The email inbox is still the fastest route to a customer’s heart in the estimation of many, and two of the most prominent software providers in the space have been duking it out for over a decade.
Datanyze’s analysis of which technology the top 1 million websites use finds MailChimp enjoying a 39% market share in the email marketing segment, over Constant Contact in second, with 11.9%.
MailChimp has a nifty email quantity slider to guide you through its service plans. Its unsurprisingly popular “Free Forever” plan permits up to 2,000 “subscribers” (people in your email list) and 12,000 emails per month.
Pricing plans start becoming a concern once you want to send unlimited emails (as soon as you’re sending two emails a month to a list of more than 6,000, you’re over the free limit), at which point any subscriber number over 500 will cost $10/month upwards.
There is always the pay-as-you-go option, with low volumes costing around $0.03 p/email.
Constant Contact starts off with a free 60 day trial for under 100 contacts on a list (but unlimited emails).
It offers the aptly named “Email” plan starting at £15 p/month for under 500 contacts (up to 10,000 will cost up to £55 p/month).
The “Email Plus” plan starting at £30 p/month which includes more advanced features (e.g. automation, customer surveys). A list of up to 10,000 will cost up to £70 p/month. Anything over 10,000 requires a call to the sales team (US – 855-783-2314; UK – 0800 141 3172).
There is a 10-15% discount for paying in advance (6 or 12 months).
If you’re paying for full-fat versions of either platform, you’re getting a lot of similar features.
A lot of the differences matter only when it comes to MailChimp’s free plan versus Constant Contact’s free trial and paid subscription – less likely to be a concern when it comes to larger lists of existing customers.
As an example, a major drawback of the widely popular MailChimp free plan is that you can’t send automated emails (autoresponders) – one of the basics of the marketer’s arsenal. On the other hand, a notable inclusion is A/B testing and report generation.
Some praise Constant Constant’s easy-to-navigate template builder over MailChimp’s; not a small advantage given how important templates are to many companies seeking to maintain ongoing relationships with customers.
Capterra compiled this useful table on features:
Other things to consider are how familiar your customers themselves are with the different providers, with MailChimp’s easy one-click unsubscribe button becoming more and more well known to the general public. This ultimately teaches recipients not to automatically mark marketing emails as spam, potentially meaning fewer of your emails reach customers using the same email provider.
According to most sources, Constant Contact offers more extensive and substantial support with phone, chat and email available, while MailChimp is only able to offer its Knowledge Base to free users, beyond 30 days of complimentary email support.
Not everyone is happy with MailChimp’s own efforts, with one TrustRadius reviewer commenting:
“They clearly don’t understand how to create teaching materials; they are confusing and vague at best. Both the videos and the written material are very poorly designed.” – Frank La Pira (Ph.D.), Managing Director, The Rebel Entrepreneur
That said, chat and email support is available to paying MailChimp customers.
MailChimp came 6th in the “Most Loved Marketing Technologies” in our sister site TFM’s 2015 Marketing Technology Report, scoring 7.7/10. Of the 1,001 user reviews collected, certain comments jumped out about MailChimp:
“Really great applications with user-friendly templates.”
“Cheap and effective.”
However, when a business gets to a certain size and has requirements to integrate with other platforms, users are finding they need to move away from MailChimp to more scalable email platforms to enable sufficient customer retention:
“MailChimp is great and free to start with, but once things get bigger, then sometimes other platforms are better to use cost-wise.”
“As the number of emails increases, it is becoming less capable to meet our needs.”
TrustRadius also sees MailChimp scoring higher (8/10) than Constant Contact (6.7/10), with users commenting that whilst Constant Constant is regarded as reliable and trustworthy, it is difficult to justify to SMEs.
“It’s well suited for digital marketing agencies to use for their clients that have suitable budgets. The pricing, however, is less suitable for a small business when compared to other resources like MailChimp that offer the same features and services for free. Key questions a user should ask themselves is how large their email lists are, and how often they need to send email campaigns. Those answers can greatly change the service provider recommendation.”