MailChimp and Constant Contact are two of the most popular email marketing service providers out there.
It can be difficult to decide which one to choose if you’re not familiar with them.
That’s why we are comparing both tools in this post and explaining in full detail what they have to offer.
Features and functionality
Both MailChimp and Constant Contact are rich in features and functionality that can help you become an expert at email marketing.
However, there are some differences that are worth discussing in this chapter.
Both MailChimp and ConstantContact give you good options for importing your current contacts into their platforms.
MailChimp allows you to add subscribers one by one, import a CSV file, copy/paste from files or import contacts from services like Google Contacts, Salesforce, Highrise and Zendesk.
To do that, go to Add a subscriber -> Import subscribers.
Then choose your preferred method.
Constant Contact, on the other hand, also lets you upload contacts by adding them one by one, adding multiple contacts at once, pasting them, or uploading them with a file (it accepts more formats like .xls, xlsx and .vcf)
You can also integrate with a variety of apps like Gmail, Microsoft Outlook and Salesforce.
At the end, it seems like Constant Contact has slightly more options when it comes to uploading contacts into your list.
List management and segmentation
Constant Contact tends to do a much better job when it comes to managing your list.
In addition to having different lists, you can add tags to your subscribers (something that is not available in MailChimp).
All you have to do is select your contact and click on Manage Tags:
Then you can add the desired tag.
Managing your MailChimp contacts is a bit more complicated.
In each list, you can create groups and segments (and the difference between both might be confusing to the user).
Groups are a way to target users within a single list, so you don’t have to manage multiple lists with the same subscribers. You can use them to filter people by their interests, profile, etc.
Each list can have up to 60 groups, and you can choose which group a contact gets into after an opt-in.
Segments are created based on shared list data about your subscribers. This could be things you filled out yourself and information that has been collected from campaigns.
You can create segments based on:
- who opened or didn’t open any of your last campaigns
- who clicked or didn’t click in your last campaigns
- subscribers who recently purchased or didn’t purchase a product
- subscribers who live in a certain location
- loyal subscribers who have already spent more than $500 on your products
Both MailChimp and ConstantContact offer you great options for creating beautiful emails.
ConstantContact tends to have more ready-to-use email templates with a better design.
Some of them are created for special occasions (Mother’s Day), purposes (flash sale) or industries (retail).
The drag and drop editor of Constant Contact is also easier to use, and there are more options to customize your emails.
MailChimp is once again the clear winner here since it allows you to upload an unlimited number of images.
They are all stored in your account, and you can use them later in other campaigns as well.
You have the option to upload the images or import them straight from a URL, Flickr or Giphy.
Unfortunately, Constant Contact allows you to upload only five images for free, then you will need to upgrade to MyLibrary Plus. However, they do give you access to free stock images you can use for your emails.
All you have to do is click on the button pointing to the Stock Images Gallery:
And then you have to type your desired keyword to find available free images.
both Constant Contact and MailChimp allow you to preview your emails for desktop and mobile before you send them.
However, MailChimp has the additional feature of showing you exactly how the email is going to be displayed in specific email clients.
That’s how you can see how it’s going to look in Gmail, Outlook, etc. That way, you can identify issues and prevent them from occurring before you even send the emails.
Constant Contact allows you to track things like opens, clicks, and revenue from your campaigns.
It also has a cool feature that allows you to compare open rates between desktop and mobile.
However, MailChimp takes this to a whole new level with much more detailed and easier to understand reports.
You not only can track opens and clicks of your emails, but you can compare your results to the industry averages so you see how well you’re doing.
For each campaign, you can see how many emails were delivered, how many people opened the emails, what percentage clicked, how much revenue you generated from the email and the average order value.
You can see the performance of your campaign per hour so you understand what time works best for you.
Additionally, you can see top locations by opens so you understand if you’re hitting the right markets.
You can also track which links in your emails are clicked the most. The click map is a very useful tool that helps you identify at what position in your email the clicks happened.
Constant Contact lacks A/B testing functionality, which could be a deal breaker for some marketers. There isn’t an easy way to test subject lines, email copy, images, etc.
This means that all split testing emails must be done manually.
In order words:
- you need to create two new contact lists
- copy half of your subscribers into the first list and the other half into the second list
- send version one of your email to list #1 and version two of your email to list #2
- analyze results separately and compare
You do understand that moving a massive list of subscribers into new lists is time-consuming and not an easy task. It is something that would not be necessary if they offered the right functionality.
On the other hand, MailChimp provides you with a full A/B testing functionality.
They make it extremely easy for you to split-test different elements of your campaigns, such as subject lines, names, content and send time.
You can choose between testing your campaign across your whole list or a percentage of it (and you decide what percentage).
It’s interesting that you can decide what factor determines the winning version – higher open rate, click rate or something else.
Constant Contact has very limited automation capabilities. You can create autoresponders that will be sent once someone joins your list.
But that’s it. You don’t get any advanced automation features that will allow you to send behavior-targeting emails.
With MailChimp, you have a lot more advanced automation capabilities.
You can integrate it with your website and send emails to your users based on their website activity.
For example, you can send them an email when they view a specific page of your website (such as a product page).
You can use goal integration to email customers who go from your campaign to a specific page of your website.
Purchase data can be used to send customers specific instructions or product recommendations based on the items they already purchased.
You can reward your top buyers with discount codes and stimulate them to buy more from you.
MailChimp allows you to also deal with shopping cart abandonment by sending automatic emails to remind your subscribers about the items left behind.
The only bad thing about MailChimp’s automation feature is that it is not included in the free plan. So you will need to upgrade to a paid account if you want to use it.
MailChimp has been created with simplicity in mind. So they are the clear winner when it comes to user interface and usability.
Even if you’ve never used the tool before, it will be extremely easy for you to understand.
It has a much better and modern design interface.
ContactContact is not that far behind, but it lacks the charm that MailChimp has. Some people find it more difficult to use.
MailChimp email deliverability is between 96 and 99 percent, and Constant Contact is at 97 percent.
Many people see greater deliverability of their emails with Constant Contact (and this is the main reason why they decide to switch to it).
This could be because they are an older company with more experience, so they know better how to not get into the spam folder.
There is one thing that sucks a lot about MailChimp: their customer support, or the lack of it.
If you’re with the free plan, there is literally no way to contact the company to ask for help, which could be a huge issue for some companies.
There is a good knowledge base with videos, but the personal contact is lacking.
When you upgrade to the paid account you do get decent chat and email support, but there is no way to reach MailChimp on the phone to directly ask for help.
On the other hand, Constant Contact has 24/7 support by phone, email, and chat. They are ready to help you with your issues at any time, so you can count on them.
The funny thing is that when you sign up for their service, they give you a call and ask you how they can help you with their service.
MailChimp is the clear winner when it comes to third-party integrations. The tool integrates with basically every popular CRM (such as Sugar CRM, Zoho and SalesForce).
They also integrate with social media services like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn.
Not to mention you have official integrations with platforms like WordPress, Shopify, Magento, BigCommerce and WooCommerce.
Constant Contact, on the other hand, doesn’t have as many integrations, but it still connects with the major CRM software and social media channels.
Constant Contact provides you with a 60-day free trial that allows you to have up to 100 contacts and send an unlimited number of emails.
However, MailChimp beats that by offering you a forever free plan for up to 2,000 subscribers and 12,000 emails sent per month.
The only drawback with the free plan is that you can’t use Automation and you don’t have any support.
Constant Contact also tends to be more expensive than MailChimp. For up to 2,500 subscribers, they charge you $40/month.
There are discounts if you pay for six months or a year, but this is still more expensive than MailChimp, which charges you $30 for 2,500 subscribers.
When your list grows the difference becomes even greater:
- for 5,001-10,000 subscribers Constant Contact charges you $90/month
- for 5,801-10,000 subscribers MailChimp charges you $75/month ($15 less than Constant Contact)
The pricing for MailChimp is also easier to understand. Their calculator allows you to see how much you’re going to pay no matter your size (whether it’s 10K, 100K or 1M subscribers).
This is not the case with Constant Contact. If your list has more than 10,000 subscribers, you need to contact the company for a quote.
When to use Constant Contact
If greater deliverability and customer support matter to you, then you should definitely pick Constant Contact as your email service provider.
The same is true when you want more customization options for your email design and you want more ready-to-use templates.
When to use MailChimp
If the price is an issue for you, then you should choose MailChimp.
Their forever free plan is an unbeatable advantage, and you will pay less even when your list grows beyond the 2,000 subscribers.
Another reason to pick MailChimp is that of their advanced automation features that are not current with Constant Contact. Not to mention that it is also a better choice when you want to perform A/B testing.
Which tool do you currently use as email marketing software, and why? Let us know in the comments below.
Originally Published in 2016. Updated to reflect latest insights.