According to a recent Content Marketing Institute survey, “81% of B2B marketers say their most used form of content marketing is email newsletters.” With an ROI of $36 for every $1 spent, it’s no wonder email marketing continues to grow yearly.
Choosing the right platform is critical when setting up your email marketing strategy, as different services provide different features, pricing plans, and growth opportunities.
With such an influx of options available for B2C and B2B businesses, our email marketing team at The Loop Marketing pitted some of the biggest email marketing platforms against each other to help you choose the best one.
Why Do I Need an Email Marketing Platform?
Every business, big or small, needs an email marketing service provider. Whether you’re a lifestyle coach or a B2B business owner, the only way to reach out to your customers directly is via email marketing (or text message marketing, but that’s for another day).
For example, you want to start reaching out to former customers and new potential leads through email. At this point, you’ve already realized that sending out hundreds and hundreds of individual emails to each address would be painstakingly time-consuming.
So there is only one solution to your problem: sign up for an email marketing service.
You need an email marketing platform because that is the only feasible way to build a new list of clients and connect with them directly. It is nearly impossible to run your email marketing program without an email-specific service provider. Because of the depth of options available, one is bound to be the one that works best for you and your business.
MailerLite vs. Mailchimp vs. Constant Contact
When Mailchimp first came onto the market in 2001, there weren’t a lot of marketing automation platforms available to users. In the years following, tons of new startups have joined the fray, all offering various services at multiple price points.
Mailchimp, MailerLite, and Constant Contact are by no means the only email marketing automation platforms available but remain three of the best and most commonly used. That’s why we wanted to put them head to head to help you figure out which service is right for you.
MailerLite is a G2 award-winning email marketing automation system that gives users complete control over their campaigns. The company sends over 1 billion monthly emails to over 700,000 customers worldwide.
The company continues to take market share away from other legacy service providers with their easy-to-use drag-and-drop system and a large amount of access within the free version.
MailerLite’s pricing ranges from a free version to $19 a month. Depending on the company’s needs, there is also a custom enterprise pricing model.
Within the free model, users can add up to 1,000 subscribers total and send out 12,000 monthly emails.
For $9 a month, you do not increase the total number of subscribers but can now send unlimited emails. In addition, you can set up an auto-resend campaign and build an unsubscribe page.
The Advanced model, priced at $19 a month, still only provides 1,000 subscribers but allows unlimited users on the account, Facebook integration, and promotional pop-ups. This payment plan also includes the ability to have multiple triggers in your automations.
MailerLite’s features vary greatly depending on the plan you are using. For most beginners, the free program includes everything you need to start your marketing automation.
Creating campaigns, building simple pop-ups, and managing your subscriber list are all available at the click of a button. Emails can be designed using a drag-and-drop tool, while automations are laid out visually in an easy-to-understand format.
Another feature in the free version of MailerLite is the ability to segment your lists depending on which pop-up forms they signed up with or their various interests. If you require A/B testing, that’s also possible with MailerLite’s simple testing templates.
Lastly, MailerLite includes a full suite of analytics that track open rates, subscriber list growth, and click-through rates.
Ease of Use
The most significant feature of MailerLite is how easy it is to use. Creating automations takes minutes and segmenting your subscriber list is as simple as a couple of clicks on their main page.
When MailerLite says they have a clean and functional design, it’s 100% true. For even the most beginner of email marketers, the way the platform has everything laid out in a comprehensive yet understandable manner.
In 2022, the company received many awards from G2, including Most Implementable, Best Usability, and Easiest Admin. After using the platform, you will soon realize how deserving MailerLite is of this recognition.
I’ve used MailerLite in my personal and professional career, and this platform has a lot to love. Mainly, if you are not super familiar with email marketing or are looking for a service that’ll grow with your business, MailerLite is designed for you.
Building and creating segmented lists, email automations, and drip sequences is relatively easy, as is using the drag-and-drop template for designing your emails.
That being said, there are some serious downsides to MailerLite, mainly the 1,000 subscriber limit throughout the various paid plans. Starting 1,000 subscribers might seem like a lot, but as your business grows, that limit will hold you back sooner than you think.
Another issue I’ve dealt with using MailerLite is that while their email automations are easy to build, they don’t always work how you want them to. Sometimes emails don’t get sent when you expect them to, and sign-ups and segmentations don’t always work. You will certainly want to consider these things when choosing your email marketing platform.
One last note, albeit it’s a small one, some integrations don’t play nicely with MailerLite. I don’t know why, but MailerLite isn’t an available option when using particular pop-up plugins or other email signup tools. Keep that in mind when thinking about what you want your email marketing platform to do.
Overall, MailerLite is an incredible tool for beginning email marketers. Its ease of use makes everything so much simpler out of the box, but there are enough minor issues plaguing the platform that it’s hard to recommend for growing businesses.
The most famous name in email marketing, Mailchimp, has been around since 2001. As industry leaders, the experts at Mailchimp know their way around the latest trends in email marketing.
Around 2018, there was a shift in Mailchimp’s marketing as they moved slowly away from just being an email marketing platform to a more comprehensive, all-in-one marketing system.
But, as Mailchimp has evolved into something bigger than emails, does their trademark service still provide everything small business owners need from the email marketing platform?
Mailchimp offers four price points for their email marketing platform: Free, Essentials, Standard, and Premium. Each offers similar benefits, but Premium is designed for larger companies as the price starts at $299 a month.
The free version of Mailchimp includes 2,000 contacts with an email send of 10,000 per month (2,000 emails max daily). Email automations are limited to one step, as well as you are allowed one audience.
For $11 a month, Mailchimp allows for three custom audiences, behavioral targeting, and unlimited automations. The downside (or upside, depending on your point of view) to Mailchimp’s paid plans is that everything regarding contact lists is customizable. So your price might rise depending on the number of contacts you have, so the advertised price isn’t always the most accurate.
The standard plan, starting at $17 a month, includes the customer journey builder that provides all the steps needed to drive your leads through the funnel. This includes pre-made funnels as well as saving customers time and energy.
The premium plan is for large businesses and starts at $299 monthly. Along with everything from the other plans, Premium provides priority phone support and unlimited audiences.
Since Mailchimp was the first to market over 20 years ago, they’ve taken the time to refine and update their software.
Features-wise, Mailchimp offers plenty when it comes to their free plan. The ability to have 2,000 contacts is already doubling what’s available on MailerLite, but their email automation sequences are limited. You’ll have to pay up if you’re looking for more advanced drip sequences.
What separates Mailchimp from other email marketing platforms is their compatibility with over 250 applications. This allows you to update your list automatically through various sign-up forms and update customers on shipping information through custom APIs. This type of feature is invaluable when building up your digital business.
Mailchimp includes drag-and-drop functionality, the ability to segment audiences, and A/B testing. You can also find a complete range of analytics data on the platform.
Ease of Use
One of the strengths of Mailchimp is that its features for beginners are easy to use. With the ability to import audiences through Zapier, WooCommerce, and Salesforce, it’s super easy to take all the customer information you have collected and turn it into an email list.
Mailchimp introduced various integrations allowing customers to connect their Shopify stores, build emails with Canva, and segment customers with QuickBooks. These additional features make creating and building a custom email campaign easy.
On the other hand, segmenting your audience and creating drip campaigns is not as intuitive as MailerLite. Creating complex segments is even more complicated, and attempting to develop audiences based on certain conditions is just annoyingly challenging.
The same goes for drip campaigns. Workflows don’t look or work as well as those you’d find on other platforms.
I’ve used Mailchimp for nearly a decade and while it’s great for the basics, when things get complicated the platform shows its age a bit.
Importing customer and email lists is simple, efficient, and effective. I’ve never experienced any issue adding new leads through Mailchimp, and sending out emails is incredibly easy.
In addition, the out-of-the-box functionality of Mailchimp is unparalleled, as nearly every application that collects emails works with the platform. That’s the benefit of having a brand name and being around from the beginning.
Things fall apart a bit with the pricing, lack of options, and challenging use of segmentation / automation functions.
While reasonable, Mailchimp’s free option is less than MailerLite; limiting users to only five emails a month might restrict opportunities. Drip campaigns are limited to only one step. There’s no point in signing up with the free version of Mailchimp unless you are just starting.
The other pain point with Mailchimp is the lack of user-friendliness regarding some of the software’s advanced features. Segmenting email lists should not be as tricky as Mailchimp makes them out to be.
If you’re a beginner and just want to send out emails, Mailchimp has everything you need out of the box. But when looking at the entire picture, between automations and segmentation, there are other options at a lower cost that offer more features.
Started in 1995 as a marketing tool designed to help small businesses, Constant Contact has evolved over the years into an all-in-one digital marketing platform. Benefited by its simple features and lower price points, Constant Contact wants to help your email marketing grow.
They want to be the way you communicate with your audience. Their name tells you exactly what they do: provide a platform to be in constant contact with your audience.
With tools for website building, e-commerce, and social media included in every plan, Constant Contact’s aim to be your favorite digital marketing platform is straightforward. But with all the features Constant Contact touts, can they effectively replace other more well-known services?
Constant Contact doesn’t advertise itself as solely an email marketing platform, instead presenting itself as a digital marketing communications platform. With that on the table, there are two price points for Constant Contact’s digital marketing services: $9.99 a month for Core and $45 a month for Plus.
Depending on the number of contacts you have, those prices grow exponentially.
With the Core plan, you are allowed up to 500 contacts, with every increase of 500 raising the price by $15-$25. This plan includes a variety of list growth tools, including sign-up forms and ad templates. Also available are any analytics tools you may need to keep up to date with your latest metrics.
At $45 a month, Constant Contact’s Plus plan still limits you to 500 contacts at a time, with increases of $25-$30 with every additional 500 contacts. Some other features are included in the Plus plan, such as advanced list growth tools, Google ads integration, text message sign-up, and lookalike ad targeting. There are also automated emails and auto-generated segmentation at this price point.
While there is no free plan with Constant Contact, their free trial will give you limited access to their email marketing services.
Constant Contact’s digital marketing platform feature base is well-rounded yet limited.
On both plans, there are a large number of list-growing tools that allow small businesses to gather information from new leads. These include website sign-up forms, lead-gen landing pages, and social media integrations. Developing this lead generation is simple, yet only a few templates are available.
Worse yet, there is no way to connect these landing pages to your custom domain, rendering them somewhat useless for your digital marketing strategy.
There is a drag-and-drop email creator and hundreds of different email templates in case you need something quick. These templates are relatively basic but ultimately get the job done. If you need something more customized, Constant Contact provides all the tools you’ll need to do what you need.
However, designing and customizing your email campaigns has a few pros and cons.
Constant Contact has the leg up on Mailchimp. Where Mailchimp forces your email layout to be a stacked, single column, Constant Contact has more flexibility. For desktop, you can put up three content columns, including buttons, in a group, allowing for more horizontal and visually different layouts.
The main drawback that gives the edge to Mailchimp and MailerLite in email design is the customizability of the different elements of your email. For instance, buttons in Constant Contact emails will always be rectangular, which may not fit as well with your brand identity, where harsh angles go against your visual brand, and you may prefer softer, more rounded corners.
Yes, there technically is A/B testing, but it’s limited to only the titles of your emails. Unfortunately, that isn’t enough these days compared to the competition.
If you are a member of the Plus plan, you have access to a full suite of automation tools but cannot create custom automated workflows.
Constant Contact does not have a send-time optimization feature, and some other send-time features as Mailchimp does. These are helpful features for maximizing open rates without analyzing previous email marketing results.
Constant Contact’s features work great yet, at the same time, are incredibly limited compared to their competitor’s offerings.
Ease of Use
The good news is that Constant Contact’s wealth of digital marketing tools remains easy to use. Drag and drop features work flawlessly, making building new templates and landing pages a cinch.
Importing lists from spreadsheets and automatic segmentation make keeping your email contact list all in one place an easy task. Constant Contact’s automatic segmentation is one of the platform’s strongest features, as it allows you to send emails to only those most engaged with your content.
In addition, tutorial videos are built into the platform, so if you are a beginner, then Constant Contact has everything you need to get started.
Constant Contact is one of the most accessible email marketing platforms to get started on, as everything feels fast and works smarter, allowing you more time to create great email content for your customers.
Constant Contact is one of the simplest, fastest, and easiest ways to get started with email marketing, but there are just enough faults to question whether it deserves to be the top-ranked platform on the market.
Starting with the good: everything you need to begin is accessible no matter what level of email marketer you are. If you are a beginner, take the time to go through the tutorials, as they will guide you step by step on what to do. If you are experienced, transferring over your lists to Constant Contact takes seconds.
Constant Contact’s customer service is also a plus. With many FAQs and informative articles on their features, they don’t just stop at providing answers to the questions you may search for. They also have a call-in customer service department that, while they may be busy at times, is easy to reach and happy to help with any issues you may have.
Another positive has to be the automatic segmentation that comes with the Plus plan. Identifying active users in your campaigns saves you time and effort when developing new ideas and marketing strategies.
But there are enough downsides to raise eyebrows when using Constant Contact as your primary email marketing platform. From the lack of automation workflows to the minimal number of contacts, Constant Contact doesn’t quite include enough features to be a pay-only service.
Besides these three choices, numerous other available email marketing platform options exist.
Klaviyo is an automated digital marketing platform that works well with email and SMS marketing. One of their biggest strengths is their ability to connect to almost any other service provider allowing you to build your email list in many ways.
Low quality and cheap, Sendinblue allows unlimited contacts and 20,000 emails per month at its $25 a month price point. If you’ve got an extensive list and don’t want to spend a ton of money reaching out to them, Sendinblue might be your best bet.
And the Winner is…
Unfortunately, there isn’t one clear winner between Mailchimp, MailerLite, and Constant Contact. Each email marketing platform has its pros and cons, but none is truly the complete all-in-one digital marketing platform they want to be.
If you’re just starting with no experience whatsoever, Mailchimp and Constant Contact are your best bets. Mailchimp’s free plan provides you with everything you’d need to build an email list and simple automations. Constant Contact offers similar services at their Core plan but also provides tutorials and some of the best customer support any newcomer could ask for.
If you have a little experience with email marketing and are looking for a free plan with segmentation, email automation workflows, and A/B testing, MailerLite is worth a shot. Their free service offers a ton of value, but there are still some kinks to work out within the product itself.
Our suggestion is first to identify your needs and go from there. Need an email marketing platform that utilizes a ton of integrations, or do you want to lead your clients through complicated drip campaigns? Any of these three services can work for you depending on your wants and comfort level.
Need Help Setting Up Your Email Marketing Strategy?
The Loop Marketing’s email marketing strategy team is here to help you attract new leads and drive engaged readers through your marketing funnel. Utilizing the email marketing platform that best suits your goals, our team offers full functionality, from building your list to executing complicated drip campaigns.
If you’re ready to grow your business one inbox at a time, reach out to the experts at The Loop Marketing, and we will get you started.