Ontraport vs MailChimp: Which is Best for eCommerce in 2020?

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MailChimp is one of the oldest email marketing tools and it has gained so much clout over the years. Ontraport, on the other hand, might not ring a bell instantly.

They don’t have as much clout as the cheeky chimp but they have made it to Inc. Top 100 Software Companies of the decade.

They say they’re an email marketing service but I have found that they go above and beyond to cater to your CRM needs.

If you’ve used MailChimp or ActiveCampaign before, then Ontraport’s basic package will be the upgrade you need. However, if you’re a HubSpot or Infusionsoft kind of person, go for their Pro Package.

Ontraport taunts itself as a “visual marketing automation and reporting platform.” Got to say that’s the truth because they have A1 visual campaign maps to track all your customer interactions.

MailChimp on the other hand is one popular email marketing tool that continues to take the startup world by a storm.

They have over 17 million customers and counting. The only catch is it hasn’t been upgrading as much as the competitors so we’ve had so many famous marketers and bloggers jumping ship.

Today, we’ll have these two email marketing tools on the dance floor.

Let the head-to-head begin.

What do I like about Ontraport over MailChimp?

  • When it comes to complex tag scenarios, Ontraport is excellent. If you’re working on a complex email campaign, you can filter hundreds of tags to help you send highly-targeted emails.
  • It offers so many customization options for your landing pages and email campaigns. You can add whatever you see fit. From videos to hosted email links, testimonials, etc.
  • They offer A1 customer support giving you a broad range of support options.
  • They have awesome email deliverability.
  • They have a state-of-the-art membership site that customers can use as learning platforms.
  • You have detailed reporting and analytics that help you optimize your campaigns with time.
  • Their A/B testing feature is off the hook you get to test every aspect of your campaign.

What do I like about MailChimp over Ontraport?

  • The interface of MailChimp is very simple, you won’t face any problem working with it.
  • You can access detailed reporting data with all the Ontraport complexities.
  • MailChimp provides you with a lot of integration options.
  • It provides you with numerous built-in newsletter templates, it also gives you the ease of modifying the templates.
  • Its price tag is super affordable.
  • MailChimp provides you with a photo editor, assisting you to manage the photos

Ontraport vs MailChimp

Interface

We can’t afford to ignore the interface and usability of any SaaS platform.

The shiny features and promises may distract us only to realize that you have a platform that you can’t use.

Ontraport interface

Well, Ontraport has tried its best to ensure that you have a seamless experience on the platform.

The homepage is super simple but doesn’t go expecting a super attractive dashboard. It actually looks so overwhelming at a first glance.

It’s not like any other email marketing interface with Templates and Automation tabs on the menu bar. But at least you’ll find the ‘Dashboard’ ‘Campaign’ and ‘Contacts’ tabs.

The rest are more CRM-like as you’ll have pages, tasks, and sales. So at the first landing, you’ll think it’s a CRM dashboard.

Ontraport interface

The dashboard is a bit cluttered and filled with numerous default features.

But what annoyed me was you just can’t go back to the home page if you decide to create a landing page or click through a campaign. You’ll have to click back via the entire dashboard and it’s super clunky not to mention annoying.

Other than that, you’ll also notice that it’s clean and the design is minimalistic. So even with the super steep learning curve, it’s a bit easy to navigate.

You’ll realize that the deeper you dive in, the more you realize that the platform isn’t as easy as it appears. Even experienced marketers should have some learning curve to go through on Ontraport.

However, it’s not all dark. I loved that the dashboard is customizable. Their drag and drop feature allows you to organize the dashboard to suit your preference.

So, depending on your experience, allow yourself a week or a month to fully grasp the ins and outs of this platform.

MailChimp dashboard

MailChimp on the other hand has been used numerously as the simple SI unit.

Well, the dashboard isn’t super sleek so lower your expectation a bit. Color is used sparingly. But they have superpowers. A very clean interface that’s very easy to use even for beginners.

You’ll literally hit the ground running. You start and go. The navigation is a breeze and you can see all you need at a glance. It’s very similar to Mailerlite in this regard.

I especially liked that they have a drag-and-drop feature that allows you to add and remove elements to customize your interface. And if something goes wrong you just press the ‘undo’ button.

Winner: MailChimp. Nothing beats MailChimp when it comes to simplicity. Okay, Mailerlite can go head-to-head but we’ve got to give credit where it’s due.

Listing management

All customers are unique in their own way and you need an email marketing tool that can show you exactly how different they are. No audience wants to feel like they’re just a number on your list. They want to be treated like the snowflakes they are.

Meaning, you need top-notch segmentation features.

Ontraport contacts

This time around, Ontraport delivers. Its inbuilt CRM gives you excellent contact management features. Adding contacts is easy and they give you an option to add as much detail as you need for each contact. From transaction details to phone calls, SMS sent double opt-in links, notes from the sales team, etc. It’s so immersive that it’s super impressive.

Ontraport tagging

You can segment your audience into different groups and add separate tags to them. Couple this with their automation suite and you have a personalized customer journey for each contact.

You get in-depth segmentation plus you can also qualify or disqualify contacts from their groups.

If you want to manage hundreds of complex tag scenarios peacefully, try Ontraport. It goes above and beyond ActiveCampaign or Infusionsoft by Keaps and these are really good segmentation tools.

It makes it possible to track every detail including the coupons you send to your list. And they’ve made it easy to have a birds-eye-view of your segmented audience in a card-by-card visual.

Just customize your dashboard to show your contacts as you desire and you can also drag-and-drop contacts to different segments.

Managing duplicate contacts

Also, Ontraport can help you merge duplicate contacts so no paying more for non-existent lists.

Coming to MailChimp from Ontraport is like going for a trip downtown after spending time in a serene and well-organized atmosphere.

They have a laid back but pretty impressive contact management system. It doesn’t come with all the bells and whistles on Ontraport but you get to have a customized contact list.

You can organize your list into customer behavior, then group them based on demographics. And they added tags the other day so now you can create super-personalized emails to your contacts.

The whole process is pretty easy as everything else on MailChimp so that’s a plus.

MailChimp list management

But here is the kicker, MailChimp counts the subscribers on your lists as individual contacts. So, if you have one person on different lists MailChimp counts them as two subscribers.

As a result, you can pay much more than the actual number of subscribers you have.

Winner: Ontraport. It has one of the richest contact management systems I have seen and believe me I have been to many platforms. You get to create a customized and unique customer journey here.

Email broadcasts and templates

Now that we’re done with contact segmentation, let us get to creating those email campaigns.

Got to say with the many emails landing in your audience inboxes, you’ve got to be really impressive to stand out.

It’s surprising that creating an email and even an email sequence is easy on Ontraport considering how complex the platform is.

They have an adequate number of ready-made templates to use. All you need to do is edit here and there and add your brand.

Ontraport templates

The templates are beautiful, professional, and mobile responsive. They give you three options, Raw HTML, Simple Mail, and OntraMail.

Also, you have the option of creating templates and sharing them with the Ontraport community for free or for a price.

Their block-based editor is very easy to use and you can preview your email to see how it looks on desktop and mobile before sending it out.

The templates are easily customizable. You can add videos, images, CTA buttons, links, countdown timers, coupons, testimonials e.t.c. to make your email visually appealing and engaging to your audience.

MailChimp campaigns

The key concept of MailChimp lies in their campaigns. They have a wizard that guides you through a step-by-step process to create your campaign.

You can either use HTML to create email templates or send a plain text email. But if you want neither of these options MailChimp has hundreds of templates available for you to create stunning emails.

MailChimp templates

Their drag-and-drop editor is very easy-to-use allowing you to customize your templates to your liking. Just drag elements to your templates and arrange them as you see fit.

You can add images, text, code, links, buttons, social share buttons, etc.

Winner: Ontraport. The process of creating, customizing, and personalizing emails has never been easier than with MailChimp. But if you’re looking for raw power in customization and functionality, Ontraport wins hands down.

Automation builder

In most cases, you want an email marketing tool to take some work off your shoulders.

Ontraport automation builder

When it comes to setting up and managing autoresponders, Ontraport is pretty much the ISH.

You’ll spend a lot of time on the campaign builder once you’re done designing your landing pages, forms, and emails.

When we first started it as a visual builder, this is where that fully comes into play. Every move you make is visual so there will be no problem creating funnels.

I like that they have a range of premade automation series available for you if you don’t know where to start. All you need to do here is an edit.

And they have a checklist that helps you get everything ready to kick start your campaign. I found this super helpful.

Campaign map

Also, if you have to collaborate with others in workflow creation, they have an option for that on the visual builder. You get to share and edit workflows as a team.

Ontraport automation workflow

But the icing on the cake is that you can automate your email sequence on different platforms, not just emails. Sort of like mashing two potatoes with one fork.

You can respond to your triggers and actions on SMS or social media platforms as well.

You can also add goal tracking features on your sequences enabling your contacts to move along the sales pipeline after they carry out a particular action.

And you can integrate it with your site to track every action your customers take. It provides you with very laser-focused campaigns increasing your conversion rate.

MailChimp is slightly less detailed compared to Ontraport.

The email automation workflow set up is easy and with a handful of options. Honestly, the automation is a steal if you consider the price tag.

MailChimp automation emails

MailChimp offers several triggers based on campaign activity, workflow activity, eCommerce activity, or date-based activity.

And they have a few pre-made automation series if you’ve no idea of where to start. I like that they can integrate with your website allowing you to create workflows based on your customer actions.

The kicker is it offers fewer integrations so you don’t get in-depth data about your customers. And, all the cool stuff comes at a price. All you get for free is a one-off welcome email and an order notification.

Winner: Ontraport. They have a wealth of automation options available to create laser-focused campaigns. It’s more impressive than MailChimp. If you want an affordable tool with the same capabilities as Ontraport, check ActiveCampaign out.

A/B testing

As awesome as any email marketing platform might be, you have to be assured that your efforts pay off. And that is where A/B testing comes in to show you what your audience appreciates most.

Ontraport split testing

With Ontraport, their split testing feature is off the hook. You can split-test at any stage of your automation campaign. Impressive, right?

In addition, you can A/B test landing pages, forms, emails, SMS messages, and retargeting Ads. You don’t get more immersive than this.

For automated campaigns, add a ‘split’ element wherever you want to A/B test. You’re able to split test the subject line, content, images, and sender’s name.

MailChimp split testing

MailChimp has a hearty A/B testing feature. We aren’t talking about Ontraport or Klaviyo but they have done an impressive job.

However, your plan determines whether you get access to this feature or not. That’s a bummer. Plus, you can’t A/B test landing pages.

Split testing with MailChimp

With paid plans, you can test up to three versions (subject line, name, content) of your campaign. The premium plan gives you the ability to carry out multivariate testing.

You can test up to 8 variations of the same mail.

Winner: Ontraport. It has a next-level A/B testing feature. You get to A/B test every aspect of your marketing campaign. ActiveCampaign also offers a 5 star A/B testing feature and at more pocket-friendly cost.

eCommerce CRM

Ontraport has a pre-made eCommerce management area that lets you create product listings and integrate them into your email series.

That’s why I said I see it is more of a CRM platform as they literally knocked my socks off with their eCommerce capabilities.

Everything to do with your online store takes place on the Ontraport platform. But you’ll have to outsource a payment gateway for the actual money transfer. So you can get hooked to Stripe or PayPal.

I can confidently say they offer you hustle-free upsells.

Well, Ontraport offers a one-click upsell form for your sales strategy.

If you are an eCommerce owner, I’ll tell you for free that Ontraport is the best in the market especially when you add the reports section in the mix.

It even makes work easy for the tax man when the government knocks on your door. And we can’t forget to mention that you can integrate with Shopify, BigCommerce, WooCommerce, and other eCommerce apps.

Also, you can sign up for the Partner program if you run an affiliate program. It allows your affiliates to login and get their links and promotional assets.

You’re welcome! I know you’ll thank me later.

Reporting and analytics

There is no question that MailChimp is a pretty decent eCommerce platform. I like that they have ready-made eCommerce segments that make it easy to start targeting immediately.

The segments can be based on buying history or campaign activity.

It integrates with big eCommerce names like WooCommerce, BigCommerce, Magento, and their own ShopSync.

These integrations help you get your customer behavior data like cart abandonment, customer purchases, orders, etc.

It makes it easier to create personalized emails like abandoned cart automation and product retargeting emails.

Shopify dumped MailChimp in 2019 taking the level of eCommerce integrations a notch lower. Well, they have ShopSync for makeup but it’s just not the same.

Winner: Ontraport. They offer sales tracking and in-built eCommerce features. They give you granularity and personalization levels like no other. It can comfortably rival Drip and ActiveCampaign eCommerce.

Forms and landing pages

Ontraport has an easy to use drag and drop landing page builder to help you create fully customizable and responsive pages. It’s actually the same one that’s used to create your email templates.

You can opt to create from scratch or use the pre-designed templates. My advice, when you need something up quickly, use the premade templates.

However, if you want to create something classy, start from scratch. You’ll just drag-and-drop blocks that are so many all waiting for you. It’s not even time-consuming.

And for those who want to go hard, there is the custom HTML option for you.

Ontraport landing page templates

Creating forms is also the same process. You’ll be able to create pop-up and exit intent forms, choose how and when they appear on the page.

On MailChimp, all users can access landing page templates. They have not more than 10 templates. The landing pages are pretty basic but that doesn’t mean they’re not sleek.

The templates come with a drag and drop landing page builder that is responsive and easily customizable. You can add text, images, social share buttons, products, promo codes, videos, etc.

But they should improve on the number of landing page templates. Moosend and Mailerlite have quite a selection for a similar price tag. Plus, you can’t add custom HTML to the pages. Or save previous templates for later use.

Winner: Ontraport. It gives you a seamless experience in creating both forms and landing pages. Plus, you get highly customizable, flexible, and functional pages.

Reporting

As awesome as an email marketing platform is, it’s not worth your dime if you don’t get your ROI. You’ll only know this using your reporting and analytic tools.

Of course, we don’t expect ROI the first month, I know practice makes perfect. But you have to track and measure so as to optimize your campaigns.

Ontraport has the Reports under the sales tab on your UI. You’ll be able to see opens, tax, shipping, transaction logs, customer value, subscriptions, and many more.

If you want to take a deep dive into each email campaign, go to the specific campaign, and check insights. You’ll see opens, clicks, opt-outs, etc.

Ontraport reports

Oh! They have this cool ‘Performance Mode’ feature that lets you get the performance of your campaign based on the goal you are tracking. And you can also add UTM codes to get deeper insights into your campaigns.

I have to admit that reporting is pretty much complicated on Ontraport and you’ve got to watch or read some tutorials to help you out.

On MailChimp, things are easy peasy.

You can get all industry basic analytics under the campaign tab. The open rate, CTR, unsubscribes, etc. can be viewed at a glance. If you want to dive deeper, check out the results of your email sequence and you’ll be able to get a better insight of the performance.

If all you need are industry baselines, MailChimp has you covered. It’s not as advanced as Ontraport and it’s very easy to use.

Predicted demographics report

I actually liked the ‘Time warp’ feature that allows you to see what time you should send an email in your time-zone for your audience to receive in their time. It’s a great next-level feature.

Winner: Ontraport. You get a state-of-the-art report that shows you even your customer lifetime value calculations. It can actually go head-to-head with say Klaviyo’s detailed reporting. However, if you need it simpler, MailChimp is a pretty decent solution.

Integrations

Integrations are important as they help you see how well your platform will play with others.

Ontraport has fewer integrations compared to its competitors. But thanks to APIs assistants such as Zapier, PieSync, WebMerge, and Apiant, you can add almost any third-party tool.

Ontraport integrations

MailChimp has been in the game longer so we expect it to have tons of integration options.

And other than the Shopify breakup, they have hundreds of native integrations. And Zapier has opened up thousands of other tools for them.

MailChimp integrations

Winner: MailChimp. They have more integrations than you’ll ever need.

Support

With tech, even the best of us need help once in a while.

I have to say I love the Ontraport customer care approach.

They have a live-chat available at all times as you browse the app. You’ll receive answers almost immediately when using the live chat. They also offer email and phone support.

But what got me was the generous self-help toolkit. From Facebook groups to the rich knowledgebase, Ontraport Education training, video series guides like Marketing Automation Masterclass.

Ontraport support

And then they impressed me further. They host an annual Ontraport conference and give you the opportunity to find your email marketing expert to help with your campaigns. It’s so cool!

I look forward to attending this someday.

MailChimp, on the other hand, customer support is a story. More like a fairy tale.

They have several DIY how-to-guides and tutorials for free users. No videos or webinars making it such a bummer for visual learners. As if that’s not bad enough…

No phone, email, or live support for the free account.

But, once you’ve paid up, you get 24/7 chat and email support. Phone support comes with the premium version.

Winner: Ontraport. Hands down. We really can’t compare the two as the difference is like heaven and earth.

Pricing

This is where the rubber meets the road. You can’t pay for what you can’t afford, so, let’s look at what you can roll and dice.

Ontraport has 4 tiers to help you stay on your budget. Okay, it’s more like blowing it because they are pretty much high-end all through. They don’t do free but you’ve got a 14-days free trial. And a 30-days money-back guarantee if they don’t blow your socks off.

They have basic, plus, pro, and enterprise.

Ontraport pricing

To experience the complete Ontraport awesomeness, you’ll need to dish out a whopping $297/month.

MailChimp has room for everyone.

The freebie comes first. It comes with basic templates, one-click automation, but no A/B testing, analytics, and dedicated support. The plus, it’s free for up to 2000 subscribers. Making it a big deal.

Also, they have a pay as you go plan where you can pay credits when you need them instead of buying the entire suite.

MailChimp pricing

Winner: MailChimp. I have to admit for their price tag, they are pretty impressive. If you want something in the same league as Ontraport, give ActiveCampaign a shout.

Conclusion

The ball is now on your court.

I have given you all the pieces you need to make an informed decision.

I’d tell you to use Ontraport if:

  • You have a huge contact list.
  • You need advanced analytics.
  • You need in-built eCommerce features.
  • Customer management and advanced CRM functionalities are vital.
  • You need customer support that’s off the hook.

And choose MailChimp if:

  • You’re a small business or an online marketer big on eCommerce.
  • You need pocket-friendly prices.
  • You are looking for vast networks of integrations, MailChimp is best then.
  • You don’t care about support.
  • You need a wide range of email templates to work with

What’s it going to be?

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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