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  5. ActiveCampaign vs Mailchimp – A Surprising Winner [2024]

ActiveCampaign vs Mailchimp – A Surprising Winner [2024]

Alexandros Melidoniotis Alexandros MelidoniotisEmail Marketing Expert
Mailchimp is one of the most popular email marketing platforms around. ActiveCampaign isn’t as well-known, and it doesn’t come with a free plan – but when I tested both, I was surprised by which one came out on top.

Both ActiveCampaign and Mailchimp are great options for basic email marketing features. But for those who are looking to make the most of their email campaigns, every additional feature can make a huge difference.

To make choosing between ActiveCampaign vs Mailchimp easier for you, I tested both platforms over the course of a few weeks. For smaller lists, Mailchimp offers a lot, but overall, ActiveCampaign packs more features. It also offers better automation and a more advanced analytics suite.

And while ActiveCampaign doesn’t offer a free plan, there is a 14-day trial you can take advantage of to test most of the platform’s features before committing.


There’s No Question – ActiveCampaign Does More than Mailchimp

While both platforms offer a lot to users, ActiveCampaign packs more features.

Let’s start by taking a brief look at each platform’s email templates. ActiveCampaign offers 250+ templates with plenty of modern, minimalistic designs.

ActiveCampaign’s modern templates stand out.
Mailchimp offers about 60 templates – but most will cost you extra. That said, they look great, so if it works with your budget, they’re definitely worth the few extra dollars.

Mailchimp marketplace templates
Mailchimp’s email templates look good, but they will cost you extra
ActiveCampaign and Mailchimp both offer hundreds of integrations. They also both connect to Zapier, opening up even more integration possibilities.

I should mention that, as one of the biggest email platforms out there, Mailchimp integrates seamlessly with most apps, including common social media platforms. ActiveCampaign does the same job, but it might take you a few more steps to get there.

Both Mailchimp and ActiveCampaign offer robust automation tools with simple visual workflows and branching pathways. That said, with more than 850 automation templates and a beautiful interface, ActiveCampaign is more flexible and easier to use than Mailchimp.

Note that while it might seem like Mailchimp is a cent cheaper, certain features (such as transactional emails) are locked behind pricey add-ons.

Creating automation workflows with ActiveCampaign is a breeze.
When it comes to landing pages, Mailchimp jumps ahead. It might not offer as many templates (10 vs ActiveCampaign’s 40), but all of its landing page features are available for free. Mailchimp is also one of the few email marketing platforms to provide you with landing page analytics and performance stats.

Mailchimp’s landing page builder is a pleasant surprise.
To unlock the landing page builder and templates on ActiveCampaign, you have to purchase the Plus plan, starting at $49.00/month.

What about split testing? if you want to learn what your audience likes and dislikes, you’ll want to A/B test elements of your emails. Mailchimp offers A/B testing with the Essentials plan ($20.00/month), but it only lets you test up to three variables. The tool is a bit confusing to use, and it also glitches quite often.

ActiveCampaign does have A/B testing, but it’s extremely limited – it’s restricted to the subject lines and preview text of your emails. However, you can split test entire automated workflows with the Professional and Enterprise plans, which puts ActiveCampaign slightly ahead of Mailchimp.

With a more robust set of features, ActiveCampaign wins this round with relative ease.

Ease of Use

Both Services Were Created with Ease of Use in Mind

Mailchimp’s popularity is partly because it’s seen as an easy alternative to complicated email marketing software. And it does offer an easy-to-navigate interface and an easy-to-use drag-and-drop email editor.

However, some of Mailchimp’s features aren’t always where you’d expect them to be. For example, automations, landing pages, and forms are all found under the “Campaigns” tab, which doesn’t really make sense.

Importing contacts is a bit of an issue on both platforms. Because they only support CSV files, you’ll have to manually convert your XLS or TXT files before you can import your contacts. Top competitors, such as AWeber, simplify the process by supporting several file formats (including XLS, TSV, CSV, and TXT).

Like ActiveCampaign, Mailchimp only supports CSV and TXT files.
ActiveCampaign packs more features than Mailchimp, so it does take a bit more time and practice to figure out how everything works. The platform’s interface and drag-and-drop editor are well designed, but if you’re new to email marketing, you might find the whole experience a bit overwhelming. Don’t let that put you off though, there’s a reason it’s on our list of the best email marketing services in 2024 and my colleague raved about it in their ActiveCampaign review.

This round goes to Mailchimp as it’s easier to use and more beginner-friendly than ActiveCampaign.


Deliverability Rates Can Be Misleading

Once your carefully crafted email campaigns are ready, you also need to make sure they reach your subscribers’ inboxes. Deliverability is important, but running tests and coming up with percentages isn’t all that useful.

Let’s say I test Mailchimp by sending 5,000 emails, and 4,400 of those emails reach my subscribers’ inboxes – a deliverability rate of 88%. That sounds great. But does it say anything about Mailchimp? Not really – there are just too many variables to consider.

At the end of the day, your work as a marketer affects deliverability more than an EMS. Instead of relying on arbitrary numbers, concentrate on what you can do to boost your deliverability rate.

That said, there are some features to look out for that can improve your chances of your emails reaching your subscribers.

The first thing we need to check for is DKIM authentication. DKIM basically tells email service providers (such as Gmail) that the emails sent in your name were really sent by you. No problems here, as both platforms do have DKIM authentication. It’s nothing too technical, and both offer guides to help you set it up.

Mailchimp DKIM
Setting up DKIM on Mailchimp takes 10 minutes max
Next, we need to take a closer look at each service’s anti-spam policy. Some platforms run emails through checks to help prevent spam. I tried uploading known spam email addresses on both ActiveCampaign and Mailchimp, but unfortunately, neither passed the test.

Both ActiveCampaign and Mailchimp are quite strict with affiliate marketing, which is great for deliverability. While you can technically include third-party links in your emails, you should always make sure that those links add value and are relevant to your service.

But by far the best way to ensure high deliverability rates is to send your emails using a dedicated IP. With ActiveCampaign, you’ll need to have at least 100,000 contacts and an extra $750 lying around. Mailchimp’s private IPs cost only $29.95/month (and there’s no contact threshold), which is why Mailchimp wins this round.

Reporting and Analytics

ActiveCampaign Narrowly Wins the Analytics Battle

Let’s start with ActiveCampaign. You can easily generate reports on email campaigns, automation workflows, and contacts. These reports will tell you everything you need to know about open rates, click rates, and so on.

If you’ve collected the relevant data, you’ll also find out more about your subscribers’ activity – who opened your emails, where from, what time of day, who bounced, who clicked.

ActiveCampaign’s reporting tool can do it all.
Just like ActiveCampaign, Mailchimp gives you all the information you need, such as opens, clicks, and bounces. Soft and hard bounces are grouped together, which isn’t ideal, but on the plus side, you can easily view engagement rates for each contact on your list.

There’s also a tool you can use to compare your campaign’s performance against industry standards. And, as we’ve already discussed, Mailchimp generates reports on landing pages.

Although Mailchimp offers a bit more in the way of e-commerce reports, I found ActiveCampaign’s reporting tool easier to use. Plus while Mailchimp provides users with plenty of useful insights, it doesn’t really tell you what to do with that data. ActiveCampaign’s analytics suite makes it easier to take action based on the data you’ve collected.


Mailchimp Is Cheaper, but Things Even Out as Your Subscriber Count Increases

Mailchimp doesn’t pack as many features as ActiveCampaign, so it makes sense that its plans would be a bit cheaper. But the difference in price becomes less apparent as you add more contacts to your lists – to the point where ActiveCampaign might actually cost you less.

Here’s What You Get for Free

ActiveCampaign doesn’t come with a free plan. You can test most of its premium features with the 14-day trial (and you won’t be asked to sign up with a credit card), but keep in mind that you can only send 100 emails to 100 contacts.

Mailchimp has a free plan that allows you to send 10,000 emails/month to up to 2,000 contacts. That’s pretty generous. But note that many features – like email templates, automation workflows, and advanced reporting – won’t be available on the free plan.

The most outrageous limitation on the free plan is Mailchimp’s 30-day limit on email support. Yeah, you read that right. Mailchimp isn’t known for its impeccable support, but now it seems they’re even too busy to answer their customers’ emails.

Here’s What You Get If You Pay

ActiveCampaign’s Lite plan starts at $29.00/month and provides 1,000 contacts, unlimited email sends, and all of ActiveCampaign’s email templates and marketing automation.

The Plus plan unlocks the landing page builder and templates, the automations map, SMS marketing, conditional content, advanced performance reporting, and more. If you want website personalization, predictive sending and split automations, you might have to invest a bit more to access the Professional plan.

Mailchimp’s Essentials plan starts at $20.00/month for 500 contacts, unlocking email templates, automation, A/B testing, and email support (!), all of which are kind of necessary…

The Standard plan costs a few dollars more and comes with access to behavioral targeting, dynamic content, and send time optimization.

Then there’s a huge jump in price – and I mean huge – to $350/month for the Premium plan for up to 10,000 contacts. Mailchimp’s most expensive plan includes advanced segmentation, comparative reporting, and…phone support! At last!

Finally, ActiveCampaign offers generous discounts to users who sign up for annual plans, while Mailchimp doesn’t. Neither platform offers refunds.

ActiveCampaign vs Mailchimp Pricing Table

Plan ActiveCampaign Trial Mailchimp Free ActiveCampaign Lite – 2,500 contacts Mailchimp Essentials – 2,500 contacts
Price Free Free $61/month (if paid monthly)
Number of contacts 100 500 2,500 2,500
Number of emails per month 100 1,000 Unlimited 25,000
Number of users 1 1 1 3
Integrations 850+ 1,000+ 850+ 1,000+
Discount for annual plans N/A N/A 18.2% No Discount
Money-back guarantee N/A N/A No No


No Matter What You Do, Don’t Bother the Chimp

When learning how to use a new email marketing platform, a great support team can make all the difference. You can contact ActiveCampaign through chat, email, and phone on any of their plans. Unfortunately, I can’t say the same about Mailchimp.

Mailchimp will do everything in its power to redirect you back to its knowledge base, even when it’s clear that you need the help of a human representative. And if you opt for Mailchimp’s free plan, you better have all your questions answered within 30 days. After the first month, you’ll no longer have access to email support.

Mailchimp’s Essentials and Standard plans throw live chat support into the mix, but if you want to reach their support team by phone, you’ll need to purchase the pricey Premium plan (which starts at $350/month).

To test things out, I emailed both ActiveCampaign and Mailchimp asking the same question: What’s ActiveCampaign’s/Mailchimp’s affiliate marketing policy?

ActiveCampaign got back to me about three hours later.

The ActiveCampaign representative could have included some more information with their answer.
While I don’t mind the link – it does answer my question, after all – I would’ve preferred them to summarize the article’s most important points. Just a sentence or two would have been enough.

Mailchimp replied to my query 22 hours after I sent my email, but to be honest I was pleasantly surprised by that – the last time I tried to contact them, they ghosted me.

Honestly, I was surprised to hear back from Mailchimp at all.
Amy’s answer was helpful, complete with relevant links to help me find out more about Mailchimp’s affiliate marketing policy. Still, I wouldn’t be thrilled if I was experiencing a serious issue and had to wait almost 24 hours to get help.

Mailchimp vs ActiveCampaign – The Verdict

Mailchimp may be a huge name, but it just can’t compete with everything ActiveCampaign offers.

Navigating Mailchimp is a breeze, and its landing page builder is awesome – but ActiveCampaign easily wins almost every other comparison. While Mailchimp is a bit cheaper, ActiveCampaign has more templates, more integrations, and better customer support.

ActiveCampaign also provides a dedicated IP and outpaces the competition with its slightly superior analytics suite and greater personalization options. It’s important to note that Mailchimp’s approach to customer support remains a significant concern, and I will continue to highlight it until it receives the attention it deserves.

ActiveCampaign vs Mailchimp Comparison Table

250+ ✔
Advanced options and hundreds of automation templates ✔
Great automation tools
Apps and Integrations
1000+ ✔
Landing Page Builder
40+ templates
10 templates and analytics ✔
A/B Testing
Yes, and automation testing ✔
Ease of Use
Easy to use
Very beginner friendly ✔
Great ✔
Reporting and Analytics
Great ✔
Pricey, but prices go down as you add more subscribers ✔
Cheaper if you’re just starting out but get more expensive as you grow
Excellent  ✔
Total Rounds Won


Is ActiveCampaign Better Than Mailchimp?

The Mailchimp vs ActiveCampaign battle has a clear winner. Mailchimp is a very well-known email marketing platform, but ActiveCampaign packs many more features. With ActiveCampaign, you’re getting better marketing automation, a better analytics suite, and an unlimited number of emails to send every month.

What Is Better Than ActiveCampaign?

ActiveCampaign is the best all-rounder available right now. If you’re looking for an equally powerful platform, you should check out AWeber. Or Sendinblue is a great choice if you’re just getting started with email marketing. Discover more options in our updated list of the top 10 email marketing platforms.

Does ActiveCampaign integrate with Mailchimp?

No, ActiveCampaign and Mailchimp don’t natively integrate with each other. You can, however, use third-party apps (such as Skyvia, Leadsbridge, and PieSync) to transfer important data between the two platforms.

Is there a free version of ActiveCampaign?

ActiveCampaign doesn’t offer a free plan, but you can benefit from its risk-free 14-day trial. Alternatively, you can give AWeber or Sendinblue a try as they both offer users plenty of features with their free plans. For a complete list of free email marketing options, make sure to check out our updated guide here.

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