Email Marketing Automation: Mailchimp vs Constant Contact vs ConvertKit Vs ActiveCampaign Vs HubSpot

Mailchimp vs Constant Contact vs ConvertKit Vs ActiveCampaign Vs HubSpot: Which is The Best Email Marketing Automation Tool For Me?

There are lots of big players in the email automation game. A few years ago, the only real competitor was Mailchimp, but many rivals have emerged, all giving the cheeky little monkey a run for its money.  

In this blog post we’re asking the question “Which is best for marketing automation: Mailchimp vs Constant Contact vs ConvertKit vs ActiveCampaign vs HubSpot.

To save you the hassle of having to Google ‘Mailchimp vs ConvertKit’ or ‘Mailchimp vs HubSpot’ we’ve compared all five competitors in one giant email automation standoff.

Because Mailchimp is the most famous of the five, we’ve compared most competitors directly with Mailchimp, to make things simple for those who are familiar with the famous mail-delivering anthropoid.

For those who aren’t… don’t worry – we’ve unpacked exactly what Mailchimp can offer you too!

All five options are great email automation services, but they all provide different services in different ways – which means that there’s no simple answer here. 

While ActiveCampaign, for example, may be perfect for a consultant, it might be the wrong choice for a recruitment firm. 

In a hurry? Discover our recommended platform here.

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The 5 Big Questions

To unpack the most important differences, we’re going to be asking these five big questions:

  1. How easy is it to use?
  2. How much automation is on offer?
  3. How does the pricing stack up?
  4. What can it integrate with?
  5. How extensive is the personalisation and segmentation?

There are also some questions we won’t be asking:

  1. Can you send broadcast emails? (We won’t be asking this, because you can send broadcast emails with every service).
  2. Can I upload a list I’ve bought? (We won’t be asking this, because none of them allow you to do that!)
  3. Can I design my own emails? (We won’t be asking that, because they all allow you to do that!)
  4. We also won’t be offering any how-to information. (Instead, this is just a basic guide to let you know what you can do with each company… so you can choose the right email marketing automation provider for you)

But Isn’t Email Automation Pretty Simple?

In short, no. Not anymore.

Email automation was once a simple concept. You made a list (or several lists) of subscribers, then you sent automated emails to that list (or lists). And that was pretty much the extent of it.

Now, it’s a little more complex, with more extensive personalisation, segmentation, customisation and campaigning. If you want a multi-pronged, multi-faceted series of email marketing campaigns, simple automation is no longer enough.

In this blog post, we’ve considered the intricacies of each individual email automation service. We’ve featured tables and explanations, so you can find the perfect solution for you and your business

So, here we go! Let's start the big battle between the top five contenders. Get those boxing gloves ready!

Q1: How easy is it to use?

The following table summarises the scores. Read on for the in-depth reviews.

Mailchimp5/5
ContactContact4/5
ConvertKit3/5
ActiveCampaign5/5
HubSpot4/5

Mailchimp

Our Rating: ★★★★★

Mailchimp is the typical go-to for many businesses who use email automation.

One of Mailchimp’s best features is its ease of use: 

  • The dashboard is clean, simple and easy to understand, 
  • The brand is well-known and trusted
  • There’s a strategic lack of colour to every page, which gives you an immediate feeling that it’s simple enough for anyone, regardless of their skills in email automation.

The drag and drop interface is brilliant, and allows you to quickly and easily move blocks of content. With this tool, it’s very easy to create emails, customise your work and add images.

Mailchimp allows you to work with three basic commands: 

  • Create and send campaigns, 
  • Create a list
  • Start building an audience. 

These three things are the key building blocks in all good email marketing automation campaigns, and this makes things fast and easy for those looking to get started straight away.

There’s not one feature of Mailchimp which is overly complex or complicated. If you’re somewhat of a technophobe, Mailchimp might just be exactly what you need. It excels in its simplicity and usability. 

Total score: 5/5

Constant Contact

Our Rating: ★★★★☆

When you compare Mailchimp vs Constant Contact in the ‘ease of use’ category, there’s not a lot that differentiates the two.  

Constant Contact’s interface is also excellent, and also uses fantastic drag and drop elements.

Another great feature is the design templates. They’re easy to use, they look good and they’re simple for even the least experienced of users. Once you’ve assembled designs, it’s easy to use campaigns – and it’s even easier to reuse them, as you can simply replicate campaigns over and over again if you wish.

The one slight flaw here is that Constant Contact’s templates don’t offer much flexibility. In the head to head of Mailchimp vs Constant Contact, both are similarly easy – but Mailchimp’s templates offer more flexibility with the same ease of use. 

(Course, regular readers will know that we don’t recommend using templates, but that’s a different story!)

It’s very easy to update your email list with Constant Contact, and to use the lists you create.

Building Automations is relatively straightforward, and although the User Interface (UI) is not as pretty as Mailchimp’s, it still simple enough to pick up.

Our score: 4/5

ConvertKit

Our Rating: ★★★☆☆

In many ways, the Mailchimp vs ConvertKit war is a tightly-run one – except one: Ease of use.

Whilst it would be unfair to say that ConvertKit is complicated, it’s certainly not the easiest option on the market. There’s no drag and drop, and there’s not a huge focus on creating attractive emails.

While ConvertKit makes it easy to manage subscribers and automate some of your emails, it's difficult to get an easy overview of your campaign

They do offer lots of useful how-to videos, but a great UI should be one that is intuitive (and of the five we’ve reviewed, Mailchimp is the clear winner for clean, intuitive UI).

Information is scattered across multiple dashboards making easy analysis quite tricky.

ConvertKit places less focus on making attractive and aesthetic emails in comparison to many of its competitors, and it will take the average user longer to get to grips with the slightly confusing interface.

Our score:  3/5

ActiveCampaign

Our Rating: ★★★★★

ActiveCampaign is Mailchimp’s biggest competitors in the ease of use battle. 

If you’re looking for an automation tool that requires no training, no preparation and no nail-biting failed attempts, Active Campaign is a brilliant choice.

The interface is intuitive, well-designed and places a huge focus on visuals. There are lots of great images, designs and clear instructions which help to simply and easily guide you through the whole process.

If your priority is finding an email automation service which is easy to use, it comes down to this simple standoff: Mailchimp vs Active Campaign. Mailchimp gets the edge on email design, as they make it very easy to design attractive emails easily. Active Campaign makes it slightly easier to assemble lists. Otherwise, these two are on par – and are both excellent options.

Our score: 5/5

HubSpot

Our Rating: ★★★★☆

When you pit HubSpot vs Mailchimp in the ease of use stakes, the former is a little more complex and complicated. While this can be useful for those who can handle complex technology, it means that HubSpot isn’t the best pick for those seeking simple solutions.

While HubSpot’s interface uses drag and drop and lots of user-friendly features, it’s not a tool for beginners. Some of HubSpot’s elements can be pretty easy to pick up, but if you’re seeking a tool that’s ready right out of the box, HubSpot is not it. And because HubSpot is an overarching marketing tool – rather than just an email marketing automation tool – it can be even harder to get to grips with.

Our score: 4/5

Q2: How much automation is on offer?

Mailchimp4/5
ContactContact3/5
ConvertKit4/5
ActiveCampaign5/5
HubSpot4/5

Mailchimp

Our Rating: ★★★★☆

Mailchimp offers a huge amount of automation options, with a number of varied ‘triggers’ which set up different types of automation. These triggers include emails which are sent when a user:

  • Has a birthday
  • Interacts with a certain campaign
  • Doesn’t interact with a certain campaign
  • Clicks a specific link in a specific campaign
  • Signs up to a certain service
  • Leaves or joins a group in your audience
  • … and much more.

These triggers can be integrated with your chosen ecommerce store for super easy synchronicity – for example, if and when a user abandons a cart or if they purchase something from a specific product category. 

Though Mailchimp’s automations are hidden away in the ‘campaign’ section, and a little hard to find, they’re extensive once you’ve found them. It’s also worth noting that you can’t set up many bespoke triggers. Instead, you rely on a (great number of) pre-set triggers.

NOTE:… you’re severely restricted on the automation options on the free plan. You do need a paid plan before you get access to all of these options. (to be fair that’s the same with most of the other platforms – just thought it would be important to point this out)

The bottom line here is, if you want a huge variety of simple triggers for several different types of automated email, Mailchimp could be a good choice.

If, however, you want to build bespoke automations with custom triggers, you’ll soon get frustrated, and you’ll probably wish you’d chosen ActiveCampaign.

Our Score:  4/5

Constant Contact

Our Rating: ★★★☆☆

When you compare Constant Contact’s trigger options with Mailchimp, Mailchimp wins every time. 

That said, the automations Constant Contact offers are great; They provide lots of useful automation around birthdays, welcome emails and a good system for sending follow-up emails to those who haven’t opened your emails.

Constant Contact’s automated email series is also very well thought out, and can be used to make a chain of up to 15 different emails. In terms of automation, this is one of its best features.

But Constant Contact’s useful automation ends there. You can’t use a huge variety of triggers, and the automation isn’t advanced or intricate enough to tailor emails according to the specifics of your user actions. 

If you want a variety of different triggers – or a way to build your own automations that are based on a range of triggers, then you’ll soon find that Constant Contact simply won’t offer the options you want.

Our Score: 3/5

ConvertKit

Our Rating: ★★★★☆

In terms of email automation, ConvertKit offers a visual automations feature which allows you to easily build sequences of emails. This allows you to determine how and when someone should enter a sequence, and add automation based on events, actions and other conditions.

The automation options are excellent and the visual display of how these work is even better. You can use this display to get a clear visualisation of how your users move through the flow of your emails.

In the automation battle of ConvertKit vs Mailchimp, ConvertKit performs very well.

There are so many options for triggering emails within ConvertKit that may find yourself overwhelmed at first. 

But once you grow accustomed to the tagging system, you’ll be able to craft nuanced campaigns which are automated in highly targeted, intelligent ways.

ConvertKit doesn’t offer quite as many options as Mailchimp for pre-set triggers, but your options are much more bespoke with ConvertKit – and creating these automations is very simple.

Our score: 4/5

ActiveCampaign

Our Rating: ★★★★★

ActiveCampaign approaches things differently. Whereas Mailchimp treats each list as it’s own ‘universe’, Active Campaign allows campaigns to be sent to contacts on different lists. 

Contacts can be easily segmented via tags, making it very easy to apply varied automation criteria for your customers.

With ActiveCampaign, you can manually apply combinations of triggers, actions and conditions to build complex flows towards automation. Where most other tools (including Mailchimp) offer pre-set triggers, you can build better bespoke triggers with ActiveCampaign.

When considering ActiveCampaign vs Mailchimp, Active Campaign offers a much better choice for those who like to work visually. Just like ConvertKit, ActiveCampaign allows you to assemble a visual representation of your automation, which make things really clear.

If you want simple (but extensive) triggers, consider Mailchimp. If you want nifty visualisation along with the ability to craft several nuanced bespoke conditions for your automation, ActiveCampaign is the best pick for you. It takes a little while to get used to, but it’s great.

Our Score:5/5

HubSpot

Our Rating: ★★★★☆

HubSpot is more than just email marketing software. If you’re looking for a tool for email automation only, then HubSpot is not for you. 

Instead, HubSpot integrates with almost every stage of your sales & marketing strategy, including your website CMS, inbound marketing and much more.

Because of this, HubSpot’s focus isn’t strictly on automation – but you still get lots of great automation features here. 

Automation is triggered when a contact is added to a list, clicks a link on an email, views a page on your blog and more. You can also combine pieces of information stored on each contact to drive elements of automation. These pieces of information can include contact properties, content downloads and more.

If you want automation that can be integrated with aspects of your business beyond email, HubSpot is a great pick. In the standoff between HubSpot vs Mailchimp, the former offers a much more extensive approach to general marketing beyond just email (just be prepared for the price!).

However, if you want simple, straight-forward triggers related only to email, or your budget is restricted, then look elsewhere.

Our score : 4/5

Q3: How does the pricing stack up?

Mailchimp4/5
ContactContact3/5
ConvertKit3/5
ActiveCampaign4/5
HubSpot2/5

Mailchimp

Our Rating: ★★★★☆

Mailchimp is known as one of the most cost-effective options for email automation. The low-cost options are fantastic, with a very basic plan starting at a price of absolutely nothing(!) per month. Mailchimp offer the following four plans:

  • Free – $0 per month
  • Essentials – starting at $9.99 per month
  • Standard – starting at $14.99 per month
  • Premium – starting at $299 per month

Pricing is based on your list size. The basic plan is for 2000 people (in one audience), while the premium offers emails for 200,000+, with unlimited audiences. Each plan also has a monthly email sending limit. 

The free plan is generous, as is the essentials plan. But be aware: the two least expensive options only include basic automation. You need to buy the ‘Standard’ plan to get access to all the triggers.

Mailchimp also offers a pay-as-you-go plan, which may be useful for some very small campaigns – or for a very small startup, but, again, the automation options are very limited. 

Our score: 4/5

Constant Contact

Our Rating: ★★★☆☆

If you were to ask the question, ‘Constant Contact Vs Mailchimp: Which is cheapest?’, Mailchimp will win every day of the week. 

ConstantContact does not have a free option; The lowest plan starts at $20 per month and the most expensive starts at $335 per month. Oh, and if you want automation, you have to pay at least $45 per month.

Constant Contact has lots of great features, such as great ease of use and excellent drag and drop options, but price is not one of them. If saving money is your priority, Constant Contact is not the solution for you.

Our score: 3/5

ConvertKit

Our Rating: ★★★☆☆

ConvertKit hasn’t always had a free plan, but it does now. This free plan includes the ability to email up to 1000 subscribers. But in the battle of Mailchimp vs ConvertKit, Mailchimp still wins this round. Whilst Mailchimp offers very basic automation for free, ConvertKit offers absolutely none.

If you have 100,000 users or over, ConverKit changes a pricey $679 a month, making it a pretty expensive option. In many ways, ConvertKit is a fantastic product, and it’s great that you can sample the product with a free trial. However, at the upper end of the subscriber numbers, it does get pretty expensive and other platforms offer much better value.

Our score: 3/5

ActiveCampaign

Our Rating: ★★★★☆

ActiveCampaign’s most affordable option comes in at $9 per month, while the most expensive plan starts at $229 per month.

There are four payment categories, according to how many team members will be using the service. The smallest accommodates 3, followed by 25, then 50, then unlimited. This is a little different – and more complex – than the payment plans offered by other providers. 

In an assessment of ActiveCampaign vs Mailchimp, Active Campaign has a more expensive and complex payment system. But aside from that, it performs pretty well in this round – though ActiveCampaign’s cheapest plan doesn’t offer sales automation, it does offer everything you’d need for marketing automation, so the smallest package can be a great purchase for the right business.

ActiveCampaign offers a free trial for 14 days, which can be a great way to try out the platform before committing your hard-earned cash.

Our score: 4/5

HubSpot

Our Rating: ★★☆☆☆

Price is where HubSpot is vastly different to the other platforms we’ve covered. The bottom line is this: HubSpot is expensive. Yes, it’s much more of an overall sales & marketing tool than the four other options on this list, but those features come with a price. 

If you’re looking for a marketing system which incorporates great email management into a much larger, overarching sales & marketing strategy, go for HubSpot. But if you’re focusing mainly on email marketing automation, you’d be much better off with one of the cheaper options.

How expensive is it exactly? There is a free service, which is pretty basic, and doesn't include email marketing automation. The biggest packages can reach prices of up to $4,200 per month if you want to take advantage of all of HubSpot’s services. 

If you just want to use HubSpot for email marketing automation, it’s a better idea to pick one of the other services we’ve included on this list.

Our score: 2/5

Q4: What can it integrate with?

Mailchimp5/5
ContactContact4/5
ConvertKit4/5
ActiveCampaign4/5
HubSpot3/5

Mailchimp

Our Rating: ★★★★★

Mailchimp offers 250 options for integration. Some of the most helpful integrations are WordPress, Slack and Coupon Carrier. These integrations come in a whole number of categories: 

  • Analytics
  • Scheduling
  • Point of sale
  • Social media 
  • … and so much more.

For an extensive list of the 250 – along with detailed descriptions on how they can help – Mailchimp themselves are the best at describing the potential options. 

An important note here -like all the platforms featured here,  you can connect Mailchimp with Zapier, an online automation tool which connects apps to one another, in order to make automation more extensive and intuitive. This opens up a further 2000+ integrations, which means huge automation options. However, Zapier restricts certain apps to paid plans, so you could end up paying for both Zapier and your email marketing platform.

You receive all of Mailchimp’s integrations with even the free price plan, making integration accessible to everyone.

Our score: 5/5

Constant Contact

Our Rating: ★★★★☆

In the battle of Constant Contact vs Mailchimp, the former offers more options for integration, with around 500 options compared to Mailchimp’s 250. A full list of the 500 can be found here.

Some of the best integrations include WordPress, QuickBooks and Shopify. 

Constant Contact not only offers plenty of integration options, they also make it very easy to set them up. If you want an email automation provider who can help you to integrate intelligently and simply, Constant Contact is a very good choice.

Again, you can integrate Zapier with Constant Contact, offering another 2000+ integrations.

Integrations are not offered on the cheapest plan. If you want integrations, your price will start at $45 per month.

Our score: 4/5

ConvertKit

Our Rating: ★★★★☆

Again, you can connect ConvertKit to Zapier, which allows for the same 2000+ connections offered by any tool which integrates with Zapier. Aside from Zapier integrations, ConvertKit offers interesting and exciting integrations with tools relating to webinars, surveys, quizzes and more. Here is the full list.

But the big difference here, in the battle of ConvertKit vs Mailchimp, is that, with ConvertKit, integration is not offered on the cheapest plan.

Our score: 4/5

ActiveCampaign

Our Rating: ★★★★☆

ActiveCampaign only offers integration on its Plus plan, which starts at $49 per month. So if you’re wanting to integrate at an affordable rate, you might want to look elsewhere.

Comparing ActiveCampaign vs Mailchimp, Active Campaign offers just as many integrations, and is again compatible with Zapier, but these integrations do come at a price.

Without Zapier, you can integrate with up to 300 other platforms, including Shopify and WordPress. Here is a full list of them all.

Our score: 4/5

HubSpot

Our Rating: ★★★☆☆

Again, you can connect HubSpot with Zapier and access that huge list of integrations. Aside from Zapier, HubSpot offers another 200 options for integration.

In the HubSpot vs Mailchimp standoff, the big difference here is that HubSpot is much more than just an email marketing automation platform, so it offers a more wide variety of integration options. If you want more than just email marketing automation, these will be helpful. If you don’t, they probably won’t be!

HubSpot have displayed these integration options in a fantastic chart on their site. The infographic they’ve used is very attractive and very easy to digest.

Like with lots of HubSpot’s services, automation comes at a big price. Full marketing automation starts at around $800 per month, which puts HubSpot out of reach for most small businesses looking for email automation.

Our score: 3/5

Q5: How extensive is the personalisation and segmentation?

Mailchimp4/5
ContactContact3/5
ConvertKit4/5
ActiveCampaign4/5
HubSpot5/5

Mailchimp

Our Rating: ★★★★☆

Mailchimp offers a huge number of helpful features which allow you to personalise your content and segment your lists.

You can segment your lists based on interests, likes and shopping preferences. You can also use merge tags gathered from sign-up forms to send out personalised information, so Mailchimp will do lots of the work for you.

Mailchimp will also predict your demographics, which can be a very useful tool when you’re a little uncertain on how to assemble lists. Another big plus here is timing – Mailchimp will analyse when your users are most likely to engage with your emails, and send all content out at an appropriate time.

In many ways, Mailchimp offers fantastic intuitive segmentation and personalisation. But because it relies on tags more than lists, it can be a little hard if you want to create lists simply and easily. Tagging allows for more diverse lists, but it can be difficult to get used to.

Our score: 4/5

Constant Contact

Our Rating: ★★★☆☆

For list management, Constant Contact makes things very easy. If you want to segment lists quickly, simply and effectively, Constant Contact is a great choice. Constant Contact, vs Mailchimp, does a much better job at simplifying this process. The dashboard makes segmenting very understandable and actionable.

Constant Contact doesn’t offer quite as much auto-personalisation whereas Mailchimp will do a lot of this automatically.

Our score: 3/5

ConvertKit

Our Rating: ★★★★☆

ConvertKit provides some really nice analytics, which opens up a huge number of options for segmentation. Some analytics used by ConverKit include insights related to new subscribers, click rates, open rates, past purchases and much more. 

You can use ConvertKit to provide countless lists based on any number of (and any combination of) these factors. If you want to create very detailed, very specific lists, ConvertKit could be a fantastic choice.

With ConvertKit, you can add small personal touches such as email recipient’s names and the like, but there’s not too much personalisation beyond a phenomenal amount of segmentation. ConvertKit, vs Mailchimp, falls short on simple personalisation.

Our score: 4/5

ActiveCampaign

Our Rating: ★★★★☆

If you want the ability to quickly and easily build a huge amount of segmentation, you will love ActiveCampaign. ActiveCampaign has a brilliant visual building tool which makes segmenting easy. Meanwhile, the amount of segmentation on offer is fantastic, with fields related to site data, actions, contact details and a seemingly-endless amount of custom fields which you can create.

Creating segments is very fast and very easy, with a floating menu that is accessible at any time.

Again,in the battle of ActiveCampaign vs Mailchimp, Active Campaign doesn’t offer as much in the way of automated personalisation, but it is the best for segmentation out of all the platforms we’ve reviewed.

Our score: 4/5

HubSpot

Our Rating: ★★★★★

In the HubSpot vs Mailchimp battle, HubSpot comes out on top in the segmentation stakes. You can segment users based upon where they are in the funnel, website activity, how they interact with your email content and much more.

Again, if you want an email marketing automation provider who will help you to integrate your email marketing with your overall marketing, HubSpot is fantastic. Their tools provide brilliant segmentation which you can use to carry over from all aspects of your marketing in order to create countless detailed emailing lists.

The personalisation is phenomenal. You can personalise based on previous interactions, marketing funnel stages, the category of products customers have expressed interest in and much more. If you want deep personalisation (across more than just email marketing) HubSpot does it brilliantly. But, as we’ve said before, it does come at a price.

Our score: 5/5

The Final Scores

Mailchimp22/25
ContactContact17/25
ConvertKit18/25
ActiveCampaign 22/25 OUR CHOICE
HubSpot18/25

Mailchimp vs Constant Contact vs ConvertKit vs Active Campaign vs HubSpot:

There we have it, our final scores!

As we’ve proven in this guide, Mailchimp is still hard to beat. Many competitors have emerged, but Mailchimp typically remains the cheapest tool for the vast majority of small businesses seeking simple email marketing automation.

Although Mailchimp does have some shortcomings, they know their audience very well and provide a platform that appeals to the occasional email-marketer. It’s affordable, flexible and offers the ability to create beautiful emails (which, as we’ve said, is not always a good thing!).

However, for business owners who want to do more advanced stuff, our recommendation is always going to be Active Campaign.

True, it is slightly more expensive, but with the extra money comes a huge raft of segmentation, automation and personalisation options, that will pay for themselves in a matter of months, if you use them properly.

If your budget is larger, and you want a one-stop shop for your entire sales & marketing processes, then spend some time talking to HubSpot – they’re sales team is very knowledgeable and they’ll be happy to guide you.

In our opinion, Constant Contact & ConvertKit just don’t provide enough reasons to be serious contenders in this battle.