If you’re thinking about including email marketing into your next outreach campaign, then two top options in the market today are MailChimp and Constant Contact. They are so popular, in fact, that many small businesses, startups, and freelancers have used both platforms at some point.
Using the free trial periods to see how each platform performs is a good way to settle the MailChimp vs Constant Contact debate. If you don’t feel like messing around for 90-120 days trying out these email marketing solutions, however, there are some key points of comparison that may help make the decision on one or the other easier to make.
1. One is always free. The other is not.
MailChimp offers users a Forever Free plan for their platform. It allows for up to 2,000 subscribers and up to 12,000 emails per month. Paid plans begin at $10 per month, allowing for unlimited emails for up to 500 subscribers. Every additional 500 subscribers will cost an extra $5 per month.
You also have a pay-as-you-go plan that lets you purchase email credits, which can cost up to $0.03 per email. There is also a pro add-on that can be added to a paid plan for $199 per month.
Constant Contact offers paid plans that begin at $20 per month after the completion of a 60-day free trial. At this price, you can support a list size of up to 500 subscribers with unlimited emails. The next pricing level is $45 per month, allowing for up to 2,500 subscribers. There are no contracts with Constant Contact, but if you prepay 12 months in advance, you receive 15% off the monthly cost.
Non-profits and NGOs have special pricing plans on both platforms.
2. One offers complete customer support. The other does not.
MailChimp relies on an informational database for many of the support issues that their customers have. This database allows for self-service troubleshooting and can resolve many of the concerns that can creep up over the course of an email marketing campaign. Monthly customers or pay as you go customers have access to email support or live chat during weekdays.
Constant Contact offers consumers customer support through phone, email, and live chat during regular business hours in every time zone on weekdays. There is also a community forum in place so that customers can swap ideas or offer troubleshooting advice. There are video tutorials available and sometimes even local seminars are held to provide live training for first-time email marketers.
3. One works well for social media integration. The other works well for e-commerce.
MailChimp offers users access to a basic autoresponder for free. Email client testing is available, as is geolocation. Delivery by time zone is available as a paid feature. Users have access to click, open, and engagement reports, as well as advanced reporting for data mining opportunities. It is a service that integrates with several CMS solutions, including SurveyMonkey. This makes it a solid e-commerce solution, especially with up to 8 split test available as a paid plan.
MailChimp also offers email client testing as a paid feature.
Constant Contact offers users a wider variety of templates for their email marketing needs. The templates are sorted by industry and function, making it easier to find the right one to use. There are also better HTML customization options for each template. There is unlimited free image storage and access to a library of free stock images for each email. Delivery by time zone is an option. The primary strength is a feature that allows for the creation of coupon codes or polls that can be shared on Facebook.
Constant Contact also provides deep social media analytics that can be incorporated into future email marketing campaigns.
4. One offers the risk of a spam flag. The other tries to reduce that risk.
With MailChimp, there is a risk of having the primary email address being used for the account being flagged for spam. This can make it difficult to send out personal or business emails from that account, even though the MailChimp emails go out just fine. Constant communication with the email host is necessary to prevent missed connections, especially when the Forever Free plan is being used.
There is also a higher risk of MailChimp emails being directed to the spam folder unless the user has specially marked the sender as safe.
Constant Contact has an ISP Relations team that helps marketers who find that their campaigns are being blocked by mail servers. There are form letters available for marketers to use so that ISPs can be contacted about the blocking as well to encourage whitelisting. There also tends to be a higher level of delivered emails with Constant Contact because of the efforts in place to encourage whitelisting.
5. Both offer numerous integrations.
MailChimp offers a number of ready-to-implement integrations that are simple to use. Toolsets include Magento and Heroku. You also have social media integrations for Facebook and Twitter. Drupal, Mandrill, WordPress, and Shopify are just a few of the additional integrations that are available to meet your specific needs.
Constant Contact is one of the few email marketing platforms that integrates well with Outlook. Facebook and QuickBooks are two common integrations which are used. You also have access to Shopify, Hootsuite, and Salesforce.
6. One lets you import contacts with a spreadsheet. The other relies on CRM integrations.
MailChimp offers marketers a number of different ways to import contacts. A CSV file import is a common method, but you can also copy and paste contacts from Salesforce, Highrise, or Google Contacts with relative ease. TXT files are also supported for upload or you can copy and paste from an Excel spreadsheet.
Constant Contact allows you to upload Excel spreadsheets instead of pasting from them. It will also accept VCF files. You can also upload contacts individually or paste them in if that’s what you prefer. You’re also able to add contacts from other apps, such as QuickBooks, Gmail, or Outlook.
7. One allows you to add tags to your subscribers. The other requires groups and segments.
MailChimp list management is thorough, but it is also a complex process that must be followed. Whenever you create a list, you can then create groups and segments within it. Groups are defined as a way to target users on a single list. Segments are created based on shared list data. This allows you to segment subscribers based on their activities, such as not opening an email or recently purchased a product from you.
Constant Contact uses tags to create list segmentation and management. All you need to do is select the subscribers that you wish to tag and then click on the “Manage Tags” command. You can then add the desired tag or create a new one and apply it immediately.
8. One offers specialized templates. The other offers a generic, but customizable option.
MailChimp offers basic email templates that can be quickly updated and personalized to meet your needs. You may need to make tweaks to the template to help it match the look of your brand and business, but the changes are relatively easy to make.
Constant Contact offers marketers a thorough drag-and-drop creation experience. There are more email templates available that are immediately able to be used, with several special occasion templates included. This may include a flash sale, a holiday sale, or something specific that is related to your service or industry. You also receive more template options for customization, though editing options are somewhat limited.
9. One is going to charge you extra for images. The other will not.
MailChimp allows you to incorporate images from a URL or a photo site like Flickr. They are all stored into your account and users are able to upload an unlimited number of images that can be used for email marketing.
Constant Contact allows marketers to upload 5 photos or images for free. Any more than that will require users to upgrade to the MyLibrary Plus plan. If you don’t want to pay for that upgrade, you can access their stock image gallery instead and use those images without worrying about royalties. Images are accessed by keyword or category if you prefer the free option, which can be somewhat time consuming if you’re looking for something specific.
10. Both offer a complete set of analytics.
MailChimp and Constant Contact both offer a complete set of analytics that can be used to enhance future email marketing campaigns. The data is gathered into tabs so that you can easily move from category to category, tracing the history of each campaign.
In the MailChimp vs Constant Contact debate, your purpose for email marketing matters. If you wish to encourage sales through discounts, create special events, and have easy-to-access information, then Constant Contact is a good option for your brand and business. For those who are looking for a completely free way to experiment with email marketing without sacrificing many features, then MailChimp is a better option to look at.