Which should I use, Constant Contact or MailChimp? Over the last four years, I have used both of these third-party applications for email marketing. I have been passionately supportive of both of them at various times. The distinctions between the two boil down to two issues, but first let’s look at what they can do.
Email marketing is fundamental to the way many businesses operate today. It is very, very difficult to manage emails of a marketing nature through regular Outlook, Gmail, or web-based email programs. For one reason, you cannot tell whether or not your emails are being read. You don’t have the option to see if what you are sending is relevant or not, and as a result, you risk losing interested customers by wearing them down with unsolicited, lengthy, boring emails. Both Constant Contact and MailChimp provide insights into who is actually opening your emails, what they are responding to, what time of day the email was delivered, whether or not your emails are being shared, etc. All of this data allows you to adjust your content and delivery so that your emails are seen by the largest numbers of potential clients.
MailChimp and Constant Contact also have customizable templates that let you create branded, colorful, relevant content, and they both include sharing features for social media sites. This is huge in marketing! When using web-based email, Outlook, etc. you do not have this feature. An email is just an email. With MailChimp or Constant Contact, your emails become posts, tweets, and other seamlessly sharable content that allows your subscribers to promote your products for you.
|Social Media Share Options|
|Automated Delivery Options|
|Personal Branding Options|
|Ease of Design (Letter Grade)||
But the difference between the two comes down to price and ease of use. Upon those two issues, hang your decision. Constant Contact has a more customizable design, but it isn’t free after your trial period ends. Depending on how many subscribers you have, you could pay as little as $20-25 per month, but clearly the goal is to grow your email list, so you may pay more. And while their templates are a bit more customizable, they are slow-loading and can be a little frustrating at times. They do allow you to move things around a bit, and change out the type of “blocks” in any given email campaign, but there is a learning curve for this flexibility if you modify their templates.
MailChimp’s “Forever Free” plan is what it says, up to 2000 subscribers. There are ways around that, such as creating multiple accounts for differing products, but many people have fewer than 2000 subscribers, and so this isn’t an issue. (You would also need to make that segmentation early in your email marketing process!) The “negative” is MailChimp’s templates. There are fewer options for how you can customize them. Branding is not a problem, and there is even a fairly handing “matching color scheme” option that will match your emails to your website colors for you, but the “blocks” of content are fixed to the template you choose. If you choose a three column template, for instance, and decide that you don’t want an image on the middle column, you cannot change your mind easily and turn it into a two column format with a wide box at the bottom.
Is cost your deciding point? If so, the decision is clear – go with MailChimp. Their clever sayings and sense of humor during the design process will entertain you as automated messages appear from time to time. On the other hand, if your emails will be complicated, need special customizations, etc., and you have the ability to learn their system, you’ll want to take a look at Constant Contact to see if the costs you’ll pay will be worth it in your case.
In our case, once we settled on a template that fits the pattern we wanted for our emails, we chose MailChimp, and we’ve been very happy with it!
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 There are other programs such as iContact or Aweber, but the two we are asked most often about are Constant Contact and MailChimp.