Email marketing remains one of the most effective and versatile ways for a business to promote its brand, products, and services. More than a starting point in reaching out to contacts, email marketing can help chart the customer journey, build loyalty, and even propel sales or try out new concepts. But how exactly a business leverages email for marketing can take several forms. Some might go “all-in” and decide email is simply their most effective marketing tactic, which generally takes the form of a value-add newsletter delivered to a gated community of subscribers. But other organizations might want to tie their emails to other marketing channels as well as their their product feedback and sales engines. These kinds of companies often look to provide special offers and deals to email recipients, usually redeemable through the email itself. Still other brands might use simply as a smaller cog in a larger digital marketing and sales mechanism, where email might be used primarily as a service desk or customer relationship management (CRM) touch point.
All the leaders in our email marketing review category are able to address any of these needs, through direct-touch features as well as third-party integrations. Exactly how you’d implement each depends not only on you mode of business, but more importantly on how well each tool is designed, how intuitive it is to access advanced functionality (particularly in the areas of integration and analytics), and, of course, how much damage it’ll do to your marketing budget’s bottom line. To get a handle on how two of our top performers measure up, we compare MailChimp and SendInBlue head-to-head to see who comes out the overall winner.
MailChimp and SendInBlue are two standout players in the email marketing arena, each aimed generally at small to midsize businesses (SMBs). MailChimp is a long standing Editor’s Choice pick for its famed ease of use and expansive feature set. MailChimp has also spent the last year evolving its platform into a complete marketing solution by adding branding via targeted ad placement, website hosting, and domain hosting services.
SendinBlue has grown from a decent tool for small to midsize businesses (SMBs) needing email and text message marketing to a significantly more versatile marketing solutions hub. The push towards automation, and the addition of some basic but workable CRM features, make it a more compelling solution for smaller businesses and startups with modest needs.
MailChimp and SendInBlue both offer an expanding solution set built on a solid email marketing foundation, both are evolving into larger marketing ecosystems intended to make them more valuable to their subscribers, though success here for both will depend on how well they understand just what those customers need.
Round 2: Managing Subscribers
SalesForce and Zendesk.
Overall, my experience creating new data fields and matching existing ones back to source data was a little convoluted with SendinBlue. With manual input, you can’t add custom fields but you can with uploads or data from a submission form. After you import your file, you have to map the fields to SendinBlue’s corresponding fields. This can be a mixed bag as I found that it recognizes email addresses and names, but not dates, such as birthdays or some other text fields such as gender. The process could use some simplification.
Mailchimp does a great job helping businesses get started on the platform. The dashboard lays out the steps very clearly: Start designing your first email, add your contacts, and send your first email. When we dragged and dropped the Excel file in MailChimp, all of the contact fields ended up in the same column. However, when we copied and pasted the text into the contacts field in Mailchimp, we were able to have the contact info appear in separate columns for first name, last name, and email address.
Round 2 goes to MailChimp for its variety of importing contacts and its ease of use.
Round 4: Tracking Campaigns
business analytics. Once you send out your newsletter campaigns, SendInBlue and MailChimp each have a reporting tab (“Statistics” in SendInBlue’s case), where you can see open and click-through rates and other subscriber data. You can link up both SendInBlue and MailChimp with Google Analytics, and the latter also links up with Salesforce and a handful of other third-party software.
SendInBlue’s Statistics section offers a convenient calendar interface flanked by important data including Open Rate, Click Rate and Unsubscription Rate. It also differentiates Email Campaigns from SMS Campaigns, which is a large part of its capability.
Mailchimp is strong in analytics. On the dashboard there’s a section for “Predicted Demographics,” in which it predicts the demographics of your contacts. This data can help with forming segments and developing focused email campaigns. You can filter by total recipients, opens, and clicks. Mailchimp says you can choose an audience and segment by sign-up source, so you can target the people who subscribe from your landing page. We were able to see a report showing Average Order Revenue, Total Revenue, and the open rate for emails.
Round 4 goes to MailChimp for its vast range of tracking and analytics which can give SMBs a fuller picture of how their campaigns are going.
And the Winner Is ….
marketing automation, and CRM solutions. MailChimp and SendInBlue were very close in various areas including pricing, the availability of free and affordable pricing services, as well as the ease of use of their email design templates.
MailChimp, our Editors’ Choice selection in email marketing, edged out SendInBlue by being more intuitive and packing in the analytics and tracking features. Even as it is has become a more full-service marketing platform, MailChimp still defines the email marketing segment for SMBs.