July 18, 2018

ConvertKit vs MailChimp: Battle of the Small Business Email Platform

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On July 1, 2018, ConvertKit changed their name to Seva. They subsequently changed that name back to ConvertKit. Those changes don’t significantly affect how the email platform operates, however.

Comparing ConvertKit vs. MailChimp means first understanding their target audiences. Both platforms are designed for early stage startup and creator businesses like small ecommerce sites, bloggers, and small retail businesses. Both of these tools help these small businesses get started with email marketing, growing their subscriber lists, and ultimately building robust online businesses that produce revenue. And although both ConvertKit and MailChimp have options for early stage companies, they have a vested interest in the continued and rapid growth of these small businesses.

And yet, there are distinct differences in how ConvertKit vs MailChimp go about helping small businesses grow.ConvertKit is subscriber-based rather than list-based, so your subscribers can sign up for all sorts of lists, and you don’t get charged multiple times. You can also access all of the features in ConvertKit at every price tier, but the more you grow your lists the more you pay. MailChimp is design, image, and promotionally focused and has a large emphasis on ecommerce tools with connections to Facebook and Instagram ads that feed right into your subscription lists. Not all features are available at all pricing levels, but you can choose to pay monthly based on your list size or via pay-as-you-go credits.

ConvertKit vs MailChimp isn’t the only small business email marketing comparison out there, either. To learn more about the right email marketing and marketing automation tool for your growing company, call TechnologyAdvice at 877.822.9526 or visit our marketing automation software page to get your fast, free marketing software recommendations based on your company’s needs.

Features of

ConvertKit vs. MailChimp

Automation

Seva marketing automation

ConvertKit gives you a visual automation tool where you can build your subscriber drip campaigns. Drag and Drop a workflow through events, actions, and conditions, and see how many subscribers have moved through the funnel right in the workflow. Build your email cadences, tags, and forms, and then assign those as events, actions, and conditions to move subscribers through the automation. You can also assign dates to better time the sends for particular emails or offers.

MailChimp has really gone all-in on automation in the past couple of years, and the tool has come a long way since adding automated drip campaigns. Automation in MailChimp means everything from running automatic response emails to drip campaigns to sorting your subscribes into segmented lists and pulling unsubscribes from your current lists as they happen. Connect to Facebook and Instagram ads to increase your mailing list, and the information from those ads can be used to help segment your lists and personalize your content through robust ecommerce automation features.

Email builds

mailchimp email template themes

ConvertKit believes in text-based email sends rather than image-heavy email templates. They have a whole blog post on why it’s important to not emulate the kinds of emails you would assume are advertisements and therefore don’t really read. This distinction about the types of emails people read is a major value for the company that directs how they design their tools. That being said, although you can’t access fancy image templates, you can write emails that have most of the major text edit functions: italic, bold, underline, images, and clickable links are all available. You can even set up click tracking for your emails to get a sense of where your customers interact. However, you’re not going to get lots of pretty templates.

MailChimp, on the other hand, gives you customizable drag and drop templating where you can choose to add text, images, or specific design elements throughout the email, or you can use HTML to design your own email templates. If you don’t subscribe to ConvertKit’s super-simple-emails-sell philosophy, then check out MailChimp to get your fancy image-ready email templates.

Forms and Landing Pages

seva landing page templates

ConvertKit has paid attention to the forms and landing pages that you can build to help convert readers into subscribers, and updated the form builder as of July 1, 2018. You’ll find that every part of the online forms you can build in ConvertKit are customizable, from the form’s messaging and colors to your follow-up confirmation/double opt-in email messaging. All of ConvertKit’s forms are available in-line, via a pop-up modal, or slide in at the bottom right or left of the screen. You can even connect your third-party lead generation tools to your ConvertKit forms to take advantage of the automations.

ConvertKit landing pages are built almost exactly like your ConvertKit forms, but they have the added value of a headline and on-page content that you would expect to see from a landing page. Set up the page’s forms just like any other ConvertKit form, including the confirmation email, and either embed the landing page on your website through the ConvertKit WordPress plugin, or share the landing page’s live link directly through your social media or email lists.

MailChimp’s forms come in 3 standard types: form builder, embedded forms, and subscriber pop-up. Each of these start in the Build It tab of your form builder, which you can access through your list. The Design It tab lets you choose different designs for the whole list, but you won’t be able to build different designs across different forms. MailChimp provides 2 different landing page templates to choose from based on your goals, but within those templates you can customize the look and feel with a visual editor. Embed your landing pages on your website with an embed code, or share your forms and landing pages directly to your social accounts via their individual URLs.

Reporting

MailChimp reporting

Reporting in ConvertKit is limited to the overviews that you see in your dashboard: The Form Graph and the Subscriber Graph. These graphs show your list growth over the course of time, and some breakout metrics corresponding to the forms you’ve made to capture subscriptions. The Form Graph at the top of the dashboard is your opt-ins over time broken down by each form opt-in. The recently-added Subscriber graph gives you an overall view of your subscriptions, unsubscribes, and net growth for your entire account, and includes several filters and date ranges to customize this view.

MailChimp has extensive reporting designed to not only give you lots of information about how your campaigns are doing, but also to help you build better emails and campaigns in the future. Expect to see interactive graphs and a lot of automatic list maintenance in these reports. You can explore the results of that maintenance in your reporting features, but you don’t have to interact with the lists very much, which is pretty cool.

Subscriber activity reports show who’s responding to your emails and who’s not even opening, which gives you a lot of ammo to build follow-up campaigns. Benchmarking gives you a sense of how well your particular campaign does against other companies in the same industry. Click map reporting drills down into individual emails to show exactly where your customers are paying attention and clicking.

The Rundown

The ConvertKit vs MailChimp battle is a close call when looking directly at features and capabilities. ConvertKit doesn’t give you the pretty image-heavy email templates you might come to expect from a commercial email provider, but they make a pretty great case for leaving those out. MailChimp has a lot of automation, personalization, and customization functions, but for a small business these features might be overwhelming.

When it comes to features, bells, and whistles, MailChimp has ConvertKit beat. MailChimp even offers a mobile app where you can build and deploy campaigns from your mobile device and even do a little reporting on the go. ConvertKit doesn’t offer a mobile app. Design-focused marketers and ecommerce sellers who want eye catching emails they can turn into Facebook and Instagram ads will gravitate to this tool. Bloggers, content creators, and those looking to quickly grow their subscription lists without worrying about finding design elements and images for each of their emails will be happy with ConvertKit’s simplicity.

And ConvertKit vs. MailChimp is by no means the only small business email matchup out there. We can help you compare the best email marketing and marketing automation software on the market and find the perfect tool for your needs. Visit our marketing automation page or call a Technology Advisor today at 877.822.9526 to get free software recommendations based on your needs in 5 minutes or less.