ConvertKit vs MailChimp: Who Wins?

Email marketing analytics

I think it’s safe to say that, as a business owner, you want to stay on top of all the cutting-edge resources that can help you grow your business. One of the most important resources you can utilize is an email marketing program. Here we’re going to go over two of the best email marketing programs in the industry: ConvertKit and MailChimp.

There are hundreds of mail services out there and finding the one suitable for your business can be a daunting task. What makes this task even more overwhelming is that many of the online resources you use will recommend various mail services while there’s an 80% chance that the authors never actually tried the service. So I am going to compare two of the most popular and arguably the best email services for the modern entrepreneur.

You don’t want to get left behind as a business owner!

If you own a business in 2017, have a website, and aren't committed to email marketing, I can guarantee that you'll be outpaced by your competition. Why? Well, it's mainly due to the fact that your competitors are receiving a return of investment (ROI) from email marketing that makes any ROI you may have look like child's play. According to the Direct Marketing Association (statistic current as of 2015), the average ROI for email marketing is 4,300%. That's about a return of $44 for every dollar spent! Ask yourself this important question: are any of the marketing efforts you're currently engaged in bringing home the bacon at a 4,300% rate? If not, then why not jump on the email marketing bandwagon? It's one of the few bandwagons people won't think you're a flake for jumping on.

So what can you expect from this review?

1.     We are going to introduce both mail services, just an overview.

2.     We will explain each of the unique and interesting features of both.

3.     We will also be comparing the pricing of both mail services.

4.     Finally, we will put our results together and recommend the one mail service that will suit your business needs.

Email Marketing 101

But first, what exactly is email marketing? Here's a simple answer: email marketing is attempting to increase sales conversion and product awareness through the disbursement of specifically-crafted emails to subscribers. If you’re looking for a more in-depth overview, the folks at Entrepreneur and CopyBlogger are very helpful.

The How?

Email marketing in 2017 sounds simple, right? The formula has to be nothing more than: write email, send, and then, boom, sales start flowing in! Well, actually email marketing can be a pain in the you know what. The initial conundrum you'll face is figuring out where you'll get your email subscribers from. Then you'll need to know where you'll store those email addresses. After that, you'll have to have a system for sending emails to every single subscriber. Frankly, there are quite a few steps you need to juggle all at once. Although it seems daunting, there's great news for you! Automation tools exist!

Email Marketing Software

There are quite a few email marketing tools out there that can make everything less stressful through automation and other helpful features. But do you necessarily need a hundred options? One great misguided belief today is you need a lot of resources in order to succeed. The reality is that too many can overwhelm you to the point where you want to give up on whatever you're doing. So instead of you having to spend hours upon hours researching email marketing software, I created this handy guide here reviewing two quality email marketing software options: ConvertKit and MailChimp! Both are incredible tools that come with pros and cons. Neither of them are better than the other; you will just have to weigh their options and see which one suits your needs the best.

MailChimp

Mailchimp Email Marketing Software

MailChimp is a stronghold in the mail service. Founded in 2001, MailChimp is an industry-leading email marketing company that sends a reported 10 billion emails each month on behalf of its users. It boasts of 15 million subscribers, with their clientele ranging from major corporations to small e-commerce sites. Its features include the ability to send out custom emails, automated messages, and targeted campaigns. Their thorough reporting procedure helps you analyze if your marketing is achieving its intended goal.


Strengths of MailChimp

Easy to use and set up in almost no time -- This is one feature that makes this mail service a timeless option. The process for basic setting up in MailChimp takes a few short steps. Within few minutes of creating your list and entering the details and few other delivery preferences, you are good to go.

Offers a Forever Free plan -- This is definitely the best feature of MailChimp. The plan is great for small businesses with less than 2000 subscribers. With this plan, you can send up to 12,000 per month! This kind of “generous” feature is absent on ConvertKit, in fact it has none.

Intuitive email template builder -- If e-commerce is your specialty, you will find that MailChimp will almost suit your needs perfectly. Their recently improved template builder enables you to easily use images, overlays of text and other essentials that will make your products exceptionally appealing. You can also import your own email templates for use on MailChimp.

Provides a basic analysis of sent emails and campaigns -- This feature is known as the conversion rate analytics. With this feature on MailChimp, you can determine the performance of individual pages without using Google analytics or other third party apps. This information is displayed as percentages on the MailChimp main dashboard.

Easily run Facebook ads on your email list – This feature is integrated on MailChimp. Of course it can be done on ConvertKit but not as easily as in MailChimp, plus it would require a third party application or additional coding. This facebook ad feature comes in handy when you want to drive traffic to your website or blog.

Send email campaigns from your smartphone – This is where other email service providers have gone wrong with unusable or underdeveloped mobile apps. MailChimp on the other hand has 3 useful mobile apps that make email campaigns easy. With MailChimp mobile you can view your main dashboard stats easily determine the performances of your campaigns. With MailChimp snap, you can send campaigns easily. With MailChimp subscriber (for iPad), you can add individual emails to specified lists. These features are indeed invaluable for today’s entrepreneur.

Training videos and tutorials – MailChimp offers numerous tutorial videos that shows the features of their services, how to utilize them, and how they can be of benefit you and your business.


Mailchimp’s Weaknesses

Repeated subscription -- A single email address can be repeatedly subscribed with, thereby costing you money or giving you false number of subscribers. This issue is a direct result of the “list based” system which MailChimp operate. This system is outdated and awkward. For example if you have a single subscriber by name John on multiple lists, but you want to send a broadcast email to all your individual subscribers. You would expect that there would be a way to John a single copy of the broadcast email; this is not possible with MailChimp. You have to manually clean every list (because not all your subscribers will be on one list). Else, multiple copies of the email will be sent to john, charges will be made per mail sent, and this will be added to your monthly subscription charge. So what if you have hundreds of Johns’ subscribing to multiple lists? You get the picture! ConvertKit on the other hand operate on a “tag based” system that eliminates this issue.

Untidy automation process -- The automation process of building an email with MailChimp is anything but intuitive and requires a lot of clarification. In fact, you can refer to it as unsatisfactory. For example, setting up an otherwise simple email automation sequence based on a specific date takes several long and unnecessary steps like

-       Creating a merge field

-       Export contacts so that it can be updated (MailChimp does not have bulk update)

-       Importing updated contacts

-       Composing and sending the email

The entire process could take more than an hour depending on the population of your contact list.

Other automation processes also present similar difficulties, unlike ConvertKit which takes automation to whole new and innovative level.

Also it is not possible to an email to a “mix and match” group of subscribers on different lists.

Accounts can easily be suspended – MailChimp email service does not support affiliate marketing. If you include affiliate links from your site in your emails, chances are your active account with MailChimp will get suspended without warning (they reserve the right to take this action). Your valuable lists of email contact will also be lost if you don’t have a back up.

Your active account can also be suspended because of repeated spam complaints from your subscribers. But spam control isn’t very easy with MailChimp’s list based system. You could unintentionally “spam” your subscribers since a single user can be on multiple lists.

Customer support – MailChimp’s customer support only operates on working days within working hours. So basically you lack customer support on weekends. This is a factor to consider based on your kind of business.

ConvertKit, in contrast, places priority on customer support. The support team is always available, and the provide helpful and faster responses.

For a more comprehensive overview of MailChimp features, you can go the actual MailChimp site. Now let's move onto talking about ConvertKit!


ConvertKit

Compared to MailChimp, ConvertKit is a “newbie” in mail services, but internet reviews will often tell you that ConvertKit is superior to MailChimp. However, as was said before, each email marketing system has its advantage. You as a business owner need to make a personal decision as to which one will serve your needs better. To help simplify that decision, the advantages of ConvertKit are listed below.


Strengths of ConvertKit

More advanced Template system MailChimp – With ConvertKit you have full control over email templates. Although creating email templates on ConvertKit requires a good knowledge of html, it offers you the freedom to create essentially any kind of template design you want. But if you have no experience with html, there is a third party application called “INK” that makes the process of creating custom templates easy and graphical.

Sophisticated analytics system – ConvertKit’s analytics are probably the most detailed of any email marketing tool available today. It provides stats for every form, landing page, and email broadcast sequences. Having detailed statistics is an incredibly important piece of the sales conversion puzzle. For example, with this feature you can easily determine individual subscribers that didn’t open the email broadcast you sent, and with a single click, you can resend the email to those subscribers! This feature ensures your emails are seen by a larger audience.

Streamlined automation features – ConvertKit places more emphasis on market automation than Mailchimp does. Market automation simply put, is a feature that allows emails to be sent to subscribers based on their individual actions when they receive an email from you. It can perform functions such adding them to a new list based on links they clicked, unsubscribing the users if they don’t open your emails after a given length of time, and other tedious tasks. ConvertKit’s automation in comparison with other email service providers is superior and easy to figure out.

Seamless platform integration – ConvertKit provides seamless integration with over 35 platforms including Shopify, WordPress, WooCommerce, Squarespace, Teachable, etc.

Practical automation blueprints – You are not left entirely by yourself when trying to figure out workings of the automation process in ConvertKit. This feature includes helpful blueprints of all the automation processes, so that it becomes a step by step process.

Landing pages on the go – ConvertKit’s landing page builder is exceptionally easy to use and offers a variety of templates to choose from. A particularly useful landing page building template is the one used for giving out eBooks.

 ConvertKit’s “Courses” -- It is an easy-to-use scheduling system for sending out a series of emails to your subscribers. Simply put, It enables you to create content based on the needs of your readers when they reply to your emails. This builds trust and a strong relationship between you and your subscribers.


Weaknesses of ConvertKit

ConvertKit does not offer any free plan like MailChimp. But the paid plans are really affordable compared to the quality of services they render.

The landing page builder options are not comprehensive; they are rudimentary at best.

Does not provide fancy formatting options for emails. ConvertKit's philosophy is that keeping emails short and sweet is what drives sales traffic. So, very little attention is paid to aesthetics.

Email automation cannot be created based on time zones. This make it difficult to properly estimate deadlines for promotions offered through emails.

I hope this rundown of ConvertKit has been helpful! If you want a more detailed overview of ConvertKit features, take a look here.


Convertkit Pricing

As previously mentioned, MailChimp has a free for life plan for users with less than 2,000 subscribers and allows a total of 12,000 messages to be sent each month.  This free plan on MailChimp however has very limited functionality compared to the paid plans.

ConvertKit on the other hand does not offer any free plan for subscribers. But the prices are competitively matched with other email services providers.

The price comparison in USD of both email service providers as of February 2017 shown below:

  • 0–500 subscribers:
    • Free plan on MailChimp
    • $10 for MailChimp
    • $29 for ConvertKit
  • 501–1,000 subscribers:
    • Free plan on MailChimp
    • $15 for MailChimp
    • $29 for ConvertKit
  • 1,001–1,500 subscribers:
    • Free plan on MailChimp
    • $20 for MailChimp
    • $49 for ConvertKit
  • 1,501–2,000 subscribers:
    • Free plan on MailChimp
    • $25 for MailChimp
    • $49 for ConvertKit
  • For up to 5,000 subscribers:
    • $35 - $50 for MailChimp
    • $49 - $79 for ConvertKit
  • Forup to 10,000 subscribers:
    • $75 for MailChimp
    • $99 - $119 for ConvertKit
  • For up to 25,000 subscribers:
    • $80 - $150 for MailChimp
    • $149 - $199 for ConvertKit

More price specification can be found on the official website of both email services.

From the price list above it is easy to see that MailChimp offers cheaper plans. However, ConvertKit, with their extensive features, offers more bang for the buck,

Final Thoughts

Since there are hundreds articles on the internet comparing the services of on email marketing software, I decided to keep this one short and straight to the point. The review presented here is of firsthand experience. Honestly, though, the ultimate way for you to decide which service to use is by trying them out yourself.

MailChimp may be a perfect email service to start off with, since it offers free plans and more affordable paid plans. But as your business grows,so will the size of your subscription list. To meet the needs of your growing audience while reducing the hassle in sending broadcasts and automated campaigns, a switch – or rather – an upgrade is needed. ConvertKit offers innovative features for the modern business. Its tag based system guarantees perfect automation sequences and ensure no dollar is wasted on repetitive emails.

I hope this review assisted you in making your the final decision! If the one you initially pick doesn't meet your requirements, you can always switch services.


Has this email marketing service overview been helpful? If so, let me know at info@startupsgenius.com. If you have any suggestions for improvement or feel like I left something out, reach out to me, too. As always, thanks for being a reader of Startups Genius. We wish you much success in your endeavors!

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