ActiveCampaign vs Mailchimp (2020): Which Email Marketing Platform Is Better?

Now that we’re in the day and age of artificial intelligence and virtual reality, it’s all too easy to put email marketing on the back burner. But if you think sending out emails to your customers is a lost cause, you might want to rethink that. Despite the fact that it’s been around for a pretty long time, email marketing is a business strategy that’s just as effective as social media and SEO. After all, everyone checks up on their inbox regularly, some even more so than their Facebook or Instagram accounts.

If you want to step up your email marketing game, and we definitely think you should, ActiveCampaign and Mailchimp can help you do just that. So how do you choose between the two? That’s the tricky part because they each have their own pros and cons. To help you decide which email marketing platform is the best for you and your business, here’s an in-depth comparison of ActiveCampaign and Mailchimp.

ActiveCampaign vs Mailchimp Comparison Chart​​

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ModelActiveCampaign Mailchimp
Ease of UseThere’s a steeper learning curve involved when you’re just getting started.It won’t take you long to figure out how to use its interface and editor.
List ManagementYou’re able to enjoy more flexibility as well as take advantage of lead scoring.Lists are mutually exclusive, making it more difficult to manage them.
Marketing AutomationYou’re able to create more complex workflows, allowing you to target the right people with the right information.Offers a variety of triggers but automation editor doesn’t allow for much flexibility.
PricingLite – $9/month

Plus – $49/month

Professional – $129/month

Enterprise – $229/month

Free – $0/month

Essentials – $9.99/month

Standard – $14.99/month

Premium – $299/month

Ease of Use

Mailchimp is extremely easy to navigate while there’s a bit of a learning curve involved when you’re getting started with ActiveCampaign.

Mailchimp has always been popular for its ease of use. 

Mailchimp, founded in 2001, was introduced to the public at a time when email marketing was expensive, complicated, and reserved mostly for large enterprises. The fact that Mailchimp was very easy to use made it an accessible option to just about everyone. Today, it still boasts of the same simplicity, designed with a straightforward interface and a drag-and-drop editor that won’t take you long to figure out. Mailchimp has definitely set the standard for other email marketing platforms out there when it comes to ease of use. It can, however, be a little difficult to find certain features because everything’s clumped under the Campaigns section. But other than that, everything should be easy to navigate.

As for ActiveCampaign, it’s packed with advanced features and is supposed to be the more powerful email marketing tool of the two. Because it’s a bit more complex, expect there to be some kind of a learning curve when you’re first getting started with it. Automations, for example, can be a little tricky to configure. You need to be willing to buckle down and learn the technicalities before you can get comfortable with ActiveCampaign. That said, the hard work will be worth it because the depth of its features is amazing and you get to do so many things with them.

So when it comes to ease of use, Mailchimp definitely takes the cake. ActiveCampaign, however, is able to justify the learning curve with its variety of impressive features.

List Management

ActiveCampaign wins because it has more flexible lists and even has a lead scoring feature. 

ActiveCampaign’s lead scoring feature allows you to identify your most engaged customers. 

Creating an audience is one of the most crucial steps in email marketing. Unfortunately, Mailchimp makes it kind of difficult to manage your lists. First of all, the lists are mutually exclusive which means you’re not allowed to include users from different lists in the same campaigns. Secondly, Mailchimp charges you per subscriber and so having one user on two or three different lists will cost you more. This set-up makes sense if you’re running several businesses but is quite troublesome and expensive if you’re just managing one. Mailchimp gives you other ways to organize your contacts such as groups, tags, and segments but it’s not exactly clear how these are different from one another, making things even more confusing.

It’s a good thing that ActiveCampaign works in a completely different way, employing lists that are a lot more flexible. It’s great that you can send the same campaign to users from different lists and that you can categorize your contacts through tags and custom fields (these contain more information about your contacts such as their location and interests). The best thing about ActiveCampaign, however, would have to be the fact that it has lead scoring. This allows you to identify your most engaged subscribers so that you know exactly who to follow up with. A lead score is a simple number that goes up or down based on how a user interacts with you. They get plus points, for example, if they submit a form or visit the pricing page and minus points if they unsubscribe.

ActiveCampaign definitely wins by a mile when it comes to list management. You get to save money and effort, plus you even get to benefit from lead scoring.

Marketing Automation

ActiveCampaign gives users more control when it comes to creating automations. 

ActiveCampaign gives you the flexibility to create more complex automation workflows. 

What’s great about Mailchimp is the fact that they have a pretty wide selection of automation campaigns. They have a bunch of trigger options for you to choose from when you’re making an automation. You can, for example, trigger an email when a subscriber receives a certain campaign, opens a certain campaign, clicks a link in a certain campaign, or doesn’t do anything upon receiving a certain campaign. What’s disappointing, however, is that the automation editor itself isn’t very flexible as it doesn’t offer a way for automations to branch out into other paths. It doesn’t give users much control which is exactly what you need when you’re creating automations.

ActiveCampaign, on the other hand, is the exact opposite and you can definitely tell that it’s the more advanced software. Its drag-and-drop automation builder will let you create automated workflows that are far more complex. You can, for example, combine multiple triggers, actions, and conditions so that you can be sure that the right people are getting the right kind of information and that you’re building stronger connections with your customers. To boot, its CRM is integrated into its automation system, meaning that sales actions such as following up can be automated as well. All of your automation workflows are displayed in one place, making it easy to make any necessary changes.

Again, ActiveCampaign wins because you’re given full control when you’re creating your automations. It’s a much smarter process compared to that of Mailchimp’s.

Pricing

Mailchimp has more affordable packages and even offers a free plan.

Mailchimp has a free package which you can use for an unlimited amount of time. 

Mailchimp lets you choose from four different plans, the cheapest one being completely free of charge for an unlimited amount of time. Its free plan includes all the basic features, making it ideal for businesses that are just starting out. As for the Essential package, it costs $9.99/month and its features are meant for those who want added support for their business. Next up is the Standard plan which comes in at $14.99/month. It is Mailchimp’s recommended package, perfect for growing businesses that want to increase their customer base. Lastly, there’s the Premium plan which costs $299/month. It’s for the pros out there who want extra customization.

As for ActiveCampaign, it doesn’t offer a free plan like Mailchimp. Its most affordable package is the Lite and you have to pay $9 a month for it. There’s a pretty big jump in price when it comes to the succeeding plans, the Plus package coming in at $49/month, the Professional package at $129/month, and the Enterprise package at $229/month. While you don’t get a free trial for any of these packages, you can take them out for a test drive for fourteen days which should be enough time for you to decide if ActiveCampaign is the right email marketing platform for you.

It looks like Mailchimp is the more affordable option of the two. It deserves plus points as well for offering a free plan that you can use for as long you’d like. That said, ActiveCampaign does boast of more advanced features and this might be able to justify its pricier plans.

Verdict

Choose Mailchimp if you want ease of use and affordability but go for ActiveCampaign if you want maximum flexibility. 

Mailchimp’s claim to fame has always been its ease of use and ActiveCampaign definitely can’t compete with it in this area. There’s also the fact that it’s affordable and even offers a free plan you can use for an unlimited amount of time. Again, ActiveCampaign doesn’t quite compare. That said, you have to bear in mind that ActiveCampaign’s features are much more advanced than Mailchimp’s and this could be the reason why it takes a lot more getting used to in the beginning and why it’s offered at more expensive price points. If you’re looking for an easy time and you want to save as much as possible, Mailchimp is the email marketing platform for you. But if you want maximum flexibility and customization, definitely go for ActiveCampaign.

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