MailChimp vs Aweber: A Quick Guide

Julie Zubak
By Julie Zubak

MailChimp and Aweber are two of the best email marketing platforms available. Both are raved about for different reasons and in this post we’re going to compare the two to help you distinguish which solution is right for your company.

What Do These Services Do Exactly?

E-marketing services are platforms that simplify your email marketing campaign. They’re often used to manage large email lists for whatever target audience a company has identified. With these lists they can deliver mass emails, create e-newsletters for the subscribers, automate emails to the users which subscribe, and review the data these services collect based off your marketing campaigns (things like how many people open, ignore, or even forward your emails).

Related: Why the One Key Email Metric You’re Ignorng is Derailing Your Campaigns

Automated emails can be particularly important, as these are the ones autonomously generated by these platforms. Meaning once you’ve laid a plan for what sort of emails you want your subscribers to receive (a welcome email, follow up email, annual email, etc.) then you can step away and let MailChimp or Aweber do the rest. That’s why these features need to be intuitive, consistent, and user-friendly.

Let’s Talk Autoresponders

At this point, it’s certain that MailChimp that has the leg up here. We’ll explain why. Setting up these automatic emails can be a bit tedious. What you’re trying to do here is create a voice for your company and then decide—based of your audience—when to use it. Do you want to send a welcome email? How about after that, do you wait a week or a month to follow up? Furthermore, what’s in the first email and what’s in the fifth?

There’s a huge degree of personalization that goes into these emails—then categorization, as you need to know which part of your audience is receiving what. This means the autoresponder tool needs to be relatively straight forward without comprising any dynamism. You don’t want it to be too simple, or else you’re not going to have room for your own creativity.

While Aweber’s feature is certainly more user-friendly, it lacks the layers that MailChimp’s incorporates, and performs at a drastically lower degree. And MailChimp’s feature is not that difficult to learn, it just takes a bit more time.

All in all, Aweber’s functionality can’t compare, so MailChimp wins this competition. However, they do promise to make some advances in the near future, so we’ll wait to see what sort of tools they bring to the table.

How About Pricing?

MailChimp

MailChimp’s free product allows up to 2,000 subscribers and 12,000 emails sent per month. They don’t have a ‘trial period’ so their free platform is active indefinitely. But we do want to mention that the emails are limited, some of the features are unavailable, and there’s virtually no support. The paid plans are below:

  • Smallest plan is $20 per month with allotted 1001-1500 subscribers
  • Largest plan is $35 per month with allotted 2501-2600 subscribers

Each paid plan promises and delivers unlimited emails. They also grant support, too. But aside from these two plans they also allow you to pay in increments, which mean you can decide how much of their product you want dependent on the state of your company.

Related: How to Make Sure Your Emails Break Through the Clutter This Holiday Season

Beyond that, they have possibly one of the most expensive plans available within the e-marketing provider world: MailChimp offers a ‘Pro’ plan which gives access to all of their marketing features.

  • Largest Pro Marketer Plan is an additional $199/month on top of your pre-existing plan

Perhaps the best thing about MailChimp’s platform is their free plan, as it offers a substantial amount of features for being free indefinitely. This is often utilized by startups without much money for P&A.

Aweber

Instead of offering a limited free service, they allow a 30-day free trial which opens access to the entire platform. Once this trial ends, the client can either pay or no longer benefit from the service. Their pricing goes as follows:

  • Smallest plan is $29 per month with an allotted 501-2,500 subscribers.
  • Largest plan is $149/per month with an allotted 10,000-25,000 subscribers

Between those two plans is a $49 dollar plan and a $69 plan, which scale at nearly the same rate. If you want a plan larger than the $149, you’ll have to call in for an estimate.

We know the prices can be a bit confusing—especially if this is all new to you—but if you’re wondering how they compare they’re pretty even. Each have their smaller and larger plans and each scale at relatively the same pace. However if you’re living that startup life, MailChimp might be the winner because of their free service, which allows you to leverage the platform before investing.

Design Functionality

This actually goes back to the autoresponders point; MailChimp is a bit more difficult to learn, but way more versatile. If you’re someone that has never designed a thing in your life and are looking for templates to plug-and-play, then Aweber is your service. They have hundreds more templates than MailChimp and their design tools are straightforward, simple, but limiting.

Basically, if you don’t like Aweber’s templates, it can be incredibly difficult to implement your own code, whereas MailChimp basically gives you a blank canvas and a pencil then says do what you want. To this point, MailChimp has a much more versatile interface when designing HTML emails, with an option to image host. Aweber does this too, but their code isn’t as smooth, and there are a few testimonies where their HTML integration failed.

Related: Best Practices for Email Marketing Split Testing 

But—to Aweber’s defense, one of the annoying elements to MailChimp’s design tools is you can only have one design per list. With Aweber you can have multiple, which means you can send them out and record their successes.

If you don’t plan on doing too much personalization and you’re not design-centered, Aweber wins. If you’re someone that has a few design skills and can generally navigate a UI, MailChimp offers a lot more.

Customer Support?

This is on the categories that Aweber absolutely sweeps. In fact, MailChimp is notorious for their awful support system that doesn’t really improve even if you’re a paying customer. We’ll break it down for you.

MailChimp doesn’t offer any support to their free users. If you’re a paying member, you have access to their email and chat support. Unfortunately,  they will often direct you to their existing resources, which may or may not offer a clear solution.

Related: The Ultimate Guide to Email Subject Lines

Aweber on the other hand offers phone and email support—and they’ll offer it even during the trial period. They’re known to be responsive, diligent, and well-informed. Their support is offered throughout business hours as well and there’s usually no wait list to reach a representative.

Deliverability

Deliverability is the accuracy in which your emails find their way into inboxes, rather than spam folders. It’s incredibly important, as an e-marketing service provider

This is another category that Aweber wins by a landslide. If you do even slight bit of research you’ll quickly find that Aweber has the best deliverability of any e-marketing service on the market. They promise 99% and deliver extremely close to that. In fact, many customers choose Aweber for this very reason.

MailChimp is supposed to have a 99% as well, but user experience says otherwise. One reason people migrate away from MailChimp actually has to do with spam. There are multiple accounts of clients signing up for MailChimp and once they start using the service—while the emails MailChimp send aren’t flagged—their personal emails become marked as spam and no longer deliver correctly.

This is obviously a huge problem as often client marry their work emails to the accounts. Now that you know this, if you decide to go with MailChimp then it might be worth it to use an email you rarely use. MailChimp and Aweber share two things in common: they have fantastic analytical tools and user interfaces.

Truly, they’re both excellent. While MailChimp has a slight better version of A/B testing (sending two types of emails to the same group and using data to identify which is more successful), Aweber has a slightly user-friendly interface.

Wrapping It Up

In the end, it all depends on what you want as a company. If the integrated, flexible, and customizable tools (also their code is a lot more adaptable) for MailChimp is worth more to you than ease of use, they’re probably the choice. Not to mention their free and ‘pay-as-you-go’ scaling plans make it easy to build a user base before actually having to pay.

Related: 4 Key Email Sequences Your E-Commerce Company Needs

But if you want to be sure you’re going to get the best deliverability in the market, a customer support team that’s going to pick up the phone when you call, and an interface that is easy to use (also loaded with templates), then Aweber is probably your horse to bet on.

At the end of the day, these are two fantastic e-marketing solutions that have held their spot in the market for good reason. Which one you choose shouldn’t necessarily derive from which shines a bit more on paper, but how they suit your needs.

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Julie is the VP of Email Marketing at Power Digital. A Chicago native and University of Arizona alum, she focuses on creating lead generation funnels, product launch strategies, and email sequence maps.