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MailChimp vs Constant Contact: Which Email Marketing Software Reigns Supreme for Small Businesses?

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At Capterra, we recently conducted a poll of 60 small businesses that use either MailChimp or Constant Contact for their email marketing needs. Shockingly, more than half of the respondents had used both systems at some point in time, which speaks to the enormous market share these two leading email marketing software providers have. The more interesting finding from our study— of the businesses that had used both, 75% of respondents preferred MailChimp over Constant Contact. <<Tweet this stat

But does that make it the clear winner for all small businesses? Not necessarily…

MailChimp vs Constant Contact Capterra Survey

Despite recent hype about content marketing, social media, and mobile, for the majority of small businesses, the first step to marketing success is still through the good, old-fashioned inbox. Email marketing remains atop the list as the #1 marketing tactic for SMBs, with 98% of small businesses using email marketing in 2013. And according to recent reports, 47% of B2B marketers and 44% of B2C marketers plan to increase their email marketing budgets in 2014. <<Tweet this

If you’re just venturing into the world of email marketing or looking to make your business emails more sophisticated in 2014, you’ve likely already done a quick Google search to evaluate your options and encountered the two market leaders – MailChimp and Constant Contact. Both are tailored for your small business needs, affordable, and easy-to-use… so how’s a small business marketer to choose?

In this post, I’ll break down the primary differentiators between these two leading email marketing software providers. Plus, I’ll show you who wins out in the MailChimp vs Constant Contact battle for six common consideration factors: Price, Customer Support, Features & Functionality, Deliverability, Third-Party Integrations, and Company Culture.

MailChimp vs Constant Contact: 6 Consideration Factors

1. Price

As a small business marketer, you most likely don’t have unlimited funds to put toward your email marketing software. Luckily, you can rest assured that neither MailChimp nor Constant Contact will break the bank.

MailChimp Pricing

  • MailChimp offers a “Forever Free”  version for up to 2,000 email subscribers and 12,000 emails per month.
  • Their paid email marketing service starts at $10 per month for unlimited emails up to 500 subscribers, and it increases about $5 per month for every 100-200 subscribers added. All paid plans have unlimited email sending capabilities throughout the month.
  • MailChimp also offers a “Pay as you go” option to purchase email credits for $0.005-$0.03 cents per email, making it easy to scale up or down depending on seasonality, slow periods, fluctuating database sizes, or in order to send one-time campaigns to a large list without permanently increasing your subscriber plan.
  • All nonprofit organizations receive a 15% discount on MailChimp paid accounts.
MailChimp Pricing

MailChimp Pricing

Constant Contact Pricing

  • Constant Contact offers a 60 day free trial period in which you can email up to 100 contacts, but it’s unlimited as to the number of emails you can send.
  • After your free trial runs out, email marketing with CC starts at $15 per month for up to 500 contacts, and it increases to as much as $75 per month for up to 10,000 contacts.
  • You can receive 15% off your Constant Contact account if you prepay for 6 months or a year in advance.
  • Nonprofits get double the incentive to prepay, with a 30% prepayment discount.
Constant Contact Pricing

Constant Contact Pricing

Pricing Winner= MailChimp.

As the founder and CEO of mKonnekt, Seshu Madabushi consults SMBs on how to engage customers with their marketing platform. Madabushi told us that MailChimp’s “Forever Free” model makes it a clear winner for his small business customers.  “Given that most of our clientele are SMBs, the flexible pricing including FREE for the first 2000 emails is what attracts our clients.”

2. Support

Both MailChimp and Constant Contact are well known for being intuitive and easy-to-use, even if you’re not very tech savvy. But if you expect to need some hand holding, there are some key differences in service:

MailChimp Customer Support

  • Mainly self-service support available through their online Knowledge Base
  • No phone support for free accounts, however, they do offer live email and chat support 24/7

Constant Contact Customer Support

  • Phone, chat, and email support offered Monday through Friday for business hours across all time zones in the US and Canada, plus weekend email support. Constant Contact also offers limited phone support for UK users.
  • Helpful resources on their site for all aspects of running a small business, such as a community forum to engage with other users, recorded video tutorials, and even local seminars and email marketing boot camp classes for some live instruction.

Support Winner= Constant Contact.

Ira Wolfe, President of Success Performance Solutions, has been using Constant Contact for nearly 10 years. He comments, “[Constant Contact] offers a tremendous amount of support and resources for the small business. I’m guilty of not utilizing more than I do, but it’s available.”

3. Features & Functionality

There are so many features included in both of these tools that it would probably take me days to go through them all in detail (and by the time I did, they’d have already added new functionality). Both ESPs are committed to constantly improving their tools and releasing new functionality to keep pace with marketers’ ever-growing demands. While most of the same basic features are available in both MailChimp and Constant Contact, I’ve created a chart below to show where the functionality differs. (Note: the highlighted cells indicate unique features, where one email provider had an advantage over the other.)

MailChimp vs. Constant Contact Feature Comparison

Some small business owners, like Michelle Geib at Xperience Days Inc., prefer MailChimp’s functionality: “At the time the decision was made, Constant Contact was the most prominent email marketing solution for small businesses. The features it offered- such as delivery, open rate, and click-thru statistics, as well as the ability to view trends over time- were attractive benefits, especially because we did not have access to any of this information with our former, in-house solution. We began looking for a new solution in November, 2013 after having issues with our Constant Contact account. We made the switch to MailChimp, which offers a multitude of additional features Constant Contact didn’t offer. These unique features and the scalable pricing plans were the reasons we decided to move our account.”

But others, like Brent Levi at The Office Connection, say Constant Contact has the edge in functionality. “I feel that MailChimp is best to start out in email marketing for the first time, but it lacks more powerful features. However, I know they are always adding new features. Constant Contact seems to be the best for those who have some experience but are not necessarily experts; such as the common Marketing Coordinator.”

Kevin Jordan of Redpoint Marketing Consultants concurs. He notes that Constant Contact “seemed very intuitive to use and had a large number of professional-looking templates for different types of emails and industries. I also liked the fact that it has event marketing and social media marketing tools in addition to email.”

Functionality Winner= Tie.

4. Deliverability

Both systems have among the highest deliverability rates in the industry, according to Shero Designs, with Constant Contact at 97% and MailChimp at 96-99% deliverability.

MailChimp Deliverability

Based on anecdotal feedback from users, it seemed MailChimp was stricter about CAN SPAM compliancy between the two. However, MailChimp does allow you to re-upload unsubscribes to your lists, which some reported would halt your entire account if you attempted to do so in Constant Contact.

Dave Bowman of Design Turnpike says he’s not sure if it’s verifiable or quantifiable, but that his bounce rate and unsubscribe rates were considerably lower with MailChimp than with Constant Contact. He speculates, “Maybe they work harder to keep their site from triggering spam alerts or getting sender mailboxes blocked?”

Constant Contact Deliverability

Of our survey participants, the primary reason that marketers preferred Constant Contact when they had used both systems was because they saw greater email deliverability with Constant Contact.  That said, according to a 2012 comparison of the systems by LightSpeed, Constant Contact was supposedly blacklisted from sending to all military email addressesso keep that in mind if you’re sending to a large proportion of military contacts.

One great user story about MailChimp’s deliverability came from PR & Marketing Consultant, Corina Kellam. After Kellam noticed a snazzy MailChimp email from one of her clients, she began to switch over her new client accounts from Constant Contact to MailChimp. But that’s when she noticed something odd. “Within one month of using Mailchimp, my primary email wasn’t working properly – I later discovered about 1 in 20 weren’t being sent or received. I kept thinking it was the clients’ fault, but after months of missed connections, my email host finally confirmed I’d been flagged for spam because of my Mailchimp account. Unimpressed!” While her MailChimp emails were still being delivered, the emails she sent from her primary email address (the one she had used to set up the MailChimp account) were flagged as spam.

Marc Apple of Forward Push Media experienced a similar situation. “When we first started with email marketing we used MailChimp because it was free, and we had seen other businesses use it. We quickly made the switch to Constant Contact when we heard numerous times that our emails were going to our subscribers spam folders. Constant Contact’s deliverability rate made the decision to switch very easy for us.”

Deliverability Winner= Constant Contact.

5. Integrations

Both of these solutions have countless integrations with other popular small business software systems— from CRM software, to blogging platforms, to social media channels, and more. So many, in fact, that both MailChimp and Constant Contact have a directory or marketplace of apps with which they integrate:

MailChimp Integrations

  • Integrations to note: WordPress, Twitter, Magento, Salesforce, ZenDesk, BigCommerce, Drupal, Mandrill, Eventbrite, and Google Analytics
  • In a recent comparison we did of 9 CRM software solutions, the only software that integrated with all 9 of the CRMs was MailChimp.

Constant Contact Integrations

  • Integrations to note: Outlook, Facebook, Salesforce, ACT!, Quickbooks, and WordPress
  • Because Constant Contact has a built-in platform that includes a suite of its own functionality, like social media marketing, events, surveys, and the like, they don’t have quite the variety of integrations that MailChimp has in these other spaces.

Tim Trampedach, a former product manager at Zynga, is now an avid MailChimp user at his current company, Level X Motorsports, thanks to the rich integrations that MailChimp offers. He explains, “MailChimp is extremely simple to use, has good docs (I’m including Mandrill), and it often has ready-to-go integrations into toolsets like Heroku, Magento, etc. MailChimp is excellent and a clear favorite with the Silicon Valley crowd.”

Integrations Winner= MailChimp

6. Company Culture

At this point in this massive product comparison, you might be thinking, who cares about the company culture- isn’t it the software that really matters? Well, I thought so too, until I read some of the interesting responses to our poll. Perhaps one of the biggest differentiators between these two companies is their own respective approach to marketing.

MailChimp Company Culture

MailChimp is a playful, humorous, and some would even say a friendly company to work with. The company offers unique content like coloring books, creative guides, and of course, their beloved mascot, the Chimp. Ebony Grimsley, owner of Above Promotions, says, “Both products are similar in nature, but there is something about finishing your campaign and giving the Chimp a high-five. It gets you excited about what will come as a result to sending the newsletter that week.”

Copley Broer, CEO of LandlordStation, spotted the same sense of humor when evaluating email marketing solutions, and as a software vendor himself, he explains how important that quality is in a technology provider.  “The thing that attracted us to Mailchimp originally was really their design, which is really simple and well-done, and their sort of odd sense of humor. They really make a point of having a lot of funny stuff built into the system, which acts as a daily reminder that all business and marketing should be an enjoyable and fun experience for the end user.”

Constant Contact Company Culture

The words that came up to describe Constant Contact’s company culture most often were helpful and reputable. Constant Contact invests heavily in television, radio, and other mass media advertising campaigns, and as a result, they seem to have greater brand recognition and awareness among small business marketers, despite a seemingly smaller user base.   Likewise, their customer service, online learning center, blog, video tutorials, and other stellar online resources make them a go-to for small business advice, whether or not you use their system.

Culture Winner= It depends…would you rather work with a company that’s fun and friendly or trustworthy and reputable?

I think Bob Herman from ShipTropolis sums it up best… “Both MailChimp and Constant Contact can help create success for a small business. Thus, based on different strokes for different folks, sign up for the free trial on both systems and spend some time churning the wheels. Choose the one you like best and don’t look back!”

I couldn’t have said it better myself, Bob! Sign up for a free trial of Constant Contact and MailChimp today, plus add in a few others for good measure by consulting our directory of email marketing software.

Looking for Email Marketing software? Check out Capterra's list of the best Email Marketing software solutions.

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About the Author

Katie Hollar

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Katie is the Director of Marketing at Capterra - a free resource that helps businesses find the right software. Her work has been published in VentureBeat, MarketingProfs, CustomerThink, and the Demand Gen Report, and she has been featured in CIO, AdAge, and Website Magazine. Katie has a love of all things marketing, but she is particularly fond of social media and marketing automation. She is a UVA grad (Wahoowa!) and in her free time enjoys reading, running, and cooking. Follow her on Twitter @khollar.

Comments

As Katie quoted me in the article, I’ve been using Constant Contact for over 10 years. I send out a weekly newsletter (50 per year) and occasional announcements regarding webinars orother announcements. I did try another system but found it too expensive
for our business and not as easy to use as Constant Contact. I particularly appreciate the additional services CC offers. I’ve used their event marketing, newsletter archive feature and most recently their social media conceierge program. The social media program made my life easy for posting and tracking responses. I used several other social media
programs but find the Constant Contact program convenient with a very short learning curve. Their concierge has worked well. When I don’t have the time, they do their research and somehow seem to post articles that fit my thinking.

To be fair, I haven’t looked at MailChimp recently. Based on Katie’s research it seems they too have a very good option. I don’t believe you can go wrong with either one. The biggest downfall of clients and colleagues is failing to use email marketing effectively, not the system they chose.

Thanks Katie for a great comparison of these two systems.
they offer an “concierge” service.

timely article as I’m looking to begin an email marketing campaign and have looked at both these as well as other services…

Wonderful comparison! I’m sharing on my blog (with full credit, of course). Because I’m familiar with it, Constant Contact is my preference, but I’ve heard great things about MailChimp and am trying it for my business.

[…] you can read this blog by Katie Hollar on […]

Great article and discussion.
I decided on what system to use based on my vendors who were marketing to us and that was Constant Contact. I felt their support was fantastic as I am not a IT professional, but a sales manager who was ready to ‘get it done’. I launched our first campaign yesterday and was warned, by my IT professional, I may be putting our system at risk of being blacklisted. My contacts are clean current customers so I do not feel that is be a big risk. Any ‘rules’ to minimize that risk? Is one service really better than the other to minimize that risk? Do companies start new URL’s just for email marketing?

Hey Frank,
This is Mike from Constant Contact- the danger with getting blacklisted is if you are sending emails to unsolicited subscribers. With Constant Contact we work with you to make sure all of the emails on your system are opt-in (if you import emails we make sure you’ve gotten permission to email them, and all new emails added through our join my mailing list widget are verified double opt-in). We also monitor blacklisting and spam reports to make sure your emails do not get blacklisted, and in the event that ever happens we will work with you AND the ISPs directly to get it resolved ASAP.

In a nutshell, that’s one of the advantages of using an email service provider like Constant Contact or Mailchimp, we do a lot of the leg work for you to make sure your emails get delivered safe and sound.

Thank you for choosing Constant Contact, and please feel free to reach out to me directly (mstowe [at] constantcontact.com) if you have any questions or ever run into any issues.

– Mike

Thank you for this comparison it is very well detailed and hits the areas I was looking for. Excellent job!

This article was helpful as I am in the process of trying to choose which platform to use for my coaching business. I need something that allows event management. I know that CC has an integrated program. Now I guess I need to go look at Eventbrite. Thanks for the comparisons. It really did help.

Great article! I switched over to MailChimp after Constant Contact kept freezing my account. (I’m a writer and writing coach, and I was adding users in large batches because generally people would sign up for my list at workshops and readings, on paper, and then I’d sit and type them in. I got tired of having to explain this over and over, and have my whole account frozen for two days!) Anyway, I’m really happy with the monkey :), but I’m thinking about scaling up to something like aweber now as my business grows, because of the different kinds of functionality. I’d love to see a similar article comparing the mailing list tools available for the next tier of small business needs, including affiliate integration, sales tracking, and automated sending for things like a 30-day e-course. Thanks again for doing all the legwork!

I have 2 businesses and used to use Constant Contact. I started using it in 2003. In 2006 I made a partner in my second business and she changed the password on my Constant Contact account and basically took it. Because she had the password CC said she owned the account. It was a nasty mess and no support from CC. I will never use them again they are not supportive and their security is ridiculous.

I signed up with CC a few months ago because I’ve known about them for YEARS. I’d only heard of MC recently and didn’t research at all. I really liked my consultant and he offered me bells and whistles and was incredibly patient with me. When I finally signed up, he was on medical leave (unbeknownst to me) and I kept leaving him vm’s to pick up where we left off. Long story short, a mistake was made and I was signed up for surveys and I can’t even remember what at $30/mo. Doesn’t sound like much but for me, just starting out, its not in my budget. I explained this to a rep at CC after I chose theoption for billing. He said I probably wouldn’t get a refund but IF I did, it would be as a credit. That didn’t sit well with me. I called back and was told the last rep was not really from billing but filling in for overflow calls. She promised to do what she could to get me a refund of what I was overcharged (no call screening required as per previous rep) and that given the circumstances, she didn’t see why I wouldn’t be refunded. Well, I got a credit. So far, I’m NOT impressed with “Support” at CC. I’m sure my experience is unique however, I’m making the switch to MC. Lesson learned. ..

P.S. I was able to add MC’s facebook app to my page. So far, so good. :)

[…] pleased with MailChimp so far. And it seems that I’m not the only “monkey” cheerleader. A research by Capterra shows that 75% of small business owners who’ve used MailChimp & Constant Contact prefer […]

Appreciate the comparison. Just a correction – according to MailChimp’s website, they offer a 15% discount to nonprofits, not 50% as indicated in the article.

Hi Peggy,

Thanks so much for pointing that out! I’ve corrected the article accordingly.

Best,
Katie

[…] Not real sure which broadcast email you want to use for your consignment, resale or thrift shop? Here’s a good comparison article. […]

Using CC now. Our marketing consultants are suggesting a move to MC since they are more familiar with it. Problem is, we have 5 business locations that each use similar, but unique emails that get customized, weekly, with open event dates/times. We were also looking for a custom template. What was mocked up required FULL HTML programming in order to enter dates/times of events and the entire HTML program of the page was available to “augment”, this would be a nightmare for our franchise stores to use. Is everyone using HTML to enter info into their MC emails? We are able to type directly into ‘boxes’ in CC and have a Partners account with CC that allows us to work in any of our sites with a press of a button.

I have used MailChimp and Constant Contact, Benchmark, GetResponse and ActiveCampaign for various reasons. I liked MailChimp mainly for Features and Automation, Segmentation and delivery rate, statistics and integration if I leave price aside. As far as support is concerned both are almost same. I would give 5* to MailChimp always

Hey!

Great argument here and I think both are pretty good. I used MC years back and now with GR. Might be moving back to MC and shall see how it goes. Thanks for sharing light in this!

[…] MailChimp vs Constant Contact: Which Email Software Best for SMBs? http://blog.capterra.com/mailchimp-vs-constant-contact/ Feb 5, 2014 … Capterra 2014 small business marketing survey compares MailChimp vs Constant Contact email marketing software for price, support, features … […]

Katie –

Wahoowa ! We’re looking at improving our email efficacy for UVA Darden’s local alumni chapter. From your article it appears that for this use case MC beats CC, yes?

@Darden Alumni – MC is definitely the more preferred option, but I suggest you do a quick free trial of both, set up an email within each system, and see which is easier to use for your specific needs.

And Wahoowa to you too! :) Go Hoos!

Katie. I would take a look at it again. They have completely revamped pricing and now have combined multiple services and branded it Tool Kit. Check out IWantToolkit.com and let me know what you think of their major upgrade. I am curious about your opinion

I think it is a significant improvement. And yes, I have used both and settled on Constant Contact. So much so, that I have become an Authorized Local Expert last year. I personally like that they are continuing to make improvements on their product.

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