Regardless of the size of your business, taking a plunge into the email marketing world is one of the smartest decisions you can make.
It’s the best way to reach, target, and nurture your audience. Over the past decade, ROI from email marketing has grown by 4400%. Insane, right?
So, what’s the problem?
Trying to tackle email marketing by yourself is a nightmare. And this is where tools like MailChimp and SendinBlue come in hand.
Good old Atlanta-based MailChimp needs no introduction. They have a customer base of 20 million customers across the globe making it the most famous monkey in the industry. But notoriety isn’t everything.
In walks SendinBlue. They don’t have the popularity of MailChimp but they have rapidly grown into a versatile marketing hub. It was built to help SMBs achieve their marketing goals and grow their relationships with their customers.
Here we’ll put every aspect of these email marketing tools on the hot seat. Afterward, you’ll know which software to use for your business.
Let’s dive in.
It has a very easy to use interface. No learning curve necessary as you get everything as you go.They have a highly-customizable drag-and-drop email builder helping you create emails that stand out. You’re able to brand your emails and build brand consistency so your emails are easily recognizable to your audience.They have numerous integration options. Every application you need to run your business natively integrates with MailChimp. If not, there are alternatives to it.They have multivariate testing capabilities. You get to test up to 8 versions of your email ensuring your marketing efforts pay off.With their Standard plan, you can have access to an advanced automation builder. You get to create workflows that ensure your audience gets relevant emails at the right time.They allow you to add advanced tagging to your contacts enabling you to create highly-targeted emails.
You can create highly-targeted emails thanks to their list management system available in all tiers. You can filter your contacts based on their behavior on your site or contact field criteria.You get access to in-depth and detailed reporting and analytics ensuring you are in control of your campaigns. You have access to all the basic real-time reporting features plus advanced analytic features like heatmaps, geography, and device reports.Their A/B testing feature is pretty robust taking into account all different aspects of your emails. You can test email content, subject lines, CTAs, images, buttons, workflows, SMSes, and so much more as you can test workflows and SMSes.Machine learning access to help you with lead scoring increasing your conversion rate.They have a powerful yet easy drag and drop automation builder that helps you create a detailed email series. They offer you several pre-made workflow templates to help you out if you don’t know how to create workflows.It has state-of-art-bulk transactional email capabilities making it great for marketers who want to run numerous campaign blasts.You can create highly customizable and responsive landing pages and forms. You can easily create high-converting landing pages with the editor.Their free tier comes with more functionality than MailChimp’s.
Usability is one of the most important factors to consider when choosing any SaaS tool.
Spending hours trying to figure out how to use a sophisticated platform isn’t an interesting experience. Especially if you’re going nowhere.
MailChimp is popularly known for its simplicity. When you log in to the platform, you get to see everything at a glance. Navigating the interface is pretty straight forward and there are little hints to walk you through.
The only thing that’s a bit hidden is finding the landing page setup. I don’t know why it felt like looking for a needle in a haystack.
Finally, I found it tucked away under the audience tab. How are you supposed to figure that out?
Other than that, MailChimp is easy peasy, the interface is clean, and you hit the ground running. Their backend design is awesome making it very easy to navigate.
Over to SendinBlue.
I have to say they have done a pretty good job in terms of usability. Their UI is not only clean but straightforward and blue. Lol!
Their dashboard might look cluttered or overwhelming to anyone used to a simple tool with not so many features on display.
But I find that they have tried to adopt a minimalistic approach to reduce the overwhelming feeling. The dashboard shows your contacts and campaign performances.
When it comes to ease in navigation, it’s pretty straightforward so I can’t complain. The drag and drop editor is easy to use and fast. And if you’re stuck they will guide you through.
Winner: Tie. They are both very easy to use. No learning curve needed. If you need more simplicity Mailerlite will give you that. Also, tools like GetResponse have one of the best UIs and excellent usability in the market today.
We all know that personalized emails improve CTR by over 14%. This makes it one of the most important features to check on a platform if you want to create relevant emails for your audience.
Managing and segmenting your audience on MailChimp is easy and straightforward. You can upload your contacts using CSV/Excel files or other CRM tools like Google Contacts, Zendesk, Eventbrite, etc.
When it comes to segmentation, you can manage your subscribers using Groups, Segments, and Tags.
Segments are the lists of your subscribers while Groups are created based on customer behaviors. You can further segment your Groups by adding tags based on their different demographics or actions.
The tags make it possible to create hyper-targeted emails as you get to know your audience better.
My only quibble with them is their siloed lists. So, if you want to create a new campaign you have to create a new list. And they count each person on your list even if they are the same people. You end up paying so much more than you should.
Also, you have to pay for the Premium plan to access advanced segmentation.
With SendinBlue, uploading contacts is as simple as on MailChimp but you need to confirm you comply with the CAN-SPAM act regulations. I know it’s more work but hey, your peace of mind is worth it.
Things become complex when you want to map data to your contacts. It really bugs me why they haven’t made it possible to do it in bulk.
You’ve got to do it one-by-one manually. I am not patient enough for this and more so with a thousand contacts.
But once you’ve updated your list, things get easier and interesting. You get to segment our contacts based on their location, employment, and other important demographics.
They have a full-blown CRM functionality so you can further segment your contacts based on their behavior on your email and site.
They have contact field criteria feature that’s very similar to what we call tags. You can use this to further separate your audience based on their actions.
But the real magic is in their lead scoring feature. You get to know which contacts are most likely to convert so you can prioritize them. If you need more advanced segmentation and lead scoring, ActiveCampaign does it best.
Winner: SendinBlue. They offer a simple and straightforward segmentation and contact management but it’s still pretty advanced. You get to create more personalized emails with it. For MailChimp, you’ll have to pay the Premium plan ($299) to access such advanced segmentation.
Unless you have a developer or a graphic designer on-site, designing email templates on your own may be an uphill battle.
It’s never just about sending emails but ensuring that they stand out and they should be eye capturing to your audience.
When it comes to email templates, MailChimp has hundreds of them. The designs are sleek but you’ll find a good number of outdated plain ones.
On my part, I think MailChimp works best if you create your template from scratch. They have a very robust drag and drop builder that is highly customizable. You’re able to add everything from CTA buttons to images, videos, countdown timers, etc.
It’s so easy to create a template that stands out and save it for future campaigns. Everything fits in together perfectly and you don’t have to worry about the formatting breaking down.
It has got all the bells and whistles you need to create customized emails thanks to the WYSIWYG builder. In this, it brings down giants like ActiveCampaign.
Also, you have the option of HTML if you want to go hard and code your own template.
SendinBlue also has about 200+ email templates to choose from. Yes, some are outdated but hey, you can’t find email marketing tools with only modern templates.
The good news is that they also have an easy-to-use drag and drop email editor that allows you to customize your templates or create them from scratch. The only disadvantage with it is the limited functionality.
It’s a battle to add social media buttons, change fonts, and general template aesthetics. Basically, it’s not as flexible as you’d like it to be to create outstanding email templates.
Winner: MailChimp. This is a champ when it comes to customization options and a broad range of templates to choose from. The UI is responsive and easy to use but still immersive.
Automation can be a deal-breaker or closer in an email marketing tool.
With MailChimp, you can create pretty impressive autoresponders for your audience.
The free plan comes with ready-to-use automation templates for welcoming subscribers, wishing them on their birthdays, emailing tagged contacts, and recovering abandoned cart.
The only problem is that they’re shallow and you don’t have a lot of options to choose from when it comes to triggers and actions.
And to move from one-off autoresponders to workflow automation series you have to pay up. It’s basically pay-to-play automation.
Over to SendinBlue.
With SendinBlue, simplicity is the key. They don’t have the complexity you’ll find on platforms like ActiveCampaign or Drip. But you can create a simple workflow email series to have effective marketing campaigns.
They have 8 ready to use autoresponders to make things simple when you don’t want to create one from scratch. A great option for beginners.
To create workflows, they have a simple drag-and-drop builder that’s almost the same as that of ActiveCampaign but less feature-rich.
You can do everything that you can do with the ConvertKit visual builder here. They’ve made the if-then-else super simple to follow.
And the cherry on top, the automation is available on all its plans, even the free one.
If you upgrade, you begin to access really cool and advanced automation. You’re even able to use your audience behavior to determine the best times to send your emails.
I liked that you can add transactional emails to the automation workflows. It’s super cool.
Winner: SendinBlue. They give you the option to create more advanced automation workflows on all their tiers. The transactional emails and machine learning are simply added bonuses to the feature. However, if you need complex automation, Drip and ActiveCampaign are better suited for the job.
To get the best ROI you need to keep improving your email campaigns. Use what works and drop whatever is wasting your time.
With MailChimp, you get to test the subject line, email content, and sender. It’s very similar to Moosend and Mailerlite split testing. However, the premium package allows you to do multivariate testing. You can test up to 8 variations of the same mail.
But you can’t test workflows and landing pages. Only the one-off emails.
SendinBlue allows you to test subject line, email content, CTAs, images, time to send an email, and so much more. Additionally, you can test broadcasts, workflows, and SMSes. And this is available for all tiers.
On higher tiers, they have enabled you to test the sending time for each specific audience thanks to their machine learning capabilities. This was so cool.
Winner: SendinBlue. Their flexible AB testing features ensure you are in the driver’s seat of your email campaigns. They look into all the different aspects of your email, workflow, and SMS.
MailChimp is an all-in-one platform for online entrepreneurs. They have a simple eCommerce functionality.
The pre-built eCommerce automation workflows are a steal. You can track your abandoned carts, order notifications, cancellations, purchases, and shipping confirmations. In short, you can easily track customer positions in the buying journey and send personalized emails.
And to make matters worse, they no longer lie on the same bed with Shopify. So you can’t integrate with Shopify. However, WooCommerce, BigCommerce, Paypal, and many more CRM/eCommerce platforms are available.
But hey, they got the next best thing from Shopify, ShopSync. It allows you to integrate MailChimp with Shopify.
Let’s look at what SendinBlue offers.
SendinBlue is the place to go for anyone with an online store and is interested in capitalizing on their audience interaction with their eCom.
First, the advanced automation workflows give you over 350K options to automate your sales and marketing process. From sending emails, SMSes, tracking individual contacts, updating your contact database. It gives you a granular view of your eCommerce.
It’s really awesome for small eCommerce businesses that run blast campaigns but it doesn’t have the complexity designed for big businesses. HubSpot or Pardot have you covered for that.
Oh! You can integrate it with Shopify, BigCommerce, WooCommerce, and many more.
Winner: SendinBlue. Both platforms were developed with small business needs in mind but SendinBlue takes it a notch higher. It has a very comprehensive in-built CRM functionality making it suitable for eCommerce.
Well, MailChimp just developed their landing page capabilities the other day.
You have only 10 templates and no option to custom yours from scratch. It’s competitors like Mailerlite and Moosend do it better. On the bright side, the drag and drop editor is highly customizable and responsive. You can add images, social buttons, videos, etc.
The form builder is also pretty basic. It takes you through three processes: build, design, and translate. Good thing you can create all types of popup or embedded forms. But they need to work on the interface as it’s a bit clunky.
In my opinion, you’re safer using Thrive Leads or LeadPages for your forms. They both natively integrate with MailChimp.
Over to SendinBlue.
Here the landing page option is only available for their Premium and Enterprise plans. But I have to admit that I found they have pretty modern templates and an easy to use interface. Faster and responsive than MailChimp’s.
The templates aren’t many but they are highly customizable. Okay, I am not taking GetResponse raw power and flexibility but you get me.
The drag and drop landing page builder makes it easy to create high-converting pages. I loved that you can access thousands of royalty-free stock photos just like in Constant Contact.
But SendinBlue forms shine.
They have cool personalization features that allow adding captcha verification, double and single opt-in options, among others. With this, you can go all out when creating your pop-up or embedded forms. What’s not to love?
Winner: SendinBlue. For the customization and flexibility, their landing pages take it home. My golden rule, regardless of the number of templates, never sacrifice customization. That’s the bread and butter of your templates.
Like everything else on MailChimp, simplicity is important.
MailChimp will give you all the basic campaign performance metrics. From open rates to click rates, bounces, unsubscribes, etc.
Don’t go expecting fancy graphs. But if you want to take it deeper, check out the results of each email sequence and you’ll be able to get a better insight into the performance.
I loved the Timewarp feature best. With it, you get smart recommendations and send-time optimization enabling you to send emails at the perfect time to your contacts. Regardless of their time zone.
Over to SendinBlue.
They have the basic reporting metrics like in MailChimp even with the free tier. But they go further.
With paid-up plans, you get access to the device, geographical, and heatmaps so you know the parts of your campaigns that keep your audience highly engaged.
And I loved the CRM tab feature that comes with higher plans. It gives you all the details needed to score your leads keeping your focus on the qualified leads.
What’s more? You get reports on your transactional emails helping create data-driven campaigns to build loyal relationships with your audience.
Winner: SendinBlue. You have more visual insights into your email campaigns including the transactional emails. Of course, they have nothing on the super-advanced reporting and analytics that Klaviyo has.
Well, you can’t put in all the hard labor only to have your emails landing in the spam section of the mailbox of your contact.
I did an email deliverability test in 2019 to make sure we are actually planting seeds in fertile soil. My test used the top five email clients i.e. Gmail, Yahoo, AOL, Hotmail, and iCloud. I also activated SPF and DKIM records on the email marketing tools. In this case on both SendinBlue and MailChimp.
95% of MailChimp emails landed in people’s inboxes while only 77% of SendinBlue emails landed in the inbox.
However, I have to say that one of the most difficult things to test is email deliverability. As a result, you have to do hundreds of seed tests to come up with a solid average. Therefore, take these results with a pinch of salt.
And SendinBlue has improved their deliverability so much in 2020 that they are now at par with MailChimp. They both have an average of 86%.
But like I said, it’s a difficult thing to test.
Winner: Tie. Both platforms do a good job in ensuring your emails get into your contacts’ inboxes.
To run a successful email campaign, you have to rely on so many other tools.
If you’re like me, you’ll agree that you are always playing around with a CRM platform, digital marketing software, and another SaaS tool at any given time.
MailChimp has created so much clout in the market that they have tons of native integrations.
But I have to say that I don’t know who is at fault here. They recently broke things off with Salesforce which is a powerful CRM platform. Add that to lacking Shopify integration and it doesn’t look good for MailChimp.
However, they still have hundreds of big shot tools so don’t worry. From Facebook Lead Ads to Instagram, Magneto, BigCommerce, WooCommerce, and many more.
And when you can’t find a native integration, they have Zapier to save the day.
SendinBlue, on the other hand, doesn’t have tons of native integrations.
But they have quality tools up their sleeve. From Drupal to Facebook Lead Ads, Optin Monster, BigCommerce, Salesforce, WooCommerce, among others. And they have Zapier if you need more third-party integrations.
Winner: MailChimp. In terms of volume, they take it home fair and square.
Well, you can’t splash your hard-earned cash on a platform that won’t come to your rescue when you’re in trouble.
Just because both platforms are pretty easy to use doesn’t mean you won’t need help.
When it comes to support, I found MailChimp lacking. Okay, at least for their low-priced tiers. All the paid plans have live chat support Monday to Friday. The premium plan gets phone support. The free plan comes with tutorials and snail-mail.
At least they have tons of tutorials available in the help center.
SendinBlue isn’t also trophy worthy. But they have a comprehensive help center to walk you through basic marketing.
The Enterprise plan gets customer success management support and instant live chat.
Winner: Tie. None of them is worth winning. They need to increase their support channels. They need to benchmark from their competitors like Constant Contact and ActiveCampaign. Better yet, Aweber.
Budgeting is never the brightest part of any investment. The fact is that not everyone has unlimited cash to throw around.
They both have free tiers so yay! Low budget entrepreneurs experimenting on email marketing and startups can take advantage of this.
Once upon a time, MailChimp pricing was very pocket friendly and you got value for your buck. However, they recently made some adjustments in terms of the features you get with their pricing tiers.
Do you need automation, personalized email segmentation, A/B testing, and phone-based support? You have to cough out $299/month. No kidding.
Otherwise, you’ll have to bear with the MailChimp branding on your emails. But hey, it’s better than nothing.
With SendinBlue, the free tier comes with access to unlimited contacts, list management, transactional emails, and basic CRM. But you’re limited to sending 300 emails daily.
They have Lite, Essential, and Premium tiers. I was surprised that their Premium price tag is cheaper than MailChimp’s.
Winner: SendinBlue. In terms of value for money, SendinBlue is more feature-rich than MailChimp. But if you have limited resources and you need more functionality, Moosend or Mailerlite can come in handy.
And this brings us to a conclusion. No tool is 100% perfect and they both have their strengths and weaknesses.
Go for MailChimp if:
You need an awesome, highly-customizable email builder.You’re looking for a straightforward and easy platform. No learning curve.You need numerous integration options.You’re looking for an all-in-one marketing platform and you’re ready to pay for the functionality.
Go for SendinBlue if:
You need a generous free tier giving you more value for your buck.You’re looking for detailed and reliable reporting.List management and lead scoring are important to you.You want a CRM and machine learning functionality. You have over 350K options to automate your sales and marketing process.
Let me know what you choose.
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