Anyone who expected email marketing to go out of fashion with the advent of social media was sorely mistaken. Email marketing remains arguably the most effective digital marketing strategy – you need it in your business.
With that, you need the best email marketing software.
Mailchimp is the big beast of marketing automation. It’s been delighting business owners for over two decades with its simplicity, features, and impressive free plan.
ActiveCampaign is no fresh face in the field, either, but recently we’ve noticed an increasing number of marketers saying that it gives Mailchimp a run for its money.
So we looked into it. We assembled the evidence in the great ActiveCampaign vs. Mailchimp debate. We put together this guide.
Find out all you need to know about Mailchimp and ActiveCampaign below and decide which your business needs!
ActiveCampaign vs. Mailchimp: At a Glance
ActiveCampaign has been offering email marketing solutions since 2003. It’s gone from strength to strength and today is considered one of the top automation tools on the market.
Users consider ActiveCampaign’s key strength to be its in-depth CRM features. Its integrations, A/B testing, and segmentation features are extremely advanced compared to most competitors.
For experienced marketers, ActiveCampaign offers excellent value for money along with the kind of advanced features you’d typically pay a premium for.
Mailchimp is one of the oldest players in email marketing automation. Mailchimp’s been around since 2001, before social marketing and other trendy solutions were a gleam in Mark Zuckerberg’s eye. It understands how email support helps advertising campaigns better than anyone.
Mailchimp has always prided itself on simplicity. Its free plan is still considered perhaps the most attractive option for anyone who is new to email marketing.
Mailchimp’s leading features include its easy-to-use email templates, its efficient sales automation software, and excellent options for managing contacts.
Here’s a quick round-up of Mailchimp vs. ActiveCampaign head-to-head:
ActiveCampaign offers a more advanced suite than Mailchimp. It’s got everything you need for a sophisticated campaign with so many intuitive options for targeting customers at every stage of their journey.
Mailchimp is easier to use for beginners. It has great templates and it’s easy to test campaigns. It also has a free version, which ActiveCampaign doesn’t, so Mailchimp is sometimes considered the best choice for email marketing rookies.
Top 3 ActiveCampaign Features
Features are a critical distinction in the ActiveCampaign vs. Mailchimp debate. It’s not so much which features are offered – looking through ActiveCampaign’s site menu compared to Mailchimp’s, you’ll find little difference between these marketing platforms.
The difference lies in how they work.
ActiveCampaign’s features offer some of the most advanced automation solutions available. ActiveCampaign provides excellent support for small businesses that know how they want to reach their customers and are looking for sophisticated solutions.
Here’s an outline of our top three ActiveCampaign features and how they work.
1. Dynamic CRM
By far the most impressive aspect of ActiveCampaign’s offering is its dynamic CRM interface. Planning a customer journey and testing plans has never been simpler or more intuitive.
ActiveCampaign allows you to test multiple automation strategies against each other to discover which is the most effective. It lets you create bespoke customer journeys and split testing within campaigns.
ActiveCampaign’s dynamic interface is simply leagues ahead of Mailchimp’s in this aspect.
The customization options in ActiveCampaign’s email CRM solutions are well-suited to small business owners who have used email marketing strategies before. Some advanced features allow you to achieve an awful lot with just a few clicks, but newer marketers may miss out on features because they’re already so impressed by the basic ActiveCampaign CRM model!
It pays to explore the software in full before you launch a campaign.
The CRM also lets you use SMS marketing as part of your campaign. Its automation workflows are extremely advanced – ActiveCampaign lets you do pretty much everything you’d want while designing a campaign.
It lets marketers test strategies against each other in exquisite detail, making its dynamic CRM feature arguably the best you’ll find anywhere.
2. Email Segmentation
ActiveCampaign offers incredibly detailed email segmentation. Its lead-scoring feature lets you increase or decrease a lead’s score depending on which conditions they meet, allowing you to target your campaigns much more efficiently.
Mailchimp also has a lead-scoring feature, but this is a simple 5-star rating system. By contrast, ActiveCampaign lets you adjust for numerous variables.
This lets you segment email campaigns based on very specific variables, which is exactly what you want if you’re aiming for efficiency.
This makes ActiveCampaign an excellent choice for scaling. As you develop more advanced client profiles and need a wider range of targeting options and bespoke messages, being able to speak to customers at any stage of the buying journey is a huge advantage.
So is there a drawback to the ActiveCampaign email segmenting feature? Well, new users may find it slightly overwhelming.
Managing contacts in detail takes some getting used to, but the good news is that you don’t have to make full use of this tool to enjoy some of its benefits.
You can learn as you go. It’ll always be at least as good as Mailchimp’s simpler 5-star lead-scoring tool.
3. Website Tracking
It’s not just email segmentation where ActiveCampaign thrives. The software lets you build custom journeys and test them, but it’s also incredibly good at acquiring and assembling the data you’ll need to run those tests.
Its website tracking feature allows you to follow your customers’ journeys through your website. You can find out who looks at what, identify trends in user behavior, and build an incredible pool of data for targeted advertising.
Mailchimp offers some website tracking, too, but ActiveCampaign arguably provides more in-depth feedback with better follow-up solutions. When customers wander away from their buying journey, the platform will let you know where this happened.
If your landing page isn’t scoring, you’ll know where you need to make changes. You’ll be able to see which product pages are performing poorly and adjust accordingly.
Of course, you’ll also be able to follow up on missed leads with automated emails bespoke to that customer. This lets you send a huge volume of highly targeted emails per month and recoup lost leads.
ActiveCampaign offers three pricing plans, with an Enterprise Plan also available for larger businesses. There’s no free plan, but small companies managing 1,000 contacts can start with the Lite Plan at $29/month.
Each plan scales upwards depending on how many contacts you’re managing. The Lite plan offers a reasonable set of features for email automation, but the ActiveCampaign Plus plan gives you access to many more features such as landing pages and SMS marketing.
The Professional Plan offers even more advanced features, while the Enterprise version provides unlimited testing for templates and features like a custom domain.
We appreciate that ActiveCampaign offer a varied price plan depending on your number of contacts. It lets smaller businesses pay only for what they need – and a small business may not require or have time for some of the more complex features anyway.
Meanwhile, larger companies with higher budgets can access more features and run truly sophisticated email marketing campaigns.
Why Should I Use ActiveCampaign?
ActiveCampaign has an incredibly impressive suite. Between ActiveCampaign and Mailchimp, ActiveCampaign certainly looks like a more professional setup for experienced marketers.
There’s so much room to optimize with custom fields and support for all types of integration. Its drag-and-drop email editor also has great ease of use.
It’s the dynamic CRM that gives ActiveCampaign a huge lead in the ActiveCampaign vs. Mailchimp debate. This email marketing platform has everything you want when split testing or trying to create customer journeys.
It also offers live chat support in several languages for its customers – it’s easy to contact the team if you need help.
Overall, ActiveCampaign simply has better integrations, more dynamic options, and better research tools than Mailchimp. We’d recommend it to anyone.
Pricing based on contacts
Well-designed email templates
Good customer support
No phone support
Some features may take a while for novice users to get used to
No free plan
Top 3 Mailchimp Features
Mailchimp offers all the functions you need from an email marketing software suite – its simplicity has long been the key to its success. It’s perhaps the most popular tool for beginner marketers because of its ease of use and the fact that Mailchimp provides a free plan.
Mailchimp and ActiveCampaign both have plenty to offer, but can Mailchimp hold up to ActiveCampaign’s impressive customization options?
Let’s look at its best tools.
1. Email Builders & Templates
Mailchimp has an extremely intuitive drag-and-drop editor for building emails. Templates can be designed from scratch, but it’s easy to find all the options you’d want in a marketing email among the premade designs.
This makes it easy for novice users and DIY marketers to design an attractive, professional-looking email for any purpose without having to familiarize themselves with a host of customization options.
Of course, there’s still plenty of room for customizing emails for your contacts. This can be combined with Mailchimp’s sales automation and customer research capabilities for successful strategies.
The Mailchimp email editor is simple, effective, and incredibly easy to use. In the ActiveCampaign vs. Mailchimp debate, this is one area where we feel Mailchimp comes out in front.
Its email editor lets you contact clients quickly, efficiently, and with minimal fuss.
2. Tags & Contact Profiles
Mailchimp has an intuitive tagging system for creating contact profiles. You can manage contact profiles manually, although Mailchimp can’t quite match the flexibility of ActiveCampaign when it comes to managing contacts.
However, its tagging system is excellent – you can automatically tag contacts based on the landing page they visited when they found you.
This lets you separate contacts into groups automatically and makes sales automation significantly easier. Combined with the easy-to-use drag-and-drop templates you can create on Mailchimp, this is a winning feature for beginner users.
As it can be optimized for multiple landing pages, it’s also a great feature for scaling your business.
3. A/B Testing
Mailchimp’s integrations and segmentation options aren’t as advanced as those on ActiveCampaign, but they’re more than up to scratch.
This feature isn’t available on the free trial version, but all other paid plans allow up to three different tests per campaign (you get eight with the Premium Plan!)
A/B testing is an extremely important feature of successful marketing automation, which is why ActiveCampaign and Mailchimp both place it at the center of their product. Easily create templates based on what you know of your clients and find out how each campaign performs before you launch.
Mailchimp has all your bases covered here.
Mailchimp offers a free plan with up to 2,000 contacts, which is great for new marketers looking to get started with email campaigns but without much to spend per month.
The free Mailchimp plan includes email support for the first 30 days, after which you’ll need to upgrade to a paid plan for continued support.
So how about the paid Mailchimp plans? At the other end, we have the Premium Plan, which includes much more sophisticated options for customer journeys, campaign automation, and integrations.
Mailchimp’s premium version begins at $299 per month, but this can scale upwards depending on your number of contacts.
The premium version also includes priority phone support, which is a nice touch and one area of ActiveCampaign vs. Mailchimp where Mailchimp performs better.
Customer service reps at ActiveCampaign offer live chat, but sometimes phone support is the best solution.
Why Should I Use Mailchimp?
The free version makes Mailchimp a great place to start for rookie marketers.
It includes enough tools to let you find your way around and start designing successful strategies. Mailchimp’s accessible templates are an especially good feature.
When you upgrade to a paid plan, you can create more customized campaigns and the pricing is very reasonable.
The big question in the ActiveCampaign vs. Mailchimp debate is whether the premium plan on Mailchimp is worth it.
If you’re looking for full-suite email marketing software, Mailchimp performs pretty well. However, for our money, ActiveCampaign takes the edge due to its improved customization and in-depth customer analytics.
Ease of use
Free version available
Well-designed testing tool
Useful tagging feature
Phone support available on some plans
Fewer in-depth options
Campaign testing isn’t as detailed
Harder to compare journeys
What is the Difference Between ActiveCampaign and Mailchimp?
The main difference between ActiveCampaign and Mailchimp is that ActiveCampaign is clearly designed for experienced marketers looking for an optimized experience.
Mailchimp has a much lower baseline and is more approachable for novice users – we’d recommend giving the free trial a go if you’ve never used automation software before.
You’ve got nothing to lose and a lot to learn!
If you want to create a tailor-made campaign and segment your offering for clients at every stage of the buying journey, we’d recommend ActiveCampaign.
Does ActiveCampaign integrate with Mailchimp?
No – the two are competitors. However, you may wish to switch between ActiveCampaign and Mailchimp depending on your level of expertise.
Mailchimp is a good choice for beginners, and many people start by using this while their business is small. As you grow and need to create more sophisticated strategies, you might want to progress to ActiveCampaign.
What is an active email campaign?
An active email campaign is any campaign you’re tracking in real time. You’ll receive analytics on how the campaign is performing and learn where you can optimize.
However, most good automation software (including both ActiveCampaign and Mailchimp) lets you run a “test” version so you can understand how a campaign is likely to perform before you reach out to your customers.
Testing is so important. For this reason, we’d recommend upgrading to the pricier plans if you can find the money in your budget. These versions typically let you run more tests per campaign.
Especially when using ActiveCampaign, you can segment journeys and get an incredibly detailed picture of how your strategy is likely to perform.
What is the top marketing automation?
Our choice for marketers is ActiveCampaign. This platform combines amazing functionality with a wealth of customization options that leave most competitors in the dust.
Its one drawback is that beginner marketers may find some of its functions difficult to use at first. However, there are still plenty of basic, intuitive options – you don’t need to use every feature to run a successful campaign.
What is the best email marketing tool in 2022?
Mailchimp is an excellent choice for beginners. It’s stood the test of time and its free version is still a great place to get started.
ActiveCampaign’s increased functionality puts it a cut above the rest. We’d recommend it to any email marketer!
Both these platforms have excellent options for marketers. Our final verdict is that ActiveCampaign simply does more, and it does it better.
If you’ve got a bit of time to really get to grips with what it does, you’ll be running incredibly successful marketing campaigns with minimal effort.
And hey – if you don’t have the time to assemble a great email marketing campaign, you should find it!
Email marketing is still one of the most powerful tools out there.
Check out the pricing plan now and get started.