ActiveCampaign vs Mailchimp: A Detailed Comparison

Written by: Chris Donald
Chris is Managing Partner at InboxArmy and has more than 25 years of experience in email marketing

The best ESPs will streamline and enhance your email marketing program with automation, AI, analytics, and built-in integrations. Two such ESPs are Mailchimp and ActiveCampaign. So, today we are going to explore a detailed difference between ActiveCampaign vs Mailchimp

Mailchimp calls itself a “marketing, automation, and email platform”, while ActiveCampaign is promoted as a “email marketing, automation, and CRM platform”. Clearly, there are some similarities between the two platforms.

What is Mailchimp?

Launched in 2001, Mailchimp is a popular email marketing and marketing automation platform used by hundreds of businesses worldwide. If you need a platform to automate email campaigns, create effective audience segments, target and personalize each message and set up triggered emails based on customer behaviors – Mailchimp can be a good choice.

Mailchimp is particularly well-known for these capabilities:

  • AI-assisted suggestions to create more engaging branded content
  • Marketing CRM to get to know your customers better
  • Capture key customer information to create more personalized and tailored emails for your target audience
  • Pre-built journeys that can increase conversions and cross-sells
  • Built-in marketing tools, templates, and analytics to launch your website or online store

The Mailchimp platform has evolved over two decades. Its current avatar makes it easy to set up personalized and targeted email campaigns at scale. Moreover, it includes many features to automate, test, and optimize campaigns, integrate with other tools, and design personalized journeys to convert more customers and generate more sales via email and other channels.

What Can You Do with Mailchimp?

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Mailchimp is a powerful email marketing platform to:

  • Set up automated and effective email campaigns quickly and at scale.
  • Create audience segments and send targeted emails to each segment.
  • Predict what kind of messaging is most likely to resonate with a particular audience group.
  • Create dynamic content that impresses subscribers, and encourages greater engagement and purchase.
  • Map customer journeys to connect with each customer at the right time and with the right content.
  • Analyze audience engagement with each campaign to improve future campaigns.

With Mailchimp’s email marketing and automation capabilities, you can set up targeted and engaging campaigns that get more customers to open, engage, and buy.

Then with its analytics and AI features, you can get the actionable insights you need to better understand your audience, track the performance of your email marketing program, and create content that converts your messages into revenue and enhances your brand’s value.

That said, email marketing is not the only thing you can do with Mailchimp. This brand-friendly platform will also help you connect with your target audience across many other channels, including the web, landing pages, digital ads, social posts, and e-commerce.

You can build a new website using custom domains to establish or strengthen your digital presence. Then leverage readymade marketing tools to grow and engage a higher-quality customer base.

You can also launch your online store and leverage intuitive design tools to deliver a seamless brand experience to every buyer. If you want to advertise your products or launch new promotions across social media, you can do that as well with organic posts and targeted digital ads for Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Some of the other things you can do with Mailchimp include:

  • Drive higher sales and repeat sales with abandoned cart emails, browse abandonment emails, upsell emails, promotional emails, digital newsletters, and even transactional emails.
  • Leverage automation to save time on everything from emails and landing pages, to customer journeys, retargeting ads, and integrations.
  • Track and improve marketing performance with real-time insights, smart recommendations, email A/B testing, and customer surveys.
  • Get to know your audience with a Marketing CRM and then use this knowledge to send more targeted, high-conversion messages.
  • Leverage powerful AI capabilities to personalize each campaign, refine email subject lines, and create more engaging content across multiple channels.

Who is Mailchimp For?

All kinds of teams and organizations can benefit from the Mailchimp platform and its various tools and integrations. The platform is fairly easy to adopt and use, which can be a big advantage for SMBs, startups, and freelancers. Many email marketing agencies and larger brands also use Mailchimp to drive their email marketing programs and multichannel campaigns.

In-house marketing teams like Mailchimp because it is user-friendly and includes many no-code or low-code tools. Nonetheless, some teams can struggle with its ever-expanding ecosystem of features and integrations. For such teams, working with an external team like InboxArmy is the most optimal way to take advantage of the platform.

The Pros and Cons of Mailchimp

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Mailchimp has been around for a while, which means the platform has undergone numerous iterations and feature upgrades. These upgrades are beneficial to customer-focused brands looking for a way to set up or scale up their multichannel marketing program.

This all-in-one platform provides numerous tools and features for email marketing, e-commerce, digital ads, social media marketing, marketing automation, and audience management. These tools are very useful for marketing and brand teams that want to get stuff done in the least amount of time.

Some of the biggest advantages of Mailchimp are:

  • Automations and AI enable companies to grow their audience, quickly set up new campaigns, and convert more customers at scale.
  • Integrations with dozens of third-party tools help create a connected marketing ecosystem that can drive greater business growth.
  • Advanced reporting and in-depth analytics to track and optimize marketing performance
  • Email and live chat support to quickly resolve concerns
  • Advanced capabilities for audience segmentation, content personalization, behavioral targeting, email campaign management, and email/landing page/website/e-store/digital ad design
  • Comprehensive marketing knowledgebase with learning resources and free tools plus a thriving Mailchimp community to help companies learn and grow with Mailchimp

Another advantage of Mailchimp is that it can support any number of contacts, starting from 500 and all the way to 250,000+.

In addition, multiple pricing tiers are available to suit the marketing needs and budgets of businesses of every size. A free version is also available for smaller companies, agencies, or freelancers looking to send commercial emails to less than 500 contacts.

One of the few cons of Mailchimp is that the platform doesn’t provide a huge variety of email designs and templates. Another is that subscribers (or contacts) can only be organized by category or tags, instead of by more intuitive parameters like last name or first name.

Fortunately, Mailchimp experts like InboxArmy have the resources to get around these drawbacks and help you make the most of this comprehensive email marketing and marketing automation platform.

What is ActiveCampaign?

ActiveCampaign is a feature-rich platform with numerous built-in tools for email marketing, marketing automation, customer experience (CX) automation, e-commerce and CRM. With ActiveCampaign, marketing teams can set up campaigns for every stage of their customers’ journeys, right from reach and nurture to convert and grow. This means it provides capabilities for:

  • Personalized email marketing
  • Email audience segmentation
  • Subscription forms
  • Email deliverability optimization
  • Website and event tracking
  • Marketing and sales pipeline automation
  • Landing pages
  • Lead scoring
  • Predictive sending and content

ActiveCampaign also includes a powerful CRM with email and sales automation to organize customer data, manage multiple pipelines, and update deals. In addition, it comes with customer communication capabilities, so your brand can engage with customers at the right time to answer questions, recommend products, and even ask for their feedback.

Like Mailchimp, ActiveCampaign also includes hundreds of integrations (870+ in March 2023) with built-in marketing tools to connect with your audience, understand what they want, and create content and offers that offer exactly what they are looking for.

All in all ActiveCampaign is a powerful and comprehensive platform to:

  • Save time with pre-built automations
  • Scale up your marketing program
  • Capture more leads and grow your audience
  • Assess campaign and sales pipeline performance
  • Automate contact management
  • Close more sales with unique and timely messages
  • Integrate your e-commerce store with email marketing

What Can You Do with ActiveCampaign?

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With ActiveCampaign, you can streamline and/or automation many activities in four key areas:

  • Marketing
  • Sales
  • E-commerce
  • Customer transactions

As an email marketing and automation solution for business to consumer (B2C) companies, ActiveCampaign is great to find new customers and deliver great CX throughout the customer lifecycle.

If you are a B2C company, ActiveCampaign experts can help you to engage with customers across any channel, including email, landing pages, text, and social media with beautiful and personalized messages. You can also automate your marketing process with app integrations, pre-built automations, and templates.

Business to business (B2B) companies can leverage ActiveCampaign’s Sales solution to incorporate automation into the sales process and close more deals. The platform also automates the sales pipeline to ensure that no deals slip through the cracks and to provide an at-a-glance view of the whole sales process.

ActiveCampaign also includes e-commerce tools that enable companies to:

  • Automate revenue-generating activities.
  • Generate more online sales with a connected e-commerce tech stack.
  • Engage with buyers in a personalized manner at scale.
  • Reach customers at every stage of the purchase lifecycle to garner brand loyalty.
  • Send targeted communications to increase conversions and repeat sales.

On the transactional front, ActiveCampaign makes it easy to send transactional emails in a personalized and automated manner. The platform also simplifies customer transaction management and communication with tools like:

  • Email API to send transactional or bulk emails quickly and at scale
  • SMTP service to send transactional emails from web applications
  • Message streams to optimize the deliverability of all kinds of email messages

Who is ActiveCampaign For?

ActiveCampaign is suitable for both B2B and B2C companies in a wide range of industries, including:

  • Travel and hospitality
  • Healthcare
  • Real estate
  • Education
  • Technology
  • Entertainment

These companies can be either SMBs or larger enterprises.

B2B companies can benefit from ActiveCampaign’s CRM with email and sales automation, as well as automated task assignment, seamless lead scoring, one-to-one outbound emails, and centralized lead management.

For B2C companies, ActiveCampaign is very helpful in finding new customers, automating one-to-one and connected CX, creating standout email campaigns and landing pages, and leveraging data to create targeted customer segments and personalized messaging.

 Marketing agencies can also use ActiveCampaign to get more enterprise clients and set up marketing campaigns for them. Finally, e-commerce organizations or organizations looking to add e-commerce to their sales stack can use ActiveCampaign to set up and grow an online store, engage in personalized communications with shoppers, and share content that match their preferences and shopping needs. ActiveCampaign is also a useful marketing automation platform for non-profit organizations, bloggers, and influencers.

The Pros and Cons of ActiveCampaign

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ActiveCampaign’s automation capability is one of its biggest strengths. This platform can help you automate your email marketing program, as well as CX management, sales pipeline, and revenue-driving e-commerce activities.

Another huge pro is that the platform has features to help you with multiple aspects of your business, including sales, marketing, transactions, and e-commerce. Not many platforms can claim to be all-in-one like ActiveCampaign.

Machine Learning technology strengthens ActiveCampaign so you can power intelligence-driven sales and marketing processes. With data and ActiveCampaign, you can convert more leads to customers, determine the “best” time to send an email, and focus on the leads that are most likely to close.

You can also create powerful workflows from this data and dynamic customer experiences to accelerate your business’ growth. ActiveCampaign’s growing ecosystem of integrations is another big pro. Connect the platform to any tool you currently use in the business to create a more integrated, business-friendly tech stack.

One possible weakness of ActiveCampaign is that it can be a pricey purchase for smaller organizations and individual users. For instance, the cheapest version of the email and marketing automation module (called Lite) costs $29/month/user.

Similarly, the cheapest version of the CRM and sales engagement module (called Plus) costs $19/month/user. The marketing automation and sales CRM bundle costs $93/month for 5 users and up to 1,000 contacts and $386/month for 10 users and up to 2,500 contacts. Even so, the quality of the platform and the sheer range of its features make up for the high prices to some extent.

For more details about ActiveCampaign pricing, see this section.

Some other drawbacks of ActiveCampaign you should be aware of are:

  • Its CRM is not as powerful as standalone platforms like Salesforce, although this is to be expected since ActiveCampaign’s primary USPs are sales and marketing automation and seamless CX management, rather than CRM.
  • Reports can be difficult to navigate.
  • E-commerce features are not the best, so if you need a platform with powerful e-commerce capabilities, consider alternatives like Klaviyo or Mailchimp.
  • There is no free version (although a free trial is available).

ActiveCampaign vs Mailchimp: A Head-to-head Comparison

Let’s see how ActiveCampaign vs Mailchimp compare in a head-to-head comparison:

Mailchimp ActiveCampaign
Email marketing Yes Yes
Customer journey mapping Yes Yes
Landing pages Yes Yes
Forms Yes Yes
AI/ML capabilities Yes Yes
Audience segmentation Yes Yes
Built-in integrations with third-party tools Yes Yes
E-commerce features and integrations Yes Yes
Dynamic content and content personalization Yes Yes
Predictive email sends (send time optimization) Yes Yes
Marketing CRM Yes Yes
A/B testing Yes Yes
Behavioral targeting Yes Yes
Website tracking Yes Yes
Website setup Yes No
Digital ads and social media posts Yes No
Campaign manager Yes No
Predictive demographics Yes No
Smart AI recommendations + content optimizer Yes No
SMS automation No Yes
CX automation No Yes
Sales pipeline automation No Yes
Custom objects No Yes
Lead scoring No Yes
Phone-based customer support Yes

(Premium customers only)

No
Email and chat support Yes

24/7 for Standard and Essentials customers

Yes
Free trial Yes

(Not for Premium version)

Yes
Free version Yes

(For up to 500 contacts)

No
Suitable for  SMBs, large enterprises SMBs, large enterprises, freelancers, influencers, non-profits, agencies

 

In-depth Analysis of ActiveCampaign vs Mailchimp

Here’s a detailed comparison of ActiveCampaign vs Mailchimp with respect to some important characteristics and features.

1. Price

ActiveCampaign

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ActiveCampaign provides a free trial but no free version. Also, prices vary depending on the module you choose. The price of the email and marketing automation module varies from $29/month/user to $149/month/user.

The Sales module is available in Plus ($19/month) and Professional ($49/month) versions:

2_Activecampaign_Price

If you need both marketing automation and sales CRM, a bundle is available at these prices:

3_Activecampaign_Price

The price of ActiveCampaign’s transactional email service depends on the number of emails you send per month:

4_Activecampaign_Price

Mailchimp

The Mailchimp pricing tiers are based on the number of contacts. For 500 contacts and U.S. companies, its Essentials and Standard plans are free for 1 month. After the first month, they cost $9.26 per month and $13.87 per month, respectively. A free version is also available for up to 500 contacts and up to 1,000 email sends.

5_Mailchimp_Price

The prices go up fairly steeply if you have more than 1,500 contacts. Also, you can no longer use the Free version. If you were already using the Premium version, the price remains unchanged if your contacts list expands from 500 to up to 10,000 contacts.

6_Mailchimp_Price

The prices for Mailchimp’s websites and commerce modules are independent of your contacts list. Also, there is a free version but no free trial.

7_Mailchimp_Price

The price of Mailchimp’s transactional email plans depend on your estimated send volumes:

8_Mailchimp_Price

2. Email marketing

Both ActiveCampaign and Mailchimp provide powerful email marketing and email automation features. Both platforms will help you build transactional emails, newsletters, abandoned cart emails, and more. You can also personalize emails, perform A/B testing before sends, and track campaign performance. The platforms are also comparable in terms of creating audience segments, designing dynamic content, and optimizing send times.

However, Mailchimp has a slight edge over ActiveCampaign when it comes to overall email marketing features. Its segmentation, automation, analytics, AI, and content features are more advanced than ActiveCampaign’s. Mailchimp also includes these email marketing features that are not available in ActiveCampaign:

  • Multivariate testing
  • Enhanced automated customer journeys
  • Predictive segmentation
  • Campaign manager
  • Custom-coded templates

3. Sales automation

ActiveCampaign is known for its automation capabilities. These capabilities extend to marketing as well as sales. Automation can help you close more deals, accelerate sales, and strengthen your sales pipeline.

 Use ActiveCampaign if you are looking to:

  • Incorporate automation into your sales process
  • See your whole sales process at a glance
  • Automate sales pipelines, sales routing, and task assignment
  • Qualify more leads with data instead of guesswork
  • Send one-to-one emails to strengthen your pipeline
  • Easily manage all contacts from a central platform

Mailchimp cannot help you with any of the above, so if your focus is on streamlining and automating sales, ActiveCampaign is a better choice.

4. E-commerce integration

ActiveCampaign

ActiveCampaign provides marketing automation and personalization tools to automate revenue-driving activities, create personalized communications based on shoppers’ past browsing and shopping behaviors, and engage with them throughout the purchase lifecycle. You can also connect your customers across all channels and deliver consistent experiences, no matter which channel they prefer. ActiveCampaign also provides email automations so you can:

  • Showcase your best products
  • Cross-sell relevant products to the right customer
  • Send abandoned cart reminders to increase conversions
  • Send targeted messages based on product interest and purchase history

Mailchimp

Mailchimp’s built-in marketing and design tools will help you set up an online store, drive traffic and e-commerce sales, and deliver seamless brand experiences across channels. You can also connect your online store to Stripe (US and UK stores only) to accept online payments.

Some other world-class e-commerce features available with Mailchimp are:

  • Digital ads and social posting (plus automated scheduling) to help you find and reach a bigger audience
  • Built-in abandoned cart emails to convert window-shoppers into paying customers
  • Stock photographs to quickly set up an online store
  • SEO tools to make your product pages more findable on search engines.
  • Flexible automations to create customer journeys
  • Creative assistant to easily generate on-brand multichannel designs

All in all, for its advanced e-commerce capabilities and choice in features, Mailchimp has a slight edge over ActiveCampaign. So, if you are setting up your online store or aiming to scale it up with more pages and wider marketing campaigns, Mailchimp is a better choice than ActiveCampaign.

5. Build a Website

Mailchimp

If you don’t yet have a business website, Mailchimp will help you set it up with its website builder. Use the builder to create, customize, and promote your website. Minimal design or coding skills are required. Apply any of its pre-designed color palettes, themes, or layouts to set up your professional-looking site in less than a day.

The website will automatically be SEO-optimized with custom social posts, SSL certificates, and responsive design so you can expect good traffic via search engines. You can also claim a custom domain and connect it to your website. If you plan to sell products or accept appointments from your site, you can do this as well.

ActiveCampaign

ActiveCampaign does not provide tools to set up a website so if you don’t yet have a website or store, Mailchimp is the better choice. However, you can track your current site with ActiveCampaign. With site tracking, you can:

  • See what products, services, and information site visitors are most interested in.
  • Track every step of every customer’s journey.
  • Collect contact information to grow your audience with sign-up forms.
  • Customize your site offerings and content to match what visitors are looking for.

Of course, you can also track the performance of your site with Mailchimp. Use its free reports and metrics like pageviews, signups, and the email conversions to monitor traffic, understand how visitors interact with your site, and refine the site as required.

FAQs

1. Which platform is easier to use?

Both platforms are fairly easy to use – Mailchimp slightly more so with its intuitive marketing and design tools, editors, and consolidated views. 

2. Which platform is cheaper?

It’s impossible to definitely say which platform is “cheaper”. The costs you incur would depend on the features and modules you need, and the pricing tier you select.

3. Which platform is better for email marketing?

Both platforms provide user-friendly email marketing tools. However, Mailchimp is a better choice for email marketing.

4. Which platform is better for sales automation?

ActiveCampaign includes many sales automation features for seamless lead scoring, pipeline management, sales engagement, and CRM. Mailchimp is primarily a digital marketing platform so it doesn’t include sales-related features.

5. Which platform is better for CX automation?

Again, ActiveCampaign provides CX automation features, since CX is one of its key focus areas. Mailchimp doesn’t match up in this area.

Mailchimp or ActiveCampaign?

As with any other platform comparison, there’s no right answer as to which platform is better. Choose the appropriate platform depending on your specific needs. For example, if you want to streamline or scale email marketing, either platform is a good choice, although Mailchimp is slightly better in this area. But if you want to automate your sales or CX processes, ActiveCampaign is a better option.

We hope this article helps you understand the difference between ActiveCampaign vs Mailchimp and make the best possible choice for your brand, marketing program, and customer base. Contact InboxArmy if you have any questions about ActiveCampaign or Mailchimp and need experts to clarify your doubts.

Click here to contact us.

About Author

Chris sent his first email campaign in 1995. He’s worked directly with Fortune 500 companies, retail giants, nonprofits, SMBs and government agencies in all facets of their email marketing and marketing automation programs. He’s also a BIG baseball fan, loves a good steak, and is mildly obsessed with zombie movies. For more information follow him on linkedin

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