Since the release of the Bloom plugin, we’ve been rolling out a series of reviews about various email marketing services that you can use with it.
We’ve covered quite a few to help give our readers a better understanding of what each one offers and how they measure up against each other.
Two of the most popular choices out there for email marketing is MailChimp and Constant Contact.
One is the young gun ready to impress, and the other is a bit more old school with a few extra years under its belt.
Which one is best?
Let’s figure it out.
MailChimp Overview: The Good and The Bad
If you’d like to read our in-depth review of MailChimp, feel free to check it out right here.
The whole online persona of MailChimp is fun and friendly. The website, interface, blog posts, and other applications all speak to this. Even their cute mascot, Freddy, is a testament to the fun lovin’ vibes that they give off.
But even though they’re a younger company than Constant Contact, they have a firm grasp on what it takes to help people succeed in their email marketing efforts, as well.
There are good things about MailChimp, and some not so good.
But whatever makes them worth using is really up to you. Below is a few pros and cons of their service to help you along your decision-making journey.
Free For Up To 2,000 Subscribers
Probably the biggest selling point for MailChimp is the fact that you can sign up and use their service for free. Unlike other services that state they are free but are in fact only free during a trial period, MailChimp is actually free — and can be free forever.
The free account doesn’t have every single feature available to the email service, but you get just about everything you’d need to jump start your email list.
You’re limited to 2,000 subscribers and 12,000 sends for each month, but when you’re first starting out this is more than enough to build your list and stay connected with your subscribers.
A/B Testing and Reports
If we’ve learned anything about marketing, in general, it’s this:
Test, test, and keep on testing.
Many email marketing services that have A/B testing or reporting features require you to pay to use it.
This isn’t the case with MailChimp.
The A/B testing and generating in-depth reports is available in every plan — including the free plan.
More than that, it’s very easy to split test and segment your lists in order to do so.
Really Cool Mobile Apps
MailChimp has a staggering number of 7 mobile apps that you can use so that even when you’re away from your computer, you can manage your email list.
Here are the apps you can download:
- MailChimp Coupon Scanner
- MailChimp Editor
- MailChimp Mobile
- MailChimp Snap
- MailChimp VIPs
- Mobile Signup Forms
- SMS for Events
Each of the apps serves a useful and powerful purpose.
The MailChimp Mobile App lets you create, send and track your email campaigns directly from your phone.
Snap is an interesting app that allows you to snap a photo, turn it into a campaign, and send it to a select few or an entire list.
This can be really useful for people like fashion bloggers, for example. See a beautiful outfit on the street or in a shop window? Snap a photo, add your written content, and then share it with your audience.
You may not need these right now, and you may not need all of them, but they’re there and ready for you if and when you do.
You Have to Upgrade to Send Automated Emails
A drawback to the free plan in MailChimp is it doesn’t come with automated emails as part of the deal.
Many know the importance of sending welcome emails and efficient autoresponder series, so not having that as part of the free plan is a bit of a bummer — especially for new bloggers on a shoestring budget.
If you want to send those types of emails, then you’ll need to upgrade. Thankfully, pricing starts at only $10 which isn’t half bad.
Things Can Get Costly
Although the starting price of $10 per month sounds nice, you might want to take a close look at the details.
$10 a month only covers 500 subscribers, and MailChimp will automatically change your account to the next tier if your subscriber count goes above that which means you could get a surprising bill if your list building is going well.
It’s $15 for 1 thousand subscribers, $25 for 2 thousand, $50 for 5 thousand, and $75 for 10 thousand. Price increase doesn’t stop there though.
If you wind up with a massive mailing list of say… 25 thousand subscribers, your monthly bill is $150.
This isn’t too bad since you should be making money at this point with a list that large, but MailChimp does charge you more for a larger list — just like everyone else does.
Affiliates Can Get Shut Down
If you read through Brenda’s review of MailChimp here on the blog, then this likely isn’t the first time you’ve heard this. Apparently, MailChimp is a bit of a stickler when it comes to affiliate marketing:
Another drawback of using MailChimp is its dislike of affiliate marketing. If your business model includes this, it could be a deal breaker for you. Affiliate marketing is meant to be unobtrusive and based on trust and recommendations, but MailChimp will stop any email that it deems to contain its blacklisted links, which includes many retailers. It will do this without warning, possibly leading to a complete shutdown of your account. ~ Source
Yeah… that’s a bit harsh.
Though I understand that MailChimp doesn’t want its service to be used to spam people’s inboxes, quite a few of the best bloggers make a living from affiliate marketing and are not senders of spam.
It would be a massive headache to have to deal with if your account was shut down when you did nothing wrong other than it includes a link in your email that they didn’t like.
Especially since there is almost no one to contact to fix this issue, which leads into to the next downside.
Support is Lacking
For all of the great features that come with MailChimp, this is a downside that can easily be a dealbreaker.
If you use the free plan for your email list, but you need help — tough cookies because you’re on your own. If you need help or your account gets locked for some reason, you have no way of getting in touch with people and getting it resolved. At least that’s been my experience.
Though they do have videos and a decent sized knowledge base, it’s always nice to be able to pick up the phone and call someone when you’ve hit a wall.
You do get email and chat support when you upgrade to a paid version though, but it would be nice to get some help when first setting things up.
Constant Contact Overview: The Good and The Bad
Now it’s time to consider the old dog in this race. Constant Contact has been around for quite awhile — about 20 years really.
Brenda did an excellent job reviewing the platform.
Below is the bullet points of the good and the bad about what Constant Contact offers.
Do you have a question about your account? Need help setting up it up or fixing something?
Then grab your phone and give the support line a phone call. If you don’t feel like chatting on the phone, you can send an email or hop on a chat with a customer service rep.
In fact, after you sign up for an account with them, a representative will call you to ask if you need help getting things set up. And if they miss you, you can expect an email in your inbox.
Easy-To-Use Template Builder
Though both MailChimp and Constant Contact (CC) have template builders, the one that comes with CC is a little easier to navigate and has more customization options.
They made it easy to change colors and fonts, and they have what they call ‘Blocks’ which contains various layouts and styles to them to help you create a unique email.
Take It With You On the Go
Let’s face it — most of us are busy people on the go.
But I don’t know a single person who doesn’t leave their house without a cell phone.
Since many people can’t be at their computers all day everyday, it’s nice to have the ability to keep track of important things like an email campaign.
Like MailChimp, Constant Contact has a mobile app that lets you stay on top of stuff even when you’re away from your laptop.
No RSS-to-Email Feature
I found this rather surprising, but when I went through testing my Constant Contact account, I couldn’t find the RSS-to-Email feature.
Apparently, that’s because it doesn’t exist.
That’s not to say that you can’t include blog content in your email and send it out — you can do that.
But setting up a trigger event where Constant Contact will automatically send out an email when your blog is updated isn’t available as an easy-to-use feature.
More Expensive Than MailChimp
Whereas MailChimp charges only $10 for up to 500 subscribers, Constant Contact charges twice as much for the same subscriber count.
MailChimp is upfront about pricing; you can figure out what you will get charged based how many subscribers you have. Whether it’s 10 thousand or 100 thousand, you can enter the price in the calculator in your account and see exactly how much you will be charged.
CC is not so transparent. If you’re above 5 thousand subscribers for your list, you’ll pay $85 a month. But what if you go above 10 thousand on your list?
There’s no easy way of knowing the price. You have to call customer service to get it, and since it’s not set in stone on their website, they could charge just about whatever number they want to.
A/B Testing? Umm… Kind Of
This, for me, is the kind of deal breaker that shouldn’t even exist in an email marketing platform.
Nowadays, everyone knows that the best way to measure what is working in your marketing strategy is to test various features — like email titles, for example.
With Constant Contact, they don’t have a simple method of A/B testing emails and then measuring the statistics. A brief overview of their support forum shows the extreme frustration that many users have because of this.
All split test emails have to be done manually, and it’s about as complicated as it gets.
Why haven’t they made this service easy like MailChimp and other email marketing platforms?
I have no idea.
Which One is Best?
Each of these email marketing services has something that the other one lacks.
But which one is the best?
The folks at Capterra did a poll on which platform people preferred. They spoke with 60 small business owners, many of which had used both MailChimp and Constant Contact, and asked them which of the two they liked better.
75% of the people who used both choose MailChimp over Constant Contact.
Does this mean that Mailchimp is the winner?
For many, even though both MailChimp and Constant Contact have support, being able to pick up the phone and call someone is enough to tip the scale in Constant Contact’s favor.
However, simple A/B Testing and RSS-to-Email are now something that just about everyone wants to be able to do — and it’s something Constant Contact doesn’t do well at all.
So how do you choose? Which one should you pick?
Perhaps after this comparison you’ve already made up your mind about which one to go with.
If not, then why not sign up for both and test them out personally?
Both of these email marketing providers have free versions that can give you an overall feel of each one. Give yourself a bit of time, test them out, and then decide which route you want to go.
I’m sure plenty of the readers here on Elegant Themes have used one or both of these and have some unique insights that could relly help others make a good choice. Leave your comments below and let us know which one you prefer.
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