Mailerlite vs Mailchimp: Which is the Better Freemium Email Tool in 2021?

Building email campaigns and connecting with your target customers has never been easier. It has never been more important either.

There are tons of automated email marketing tools that can help you create every type of email newsletter or campaign you want. And that too, with little to no technical know-how.

Best email marketing platforms provide:

  • Drag-and-drop email campaign builder
  • Ready to use templates
  • The ability to build entire customer journeys
  • Segmentation and tagging
  • Email marketing automation and personalization
  • Trigger-based and behavioral campaigns
  • Third-party integrations
  • Built-in CRM
  • Robust reporting and insights
  • Higher rate of email deliverability

Two email marketing giants that boast of all these features are MailerLite and Mailchimp. Both have impressive features to build a winning campaign.

But which one is the ultimate best for you?

In this detailed point-by-point comparison, I’ll walk you through the key features, pros, cons, working, and more of both Mailchimp and MailerLite.

Editor’s note: I’m going to use some affiliate links when possible to try to earn some revenue from my content. These don’t change the opinions espoused in the content nor the style in which they are written. If I think a product sucks, I’m not going to say otherwise. This is just a bonus and a way to fund the whole operation. Anyway, enjoy the article!

MailerLite vs. Mailchimp: Introduction.

MailerLite:

MailerLite is an email marketing tool that helps you with email automation, growing your email list, building campaigns, running surveys, and more. It also includes 24/7 support and a 30-day free trial.

(Source)

Pros:

  • Extremely user-friendly
  • Organized navigation
  • Attractive email templates
  • Free automated customer journey builder
  • Granular tagging & segmentation
  • 30-day free trial
  • Free email support
  • Video tutorials

Cons:

  • Email newsletters aren’t available with the free plan.
  • Live Chat support only available with the paid plans.

Best For: Beginners, small businesses, solopreneurs, and Shopify store owners.

G2 Score: 4.7/5

Mailchimp:

Mailchimp is one of the most popular all-in-one marketing platforms that help you market your business using email campaigns, landing pages, digital ads, social media, and even printed postcards.

(Source)

Pros:

  • Email autoresponder
  • Advanced email automation features
  • Advanced reporting and analytics
  • Extensive integration options
  • Nested segmentation
  • Dynamic email content
  • Near-endless customization options
  • Knowledge-base of self-help articles

Cons:

  • Steeper learning curve than MailerLite
  • Doesn’t integrate with Shopify
  • Email-based and Live Chat customer support only with the premium plans

Best For: Professional and intermediate marketers

G2 Score: 4.3/5

MailerLite vs. Mailchimp: Comparison.

1. Email Campaign Builder.

Both Mailchimp and MailerLite offer easy-to-use builders and multiple ready-to-use templates. The best part is that you don’t need any technical know-how to use either of these email automation platforms.

I’m going to talk about their email builders in detail. Let’s see which one of them is most suitable for you.

MailerLite:

MailerLite has a drag-and-drop email builder, which makes setting up your campaign considerably easier.

You can start by clicking on the “Create Campaign” in your admin area. Once you do that, you’ll get directed to a screen where you can enter your subject line, who it is from, and language.

Here, you can also choose your campaign type – Regular campaign, A/B split campaign, auto resend, or RSS campaign.

Next, choose your editor – drag-and-drop editor, rich text editor, or custom HTML editor.

Here’s the drag-and-drop editor:

You can change and modify everything to your liking. You’ll also get plenty of blocks that you can simply drag and drop to the template wherever you want to place them. Some block options include a gallery, social media, survey and quiz, footer, ecommerce integration, and more.

There’s also a search option to browse the blocks and functions you want to add directly. You can further edit these blocks by clicking on them and modify their text, images, font, alignment, colors, etc.

Next, you can schedule your newsletter by choosing any day, time, and date. Or you can choose to send it right away.

However, these options are sufficient for many, especially beginners and solopreneurs.

Mailchimp:

Mailchimp offers a drag-and-drop campaign builder that comes with extensive customization options.

You can head to Mailchimp’s email editor by clicking on the “Create” icon from the leftmost navbar or the top-right “Create Campaign” button from your dashboard.

Mailchimp dashboard

Here’s everything you get to create Mailchimp’s builder:

  • Email campaigns.
  • Entire customer journey.
  • Email template to save them for later.
  • Multichannel design.
  • Landing page.
  • Survey.
  • Facebook, Instagram, or Google ads.
  • Social post.
  • Sign up form.
  • Postcards.

For this review, I’m going to focus on the email campaigns part of the tool.

You can choose from regular email campaigns, automated email campaigns, or text-only email. You can even create a custom email from scratch.

You’d also be glad to know that Mailchimp provides tons of automated email campaigns for different scenarios.

Once you click on the “Automated” option, you’ll see all of the scenarios grouped in different sections – Features, Tags, Subscriber Activity, Ecommerce, Date-Based, and API. For example, the Date Based emails include Birthday Campaigns, Audience Added Dates, etc.

Aside from a single email, the builder also helps you create entire onboarding and educational series to engage your audience even more exclusively. However, both of these options are only available with the paid plans. The free plan only lets you create single email campaigns.

To start with, you can schedule your emails, modify the “From” section and the subject line. The best part is that they already provide a subject line that’s likely to produce the best results for your automated email campaign.

Now coming to the actual email campaign, you can start by selecting the layout and the theme for your campaign. You’ll again get various options to choose from.

Once you choose the layout of your choice, you’ll get directed to the main campaign editor. If you’re a complete novice, it may even take you some time to take everything in.

The editor also lets you change the appearance of every part of your email, including the preheader, body, header, footer, etc. You can modify the color, font, height, spacing, and a lot more.

It also enables you to add additional blocks for many options, like image, image + text, text, social share buttons, video, promo, code, etc.

Mailchimp also lets you send a test email to your team members and collaborators to seek their feedback. When they reply, their comments will appear in the Comments box in your email builder.

You can also see that Mailchimp leverages in-app messaging to walk you through the process. Hover over any block to see what it’s for and how to perform the next action.

Once you’re done with the design of your campaign, you can configure it and start sending.

Final Verdict: Mailchimp.

Mailchimp is the clear winner here with its versatile customization options and granting you the ability to choose from multiple campaigns. That said, if you don’t need all of these features, they might contribute as a hindrance.

On the other hand, MailterLite is easier to use than Mailchimp. It doesn’t have as many options, and everything is straightforward. I found MailerLite’s builder to be more visual too.

MailerLite wins in the ease of use department – while Mailchimp is unparalleled when it comes to customization options and additional email automation features.

2. Email Templates.

MailerLite:

MailterLite provides about 62 mobile-responsive and customizable templates. You can also build or upload your own – or even save the ones you modify to be reused for future campaigns.

Templates are categorized into six variants – ecommerce, deals & offers, blog and updates, events, photography, and notifications.

The only downside is that the templates and the custom HTML editor are only available with the paid plans.

Mailchimp:

Mailchimp has a total of 81 email templates. Yes, I counted!

They’re all grouped in categories like ecommerce, events, holidays, photography, etc., making it easier for you to find them.

They are mobile-responsive, customizable, and can be drafted for future use. You can even upload your templates or create one from scratch using custom codes.

Note that only eight templates are available with the free plan.

Final Verdict: Mailchimp.

3. Automation and Personalization.

Let’s see how both these giants – MailerLite and Mailchimp – perform in this department.

MailerLite:

MailerLite lets you build and schedule personalized, trigger-based campaigns that get sent out based on your subscribers’ actions. You can even create sequential email workflows to guide every step of the customer journey, from welcoming new subscribers to the final purchase and beyond.

The automation editor lets you mix and match steps in the flow with just a few clicks. You can further edit each block or “step” in the workflow by simply clicking on it.

Take Abandoned cart emails, for instance.

As soon as a customer abandons your cart, MailerLite will send out an offer to try to reel them in. If there’s no response, another email newsletter will be sent out with an enticing offer. And this doesn’t end here! There will be more emails based on the customer’s action.

Here’s how the entire workflow will work:

Other automated campaigns include:

  • Event-based (Birthdays, Anniversaries, etc.)
  • Follow up on a purchase
  • Welcome emails
  • Subscriber updates

Here’s Birthday Offer workflow example by MailerLite:

As you can see, you can also add if/and conditions for a more personalized approach.

Your emails don’t have to be generic either since MailerLite lets you segment and tag your subscribers and send tailored emails.

Mailchimp:

Mailchimp also helps you set up both single-step automation or adaptable customer journeys that interact with your leads and customers when they expect to hear from you.

To start building automated customer journeys, head to the “Automation >> Customer Journeys” section in your admin area. You’ll be able to choose from multiple starting points to start mapping customer journeys.

Once you choose a starting point, you’ll get directed to the automation editor.

Here’s the automation editor that helps you build customer journeys:

You’ll find the journey points to add to your map on the leftmost side panel. You can add rules to define how and when a customer moves along their path. Then there are options to add Actions that you can set up to complete specific tasks on your behalf. You can simply drag and drop actions and rules from the side panel into your map.

You can also manually configure or start and stop the journey for specific contacts. Plus, you get the option to add up to 5 filters to get more specific about who can enter your map deliver more exclusive journeys. You’ll get access to more settings by clicking on each journey box.

The best part is that you don’t have to worry about the scheduling part. Mailchimp’s automation tool will determine the best time to send the email and let you schedule accordingly.

It’s up to you – set a specific time or deliver according to your customers’ time zone, or better yet, let Mailchimp schedule everything for maximum engagement.

Besides customer journeys, Mailchimp also provides the following automation features:

  • Transactional Email – Send personalized transactional emails with Mailchimp’s API or SMTP. Ideal for sending automated event-driven emails, including targeted ecommerce and personalized one-to-one messages.
  • Retargeted Ads – Entice potential customers back to your site with retargeting ads by displaying your brand or products on the sites they browse every day. Mailchimp helps you create ads to retarget your audience on Facebook, Instagram, and Google.
  • Postcards – Mailchimp will schedule a recurring postcard campaign to send your contacts coupons, reminders, and other messages on your behalf.
  • Behavior-Based Automation – Trigger relevant and personalized email campaigns based on how the customer interacts with your brand.
  • Date-based Automation – Set up email newsletters based on your subscribers’ special days, like birthdays or anniversaries.

Final Verdict: It’s a Draw.

The winner you choose will depend on your requirements and business size.

All in all, email automation is a breeze with both Mailchimp and MailerLite. You don’t have to stay in the trenches yourself. Set up your workflow once and forget it – let the tools do the heavy lifting for you.

That said, Mailchimp has more versatile automation options, and you get plenty of choices every step of the way. There’s a catch, however. Mailchimp’s customer journey map feature is only available with the paid plans.

On the other hand, MailerLite allows you to create automated customer workflow even with its freemium plan. It doesn’t have as many automation options as Mailchimp, which, in a way, corresponds to its ease of use.

4. Tagging and Segmentation.

MailerLite:

MailerLite lets you segment your subscribers into smaller groups to provide a tailored experience.

It lets you segment the audience by:

  • Interests
  • Email engagement
  • Behavior using automation
  • Sign up form (based on where they signed up)
  • Geography and timezone

You can also combine (mix and match) segments for a higher level of targeting.

You can further use the Interest groups (tagging) feature to add custom labels to subscribers based on their interests or behaviors. For example, traveler, designer, paraglider, etc.

Mailchimp:

Mailchimp also allows you to set ready-made segments based on campaign activity, customer action, purchase history, and a lot more.

Here are all the options you’ll see when you choose your segment conditions:

Not just that, it also allows advanced segmentation that includes nested conditions for different combinations of customer data – like purchase activity, gender, age range, and more. You can even layer up to 5 segmentation criteria for laser targeting.

Other features include:

  • Dynamic content to tailor a single email for different subscribers
  • The ability to merge tags
  • Personalized send time
  • Filter by saved tags

Final Verdict: Mailchimp.

5. Registration Forms and Pop-ups.

MailerLite:

MailerLite helps you create and embed sign-up forms and popups that match your brand’s theme and design to help you grow your email list.

Everything is done in its drag-and-drop builder, and you’ll be able to modify all parts of your form, including the text, layout options, custom fields, etc. And all of it is done with a few clicks – no coding required.

You can also create different types and styles of popups, including floating bars, half-screen, full screen, etc. There are plenty of pop-up templates to choose from.

Other features include:

  • Different form and popup layouts
  • The ability to tag leads when they sign up
  • Activate double opt-in option
  • Forms resize automatically based on the device leads are using
  • GDPR-friendly
  • Options to set up pop-up behavior

Mailchimp:

You can start creating your pop-up or embeddable sign-up form with Mailchimp after heading to the “Create >> Signup form” option. It also lets you create signup landing pages.

And just like everything with Mailchimp, you’ll get near-unlimited settings and options to choose from.

And this will be your form builder:

Again, you’ll get a multitude of customization options and custom field options.

Final Verdict: MailerLite.

MailerLite is the winner owing to its smooth and straightforward registration form builder.

While Mailchimp doesn’t cut any corners in the features department, the signup form builder may appear a bit too complicated, especially to beginners.

6. Insights and Analytics.

MailerLite:

MailerLite helps you track almost every aspect of your email campaign and customer engagement.

You can access analytics reports for the following reasons:

  • Track opens and clicks
  • Unsubscribe count, spam complaints, and bounces
  • Link activity
  • Opens by location
  • Device breakdown, among other metrics essential for measuring success.

You can also set up surveys and questionnaires using pre-designed templates to receive feedback directly from subscribers. Once finished, you can analyze the results – either aggregate answers or individual.

Mailchimp:

I don’t even know where to start. That’s the level of analysis you get with Mailchimp.

For starters, it helps you monitor open rates, sales, your peer’s performance, audience growth, clicks, and segment data with its built-in analytics tool.

You’ll also get access to reports to help you determine your customers’ behavior. Whether they clicked on your email link? Did they buy something? Downloaded your ebook?

You can also connect it with your WooCommerce store or social media channels to track purchases and sales.

Other analytics-based features include:

  • Data-backed recommendations to optimize your subject lines and overall campaigns.
  • A/B testing to test content, subject lines, send times, etc.
  • Audience Dashboard for a clear picture of all the data and act on it from one place.
  • Run surveys to gather feedback and customer opinion.
  • Predictive Demographics to predict details like your subscribers’ age and gender to send personalized campaigns.

Additionally, you get access to the contact profiles in your activity feed. These profiles give you a complete overview of your customers – you can see how the person has engaged with your marketing campaigns, mobile app, or website.

You can even track your website views, link clicks, and in-app activities to determine how customers interact with your brand.

Another thing I liked about Mailchimp’s analytics dashboard is its ability to compare your current campaign’s performance to your average campaign stats and even your peer’s average performance.

Final Verdict: Mailchimp.

Mailchimp lets you track almost every part of your campaign, along with the way subscribers interact with your emails.

7. Integrations.

MailerLite:

MailerLite offers 125 integrations and in different categories to help you easily search for the tool you’re looking for.

Mailchimp:

Mailchimp provides integration with 250+ apps, allowing you to connect with pretty much every business app you use or intend to use.

You can also browse relevant integration options using different categories.

However, you may have a problem if you run a Shopify store since Mailchimp doesn’t integrate with Shopify directly.

Final Verdict: Mailchimp.

Pricing Plans.

MailerLite Pricing:

MailerLite only provides one payment plan, and the prices vary based on the number of subscribers. There’s also a free plan and a 30-day trial to their premium features.

MailerLite’s freemium plan caters to up to 1,000 subscribers and allows you to send 12,000 emails per month.

However, the free plan doesn’t provide premium features like auto resend, custom domain, advanced analytics, newsletter templates, pop-ups, custom HTML editor, etc. You won’t be able to remove MailerLite’s logo either.

Mailchimp Pricing:

Mailchimp has four pricing plans, including:

  • Free – $0 (up to 2,000 contacts)
  • Essentials – $10/month (up to 50,000 contacts)
  • Standard – $15/month (up to 100,000 contacts)
  • Premium – $303/month (200,000+ contacts)

You can also choose to pay as you go based on your subscriber count. MailChimp doesn’t offer any free trial on its premium plans.

Final Conclusion: Who’s the Winner?

So what’s the way to ultimately decide which email marketing software to go with after this MailerLite Vs. Mailchimp comparison?

Go with MailerLife if you:

  • Are a beginner or a solopreneur
  • Run a Shopify store
  • Are looking for a MailChimp alternative
  • Prefer an easy-to-use email campaign builder and editor
  • Want to build customer journey workflows for free
  • Want to create registration forms and pop-ups without any hassle

Go with Mailchimp if you:

  • Want near-unlimited customization and campaign layout options
  • Want to draw comparisons between your current campaign’s performance and your average campaign stats
  • Wish to compare your campaign performance to your peers
  • Want to send printed postcards to your subscribers
  • Wish to create retargeted ads on Facebook, Instagram, and Google

Both MailerLite and Mailchimp are email marketing service giants for a reason. You’ll get robust email automation and campaign-building features with both.

Mailchimp requires more experience and technical know-how but provides near-endless features and customization options. All in all, Mailchimp is nearly tough to beat when it comes to email marketing features.

On the other hand, MailerLite – with immense ease of use – is more than sufficient for beginners and solopreneurs who are just getting started. MailerLite is also ideal for those who use Shopify to run their ecommerce stores since Mailchimp doesn’t provide native integration with Shopify.

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Deepti Jain

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