Mailerlite, an alternative to Mailchimp

*March 2023 edits - there has been a lot of changes to both MailerLite to MailChimp since I wrote this article in 2019. I will make note of some of the changes throughout*

I've been a MailChimp user since around 2010 (I hope I'm not dating myself here ?). I've seen it grow and change and improve. But I have always been frustrated with it in one way or another. I used to want to pull my hair out working with MailChimp. And trust me, I'm a techie. I know it like the back of my hands and I have a love hate relationship with it.

I can see why businesses use MailChimp. After all, you can use it for free for up to 2,000 contacts. Plus it seems to have everything you need to setup your automations.

In my opinion though, the automation capabilities suck. I mean, don't get me wrong. If you are doing a simple monthly newsletter, it's more than sufficient. And if all you need is a simple automation, it's totally fine. But when you start getting into multi-step automations and just more complicated automations, then you better have a lot of Advil ready to combat those headaches you're going to have! And be prepared to waste a lot of your precious time making everything work with workarounds. Sorry MailChimp!

Why I Now Use MailerLite

Ah...MailerLite. Now that's music to my ears. I only recently heard about MailerLite during the MailChimp fiasco back in May of this year (2019) when they announced changes to their plans. I quickly checked it out and fell in LOVE!

Here's a run down of the pros and cons of MailerLite.

10 Things I Love About MailerLite ? ? ?

1. It's free up to 1,000 contacts. But how is this better than MailChimp who offers up to 2,000 contacts for free? Well, MailChimp's definition of contacts is slightly different than MailerLite's. First, MailChimp counts all subscribers, unsubscribers and non-subscribers. So if you have 1,000 subscribers, 500 unsubscribers and 100 non-subscribers (usually e-commerce customers who did not opt-in), you have 1,600 contacts according to MailChimp. Second, they count the contacts per audience (previously known as list). This means if you have a contact in multiple audiences, they are counted for every audience they are a part of. If I belong to 3 different audiences, I'm counted as 3 contacts. Whomp whomp.

MailerLite has 1 contact list. You can have multiple groups in MailerLite (groups are similar to tags or audiences in MailChimp) and it doesn't matter how many groups your contacts belong to, each contact is counted only once. They also don't count unsubscribers towards your contact count. They keep unsubscribers for 30 days as a contact and then they drop them from your count. So even though 1,000 seems like a lot less than what MailChimp offers, at the end of the day, it isn't. It's actual plenty.

*Edit - MailChimp's free plan is no longer 2,000 subscribers. They've capped it at 500.

2. Unlike MailChimp who took away multi-step automations from their free plan, MailerLite offers unlimited multi-step automations in their free plan. To get multi-step automations in MailChimp, you'd have to go with their Standard Plan which starts at $14.99/month. But don't be fooled by this. Once you hit 2,500 contacts it's $49.99 per month. With MailerLite, you're looking at $30/month for 2,500-5,000 contacts. Plus, MailerLite's automation is so much more robust. It's very visual and powerful, similar to ConvertKit but without the price of ConvertKit.

*Edit - there has been some changes to MailChimp's paid plans so I would suggest checking out their current pricing here.

3. I just love MailerLite's advanced segmentation capabilities. It really makes targeting your audience so much easier.

4. While this isn't available in the free plan, the auto resend feature is so so awesome. You can setup an auto resend campaign and specify what you would like to change in the second email so you can do an A/B test. You can change your subject line, subject line and personal message, or subject line and content.

5. MailerLite includes a survey and poll option directly in the email campaign. There's only one other email marketing platform that I know of that currently offers survey embeds in your email campaign which is Constant Contact (and on the higher plan too). I love this feature! It provides an added level of interaction with your audience.


6. MailerLite's landing page builder is awesome! It's super easy to use and looks so nice. I actually built a client's landing page on ClickFunnels but due to the nightmare that it was trying to connect Actionetics, we ended up moving them to MailerLite as they wanted to be in an all-in-one platform. Building it on MailerLite was a breeze and in my opinion, looks as good or even better than the ClickFunnels page.

7. There's also another nifty feature MailerLite has that none of the other email marketing softwares have. It's the ability to add free event RSVP right in your email campaign. So you can invite your subscribers to an event, have them RSVP right in the email and they get added to a separate group, where you can then setup an automation. Brilliant!

8. You can have multiple forms even for the same audience! In MailChimp, it's one form for the audience. MailChimp allows you to create a hosted sign-up form, a pop-up form and an embed form, but you can't have let's say two pop-up forms that are different, for the same audience. In MailerLite, you can have multiple pop-up forms for the same group. MailerLite's form capabilities are hands down better than MailChimp's.

9. The behaviour settings for the pop-up forms in MailerLite are also better than MailChimp's. You can choose when you want to show the Popup, set Frequency and adjust Visibility settings.

10. You can hide the pop-up form on certain pages of your site. Let's say that you want to embed a form a blog page, but you don't want the pop-up to come up because it's just not ideal, you can turn off the pop-up for that specific blog page. I think this is a very useful feature to have.

What I Don't Like About MailerLite ? ? ?

Unfortunately, no tool or platform out there is perfect, including MailerLite. As much as I love MailerLite, there are a few things about it that do make me question why ?.

1. The text-only option is not automatic. This is super annoying in my opinion. Every time I create a campaign I have to remember to edit the text-only option and every time there's a change, I have to remember to edit it again. This is a huge area for improvement as I consider this a time-waster.

2. It doesn't integrate directly with many other tools, so you have to use zapier. This is not that big of a deal, except now you might end up having to pay for zapier too if the free plan isn't sufficient for your needs. I recommend Leadpages to my clients and unfortunately, Mailerlite's integration with Leadpages has to be done through Zapier.

3. In the landing page builder, there is no re-direct or reset for the countdown clock. So if the clock expires, it just shows 0 hours. In other landing page builders, the clock can usually reset if the time expires or be redirected to another URL.

4. There's no option to have 2 or more different entry points for the trigger in an automation. This can be a huge downside depending on how complex your automations are. For the record, this isn't available in MailChimp either but is a feature that's available in ConvertKit and ActiveCampaign.

*Edit - MailerLite has made some changes to their platform. This includes multi-entry trigger. Yay!

5. You can't move subscribers to start another automation at the end of an existing automation. Again, not a feature that MailChimp has, but it is a feature that ConvertKit, ActiveCampaign and Kartra have. There is a workaround such as adding a tag and then starting another automation for that tag, but it would just be easier not to have to do that.

6. You can't do a Facebook lead ad with MailerLite, which can be a make it or break it for some people.

I'm sure overtime, MailerLite will keep adding to and improving their features. Overall, I still love to use MailerLite for my own purpose despite some of the cons.

Well there you have it - the reasons why I now use MailerLite and recommend it to most of my clients. For the price point and for the features that it offers, it really is a great option for small businesses.

That said, it may not be the right tool for you, depending on your needs and how you want it to integrate with the rest of your online marketing tools.


If you'd like to chat about any of this, book a 30-minute discovery call with me, chief pixie here at Digital Pixie, and I can help you navigate this confusing world of email marketing softwares.

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