your workload. You can automate repetitive tasks and focus on your core marketing functions. Unfortunately, Mailchimp is far from exceptional in this regard. You only get basic automation features like:
- Customer journeys
- Send time optimization
- Transactional emails
These basic automation features are handy for unsophisticated users. For instance, Mailchimp can automatically send emails at the best time based on your account’s engagement data. However, more sophisticated users may find the features limiting.
Mailchimp Insights & Analytics
Insights and analytics are invaluable for tracking your campaign performance. Mailchimp has a decent analytics tool with a unified dashboard for all your audiences. You also get:
- Smart recommendations
- A/B testing
Again, there are handy analytics tools here. For example, the A/B testing feature lets you compare emails to figure out your best-performing ones. You can also compare various metrics like subject lines, from names, content, and send times. However, you can only test up to 3 variations, limiting for advanced marketers and large agencies.
The intelligent recommendations feature is also noteworthy. You’ll get personalized suggestions such as how to optimize your imagery, copy, and layout to boost engagement. It is a handy feature for quickly boosting the performance of your first campaign.
Albeit helpful, Mailchimp’s insight and analytics features are pretty basic. You can immediately tell that they are designed for simplicity. Large agencies with advanced and complex campaigns may prefer a different tool like AWeber or MailerLite.
Mailchimp is an excellent choice for beginner marketers. The platform holds your hand throughout the process of creating your first email marketing campaign. You also won’t need a separate web design and domain service for your ecommerce website. The free plan is also perfect for a small-scale trial campaign.
However, Mailchimp isn’t as robust as competitors like Constant Contact, MailerLite, and AWeber. These latter choices are better suited for advanced marketers and agencies. Mailchimp pricing can also get out of hand as you scale your campaign. The alternatives we mentioned offer a better deal, all things considered.