As a blogger, you have started to develop a strong name and identity and are creating lots of great content for your audience to enjoy. Sometimes a reader might find you through a search engine or through social media, and might only read one or two posts before leaving.
You want to keep readers coming back again and again to enjoy your new content, and the best way to do this is through email. Using email marketing tools, you can set up a weekly or monthly newsletter, automated campaigns like alerts for your latest blog post, and even create opt-ins to attract your readers to subscribe.
In this article we’ll take a look at two popular email marketing service providers, Constant Contact and MailChimp, and compare them to see which is the best option for bloggers.
When comparing software solutions one of the first details to look at is often the price – especially if you’re just starting a blog or want to keep your monthly costs low to maximise profit.
Both MailChimp and Constant Contact offer monthly subscription services, meaning you can sign up on a month by month basis and change your plan as your mailing list grows.
Let’s take a look at their pricing and packages (as of August 2018).
MailChimp Plans and Pricing
MailChimp offers a generous “Forever Free” plan. On this plan you can have up to 2,000 subscribers and send up to 12,000 emails per month for free, which is perfect for if you’re new to email marketing for your blog.
The plan has some limitations — there’s no ongoing support beyond the first 30 days and there are some branding and testing options that aren’t included, but it’s a great plan for beginners or bloggers with a small email list.
For MailChimp’s paid plans, the pricing reflects the number of subscribers on your email list. Starting at $10 per month for up to 500 subscribers, the paid plan offers extra support, custom branding, and the ability to send unlimited emails per month (subject to the usual fair use). To estimate your monthly cost based on your subscriber count you can use their pricing calculator.
MailChimp also offers a Pro Add-on for $199 per month, which is a good option if you require enhanced support, advanced segmentation, and comparative reports.
All MailChimp plans include standard features, including:
- Email campaigns
- Customizable templates
- Landing pages
- Sign-up forms
- Marketing automation
- Segmentation and groups
- Basic reports
- A/B testing
- Apps and integrations
Constant Contact Plans and Pricing
Unlike MailChimp, Constant Contact doesn’t offer a free plan. This might make it less attractive if you’re on a budget or want to keep those initial costs low while you build your blog audience and subscriber list. The company does offer a free trial, which varies between 30 and 60 days depending on promotions.
Constant Contact’s “Email” plan starts at $20 per month and allows you to send unlimited emails to your subscribers. The exact monthly cost is based on your subscriber count, and to see what your monthly cost would be, check their sign-up page.
Included in this plan are the tools you need to create and monitor email campaigns, including:
- Email campaigns
- Contact management
- List building tools
- Tracking and reporting
- Customizable templates
- Marketing calendar
- Email scheduling
- Apps and integrations
If you need email automation or A/B testing you’ll need to upgrade to the “Email Plus” plan which starts at $45 per month and is based on the size of your subscriber list.
Compare Pricing Side-by-Side
With both companies offering similar paid plans, here is a side-by-side comparison of monthly costs based on different subscriber counts:
|Subscriber Count||MailChimp (per month)||Constant Contact (per month)|
Constant Contact vs. MailChimp Pricing: the Winner
When it comes to picking a winner on price in the MailChimp vs. Constant Contact battle, our vote has to be MailChimp. Their “Forever Free” plan is perfect for new bloggers or those with a small subscriber list, and their monthly costs are lower than Constant Contact’s — especially if your list grows beyond 5,000 to 10,000.
You might have noticed from looking at the plans above that MailChimp and Constant Contact have slightly different offerings. In this section we’ll take a look at some key email marketing features for bloggers and how the two companies compare.
Design and Templates
Both Constant Contact and MailChimp offer you a choice from a wide range of templates, as well as the ability to build your own template or customize an existing one. This means that whichever email marketing software you go with, you have the opportunity to create an email template or design that suits your blog and your goals. Both companies offer a drag and drop design interface, making designing easy.
Email Campaign Types
One of the first ways you can introduce email marketing as a blogger is to send your new blog posts to subscribers automatically using a service called RSS. New blog posts are added to your RSS feed and distributed via your email marketing software.
MailChimp offers this facility as standard and within the “Forever Free” plan, but to get this running with Constant Contact you’d need to make use of an integration like Zapier.
Another popular way to keep your audience engaged is by sending a weekly or monthly newsletter. Both Constant Contact and MailChimp make this easy for you, with the ability to create and schedule email campaigns included as a key feature.
You can also create and schedule one-off campaigns, like if you wanted to promote a specific blog post as part of a sponsored collaboration or to promote a new product or service.
A popular way to attract readers and keep them engaged is to create an opt-in. When a visitor opts in to emails on your site, they get an automated email offering to send them a product or freebie, followed by a sequence that introduces your blog or a particular product or service you’re promoting.
Email automation is included with all MailChimp plans, however with Constant Contact you’d need to upgrade to their “Email Plus” plan to unlock full automation features.
When creating campaigns to promote a product or service, or to attract maximum engagement from your newsletter, you might want to test a few different headlines to see which is the most engaging. This is called A/B testing. It allows you to then send the remaining emails with the most engaging headline, resulting in better results.
A/B testing is currently included with all MailChimp plans, including “Forever Free.” To unlock A/B testing in Constant Contact you need to subscribe to their “Email Plus” plan, starting at $45 per month.
Looking for a side-by-side comparison of feature availability? Click here for an in-depth comparison of features.
With so many different aspects to blogging, it’s important that software we invest in plays nicely with other software we use.
Constant Contact and MailChimp both boast hundreds of integrations with apps and other software, including CRM systems like Salesforce and Magento, competition widgets like Gleam, and many other useful blog and business services. MailChimp has a larger integrations library, with popular apps including Gmail, Shopify, Outlook, and Woocommerce.
Once you’ve designed your email campaign you want to make sure it’s going to reach the inboxes of your subscribers instead of landing in their spam folder or even being blacklisted.
Bloggers have run tests with MailChimp standing out as a clear winner when it comes to deliverability — 79 percent of email campaigns land in the subscriber’s inbox compared to 61 percent from Constant Contact.
After you’ve sent your emails you’ll want to be able to check on their progress, including open rates and activity from subscribers.
This is easy to do with MailChimp and Constant Contact, with both offering basic analytics including tracking clicks, opens, and revenue goals you’ve set.
MailChimp users will find their analytics suite much more detailed, with the ability to see which links were the most clicked within a campaign, what time of day your subscribers are active and other data like geography and social shares.
Constant Contact vs. MailChimp Features and Functionality: the Winner
There’s another clear winner here in the Constant Contact vs. MailChimp battle, with MailChimp winning in this round. It boasts more blogger-friendly features and the detailed analytics are extremely useful for improving your email marketing strategy further.
While it may be less important than the technical side of email marketing or being able to create campaigns that achieve your goals, your own user experience of the software still matters. In this section we look at the interface and behind the scenes, as well as what you can expect in terms of customer service and support.
Learning new software and tools can be difficult, which is why a clear, easy-to-use interface and dashboard can make all the difference.
You won’t be disappointed with either MailChimp or Constant Contact, with both offering an intuitive experience for users. From our experience and talking to other bloggers, the simplicity and uncluttered approach from MailChimp is appreciated — with some mentioning that they found Constant Contact to have a steeper learning curve. MailChimp’s clean design allows you to focus on creating and running great email campaigns.
If email marketing is new to you, chances are you’ll want to reach out for support at some point. For more experienced bloggers or those with a background in marketing, dedicated customer support may be less of a necessity.
Both Constant Contact and MailChimp offer FAQs and help or knowledge base sections, covering topics with helpful answers in written or video form. Users on the “Forever Free” plan with MailChimp have no access to support, and the company doesn’t provide phone support, meaning it may not be the best option for you if you prefer to call someone and talk through a problem. Constant Contact, on the other hand, offers a range of support options on all plans including phone and 24/7 live chat, making it a great choice for bloggers who want to be able to speak to someone.
Constant Contact vs. MailChimp User Experience: the Winner
So who wins this round? Our vote this time is with Constant Contact, as a clear winner in offering a support system that’s accessible and more in-depth. If you’re happy with email support, a paid plan from MailChimp would still work well for you.
Email marketing is increasingly becoming one of the best ways to communicate with and grow your blog audience. The ability to send newsletters, create automated sequences for opt-in freebies, and send your blog posts automatically can really help to encourage repeat visits to your blog.
Through our research and comparisons above, our clear winner and our email marketing software of choice for bloggers is MailChimp. Their free plan makes email marketing for bloggers really accessible and their pricing is consistently lower than Constant Contact. We also liked the fact that most features are available within all plans, meaning you don’t need to commit to a large monthly cost to start building your subscriber list effectively.
Constant Contact may be a more attractive option if a high level of quality support is important to you, as this is an area where users have experienced some frustration with MailChimp. For most bloggers, we’d recommend MailChimp as a great place to start building your subscriber list and creating more traffic to your blog.
It’s Time to Grow Your Audience
We hope this guide has helped you to choose the right email marketing software for your blog. If you have an idea for a new blog but haven’t started yet, visit our guide to the best free blogging sites in 2018.