In 2017, it was popular in marketing circles to ask the question: "Is email marketing dead?" This spurred many responses filled with facts and figures that proved email marketing is not dead.
As a small business owner, you likely already know-at least instinctively-that email is an effective way to reach your audience in a more targeted and measurable way. The question now is: Which tool should you use?
Mailchimp and Infusionsoft (now called Keap) both offer functionalities to support small businesses, including email templates to get you started. However, it may not be immediately clear to you which option would benefit your business more.
Here, we're simplifying the selection process with an apples-to-apples comparison of Mailchimp and Infusionsoft, based on each tool's email template offerings.
First, however, we'll look at how email templates work, and why you should use a dedicated tool to access, create, and customize these templates.
An email marketing template is a predesigned, reusable email layout, which offers the option to add images, links, text, and more, depending on the goals of the campaign and your branding and style and requirements.
Rather than creating a new email message from scratch every time, marketers can use these prebuilt templates as a starting point.
Email marketing tools offer standard email templates as well as allowing users to create their own custom templates, which they can save for reuse.
Some of the standard template functionalities you'll find in most email marketing tools are:
Template library: A database of standard templates that come with the software, or templates that users have customized and saved.
Campaign builder: Design and store marketing materials, email templates, and lists of targeted customers for each marketing campaign.
Drag-and-drop email builder: A design interface that allows users to add, delete, and rearrange text, photos, and linked content to email templates.
Plain-text editor: Emails can be plain text only, HTML, or a blend of both. Best practice is to always create a plain-text alternative when sending an HTML email, as plain-text are less likely to be marked as spam. They are also easier to access through wearable devices such as smartwatches. Plain-text only templates don't offer the option to format text or add images and tables.
Email code builder: Users with knowledge of HTML can customize templates further with an HTML code editor.
Both Mailchimp and Infusionsoft offer these features. Next, we'll look at how each solution handles these features in detail.
All of Mailchimp's templates are offered by default in its template library. If you're new to email marketing, or don't have the design skills or time to customize a design, Mailchimp offers predefined layouts to select from.
You can also customize these templates to your brand style and/or for each campaign by adding your company logo, related images, different headers or backgrounds, and more.
View of standard email templates in Mailchimp (Source: Mailchimp.com)
In Infusionsoft, the template library is just one area where emails can be created-the other is the campaign builder. The template library is most suitable for those customers using the tool's legacy functionality, who are building broadcast emails (a single message sent to many recipients at once).
Users can organize templates into default categories or create new categories and filter the template library accordingly. When using the template library to build an email, users must save their work manually, whereas in the campaign builder, it's saved automatically every 30 seconds.
Choose from a library of starter templates, or previously used and saved templates in Infusionsoft (Source: infusionsoft.com)
The campaign builder in Mailchimp lets you create and design email campaigns with a checklist-style designer. To get started, add recipients, a subject line, and the name and email address your message will come from.
From there, you can start designing the email message by choosing an email template, adding design themes, and more. Use web fonts, insert background images into standard templates, and drag-and-drop blocks of content.
Mailchimp also offers a step-by-step guide for creating a new email marketing campaign using the campaign builder.
Choosing a campaign template layout using the campaign builder in Mailchimp (Source: mailchimp.com)
The campaign builder in Infusionsoft allows you to create, design, and store automated email marketing campaigns, including email messages and landing pages.
A visual, drag-and-drop interface, called the "Campaign Canvas," is a blank, graph-like design area, which can be used to conceptualize a campaign from start to finish. Add a campaign goal from the default options, give it a name, and connect the goal to sequences, which will be set off once the goal is achieved on a predetermined schedule.
Infusionsoft also offers the option to choose from prebuilt campaign templates in its marketplace.
In Mailchimp, the drag-and-drop email builder lets you add photos and content to suit each campaign. Place your message and images exactly where you want them within a template, and reuse and reorder content blocks with a single click.
In addition, create a custom color palette, select from a range of web fonts, include calls to action (CTAs), and more.
Infusionsoft offers a drag-and-drop interface that lets you add, remove, or reorder images and content snippets in the email template.
Using the layout and style tools, you can change the template layout from one column to two columns, or vice versa. In addition, you can adjust and customize the color scheme in the template to match your company's branding.
In Mailchimp, a plain-text version is automatically generated each time you design and launch a new HTML campaign, but you can also create plain-text only email campaigns.
Paste in the source URLs to add any images, files, or links to your messages. Choose the preview and test drop-down tab to preview your email or test it before sending.
With the plain-text editor in Infusionsoft, you can create either a plain-text only email or a combination of plain text and HTML. You can also create plain-text email templates and save them.
You have the option to preview your email or test it before sharing it with your audience.
Preview or test your email campaign in Infusionsoft (Source: infusionsoft.com)
In Mailchimp, you can code a custom HTML template by pasting in the code or importing a ZIP or HTML file. You can then edit it as well as add files or images from the content manager. The imported template will automatically be saved in your template library.
This more advanced feature is recommended for users that already have knowledge of HTML and CSS.
Editing HTML code in Mailchimp (Source: mailchimp.com)
In Infusionsoft, you can create an email template from HTML source code using the tool's code builder. You can also create the code using an HTML code editor (e.g., Dreamweaver) and paste it into Infusionsoft.
The email code builder in Infusionsoft is not compatible with the standard drag-and-drop builder, so after you convert a code to email, you can't edit it using the drag-and-drop editor. This feature is intended for users who already have knowledge of HTML and CSS.
The table below gives you a snapshot of how the features compare from one tool to the other:
|Template library:||Offers predefined starter email templates. Customize templates based on campaign goal or brand. Add logo, change headers, and add images.||Code a custom HTML template or import ZIP/HTML files. Edit imported templates; add files or images. Requires coding knowledge.|
|Campaign builder:||Add recipients, content, themes, and more. Use web fonts, insert background images, and drag and drop content blocks.||Create, design, and save campaign automation emails. Choose a campaign goal, give it a name, connect a goal to one or more sequence.|
|Drag-and-drop email builder:||Drag and drop photos and blocks of content. Reuse and reorder content with a click. Create and save a color palette, select from a range of web fonts, add calls to action (CTAs), and more.||Drag-and-drop design interface. Add, delete, or reorder text , images, and content snippets in a template. Adjust template layout from one to two columns. Customize color schemes to match company branding.|
|Plain-text editor:||Add campaign name, email subject, and input recipients. Add source URLs to any web image. Test and preview emails before sending. Send emails immediately or schedule them for later.||Create plain-text only emails or a combination of plain text and HTML. Preview and test emails before sending. Save and reuse previously created plain-text templates.|
|Email code builder:||Code a custom HTML template or import ZIP/HTML files. Edit imported templates; add files or images. Requires coding knowledge.||Create templates from HTML source code. Create the code using any HTML code editor. Code builder is not compatible with drag-and-drop designer. Requires coding knowledge.|
So which one is best for your business, Mailchimp or Infusionsoft? The answer will be different from user to user, and it depends on a few factors. Consider the following:
Do you need a stand-alone tool, or an integrated suite with multiple functions? If you are looking for a stand-alone email marketing tool, then Mailchimp could be the better fit. However, if you're looking for more of an all-in-one tool for CRM, sales, and marketing, then Infusionsoft might be the one to consider, as Mailchimp would require several API integration to serve as a complete marketing automation solution.
What kind of investment do you want to make right now? With a free option and inexpensive plans for those starting out, Mailchimp may be more attractive to small businesses that have just begun to experiment with email marketing. Though, the free plan comes with limited customizations and less flexibility. With Infusionsoft, you'll pay a higher monthly fee for the starting package, plus the initial onboarding fee. However, one of the most important things to remember when investing in new technology is: Don't choose a tool simply because it's free; choose the one that offers you the best value.
GetApp offers additional resources to help you with your software selection:
See a side-by-side comparison chart of Mailchimp vs. Infusionsoft .
Use GetApp's email marketing software scorecard to identify the most suitable tool for your small business based on your pricing and feature requirements.