ConvertKit vs Mailchimp: Which One is the Best in 2021?

ConvertKit vs Mailchimp

ConvertKit and Mailchimp’s logos

Today we’re taking a deep dive into the world of email marketing tools ― focusing specifically on ConvertKit and Mailchimp.


Did you know that over 70% of professionals use email marketing to reach their customers? So it must be pretty important.


We’re going to help you choose the perfect tool by comparing industry leaders, ConvertKit and Mailchimp, so you can be sure of your choice!


Keep reading if you’re ready to build an unstoppable email marketing strategy.

1. What is ConvertKit?

ConvertKit logo

ConvertKit's logo

ConvertKit promises to handle your email marketing for you, so you can spend more time creating content.


They aim to do this by providing tools that help you:

  • Grow your audience
  • Connect with your customers
  • Earn a living selling digital products and services online

ConvertKit targets creators such as musicians, authors, podcasters, and online coaches.


Let’s have a closer look at some of their features:

  • Email marketing (including designer, sign up forms, and automation)
  • Landing pages
  • Commerce
  • Integrations

They boast a 98% delivery rate and a 30% open rate — a 30% open rate is standard, but a 98% delivery rate is above the industry average of 80%.


With ConvertKit you can design your own branded email templates to use as many times as you need to, and their inline styling options make for a clutter-free writing experience.


You can also use unlimited landing pages and sign-up forms to capture leads on your website.


Once you’ve got your leads, you can add tags to segment your audience according to their actions or preferences.


This is great because on average the click-through rate (CTR) of campaigns that use segmented lists is over 100% higher!


ConvertKit lets you set up automated email funnels so your content reaches the right inboxes at the right time.


Unfortunately, they offer the bare minimum in terms of analytics: open rates, click rates, unsubscribers, and links clicked.


When it comes to commerce, ConvertKit lets you sell unlimited products and sends them automatically when a purchase is made.


The only catch is that they only cater to digital products and services. So if your business grows and you want to expand into a physical product store, you’ll need to integrate a full ecommerce platform.


Luckily, ConvertKit offers a lot of integrations including Shopify, Teachable, and Zapier.

Zapier gives you access to hundreds of integrations.


But don’t get too excited ― when you pay for ConvertKit and integrate it with other software, you’ll have to pay for that software too.


We always recommend looking for all-in-one software, like systeme.io, so you can keep your expenses low no matter which direction your business grows in.


ConvertKit boldly claims that its system is easier to use than Mailchimp. 


Let’s find out.

2. What is Mailchimp?

MailChimp logo

Mailchimp's logo

Mailchimp promises to make you look like a pro with beautiful, branded emails.


Here are some of Mailchimp’s email marketing features:

  • Drag-and-drop builder
  • Content studio
  • Marketing automations
  • Real-time analytics
  • Transactional email

The drag-and-drop builder can be used in combination with pre-designed templates, and the content studio lets you store all of your images and files so you can drop them in as needed.


Mailchimp’s marketing automation lets you automate emails and includes a customer journey tool.


You’ll be able to reach beyond email to marketing on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram with targeted ads and organic posting.


Like ConvertKit, Mailchimp boasts an unusually high deliverability rate ― they promise 96%-99%.


Again, this is much higher than the industry average.


Mailchimp will give you the expected analytics as well as more advanced stats such as clicks by location, hourly performance, and social stats.


They also offer smart recommendations which give you data-driven recommendations, as well as A/B testing, and customer surveys.


With Mailchimp, you can also manage your audience using segmentation, behavioral targeting, and predicted demographics.


You’ll be able to build a website to get your business online using their AI creative assistant, or you can connect your existing website.


You can use API and SMTP to send automated transactional emails if you’re selling products on your connected website.


Examples of transactional emails are order confirmations, abandoned cart reminders, and delivery information emails.

3. ConvertKit vs Mailchimp affiliate programs and marketing

When it comes to affiliate programs, both tools offer you a way to earn money to pay for your chosen plans.


But ConvertKit and Mailchimp have got completely different approaches when it comes to affiliate marketing for other brands.

3.1. ConvertKit’s affiliate program

With ConvertKit you can earn a 30% commission for every customer you bring them.


But it doesn’t end there ― you’ll continue to earn 30% for every month that their ConvertKit account is active.


This means that if you can convince 3 people to use the same ConvertKit plan as you, you can pay for 90% of your plan with your commission money!


But because your affiliate earnings will go into your bank account every month, you can spend them however you like.

3.2. Mailchimp’s referral program

Mailchimp has carefully named their affiliate program a referral program because they don’t exactly endorse affiliate programs ― we’ll talk about that in a bit.


With Mailchimp, you can include a referral badge in your emails or sign-up forms which people can click on to sign up for a Mailchimp account.


If they sign up for a paid account, your account will be credited with $30. This amount is once-off for each referee.


This means that $30 will be deducted from your next bill if you’re on a paid account.


If you’re using a free account, you can earn and accumulate credits but you can’t use them unless you move to a paid account.


You’ll get access to all sorts of extra marketing tools at no extra cost if you and your referee are both on paid plans.

3.3. ConvertKit’s affiliate marketing policy

You’re allowed to do affiliate marketing with ConvertKit as long as you have your own business and 70%-80% of your content is your own.


For example, if you have a health and fitness business you can send an email about a workout you recommend to your audience.


In this email, you can include an affiliate link to the equipment you need for the workout.


But you must clearly indicate that this is an affiliate link and that it will redirect your audience to another site that is not your own.


ConvertKit does not allow affiliate links for content commonly seen in spam emails:

  • Education
  • Loans
  • Online pharmacies
  • Get rich quick schemes

This is to protect your email deliverability rate and ConvertKit’s reputation.

3.4. Mailchimp’s affiliate marketing policy

If you’re interested in affiliate marketing, you’re not going to get far with Mailchimp.

This is because Mailchimp prohibits affiliate marketing.


You can include affiliate links (that aren’t blacklisted) to a tiny extent in your content.


However, if you’re caught doing affiliate marketing, Mailchimp will stop your campaign and suspend your account.


There’s a very fine line between sharing affiliate links and partaking in affiliate marketing, and having your business put on a halt due to a suspended account is a risk that just isn’t worth it.


Mailchimp is not an option for affiliate marketers.

4. ConvertKit vs Mailchimp pricing

This is where things really get serious: By how much are these tools going to set you back?


Keep reading to find out!

4.1. ConvertKit’s pricing options

ConvertKit’s pricing is straightforward ― especially when you compare it to Mailchimp.


Here’s a look at their pricing table:

ConvertKit’s pricing plans

ConvertKit’s pricing plans

The image shows what each of their 3 plans would cost if you’ve got 1,000 subscribers.


For this many subscribers, the Creator plan costs about half of the Creator Pro plan.


The Free plan includes tools for growing your audience but sorely lacks when it comes to connecting with them.


You can’t build funnels, automate emails, or integrate other tools. You also can’t add team members or migrate your email list from a previous tool.


So that’s a very limited free plan.


For bigger audiences, this is what ConvertKit costs with up to 400k subscribers:

  • Creator $2,299 per month
  • Creator Pro $2,599 per month

You’ll notice that there’s no free plan offered here ― that’s because the free plan maxes out at 1,000 subscribers.


The next thing you’ll notice is that as the numbers increase, the difference between the Creator and Creator Pro plans becomes less significant.


This is what the Creator Pro plan offers that the Creator plan lacks:

  • Facebook custom audiences
  • Deliverability reporting
  • Subscriber engagement scoring
  • Newsletter referral system
  • Edit links in sent broadcasts

Access to subscriber engagement scoring could be a gamechanger for your strategy.


But if you’re not looking to go for the most expensive option, that’s understandable. 


Let’s see what Mailchimp can do for you.

4.2. Mailchimp’s pricing options

Mailchimp offers pricing options galore.


They offer pricing plans for Marketing, Websites and Commerce, and Transactional Email.


The Marketing plans are our main focus today:

Mailchimps’s Marketing pricing plans

Mailchimps’s Marketing pricing plans

Like with ConvertKit, the prices go up depending on your number of contacts.


As you get more contacts, the more limited your plan options become


For example, if you have more than 2,000 contacts, you can’t use the Free plan.


If you have over 100k contacts with Mailchimp, you’ll have to use the Premium plan.


As you grow with Mailchimp, so will your expenses!


The Websites and Commerce plans cater to ecommerce, and all 3 of them (even the free one!) include transaction fees and Stripe processing fees.


There’s a Free plan, a Core plan for $10/month, and a Plus plan for $29/month.


The Transactional Email options aren’t really plans. Here, you have the option to add ‘blocks’ of emails onto your existing Mailchimp account.


Blocks cost between $10 and $20 with better prices when you buy in bulk.


For example, you can buy 1-20 blocks at $20/block and send up to 500k emails, or you can buy 161+ blocks for $10/block and send 4 million emails.


If this is sounding confusing, this is what the pricing structure looks like on their website:

Mailchimp’s Transactional Email options

Mailchimp’s Transactional Email options

Again, this cost is in addition to your chosen Mailchimp account.


So Mailchimp’s pricing is a lot to take in. Let’s make things a bit clearer in this next section.

4.3. Price comparison

To get a clear comparison of ConvertKit and Mailchimp’s pricing, let’s say you’ve got 10k contacts.


Because of their limits, both free options are out of the window


Here’s what the other plans will cost you monthly:

Price comparison

Price comparison for 10,000 contacts

The cheapest option here is Mailchimp Essentials, but this plan offers very little by way of audience insights


You also won’t be able to do ad retargeting or social post scheduling.


So if you want to keep things affordable but still get reasonable value, ConvertKit Creator could work.


Mailchimp Premium’s high price makes it an outlier in this group. 


We don’t recommend starting at this price point ― rather start somewhere more affordable and upgrade as necessary.


Growth is good with your chosen tool, so let’s see what 125k contacts would cost you.


With over 100k contacts, your only option from Mailchimp is their Premium plan. 


Both ConvertKit plans still apply.

Price comparison for 100k+ contacts

Price comparison for over 100,000 contacts

Again Mailchimp Premium is the most expensive, but it’s only $13 more than ConvertKit Creator Pro.


With 125k subscribers in your pocket, you’ve probably got the budget and the business knowledge to choose between these tools quite easily.


But if you’re still feeling perplexed, keep scrolling to see which tool we recommend for whom.

5. ConvertKit vs Mailchimp: Which one wins?

In this situation, there isn’t necessarily a winning tool.


It’s a matter of which tool fits better with what your business needs, and also what your business can afford.

5.1. ConvertKit’s pros and cons

Pros:

  • Simple list management: each subscriber counts once even if they’re on multiple lists
  • Automation and customer journeys are easy to set up
  • Allows affiliate marketing and has clear rules for this

Cons:

  • Limited free plan that includes transaction fees
  • Only offers 3 email templates with little customization available
  • Gives very basic analytics that you can’t do a whole lot with

5.1.1. Recommended if . . .

You’re a creator wanting to build and connect with your audience but you’re predominantly focused on your craft. 


ConvertKit is good for a bit of email marketing on the side.

5.1.2. Not recommended if . . .

You plan on building a business that solely relies on email marketing


They don’t have the customization and flexibility to build your entire brand.

5.2. Mailchimp’s pros and cons

Pros:

  • Multiple pricing options
  • 100+ templates
  • Free plan offers more features than that of ConvertKit

Cons:

  • Prohibits affiliate marketing
  • Can get very expensive very quickly
  • Lack of audience insights on Free and Essentials plans will hold you back

5.2.1. Recommended if . . .

We recommend Mailchimp if you want options


They’ve got more pricing options, more templates, and their free plan is more robust than ConvertKit.

5.2.2. Not recommended if . . .

You want to do lots of affiliate marketing


It’s not worth risking your account being suspended.


We also don’t recommend Mailchimp if you’re looking to use the cheaper plans because audience insights are extremely important when putting your strategy together.

6. The all-in-one alternative: systeme.io 

Systeme.io’s logo

systeme.io’s logo

If ConvertKit is sounding a bit basic and Mailchimp is sounding a bit expensive, we’ve got a feature-rich, affordable tool up our sleeve.


Systeme.io is a well-rounded tool that you can use to build, launch, and grow your online business!


And we’ve got lots to offer for email marketing:

  • Unlimited emails
  • Automation email sequences
  • Workflows
  • In-depth statistics and analytics
  • A/B split testing
  • Audience segmentation
  • Integration of your email list with your websites and funnels

With systeme.io you can put together email campaigns that convert with our proven templates and easy-to-use features.


And when your business grows and you need more than just email marketing tools, our plans also include:

  • Sales funnels that convert visitors into customers
  • Website builder, so you can create professional landing pages
  • Business automation that will do the heavy lifting for you
  • Online course and ecommerce tools so you can sell services, knowledge, and physical products
  • Blog feature so you can bring online traffic to your site
  • Ecommerce platforms (including 1-click upsells and order bumps)

What more could you need?


If you’re wondering about affiliate marketing, systeme.io offers you comprehensive affiliate management features.


So you can work as an affiliate for us earning up to $276 per sale, or you can run your own affiliate program with ease.


You can have all of this, and we won’t break your bank for it:

Systeme.io pricing plans

systeme.io's pricing plans

All of the features we’ve discussed are included in the free plan, so you can get started without any overhead costs!


Sounds good? Visit systeme.io, and sign up now.

7. Conclusion

Now you know all there is to know about ConvertKit and Mailchimp.


ConvertKit is a good option for creators whereas Mailchimp can fulfill some of your email marketing needsunless you’re into affiliate marketing that is.


But they’re both pretty expensive, and you’ll likely end up having to pay for additional tools to cover all your bases.


We’ve ended on an all-in-one solution that packs loads of value into affordable packages (including a free one).


If you’re ready for an email marketing tool that seriously delivers, head to systeme.io to sign up for your free account today.

Other posts about email marketing tools:

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