ActiveCampaign vs Mailchimp: Which is Better for You?

ActiveCampaign and Mailchimp both have strong segmentation and automation features. Find out which software is best as we compare ActiveCampaign vs Mailchimp.

Mailchimp

Mailchimp is built for every marketer -- from novice to advanced. With a painless onboarding process and advanced features, Mailchimp helps set the standard for a fantastic email marketing software. Full Review

Recommended for

The Blueprint Score

Ease of Use 9/10
Support 7/10
Pricing 8/10
Features 9/10
8.4
out of 10
ActiveCampaign

ActiveCampaign is stuffed with useful features for intermediate-to-advanced email marketers. If you're looking for a robust email marketing software, ActiveCampaign may be the fit for you. Full Review

Recommended for

The Blueprint Score

Ease of Use 6/10
Support 8/10
Pricing 6/10
Features 9/10
7.0
out of 10
Updated December 20, 2019

Every email marketing software wants to knock the Mailchimp monkey off its perch. But there is a reason — beyond clever branding and savvy marketing — why Mailchimp is the industry leader.

It’s easy to use, quick to get up and running, and provides a ton of in-app support that not only helps you understand how to use its features, but also supports you in becoming a better email marketer.

Today’s workers don’t want to spend hours locked up in a training room being bored to death by PowerPoint presentations. They want to start using the software and figure things out as they go along.

Can ActiveCampaign provide the ease of use to triumph over its rival and cement its position as one of the most credible Mailchimp alternatives?

Find out in our head-to-head comparison of ActiveCampaign and Mailchimp.

Overview

ActiveCampaign vs. Mailchimp: An overview

Who is ActiveCampaign for?

ActiveCampaign is suitable for experienced marketers who already know how to navigate email marketing software and are already familiar with how to set up autoresponders and create segments.

Since ActiveCampaign lets you manage business accounts as well as individual consumer accounts, it is a good option for both B2B and B2C marketers.

Who is Mailchimp for?

Mailchimp is an easy-to-use solution that provides an abundance of in-app digital marketing tips that are personalized and tailored according to your goals and experience, which makes it a good option for novice email marketers.

Mailchimp’s strong feature set — with advanced segmentation and personalization options — means it is also suitable for marketers who want to create more complex campaigns.

Features

ActiveCampaign vs. Mailchimp: Features

Both ActiveCampaign and Mailchimp have a very strong feature set, but in different areas.

ActiveCampaign’s standout features include segmentation and B2B contact management.

Mailchimp’s standout features include its autoresponder templates and its ability to create segments automatically based on customers’ past behavior.

What ActiveCampaign offers

ActiveCampaign provides a limited range of email templates, which means you have to put more effort into designing your messages and thinking about how to start an email.

However, these templates are all created with specific goals in mind — such as product recommendations, discount codes, or welcome emails — which makes it easier to tailor your emails accordingly.

Email testing

Once you’ve created your message using ActiveCampaign’s drag-and-drop email, there are a ton of features to help you make sure your email is error free and ends up in your recipients' inboxes rather than their spam folders.

ActiveCampaign vs Mailchimp showing ActiveCampaign test email form with email address filled in to send test

ActiveCampaign lets you test your email campaigns before sending to ensure they end up in your recipients’ inboxes.

Its email testing options are excellent, as you can see what your message looks like across both mobile and desktop, as well as different email clients.

There is also a spam check, which analyzes factors such as from address, the email client you’re using, and your email domain, to predict whether your email will be marked as spam.

Segmentation

ActiveCampaign segmentation functionality is a big part of why it is a market leader.

The software allows you to create very specific segments based on a wide range of criteria. You can add multiple conditions, such as source, location, page views, and purchasing behavior.

ActiveCampaign vs Mailchimp with ActiveCampaign segment screen showing specific data points to filter contacts

ActiveCampaign lets you create very specific segments.

ActiveCampaign is also useful for B2B marketers as it lets you manage contacts by business rather than by individual.

For example, you can create an account for a business that has multiple points of contact and details on the company, including size and turnover.

What Mailchimp offers

Mailchimp’s email editor is straightforward to use, without any explanation needed. You simply drag and drop content blocks — such as images, text, and videos — and then customize the look and feel of these blocks according to your brand and the goal of your email.

ActiveCampaign vs Mailchimp with Mailchimp email editor with drag and drop editing features on the right side menu

Mailchimp lets you customize every aspect of your email message.

You can change fonts, indents, colors, and shades, and the spell checking can be completely customized to your brand — for example, if you want British rather than American English.

Autoresponder templates

Mailchimp's drip campaigns are also top notch, as they automate many manual processes to try to make it quicker and easier to create complex campaigns.

Instead of having to build autoresponders yourself, you can use built-in templates to create Mailchimp drip campaigns for purposes such as welcome campaigns, order notifications, cart abandonment, and win-back campaigns.

Mailchimp builds the sequences and sets the intervals between emails; all you have to do is create the design for each email you want to send.

Segmentation

Mailchimp automatically creates segments based on past customer behavior.

Its machine learning–based algorithm analyzes customers’ behavior and interactions with your brand — such as email newsletter clicks and the number of website visits or page views — to predict how likely a customer is to make a purchase. Mailchimp also uses this data to predict how much they are likely to spend in each purchase.

Results: Mailchimp wins

Mailchimp offers a wider variety of features, and its autoresponder templates and automatic segment creator makes it stand out.

Support

ActiveCampaign vs. Mailchimp: Support

Some email marketing solutions provide different levels of support depending on which pricing plan you choose. It’s important to check this out before you commit so you know how you can get in touch with your software vendor when you have a problem.

What ActiveCampaign offers

ActiveCampaign provides live chat and email support to all of its paid plans (it doesn’t offer a free plan). Live chat is available on the following schedule:

  • Sunday from 4 pm–12 am, Central Standard Time
  • Monday–Thursday from 8 am–12 am, Central Standard Time
  • Friday from 8 am–4 pm, Central Standard Time

You can access phone support if you pay for its Enterprise (most expensive) plan.

ActiveCampaign makes it easy to get in touch with its customer service team through its "Contact Us" button on the main navigation.

There is also a sticky "Help" button at the bottom of the screen, which opens up the Knowledge Base in a sidebar. This means you don’t have to navigate away from what you are doing to get help.

There is also an online community where you can get peer-to-peer help to solve your issues.

What Mailchimp offers

Mailchimp makes you pay for your support. If you’re on a free plan, you only get access to email support. If you choose a paid plan, you get access to live chat support Monday through Friday.

Phone support is only provided if you choose the Premium (most expensive) plan and, even then, it’s only offered Monday through Friday.

When you try to access Mailchimp’s support, it directs you towards its Knowledge Base first. You have to search there before you can contact customer support.

Mailchimp also hides its contact details, which makes it difficult to get in touch. You have to scroll to the bottom of an article in the Knowledge Base to find an email address.

Results: ActiveCampaign wins

ActiveCampaign makes it much easier to contact its customer support team than Mailchimp does, and it provides live chat help during the weekend.

Ease of Use

ActiveCampaign vs. Mailchimp: Ease of use

If you’re choosing email marketing software, it’s important to consider how quickly you can get up and running and how much training you and other users of the solution might need.

What ActiveCampaign offers

ActiveCampaign is a complex solution that offers a wide range of features. It presents quite a steep learning curve if you’re a novice user.

It’s hard to know where to get started, as many features depend on you having already completed another step.

For example, you can’t create a lead score until you have set up a segment. This is something experienced email marketers might already know, but it’s not apparent if you’re new to ActiveCampaign.

ActiveCampaign also doesn’t offer a lot of in-app support. A good addition to the solution would be an intro video that walks users through everything the software has to offer, explains where all the features are located within the menus, and details how to use the different features. ActiveCampaign assumes that you already have experience and knowledge of email marketing and this type of software.

This email marketing platform also tends to overcomplicate processes. For example, you can’t just create an email list in one click; you also have to add a URL and a description.

ActiveCampaign vs Mailchimp with ActiveCampaign popup to add a list of contacts

You have to add in a URL and description before you can create a list in ActiveCampaign.

What Mailchimp offers

Mailchimp is the kind of supportive, helpful solution you need when you’re just starting out with email marketing, or when you don’t want to spend lots of time getting up and running and learning to use a new piece of software.

It also personalizes its advice based on your goal (selling products online, setting appointments, etc.) and your email marketing experience.

Mailchimp also offers loads of help while you’re getting set up, explaining not just how you can complete tasks, but also why it’s good to take certain actions. For example, it describes the benefits of segmenting your contacts.

ActiveCampaign vs Mailchimp showing the Mailchimp screen displaying the audience selection along with a helpful segmentation advice.

Mailchimp explains both the how and the why of taking certain actions.

Mailchimp also displays in-app messages to guide you through different tasks, such as creating an email by using its drag-and-drop editor.

Results: Mailchimp wins

ActiveCampaign takes a while to understand and doesn’t provide in-app help. Mailchimp provides a ton of useful in-app tips.

Pricing

ActiveCampaign vs. Mailchimp: Pricing

It’s important to make sure you understand how pricing changes based not just on the different plans, but also the number of contacts you have.

The cost for both ActiveCampaign and Mailchimp goes up considerably as you add more contacts.

What ActiveCampaign offers

ActiveCampaign doesn’t provide a free plan, but it does provide a free 14-day trial with all of the features included. It also offers four paid pricing plans, with the price of each depending on the number of contacts you have.

ActiveCampaign pricing come in at the following for up to 500 contacts:

  • $15 per month for the Lite plan
  • $70 per month for the Plus plan, which includes all Lite features plus SMS marketing, custom branding, and contact and lead scoring
  • $159 per month for the Professional plan, which includes all the features of the Plus plan, along with A/B testing and sending optimization based on past customer behavior
  • $279 per month for the Enterprise plan, which includes everything from the Professional plan as well as custom reporting and phone support
ActiveCampaign vs Mailchimp showing ActiveCampaign's four pricing tiers dependent on subscriber count.

ActiveCampaign offers four paid pricing plans, with the cost depending on the number of contacts.

To give you an idea of how the cost increases per number of contacts, the price for the least expensive plan (Lite) are as follows:

  • $15 per month for up to 500 contacts
  • $49 per month for up to 2,500 contacts
  • $89 per month for up to 5,000 contacts
  • $139 per month for up to 10,000 contacts

What Mailchimp offers

Mailchimp provides a free plan, which allows you to send up to 10,000 emails per month to up to 2,000 contacts.

The free plan only includes basic templates, doesn’t have A/B testing, doesn’t let you build landing pages, adds a Mailchimp footer on each email, and doesn’t let you schedule emails by time zone.

Mailchimp provides three paid pricing plans, with costs varying according to the number of contacts. Prices come in at the following for up to 500 contacts:

  • $9.99 per month for the Essentials plan, which includes everything in the free plan as well as all email templates, A/B testing, and custom branding
  • $14.99 per month for the Standard plan, which includes everything in the Essentials plan as well as advanced audience insights, retargeting ads, and custom templates and domains
  • $299.99 per month for the Premium plan, which includes everything in the Standard plan as well as advanced segmentation, role-based access, and phone support

To give you an idea of how the cost increases per number of contacts, The Essentials plan, which is the least expensive paid option, costs:

  • $9.99 for up to 500 contacts
  • $29.99 per month for up to 2,500 contacts
  • $49.99 per month for up to 5,000 contacts
  • $74.99 for up to 10,000 contacts

Results: Mailchimp wins

Mailchimp is better value for money as the price per contacts doesn’t go up as much as ActiveCampaign.

Integration

ActiveCampaign vs. Mailchimp: Integration with other software

Most email marketing solutions offer a wide range of integrations, but it’s also important to note whether they have an API to build your own integrations to software you’re currently using.

What ActiveCampaign offers

ActiveCampaign provides more than 260 integrations with a range of commonly used business software. This includes:

  • Shopify
  • Salesforce
  • Typeform
  • Facebook
  • WordPress
  • Google Analytics
  • Unbounce
  • Pipedrive
  • WooCommerce

ActiveCampaign has an API that allows you to integrate the email marketing platform with any other business software. Its developer portal provides extensive documentation to help you get started, and you can also ask ActiveCampaign’s developer community for support.

What Mailchimp offers

Mailchimp provides more than 220 integrations to a wide range of software in different categories, including e-commerce, productivity, and content management. These integrations include:

  • Canva
  • Facebook
  • WooCommerce
  • Eventbrite
  • ShopSync
  • Acuity Scheduling
  • Chargify
  • Google Analytics
  • PayPal

Mailchimp also provides an API to allow you to build your own integrations to software. If you need help building integrations, then you need to contact an external specialist as Mailchimp doesn’t provide any support in this area.

Results: ActiveCampaign wins

It was a close-run contest, but ActiveCampaign just takes this round as it offers more integrations and more help with using its API.

How They Compare: ActieCamp

ActiveCampaign Mailchimp
Free plan Yes
Free trial Yes
API Yes Yes
Advanced segmentation Yes Yes
Personalized in-app help Yes
Drag-and-drop email editor Yes Yes
Community help portal Yes Yes
Autoresponders Yes Yes
Automatic segment builder Yes

Ease of use is key for small businesses

ActiveCampaign is packed to the brim with useful email marketing features. We’re not questioning its functionality. The ability to manage business and consumer accounts is also a major plus point.

However, it’s complicated to use, takes a lot of time to get up and running, and doesn’t provide the necessary in-app support to help inexperienced marketers when they’re just getting started. That means it also takes more time to create and run campaigns.

Mailchimp, on the other hand, is super accessible and provides tips to help you get up and running without needing to consult a user manual or sit through hours of training.

It’s this ease of use that makes Mailchimp the winner in this contest.

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