Mailchimp vs Mailerlite: What Should You Choose?

What used to work in the past isn’t enough anymore. The days of impersonal, bulk emails are behind us – today’s customers expect so much more. You need to create unique experiences that make every customer feel like your best customer.

Working in the digital marketing space as long as we have, our team has tested a variety of email marketing platforms in our time. We have trouble-shooted solutions to most common problems and know what is important when it comes to how your email marketing platform should perform. Your email marketing tool is the foundation of your marketing process, so it’s essential to choose the right tool for your business.

With that in mind, we have listed some of the key things someone new to email marketing or even thinking of swapping might take into consideration, when deciding between Mailchimp vs MailerLite.

Why Should You Use Email Marketing?

Before we get into the nitty gritty, let’s unpack why email marketing is still one of the best mediums for turning a lead into an actual sale.

Firstly, there are 3.9 billion daily email users in the world – that’s half of the global population. This number is expected to climb to 4.3 billion by 2023. Plus there are many people who opt out of using social media, but still engage with businesses via email.

Another major drawcard for email marketing is that people on your email list are already interested in what you offer. They wouldn’t have signed up for emails otherwise! In fact, 73% of millennials prefer communications from businesses to come via email.

And while social advertising can be targeted to certain groups and demographics, nothing beats email for segmenting and customising your message. Getting targeted means you increase your chance of conversion and market in a more efficient and productive way.

MailChimp vs MailerLite – Which is Easier?

Mailchimp markets itself as a very easy to use email marketing software – so does MailerLite. As digital marketing professionals using both platforms regularly, we can confidently say that MailerLite is the one living up to this promise. 

While Mailchimp used to be the go to platform for small businesses just starting out on their email marketing journey, it is no longer so.

Mailchimp’s interface makes many functions hard to find and not very intuitive for beginners. The initial learning curve is steeper than it should be, but once you get to grips with Mailchimp – it’s not that complicated.

Usability is an area MailerLite excels at. It is one of the simplest email marketing tools available and it’s incredibly easy to use and get started with. The interface is clean and the navigation is well organised.

Verdict: Overall, MailerLite makes it easy to jump straight in and put together email automations, landing pages and personalised email campaigns. Mailchimp requires you to take time to learn the interface before you can fully utilise its tools.

Mailchimp vs MailerLite – List Management

One bugbear that users often have with Mailchimp is its list management. Why?

Well, unlike MailerLite, Mailchimp’s lists are mutually exclusive. That means that you can’t include contacts on different lists in the same campaigns. And as Mailchimp charges per subscriber, it also means that if you have the same contact on different lists, you’re paying for them twice.

This separation makes sense if you’re running multiple businesses or projects – but it’s annoying and costly otherwise.

The list management is made quite complicated inside Mailchimp with it.

MailerLite’s approach is very different. Lists are less rigid, meaning that the same campaigns can be sent to contacts on different lists.

You can segment contacts via groups or segments to track where contacts have come from and based on the conditions you set. Updating and adding custom fields can be added or removed via automations. You can take tagging and segmentation even further without adding to your workload – such as removing a contact from a group if they join another.

Verdict: There is no doubt, MailerLite takes this one home. Mailchimp lists are siloed and can’t be managed collectively. This is a massive functionality issue.

MailChimp vs MailerLite – Email Templates

When choosing your email marketing platform, it is good to check out the email templates and design options it offers. You need to look for mobile responsiveness, how modern they look and what the customisation options are.

Both Mailchimp and MailerLite offer drag and drop editors that tick the above mentioned boxes on responsiveness and customisation. Although convenient, the two drag and drop editors aren’t the same. 

The difference comes with the way the default blocks look like when first dropped into your email and how much customisation is required. MailerLite designs are more modern-looking straight out of the box.

While Mailchimp offers more email templates compared to MailerLite, the designs inside MailerLite look and feel more modern and professional.

You can always design and/or upload your own templates with both, but Mailerlite’s user interface is miles ahead when it comes to customisation options.

Note: MailerLite does not include email designs on the free plan and Mailchimp gives you access to eight themes if not a paying customer.

Verdict: Even with a free MailerLite account, you can build your own template with ease and save it to be used later. Your emails will look professional straight out of the box and with very little customisation required. Another win for MailerLite.

MailChimp vs MailerLite – Marketing Automations

Although MailChimp describe themselves as ‘a powerful marketing automation platform’, their automation capabilities are only available on paid plans. 

MailChimp does have a good range of automated campaigns available (including abandoned cart campaigns and product purchase confirmations). However, the automations editor itself is a little awkward. There’s no visual workflow, or options for automations to branch off into multiple paths. It’s not very flexible, and with automations, you’d ideally want as much control as possible.

To have marketing automations included in your plan, you will certainly pay for the privilege. The standard plan for 2,500 contacts including the automation features will set you back $52 per month.

MailerLite in comparison offers the same features for free up to 1,000 contacts. This is perfect for list building for a small business just starting out with email marketing. The paid plan for 2,500 contacts is only $15 USD per month.

The intuitive automation editor enables anyone to build a new workflow within minutes. And the dynamic automation features give you the flexibility to create your workflow exactly as you need it to be.

Verdict: Although MailerLite doesn’t have as many trigger options as Mailchimp, it is more visual and intuitive to use. You can see the workflow as you build it out. Also, why pay for something if you can get it for free?

Mailchimp vs Mailerlite – Integrations

As Mailchimp has been on the market for a long time, there are many more tools and platforms you can integrate your email marketing with. You are out of luck when it comes to Shopify however, unless using a third party integration.

MailerLite also offers an impressive list of integration options, albeit not as long as Mailchimp. You can seamlessly integrate your Shopify or Woocommerce store with pre-set segments. 

This happens automatically and means you can touch base with high spending customers, first time customers or customers with zero purchases among others.

Furthermore the Zapier integration allows you to connect to many more tools should the need arise in the future.

Verdict: Both Mailchimp and MailerLite offer an impressive list of integrations. If you are running an ecommerce business however, MailerLite should be your go to. 

Mailchimp vs MailerLite – Support

Here’s another area where MailerLite excels in – the customer service department. You get 24/7 email support and live chat with all plans, including your free forever plan. 

Mailchimp in comparison offers 24/7 email support and live chat with the Essentials plan and above. 

Phone support is only available with premium plans while MailerLite does not offer phone support..

MailerLite interface is available in English, French, Spanish, Ukrainian, Lithuanian, Russian, Polish and more compared to Mailchimp’s English only.

Verdict: The responsive and helpful live chat from MailerLite finds a solution to your problem in minutes. Mailchimp directs you through its knowledge base first and doesn’t make live chat available on free plans. MailerLite takes the cake – again.

Mailchimp vs MailerLite – Pricing

As I have briefly touched on pricing already, you should have an idea where this is going. 

Mailchimp charges per subscriber, it also means that if you have the same contact on different lists, you’re paying for them twice. Mailchimp also charges users for unsubscribed contacts and those who haven’t confirmed opt-in. This makes it quite pricey for a small business.

Compared to other email marketing platforms, Mailchimp is definitely not the most expensive. It is expensive though, when compared against MailerLite.

With MailerLite, you get immediate access to the most important features, including automation, landing pages, subscribe forms and more for free. You can send unlimited emails with paid plans.

Mailchimp’s freemium plan doesn’t include many must-have features and plenty are locked behind higher level plans.

Verdict: If you want more bang for your buck when first starting out, MailerLite should be your go to.

So why do we prefer MailerLite?

Mailchimp tries to be everything to everyone. If you are a small business owner just starting out, there are better solutions out there.

MailerLite’s user interface is more intuitive for a beginner. The free base offering comes with all the features you need to compliment your marketing strategy. You even get excellent support on a free plan. Upgrading as your list grows is still cheap compared to Mailchimp.

Should you eventually outgrow MailerLite, there are many more even better Mailchimp alternatives out there – like Autopilot or Active Campaign. Look out for another comparison article between the two platforms in the future.

If you still aren’t sure what platform is best for your business, get in touch with us for a free 20 minute discovery session and let us help you get on the right track.


Leanne O'Sullivan

Digital Sherpa & CEO
I help businesses grow through strategic digital marketing.​ I am the founder, CEO and Digital Sherpa of Adventure Digital – a marketing agency based in regional NSW, servicing clients all over the Australian eastern seaboard. I’ve made it my life’s mission to help you grow a sustainable, enjoyable and profitable business.

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