Starting a blog today is synonymous with starting, growing, and reaching out to an email list of potential fans, but when I started my first blog in 2012 I did not think it was that important.
After all… in the age of social media and apps and clever marketing techniques, email felt archaic.
I missed out on a ton of marketing opportunities, and I didn’t even know how powerful an email list was in case you wanted to reach people, switch platforms, or offer a different perspective into what you were doing.
Plus, a newsletter, even if you have no intention of ever monetizing your blog, is an amazing relationship building tool, not to mention a safety net in case something happens with one platform or another.
In other words, you own the list, and you can easily export it as a file and switch email service providers.
But what is the best email marketing provider out there?
During the last couple of years, I’ve tried a lot of options. For the most part, I’ve used Mailchimp, for its plethora of integrations, and even though I found the platform to be difficult to navigate through, it did offer out-the-box integration with WordPress, a mobile app, and a free plan that seemed quite generous, provided that I did not send too many emails to my subscribers.
But I also tried a bunch of other tools as well. ConvertKit was frustrating to use, and to this day I wonder about its popularity. GetResponse was an interesting platform, one that tries to outdo the competition, so was Sendinblue.
But like I said, for the most part I’ve used Mailchimp, taking advantage of its free plan, adding a pop-up to my blogs, and calling it a day.
However, a few months ago I decided to get serious about growing my list, and I also wanted an email service provider that would be affordable, easy to use, and offer an mobile app, if only for the benefit of checking out crucial stats about the way the list was growing.
That’s when I found MailerLite.
This is how I found them.
MailerLite is the only other email marketing provider that offers a WordPress.com widget for displaying a pop-up besides MailChimp.
This made me curious, so I decided to check them out. And this is what stood out:
As a comparison, Mailchimp’s Essential plan does start at $9.99/mo, but only for up to 500 email subscribers, with no support for automations (what they call Customer Journey Builder), no custom templates, and no ability to remove the branding whatsoever.
So, in fact, you’d have to pay $14.99/mo for the Standard Plan.
It doesn’t seem like that much of a difference, until you realize that when you grow over the 500 subscriber threshold, you’ll have to pay $51.99/mo.
But pricing isn’t the only thing that made me want to switch from MailChimp to MailerLite.
Ease of Use
MailerLite‘s platform is incredibly easy to use and beginner friendly. From verifying and authenticating your email and domain, to creating opt-in forms and pop-ups, to mapping out automations, even building landing pages or entire websites, the platform offers a seamless experience.
A big thumbs up from me.
On the other hand, Mailchimp’s dashboard and user interface are sometimes frustrating. Just creating a custom landing page can waste a lot of your time (and energy.)
I’d spend a lot of time just searching for info on how to take care of the most basics of tasks, or where I could find the features or settings I needed.
It might seem like a small thing to care about, but Mailchimp is seriously limited in this regard. You can only create one pop-up form, which looks unattractive (to say the least) on mobile phones.
MailerLite, on the other hand, offers a plethora of pop-up form templates, a lot of customization options, and you can do cool stuff, such as show a pop-up (and offer a different free download) only on certain pages (or blog posts.)
This is something you can check out on this article of mine here.
There are five different design options to choose from, and you can customize pretty much everything you want about your pop-ups, including font, images, and a ton more.
You can also preview the way your pop-ups look on a computer or a smartphone, and you can customize a bunch of different options, such as setting it as an exit-intent pop-up (so it only show up when a visitor to your blog wants to close the window on your blog, so to speak), or setting a custom timeframe before it shows up, when it shows up again, and a ton more.
You might be thinking, “Yeah, but there are tools for that.”
Indeed. And both Mailchimp and MailerLite integrate with a lot of them, but why pay for a third-party tool when you can do all this for as low as $10/mo?
To be honest, MailChimp offers a ton of integrations. As a matter of fact, most platforms/apps, if they integrate with an ESP, will first integrate with MailChimp.
But at the same time, MailerLite also integrates with a lot of apps and platforms.
121 of them to be exact.
And in the six months of using MailerLite as my email service provider, it was quite rare to stumble upon a platform or app that didn’t integrate with it.
At the same time, one of the most frustrating experiences I’ve had with MailChimp was disabling an integration. For instance, I spent a couple of hours just trying to remove the Facebook tab it adds to your Facebook page.
One of the most important aspects when it comes to an email marketing provider is deliverability.
After all, you don’t want to spend time and energy growing your email list, only for your emails to go straight to other people’s spam folders.
And, here’s the thing. MailChimp offers one of the most popular free plans, and as such, it’s become quite popular among spammers and the likes, and this has hurt its deliverability.
As a comparison, deliverability rates have improved by at least 20-30% since I’ve switched to MailerLite, and it’s quite rare that an email campaign seems to be struggling to reach people’s inbox.
One of the things I value most is customer support, and MailChimp has become a victim of its own success.
To be frank, it feels kind of greedy to force users to pay for a plan in order to get chat support, which is often times critical, especially when you’re struggling with a feature, a bug, or just want to get something done within a certain timeframe.
On the other hand, MailerLite’s customer support has been excellent. And, yes, they do offer chat support, and they usually respond within a few minutes or so.
10/10 in my book.
The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
Overall, MailerLite is one of the best and most affordable ESPs out there. But there are the occasional errors. Automations that don’t save, or emails that take a long time to be sent out. At one time, I spent an hour or so trying to verify a domain name.
Also, one thing to mention is the fact that, yes, MailerLite offers a mobile app, but you can’t create and send out email campaigns straight from the app, which is something you can easily do with MailChimp’s mobile app.
What I absolutely love about MailerLite is its plethora of customization options, the way you can easily create automations, its multitude of integrations, and the user-friendliness (is that an actual word?) of its interface.
MailChimp, on the other hand, as the most popular option out there, offers a gorgeous mobile app, a generous free plan, and integrates with most platforms/apps out there. At the same time, however, MailChimp struggles because of its own popularity, with delivery rates being down because of spammers, customer support lacking, and a complicated (and often unnecessarily so) dashboard.
And there’s this one thing that really grinds my gears, and its the primary reason I decided to look for a different ESP in the first place: their pricing options seem quite complicated as well. It’s not just about the price, but about the fact that basic features (that all ESPs offer) are labeled as “premium features,” or are billed separately, as is the case of transactional emails, which is something you need if you own an e-store.
Overall, MailerLite is my favorite email marketing provider, and it’s a platform I sincerely recommend, whether you’re a novice in the email marketing gamer or have been at it for quite some time.
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