One of the best ways to reach out and engage different audiences online is via email newsletters.
Substack and Mailchimp are notable online platforms that can help you create professional emails to engage your audience. However, both platforms have similar and dissimilar features. Plus, you have to make a choice between them.
In this Substack vs Mailchimp comparison, we will be comparing both platforms, and in the end, show you the better option.
Substack is an online platform that enables writers to create email newsletters, send them directly to subscribers and make money from subscriptions. It is one of the popular online tools for starting and growing a subscription publication.
This email marketing tool provides designing, publishing, and payment features that provide support to writers.
Its numerous features allow users to create engaging and professional email newsletters that are sure to keep customers wanting more.
It provides opportunities for writers that engage in podcasts, comic creation, local news, finance, technology, food, politics, culture, sports, etc.
Mailchimp is a popular email marketing tool with marketing automation functionalities that helps users engage their customers. It is a suitable email marketing tool for bloggers and enterprise users alike.
It helps users to create emails, postcards, ads, landing pages, and other messages to reach the right audience.
Mailchimp provides insight and analytics tools to help track data and see which method is working best.
It also provides design tools and flexible templates and allows for generating custom designs. Mailchimp has a mobile app that is available for download to users, irrespective of your preferred pricing plan.
To get started with Substack, visit the Substack official website.
From the home page, you can click on the ‘Start Writing’ menu.
Then you will be redirected to a ‘Get Started’ page, where you can decide whether to ‘Connect on Twitter’ with writers or ‘Skip’ to create an account for free.
To sign up requires that you input your email address and a preferred name.
Substack doesn’t require that you download or install any software. Besides, Substack is a cloud-based application.
To grow your subscribers, there is no option available to promote your newsletter on Substack, but you get to promote them on other social media platforms by yourself.
This makes it kind of relatively complex for writers to earn as soon as they sign up as a paid publisher.
Starting up is easy, you have to first visit the Mailchimp official website, and then click on Sign Up.
Afterward, you will need to provide your email address, preferred username, and password.
Signing up is free and you don’t need to subscribe to a paid plan right away.
With the free plan, you get to enjoy email automation, marketing platforms, audience features for up to 2,000 contacts, branding tools, creative assistance, and email support.
Subscribing to a paid plan depends on the features you require as the different prices determine the more features you get to enjoy.
It is relatively easy to get started with either Substack or Mailchimp. So, it is a draw for this round.
Substack is user-friendly and has a simple and minimal interface which makes it ideal for both non-tech-savvy and experienced users.
Nevertheless, its content editor is geared towards authors. Therefore, users can quickly create new posts or email newsletters, add images, etc. However, users cannot directly edit their email’s HTML version.
Unlike Substack, Mailchimp has an intuitive user interface. Although it combines email marketing with other automation features, however, Mailchimp does not require technical guidance to use.
Additionally, once you’ve logged in to your Mailchimp account, you can access its major features using minimal clicks from the menu bar on the left.
With Mailchimp, you can set up both minimal and automated email newsletters for your audience without issues.
Although both MailChimp and Substack have user-friendly interfaces, Mailchimp takes the upper hand due to its automation process. Hence, MailChimp is the winner of the category.
Substack does not provide users with diverse templates for creating email newsletters. In fact, email newsletters sent to subscribers have the same simple structure.
Fortunately, Substack allows users to customize their newsletter theme i.e. the appearance of their newsletters. That way, users can modify their newsletter color and typography to reflect their branding.
With Mailchimp, you can either create an email newsletter from scratch or make use of available templates. In fact, Mailchimp incorporates several customizable email templates thereby providing users with flexibility.
By using any of the available email templates, you can maintain the same style settings for all your emails. These templates are highly responsive and can adapt to any type of digital device.
Mailchimp is the winner again in this round because it has multiple email newsletter templates that are highly customizable.
Apart from having limited design customization options, Substack doesn’t have A/B testing functioning. Not to mention, its segmentation option is centered around sending emails to either premium subscribers only or to all subscribers.
Its lack of A/B testing limits the way writers can access data that will help them improve their emails to achieve desired results. They won’t be able to know their audience or re-create their emails to suit and reach their targeted audience.
Mailchimp has an A/B testing feature that lets you create two similar emails, send them, and test them to identify the category of subscribers that are more responsive.
On the other hand, Mailchimp’s A/B testing functionality is available to premium subscribers. It helps you to gain insights that could help create better emails to reach out to a particular audience.
Furthermore, the featured Mailchimp signup forms facilitate the creation of an email list. You also get to add subscribers via your website or social media channels to your email list.
Due to the absence of an A/B testing feature in Substack, Mailchimp is the winner of this Substack vs Mailchimp category.
Having a landing page with Substack is possible, but you get only one landing page, not different landing pages for different purposes.
In fact, Substack limits customization when it comes to landing pages and emails. This is because Substack pages have a similar design with recognizable features.
One of Mailchimp’s major features is the landing page creator. This feature allows you to create landing pages using available templates or by building one from scratch. Regardless of the option that you choose, you get to create a professional landing page with Mailchimp.
You can even add call-to-action buttons. Whether you want your audience to download a media file, participate in a contest, or view a product, you can find a template to meet your needs.
What’s more, you can decide to use your custom domain name for your landing page.
Both Mailchimp and Substack allow users to create a landing page. Nonetheless, Mailchimp takes the winning edge due to its superior landing page templates and customization options.
Substack facilitates email marketing but not email automation, unlike Mailchimp or other email marketing tools.
With Substack, you can create email campaigns that can help boost your subscribers and send them to your website.
Mailchimp offers more email campaign options than Substack. In short, the campaigns can be automated, plain, regular, or A/B testing.
Also, you can set your email campaign on a recurring basis or for a one-time basis. That way, you can create email campaigns that are geared towards your audience, based on your preference.
From campaigns, you can derive results by referring people to your website or to check out a product.
Mailchimp takes another winning edge in this round.
Creating content with Substack is as easy as clicking on ‘Start Writing’ on the website once you’ve logged in.
Writers get to make use of the content management system (CMS) created for publishing email newsletters. This system helps to create professional newsletters, irrespective of the subject.
Although there are limited design templates to choose from, it doesn’t stop writers from being creative with their content.
Whether you are a premium or free Mailchimp user, you get to enjoy its ‘Creative Assistant’ feature. This feature simplifies the content creation process as you can take advantage of the templates available to create your unique content.
If you don’t want to use the templates, you can customize your content. With the Creative Assistant, you generate designs that suit you instead of using an existing one.
Interestingly, you get to include images, gifs, social media handles, and posts within your content. You can even create a logo that suits your brand and include it as well.
For this round, Substack takes the win because it is more ideal for creating blog posts.
Automation allows writers to share old stories with new subscribers as though it was new without hassles after set up.
Unfortunately, Substack doesn’t have automation features. This implies that you can’t automatically send emails based on user triggers or behaviors.
Nevertheless, Substack allows users to write and send content whenever they want but doesn’t save those write-ups for references. You can’t send content to a different category of subscribers at different times even when offline.
MailChimp is notable for being a no-code tool for email automation. It helps you to send emails to customized subscribers and select the specific time for email delivery.
Whether you are online or offline, irrespective of the email type, you can rely on Mailchimp for automated email delivery.
You get to also set rules that are to guide its actions like ‘if-then’ actions. You can make subscribers take certain actions by integrating third-party platforms.
In terms of automation, it is obvious that Mailchimp is the winner of this Mailchimp vs Substack round.
Substack does not have an insights tool for monitoring your content activity. Likewise, Substack does not incorporate an analytics tool that provides an overview regarding subscribers’ names and details, which can be used for better marketing.
This limits users’ ability to know how an email is performing or better ways to improve their email marketing strategies. Substack is more geared toward enabling users to manage email newsletters.
As a reliable email marketing platform, MailChimp incorporates insight and analytic functionalities, unlike Substack.
Its insights also provide you with actionable recommendations that can be a guide when writing subsequent email campaigns.
With its analytics tools, you can track your email automation activity. You get to know the number of new subscribers, how many took action, sales you’ve made, the statistics of engagement, and more.
Substack has limited third-party integrations that can facilitate an expanded experience. However, it integrates with Stripe integration for easy subscription payments.
Although Substack is free, writers only get about 90 percent of their subscription earnings.
Nevertheless, you can add social media profiles, Google Analytics tracking ID, and customize your Substack sub-domain name.
Mailchimp seamlessly integrates with over 250 third-party applications. Apps like Zendesk Activity, LiveChat, and SimpleTexting are among third-party applications that integrate with Mailchimp.
For analytical data, Mailchimp integrates with platforms like SurveyMonkey, Formstack, and Typeform.
You don’t have to worry about improving social media marketing because Mailchimp integrates with Vimeo, Facebook, and LinkedIn.
Other integrations include Stripe, Squarespace, Shopify, Drupal, WordPress, Mixpanel, and Firebase.
While Substack has limited third-party integrations, Mailchimp synchronizes with over 250 applications. So, the winner for this round is Mailchimp.
The fastest way to reach the Substack support team is by opening a support ticket. The response is typically received within four to eight hours.
Additionally, writers can get quick support with issues related to publishing, payments, strategies, etc. through the Substack help center, FAQ, blog posts, and top social media platforms.
You can get helpful writer resources from their Resource Center which is ideal for both newbies and experienced Substack members.
Mailchimp has a dependable customer support team that can be reached by filling their contact form.
Apart from email support, Mailchimp also facilitates community support for developers and freelancers alike. That way, you can contact a MailChimp expert to resolve technical issues.
If you ever get stuck regarding any issue on the platform, you can ask the Helpbot located at the lower right. Alternatively, you can use the review guides and tutorials for self-help.
However, getting support on Mailchimp depends entirely on your subscription plan. Take, for instance, the Essentials Plan users get to chat and email support, while Premium Plan users get phone and priority support.
Both Mailchimp and Substack offer dependable customer support and resources. However, Mailchimp offers support based on the subscription plan. Nevertheless, the winner for this round is Substack.
For starters, Substack is available for free, irrespective of your subscribers.
However, if you add a premium subscription to your newsletters and start earning, Substack will then charge about 10 percent from your earnings.
Likewise, since payment is done through Stripe, it charges 2.9% of your billing rate and 30 cents per transaction.
Mailchimp has different pricing plans which are divided into the following categories: Marketing Platform, Website & eCommerce, and Transactional Email.
This category has four pricing plans, which include:
- Free – $0/month
- Essentials – $9.99/month based on 500 contacts
- Standard – $14.99/month based on 500 contacts
- Premium – $299/month based on 10,000 contacts
Website & eCommerce
This category has three pricing plans, including:
- Free – $0/month
- Core – $10/month
- Plus – $29/month
This plan has a free trial and its pricing is based on blocks.
Below are the blocks, emails per month, and price per blocks;
- 1 to 20 blocks – 1 to 500k emails – $20/block
- 21 to 40 blocks – 500k to 1M emails – $18/block
- 41 to 80 blocks – 1M to 2M emails – $16/block
- 81 to 120 blocks – 2M to 3M emails – $14/block
- 121 to 160 blocks – 3M to 4M emails – $12/block
- 161+ blocks – 4M+ emails – $10/block
- Substack is easy to use and ideal for both newbies and tech-savvy users.
- It is free and only 10 percent is charged on premium subscription earnings.
- It offers customization of domain with users name for free.
- Publications can be free or monetized.
- A preferred domain name can be used instead of a customized option.
- There are no insights or analytics tools to help provide recommendations on improving newsletters.
- Limited monetization options.
- Its features are limited to only newsletter email creation and delivery.
- Lack of email automation functionality.
- Limited third-party integrations.
- It has both free and premium plans.
- Easy to use email marketing platform
- Quick email campaign creation process
- Insights and analytics tool with actionable recommendations
- Customizable email newsletter templates
- Several third-party integrations
- Helpful customer support and resources
- Premium plans are pricey.
- Emails can’t be converted into a blog.
- Both Substack and MailChimp are easy to use.
- Quick and fast onboarding process.
- They both have a user-friendly and easy-to-use interface.
- They both provide landing pages.
- Both MailChimp and Substack allow users to create professional email newsletters.
- They both provide reliable customer support.
- Substack is a free platform although they charge for running paid subscriptions, while Mailchimp has both free and paid subscriptions.
- Substack is ideal only for bloggers, freelancers, podcasters, media houses, and creatives, while Mailchimp is suitable for all kinds of users whether freelancers, small business owners, or large enterprises.
- Unlike Substack, Mailchimp has A/B testing functionality.
- With Substack, you only get one landing page with limited customization options. However, Mailchimp provides users with several templates for designing different landing pages.
- You can’t automate email newsletters using triggers with Substack, unlike Mailchimp that incorporates automation functionalities.
- Mailchimp provides insights and analytics tools while Substack does not.
- Substack has limited third-party integrations, while Mailchimp has several integrations to meet users’ different needs.
- Mailchimp provides phone and priority support to its Premium Plan users, unlike Substack that does not offer phone support.
- Mailchimp offers a better email campaign creation process than Substack.
- Unlike Substack, Mailchimp has a mobile app for managing email newsletters.
Based on this comparison, it is evident that Mailchimp is a better option than Substack due to its superior features, marketing automation, diverse third-party integrations, and helpful customer resources.
Apart from its free pricing plan, Mailchimp has affordable pricing depending on the number of your email subscribers.
Also, MailChimp is ideal for writers or bloggers alike, just like Substack.
Tom loves to write on technology, e-commerce & internet marketing. I started my first e-commerce company in college, designing and selling t-shirts for my campus bar crawl using print-on-demand. Having successfully established multiple 6 & 7-figure e-commerce businesses (in women’s fashion and hiking gear), I think I can share a tip or 2 to help you succeed.