ConvertKit vs Mailchimp – Which is Better?

Mailchimp is a mainstay of many email marketing programs.  It has safely delivered millions of emails to subscribers around the globe, and I expect it will continue to do so for a long time.  It's also managed to keep its quirky sense of humour along the way, so that's nice too.

ConvertKit is the new kid on the block, but it has really come storming into the market in a big way.  It promotes itself for ease of use and sophisticated functionality that professional bloggers need to get the most out of their email marketing efforts.

So let's take a look at how the two stack up against each other in a few core areas:

  1. Price
  2. Ease of Use
  3. Functionality
  4. Support
  5. General observations

NB – Links in this article may be Affiliate Links, which means I get a small commission if you decide to purchase something after clicking the link.  There is no additional cost to you for this (and sometimes there is a special discount).

ConvertKit vs Mailchimp Pricing

Firstly – Mailchimp offers a free program for under 2000 subscribers and less than 12000 emails.  It's got limited functionality, but ConvertKit doesn't have any such a free deal going.

As at January 2016, here is the pricing at a few major milestones (prices in USD):

  • for 1000 subscribers:
    • $15 for MC
    • $29 for CK
  • for 3000 subscribers:
    • $50 for MC
    • $49 for CK
  • for 10,000 subscribers:
    • $75 for MC
    • $119 for CK
  • for 25,000 subscribers:
    • $150 for MC
    • $199 for CK

So with the exception of the weird bit in the middle, Mailchimp is basically cheaper across the board than ConvertKit.

Winner on price: Mailchimp (but it kind of cheated)

Is ConvertKit Easier to Use than Mailchimp?

Just in case it's unclear, I'm not talking about “getting your head around the whole thing” here.  I'm talking about “how quickly could I be up and running”.

Neither of these pieces of software is exactly complex, so really the question is: which is less tedious?

Basic setup in Mailchimp looks like this:

  1. Create a list and enter the details;
  2. Optionally, create some groups within that list to segment your audience;
  3. Set up an optin form;
  4. Produce, or edit, your emails/pages for:
    1. double optin confirmation;
    2. thanks for subscribing and delivery of your optin magnet;
    3. unsubscribing.
  5. Set up your email sequence to trigger on subscription using the marketing automation features.

That process doesn't look too bad, right?  And it isn't that bad.  However, in Mailchimp each of these steps requires you to go through multiple pages, multiple refreshes, and multiple sections of Mailchimp.  In and out, back and forth, up and down.  Creating your email autoresponder involves going through the same process for each email you want to set up.

Basic setup in ConvertKit looks like this:

  1. Create a form.  Within the form creation process you will set up at the same time:
    1. the look of the form and when it appears;
    2. single/double optin settings;
    3. your confirmation email, if any;
    4. delivery of your optin incentive, if any;
    5. putting subscribers to that form into an autoresponder sequence.
  2. There is no 2 – you're done.

In particular, the process of creating emails in ConvertKit is significantly faster than in Mailchimp.  It's tabbed out in ConvertKit, so you can literally flick between different emails in your series, edit them, set all the timings, and save – at one time.  In Mailchimp this involves dozens of clicks and reloads to edit your emails.

convertkit email creation
What the email autoresponder looks like in ConvertKit

Winner for ease of use – ConvertKit

Does ConvertKit have more/better features than Mailchimp?

Yes.  Yes it does.  And that's what you would expect as a consequence of the pricing.  So just how extensive is the difference?

Both ConvertKit and Mailchimp will do the following:

  • Capture subscribers;
  • Use double or single opt-ins;
  • Segment your subscribers (within reason);
  • Send autoresponder emails;
  • Send broadcast emails;
  • Connect to your RSS feed to automatically create a draft broadcast.

Mailchimp also has some basic marketing automation.  You can, for example, trigger an autoresponder sequence when a subscriber joins a particular group, or when they sign up to a list, or for use during a launch (to name a few).

However, here are some things that ConvertKit does easily which, on Mailchimp, you either cannot do or cannot do easily enough:

  • Tag and untag your subscribers.  For example, I can tag a subscriber when they join a list, buy a product, complete a course, click a link.  Basically if I have a need to include or exclude a subscriber from anything – I can tag them appropriately based on a huge range of options.  Want to exclude people in your autoresponder from your broadcasts?  Easy – tag them when they start, and exclude that tag from your broadcast.  Then you can set up to automatically untag them when they have completed your email series.
  • Multiple opt-in incentives (this is a big one).  In ConvertKit it is easy – just create a form, change the incentive – and you're right to go.  Because ConvertKit doesn't use “lists”, the additional form doesn't matter – you segment people later if required.  In Mailchimp you only have one signup form per list, so multiple incentives is really annoying to set up.
  • Email autoresponders – I cannot tell you just how easy it is to set up an email autoresponder in ConvertKit compared to in Mailchimp (see the picture above)
  • Automation features – the list of automation features in ConvertKit is just the right level of complexity – you can't do everything, but you can do a lot.  Here are some examples:
    • start an email course when someone signs up (of course you can do this in Mailchimp as well);
    • tag someone as “interested in X” when the click a link to a particular article;
    • start someone on a new email sequence when the finish an old one;
    • include or exclude people from broadcasts if they are tagged in a particular way (for example, a subscriber has read your articles about podcasting, and you set ConvertKit to tag them as “interested in podcasting” – you are releasing a course on podcasting and don't want to annoy the others, so you only send it to people tagged as “interested in podcasting”);
    • tag people who visit your sales page and then untag them if they buy – you'll then have a list of people who looked at your sales page but didn't buy, so you can email them politely asking them why they didn't decide to go ahead and purchase.

For a closer look at ConvertKit features you can watch this series:

Winner of the best features: ConvertKit 

Support

I admit that with a small business like ConvertKit I wasn't sure about support.  However, the team are obviously live to this issue and it's clear they are focusing on support as a priority.  So far their responses have been fast and helpful.

Likewise, my experiences with Mailchimp support have always been good.  They take a little longer than ConvertKit, but not so long that I wanted to cry or anything – it's just a bigger juggernaut with a little bit less mobility I expect.

Both do a great job on the support front.

Winner of the Best Support – both/neither.

General Observations – ConvertKit vs Mailchimp

You have to be careful – it's easy to see the pretty new thing (ConvertKit) and think – look at all that stuff it does, I want that!

But what do you actually need?  Don't forget, ConvertKit is more expensive, and there is a reason for that – it does more.

However if all you want to do is build an email list, and send people your latest blog posts – then why would you want all the extra glitz?

For me, ConvertKit is the clear winner for people serious about building their business.  Principally for these reasons:

  1. You don't pay for subscribers more than once like you do on Mailchimp (if you have one subscriber on two lists, you get charged twice for the same person).  It's not a big deal in terms of cost, but I don't like the philosophy behind it;
  2. Ease of using multiple incentives/courses/downloads etc – this is much easier to set up and utilise in ConvertKit;
  3. It allows for a much more sophisticated evergreen launch process, using email courses and tagging to ensure that the right people get the right emails at the right time.

It seems to me that ConvertKit have nailed some of the things that, previously, were the domain of much more expensive platforms.

Check out ConvertKit here.

Got any more differences to highlight? Let me know in the comments!

  • Convertkit is best email marketing program for bloggers and mailchimp is bit popular than convertkit and provides free plan as well. But convertkit is a premium product. I think if convertkit offerred free plan they would be popular than mailchimp.. This is my assumption…
    Peace \/

  • CK has some great selling points in terms of behind the scenes and functionality but really lacks in the aesthetics department (templates), which is huge for people in the creative products or services field.

    • yep you’re right – getting nice looking email broadcasts is more difficult on ConvertKit without some HTML help.

  • Great article! Thank you! What I like and use these days are Desk (it is extremely useful) SmartClothed (it helps me so much with my styling) ScanBot (Oh my, this app is amazing)and of course MailChimp. I recommend all 4 of these

  • Hey Chris,

    Great article. I’ve been an avid user of MailChimp and am glad to discover so many latest platforms for email marketing. I’ve moved to SendX and am still using their free plan for a month now. But, my apprehension of using such automation tools is slowly being quelled by the articles I’m reading. All the best in your business too.

  • This was a great article and it helped me understand a lot about the differences – we’re looking to switch from Delivra right now (which is just cumbersome) and I have some experience with MailChimp, but I’m not a terribly loyal person. (ha!) I wish this article addressed the e-mail building process though – yes, the marketing automation etc. is important, but how hard is it to set up a simple newsletter? Is there a drag and drop editor? Can I build a template that we can use in the future or do I have to start from scratch each time? Would love answers to these questions.

    • Hey there Nathan thanks for your comment. You might find the video series on the YouTube channel useful as they show a more visual approach to things that might give you a better idea (including broadcast emails like you describe). The short answer is that there is no drag and drop editor – so if you’re looking for a beautiful newsletter, outside a custom html template your options are fairly limited in CK at the moment.

    • Hi Jamie – sorry for the ultra-slow response (didn’t get notified of your comment!) – any link from my site with the words “ConvertKit” will get you there – thanks!

  • Hey Chris,

    This is a solid review. Thanks for writing it! We’re definitely putting a ton of effort into support. Our response times are getting pretty good now. The other thing is we’re exclusively staffing our support team with people who understand email marketing and blogging. So the goal is that the quality will be a lot higher.

    On the pricing, our goal is to always be a bit more expensive than MailChimp since we offer more powerful features. Though when you factor in that we don’t charge for duplicate subscribers ConvertKit is often cheaper.

    A common scenario is that someone has 20,000 subscribers on MailChimp, but they have 3-4 different lists so that 20k is actually only 12-13k of unique subscribers.

    Thanks for being a customer and for writing this review!

    • Gidday Nathan and thanks for stopping by 🙂 Totally agree in relation to ConvertKit being slightly more expensive – it certainly has more to offer so the price v Mailchimp is to be expected. Also the lack of duplicated subscribers can make a big difference for some lists, as you’ve pointed out. Great product you’ve got and I’m very happy to support it.

  • Thanks for this great review of both tools! You’re right – there are pros and cons to each and I’m sharing this overview with our team so they can use it when we get inquiries about us vs The Chimp 😉 Thanks, Chris!

  • As always, great narrative. So far, I’d describe the ConvertKit interface and workflow as intuitive. But I have no experience with MC.

    I’m hoping we’ll hear from some of your Aweber readers to share their comparisons.

    • Thanks Mark and I agree – it’s quite intuitive, once you recognise the differences and mentality between “segment first” approach (MC and Aweber) and “segment last” approach (ConvertKit). I’ll do an Aweber article soon, but I need to catch up with the Aweber tagging system that was introduced late last year before I do.

  • >