Most people launching a Shopify e-commerce store start out on MailChimp, the trusted, proven leader in the email marketing space with nearly 48% market share.
It has simple-to-implement connections to the major e-commerce platforms, the essential features a small business needs, and offers a free starter plan, which makes the decision especially easy.
This was my situation when our e-commerce business launched: our list was small, so MailChimp had us at “free”. We continued happily with Mailchimp for several years, even after graduating to a paid account.
However, as our subscribers and business grew, we started to look more closely at our customers and realized that we really had three audience segments that we were marketing to, but we didn’t have the systems in place to target them distinctly.
I looked at addressing this using MailChimp, but I concluded that its limitations around segmentation and automation triggers were going to be insurmountable.
It was about this time that I started noticing references to Klaviyo pop-up on e-commerce forums and it seemed to be used by a number of stores that were generating serious income.
Unlike MailChimp, which is a general email marketing platform with some e-commerce features, Klaviyo’s platform is designed specifically for e-commerce.
After running through the features with a salesperson and negotiating a discount that took into consideration that we had two distinct stores (USA and Canada).
Many appreciate the simplicity of Mailchimp’s design interface for authoring emails. Klaviyo’s is very similar, with drag-and-drop blocks allowing you to build great-looking responsive emails.
While MailChimp has erred on the idea of simplicity, Klaviyo has struck a balance, with options to add Google font choices, and more flexibility around adding more than 2 columns to design blocks.
As your email design chops improve, you may come to appreciate this additional flexibility, as I have.
Analytics in MailChimp are deceivingly robust. Elegant charts and graphs offer global, list level insight but also allow you to drill down into each campaign or user.
However Klaviyo allows you to get all of the same information, but due to the structure and increased complexity of segmentation features, it doesn’t offer the same kind of global Insights.
Instead, you can drill down into each list or segment to get insights into how they each performed. At the individual user level, Klaviyo allows you to see both email and website interactions, which MailChimp does not offer. It also makes it possible to gather very granular insights, such as the value of a specific form, that MailChimp doesn’t.
Both MailChimp and Klaviyo offer chat or email but no phone support. Chat can be tedious when going back while troubleshooting a complex problem, email is only tenable for general questions.
There will be times with both that you will wish you could just pick up the phone and have a 5-minute conversation to get your question resolved.
One of the key differences between MailChimp and Klaviyo is the way Lists are handled. In MailChimp, you should only have one list per website, then use groups and/or tags to further segment your subscribers.
Having a subscriber on more than one list will result in it counting twice towards your subscription count and lists cannot really be combined to create further segmentation.
In Klaviyo, you are charged by the number profiles in your account, so an individual profile could be on more than one list, and multiple lists could be combined into a segment.
Overall, Klaviyo’s structure gives you much more flexibility on how you can organize, segment and filter subscribers, allowing you to add custom properties and use detailed interaction data from Shopify, such as which products a user has viewed.
Like MailChimp, Klaviyo Pulls all of your customer, purchase, and product data into the platform, allowing nearly seamless integration with Shopify (it also integrates with other e-commerce platforms also – but I haven’t used it with those).
You can set up conditional logic based on purchases of specific collections, individual products and a host of other variables related to e-commerce and browsing activity, such as which product a user viewed. Mailchimp does this to a certain extent, but Klaviyo allows you to do this on a much more granular level.
Flows are essentially the same thing as email marketing automations in Mailchimp, allowing you to design a sequence of email communications to subscribers based on trigger actions, such as form submissions, email opens, link clicks and on-site activities like purchases adds to cart or even visits to a specific page.
While MailChimp allows you to accomplish many of these same automations, Klaviyo’s emphasis on segmentation makes it easier to drill down with your flows and design hyper-targeted responses to subscriber actions. In addition, there is now a visual flow builder in Klaviyo that allows you to define the timing and conditions you add to emails in a more elegant fashion than MailChimp.
Klaviyo also offers a number of predesigned triggers and flows that you can customize with your own branding, allow you to get a quick start with some of the foundational autoresponders like abandoned cart, and welcome sequences.
MailChimp and Klaviyo both charge by the number of active subscribers, though, as previously stated, Mailchimp will charge you twice for a subscriber if they are on 2 lists within the same account. Klaviyo’s and Mailchimp’s sliding scales are each unique so the price differential varies at different subscriber levels but here is a quick sampling:
So, you are probably looking at an increase of 2-4 times what you are paying for Mailchimp. However, when compared with other channels, email is still highly cost-effective and, if used effectively, this additional cost can easily be justified.
We have personally seen a 600% rise in the value of our email channel since implementing Klaviyo, but this was also a result of investing a significant amount of time in setting up the various segments and flows.
I am pretty well versed in both platforms and have even created a course on using Mailchimp for e-commerce email marketing.
I would still recommend Mailchimp for a young business that’s just getting its feet wet with segmentation and automation.
However, once you’ve grown beyond 10,000 subscribers and 6 figures in sales, you may be looking for something more powerful to drive additional revenue from your email channel. As long as you have the time to invest, Klaviyo is a great tool for upping your email marketing game.
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