So how does one of the web’s most popular email marketing services fare when it goes head-to-head with a service that bills itself as “the content creator’s email marketing software”? While it’s true that there are fervent fans on both sides of the debate, the truth is that although MailChimp vs ConvertKit comparisons may look similar on the surface, if you dig a ittle deeper, you’ll find out that there are quite a few differences, and those differences are crucial if you want to truly excel with email marketing.
In this detailed MailcChimp vs ConvertKit comparison, we’ll take a detailed look at what each platform does well, as well as where they can improve, so that you can decide with confidence.
If you’re only looking for a specific comparison of a certain feature, just click the table of contents below to go right to it.
If you want to know which is cheaper, MailChimp vs ConvertKit, MailChimp is the leader here. For their service, you’ll pay $49.99/month for up to 5,000 contacts compared to ConvertKit’s $79 for the same number of contacts and other features. However, as with every comparison, don’t let price be your only deciding factor. There are several other points you’ll want to keep in mind as you make your MailChimp vs ConvertKit comparison.
According to the latest email deliverability report, of the top 19 leading email marketing providers, ConvertKit (#12) scored above MailChimp (#14), but both still scored below our persona favorite, GetResponse.
This report is continually updated every month with the latest information, so if making sure that the emails you send end up in the user’s inbox as they should, this is an important factor to consider as you evaluate MailChimp vs ConvertKit.
Ease of Use
Both MailChimp and ConvertKit offer interfaces that are intuitive and easy to use, however their ease of use differs in a few surprising ways. For one, MailChimp allows you to drag and drop different elements in order to design your email. Keep in mind that as far as undoing any changes you’ve made, this feature only owrks with text.
Conversely, ConvertKit requires you to specify sender details first and then moves on to the email builder. There aren’t any drag-and-drop elements so generally you’re limited to simply adding images and adding and formatting your text. This might seem more restrictive, but this approach allows you to have greater control over making sure that your emails load and appear in a uniform way no matter what email program or system is rendering them.
If things like mobile-responsive email designs are important to you (and they should be), then having a more rigid framework to work in might be the better option. It depends entirely on your specific needs.
ConvertKit does the concept of lists a bit differently than you might be used to. Whenever you upload contacts, they all go into the same “pool” but you can assign them to a certain form, sequence or tag in order to organize them etter. You can also create segments of users no matter which form, sequence or tag they belong to.
MailChimp on the other hand, lets you create lists and keep your contacts separate from one another. This is helpful in cases where you have different websites or different types of lists (for example, a list for people who opted in to receive a free report vs. those who have upgraded to a paid membership). Just know that MailChimp charges you per contact so even if you have one contact across both lists, that counts as two. It may seem like you have more options with MailChimp, but you have to be careful not to “muddy the waters” with too many different lists or else the result can become cumbersome and confusing, not to mention expensive.
In short, ConvertKit’s simpler, more streamlined and more efficient contact management provides a much simpler way to streamline your contact management without having to deal with the extra tedious layer of list management on top of that. Same principle, better execution.
Both MailChimp vs ConvertKit differ significantly in terms of how they approach design. The one you choose will likely depend heavily on your email marketing goals.
MailChimp has over 100 email design templates across many different industries and themes. You can create stunning email newsletters, announcements and more using their templates as a starting point. Can you use your own template with MailChimp? Yes, but only if you have the Standard ($14.99/month) or Premium ($299/month) options.
MailChimp is also in the process of renovating their email builder, so as of this writing (February 2021), you can use their new, much more efficient and user friendly email builder only for emails versus having to use the classic builder (a clunkier interface) for broadcasts, newsletters and the like.
ConvertKit, on the other hand, has three design templates. Why only three? Because their own tests have shown that people prever minimal graphics in their emails and that plain-text tends to perform better than design-heavy messages. You can also bring in your own template design if you’d like.
As someone who is very much on the side of implementing things that lead to conversions over what “looks pretty”, I’ll have to side with ConvertKit in this case. Although it seems nice to have access to hundreds of design templates, the fact is, people don’t care much about newsletter design and less so if they’re browsing on mobile.
Both email marketing software programs offer the ability to create landing pages, but as you might expect in a MailChimp vs ConvertKit compariso, they both adhere to the same philosophies as with email design, meaning that MailChimp gives you a handful of templates (8 of them) and some blank options you can customize, and ConverKit gives you four.
MailChimp lets you design landing pages the same way you design forms, by dragging and dropping different “blocks” to create the page. Thankfully, the landing page designer is a lot more intuitive than MailChimp’s form designer. You can host your landing pages with MailChimp, and you’ll get reports on things like the number of visitors, clicks, conversions and subscribes, but you’ll need to pay $99/year for the “privilege” to host these landing pages with your own domain name.
ConvertKit has maintained their simple design perspective with landing pages too, so you can just as easily drag and drop to create landing pages using one of four templates as a starting point. There aren’t many options availale to make changes to the design, so if you want to do anything more advanced than changing colors or adding CSS, you’re out of luck. One bonus, however, is that you can host these landing pages on your own domain without paying extra.
Although ConvertKit has more limited options in terms of landing page building, the ability to host it on your own server without paying exorbitant fees is a definite bonus.
Here, it really feels like MailChimp is having to play catch up. That’s because marketing automation is one of the major features that sets ConvertKit ahead of the pack. Through their Visual Automations, you’re given a sort of work-flow editor where you can choose how someone enters the sequence (for example, signing up for a free newsletter). Then, you can click and drag “steps” based on certain conditions, actions they take, or other events.
To illustrate what this means, if you were sending a gardening newsletter, you could set up an automation that if the user subscribed in the spring, (condition), they’d get planting tips for spring. If the user clicked on a link, it could take them to a page on when to plant based on their geographic area (action). Or if you wanted to follow-up their subscription by announcing a sale on all vegetable seeds for the next week, that would be considered an event.
In addition, based on whatever actions the user takes, you can then have the system add them to other sequences. For example, if they placed an order for vegetable seeds based on your sales announcement, you could subscribe them to a list for the best tips for protecting vegetable gardens from pests and rodets.
In short, everything in ConvertKit is run and managed using tags. Once you get the hang of using tags to segment users, you can then direct what happens behind the scenes as they interact with your emails.
MailChimp is trying hard to catch-up in this regard, with its new Customer Journeys builder. It’s still fairly limited in terms of the automations it can do. They’re taking a page out of ConvertKit’s book by making workflows drag-and-drop simple, but much of the automations available are centered around e-commerce, which requires you to connect your store to MailChimp.
You’re also limited in terms of the kinds of customer journeys you can build in MailChimp based on the pricing package you have, whereas ConvertKit gives you access to all the tools right from the start. You can learn more about how marketing automation works in ConvertKit by watching their official video below:
This is one area where ConvertKit is the one playing catch-up. That’s because although they do offer basic reporting, for a site that focuses on conversion optimization, the reports leave a lot to be desired. Open rates, click rates, unsubscribes, links clicked. Period. You don’t get any detailed, granular information that could help you improve, like heatmaps, geographic data or even bounce rates.
MailChimp gives you everything you could want in a report, and even things you may not have thought you wanted (but once you see them, couldn’t possibly live without). You get the basic opens, clicks, subscribes and bounces but also things like:
- Hourly performance
- Social statistics
- Numer of opens y location
- Performance by domain
- Number of e-commerce sales
- Click maps
And you can click on any one of the reporting topics for a deep-dive. You can also see how your campaigns compare against the industry average.
Winner: MailChimp, by far
Third Party Integration
Among MailChimp vs ConvertKit, who has the most integrations? MailChimp and ConvertKit offer a great number of them and both let developers have access to their APIs for more thorough integration. As of this writing, ConvertKit has nearly 90 different integrations with well-known sites and services including WordPress, Shopify and even Zapier, which in turn connects to several other apps.
The downside is that ConvertKit doesn’t really integrate with well-known CRMs like Salesforce, Zoho or HubSpot. Considering that this tool is all about marketing to artists and bloggers, it’s rather surprising.
It may look like 90 integrations plus the ability to extend that numer even more through Zapier is a LOT of integrations, but MailChimp has nearly double that number. But there’s one big integration missing from MailChimp, and that’s well-known e-commerce store Shopify.
Why? You can read all about their nasty breakup here. but in short, MailChimp won’t sync customer data with Shopify, which means if a user unsubscribed via the Shopify app for example, any other service that uses that same data also has to keep that informaiton in sync. It seems like a common-sense practice, since you wouldn’t want to keep emailing customers that have opted out (not only is it spamming, but in some places it’s illegal). MailChimp refused to allow this to happen, so Shopify understandably kicked them to the curb over it.
However, with that being said, having the freedom to integrate more apps is better than less, which is why it’s hard to beat MailChimp at this, (unless you also have a Shopify store and if you do, we recommend GetResponse), so with that being said, this round goes to the Chimp.
Both options for support when it comes to MailChimp vs ConvertKit are pretty robust. You can contact both email marketing services via email or live chat. Both services also offer very thorough knowledge bases and video and walkthrough tutorials. MailChimp does offer live chat and email support for the first 30 days of its free plan, whereas ConvertKit has no limits, but overall both services are fairly tied in this regard.
Which is Better, MailChimp or ConvertKit?
The real answer to which is better, MailChimp or ConvertKit is that MailChimp is better if you need more freedom with your app integrations, more design flexibility, detailed reporting or you’re concerned about price above all else. ConvertKit is better if you want easier marketing automation, simpler design, access to all the features on one plan and streamlined list management.
To be fair, MailChimp is trying to attract anyone and everyone whereas ConvertKit has decided to focus squarely on content creators, artists, e-commerce and bloggers. Although that’s a pretty large swath of users, if that doesn’t cover you, you may find that MailChimp is a more well-rounded option. Still, you can’t discount the fact that ConvertKit has poured a lot of resources into making things much more user-friendly and, well, designed to convert.
The good news is that both services offer a free plan, so you can try them both out to get a feel for how they work and then decide accordingly.