ConvertKit vs MailerLite vs MailChimp: Which is Best in 2020

by Ashley Barnett
*Some of the links below may be from our sponsors. My full disclosure statement.*

If you’re a blogger, you’ve probably stumbled across three email marketing options before: ConvertKit vs MailerLite vs Mailchimp. Over the years, I've used all three of these services and like ConvertKit the best. It's built for bloggers and has everything you'll need.

You will definitely need an email service provider. Your email list is one of your greatest assets and the service you use will help grow your business.

Thankfully, modern email providers make life easier for bloggers. With the right platform, you can easily capture new emails, send out newsletters, and even automate parts of your email marketing flow to save time.

Pricing

Let's start with the first thing on everyone's mind — price. Your email list is one of the most valuable things you own as an online business owner, therefore I don't think you should make this decision strictly on price.

From a return on investment perspective, email marketing generates an average return of $42 for every $1 you spend! But I also understand the need to keep costs low when you are starting out.

Luckily, these three email services all have free plans and varying pricing structures to suit your needs.

ConvertKit Pricing

ConvertKit is free for your first 1,000 email subscribers. The free plan also lets you segment subscribers into, test different landing pages and email forms, and handle an unlimited amount of traffic. You can also use your own domain for email landing pages, which looks more professional.

The free plan does not include automatic emails however.

The paid Creator plan unlocks automation features, premium support, and starts at $29 per month. As you gain more subscribers, ConvertKit becomes more expensive. Current pricing tiers include:

  • $49 per month for up to 3,000 subscribers.
  • $79 per month for up to 5,000 subscribers.
  • $99 per month for up to 8,000 subscribers.
  • $119 per month for up to 10,000 subscribers.

ConvertKit’s pricing becomes more cost-effective per subscriber as you scale. However, for most bloggers, you probably won’t have to worry about managing email lists of tens of thousands of readers and can enjoy an affordable plan.

ConvertKit does have a Creator Pro option which unlocks more reporting features, multiple team member access, and priority support. If you’re a single-person operation, you probably don’t need this level of sophistication.

MailerLite Pricing

Like ConvertKit, MailerLite has a free plan if you’re under 1,000 subscribers. This plan lets you send 12,000 emails per month, and you can use MailerLite’s intuitive drag-and-drop editor to easily craft emails.

However, the free version doesn’t let you use newsletter templates or edit template HTML. You can set up basic email automation and segment subscribers, but for the most part, you’re stuck with pre-set templates.

The pro version unlocks significantly more customization options and reporting metrics that we’ll get into later. As for price, pro version pricing is thankfully rather affordable at:

  • $10 per month for under 1,000 subscribers.
  • $15 per month for 1,000 to 2,500 subscribers.
  • $30 per month for 2,501 to 5,000 subscribers.
  • $50 per month for 5,001 to 10,000 subscribers.

If you’re just starting out with blogging and want to cut costs, it’s hard to find a more affordable solution than MailerLite.

Mailchimp Pricing

Not to be left behind, Mailchimp also offers a free plan if you have under 2,000 subscribers. This plan has several basic forms and landing pages you can use, but you can’t segment subscribers.

Where Mailchimp differs from ConvertKit and MailerLite is in their paid tier system. Mailchimp prices still vary based on subscriber count, but you choose between Essentials, Standard, and Premium plan options.

The Essentials plan is enough for bloggers who send the occasional email blast and call it a day. You'll need the Standard plan to send automatic emails and get segmenting options. Finally, Premium is for serious email marketers who run complex campaigns and really know what they’re doing.

Essential costs $30.99 for up to 2,500 subscribers, while Standard costs $51.99 per month. For 5,000 subscribers, Essential costs $52.99 per month and Standard costs $79.99. 

Verdict

While all three providers have free options, if you can't send automatic emails or segment your subscribers I believe you will outgrow the plan very quickly.

Mailerlite is the only service that offers segmenting and automatic emails on their free plan. You can send up to 12,000 emails to up to 1,000 subscribers before having to upgrade.

Mailchimp requires the Standard plan at $14.99 per month to get both segmenting and automatic sending. While ConvertKit's lowest plan is $29 per month for these features.

Features on the free plan ConvertKitMailerliteMailchimp
# of subscribers1,0001,0002,000
# of emails unlimited12,000 per monthunlimited
Include automation?noyesno
Include segmenting?no yesno
Price to get automation and segmenting$29 per monthon free plan$14.99 per month
Get startedGet startedGet started

Related: What You Need to Know before Starting an Email List

Features

Pricing is an important consideration when choosing between ConvertKit, MailerLite, or Mailchimp. However, you also need to make sure your email provider has enough functionality to support your marketing dreams!

As you grow, price will become less of an issue so it's important to consider more than price.

Time to tackle some of the most important features you should consider when shopping around.

1. Autoresponders and Automation

Autoresponders are a foundation of successful email marketing. With autoresponders, you can create an automatic email sequence to send out to new subscribers.

Bloggers typically use autoresponders to send a series of welcome emails, which is a simple way to promote posts and resources to new readers. You can also use autoresponders to create more complex email campaigns that span several days, to promote a product, or to sell a course.

In terms of automation, all three email platforms have something to offer.

ConvertKit Automation

ConvertKit lets you use a diverse range of automation templates, like a newsletter sequence, webinar promotion, or your own design. Plus, ConvertKit’s visual sequence builder makes it easy to create sophisticated sequences and schedule delivery dates. 

You can also add actions a subscriber has to complete before being moved onto the next email in the sequence. Or, you can move subscribers to an entirely new automation sequence if depending on their actions.

For example, if someone clicks on a link to read your article about Disneyland that could automatically put them on a list that delivers all your Disneyland content.

MailerLite Automation

MailerLite also lets you create an automatic workflow that begins with a trigger.

For example, your sequence could start when someone subscribes to your list, if they complete a form on your website, or even on their birthday or a specific date. Afterwards, you can send more emails, set time delays, or add conditions like requiring the subscriber to live in a certain country or have interacted with a previous email campaign to get future emails.

Like ConvertKit, you can also add actions to your sequence. For example, you can move a subscriber to a new group, remove them, or mark them as unsubscribed based on their behavior.

Mailchimp Automation

Mailchimp has several automation templates you can use, including welcoming new subscribers, saying happy birthday, sharing blog updates, recovering abandoned cart orders, and sending order notifications. You can also create custom email campaigns if you want more control over the sequence or keep things simple with existing templates.

As for automation options, Mailchimp lets you create sequences based on subscriber activity and tags, which is fairly basic. However, Mailchimp also focuses heavily on ecommerce, and has sequences for following up on purchases, sending out coupons, thanking first-time customers, and re-engaging with previous customers.

Verdict

ConvertKit has the most intuitive email sequence builder out of the competition. However, ConvertKit doesn’t offer email automation in their free plan. In contrast, MailerLite includes automation for free, and the email design tool is comparable to ConvertKit.

As for Mailchimp, their free plan allows for single email automation. If you want to create an email series, you need to pay for the Standard plan.

Ultimately, MailerLite is your best free email automation choice. ConvertKit is more expensive, but their intuitive design tool could justify the price. Mailchimp automation is more heavily geared for ecommerce, which probably isn’t useful for beginner bloggers.

Sign up for MailerLite here.

2. Segmenting

Segmenting your email list means breaking your subscribers into smaller audiences depending on their interests. As a blogger, you might segment subscribers based on the blog category they were reading when they subscribed.

Alternatively, you could segment people based on gender, age, location, or some combination of characteristics.

Email segmentation helps you send more targeted emails. After all, think about it from the reader’s perspective! If you run a blog on, let’s say, home and garden content, a reader who subscribes after reading your article on the best lawn mowers might not care about your next email on bathroom redesign ideas.

Ultimately, segmenting helps increase engagement and decreases your unsubscribe rate; both of which are great indicators for profitability! As for which email provider is best for segmentation, it’s admittedly a tough decision.

Currently, ConvertKit, MailerLite, and Mailchimp let you segment subscribers based on:

  • Sign up source.
  • Demographic information and timezones.
  • Prior purchases.
  • By email engagement metrics, such as time inactive or if a subscriber has engaged with previous campaigns.

All three email services also let you segment based on link triggers, which is one of the most powerful features available.

For example, with link triggers, you can segment subscribers based on different links the click within an email. If you send out a poll or an email blast that contains a variety of content, segmenting through link clicks is an easy way to group subscribers based on the content that interests them.

For both ConvertKit and Mailerlite, all your subscribers are in one pool, and then you can give different subscribers different labels that put them into various groups. In Convertkit these labels are called “tags” and in Mailerlite they are called “groups”, but from what I can tell they do the exact same thing.

In typical Mailchimp fashion, you have a ridiculous amount of segmenting options, once again with a focus on ecommerce. Overall, the sheer number of options and depth probably isn’t worth the price unless you know what you’re doing when it comes to email marketing.

Sign up for ConvertKit here.

Verdict

All three platforms have comprehensive segmenting options. Choosing between ConvertKit and MailerLite really comes down to preference. Mailchimp has more functionality, but the platform feels clunky and isn’t beginner-friendly.

3. Affiliate Linking

Affiliate marketing is a multi-billion dollar industry and rather popular way to make money online. For bloggers, affiliate marketing provides an excellent way to diversify revenue outside of display advertising and writing sponsored posts. 

Blogging is also an effective way to start affiliate marketing. In fact, according to Awin, bloggers earned 40% of affiliate commissions in the U.S. in 2018. Content simply lends itself well to promoting affiliate offers, and if you write reviews or buying guides for your readers, it’s easy to incorporate affiliate offers into your articles naturally.

However, an often overlooked aspect of promoting affiliate offers is email marketing. An engaged email list can become even more lucrative if you promote high-quality affiliate offers that actually benefit your readers.

Granted, including affiliate links in emails has always been a bit of a gray area because of anti-spam laws. As a result, email companies don’t have a clear stance on what’s allowed for affiliate promotion.

I think Mailchimp actually sums it up pretty well in their explaination. They allow affiliate links but not affiliate marketing — which sounds confusing until you think about intent.

If you send a truly helpful email that has an affiliate link you believe is a benefit to your readers — that's an affiliate link. If you send what amounts to an advertisement about a product simply trying to get sales — that affiliate marketing.

Basically, they don't want you spamming your users.

ConvertKit states that they don’t “restrict the use of affiliate links in emails as long as they are properly marked and used responsibly. However, we do not allow content that is 100% affiliate based, including selling other tools, software, ‘business in a box’, etc.”

MailerLite has similar rules, and you have to clearly mark affiliate links as being promotional and “meet subscriber expectations.”

Verdict

There’s no discernable difference between ConvertKit, MailerLite, and Mailchimp in terms of affiliate marketing policies. The most important thing you can do is to avoid spamming your readers and to use affiliate offers as an accent to your emails, not the foundation.

4. Reporting

Part of successful email marketing means tracking what works and what doesn’t. An email list is a valuable resource, but learning how to master email marketing is a never-ending battle. Subscriber preferences change, people get bored, and you have to continuously provide readers a reason to even open your emails in the first place.

Considering how complex email marketing can get, having comprehensive reporting is critical to know how effective your emails are. All three email providers have numerous metrics you can track for any email you send, including:

  • Total emails sent.
  • Email open rate.
  • Percentage of subscribers who clicked a link.
  • Unsubscribers and spam complaints.
  • Email client and device type.
  • Email opens by location.

Most importantly, reporting includes link tracking so you can monitor the content your subscribers click on. Overtime, you can use this metric to get a better understanding of what interests your subscribers and write more compelling emails.

Out of all providers, MailerLite is the most simplistic. Every email you send has a “view report” tab that provides a snapshot of performance. Similarly, ConvertKit shows a simple breakdown of all-time email marketing stats and lets you filter per-email if you want more granularity.

In true Mailchimp fashion, you get more data with Mailchimp’s reporting than with ConvertKit or MailerLite. For example, Mailchimp includes a demographics tab that tracks subscriber age. 

Additionally, you can opt-in for campaign benchmarking and compare your email performance against similar businesses.

You can also download a benchmark report that includes optimization tips to get more results from your next email. This is a step above ConvertKit and MailerLite, but it’s only useful if you act on the suggestions and meticulously test.

Verdict

ConvertKit and MailerLite have a simple reporting system that’s ideal for beginner and intermediate bloggers alike. Mailchimp offers greater granularity in their email reports. However, additional data is only worth Mailchimp’s higher price if you’re serious about email optimization and utilizing your list.

Sign up for ConvertKit here.

5. Support

Technical problems are an inevitable part of running an online business. Website hosting can crash, plugins stop working, and theme updates can randomly break parts of your website.

Email software isn’t immune to tech issues. Even the best email providers sometimes have hiccups in performance. Therefore, you want to choose an email provider that has a track record of happy customers and a timely support team.

This is more important than you might think. If you’re running a profitable email list and a problem with your account prevents you from sending out an email blast, that’s lost income! Plus, if you have trouble setting up an email campaign, it’s nice knowing you have a reliable support team to rely on.

ConvertKit, MailerLite, and Mailchimp all offer 24/7 email support for free plans. If you open a support ticket as a free user, you should expect a reply in anywhere from 24 to 72 hours since these tickets are tackled in the order they’re received.

The second you pay for a premium plan, you unlock better support with all three companies. This grants access to live chat support, which answers questions faster than opening email tickets. With MailerLite, you can also pay $100 per month for MailerPro, which grants you immediate support assistance and account manager who helps create campaigns and optimize your account.

Mailchimp users with the Premium plan also get phone support from 9am to 5pm ET during the week. However, Premium costs $299 per month.

Verdict

Thankfully, the world of email marketing is competitive enough for free plans to still offer basic support. If you’re just starting out and have a small email list, you can get away with a free plan without worrying about a complete lack of customer support.

Once you upgrade, all three providers have live chat support that suffices for handling account problems and questions. MailerLite's MailerPro is a more comprehensive option if you’re willing to spend for an account manager, which gives MailerLite a slight edge here. Mailchimp sounds better on paper, but phone support is only accessible for Premium users paying $299 per month.

Sign up with MailerLite here.

Summary

For most bloggers, affordable ConvertKit or MailerLite plans are enough to get the ball rolling. Choosing between ConvertKit and MailerLite largely depends on which design tool you like better and your automation preferences. If you’re on the fence, try the free plan out for each option to see which platform feels more intuitive. 

Finally, if you need more granularity and want ecommerce features, you can try Mailchimp and take a more data-driven approach to your email marketing efforts. As long as you consistently nurture your email list and give people a reason to look forward to your next email blast, there’s no reason why you can’t find success with email marketing.

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