The Battle of the Bounce: MailChimp vs. Constant Contact
Wondering what you should do with that email list? While email marketing isn’t the newest method on the block, your email opt-in list remains one of the most powerful assets to foster genuine engagement and generate highly targeted leads for your products or services. If you’re new to the world of email marketing or if you’re looking to make some adjustments to your current email marketing strategy, you’ve probably done some research to find out who the top email marketing service providers are. Two of the most popular and trusted names in the business are MailChimp and Constant Contact, both of which are highly affordable, robust and easy to use. But how can you determine which one is best for your business?
Both MailChimp and Constant Contact offer highly cost-effective solutions, which is a huge plus for small businesses in particular. Both services are scalable based on the size of your subscriber list, as well as the amount of emails you plan to send on a monthly basis. Here are the particulars for each service:
- MailChimp offers a starter package that allows you to send up to 12,000 emails per month for up to 2,000 subscribers, absolutely free. If your needs are slightly larger, you can opt for the 2nd tier package, which allows you to send unlimited emails for only $10 per month, for a list of 500 subscribers or less. To send unlimited emails to a list larger than 500 subscribers, the pricing operates on a sliding scale, adding roughly $5 per month for every 500 subscribers that you add.
- If a paid monthly plan doesn’t quite suit your needs, you can opt for MailChimp’s “pay as you go” model, in which you can prepay for email credits to the tune of roughly $0.02 – $0.03 per email, with the price per email decreasing as volume increases. This type of plan is ideal for businesses that are affected by seasonality, or for campaigns in which you want to send a one-time blast to a large list without having to increase your subscriber plan.
- MailChimp offers a generous 30 percent prepayment discount for nonprofit organizations.
Constant Contact Pricing
- Constant Contact’s pricing structure is slightly more straightforward than MailChimp’s. Plans start at $15 per month for 500 subscribers or less, and increase by $20 per month for every additional 2,000-2,500 subscribers on your list. All plans allow you to send unlimited emails.
- Constant Contact also offers a prepaid option in which you can receive a 15 percent discount off the price if you prepay anywhere between six months to a year in advance.
- You can “test drive” Constant Contact’s system with their 60-day free trial, which allows you to send unlimited emails to a contact list of up to 100 email addresses.
2. Deliverability Rates
Both providers offer excellent deliverability rates, with MailChimp at 96-99 percent and Constant Contact at 97 percent deliverability. This metric is important, because it gauges how many emails actually make it into subscriber inboxes without getting blocked or flagged as spam. Both providers utilize sophisticated techniques to ensure a high deliverability success rate, including a high whitelisting rate among ISPs.
Both MailChimp and Constant Contact provide you with hundreds of professional HTML email templates that are highly customizable, allowing you to choose from a wide variety of layouts and color schemes. MailChimp offers a special feature entitled “Get Colors from My Site,” where you can create an email template that perfectly matches the colors of your website and/or landing pages via an automatic importing function. This gives your email communications a more integrated look, and reinforces your brand image across all marketing channels.
4. Tools and Functionality
Both providers are constantly adding new features to their online toolboxes, but below is a brief roundup of the basic tools and features for both Constant Contact and MailChimp:
- Customizable email templates
- WYSIWYG (What You See is What You Get) editor
- Drag & drop editor
- Image editing
- Custom fields and content
- Image storage (MailChimp offers free storage, while Constant Contact charges after five files)
- Contact management
- List segmentation
- In-email embedded videos
- Autoresponders (free with Constant Contact, paid with MailChimp)
- Split (A/B) testing (subject lines for MailChimp, split lists for Constant Contact)
- Engagement reports (i.e., click rates, open rates, etc.)
- Mobile app interface
- Social media integration and sharing
- Surveys (MailChimp integrates with SurveyGizmo and SurveyMonkey, Constant Contact offers a paid in-house solution)
- Event management (MailChimp integrates with Eventbrite, Constant Contact offers a paid in-house solution)
It should be noted that MailChimp holds a slight edge in the area of engagement reports; their reporting interface is generally considered to be more intuitive and user-friendly than that of Constant Contact. On the other hand, Constant Contact offers a slight advantage in the area of email templates due to their wider variety of styles and designs, many of which are categorized by industry and function.
In the end, both MailChimp and Constant Contact are excellent tools, so your choice will largely depend upon the specific needs of your business. One common recommendation is to sign up for free trials for both services and take some time to learn the nuances of each system. You may find that one provider is more suited for certain email marketing campaigns than another, but you may decide to switch services depending upon the campaign type and purpose. Truthfully, you can’t go wrong using either one, and there’s no rule that prevents you from trying out both services to see which one you may like the best.