MailChimp vs InfusionSoft – Why We Switched

MailChimp vs InfusionSoft – Why We Switched

I’ve been using MailChimp in my business since 2011 – and I switched to MailChimp at the time from Campaign Monitor. So why have I now switched to InfusionSoft, despite the higher monthly costs? Read on to find out pros and cons of both systems and how to choose the right marketing system for your business!

MailChimp

Let’s look at MailChimp first and why you would want to use a system like that. As ultimately, just because it wasn’t right for my business and what I’m planning to get done in the next couple of years, it doesn’t mean that it can’t be perfect system for you!

MailChimp is great at email marketing and sending out simple e-newsletters. By simple I mean campaigns that you decide when and how to send, which aren’t triggered by behaviour of people already on your list.

It offers a free account when you are first getting started – provided that you are happy to keep their branding on your emails and sign up forms. Then these are the “standard” features you would expect and find in most email marketing clients:

  • you can have unlimited email lists and unlimited contacts (within MailChimp tiered pricing structure),
  • you can send unlimited email newsletters and autoresponders,
  • you can integrate it with social media and other online business tools,
  • you can embed sign up forms on social media and your website,
  • you can use merge-tags when creating campaigns (like Dear <first name>), which will populate with information from your database,
  • you can customise your newsletters using one of their pre-designed templates of import a custom design,
  • you can track performance of campaigns and autoresponders, as well as Google Analytics.

The ultimate benefits of MailChimp in my opinion are:

  • ability to have a free account for a very small business with limited budget, just getting started with email marketing,
  • ability to integrate social media into your newsletters,
  • ability to import contacts from other systems and when migrating to MailChimp without having to get everyone on your list to opt-in again.

And here are the downsides of MailChimp:

You can only send your newsletter to one list at a time.

As you grow your online business and start integrating MailChimp with other systems you will have to create additional lists to differentiate between how your subscribers got on the list.

Why? Because when you import your lists manually you can add “segments” to your subscribers so that you can differentiate: “webinar X attendee”, “purchased X ecourse”, “requested X download”. If you run API integrations this segmentation won’t always happen properly. However importing lists manually each time will take time (and cost if you outsource), thus limiting your ability to easily set up and send timely follow up messages and offers to your subscribers.

What happens then is you end up with several lists for different products, offers, webinars, events and free downloads you’ve ever offered. And you will find that the same person can be on more than one list.

Firstly, this increases your subscriber count, although you don’t have more actual unique subscribers.

Secondly, it gets really difficult to send your regular monthly (or weekly) newsletter to everyone or most people on your list.

If you send it to just one list, then copy and send to another, and so on – some subscribers might get multiple copies. And if you try to manually merge and copy lists every time you need to send a communication – this gets even harder in terms of time and admin overhead for running your email system.

If you sell products through PayPal, all customers will get added to the same list.

You might want to create separate follow-up messages based on which product they purchased, which you won’t be able to do as all your customers will be on the same list. Also it’s hard to distinguish between your customers and send special offers and upsells targeted only to certain groups of customers.

If you were to sell products through an eCommerce system or WishList Member you could work around this, as it’s not PayPal that will be sending information to MailChimp, but your website-based system. And WishList Member, for example, will add customers to separate lists based on the membership level their signed up for.

One-way Capsule CRM integration

The CRM system I’ve been using is called Capsule CRM. Although you can integrate it with MailChimp, the integration isn’t complete. For example, you can export easily records from Capsule CRM to MailChimp list, and MailChimp subscribers in Capsule will get a new history record created whether they opened your campaign or not, and a new tag – if they unsubscribe. However you can’t move new MailChimp subscribers to Capsule CRM. However I’ve not tested MailChimp with other CRM systems it can integrate to give you a full picture of how it will work.

>> TWEET THIS <<

InfusionSoft

InfusionSoft is more that just email marketing – it’s an integrated CRM, business automation and ecommerce system, all in one. As you can guess it solves quite a few of those issues above I mentioned.

There aren’t “lists” as such – everyone is in the same list of your contacts. And you can choose who to send a campaign to based on their behaviour, purchasing history, and custom tags. Therefore all customer and lead data is in the same place – you don’t need to worry about following up or not with a wrong person, sending offers to someone who’s already bought that products. Data management gets a lot easier.

If you remember that list above with “standard” email marketing features – they are all present in InfusionSoft.

And the ultimate benefits are:

  • Much better, more functional, data management for your leads, customers, purchases and referrals;
  • You can create complex follow up and upsell campaigns based on behaviour and actions of those on your list;
  • You can automate parts of your business through campaigns, thus saving you time and money;
  • You can easily track sales and referrals in one place, and pay your affiliates.

Effectively, InfusionSoft is not just for email marketing, it’s a great fit for many other parts of your business – whether online or offline.

The downside? Some would say its cost.

While you can start for free with MailChimp and then slowly grow your monthly fee along with your list growth, with InfusionSoft you will be looking at much higher monthly fees plus the initial Kick-starter Package.

The purpose of this package is to help you set up the system correctly, get your first campaigns working, train you how to use it effectively. On one hand, you might feel scared by making such large investment in a start-up business. On the other hand, it will focus your efforts and you will be far more pro-active in getting the return from your email marketing.

You don’t get a package like that with MailChimp, without although saves you money, means that you have to figure everything out by yourself, possibly make costly mistakes or waste time, or hire a marketing assistant to set it up for you and train you how to use MailChimp.

In conclusion – MailChimp vs InfusionSoft?

So which should you choose, MailChimp or InfusionSoft? Or some other system like Aweber, Campaign Monitor, Constant Contact etc?

There isn’t a single right or wrong answer. Just like your business is unique and different, the best solution which system to use would depend on your circumstances.

When making the decision, you would need to consider:

  • Are you tech-savvy? Or will you hire someone tech-savvy to manage the system for you?
  • What’s the realistic budget you can spend on email marketing/CRM?
  • How often will you send your communications? What kind of communications will you send?
  • Do you need to use autoresponders?
  • Do you have several brands in your business, each with own branding identity, that you would like to manage from the same account?
  • Are you going to sell products and/or services, with an ability to follow up with customers in separate lists?
  • Are you going to frequently import data from other marketing and business systems?
  • Would you need to have an affiliate system?

Armed with your “shopping list” of requirements, you can then compare different systems and try several out.

>> TWEET THIS <<

Your action this week

In the comments below, let me know which email marketing system you are using now, if any, are you happy with it?

What’s the biggest challenge you have when it comes to email marketing? What are you struggling with?

Look forward to reading your comments!

And if, after thinking through which email marketing system you need, you still feel confused or unsure – don’t worry. Just book a free Digital Marketing Strategy session with me to talk it through!

 

  • Hi Tamara. A well thought out and written post. You hit the nail on the head with “Just like your business is unique and different, the best solution which system to use would depend on your circumstances.”

    No off the shelf system will be perfect for all businesses all of the time, there will always be some compromise. It is a case of knowing the key features you need and then investigating which system is the best fit for your business.

    Julian

    • Thanks for your comment Julian! Glad to have Infusionsoft experts like you reading my posts.

      In my experience InfusionSoft is great for many businesses, but the cost puts many people off. Also some don’t get trained that well during their Kickstarter phase and then feel stuck in maintaining the system – hence the nick “confusion-soft”. Although I believe it’s quite the opposite and is very user-friendly.

      • Hi Tamara. Yes I agree.

        With regards to cost Infusionsoft does cost more per month and there is the Kick Start cost too AND it costs time to learn. But as I am sure you will agree you have so much more marketing clout at your finger tips than the simple email sending platforms. It gives smaller businesses the ability to compete on a level playing field with much larger competitors with bigger marketing budgets.

        At the end of the day your business has to be at the right point in it’s growth to justify implementing Infusionsoft. If you have no traffic or leads to capture then Infusionsoft will not “pull its weight” – no matter how much time you spend learning and setting it up. So I would never recommend Infusionsoft for start ups on a budget or where you have no traffic. But for established companies which have reached a point where they are crying out for a way to automate lead follow up etc and generate sales then Infusionsoft can transform that business and then the cost becomes negligible – if it can double your business (or more) in a year then who is going to baulk at the monthly cost? (In fact for an established company sticking with an apparently cheap 20 quid (or thereabouts) email system it could in fact be costing you dearly in lost marketing opportunities, sales and growth).

        Another useful comparison is to look at other systems that are geared more to the larger companies and provide similar functionality to Infusionsoft, the likes of Marketo and Eloqua. Buy into one of these and you could be looking at a charge of around £2000 a month, never mind Infusionsoft at £119 – £226 a month. So to my mind, to have the marketing power to compete with the big companies it seems a low price!

        I too started out using the likes of MailChimp, Constant Contact and all the rest and I found I could learn how to use them and have them doing their stuff in a few hours, no problem – but all they do is simple email newsletters and broadcasts. But then they only cost 20 quid or so a month. Within weeks of starting marketing online I realised the limited capability of these systems and began looking for a better way and this thinking led me to Infusionsoft back in 2009. For my first client (and I was myself an Infusionsoft newbie) I set up Infusionsoft and using the email and affiliate modules I was able to turn over £500K and generate a list of 300K emails within 5 months selling an information product. But that was only because we had a proven product (tested simply with GetResonse for email sends to the 1200 email addresses I had and Paypal to take the orders) and were in need for a way to automate and scale up the business as we had a way to generate “eyeballs” to our offer via affiliates who were ready to promote our offer. Even then I put in long days and nights working on getting set up.

        Even after 5 years using Infusionsoft I am still learning, so for a new starter there is a steep learning curve. So the right training at the start is crucial in order to overcome the initial steep learning curve. Those that do not overcome this learning curve during their initial training are the ones who frequently use the unfortunate phrase “Confusionsoft”. Infusionsoft is a system where it takes investment in time and money to fully maximise the benefits, there is no getting away from that – if you think you will have it up and running in a few hours or days you will be sadly mistaken.

        But, stick with it and get it right and then the rewards can be amazing.

        Cheers Julian

  • Matt

    (Disclaimer: I’ve recently started using infusionsoft so have limited experience with it so far.)

    One thing you don’t mention is ‘design’.

    As shown by Julian, infusionsoft is undoubtedly very powerful, however their UI design and email design tools are miles behind the likes of Campaign Monitor (who’s design tools are better than mailchimp for me). Their software bears all the hallmarks of being designed by developers – great functionality let down by poor design (ConstantContact is another one).

    Using Campaign Monitor’s ‘Canvas’ to create emails is almost fun, something that could never usually be said for creating reliable, cross platform and responsive HTML email (as a web developer, I can testify to that it’s usually akin to torture). It’s early days and missing many customisation options I’d like to see but it’s set the benchmark for email builder tools. I’d love to see this level of finesse and craftsmanship in UI and UX design at infusionsoft.

    I do understand that infusionsoft can do things both Mailchimp and Campaign Monitor can’t – hence the reason why my clients are interested in it. That said, beautiful, responsive emails that truly value user-experience and the subsequent effect that has on a brand’s perception and reputation should be the standard (though it seems like only a few of these tools get it, or have teams able to build it).

    Essentially, if we could combine the UI and UX design of Campaign Monitor team with infusionsoft’s planning and strategic power, we’d have an unbeatable tool! (perhaps it could make infusionsoft easier to use too).

    • Hi Matt, thanks for your comment! I agree that Campaign Monitor and MailChimp you can design more complex layouts of emails without having to rely on email design services. Maybe you could send your suggestion to InfusionSoft and they will see if they can include it in future releases? Although many businesses now move away from HTML-heavy designs in email delivery and send quite plain looking messages – almost like what you would send when shooting off an email directly from your Outlook (or Mac Mail of whatever you use). These emails seem to get nowadays most engagement and action, rather than extra pretty image heavy templates.

      • Matt

        Hi Tamara, I do agree that plain, text-only emails can work better for some communications, however there is no doubt that HTML emails are here to stay.

        Looking through my in-box, almost every newsletter, product announcement and update is a HTML, image-heavy email, even those from email-marketing specialists each as Litmus, and Campaign Monitor (who both send beautiful HTML email).

        Personally, I think when done well (and let’s be honest, so many are not!), they’re nicer to receive – which brings us to the original problem: if HTML emails are not going anywhere, our tools need to be able to produce HTML email with a higher standard of design.

        For so many companies, plain, text-heavy emails could never have the same impact – I can’t see the likes of Apple or Netflix, all the way down to my local record shop, food store and art-gallery switching to text-only or text with image-attachment emails for their email-marketing anytime soon.

        In the meantime, I’ll get on to infusionsoft like you suggest!