ConvertKit vs. Mailchimp: which email marketing software is best?

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June 22, 2020

convertkit vs mailchimp

If you’re serious about growing your business, you need to get serious about finding an email marketing platform that works for you. With the right email marketing platform, you can convert more customers, build your brand and boost sales.

However, deciding where to spend your marketing budget isn’t a decision to take lightly, nor is it worth investing time or funds in a tool that you're not certain will deliver the results you need.

When researching the best email marketing tools to consider for your business, Mailchimp and ConvertKit are two of the frontrunners that should be on your list.

Here's our take on ConvertKit vs. Mailchimp to help you choose which one is the best email marketing tool for you.


When to choose ConvertKit

ConvertKit is very clear about who their email marketing tool is designed for. They ask: "Do you identify as an online creator? Are you a blogger, podcaster, Youtuber, maker, course creator, freelancer, coach, musician or photographer? Do you make digital or physical products, provide services, build software, or have ads, sponsorships, or affiliate products and market or sell those things online?"

If you can say yes to any of those, keep ConvertKit on your email marketing radar. ConvertKit's founder was a blogger and course creator who was frustrated by the email marketing tools available to him. Instead of trudging through a tool that didn’t fit, he built ConvertKit to solve his pain points and those of other creators.

1. You have a creative or digital business

ConvertKit calls itself "email marketing software for creators" and aligns everything about its brand with creative lines of work.

ConvertKit offers free multi-article "Issues", each one with a collection of case studies, advice and research to give you a glimpse of how creatives work, live and grow their business. This includes "How to Sell Online: The 8-Part Creator's Guide to Making the Sale".

 

Similarly, their blog is called "Tradecraft", dedicated to teaching everything they know to help you earn a living online.

convertkit landing pages

 

ConvertKit is a great choice if you're a creative, blogger or digital entrepreneur who wants to choose an email marketing partner that shares your ethos. Unlike Mailchimp, ConvertKit also welcomes affiliate links in its emails, which is a must-have for many bloggers.

2. You want more support

ConvertKit offers popular and very accessible customer support, including live chat and email support for customers on all plans.

This sets the email platform apart from Mailchimp , which emphasizes self-service support and offers very limited support for its free and lower-tier plans.

ConvertKit also offers peer-to-peer support and limited live chat and email during weekends.

3. You only have one list of contacts

ConvertKit only supports one list of contacts, but you can organize this thoroughly with tags and segments. These tags can group subscribers based on actions and interests, enabling you to send the most personalized campaigns possible.

When you go to set up your campaign, or "Broadcast", you can easily choose subscribers within a certain segment or location, and then add as many filters as you'd like based on tags.

convertkit broadcast


When to choose Mailchimp

Mailchimp is one of the most popular email marketing tools available – and for good reason. Its user-friendly interface makes it a good choice for people who are new to email marketing (or businesses that can’t, or don’t want to, spend a lot of time creating campaigns).

With advanced features available at a higher price point, Mailchimp is also great for experienced email marketers who want something more than just an email marketing tool.

1. You want a wider range of templates

Mailchimp offers nearly 100 robust and customizable drag-and-drop templates that allow you to easily add images, text or HTML to create your email designs.

mailchimp homepage

 

In comparison, ConvertKit’s email editor is very basic and only offers three standard templates. However, this reflects their philosophy that the best emails are clean, simple and uncluttered – which their many happy users are on board with.

2. You don't have an email marketing budget

Mailchimp's generous free plan for up to 2,000 subscribers is one of its top advantages – and the main reason it's amassed such a huge number of users. It gives very small businesses and entrepreneurs everything they need to start sending emails.

On the other hand, ConvertKit doesn't have a fully functional free plan you can immediately get started with. (Although they do have a new freemium version with unlimited forms and free subscribers if you refer your friends).

3. You want more integrations

When it comes to choosing email marketing software, it's important to consider how each tool integrates with the other technology that you are using.

Mailchimp offers more than 200 native integrations across a wide range of categories, so you'll be hard-pressed to find a tool that isn't supported. ConvertKit also offers a tonne of integrations, including all of the most popular apps, but Mailchimp is the winner on sheer volume.

Whichever tool you end up choosing, you can also connect your contact data in Mailchimp and ConvertKit two-ways with your other business tools, like your CRM and accounting system.


Head-to-head feature comparison

 

Setup

Although both platforms pride themselves on being easy to use, the proof is in the testing.

To sign up, ConvertKit offers a user-friendly step-by-step process to ask more about your current systems, website and goals, followed by a welcome video. You can then get straight into uploading your first contacts and setting up a campaign (or "Broadcast", as ConvertKit calls it).

edit-broadcast-long

 

ConvertKit offers clear navigation and a very user-friendly interface, but one small pain point is the need to specify sender details and subscribers before being able to create your email.

You can get started with a Mailchimp account with just a few clicks. Mailchimp’s interface is straightforward and uses a step-by-step approach to building your email, making it easy to create your content first and choose who to send it to later. It's also one of the most intuitive email marketing tools for editing campaign content via simple design templates and an easy drag-and-drop editor.

Audience dashboard Mailchimp (1)

 

List management

ConvertKit doesn't offer multiple lists. Instead, you have a single list of all subscribers, but this is organized by segments and tags. You can tag subscribers based on interests, activity and more. These tags can be grouped into segments to help you send the right message at the right time.

Mailchimp allows you to create lists that keep contacts separate from one another. This is ideal if you’re managing emails for different purposes or projects in the same system. However, if you want to send the same campaign to multiple lists with Mailchimp, it can get tricky to avoid duplicate contacts.

 

Templates & design

When you create a Mailchimp campaign, you can immediately choose between nearly 100 themed templates, covering everything from newsletters and ecommerce to holiday emails and promotions. They also have 14 blank templates so you can design your own email layout.

templates mailchimp

 

ConvertKit has a very different process. Before creating your first Broadcast (or campaign), you need to go to your "Email templates" settings and create a new template.

You're limited here to three basic designs, which you can easily make small customizations to, but you can't drag-and-drop modules as with Mailchimp.

templates convertkit

 

ConvertKit's approach is great for keeping things simple (their research showed that plain-text and simple emails out-performed heavily designed emails), but can seem lacking if you want more choice and complexity.

 

Forms

ConvertKit offers unlimited sign-up forms that are responsive, customizable and GDPR compliant. It's easy to create forms for "freebies" (or content upgrade or opt-in incentive in the corner of blog posts or sidebars), pop-up forms and newsletter sign-up forms.

template convertkit

 

One unique feature is the ability to create opt-in forms for different blog categories with ConvertKit, so you can let fans know when you publish more content on a similar topic to what they're reading about.

Mailchimp also offers all key types of forms, including pop-ups, sign-up forms you can embed in your website, and hosted form URLs where you can direct people to join your mailing list.

form mailchimp

 

Automation

Automation is an area where ConvertKit excels – you can tell they have invested a lot into getting this right. Their ‘Sequences’ feature allows you to easily build an automated email workflow (such as a series of welcome emails), dependent on a range of steps and criteria.

automations convertkit

 

In comparison to ConvertKit, Mailchimp's automation functionality can seem a bit outdated. However, it's simple to set up simple automated flows with their free and lower-end plans, and more advanced automations at the other end of the pricing tier.

automation emails mailchimp

 

Deliverability

When it comes to which platform is best, you need to know which one is better at actually getting your emails delivered. At the time of writing, Mailchimp has a better deliverability rate compared to ConvertKit, although this is just a snapshot of performance.

In research by EmailToolTester in February 2020, Mailchimp offered 81.6% deliverability while ConvertKit emails showed 60% deliverability. In the same research in July 2019, Mailchimp had 90.6% deliverability and ConvertKit 91.4%, showing declines by both providers, but especially ConvertKit.

 

Reporting and analytics

ConvertKit doesn't have a dedicated area for reports. Instead, it includes subscriber data on the welcome dashboard alongside average open rates, click rates and emails sent.

reporting and analytics email marketing convertkit

 

In stark contrast, Mailchimp has an endless range of reports available – from basic performance reports to hourly performance, social stats, click maps and many things in-between. You can also get a quick glimpse of industry average data to benchmark your campaigns against.

reporting and analytics email marketing mailchimp

 

Customer support

One of ConvertKit’s selling points as a Mailchimp alternative is its fantastic customer support, which offers live chat and email support to all customers, regardless of the plan they are on. ConvertKit also offers peer-to-peer support, limited live chat and email on weekends, and free migration services from your existing email service.

On the other hand, Mailchimp emphasizes self-service support and offers very limited support for its free and lower-tier plans. However, for Essentials plan and above it does offer 24/7 email and live chat support.

ConvertKitMailchimp
Email supportFor all plans: 8 AM - 8 PM ET, 5 days a week, with limited support on evenings and weekends24/7 with Essentials and above
Phone support-Only with Premium
Live chatFor all plans: 8 AM - 8 PM ET, 5 days a week, with limited support on evenings and weekends24/7 with Essentials and above
MigrationFree quick migration for all plans, free advanced migration for importing 5k+ contacts-

Pricing comparison

How do Mailchimp vs. ConvertKit compare on price?

Many ConvertKit users start with Mailchimp's free plan before switching when they reach 2,000 contacts.

To encourage users to choose their email tool sooner, ConvertKit recently announced the launch of a free plan. This is currently limited to free landing pages (albeit unlimited ones!), but you can unlock 100 subscribers for free by inviting a friend through their referral program.

ConvertKit pricing plans:

pricing convertkit

 

Mailchimp pricing plans:

pricing mailchimp

 

For now, Mailchimp is still the more obvious choice for businesses and entrepreneurs with fewer than 2,000 subscribers because of their generous free plan. However, if you're looking into switching to ConvertKit down the line, weigh up the cost and time savings of switching later vs. sooner – moving tools can be a hassle that you'd rather avoid.

If you have more than 2,000 subscribers in your mailing list, ConvertKit can be more expensive than Mailchimp, as you can see in the pricing comparison below. However, it's worth testing the tool and seeing if the user experience and functionality justify the difference for you.

 

Pricing comparison per number of contacts in your database

ConvertKit pricing (from)Mailchimp pricing (from)
For 0-1000 contacts$29/moFree
For 1001-2,000 contacts$49/moFree
For 2,001-5,000 contacts$49 - $79/mo$29.99 - $49.99/mo
For 5,001-10,000 contacts$79 - $119/mo$49.99 - $74.99/mo
For 10,001-25,000 contacts$119 - $199/mo$74.99 - $189/mo
For 25,001 - 50,000 contacts$259 - $379/mo$189 - $259/mo

Summary: When to choose Mailchimp vs. ConvertKit

Here’s our quick summary of when to choose ConvertKit vs. Mailchimp for your small business:

When to choose ConvertKitWhen to choose Mailchimp
You have a creative or digital businessYou want a wider range of templates
You only have one list of contactsYou don't have an email marketing budget
You want more supportYou want more integrations

To weight up more of the best email marketing tools, here are some other great tools to check out:

No matter which email marketing tool you choose, it's important to make sure it works well alongside the rest of your tech stack. The best way to guarantee this is to connect contact data across all apps in real time with a two-way sync.

With PieSync, both ConvertKit and Mailchimp connect seamlessly with hundreds of other tools to ensure that your data is always up-to-date, free of duplicates and reliable.

Find out how to connect ConvertKit or Mailchimp to your other tools and easily synchronize your tech stack.

About Lucy Fuggle

Lucy Fuggle writes for PieSync, the two-way contact sync tool for hundreds of apps. She also works with her clients to make their brand matter with a content-rich marketing strategy.