Nuno Sancha
Author: Nuno Sancha  |  

Hipster Marketer with a passion for SaaS. Dreams about becoming a full-stack marketer but for now I just want to test software and write about them.


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Before I start with this ActiveCampaign vs Mailchimp comparison, I want you to picture this scenario: you enter a small local store in your neighborhood, you know the owner, the owner knows you - he even lets you know after greeting you that your favorite brand of chocolate is back to the store, after a few days of absence. "Oh, no ingredients for the afternoon soup today?" and you answer with some justification for why you are not having soup today.

The owner knows you, knows your tastes, and your habits, he evens let you take the products home if you are a few bucks short, and you can pay later, after all, he trusts his clients and his clients’ trust him back.

The modern days, the technology and the big franchises have this type of business going extinct day-by-day, but the same tech gives us the possibility to emulate this kind of business, using email marketing - one of the few channels that allow us to talk on a regular basis with clients, study them, and start delivering value to them, as if we were close neighbors.

Besides that, it is one of the most profitable marketing channels. The 2018 DMA report says that the ROI for email marketing is 41.52 USD for every 1.29 USD you spend. No wonder email marketing platforms are in high demand nowadays.

In this article we will compare ActiveCampaign vs Mailchimp, two well-known email marketing platforms in the market, and see what they have to offer to you as a business owner/freelancer/marketer.

Before you jump right into the comparison, I would like to remind you that here in SendX we give you a 14-day FREE trial - no credit card is required. We are an affordable email marketing solution, that uses clever segmentation, and allows you to do advanced automations. So take us for a spin, with no risk attached.

Overview of ActiveCampaign vs Mailchimp Comparison

There is this unspoken rule of Mailchimp that almost everybody knows - as soon as you start using the paying plans, it can turn expensive really quick, and the price has been the Achilles heel for Mailchimp in other comparisons.

With ActiveCampaign things are rather different since it is one of the most expensive Mailchimp Alternative we tested so far.

But we will address the pricing later.

Both tools are pretty fast at giving you access, they don't waste your time, you create an account and that's it, you are ready to start using. A positive note for the smooth way ActiveCampaign does it, my congrats to the designer that set that journey up, really well done.

The first thing that caught my attention about ActiveCampaign was the fact that it is not as straightforward as the other tools we've tested. Not saying that you should be extremely tech-savvy to use it. You will have to take some time to learn the ins and outs of the software in order to master it.

Another particularity from our past comparisons - this time the learning curve required is heavier for ActiveCampaign than for Mailchimp - the yellow monkey feels more straight forward for newbies, but it comes with a cost.

ActiveCampaign feels more complicated because it lays all your options in front of you, and with Mailchimp sometimes you will have a hard time finding the feature you are looking for. Not the end of the world though, just a little bit time consuming at first.

In addition, besides design and user experience, another thing that jumps right in front of you in this ActiveCampaign vs Mailchimp comparison is the weight these tools put into different aspects of email marketing.

While Mailchimp focuses more on the design of your emails, and all the other things like landing pages and forms, ActiveCampaign leans more towards your ability to communicate with your subscribers with the right message at the right time.

So let's compare the specifics.

1) ActiveCampaign vs Mailchimp - List management

Here we don't have much to talk about Mailchimp that we haven't discussed already here, here and here.

Mailchimp's way of charging for subscribers will make the tool charge you twice for the same contact in a different list. If you are an advanced email marketer that is not using the free plan, don't get too excited about the possibility of having more than one Audience in order to duplicate your contacts and keep things separated.

Just use the tags and segmentations like everybody else and watch out for the multiple opt-ins from the same contacts.

Subscribers at ActiveCampaign can be segmented by using tags and custom fields, and those can be added in automation as well, in order to organize your subscribers on autopilot mode.

Nothing really different from other tools we've tested so far, some behave like Mailchimp, charging for duplicate contacts, and even unsubscribers at that month, others behave like SendX, letting you grow your contacts and organize them freely without them costing you extra.

But the thing that it's new to me is this feature that ActiveCampaign calls Lead scoring - this thing is from "another planet". Basically it scores your subscribers accordingly with the way they behave with your messages, your website - your business in general.

And with this kind of information on your hand, you can target your hot leads without the guesswork, you have the numbers.

Ain't that cool?

2) ActiveCampaign vs Mailchimp - How about Editor and Design

I said before that Mailchimp is more worried about looks than ActiveCampaign, and that shows clearly on the options they give their users when they are creating an email, a landing page or even a form.

Besides the possibility of creating something from the ground up with their drag-and-drop editor, they have more than one hundred well-designed templates that will help you with your content creation.

ActiveCampaign on the other hand, despite having templates that you can choose from, they are not as much as Mailchimp's and they are not as beautifully designed. But, you can still use the drag-and-drop editor to create something well crafted on your own.

3) ActiveCampaign vs Mailchimp - Automations

We FINALLY arrived on the topic you were expecting. We’ve all heard really good things about ActiveCampaign's automation and I know you must be curious about them.

First, let's talk about Mailchimp though.

A few years ago, Mailchimp used to put more emphasis on automation, but now they are focusing more on other things right now - being a one-stop-shop for marketing.

And when you are trying to be everything, sometimes you end up falling short in some areas. If we are being honest here, Mailchimp doesn't cut it when we talk about automation, and if we compare it to ActiveCampaign things turn even uglier for the yellow monkey.

Don't get me wrong, they have descents and useful pre-made automation that you can use, the problem resides in their automation editor, the thing is confusing and without a workflow, it takes several attempts until you finally get it right.

If Mailchimp's automation editor is the epitome of confusion, then ActiveCampaign's editor is what we can call the closest to the promised land I've ever seen. Other tools that we tested had this workflow editor, but none of them as powerful as this one from ActiveCampaign.

Every step on your automation workflow will give you several options in order to get you as close as possible of an autopilot email marketing experience. Bear in mind that all this power comes with a price tag though. Don't get too excited.

If you want a tool that has an affordable price and powerful segmentation and automation (no workflow, yet), just try SendX, we give you 14-days FREE of charge with no credit card required.

4) ActiveCampaign vs Mailchimp on Customer Relationship Management

CRM - both platforms claim to have it. So we had to see for ourselves who truly have it.

Mailchimp has something that resembles a CRM, but is not quite there. They make it possible for you to retrieve contact data, eCommerce integrations, revenue reports and other things like that in one place.

But ActiveCampaign has a real CRM.

If you ever used a stand-alone CRM like Pipedrive, you will know that ActiveCampaign simply nailed it, when compared with Mailchimp. Sales processes and Marketing initiatives will work on point. You can build pipelines, assign deal owners, automate your sales communications and so on, and so on.

Like I said before, it is like they were worried about making your messages reach the right people at the right time - everything in ActiveCampaign is built with that purpose in mind. And like I already warned you, it comes with a price tag associated as well.

5) ActiveCampaign vs Mailchimp - Reporting

Both tools have these standards reports metrics that you expect from every email marketing tool: open rates, clicks, bounces (soft and hard), unsubscribers, links clicked, eCommerce reports… and the list goes on.

Speaking of eCommerce reports, that would be the differential that both tools have in the market. While most email marketing tools take the content creators’ side - integrating with CMS and making it easier for you to measure how people are interacting with the content on your blog and your lead-magnets content, these two platforms play their hands hard on businesses, integrating with various eCommerce platforms, and make it possible to correlate your email email marketing efforts with your sales.

But they charge for it as well.

6) ActiveCampaign vs Mailchimp - Deliverability

For this one, I will admit my limitations and say that the deliverability topic goes way beyond the things I could test for myself, so I will rely on third-party research.

But before we advance, I will take a shot at this, and say even without any data yet to show for, that ActiveCampaign has better deliverability than Mailchimp.

Why?

Because of the reason I was saying since the beginning of this article. The way it is built gives you the sensation that they work a lot on this topic.

It wouldn’t make any sense to have all this work to make the automation that powerful, the lead score feature and the CRM without worrying about the message arriving at its destiny.

So let's see what the folks from EmailToolTester have to say about the deliverability of these two tools.

Using their test methods this was the result they came up with:

So, in a test that took 3 rounds, we can see that ActiveCampaign had a far better performance than Mailchimp, as I already suspected.

Here at SendX, we’ve done extensive research on Email Deliverability and even wrote a comprehensive guide about it. Feel free to sign up for FREE and experience our Email Deliverability for yourself for 14 days.

7) ActiveCampaign vs Mailchimp - Price

During the article, I was always talking about the price tag that came with all the cool features I was writing about. Now is the time to analyze it.

Let's compare the prices and see what "damages" to our pockets we are facing for all those features we talked about in this article.

We all know that Mailchimp has a forever free plan that gives you 2000 subscribers and 10000 emails per month. But since ActiveCampaign doesn’t offer a free account, I decided to compare ActiveCampaign's Plus plan and Mailchimp's Standard plan, because they are "equivalents", having all the features we talked about so far.

For 2500 contacts:

Mailchimp charges 49.99 USD/month

ActiveCampaign charges 99 USD/month

For 5000 contacts:

Mailchimp charges 74.99 USD/month

ActiveCampaign charges 135 USD/month

For 10000 contacts:

Mailchimp charges 99.00 USD/month

ActiveCampaign charges 199 USD/month

By now it has become clear that despite being a cool tool to have under your martech stack, you will have to pay to play if you truly want to use ActiveCampaign.

If you are certain that those are indispensable features, go on and create an account and start importing your contacts and creating your automations workflow, but if you looking for a more affordable solution you can always give us (SendX) a try - it is completely risk-FREE.

8) ActiveCampaign vs Mailchimp - Conclusion

This time we decided to go for a pricey toy and compare it with the premium Mailchimp plan and see how things would go.

In marketing, we have this saying that if your only differential is pricing, you will always find someone to sell cheaper than you.

ActiveCampaign didn't want to compete on price for sure, costing the double of Mailchimp’s standard plan. But it came with so many awesome features that I don't think the price will scare someone that is truly a professional in email marketing with a profitable business.

Mailchimp became an All-in-one Marketing Platform, but ActiveCampaign even without claiming to be that, has more to offer in that field - a true CRM, for example.

My conclusion is: if you’re just getting started with email marketing you will not need all those fancy stuff anyway. Take advantage of the Mailchimp's free plan, or just go with an affordable tool since day one - Mailchimp will become pricier as you get more contacts.

Leave the fancy automations and all those shiny objects for when your business can afford it, if you ever need them.