Email marketing is such a potent tool that as a business, you cannot ignore it anymore. You want to talk to your clients, give and receive feedback, and make more conversions. But what about businesses that naturally have many clients? How about those that grow fast? What about small businesses that serve customers who consistently need engagement? How do they do it? In this article, we review two service providers (Constant Contact vs MailChimp) that offer you and your business a solution to email marketing.
MailChimp and Constant Contact are the most used email marketing platforms with over thousands of users and customers per platform. Pitting them against each other should, therefore, be a reasonably straightforward process for us. We will compare all the features that come with both solutions. You should note, however, that they both have mostly similar features. After we look at these features extensively, we’ll consider their pricing before concluding. Let’s first take a look at Constant Contact.
Constant Contact— More Power to You
Constant Contact is an email marketing firm that’s been in operation since 1995. During this entire period, they have gathered a following of over 500,000 clients. For Email Marketing software, Constant Contact gets all the basics right. Their primary services are quite spectacular. While you may not put them at the top of your list, at least they aren’t the worst example of an email marketing company.
They have tried to position themselves differently from their counterparts by coming up with unique products. These products are quite good and have seen some success making Constant Contact a compelling case to study. So, what are these products? You might wonder. Are their products appealing enough? Are their competitors any better? To answer these questions exhaustively, we shall review their business model comprehensively. Firstly, we’ll look at the features they offer. Secondly, we’ll assess their pricing model. This information will be useful to anyone looking at Constant Contact as a potential email marketing service provider.
Deliverability is an easy concept to understand. When an Email Marketing service has a higher rate of deliverability, this means that most emails they send are successfully delivered. Constant Contact has excellent deliverability rates. As of July this year, their deliverability was at 88%. This is quite an impressive figure and is almost at par with the highest rates in the market. This statement is quite true, especially if you consider that there are factors that affect deliverability outside anyone’s control.
If one of your goals is maintaining Contact with clients, nothing beats automation. It is highly unlikely that you will have time and energy to receive and respond to all emails. This reason is why you need a tool to help in keeping in touch with clients. Constant Contact’s automation platform is pretty basic. They offer the following services:
Welcome email and email series
As a business, you should build relationships with your clients as early as possible. This reason is why you enable automated welcome emails in Constant Contact. In addition to welcome emails, you can also use the email series. These are emails sent periodically to clients based on a predefined criterion. The most common standard Constant Contact uses time. This means that emails could, for instance, be sent weekly or every two days.
Birthdays & anniversaries
Event-based emails are quite useful because they are intuitive. Based on the information you gathered from your client when they were signing up, you can set up a series of emails. The client receives special emails on their special days. These emails may wish them well or offer them discounts and upsells or special prices. These emails usually increase the engagement between you and your client. This feature in Constant Contact makes the client feel valued.
Email Resending is an automatic feature that helps with unopened emails. With Constant Contact, you can have a setup where you automatically resend emails to non-openers.
Selective email sending
After segmenting your clientele, you can then have each group of subscribers receive their own set of emails. Selective Email sending is a straightforward way of making targeted marketing work for you.
If a user clicks on a link in an email or even opens an email, you can set up an automation scheme to target these users.
Management of contacts
In Constant Contact, customer management is a collection of activities. Signing up is usually the first one. After that, you have to manage your new clients. There are also a host of other minor activities that you will have to perform in customer management.
Importation and sign up forms
The simplest way to add contacts to your Constant Contact account is by copying and pasting. You can also type addresses to a form manually. The file formats Constant Contact accepts for uploads include CSV, TXT, XLSX, and XLS. Lastly, you have Gmail and Microsoft Outlook import. You also have uploading options from most CRMs. While uploading contacts, you can tag them for easier reference.
Constant Contact provides forms that clients can use to sign up. You can customize and embed these forms into your website or social media pages. Another practical approach you can use is landing pages. The only important thing here is the user must verify that all members of a list want their emails uploaded before uploading them.
Constant Contact provides many list-building tools. Sign-up forms and landing pages are the two most common tools used. In the same manner, you can enable customers to opt-in through texting, or with just a few taps on their tablets.
Constant Contact has a drag-and-drop editor. With this editor, you can play around with templates. Additionally, they have a vast collection of templates on their platform. With the drag-and-drop editor, you can tweak text, change layout options, and use different fonts. Constant Contact also has a branded template builder that can be used to create personalized email templates.
Creating personal templates requires you to use of images and logos. Constant Contact dedicates space of up to 2GB for this activity. You can modify the stock photos to your liking. This feature is available in the in-built image editor.
As a rule, all email marketing platform must provide analytics. In Constant Contact, you get analytics through email tracking. It is a simple analytical method. It is, however, quite powerful, and can provide you with plenty of valuable information. The reporting tab opens up to a dashboard which contains all the required information on campaigns. From the panel, you will see data that includes:
- Click through numbers.
- Unsubscribe requests.
- Most active subject line.
- Opens on different devices: desktop vs. mobile
Each dashboard has a localized help section. This help section deals specifically with matters on that page. Moreover, Constant Contact offers users with an extensive knowledge base. This base of knowledge is a catalog of articles that cater to every aspect of engagement on the platform. Coaches are available on a toll-free line, even though phone support isn’t available round the clock. Constant Contact offers a decent duration within which you can contact Customer Support. This period will range from 8 am to 10 pm on Monday through Thursday. It will range from 8 am to 9 pm on Fridays, and 10 am to 8 pm on weekends. Lastly, Constant Contact offers social media support, primarily through Twitter.
You can use only one version of an email for split testing. The other option is to spend time setting up varying versions of the same email manually. This process is, however, quite time-consuming and rather unpleasant.
Event management is a unique feature you can enable through integration with Eventbrite. Through this add-on, you can create, promote, and generally manage your special events. With Eventbrite, you can create emails that promote your events. You can then track any responses you get from these emails, subsequently managing the registration of attendees. You can do all these activities quite comfortably.
MailChimp— All in One Marketing Platform
In this industry, MailChimp comes out on top more often than not in most surveys. IS MailChimp that good? Are their services complete and exhaustive? If you’ve been asking yourself such questions, then this review is for you. All Email marketing platforms come equipped with several standard features. These features are what broadly defines how a platform is perceived. New products are of more value now than they were in the past, and it is within this new scope that we usually review platforms. We will, therefore, first go over the usual features: automation, integration, and more, before branching out into the added products.
MailChimp offers an automation platform that is, without a doubt, the best in the market. In addition to the very fundamental time-based triggers, there is an awe-inspiring array of pre-built triggers based on user actions. These triggers fall into the following categories:
Campaign-based triggers are for users who subscribed to a specific campaign. These triggers include the following:
- sent campaign,
- opened the campaign,
- not opened the campaign,
- clicked campaign,
- not clicked campaign,
- and the particular link in the campaign clicked.
They target different stages of a campaign and user actions that lead to a variety of scenarios. MailChimp details these triggers more comprehensively on their website.
Audience management triggers
Given that not all members of your contacts list will join campaigns, there has to be a set of triggers that you can employ to a general audience. These triggers are:
- manual add
- changes in a subscriber’s audience field
- leaves group
- added tag
These triggers anticipate quite a lot of user actions and accordingly provide you with a way to automatically respond.
Workflow activity triggers
To manage subscribers who, the system has queued to receive automation emails, MailChimp provides a set of triggers. These triggers are reasonably simple to grasp:
- The ‘previous email sent trigger’ sends an email after a user gets a previous email.
- The ‘previous email opened’ trigger targets users more accurately. The system automatically sends it after a user opens a previous email.
In addition to these, other triggers are:
- The previous email not opened.
- Email sent previously and not clicked.
- Specific link in email clicked.
E-commerce is growing in importance, and as a result of this, it has its own set of triggers. These triggers can connect you with customers from your store and help drive sales up. Triggers in this class are:
- Purchase any product trigger.
- Buy a specific product.
- Purchase product from category.
- Not purchased any product.
- Abandoned cart.
- Email re-targeting.
These triggers deal with combinations. They target subscribers based on the criteria you put in place. There are only two triggers in this category, namely: The API 3.0 triggers, and the Event API triggers.
These triggers activate based on select dates like birthdays, or even just a date chosen randomly.
These triggers aren’t the only automation benefits available to you as a MailChimp client. You can create custom triggers if those provided don’t meet your needs. You can also edit all automated emails after creation.
There are four modes of customer support available on MailChimp. As a user, the type of support you can access is dependent on your level of subscription.
The knowledge base
This feature is the first of two support modes all clients can access. It is essentially a data center filled with articles and video tutorials on many of the executions you’ll need to master. Topics you are likely to find covered in the knowledge base include: setting up a campaign, understanding and using data from reports, integration, and working with templates.
The second form of support available to all clients is email. While it is accessible to every customer, it is also quite reliable. You are very unlikely to receive email replies swiftly. You may have to wait 24 to 48 hours to receive a response.
Chat support is available on all plans apart from the free plan. It is more reliable than email and preferred by paying clients. Chat support is also only available on weekdays.
With MailChimp, Phone support too is only available on weekdays but is exclusively for clients on the premium plan. Phone support offers the best kind of help. One-on-one interaction means you are going to get as much clarity on your issues as possible.
Based on your subscription plan, you can access different levels of audiences. On the free plan, for instance, you can access only one audience. MailChimp suggests that you have all your contacts in one audience if they are all related. This way, management, and costs will be easier on you.
MailChimp has an in-built tool that imports contacts. This tool can import from a file. Before importing your contacts, you first have to prepare the list on a spreadsheet then save it as a CSV file. The MailChimp website gives a clear explanation of how to use the tool to import contacts.
To import from another service, you require a service called CapsuleCRM. CapsuleCRM is a third-party application that makes it possible to import contacts from another service. The uploading process is also clearly outlined on MailChimp’s website.
Getting new client forms are essential. MailChimp provides a form builder that allows you a fair amount of freedom in styling your forms. You can introduce these forms to your website or social media page.
The last aspect of subscriber management is segmentation. Segmentation is how you group the contacts in your audience according to a well-defined criterion. As an example, you could have all clients from a particular region as a segment. MailChimp has -pre-built sections for you though you can also define your own. Lastly, pre-built parts are available to you based on the subscription plan you have.
For templates in MailChimp, there is more quality than quantity. MailChimp designs these templates with different clients in mind, and so you can apply them to a range of scenarios. You can customize them for a more personal feel. Account-holders in the Standard platform and above can code their HTML templates.
The list of applications you can integrate with MailChimp is extensive. It is for this reason that MailChimp is the leader in integrations. Integrations with most platforms are quite straightforward. The process required to integrate with each application is elaborate, and you’ll have it figured out in no time at all.
Some of the analytics MailChimp provide you with include:
- open and click rates
- reports on email campaigns
- reports comparing performances of different feature, for example, two emails and how they performed with your audience
- landing page popularity, and
- bounce rates
You can view all analytics in one place. From this central location, you can then follow any path to dig out more information.
MailChimp has an extensive infrastructure network which ensures they deliver all your emails, and in good time too. This infrastructure network includes servers, switches, and load balancers. For this reason, their deliverability rates are among the best of all email marketing platforms.
MailChimp has three variants in its A/B testing, and you can access them all on the free plan. With three variants, you have more options to try. You can come up with three very different emails and see which performs best.
One of the ways MailChimp has tried to set itself apart is through its CRM platform. Using the MailChimp CRM platform, you have all your clients in one place and can communicate with them. From this, it is possible to get insights and then act on them to increase your productivity. MailChimp also integrates well with other CRMs, including Salesforce.
Constant Contact does not have a free plan. As a client, you pay for their subscription plans monthly.
- Constant Contact Email Plan
- The plan is the cheapest available. For $20 every month, you get unlimited emails. Additionally, you also get 1GB of file storage, basic reporting, and subscriber management.
- Constant Contact Email Plus Plan:
- This plan costs $45 every month. It has all the privileges of the basic plan in addition to expanded file storage (2GB), event marketing, automation, donations, polls and surveys, and coupons.
MailChimp offers a free plan, which is a huge positive. It has seven marketing channels, one-click automation, basic templates, and marketing CRM. On the free plan, you get a contacts list of up to 2000 people, one audience, a dashboard, tags, and segments, and other benefits.
Next available on their price tier is the Essentials plan, which costs of $9.99 a month. It offers you all email templates, branding, and increased customer support. The benefits of the free plan also come attached.
The Standard plan is MailChimp’s recommended plan. It offers you re-targeting ads, advanced automation, and advanced analytics. In addition to all this, you also receive custom templates. This plan comes at $14.99 every month
Premium plan costs significantly more than the Standard plan – $299 every month. You get phone support, multivariate testing, advanced segmentation, and all the privileges of the Standard plan.
Comparison: Constant Contact VS MailChimp
MailChimp has a more superior pricing model. They also offer a free plan, something unavailable on Constant Contact. Their free plan has enough features to entice small businesses. Moreover, their paid plans give more value for money compared to those from Constant Contact. The only downside for MailChimp’s pricing structure is that you have to pay more to access certain services.
Both platforms provide automation but with apparent differences in how they work. Constant Contact has fundamental automation. They offer nothing more than advanced autoresponder emails, and that’s quite a downside. MailChimp has an automation platform that is way more impressive vs that of Constant Contact. MailChimp offers automation for almost every possible user action, and you can come up with your own in case you need to. Another advantage MailChimp gives you is the ability to edit automated emails
On integrations the clear winner, again, is MailChimp. It has a vast list of integrations. Constant Contact isn’t far off, however. In MailChimp, you will have to manually search for specific integrations vs Constant Contact has their integrations categorized according to industry. This is an advantage, albeit small that Constant Contact has.
Both platforms have almost identical deliverability. This factor is a win for MailChimp. They have a more extensive customer base and so send a higher number of emails.
A/B testing is better on MailChimp. Giving you three variations of the same email to work with is impressive. In comparison, Constant Contact gives you just one variant or the option of setting up your changes vs MailChimp that offers several.
We strongly feel that MailChimp is the obvious winner here.
You can also test out MailChimp on their free plan. Unfortunately, Constant Contact does not offer a free version of their software. As for pricing, you still get a better deal with MailChimp on their best two pricing tiers vs that of Constant Contact. It is just that you get more features and functionality in MailChimp vs Constant Contact. That is why MailChimp is the winner here today.
What do you think is the better option here? Let us know in the comments below. Also if there’s anything we missed in terms of features or other important parts of any of these two platforms, don’t be shy! Read more comparisons on our blog here!