Mailchimp vs. ActiveCampaign: Can Mailchimp’s Free Plan Compete With ActiveCampaign’s Paid Features?

mailchimp vs activecampaign cover image with two boats

People familiar with email marketing know about Mailchimp and Activecampaign — each boasts impressive features and a loyal user base. But which one should you choose?

Mailchimp is renowned for its ease of use and automation capabilities. Users consider it one of the most affordable platforms with a free forever plan. It supports tracking, customer management, multivariate A/B testing, behavioral targeting, and many campaign templates.

ActiveCampaign is another popular email marketing platform with advanced automation, analytics, and reporting features. The ESP does not offer a free plan but you can access their 14-day free trial without a credit card. It has a good deliverability rate and provides free contact migration services.

If you’re confused about choosing one, this comprehensive guide breaks down the strengths and weaknesses of both platforms, helping you identify the perfect fit for your needs.

Mailchimp Homepage
Mailchimp Homepage
ActiveCampaign Homepage
ActiveCampaign Homepage

ActiveCampaign Vs Mailchimp: Which One is Better?

Mailchimp is more straightforward to use, but ActiveCampaign gives you more features on the paid plans. Choosing one might become challenging without enough data.

We’ll compare and analyze both platforms’ features and equip you with the knowledge to make an informed decision:

  1. Ease of use and design,
  2. Automation,
  3. Email deliverability,
  4. Customization,
  5. Integration,
  6. Other unique features, 
  7. Pricing power.

1. Ease of Use and Design

Mailchimp is more beginner-friendly than ActiveCampaign, making it a better alternative for new email marketers.

Mailchimp is fairly uncomplicated with intuitive tools and features. With a straightforward campaign builder and pre-built campaign templates, the ESP makes it easy for anyone to create and send email campaigns. The drag-and-drop builder comes with pre-designed blocks to enhance visual aesthetics. You’ll also find clear menus and tooltips to help you navigate the platform.

While ActiveCampaign packs a punch with extensive features, its ease of use is a bit nuanced compared to Mailchimp. The ESP offers an organized interface with guided tutorials. However, its broader range of features and functionalities could overwhelm beginners. In short, ActiveCampaign’s ease of use depends on your level of expertise with technical tools. 

Users report not being happy with its user experience — there’s no access to contacts and navigation buttons.

Winner: Mailchimp is more user-friendly, making it a popular choice for beginners and veterans alike.

ActiveCampaign vs Mailchimp: Comparing ease of use functionality

While both platforms do not require you to have coding knowledge, one might be better. Let’s compare them side-by-side to make a decision.

Feature MailchimpActiveCampaign
Drag and drop email builder ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
User-friendly navigation⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Knowledge base⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Pre-built templates⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Ease of use feature of Mailchimp and ActiveCampaign– A side-by-side comparison


Campaign Refinery understands that a user-friendly dashboard sets the stage for email marketing. Our clients can access analytics, segmentation, and automation from a sleek dashboard, providing a birds-eye view of your campaigns.

2. Automation Capability 

Email automation ensures you send the right emails to the right people at the right time. Both platforms provide advanced automation, but their strengths and weaknesses vary.

Mailchimp offers beginner-friendly automation flows such as welcome series or abandoned cart triggers. The classic automation feature enables you to segment, schedule, and design tools for campaigns. You can add custom tags, organize audiences, and choose from 60+ pre-built journeys. You can also reward big spenders through customer journey builder automation. 

The ESP supports multi-channel flows such as SMS and social media marketing to broaden your reach. However, you can only create a single automation journey on the free plan such as sending a welcome email or birthday wishes to customers. 

Mailchimp automation page
Mailchimp automation page

ActiveCampaign allows you to track contact engagement with tags, custom fields, and performance reporting. It makes pulling information from social media accounts or offline channels easier to automate your marketing.

ActiveCampaign automation page
ActiveCampaign automation page

You can access the entire customer journey in the automation maps, giving you a glimpse of all the details in a single place. If you’re unsure where to start, the platform provides automation support, including pre-built workflows, guides, and tutorials.

Winner: It’s a tie — both platforms offer pre-built automation workflows, however, ActiveCampaign may have advanced automation features than Mailchimp.

ActiveCampaign vs Mailchimp: How does the automation feature compare?

Let’s look at a detailed view of their pros and cons regarding automation capabilities.

Feature MailchimpActiveCampaign
Pre-built workflows⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Dynamic content ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Multi-channel automation⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Automation Feature of Mailchimp and ActiveCampaign – A side-by-side comparison 

Campaign Refinery spent years perfecting the automation workflows — you can use tags, smart goal triggers, custom branch and rule builder, access comprehensive insights and send as many emails as you want.

3. Deliverability

Email deliverability ensures your messages reach your intended audiences without going to the spam folders. Both ActiveCampaign and Mailchimp prioritize inbox placement.

Mailchimp has a 95.5% deliverability rate; you’ll benefit from the positive reputation of other senders using the platform. Users can access compliance tools such as GDPR-friendly forms with opt-in options and data subject rights. 

However, customers also notice higher spam complaint rates, close to 14%. Another issue is that emails often end up in the promotions tab instead of the primary inbox.

ActiveCampaign provides a dedicated IP address and advanced authentication protocols such as SPF, DKIM, and DMARC.

The ESP periodically reviews and removes unwanted email addresses. It offers pre-built automation and re-engagement campaigns to maintain the deliverability score. 

The platform helps you determine your email campaigns’ engagement levels by continuously monitoring key metrics.

Winner: It’s a tie — both platforms ensure good deliverability rates.

Mailchimp vs ActiveCampaign: Do both provide equal deliverability?

Here’s a short comparison.

Feature MailchimpActiveCampaign
Shared IP 
Domain reputation checker  
Advanced authentication protocols⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Email deliverability of Mailchimp and ActiveCampaign – A side-by-side comparison

 Campaign Refinery offers the highest email deliverability rates on the market. This is possible with our mandatory domain authentication, strict client vetting process, and integrated list cleaning tool.

4. AI Customization

Customizing your email campaigns leads to higher engagement and brand recognition. Mailchimp and ActiveCampaign offer customization features that cater to different needs and expertise.

Mailchimp provides a campaign manager that helps you streamline your omnichannel marketing. The content optimizer benchmarks your emails against millions of well-performing campaigns and offers data-driven suggestions. 

Mailchimp customization page
Mailchimp AI customization page

When you feel stuck, you can use the creative assistant that creates brand-relevant designs, using your brand assets and guidelines. You can also use the predictive demographics feature to know your audiences better and create tailored content.

With ActiveCampaign, you can use AI to generate content and turn keywords into written content. You can also choose a text block in the editor and personalize it — the email uses the assigned tags to pull information and customize your campaigns.  

The platform offers personalization tags for contact fields, deal fields, accounts, custom objects, and 3rd party custom object fields. 

Active campaign customization page
ActiveCampaign Customization Page

Winner: If you rely more on AI to segment and produce content, Mailchimp offers a broader range of AI features than ActiveCampaign.

Mailchimp vs ActiveCampaign: Customization Comparison

Which one has better customization options? 

Feature MailchimpActiveCampaign
Shared IP 
Domain reputation checker  
Advanced authentication protocols⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
AI customization feature of Mailchimp and ActiveCampaign – A side-by-side comparison


Campaign Refinery allows you to choose merge variables from pre-defined custom fields or your own. You can also apply and remove tags in bulk or use them for one-off messages.

5. Integration Capabilities

Both ActiveCampaign and Mailchimp provide integration with third-party marketing apps. 

Mailchimp offers over 300+ integrations with CMS platforms, e-commerce stores (including Shopify), web builders, and social networks. Developers have the advantage of building their own APIs — depending on the type of integration you’re building, Mailchimp offers various endpoints to send data. You can track outside activity with events, organize contacts with tags, and support e-commerce platforms.

Mailchimp integration page
Mailchimp Integration Page 

ActiveCampaign provides integration with 850 apps, including Zapier. The ESP has pre-made automation recipes to guide you through the new integration — you can sync contact data, build automation triggered from integration, and manage pipelines and contact lifecycles.

Developers can build their own webhooks and APIs to connect a platform with ActiveCampaign. 

Activecampaign integration page
ActiveCampaign Integration Page

Winner: Both platforms provide equal integration opportunities for businesses.

Mailchimp vs ActiveCampaign: Integrations Comparison

Let’s find out if both platforms offer a seamless integration.

Feature MailchimpActiveCampaign
API documentation ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Pre-built integration⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Custom integration⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Integration feature of Mailchimp and ActiveCampaign – A side-by-side comparison 

Campaign Refinery allows you to connect with 800+ integrations, including ConvertKit, OptimizePress, and Zapier. You can use the native integration to automate your processes or just copy and paste HTML codes.

6. Unique Features

A platform’s exclusive features add more value and enhance your email campaigns. Mailchimp and ActiveCampaign offer features equally for a fair pricing point.

Mailchimp has a free landing page builder with pre-built templates and customization options. You can also create, customize, and promote a website from the ESP. The campaign manager lets you build and track multiple channel campaigns. 

Besides, the platform offers a content studio, creative assistant, and subject line helper. 

Mailchimp unique feature page
Mailchimp unique feature page

ActiveCampaign provides CRM integration, SMS marketing, and sales automation. The platform has a Chrome extension that allows you to quickly access contacts from the browser. 

You can connect with emails, text, and social channels and personalize with conditional content. Other features such as lead scoring, attribution software, pop up builder, and automation recipes cater to complex needs of growing businesses.

ActiveCampaign Unique Features page
ActiveCampaign Unique Features page

Winner: It’s a tie between both — ActiveCampaign is a better choice for stronger automation features such as conditional branching and multi-channel engagement. In contrast, Mailchimp’s features on the free plan might be a good fit for beginners.

Mailchimp vs ActiveCampaign: Which one is more exclusive

One has advanced automation features and the other is free to use. Let’s see how they compare.

Feature MailchimpActiveCampaign
Landing page builder ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Creative assistant ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Exclusive features of Mailchimp and ActiveCampaign  – A side-by-side comparison


Campaign Refinery offers Integrated List Cleaning, Engagement Gamification, Credit System, and Evergreen Flash Sale among other exclusive tools and features. 

7. Mailchimp vs ActiveCampaign: Pricing Showdown 

ActiveCampaign and Mailchimp have diverse pricing plans that accommodate different needs. 

Mailchimp offers a free plan perfect for beginners with limited contacts. It comes with 1000 monthly email sends and email support for the first 30 days. However, there are limited automation features on the free forever plan. Plans scale on contact size based on the features. 

Let’s break down the pricing structure for 1500 contacts in the table below.

Mailchimp Pricing PlanPriceFeatures Included
Free$0‣ Limited monthly email sends
‣ 1 user
‣ 1 audience
‣ Email support for first 30 days
‣ Limited pre-built email templates
‣ Limited creative assistant and reporting and analytics
EssentialsStarts at $ 8.99 / month ‣ 15,000 monthly email sends
‣ 3 users
‣ 3 Audiences
‣ 24/7 Email and chat support
‣ Pre-built templates, integrations, analytics
‣ 4 automated journey points
StandardStarts at $15.59 / month ‣ Generative AI features
‣ 18,000 monthly email sends
‣ 5 users
‣ 5 audiences
‣ 4 – role-based access
‣ Up to 200 journey points
‣ 1 personalized onboarding session
Premium Starts at $137.90 / month‣ All features of standard plan
‣ 150,000 monthly email sends
‣ Phone and priority support
‣ Premium migration services
Mailchimp pricing plans

ActiveCampaign starts at $29/month for 1000 contacts and has no free plan. The tiered plans can be customized for enterprises. 

Let’s look at their entire pricing plan structure for 1000 contacts.

ActiveCampaign Pricing PlanPriceFeatures Included
Lite $29‣ 1000 contacts 
‣ 1 user
‣ Email marketing and automation
‣ Personalized chat and email support
‣ Inline forms
‣ Site and event tracking
‣ Campaign reports
‣ API and webhooks
‣ Goals
PlusStarts at $49‣ Everything in Lite plus,
‣ Landing Pages
‣ Facebook Custom Audiences & Lead Ads
‣ Facebook Lead AdsLead Scoring
‣ Pop-Up and Modal Forms
‣ Conditional Content
‣ WooCommerce, Shopify & BigCommerce Integrations
‣ Custom Mailserver Domain
Professional $149/month‣ Everything in Plus, plus
‣ Predictive Sending AI
‣ Split Automations
‣ Salesforce Integration
‣ Microsoft Dynamics 365 Integration
‣ Website & In-Application Messages
‣ Marketing Attribution Reporting
‣ Conversions
Enterprise$259/month‣ All features of Professional plan, plus
‣ Custom Reporting
‣ Custom Objects
‣ Single Sign-On
‣ HIPAA Support
‣ Uptime SLA
‣ Unlimited Email Testing
ActiveCampaign pricing plans

Winner: For beginners and budget-conscious marketers, Mailchimp is a good choice. If you have a growing business with complex needs, ActiveCampaign could be a better fit.

Mailchimp vs ActiveCampaign — Deciding Your Email Marketing Champion

Mailchimp wins for its intuitive interface and simple tools, making it ideal for those starting out.  While ActiveCampaign has more advanced automation with a steeper learning curve. 

Choosing the best platform depends on your needs, budget, and technical skills. We’ll make a quick features comparison to make your decision-making easier.

Features Mailchimp ActiveCampaign
AI content creation 
A/B Testing 
Channel management
SMS messaging 
Goal setting/tracking
Unsubscribe database
Mailchimp vs ActiveCampaign Features Comparison

If you have a massive email list and need powerful automation capabilities, Campaign Refinery can help. 

How Campaign Refinery Ticks All the Boxes

Email deliverability, automation capabilities, and company support determine the success of your email marketing campaigns. At Campaign Refinery, we pride ourselves on providing the highest inbox placement on the market.

Our automatic list cleaning tool filters unwanted and harmful email addresses while our safety practices take care of your sender reputation.

The best part is that you can enjoy a range of premium features and send emails to unlimited contacts for transparent monthly pricing. 

Why Pick Campaign Refinery Over Mailchimp vs ActiveCampaign?

While many ESPs provide free trials, we don’t and there’s a good reason — all clients go through a strict vetting process and will be monitored closely. This ensures you’re amongst a responsible and elite team of senders. 

Campaign Refinery plans start at $99/month for unlimited contacts and premium features such as:

  • Ease of use: Use the simple WYSISYG email editor and pre-built campaign templates to get you started.
  • Engagement Gamification: Reward subscribers for their actions such as email opens and clicks. You can choose PDFs, exclusive access content, etc as rewards and set points for each.
  • Credit system: We value your time and money; pay only for the emails you send out.
  • Highest deliverability rate: Increase inbox placement up to 6x after joining our platform.
  • Mandatory domain authentication: Clients are required to undergo domain verification before onboarding. This allows us to maintain the highest safety standards for you and your subscribers.

Is Campaign Refinery Affordable?

We only charge based on the number of emails you send out and not your email list size.

Here’s a breakdown of Campaign Refinery Pricing.

Campaign Refinery Pricing TierPricing Features IncludedCredits Included
Business plan Starts at $99 / month ‣ Unlimited Contacts
‣ Built-in Contact Cleaning
‣ Engaged Delivery System
‣ Automation Rule Builder
‣ Free Campaign Library 
‣ Custom Audience Builder 
‣ Evergreen Flash Sale
50 K
Growth plan Starts at $299 / month ‣ Everything in business, plus
‣ Turn off ”powered by” Text
‣ Reduced Overage Cost
‣ Increased API Volume Limits
200 K
Enterprise plan Starts at $1k+ / month ‣ Everything in Growth plan, plus
‣ Dedicated success manager
‣ Lowest Overage Cost
‣ Custom API volume
1 M
Campaign Refinery Pricing

Is Moving to Campaign Refinery Complicated?

Migrating to Campaign Refinery is simple — we only require that you have opted-in email lists and follow email marketing best practices. Our migration assistants care for the rest, including helping you set up your account and navigate the process.

Ready to transfer your business to Campaign Refinery?

Fuel your growth with the right marketing tools; sign up to become a Campaign Refinery client today!

Similar Posts