When trying to choose an email provider, it can seem quite overwhelming with all the choices we have these days.
There are loads of other providers but for the sake of this post, we’re going to look at Mailchimp [afflink] and Convertkit [afflink]. We’ll do follow up articles looking at other platforms in due course.
You will also find pricing related posts and how to posts following on from this one.
Keep coming back for updates.
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Introduction to the Competitors
I often hesitate when I hear the terms “all-in-one platform”, because, trust me, I’ve seen Companies trying to be an “all-in-one” solution and they fail dismally.
I don’t know about you, but I prefer businesses that specialize, not generalize.
With that said, let’s dive in and have a look at both service providers.
What Makes A Good Email Service Provider?
A good email service provider is one that’s
- Secure & Protects my privacy
- Always improving
- Always available
- Simple to use
- Ready to guide and recommend the next steps you should take if you’re not sure.
The biggest frustration for small business owners is having to spend hours upon hours trying to learn how to use a new tool or service.
Once you’ve learnt how to navigate the platform, how do you make all the pieces work together?
You should be asking yourself quite a few questions before you settle with a provider, because, let’s face it, it will be a long term commitment.
What should you consider? –
- Is there support when you need it?
- Can you get someone to teach you?
- Are there people who will do the work for you?
- Is there self-service/on demand education?
- Are there enough features?
- Is the pricing reasonable?
- Can I try before I Buy?
- Is there a Guarantee?
- What’s the refund policy?
- What value do I get for my Money?
You need to think about how the tool will fit into your daily business and serve you. You shouldn’t be fiddling with tech, when you should be running your business.
With that out the way, let’s dive into the comparison.
Mailchimp Vs Convertkit: Which is best for small business?
Both platforms have thousands of users and obviously they’ve built up some pretty loyal customers, so it depends on what you call “better”
To see what might be better about each platform, we need to dive in and have a look at what each of them offers.
Let’s take a look shall we….
Both platforms offer a FREE Plan, so you can sign up and give them a try, then settle on the one you like the best.
I would suggest you read through this entire post, then make your own choice.
Hopefully you’ll leave here with an informed decision.
- Landing Pages
Ok, we now have a pretty good idea of what we’re looking for.
Let’s make a list of our priorities. The most important being at the top and descending towards least important.
- Privacy & Security
- Guarantees and Refunds
Now that we have some priorities outlined, let’s get started.
Which is simplest to use – Mailchimp or Convertkit?
Let’s keep moving!
When it comes to creating emails in Mailchimp, you’ll find it is easy to use and has a simple, clean, and uncluttered interface.
It’s easy to navigate and they guide and recommend steps along the way.
It’s basically a step by step email builder, you just drag blocks onto the template you select, change some details and you’ll have a clean, uncluttered email that looks beautiful, no matter what device it’s viewed upon.
You have the option to just get into design, or select recipients and sender details first.
You’ll find familiar elements:
- Text blocks
- Image placeholders
- Column blocks
- Title Elements
Simple drag the element you want onto your template. [psst: there’s more email template options in Mailchimp[afflink]
While editing, if you make a mistake, you can always undo, and start over. If you still don’t like the design after you’re done, delete it and start over.
ConvertKit’s[afflink] email creation function is also easy to navigate once you’ve found it under “broadcasts”.
Before you can begin editing any of the limited number of templates, you first need to specify the audience that will receive your emails and enter your sender details.
Convertkit’s [afflink]email editor has less options. There are no elements to drag and drop onto the template, you can only use what’s in the template, change text size, fonts and colors.
You can also change out images, this is all due to the fact that Convertkit’s[afflink] templates are mostly text based.
There’s no undo function that you find in Mailchimp[afflink]. It’s simple, but I would always prefer flexibility and options.
Which is simplest: Judging for utter simplicity, Convertkit wins.
Which is Best for Design Flexibility – Convertkit or Mailchimp?
When it comes to design, I like to have multiple options so that I can pick a template that will suit a specific situation or event. I’m sure you feel the same….
Mailchimp[afflink] has multiples of options to choose from, just to mention a few, there are:
- eCommerce templates
- Event invites
- Holiday themed templates
- Newsletter templates
- Multiple Landing Page Templates
You’ll also find an assortment of blank templates in different formats to choose from.
Convertkit[afflink] only has 3 templates types to choose from- text, classic and modern. (Text based templates)
I do understand their reasoning for this. Limited options help you get the ball rolling, faster…..
Simplicity is what Convertkit is going for, not huge varieties that will cause choice paralysis.
Which offers the most design flexibility: No arguments here – Mailchimp takes this by a mile
Who does grouping and segmentation better – Mailchimp or Convertkit?
There are many opinions around this topic, but my take on it is this – I prefer proper organization over chaos, no matter how confusing it may seem at the start.
Mailchimp[afflink] uses Tags, Groups, Segments and Lists to help you organize your database of contacts.
Tags allow you to identify and tag a new visitor from the first point of contact, so that you know where, how and why they got into your database.
Groups allow you to collect specific people by, location, gender, age etc.
Segments allow you to categorize people by interest, purchase history, popularity, etc.
Lists allow you to create business specific separation, for instance, if you serve B2C and B2B customers, you could have separate lists, because each type of customer will be treated differently.
Mailchimp[afflink] has recently introduced a visual builder, kind of like a mindmap tool, that allows you to visually create your customer path.
This really helps prevent confusion, but if you understand how to use the 4 elements – tags, groups, segments and lists, I don’t see how it can be confusing.
Besides, they have a massive resource where you can get answers to any of your questions.
ConvertKit[afflink] doesn’t have lists. Whenever you upload contacts, they all go to the same database.
You do however have the option to assign contacts to a form, sequence or tag.
You can segment your contacts by whatever characteristic you assign.
Which is better for Segmentation: With the right tools and training at your disposal, plus a wealth of knowledge to help, I’ll go with Mailchimp
Who Makes Automation Easier – Convertkit or Mailchimp?
Mailchimp[afflink] has a bunch of ready-made automations for you to choose from, then there’s the visual sequence builder where you link actions to each step of the buyer journey.
Some of the ready-made automations include:
- A welcome series
- Cart Abandonment Emails
- Product Recommendations
- Product retargeting emails
- Customer re-engagement
These are a few of the ready to go sequences within mailchimp. Don’t forget, they have a visual flow builder too.
It makes it easy to plot step by step how a customer will be served at each step of their interaction with your business and plan how to follow up and nurture them into customers.
You can also plan to entice them to come back to your business if they don’t buy the first time round
Convertkit[afflink] recently introduced a visual automation feature as well.
They use sequences for you to start creating an automation. This allows you to build your own set of mails in whatever order you desire.
You can do all of your creation and editing all at once in their automations feature, which is quite a time saver.
Convertkit’s[afflink] automation feature allows you to assign tags, define the path a visitor takes to enter a sequence (form, landing page, purchase, etc). Within the builder, you’re also presented with options to add steps and multiple sequences into a single automation.
You can also setup universal automation rules that allow you to govern the addition to or removal of tags or add to or remove people from lists or groups based upon their actions.
If you want an automation sequence in Convertkit, you need to build it.
Who makes automation easiest: Although Convertkit’s[afflink] automation builder may be simpler to use, we’ll give it to Mailchimp again.
They give you a range of ready-made automations and you can also use their visual automations feature to create your own, plus, there’s loads of training available if you get stuck.
Who Provides Simpler Better Form Design – Mailchimp or ConvertKit?
There’s no doubt, forms are the most important element of any email service and it’s what gets people into your list.
Mailchimp[afflink] provides very clean looking subscription forms. To me, simplicity and clean design without overwhelming and distracting design elements wins.
Mailchimp has a couple of form designs to choose from and they’re very easy to edit and complete.
Once again, simple drag and drop elements can easily be added to the forms and altered any way you see fit.
There are numerous form templates and they allow for quick, and easy setup, rearrange the layout and get moving.
They have embedded forms and popups if you need them. Just be careful with popups, they can be totally annoying if used incorrectly. (The best type of popup – is the Exit popup)
Convertkit’s[afflink] form editor is available through the visual editor.
Here you can add drop-down or checkbox field values if you want them in your forms. (They integrate seamlessly into the list management system)
The form editor allows you to also choose embed, popup or slide-in. It’s easy to adjust colors, images and add custom CSS.
A smart feature is that it allows you to hide the form from returning visitors to prevent duplicate signups.
Who provides simpler better form design: MailChimp[afflink] may seem a little confusing with multiple options and different design aspects depending on the type of form being created.
Convertkit[afflink] on the other hand uses one design tool and it’s easy to use, although it has less features, for simplicity and ease of use, we’ll give it to Convertkit.
Who provides more landing page options – Mailchimp or Convertkit?
Landing pages are a vital component of any website.
It’s a single topic focused page that has one duty to perform – the click on the desired action.
Both platforms provide the ability to create landing pages, so let’s see who provides more options and flexibility.
Mailchimp[afflink]has about 8 different design style landing pages as well as a blank template you can style any way you like.
Once again, you use drag and drop simplicity to move and edit elements on the landing pages.
You can create an unlimited number of them, if you want to connect these pages to your website, you will either need to buy a domain name or connect it to your own existing site.
You can obviously use the Mailchimp domain for free.
There’s detailed reporting so that you can track clicks, opens, visitors, subscribes and conversions to measure your success with these pages.
ConvertKit[afflink] has 4 landing page template styles for you to choose from. The designs are nice though.
Once again, the editor for the landing pages is the same type you would use to edit forms. Not very useful.
You can also get statistics on visitors, subscribers and conversion rates.
A plus, though, is that the landing page can be hosted on your website if you’d prefer not to use the ConvertKit domain. (You will still need to do some configuration changes to make them work, just like with Mailchimp above)
Who provides more landing page options: Clearly Mailchimp has more options and it’s much easier to change the landing pages any way you see fit.
Who has better Spam Protection & Design Testing Features – Mailchimp or ConvertKit?
This will be a quick paragraph, I promise!
Mailchimp[afflink] prides itself as a design conscious email marketing platform and offers you the ability to check your designs on desktop and mobile.
You also get access to a tool called “inbox preview” which allows you to see how your emails will look in multiple email provider inboxes.
The Mailchimp Mobile app can be used to get your email pushed to the app and you can check to see how the emails will feature on mobile devices.
A missing or broken link checking feature allows you to ensure all your links are operational before you hit publish.
Mailchimp state that they have a robust security system in place to encrypt mails, but there’s no official spam protection testing feature to date.
Convertkit[afflink] is focused on simplicity and only allow you to use their preview tool to see what emails will look like for individual subscribers.
Who has better spam protection and design testing features: this one is simple, Mailchimp!
Who provides better Analytics and Reporting features – Convertkit or Mailchimp?
Data allows you to make important decisions in your business. It allow you to focus on the things that work, allowing you to grow faster and improve your business.
Any provider lacking the ability to provide detailed data, has a major problem in my opinion. If you’re thinking of buying a service, this might be the real deal-breaker right here!
MailChimp[afflink] offers a plethora of reports.
- Basic performance reports
- Hourly performance reports
- Social media statistics
- Email open rates by location
- Heat click maps
- Performance Reports by domain
- Ecommerce sales
There’s so much data provided, you can easily get overwhelmed by the sheer volume of data they give.
Not only can you track how your content is performing, you also get to compare your content against industry averages.
These Average Benchmarks include:
- Open Rates
- Click rates
- Bounce rates
- Negative feedback
Convertkit[afflink] has a lack of data, to say the least.
The only statistics you can get are open rates, click rates, unsubscribes and links clicked.
They don’t have a specific reporting section. You need to dig into individual emails or sequences to see any data.
Yes, there is a list of emails with subject lines included, but if you’ve sent the same email multiple times or to different audiences there’s no separate data.
What’s particularly annoying is that you can’t rename emails for better tracking.
That’s all – REALLY Convertkit? Really of no use.
Who provides better Analytics and Reporting Features: MailChimp[afflink] by a long, long way!
Which Provider Actually Delivers Your Emails Better – Mailchimp or Convertkit?
It’s all find and dandy writing emails, but they need to land somewhere to be read and clicked upon.
So who does a better job of getting them delivered?
Overall, I think Mailchimp is better at delivering email over the long run.
If you want even better deliverability there are three options for you to consider as they have had average deliverability rates greater than Mailchimp and Convertkit[afflink].
Go have a look, they might be right within your budget and offer what you need.
Which provider is better at delivering your emails: Mailchimp has the consistency to continuously deliver compared to Convertkit.
Who Provides the Most Integration Possibilities – Mailchimp or Convertkit?
When you start a business, you need tools. The less tools you can use, the better.
If you can integrate all of your tools into one place to streamline your workflow, it just makes it simpler to manage everything, scale and grow faster.
Both email platforms offer a number of integrations and have a robust API library for developers to utilize.
With 250+ integrations, Mailchimp[afflink] surely has everything you could ever need to integrate with.
They also integrate with Zapier, allowing you to connect with even more apps.
The surprising thing is that Convertkit[afflink] doesn’t integrate with major CRMs.
Who provides the most integration possibilities: With way more integration opportunities – MailChimp!
Who does a better job of self help and support – Mailchimp or Convertkit?
Most of the time, the answers we seek are right in front of us, but we can’t see the forest for the trees.
When it comes to education and support when we need it, sometimes we need someone to turn to for help.
Mailchimp[afflink] provides an extensive library of how to articles, videos, slides and support options during working hours.
I’ve found it hard, not to find an answer to any problem I’ve encountered and have never had to reach out for a support call or ticket.
I am kind of a DIY guy, maybe it’s just me, I don’t know. I think most people would rather figure things out on their own before they need to ask for help.
Mailchimp makes it easy to find answers with their extensive help section and knowledgebase.
Convertkit[afflink] also provides a knowledgebase, but it’s not very comprehensive. Their email and phone support option is a little easier to access though.
Who does a better job of self-help and support: it’s a tie, Mailchimp is stronger on self-help, while Convertkit makes it easier to contact them.
Who has better Pricing Compared to the Features Offered: Mailchimp or Convertkit?
Although both Mailchimp and Convertkit[afflink] offer quite a few features and services to take your marketing to the next level with automations and integrations, they’re not perfect.
Judging from the above statement, we’d expect them to have moderate pricing based on the limitations imposed by each platform, but that’s not the case.
They have a freemium pricing model.
Yes, both platforms offer a FREE Plan to get you started, but one is much more generous with what you can do.
MailChimp’s FREE Plan[afflink] allows you to use the landing page feature, automations and popups to send 12,000 emails to a limit of 2,000 subscribers every month.
ConvertKit[afflink] allows a 1,000 subscriber limit, without reports or automations included. You are however able to send unlimited emails.
Both platforms charge you for the number of subscribers you have, but Mailchimp does have the option to Pay-as-you-go.
There are cheaper alternatives to these marketing platforms if your budget is a little tight, just don’t expect much more in the form of data or features:
Who has better pricing compared to the features offered: MailChimp has lower cost plans and their FREE plan is much better than others.
Conclusion – Which is Best for Small Business – Mailchimp Vs ConvertKit?
We’ve covered quite a bit of ground with these two service providers.
Let’s be honest with ourselves, not every tool or recommendation you read will resonate with you.
You have to decide which one you will choose.
Then you need to live with the consequences, but, if you do change again later, it’s going to take time to learn another platform and you’ll need to transfer all your contacts over, etc, etc.
Before we started the comparisons we had a list of pre-requisites for finding the best email service provider between the two.
Let’s see how each platform scored against the list:
- Simplicity – Convertkit[afflink]
- Cost – Mailchimp
- Privacy & Security – Mailchimp[afflink]
- Features – Mailchimp
- Support – Tie
- Education – Mailchimp
- Guarantees and Refunds – Both Have Solid Policies
For a Small Business, you need data to make decisions. Without data you could make costly decisions, and, let’s face it, time is money.
Mailchimp is hands down the winner when it comes to data for everything that happens to your content.
Their design system is also a pleasure to work with, I mean, what can be easier than drag and drop simplicity.
Not to knock ConverKit[afflink], but they need to seriously revamp their design system.
Mailchimp’s designs may look a bit too simple at times, but simplicity actually leads to greater conversions because of clarity and lack of distractions.
Sure, it may seem a little complex to have 4 filtering features instead of 3 like ConvertKit[afflink].
But, Mailchimp knows how Business operates and does an excellent job of helping you create order in an otherwise messy contact list.
If price is the one feature that will help you decide which option to choose, MailChimp’s basic plan is for you.
ConvertKit’s[afflink] plans are a bit too steep for small businesses. If Mailchimp isn’t for you and you don’t want to try ConvertKit, you could have a look at these cheaper options:
Although both of these tools may be an excellent way for a small business to bootstrap and get started online, I don’t think they would be your first choice once your capital grows.
There are much more powerful and robust platforms out there that offer much more powerful features than these two.
If you’ve got an email platform that’s more powerful, let me know in the comments section below.
Keep coming back for updates.