Getresponse vs Mailchimp 2017 - A Comparison of Two of the Most Popular Email Marketing Tools
In this Getresponse vs Mailchimp review, we examine two of the leading email marketing solutions, to see which is best suited for your business’ e-marketing requirements. Read on for an overview of their pricing, key features and strengths and weaknesses.
Getresponse and Mailchimp: an overview of two leading e-marketing tools
- import and host a mailing list (i.e., a database containing email addresses) and capture data onto it using website sign-up forms
- design HTML e-newsletters (emails containing graphics, photos, branding etc.) which can be sent to your subscribers
- automate your emails to subscribers via ‘autoresponders’
- monitor statistics related to your email marketing – open rate, click through, forwards and more.
A quick note about autoresponders
Autoresponders are e-newsletters that are sent to your subscribers at pre-defined intervals – for example, you can set them up so that
- immediately after somebody signs up to your mailing list, they receive a simple welcome message from your business
- a week later they could receive a discount code for some of your products
- three weeks later they could receive an encouragement to follow you on Twitter and Facebook.
And so on. The idea is that a lot of your email marketing gets automated – once you’ve set things up correctly, subscribers automatically receive key messages from your business without you having to bother sending out e-newsletters manually (although you can still of course do this as and when required). Regardless of whether you plump for Getresponse or Mailchimp, it’s well worth investing some time in getting to grips with autoresponders and using them effectively. When used correctly, they save a huge amount of time and have the potential to generate significant income.
Autoresponders in Getresponse and Mailchimp
Both products offer a similar set of autoresponder triggers to choose from – subscription to a list, opens, clicks, purchase made, URLs visited and usser data changes all can be used to kickstart an autoresponder cycle.
With both tools, you can trigger autoresponders by
- action - for example, when somebody opens or clicks a link on an existing email, they can be automatically added to a particular set of autoresponders
- data - for example, when somebody changes their details on your list
- date / time - for example, you can send automatically send messages x days after sign up, or on birthdays.
In short, both products are really strong when it comes to autoresponders.
One thing worth a particular mention however is Getresponse's new 'marketing automation' feature, which allows you to create autoresponder cycles / user journeys based on flowcharts - very sophisticated stuff, which you can get a sense of from the video below.
Mailchimp's workflows also allow you to create similar - and very sophisticated - user journeys but my hunch is that most people will find the new Getresponse interface better for designing them, because it's a much more visual process. That said, some users may find the 'templated' nature of Mailchimp's automation workflows handy (see image below).
There are several tiers of pricing plan with both Mailchimp and Getresponse, and within those, many sub-tiers, which makes both the products' pricing structures quite complicated.
With Mailchimp, you're looking at three tiers. In order of expense, these are:
- "Starting up" (a free plan)
- "Growing Business"
- "Pro Marketer"
With Getresponse, there are four - again, in order of expense, these are:
Obviously one very welcome feature of Mailchimp is its free plan – you can send up to 12,000 emails to up to 2000 subscribers per month. This is generous and will be useful for users who wish to send occasional emails to a relatively small list. Interestingly, most of the features that you find on the paid plans are available on the free Mailchimp plan - with the exception of
- inbox preview (a way to see what your e-newsletters look like in a variety of email clients)
- predicted demographics (a tool provided by Mailchimp which identifies demographics on your mailing list and segment your list accordingly)
- delivery by time zone
- advanced segmentation
- comparative reports
- multivariate testing
(Note that a 'Pro Marketer' plan is required to access advanced segmentation, comparative reports and multivariate testing).
The key differences between the Getresponse tiers involve access to webinar and landing page functionality - neither of which are available on the 'Email' plan but are, to varying degrees of usefulness, on all the other plans.
Zooming in: the Getresponse "Email" plan vs Mailchimp "Growing Business" plan
I suspect most readers of this review will be interested in comparing the Mailchimp "Growing Business" plan against the Getresponse "Email" plan. These are the cheapest paid-for offerings from the two companies; and they offer a broadly similar feature set.
When looking at these two plans, it's probably fair to say that in general, Getresponse comes out cheapest in terms of pricing. For example, with Mailchimp, hosting 2500 subscribers will cost you $30; hosting 5000 will cost $50 and hosting 10000 will cost $75. The comparative costs with Getresponse are $25, $45 and $65 respectively making Getresponse seem, on the face of it, a cheaper product. (These plans all allow you to send an unlimited number of emails per month to subscribers).
However, Mailchimp offers narrower pricing bands than Getresponse – for example, several "Growing Business" Mailchimp plans are available for those with mailing lists of between 5000 and 5800 records (hosting 5001 to 5200 subscribers costs $55, 5201 to 5400 costs $60 and so on), whereas Getresponse only provides a 5001 to 10000 subscriber plan (at $65 on the 'Email' tier).
This all gets a bit confusing but basically means that depending on your list size – and so long as the size remains fairly static - you may find yourself able to avail of a cheaper deal with Mailchimp (for example, a list with 5001 subscribers on it will be $10 cheaper to host with Mailchimp than with Getresponse). Additionally, if your list is less than 500 records in size, Mailchimp will let you get into e-marketing more cheaply - their very cheapest plan, which allows you to host up to 500 records, is $10 per month. So there are some savings which can be made with Mailchimp, but they will be for very specific list sizes and, since the point of having a mailing list is to grow it, my gut feeling is that Getresponse will generally prove the more cost-effective option for most businesses (or at least successful ones!).
Both Getresponse and Mailchimp offer a variety of templates you can use ‘out of the box’. Both systems offer templates of a fairly similar quality. I would probably say that on balance I prefer the aesthetics of the Mailchimp ones; but against that there are significantly more Getresponse templates available (there are 500+ Getresponse templates to choose from, versus Mailchimp's 80 or so). In any event, you can tweak most of the templates pretty easily with both systems (more on that below) meaning that if you are broadly happy with a design, you can whip it into shape.
You don’t need to use one of the supplied templates though - you can use your own HTML code on both Getresponse and Mailchimp to design your own template. You can also buy additional templates for both platforms from a third-party supplier like Theme Forest.
The user interfaces offered by Getresponse and Mailchimp are quite different – Mailchimp opts for a very minimalistic sort of approach, with lots of big fonts (on big spaces) being employed to present menus, stats and data; they also present a lot of functionality in ‘wizard’ or ‘to-do’ list format. It’s quite distinctive and some users will probably appreciate the ‘big and bold’ approach. Getresponse provides a user interface that is based more around traditional drop-down menus. Neither system is particularly hard to use – personally I marginally prefer the Getresponse interface because you don’t seem to have to scroll quite so much to get at particular features or data (all the big fonts employed by Mailchimp mean a lot of stuff is ‘below the fold’, particularly on laptops – it makes for a clean interface but one where screen ‘real estate’ is arguably not all that efficiently used). Another thing I'm not keen on is the positioning of the 'save' and 'next' buttons in Mailchimp - they're often at the very bottom of the screen or generally hard to locate, meaning that when you're working on an email or setting up a sequence of autoresponders, you occasionally find yourself scratching your head regarding how to save your work and proceed to the next step.
There's no denying however that the Getresponse interface could do with a bit of a refresh - it looks a bit tired compared to the sleek minimalism of Mailchimp. Both interfaces are in general fine though really – it’s a case of personal taste here.
Editing email designs
Both Getresponse and Mailchimp allow you to edit your templates using a ‘drag and drop’ style editor. These editors are fairly similar, and allow you to lay images and text out in a manner that suits you without resorting to any HTML coding.
Getresponse arguably offers a more immediately 'flexible' interface - once you've dragged a piece of content onto your e-newsletter, you can just click on it to edit it directly. However it's a bit buggy occasionally, and for my money Mailchimp’s is slightly better when it comes to the actual dragging and dropping – Getresponse’s is a bit on the fiddly side. It’s quite easy with Getresponse to put items in the wrong spot in your email (it’s not a showstopper though, and there is a handy ‘undo’ button).
When it comes to formatting text, Mailchimp steals a march on Getresponse, because it allows you to make use of web fonts; Getresponse limits you to using 'web safe' (read: boring) fonts like Arial, Times New Roman etc. The selection of web fonts provided in Mailchimp is admittedly extremely limited - only a very small number of Google Fonts can be used - but their inclusion nonetheless help to make your e-newsletters look more attractive.
Mobile-friendly emails with Getresponse and Mailchimp
I prefer the way Getresponse handles previewing of mobile versions of your email. With Getresponse, as you create your email using the drag and drop editor, you see a preview of the smartphone version on the right hand side of the screen (i.e., in real time, as you make changes using the drag and drop editor). You can preview your smartphone email versions with Mailchimp too of course – but not in real time and it involves another click (again, this is probably a casualty of the big fonts / lots of space approach to interface design).
Finally, Getresponse's mobile preview feature allows you to see how your email looks on a mobile device when the email is being viewed either in landscape or portrait - this is not the case with Mailchimp.
An important feature of email marketing solutions is split-testing. This basically allows you to try out a variety of subject headers (and, depending on the tool in question, content) on some sample data (for example, 5% of your list) before rolling out the best performing subject header / email version to the list as a whole – where ‘best performing’ generally means the version of the email that generated the most opens or clickthroughs.
It is a clear win here for Getresponse over Mailchimp: with Getresponse, you can test up to 5 different versions of your email, and try out a wide range of variables - content, subject line, 'from' field, time of day and day of week. This is the case regardless of which type of Getresponse plan you are on.
By comparison, on its cheapest ('Growing Business') plans, Mailchimp only allows you to split-test three different versions of your email. If you are using relatively small lists, this is not such a big deal, because for statistical reasons split testing is only worth doing on relatively large lists - the but anybody intending to do mailouts to big databases will definitely be better served by the split-testing functionality offered by Getresponse.
To be fair, there are some more advanced split testing options available with Mailchimp - but you have to be on a 'Pro Marketer' plan to avail of them. This will set you back $199 per month on top of whatever it costs to host your mailing list with Mailchimp. If you can live with this sort of cost, you'll be able to split test 8 variants of your e-newsletters against each other.
Reporting on both Mailchimp and Getresponse is very comprehensive: you can track all the usual things like open rates, clickthroughs and unsubscribes, but you can also drill down into the data further – for example, you can look up somebody on your mailing list and get an overview of what lists they are on; their location; IP address; and what emails they’ve previously opened. All very useful information for understanding your audience and future marketing, if rather Orwellian.
There are two Mailchimp reporting features I particularly like:
- Mailchimp’s ‘member rating’ system (available on all plans), which automatically assigns a score out of five to each subscriber on your mailing list based on the number of times they’ve opened or engaged with your mailouts. This allows you to spot potentially good leads more easily. (To be fair, Getresponse also offer a 'scoring' option, but this requires more a bit more user intervention to set up)
- Its ‘conversation tracking’ (paid plans only), which allows you to manage and store any replies to your campaigns within Mailchimp. This is very useful, particularly if your business is one which typically has regular email contact with leads and clients, and almost brings Mailchimp into ‘CRM’ territory
Getresponse’s reporting system has an excellent feature which is not present in Mailchimp however: its automatic creation of emailable ‘groups’ after a mailout is sent. After you send out your mailshot, Getresponse will show you several segments of contacts who took specific actions – you’ll see groups of people who opened your email, did not open your email, clicked your email but did not meet a goal etc. – and you can mail them all again really easily. This is extremely useful for sending quick reminders or follow-up offers to relevant contacts. Mailchimp does let you see this information too - but in order to create segments from it you'd need to export and reimport the data, using new flag fields to manually create your segments. Unnecessarily fiddly...
Both Getresponse and Mailchimp integrate with a wide range of other services – you will need to check their relevant websites for an exhaustive list, but services like Paypal, BigCommerce, Facebook and Magento are examples of the kind of services catered for.
I have found in general that Mailchimp tends to be more of a ‘default’ option than Getresponse for many services (Squarespace and Shopify being obvious examples), and Getresponse seems to rely quite a lot on a third party tool, Zapier, for quite a lot of its integrations (which may make them a bit longer to set up). That said a lot of the ‘big’ services are catered for perfectly well with Getresponse; if you like the tool and want to integrate it with an established service like Paypal or Facebook, you won’t have any difficulty doing so. Additionally, an ‘integration’ often means simply adding a sign-up form to a website, and both Getresponse and Mailchimp make it very straightforward to do that (see below).
Adding a sign-up form to your website
One final thing to look at is how to add a sign-up form to your website. Both Getresponse and Mailchimp allow you to design forms and grab a snippet of code which then you can then embed on your site to embed the form.
With Getresponse, the design options are a significantly more extensive, and you can also choose from a range of pre-designed form templates. Getresponse also gives you slightly more flexibility with regard to what sort of form you want to use on your site – ‘pop over’ and ‘lightbox’ forms are available in Getresponse as standard, in addition to the standard embedded forms. Mailchimp isn't that much behind on this front, providing you with a popup form option as well as the embeded forms.
Landing page creation
One strong feature in Getresponse which is not available in Mailchimp is a landing page creator. This allows you to make use of various templates and a drag and drop editor to create a 'squeeze page' which improves the sign-up rate to your list.
Landing page creators let you create distraction-free sign-up pages that are exclusively designed to improve conversion rates; additionally, A/B testing allows you to test different versions of your landing pages, with the best-performing ones being rolled out automatically.
Every Getresponse plan makes the landing page creator available to users, but unless you are on one of the more expensive plans (Pro and up) you will not be able to use the fully-featured version of it.
On the cheapest 'Email' plan you can only create one landing page - and this can only be viewed by users 1000 times per month. The 'Email' plan's version of the landing page creator also disables a/b testing (which is probably the most useful aspect of landing pages in general). If you are keen to use Getresponse's landing page creator it therefore makes sense to invest in one of the more professional plans.
If you want to use landing pages with Mailchimp, you'll need to either code something yourself or make use of a tool like Instapage or Unbounce, the fees for which are significantly more expensive those charged by Getresponse for their fully-specced landing page creator (that said they do offer more features).
To sum up: if you plan to use landing pages you may find yourself making some considerable savings by plumping for a Getresponse plan that includes the fully functional landing page creator.
For users wishing to provide versions of their confirmation emails and thank-you pages in different langauges, Mailchimp is a better bet than Getresponse, as it provides this functionality. This a bit on the fiddly side however, and generally relies on the language of the web browser being used to display content in a local language, rather than sending users to a particular URL based on the version of the website they are signing up on.
The biggest difference between Getresponse and Mailchimp: webinars
The biggest difference between Getresponse and Mailchimp arguably boils down to one feature: webinars. With Getresponse 'Pro' plans and up, you get the ability to host webinars. Webinars are commonly used as a way to generate business leads, with businesses offering access to webinar content in exchange for an email address; hitherto this involved using two apps - one for hosting the webinars, and one for hosting (and broadcasting e-newsletters to) a mailing list.
Getresponse have been quite clever here by offering webinars as part of their e-marketing offering. I have not tested the webinar functionality, and I suspect that it is of more of a 'cut down' nature than a dedicated webinar app like Gotowebinar - but nonetheless, the integration of webinar hosting and e-mail marketing services into one package will serve many users perfectly well and will be more cost-effective than using two separate apps.
One thing to watch out for is the attendee cap: Getresponse limits this to 100 people on its 'Pro' plan and 500 on both its 'Max' and 'Enterprise' plans. To extend this limit on either of these plans, you'll need to pay an additional $99 per month for another 500 attendees.
Webinars are not available as standard on the cheapest Getresponse offering (its 'Email' plan), but you can pay another $40 or $99 per month to enable this functionality and allow 100 or 500 attendees respectively to tune in.
Finally, there's support to consider - and it's probably fair to say that Getresponse wins out here, simply because phone, live chat and email support are available, whereas Mailchimp only offer email or live chat support. Particularly if you are new to email marketing, and not particularly tech-savvy, having the option to call a real human being is potentially very useful.
Which is better, Getresponse or Mailchimp?
Tough question. Both are feature-packed tools which will meet the needs of most users. In my view these are the reasons I’d go for one over the other.
Reasons to use Getresponse over Mailchimp
- Webinars: you can host them with Getresponse; with Mailchimp you'll need to use another application.
- Depending on your list size, and whether or not it is likely to grow, using Getresponse will usually work out cheaper than Mailchimp (particularly for larger lists).
- Getresponse offer far more email templates than Mailchimp.
- The Getresponse split-testing functionality that is provided on the cheapest plan is considerably better than that offered on the equivalent entry-level Mailchimp plan.
- Its autoresponder functionality offers a little more functionality than Mailchimp’s
- Getresponse comes with a pretty decent landing page creator built in (on its more expensive plans).
- Getresponse is a bit more flexible when it comes to form design – you can create a wider range of form types than with Mailchimp (standard embed, pop-up or lightbox) or choose a form from a variety of pre-designed templates.
- Getresponse's Marketing Automation provides a slick new way to put together autoresponder campaigns.
- Phone support is available with Getresponse - Mailchimp doesn't offer this.
- The Getresponse free plan (available for 30 days) allows you to test out most of the functionality - although Mailchimp has an unlimited free plan available, it restricts access to some features.
Reasons to use Mailchimp over Getresponse
- It has more pricing bands than Getresponse, which may make it cheaper for some users (particularly those whose mailing list size is likely to remain very static).
- Mailchimp generally integrates better with a wider range of third-party tools and services.
- You can use web fonts out of the box in Mailchimp (note however that the selection is limited to a few Google Fonts).
- Its ‘member rating’ system is potentially very useful in identifying key leads / customers.
- Its free plan is very generous, allowing you access to most key features (including autoresponders) and to send 12,000 emails per month to up to 2,000 subscribers.
- It provides translation functionality.
- If your list is very small (i.e., contains less than 500 records), you can start sending e-newsletters more cheaply with Mailchimp.
- Some users will appreciate the modern, minimal interface.
As usual, we suggest you try both products and have an in-depth play about with them before deciding on the best solution – free trials are available for both Getresponse and Mailchimp:
Have you got something to say about Getresponse or Mailchimp, or have you any further queries about these products? Share your thoughts or questions by leaving a comment below.
You may also find our Mailchimp vs Aweber comparison review useful.