This article compares the features, benefits, advantages and disadvantages of three different email marketing platforms, Mailchimp, Constant Contact and Drip. You can make an informed decision about which is best for your business.
Mailchimp is very popular and often the first choice for when you’re just starting out. It’s free which is why it’s so popular. You can create email templates and newsletter campaigns. You can also create a sign up box and embed the form on your website. It has a lot of integrations with other platforms which make it very attractive.
It’s free forever as long as your list is no larger than 2,000 subscribers and you send no more than 12,000 emails a month. That means 6 emails a month to a list of 2000. That’s probably more than what most new starters need.
Here’s what you can do with the free version of Mailchimp:
Free Things / Lead Magnets
You might have a free download on your website that people need to submit their name and email to get the free thing. It’s also known as a lead magnet or ethical bribe. People are then prompted to go check their email and click the verification link. This is a process called ‘double opt-in’. Clicking the verification link on the email confirms to Mailchimp they requested to join your list, which means you’ll get less spam reports because you need to avoid those at all costs. The person then gets taken to the ‘success’ or ‘download’ page which might be a page on your website or a page that you customise with Mailchimp.
You can then send regular newsletters to the people who sign up.
What you can also do in Mailchimp:
Add contacts manually without the double optin.
Add several lead magnets sign ups and lists
What you shouldn’t do (regardless who you use):
However, be careful who you add this way as you have to have their permission. If you upload a bunch of old contacts who’ve forgotten who you are, you risk them reporting you for spam and too many of those (more than 0.1%) will get you shut down. This applies to all of them, Mailchimp, Constant Contact and Drip.
What the Free Plan doesn’t do:
There’s no support. At all. Just hundreds and hundreds of help articles to sift through.
No automation – no automatic follow up nurturing emails – not for the free plan.
How does Constant Contact compare? Well for starters it’s not free. It starts at $20 per month up to 500 contacts.
Like Mailchimp, you can create a beautiful template, customised with your logo and branding. You can create different lists and sign up forms for as many different lead magnets as takes your fancy. The welcome email can be customised for each list which can include the free thing/lead magnet. It’s easy to create and send beautiful branded newsletters. You can upload contacts (with the same caveat above, only upload people you have implied permission).
Multiple Lists & Lead Magnets
However, here’s the difference. Let’s suppose you have 2 or more different lists that you created for different free things/lead magnets and you want to send your newsletter to everyone, regardless of what list they signed up to.
In Mailchimp, you can only send one newsletter to one list. So you’d have to create another newsletter by duplicating the first one and sending it out to the other lists, one for each list. If someone has signed up to all your lead magnets, they will receive your newsletter multiple times, for as many lists they’re in! Not good!
The workaround in Mailchimp is to have a masterlist and pop everyone from every list into the master list and send the newsletter to just that list as duplicates don’t get imported.
The downside of this is that your subscriber count effectively doubles that that could push you up to the next level of the paid plan. Not only that, every time you run a newsletter campaign you’ve got to add new sign ups to the master list. Not very practical and rather time-consuming huh!?
In Constant Contact you have the advantage that you can send one newsletter to multiple lists so even if they are on more than one list, they only get your newsletter once.
Constant Contact count subscribers by the number of unique email addresses you have, so having them appear in multiple lists does not add to your subscriber count and therefore doesn’t artificially inflate your subscription plan.
What else do you get with Constant Contact
Support by phone and chat. Mailchimp don’t provide anyone you can speak to, not even in their paid plans.
Unlike Mailchimp, there’s no limit to the number of emails you send.
Drip has been around for some time and you may have noticed them more recently as Leadpages acquired them last year. They’ve introduced a new Free plan for up to 100 contacts, so I’ve included them in this review.
Drip is a step up in functionality from both Constant Contact and Mailchimp with both advantages and disadvantages. It’s quite a sophisticated bit of kit, so get ready for some mind-blowing stuff.
It works with what it calls workflows. So you can create a lead magnet in the same way you do for the other two. Within the free plan, you can add in some lead nurturing emails that get triggered to be released on a predetermined schedule depending on when someone signs up. You can then set up rules that tag subscribers depending on the action they take, for example, make a purchase.
When someone makes a purchase it’s no longer appropriate for them to continue to receive nurturing emails and in Constant Contact and Mailchimp, you’d have to manually remove them from the list that has nurture emails attached to it. In Drip, you can set up another rule that anyone tagged as a purchaser automatically stops receiving nurture emails. They could receive another stream of emails related to the purchase they made. That might include an upsell to another product. If they buy that product, they could be tagged as an upsell purchaser, stop receiving those emails and receive emails related to the upsold product and so on…
Tagging actions is just restricted to making a purchase. It could be clicking a link or visiting a certain page on your website. And that could trigger a set of nurturing emails related to what they looked at.
Like Constant Contact you can send one newsletter to everyone regardless of what they signed up for and regardless of how many things they’ve signed up for.
Mind boggled yet at the possibilities? Like I said, it’s quite advanced.
Any downsides with Drip?
There are no pretty email templates. They’re all plain. Drip claim that actually that means that their customers have higher open rates, less gets caught up in spam/junk filters and because they look like regular emails and not newsletters. Recipients are more likely to open them.
The other downside is it’s not that easy to use. In particular finding the personalisation codes so you can say ‘Hi firstname’. They haven’t made that easy to find out.
After you’ve reached the 100 subscriber limit the plan jumps to $41/per month. Their pricing structure is really simple with just 3 levels where you get all the features at each level – the price is dependent on how many subscribers you have.
Which is best?
Which is best depends on how you want to use email marketing.
If you’re not planning on growing your list beyond 100 and you can get over the plainness of the emails you’ll send out then go for Drip. You’ll be able to set up a lead magnet with a nurture sequence of emails all for free. But I wouldn’t recommend this if you’re non-techie and planning to do it yourself.
If you’re starting simply and aren’t concerned about a nurture trail or multiple lists/lead magnets, then Mailchimp is all you need. You’ll be able to produce pretty/branded regular newsletters and works well as long as you stick to just one lead magnet and list.
Later, you may want to add in automation for just $10 per month. This will allow you to set up automated nurturing emails that drip out predetermined times after they signed up. However, be aware that $10 per month only covers up to 500 contacts before you’re up in the next pricing band.
If you’re planning on having multiple lead magnets and sending out pretty/branded newsletters that you want everyone to receive regardless of which lead magnet they signed up to, then Constant Contact is much better for you, less cumbersome and versatile. You can also upgrade to Constant Contact’s Plus account for an extra $25 per month to get automation and other features like event automation, birthday emails and other features I’ll talk about in another article.
You can sign up for a free 60 day trial of Constant Contact here, or get started with Drip for free here.
Disclosure: These are affiliate links and I get rewarded with a small sum if you become their paying subscriber. It’s not a huge amount and doesn’t influence why I love the products. Just saying. If you don’t like the thought of me benefiting from the referral, then just go direct to Constant Contact or Drip via Google.
Am I right in assuming that all 3 email providers can integrate with LinkedIn or doesn’t that need to happen? In other words there is another way to capture interest from my contacts on LI rather than copying the whole list over which runs the risk of including those who are not interested?
Hi Anji, you definitely don’t want to indiscriminately have LinkedIn contacts added to your list whichever email tool you use, so integration is not desirable in that respect. What I’d do is have some sort of free thing that they can sign up for via a link. You can set that link up as one of your website links in your LinkedIn profile.