It’s time for the ultimate showdown – MailChimp vs. Constant Contact – two email industry giants battle it out for email service supremacy.
When you think of email service providers, chances are your thoughts go straight to one of these two companies. They’re both strong contenders for a small business or solopreneur’s email service provider.
In fact, in a poll of 60 small businesses, more than half had used both MailChimp and Constant Contact at one point. Interestingly, 75% of those that had used both preferred MailChimp. But does that mean MailChimp is the best option for all small businesses?
Let’s put MailChimp and Constant Contact through their paces and see how they measure up.
MailChimp is one of the most well-known email marketing providers because of a momentous decision back on September 1, 2009 to give its services away for free. Yes, MailChimp was one of the first email providers to offer a freemium service, and in the first year alone it multiplied its user base by five.
Introducing Constant Contact
Constant Contact is one of the grandfathers of the email marketing industry. It found its beginnings in 1995 and has evolved since then to be one of the top email marketing service providers.
Value for money is a huge driver when it comes to selecting an email service provider. So, how do MailChimp and Constant Contact compare?
MailChimp created waves back in 2009 when it introduced its freemium “Free Forever” plan. You’ll pay nothing for your first 2,000 subscribers, and you can send up to 12,000 emails per month.
You don’t get automation, which is a major downside to the Free Forever plan. Automation is essential for sending lead-nurturing emails at the right time and for client onboarding. However, those who simply wish to send basic broadcast emails will appreciate the generous number of subscribers.
If you want to add automation to your plan, prices start at $10/month for your first 500 subscribers.
For those who need more powerful options for their email marketing, MailChimp’s Pro Marketer is available for an additional $199/month (plus the fee per month for number of subscribers.)
MailChimp offers the following discounts:
- Non-profits – 15% discount
- Security discount – 10% discount for adding two-factor authentication to your MailChimp account.
Constant Contact offers a generous 60-day free trial. After that, prices start at $20/month for up to 500 subscribers, and up to $90/month for up to 10,000 subscribers. You’ll need to contact their customer service for a custom quote if your list grows beyond 10,000 subscribers.
Constant Contact also has an Email Plus version that starts at $45/month for up to 500 subscribers and includes more features such as automation, event management, surveys, and coupons.
Constant Contact offers the following discounted rates:
- Save 10-15% on pre-paid 6 and 12-month services.
- Non-profits save 20-30% on pre-paid 6 and 12-month services.
And the pricing winner is…
You can’t beat MailChimp’s freemium offer for value, and its prices are slightly less than Constant Contact’s across the board.
Given that their entire service revolves around their ability to deliver emails, both MailChimp and Constant Contact take deliverability very seriously.
But, which one is providing the most reliable deliverability?
MailChimp maintains a 96-99% deliverability rate.
It is constantly working to maintain this rate by…
- implementing Omnivore, abuse detecting technology, on their servers to help predict and prevent problems before they arise,
- providing free authentication to their users for their emails,
- registering with all major ISPs for feedback loops. MailChimp is alerted whenever an email sent using their service is marked as junk or spam (and immediately unsubscribe that member from your list),
- becoming whitelisted with ISPs not yet using feedback loops,
- and maintaining hundreds of IP addresses for sending emails.
MailChimp stays on top of the deliverability issue as a core part of its business and is an active participant in the ongoing conversation around deliverability, spam, and email privacy.
Constant Contact follows industry best practices to stay compliant with the CAN-SPAM and CASL legislation.
- It maintains a 98% deliverability rate
- Constant Contact has a spam check tool available to users that will warn the user if there is any problematic content in his or her email that might be marked as spam.
And the deliverability winner is…
While both MailChimp and Constant Contact maintain a fantastic delivery rate, MailChimp is very open about the actions it is taking to stay on top of this extremely important issue for their customers. Constant Contact does not provide this level of transparency and assurance.
Ease of Use
As a small business owner or solopreneur, you don’t have time to spend hours learning how to use your email service provider.
How easy is it to get started with MailChimp and Constant Contact?
MailChimp is often accused of being difficult to navigate as a new user. And there are aspects of its layout that aren’t intuitive:
- Your File Manager (to manage your uploaded files and images) is located on the Templates page.
- You can start a campaign from no fewer than three different places – the dashboard, the Campaigns page, or the Templates page
- You’re also faced with an intimidatingly long list of options for sign-up forms, thank you pages, unsubscribe pages, and much more when you try to create a sign-up form for your list.
All this really means is that there’s a learning curve to using MailChimp. If you intend to use this service for your business, you need to dedicate time and resources to learn to use it correctly.
Constant Contact is easier to navigate than MailChimp. The menu is clear and workflow is intuitive, even for a new user.
After clicking on the Create button, you’re given options to what you want to create: email, event registrations, coupons, or automation. Once you’ve clicked one of those you can select a template from the 400+ pre-made layouts and begin customizing your email.
And the ease of use winner is…
Constant Contact is simple to navigate and use, even for a new user.
Some important features provided by email service providers include A/B testing, automation, and the ability to segment your list by actions.
How do MailChimp and Constant Contact measure up on features and functions?
|Customizable email templates||Yes||Yes|
|Drag and drop WYSIWYG editing||Yes||Yes|
|Automation||Yes (Paid feature) – includes powerful e-commerce automation such as cart abandonment||Yes (Plus feature)|
|Free access to library of stock photos||No||Yes|
|Custom Form Fields||Yes||No|
|Geolocation/Delivery By Timezone||Yes||Delivery by Timezone|
|Automatic A/B testing||Up to 8 as a paid feature||1 split test only|
|Reporting||Open, click, and unsubscribe rates plus more advanced reports.||Open, click, and unsubscribe rates|
|Coupon Codes||No||Yes (Plus feature)|
|Surveys||Simple polling||Yes (Plus feature)|
|Event Management||Integrates with EventBrite||Yes (Plus feature)|
And the functions and features winner is…
This one’s too close to call – if A/B testing and e-commerce automation are important to your business, then MailChimp is the clear winner. However, if you’re more interested in surveys and coupon codes, Constant Contact may be your best option.
It’s not enough for an email service provider to provide a standalone service. Integration is a necessity. Both MailChimp and Constant Contact have hundreds of integrations – too many to list here – but, the highlights include:
- MailChimp has 781 integrations listed in its directory, including Shopify, Magento, WordPress, BigCommerce, WooCommerce, Unbounce Landing Pages, Facebook, Google Analytics, Outlook, Insightly, Motion Mail Countdown Timers, SMS Marketing Integration, Zapier, Instapage, Stripe, Squarespace, Google Forms, Leadpages, Paypal, and Slack.
- Constant Contact has 277 integrations listed in its Marketplace, including Zapier, Wishpond, Basecamp, Hootsuite, WordPress, Coming Soon Pro, Magento, Shopify, BigCommerce, Unbounce, Facebook, Outlook, TXTImpact, Instapage, Shortstack, QuickBooks, and Leadpages.
And the integrations winner is…
MailChimp wins the integration category for sheer number of integrations as well as some integrations that Constant Contact doesn’t have, like Squarespace, Slack, and PayPal.
There’ll always be times when you just need to talk to somebody about your account. What’s the support like for MailChimp and Constant Contact?
MailChimp guides their users to help themselves using their comprehensive KnowledgeBase. This is the only support option for customers on the free plan.
MailChimp’s support services include the following:
- Live Chat
- Contact form
Constant Contact definitely provides a greater level of support.
Need help? Click on the “?” in the menu to be taken to a page that lays out all your support options.
Constant Contact offers support via:
- Live Chat
Or you can help yourself by:
- Accessing the Community Forum – hub that provides support, knowledge, and news.
- Video Tutorials
- Attending local classes, seminars, and webinars.
And the best support winner is…
It provides many avenues for support in a way that’s easy to access and understand.
Affiliate-Friendly Email Services
Many bloggers, freelancers, and solopreneurs earn income by integrating affiliate links in their content. If your business falls into this category, it’s important to know that your email service provider isn’t going to cancel your account for using affiliate links.
MailChimp expressly forbids affiliate marketers to use its platform. On the other hand, bloggers are allowed to use affiliate links.
Given that content marketing is a strategy used by both affiliate marketers and bloggers, the question arises, “How does MailChimp know who’s an affiliate marketer and who’s a blogger using an affiliate link?”
Constant Contact does not expressly forbid the use of affiliate links or affiliate marketing.
And the affiliate-friendly winner is…
If you intend to use affiliate links in your emails, be cautious working with MailChimp.
Starts at $10/month for up to 500 subscribers; Pro Marketer plan is an additional $199/month. Non-profits receive 15% discount.
|Starts at $20/month for up to 500 subscribers; Plus version starts at $45/month.|
FREE – up to 2,000 subscribers, 12,000 emails, no automation.
|FREE for 60 days.|
|Ease of use||Moderate|
|Functionality and Features||Up to 8 automatic A/B tests, advanced reporting, powerful e-commerce automations.||Free stock photo library, coupon codes, surveys, event management.|
|Customer Support||Not for free accounts. Provides email, live chat.|
Phone, live chat, email, Twitter support.
|Affiliate Friendly?||Affiliate marketing is expressly forbidden.|
Constant Contact or MailChimp?
Let’s tally up the score and settle this rivalry once and for all. MailChimp was the clear winner in terms of pricing, deliverability, and integration. It tied with Constant Contact in functionality. Constant Contact was the clear winner in terms of ease of use, support and friendliness toward affiliate marketing.
Overall, Constant Contact and MailChimp measure up pretty evenly. The choice will ultimately depend on what you’re looking for in an email service provider.
If you’re an affiliate marketer, MailChimp’s stance against affiliate marketing makes Constant Contact a no-brainer. If you’re interested in powerful split-testing features or if pricing is your paramount concern, MailChimp is probably the best option for you.
Over to you – have you used one of these industry giants before? What was your experience like?