Technology / Email newsletters

MailChimp, ActiveCampaign or Infusionsoft: which is best for solopreneurs?

Email marketing is essential for any solo business, but there are just so many providers to choose from. Today we compare three of the most popular: MailChimp, ActiveCampaign and Infusionsoft.

6 April 2017 by

As more customers turn to the internet for purchases, one of the skills you need to master, as a soloist, is to increase awareness of your brand and boost sales via email marketing.

To help with your search for the right provider (there are so many to choose from), let’s put MailChimp, ActiveCampaign, and Infusionsoft into the ring to see how each stands up to the needs of your solo business.

List segmentation

Any email marketing software will allow you to build out simple lists. The ability to segment those lists, however, is key to building highly effective and targeted campaigns. This ensures the most relevant content is sent to the people who most need or want it.

All three providers we are comparing today offer the option to segment your lists based on categories you set.

"As more customers turn to the internet for purchases, one of the skills you need to master to increase awareness of your brand and boost sales is email marketing."

While MailChimp’s segmentation feature is fairly simple, it does not allow you to add tags for better accuracy. ActiveCampaign’s tagging feature allows you to add the content they’ve received or the product link they’ve clicked as part of the contact’s information. Infusionsoft takes it a step further by allowing you to group tags into categories.

Round 1 goes to: Infusionsoft

Creating and editing emails

Once you’ve got your contact list settled, the next step is to create beautiful and engaging emails to send to your subscribers. An intuitive drag-and-drop, WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) editor is a lifesaver for soloists who have little to no background in design.

Active Campaign’s design tool can be a little bare, while Infusionsoft requires a steeper learning curve. MailChimp takes the cake for having a clean and user-friendly interface that allows you to upload and edit images through a file manager that can be accessed from the email designer, templates dashboard, and code editor. It also allows you to optimise and test your emails for mobile.

Round 2 goes to: MailChimp

Automation

The beauty of using email marketing software is that you can consistently and automatically send emails to your subscribers based on an interaction with your initial email or a specific time. You can trigger a welcome email when someone subscribes, send a related e-book when they click a product link, or a follow-up email after a purchase.

All three are toe-to-toe when it comes to their automation feature. But keep in mind that for MailChimp, this feature is only available for paid accounts. Infusionsoft earns points for having a drag and drop interface for plotting your automations. ActiveCampaign edges out the competition by having an easy to navigate and intuitive interface that combines simplicity and flexibility through additional and/or conditions.

Round 3 goes to: ActiveCampaign

Integration with other apps

As fairly popular email software providers, ActiveCampaign and MailChimp easily integrate with other applications, compared to Infusionsoft. However, the latter makes up for its few integrations by creating a strong built-in CRM and an e-commerce platform which is useful for businesses who want everything under a single system.

Round 4: Three-way tie

Pricing and plans

To accommodate the average solo business budget, I’ve looked at the bottom-tier plans of each provide side-by-side.

ActiveCampaign offers a free 14-day trial, with their plans starting at $9 per month for 500 contacts and unlimited emails. Infusionsoft provides a free demo, but can be pricey with packages starting at $199 per month and a mandatory $1,999 training fee.

Of the three, MailChimp offers the most flexibility with a basic forever free plan they call Freemium which supports 2,000 subscribers and 12,000 emails a month. They also offer a monthly and pay-as-you-go option that works well for small businesses that don’t need all pro features but require some.

Round 4 goes to: MailChimp

The winner

In general, speed and ease are of higher value for solo businesses.

  • If you’re looking for a free way to send basic yet beautiful emails, MailChimp will be easy to adapt and implement.
  • For sophisticated automation on a budget, ActiveCampaign is the way to go.
  • If you have more money and time to spare learning a more advanced tool, Infusionsoft is recommended.

Email marketing is all about trial and error—the more you do it, the better you get at it. Before you sign up for a service, go and watch tutorials online, ask fellow entrepreneurs, or better yet, give the provider’s support team a call. As long as you keep your eyes on your goals for email marketing, your business will be the real winner.

Pia Rios

is head of marketing for Alltel Australia. Her expertise in digital marketing, brand, and business communications has been key in helping businesses achieve their marketing goals and bottom line. Connect with her on Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook.

Comments

  • Matt Dell

    Thanks Pia – I bet you are correct that Mailchimp will win for most (including me) with their Freemium tier. The advantages of things like autoresponders are nice but not as necessary with smaller lists – you can do it manually and feel more in control – or spend the money on a VA to do it for you 🙂

  • Thanks Pia for interesting comparison. Have you any opinion on Campaign Monitor? I have been using it for many years partly because it was founded by 2 terrific young entrepreneurs from Cronulla! Love supporting Aussie StartUps!

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