MailerLite vs ActiveCampaign: 12 Aspects Compared Head-to-Head

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Today in this post, I am going to review MailerLite vs ActiveCampaign.

If you were asked to name an email marketing tool today, what comes to your head?

ActiveCampaign? Mailchimp? Aweber?

For the last decade, these big players have dominated the market. The email service providers have such a huge mindshare thanks to the heavy promotion they have received.

However, the underdogs like MailerLite are getting into the market and disrupting loyalties.

FeaturesMailerLiteActiveCampaign
Starting price$0 for up to 1000 contacts$9/mo
Free plan available?YesNo
Split testingMailerLite allows you to test
the subject, sender details, and email content.
With ActiveCampaign, you can test
subject lines, content, sender details, images, CTAs, etc
Automation templatesAvailableAvailable
Landing page builderAvailbleAvailble
Zapier integrationAvailableAvailable
Explore moreExplore MailerLiteExplore ActiveCampaign

MailerLite is a simple email marketing platform with cool features up its sleeves. If all you need is to send newsletters, create signup forms, and landing pages, you have a tool that does the job. And it’s even easier to use and cheaper than Mailchimp.

ActiveCampaign, on the other hand, is a full-blown all-in-one email marketing platform that heavily revolves around automation and sales CRM.

Well, it’s not the CRM ‘Rolls Royce’ like Salesforce but it’s a force to be reckoned with. Plus, considering the power tank you’re getting, the pricing is pretty fair.

So, today I’ll help you tear down MailerLite from limp to limp and see how it compares to the big boy ActiveCampaign.

What do I like about MailerLite over ActiveCampaign?

  • MailerLite has a very easy-to-use and navigable platform.
  • They provide 24/7 responsive live chat support.
  • They have a robust landing page builder with 30+ templates to choose from.
  • You have sleek form templates to create popup forms or web embedded forms
  • The automation builder is pretty easy to use allowing you to add and delete workflow items on the fly.
  • The pricing is pretty affordable for the features and functionality offered.
  • It has an easy to use drag and drop email builder allowing you to execute campaigns within minutes.

What do I like about ActiveCampaign over MailerLite?

  • ActiveCampaign has a fast loading interface.
  • Has a highly customizable and flexible email drag and drop builder.
  • It comes with a visual workflow builder allowing you to easily create complex workflows.
  • Has detailed reporting and analytics.
  • Great A/B testing feature enabling you to create more successful campaigns.
  • Awesome list management allowing you to send hyper-targeted emails.
  • It offers a wide range of third party integrations.
  • It offers high email deliverability ensuring your contacts get your emails.

MailerLite vs ActiveCampaign

Interface

When you hear a platform is much simpler than Mailchimp, you are assured it’s super simple. MailerLite’s interface has got no learning curve.

You get on board and start using it straight away. You can see there everything is located at a glance. The dashboard, campaign, subscribers, forms, and automation. You literally hit the ground running.

MailerLite interface

However, before you get on the ground you have to go through an approval process. They ask for your website details, company name and size, subscribers, and the type of content you want to send.

The good thing is that this helps separate the wheat from the chaff keeping off scammers/spammers from our inboxes.

The only problem I had with them is the loading time of their interface. Sure it’s user friendly but the speed kind of sucks.

Now onto the big boy, ActiveCampaign.

It has a very modern and sleek interface with a noticeable learning curve. Newbies need to spend some time on the interface before they learn all the ins and outs of the tool. They have found a good balance between UX and functionality.

ActiveCampaign interface

Once you spend some time on it, you’ll appreciate the user-friendliness, intuitiveness, and easy navigation. The platform loads quickly and believe me, you’ll learn the ropes in no time.

Winner: MailerLite. In terms of ease of use, MailerLite is like ABC. If you’ve used Mailchimp, you’ll be at home, it’s simpler.

Listing management

One of the most important functions of an ESP is giving you the granular control of your contact list. Reason being? You can only increase your opens, clicks, and conversions by sending highly personalized emails.

MailerLite gives you two options to do this; Groups and segments.

You can come up with specific rules for your audience to meet for them to join a particular segment. I liked how they’ve made it possible to combine rules or use an alternative rule if the first one is non-existent.

Smart, right?

MailerLite clean up

And then we have groups. Have you ever used an ESP with a tagging system? Well, groups are like tags, literally. You can add the groups manually or using automation rules.

The groups help you know your contact behavior/action instead of lumping numerous subscribers together under one roof as it happens with segments.

I also loved it that they have fields that help you with email personalization.

ActiveCampaign tags

ActiveCampaign on the other hand will ensure you have the best of both worlds. It has lists and tags. They let you have the driver’s seat and determine if you want to manage your contacts with lists or tags.

Got to say I found that they nailed it with the tagging system. And they can be added manually or in an automation workflow. Very similar to MailerLite in this regard.

But the magic is found when you bring together their site tracking feature and the tagging system. You hit the jackpot!

You get to pinpoint the behavior of your customer and know their position on your sales funnel. And you can leverage this information to send hyper-targeted and personalized emails.

The only drawback I found is that you can easily lose track of things as you have so much flexibility with your list management. The variety can be overwhelming.

Winner: ActiveCampaign. You’re in control of your contact list and it empowers you to send highly-personalized emails.

Email broadcasts and templates

Got to admit that this is one of the most diverse areas in the various email marketing tools I have interacted with.

One can have a poor selection of templates, another might have obsolete designs, others have a glitch email editor, and you just don’t get the whole package.

So, let’s check out what MailerLite has to offer.

MailerLite email templates

They have three options to create a newsletter. Drag and drop, rich text, or HTML. But you can always switch to the Templates tab if you don’t want to do the groundwork.

Got to say the designs are super modern, I loved them. And their paid plan has 60+ templates to choose from.

But what had me by surprise was the highly customizable email editor. For the price tag, they deserve a pat on the back.

You can add whatever needs to be added to your newsletter. From content blocks to videos, images, product columns, countdown timers, and social media icons, etc.

And once you’re done, you can save the template in your library and use it later. This way, you can create emails on the fly and your audience become familiar with your brand style and colors.

Plus I loved that you’re able to schedule your broadcasts once you’re done. They offer three options; send now, later, or deliver based on time zones. Impressive, right?

ActiveCampaign newsletter template

ActiveCampaign also gives you the three MailerLite options to create a newsletter. And also the option to use pre-designed templates with HTML is just not your style.

I have to admit I was a bit shocked to find only 30 templates. It’s a far cry from its competitors like MailChimp or even less popular Moosend. Well, they have a handful of modern templates but the majority of them are average.

But it’s not all gloomy. The drag and drop email editor takes design flexibility and customization to another level.

You can add all the cool things that you want. Very much like MailerLite but better. This is because they have conditional blocks.

These blocks let you send newsletters that adapt to your subscriber’s interests and tags. Okay, it’s a bit more automation but wow! It blew my mind.

Your contacts can receive one email but it shows the different things based on their action. How cool is that?

I found ActiveCampaign to have a formatting problem. If you copy-paste your text from Google Doc, notepad, or wherever else you have your text, they’ve got an issue of keeping the text format consistent. So you have to select all the text again and pick your desired format. It gets old fast.

Winner: MailerLite. They have quite a selection of sleek templates to choose from. However, if you are looking for customization and automation, then ActiveCampaign is your best bet.

Automation builder

Just like all other things on MailerLite, the automation function is simple, clean, and very easy to use. They have a simple visual workflow builder that makes it easy to add/delete steps from your workflow.

MailerLite automations

Of course, if you’ve used ConvertKit (review) before you may find this a downgrade and it’s not as feature-rich. But you can create quite complex automation.

From adding a delay to sending an email, adding an action, condition, updating contact records, or moving subscribers to another group.

It’s unfortunate you can’t move a subscriber directly to another automation. But let’s not forget MailerLite is meant to be simple so it can do without the complexities.

Got to say, if ActiveCampaign was Bugatti, then the automation builder is the 1000 horsepower engine.

It doesn’t get better than this. It’s one of the most feature-rich automation builders I have seen in the market.

It’s got a visual workflow builder similar to that of Drip (review) or GetResponse. You can do all sorts of cool stuff with it.

If you need sophisticated workflows, ActiveCampaign is the place to go. You have so many ‘Actions’ to choose from and combine them with intelligent tagging and site tracking… it’s a world of infinite possibilities. Total mind-blowing.

automation workflow

The only kicker I have is that the visual builder can be a bit clunky and slow at times. In this, ConvertKit has beaten them hands down.

Winner: ActiveCampaign. When it comes to power and flexibility, there is no imagined automation that ActiveCampaign can’t hack. I can only wish for a faster visual builder.

A/B testing

MailerLite split test campaigns

MailerLite allows you to test the subject, sender details, and email content. Create two campaigns, choose a portion of your audience, and run tests on equal ratios.

Then the winner is automatically sent to the bulk of your contacts. However, you can opt to select the winner manually.

You can do this with one-off broadcasts. No automation testing. No landing page testing.

ActiveCampaign takes A/B testing to another level.

ActiveCampaign split testing

You can split-test as many email variables as you want. From subject lines to content, sender details, images, CTAs, etc. And you can compare up to five emails at a go.

They get to divide your list to run the test or you might opt to choose how to divide your list. The winner is determined during or after the campaign. Our choice.

The cherry on the ice cream is the freedom you have when selecting the winner. They have numerous conditions that you can use to crown your winner.

And guess what? You can test your workflow automation as well.

Winner: ActiveCampaign. They’ve thought it all out and I can’ find any fault with this function.

eCommerce CRM

word image 2

With MailerLite, they have almost a non-existent eCommerce functionality. However, I am grateful for their Shopify, WooCommerce, and Zapier integrations. With these, you can carry out all your online business activities.

Now onto ActiveCampaign.

ActiveCampaign eCommerce

They have a sales automation feature that allows you to create a series of emails for your customers to get their emails just in time. They also have a lead scoring feature that helps you qualify your leads and move them along your funnel based on their actions.

And they can integrate with Shopify, WooCommerce, BigCommerce, Magento, Stripe, Paypal, etc. Yes, it’s not even close to Klaviyo in-depth eCommerce capabilities but ActiveCampaign has your online store covered.

Winner: ActiveCampaign. It will help you prioritize the contacts who are going to be your clients.

Forms and landing pages

MailerLite allows you to create your landing pages and forms on the same interface, under the FORM tab. Other than the confusion under the form tab, they have done a great job.

They have 30+ landing page templates that come with a responsive and user-friendly landing page builder. They might not win the award of the year but they give you a great foundation to work on.

You can add different content blocks (up to 17) using the drag and drop editor. It’s as customizable and flexible as their email editor. I have to confess it really tickled my fancy.

ActiveCampaign landing pages

I’ve gone through a fair share of visual builders and this works better than other dedicated solutions *cough* WP Bakery. We got to give credit where it’s due.

They also have various form templates that allow you to create floating bars, pop up forms, full-page forms, inline forms, and floating boxes. They are also mobile responsive and easily customizable.

activecampaign forms

No, it can’t replace the likes of Thrive Architect (review) or LeadPages but it does deliver.

ActiveCampaign, on the other hand, has nothing to report on landing pages. They have promised to have the pages builder available for trial soon.

However, cheaper tools like Mailchimp and Moosend have this covered already. I choose not to comment further on that.

But they redeemed themselves with a form builder. The only drawback is you can only create an inline form with their basic plan.

And it even comes with the ActiveCampaign branding. You have to dish out more money to create pop-ups or floating bars. It’s a pretty basic builder, nothing jaw-dropping.

I liked that they have a CSS editor for anyone who wants to get more creative.

Winner: MailerLite. They’ve covered it all with their forms and landing page builder.

Reporting

You can’t improve on your campaigns if you don’t do monitoring and reporting.

MailerLite reports

And MailerLite has the reporting data on the individual campaign dashboard. You can see the opens, clicks, subscribers, and form signups.

Generally, this information is sufficient for average users. You can go for a number digging spree if you choose to. Click on the individual report field that you want to dive deeper and you’ll get gems like click maps.

Also, you can integrate it with Google Analytics for more in-depth reporting.

ActiveCampaign have brought their A-game in this field.

ActiveCampaign insights

They give you far much more than the common opens and clicks data.

They have a ‘Reply Tracking’ feature that lets you run workflows based on contact replies. And don’t forget the ‘site tracking’ feature for collecting customer behavior online. Besides, Google Analytics integration ensures no stone is left unturned.

The kicker is that all the data can be overwhelming and takes a while to load. It will take some getting used to as the interface may feel user-hostile.

Got to say they do the same amount of in-depth reporting with Drip only that Drip is faster and puts all data in a digestible format.

Winner: ActiveCampaign. They leave no stone unturned. You get to know exactly what is happening in your campaigns. You are empowered to send the right emails, at the right time, and to the right people.

Deliverability

You can’t do all the hard work and have emails landing in spam folders.

So, I did an email deliverability test to make sure we are actually planting seeds in fertile soil.

My test used the top five email clients i.e. Gmail, Yahoo, AOL, Hotmail, and iCloud. I also activated SPF and DKIM records on the email marketing tools. In this case on both MailerLite and ActiveCampaign.

The results?

92.31% of ActiveCampaign’s emails landed in people’s inboxes while 75.55% of MailerLite emails landed in the inbox.

Winner: ActiveCampaign. If the most important function to you is to actually deliver the emails, ActiveCampaign is a good bet. But Drip and Mailchimp performed better.

Integrations

In the ESP world, a lone ranger won’t last long.

MailerLite integrations

You won’t get a long list of integrations with MailerLite. But we have several great CRM and eCommerce integrations.

From Shopify to WooCommerce, to PayPal, Zapier, Facebook, ClickFunnels, among others. You can also access team management apps like Trello, Slack, Google Docs Sheets & Forms, etc. Also, you can access the developer API to help you integrate with other apps.

3rd party integrations of ActiveCampaign

ActiveCampaign has quite a number of integrations. About 500+ including the usual suspects like Shopify, WordPress, Facebook Leads, Zapier, Stripe, Paypal, etc. Even Drip, its closest competitor, doesn’t have a list this long. And you’ll get everything you need on the list.

Winner: ActiveCampaign. You can’t get into any trouble when it comes to 3rd party integration. And Zapier has come through for the two of them opening a world of possibilities in terms of integration.

Support

With software applications, you don’t know when you’ll hit a bump. Support plays a major role in understanding how the platform works.

MailerLite also has swift, friendly, and responsive email and chat customer service. Their knowledge base and video tutorial are more than thorough.

Also, their support team speaks 12 languages making it easy for people from all around the globe to explain their problems.

ActiveCampaign also has a rich knowledge base with tutorials, how-to-guides, webinars, and videos in almost anything you will have a problem with.

They also offer live chat, phone support, and email. They also run two official Facebook pages where the community can interact and share.

Winner: ActiveCampaign. They have several help channels giving you various options to give a shot.

Pricing

It all boils down to how much cash you want to spend on an ESP.

MailerLite pricing

MailerLite has a free plan for 12000 emails for up to 1000 subscribers. It comes with all features other than templates. Both landing page and newsletter templates. Also, you’ll have the MailerLite logo on your emails. And basic scheduling capabilities.

They offer a 14-days free trial for their premium plan.

ActiveCampaign has got no free plan. And that’s a bummer. But they have a 14-days free trial.

ActiveCampaign pricing

They offer 4-tiers, Lite, Plus, Professional, and enterprise.

If you are choosing between the two based on price, ask yourself if your business will significantly expand in the near future.

Conclusion

Now you have it. We have taken the two platforms limb for limb.

Use MailerLite if:

  • You have a small business
  • You need a lightweight tool that isn’t fancy or covered in glitter
  • You want a straightforward tool to use
  • You are on a tight budget
  • You’re looking for Templates

Use ActiveCampaign if:

  • You need an all-in-one platform
  • You’re a high-level marketer
  • You run medium to large enterprises
  • You need to create complex workflow automation

What is it going to be?

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of the product links, I’ll receive a small commission with no additional cost incurred to you. We test each product thoroughly and give high marks to only the best. We are independently owned and the opinions expressed here are our own.

Akshay HallurAbout me

Hi, I’m Akshay Hallur. The founder of this blog BloggingX and many other online ventures.

I’m a professional full-time blogger, a digital marketer, and a trainer. I’m here to help bloggers like you to create an outstanding blog and earn money from it.

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