Best Email Marketing Software 2021

ActiveCampaign vs. Mailchimp

Is ActiveCampaign or Mailchimp the better solution for you? This in-depth, feature-by-feature breakdown will help you decide which email marketing tool is the best fit for your business.

Email marketing software and marketing automation software are used by businesses of all types and sizes. Two of the most popular solutions on the market today are ActiveCampaign and Mailchimp. We will discuss the key differences between both platforms, and offer a head-to-head comparison on their most important features.

Our research included product demos with both software companies, and dozens of hours spent hand-testing each tool. If you would like more information on how our analysts evaluate software, we discuss the details of our research process on our category pages.

ActiveCampaign & Mailchimp Comparison Summary

We researched and extensively tested both ActiveCampaign and Mailchimp. ActiveCampaign received a SoftwarePundit Analyst Rating of 86 while Mailchimp received a rating of 90.

Both ActiveCampaign and Mailchimp received excellent ratings. ActiveCampaign is the more expensive solution, but is more robust and offers a broader suite of marketing features.

Mailchimp is the more affordable solution that is best for small businesses with moderately-advanced marketing needs.

CriteriaAnalyst RatingFeaturesUsabilityPricingCustomer Support

In terms of pricing, ActiveCampaign is far more expensive than Mailchimp. We compared the pricing between two plans that were the closest in functionality, and we found that ActiveCampaign is about 65% more expensive than Mailchimp.

Both solutions offer the core set of email marketing features. These include data integration and storage, segmentation, an email builder, and A/B testing. However, ActiveCampaign’s email marketing features are more robust than Mailchimp’s. Also, ActiveCampaign offers unique features including a built-in CRM and SMS marketing tools.

Here’s a quick breakdown of who will prefer each option:

You'll prefer ActiveCampaign if:

  • You are a B2B business
  • You are willing to invest in a more robust solution
  • You want a built-in CRM and SMS marketing tools

Try ActiveCampaign

You'll prefer Mailchimp if:

  • You want a moderately-advanced solution for your small business
  • You want a solution with a free plan
  • You want the more affordable email marketing solution

Try Mailchimp

Table of Contents

ActiveCampaign & Mailchimp Price Comparison

Overall, ActiveCampaign is far less affordable than Mailchimp. The table below compares pricing between two plans that are the closest in functionality. On average, ActiveCampaign is about 65% more expensive than Mailchimp. The biggest pricing difference exists in paid plans that include up to 500 contacts.

Contact SizeActiveCampaign Professional PlanMailchimp Standard Plan

There are four other factors you should consider when comparing ActiveCampaign and Mailchimp pricing:

  • The pricing comparison table above reflects ActiveCampaign’s Professional Plan purchased through an annual contract. Month-to-month subscriptions with ActiveCampaign are more expensive than the prices listed above.
  • ActiveCampaign offers a discount for annual contracts paid upfront. Mailchimp only offers subscriptions that are paid on a monthly basis.
  • Only ActiveCampaign offers unlimited monthly email sends. Mailchimp limits monthly email sends to 10 to 15 times your contact size.
  • ActiveCampaign does not offer a free plan. Mailchimp offers a free plan with up to 500 contacts and 10,000 email sends per month.

ActiveCampaign Pricing Details

ActiveCampaign pricing includes four subscription plans that offer varying levels of sophistication. The price of each plan depends on the number of your contacts, as we show in the table below. ActiveCampaign does not offer a free plan or pay-as-you-go pricing. ActiveCampaign offers a discount for annual contracts paid upfront.

Number of ContactsLitePlusProfessionalEnterprise

Mailchimp Pricing Details

Mailchimp pricing starts at $9.99, and increases depending on your number of contacts. Mailchimp offers one free plan, and three paid plans. Below, we offer a breakdown of Mailchimp’s monthly subscription costs.

Number of ContactsEssentialsStandardPremium
500 contacts$9.99$14.99N/A
1,500 contacts$20.99$51.99N/A
2,500 contacts$30.99$51.99N/A
5,000 contacts$52.99$79.99N/A
10,000 contacts$78.99$105$299
15,000 contacts$135$170$370
20,000 contacts$170$200$420

Email send limits depend on the plan you choose and your number of contacts. Mailchimp charges overages if you exceed email send limits or maximum contact count. Below is an overview of Mailchimp’s email send limits.

PlanEmail send limit
Free10,000 sends per month and 2,000 send daily
Essentials10 times your maximum contact count
Standard12 times your maximum contact count
Premium15 times your maximum contact count

ActiveCampaign & Mailchimp Feature Comparison

ActiveCampaign and Mailchimp both offer the core set of email marketing features. These include segmentation, drip campaigns, and an email builder. The ActiveCampaign platform is more robust than Mailchimp because it also includes several unique features like a built-in CRM and SMS marketing tools.

For a full analysis of each solution’s features, read our ActiveCampaign and Mailchimp reviews.

A/B testingYesYes
Analytics and reportingYesYes
Custom data fieldsUnlimitedUp to 30 to 80 fields
Data integration and storageYesYes
Drip campaignsYesYes
Email builderYesYes
IntegrationsOver 300Over 250
Landing Page BuilderYesYes
Pre-designed email templatesYesYes
Segmentation ConditionsUp to 20Up to 5
SMS MarketingYesNo

B2B Functionality

Both ActiveCampaign and Mailchimp offer features that are used by B2B marketers including lead capture forms and automated lead nurturing campaigns. However, ActiveCampaign is the superior platform for B2B businesses. Here are some of the B2B tools only included in ActiveCampaign:

  • Built-in CRM
  • Customizable sales pipelines
  • Lead scoring
  • Email sentiment analysis

Data Storage and Segmentation

Both ActiveCampaign and Mailchimp allow you to collect data from your audience. Audience data that you collect are stored in data fields. You can create custom data fields, like birthdays and zip codes, to collect specific information relevant to your business. Active Campaign allows you to create an unlimited number of custom data fields, while Mailchimp is limited to 30 to 80 custom data fields depending on the plan you choose.

Both solutions allow you to use this collected audience data to create segments of your contact list, so you can send more personalized and targeted emails. You can add conditions to each segment to include or exclude portions of your list. ActiveCampaign allows you to add 20 conditions per segment, while Mailchimp is limited to 5 conditions per segment.

Email Testing and Preview Tool

Both ActiveCampaign and Mailchimp offer email testing and inbox preview tools that allow you to test your email designs against different devices and inboxes. Both solutions include a basic email testing tool that gives you a rough idea of how your emails will appear on desktop and mobile devices.

mailchimp preview mode

Additionally, both solutions include an inbox preview tool that allows you to see how your emails will appear on the most popular ESPs and devices, such as Gmail, Yahoo, Apple Mail, Outlook, iPhone, and iPad.

However, only ActiveCampaign offers a built-in inbox preview tool that can be used to test an unlimited number of emails. Mailchimp offers an inbox preview tool that is powered by a third-party email testing software company, Litmus, and is far more restrictive than ActiveCampaign. In Mailchimp, you are limited to 25 inbox preview tokens per month. Each time you create or update a preview, the cost is one token. For example, if you run an inbox preview for Gmail, Yahoo, and Apple Mail, the cost is three tokens.

A/B Testing

ActiveCampaign’s A/B testing is more robust than Mailchimp’s. As you can see in the table below, ActiveCampaign allows you to test more email variables and variations in a single A/B test.

A/B Test ComponentActiveCampaignMailchimp
  • Call to actions
  • Email content
  • From name
  • Preheader text
  • Subject lines
  • Email content
  • From name
  • Send time
  • Subject line
Email VariationsUp to 5 versionsUp to 3 versions
Winning MetricsClick rate, open rateClick rate, open rate, total revenue

Additionally, only ActiveCampaign allows you to A/B test multi-email drip campaigns. You can distribute your contacts evenly into split paths in your automations and let the software analyze the winning path. If you're serious about executing data-driven decisions to optimize your overall marketing strategy, ActiveCampaign is the better tool for you.

activecampaign split testing

SMS Marketing

Only ActiveCampaign offers SMS marketing on its platform. ActiveCampaign’s SMS marketing features function similarly to its email marketing features. You can use segmentation tools to send personalized text messages to your audience. Also, you can add text messages to your automation workflows and drip campaigns.


Both ActiveCampaign and Mailchimp offer a large library of built-in software integrations. ActiveCampaign offers over 300 integrations, while Mailchimp offers over 250.

ActiveCampaign is the only solution that integrates with Shopify. To integrate Mailchimp with Shopify, you have to use a third-party integration provider, like ShopSync,, or Zapier. Without a built-in integration, transferring customer and order data between platforms is suboptimal.

Bottom Line

ActiveCampaign and Mailchimp are popular marketing solutions generally used by small to medium size businesses. Both include the core set of email marketing features including data integration and storage, segmentation, an email builder, and A/B testing. ActiveCampaign includes a broader suite of features than Mailchimp – for example a built-in CRM and SMS marketing tools.

Overall, ActiveCampaign is the more robust and expensive solution, and can be used by both B2B and B2C businesses. Mailchimp is the more affordable solution, and is best for small B2C businesses with moderately-advanced marketing needs.

If you’re interested, visit ActiveCampaign or Mailchimp today to get started.

Lloyd Park

Lloyd Park is a Research Analyst at SoftwarePundit, where he conducts in-depth analyses of software markets and products. Lloyd also has experience managing the development of software platforms and is an expert in content production & media software. You can connect with Lloyd on LinkedIn.

Lloyd is an expert in several software categories including:

  • Dental software
  • Email marketing software
  • Field service management software
  • Legal software
  • Property management software

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