MailerLite vs. ConvertKit: Which should you choose?

MailerLite vs. ConvertKit: Which should you choose?

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Email marketing tools usually come in one of two flavors: small business or enterprise. 

MailerLite falls in the small business bucket. But ConvertKit, which is specifically built for online creators, is an exception. Its narrow focus allows ConvertKit to populate its platform with creator-focused features you can’t find anywhere else. Even so, there’s enough overlap between MailerLite and ConvertKit that it can be hard to decide between them.

I’ve used MailerLite for years and have tested ConvertKit extensively. I spent more time in each app to compare them head to head, and here, I’ll break down the pros and cons of each platform to help you decide which is best for you.

MailerLite vs. ConvertKit at a glance

Here’s a quick rundown of the difference between these two tools:

  • MailerLite is best for small businesses on a budget, and it comes with an excellent free plan for anyone just getting started. It’s easy to use but still powerful, and offers compelling design, automation, and analytics features.

  • ConvertKit is designed for solo creators like authors, bloggers, coaches, course creators, musicians, newsletter creators, podcasters, and YouTubers. If you’re aiming to grow and monetize your audience, you’ll find an impressive set of tools to help.

MailerLite

ConvertKit

Ease of use

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Easy-to-use design features, templates, and automation workflows make email marketing simple.

⭐⭐⭐⭐ No drag-and-drop design, but otherwise intuitive; reusable blocks make it faster to design emails.

Segmentation

⭐⭐⭐ Multiple subscriber lists make organization easy, but it doesn’t offer ConvertKit’s flexibility or power.

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Intuitive tagging and segmentation features allow hyper-targeted campaigns.

Automation

⭐⭐⭐ Automations are included for users of the free plan. Visual automation builder is capable, but it can be overkill for simpler automation needs.

⭐⭐⭐⭐ Automations in ConvertKit are quick to set up—with user-friendly features like “if this, then that” rules—and the visual automation builder creates powerful workflows.

Audience growth and monetization

⭐⭐ No built-in newsletter growth tools and weak monetization capabilities.

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Built-in recommendation engine for growth; easy to sell digital products and get sponsorships.

Analytics

⭐⭐⭐⭐ Only the essentials, but an excellent user interface embeds analytics where you most need them.

⭐⭐⭐ Decent enough for most users, though not particularly in-depth; optional deliverability reporting add-on.

Pricing

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ A full-featured “forever free” plan; affordable paid plans are accessible for small businesses.

⭐⭐⭐⭐ Excellent free plan; ConvertKit’s paid plans, while good value, are around 2x pricer than MailerLite.

Integrations

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ 140+ native integrations; also integrates with Zapier.

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ 120+ native integrations; also integrates with Zapier.

MailerLite is incredibly easy to use

Core to the MailerLite team’s philosophy is an approach that “removes complexity while still offering advanced features.” This minimalist approach works wonders from a user experience perspective: navigating MailerLite is easy, all features are where you expect they’ll be, and the product’s learning curve is short. Whether you’re crafting automations or reviewing your analytics, MailerLite’s user interface is always intuitive.

Start to design an email, for example, and you’re presented with a drag-and-drop interface that will be familiar to anyone who’s used popular tools like Squarespace or WordPress.

MailerLite's email builder

MailerLite makes it simple to design emails from scratch, but most users will opt for one of its 70 email templates. A few basic AI features, like a text generator and subject generator, can also speed up the email writing process by helping you break through writer’s block.

ConvertKit is nearly as straightforward as MailerLite, especially if you’re part of its target audience: its email templates and pre-built automations are fine-tuned for creator-specific needs. And innovative features like Snippets—reusable blocks of content and inline text—help you save time by reusing frequently-used portions of emails. (Snippets are perfect for standardizing the calls-to-action you use across your emails, for example.)

ConvertKit snippets

ConvertKit’s main source of confusion is its email editor, which doesn’t follow the industry standard of drag-and-drop widgets. If you’re coming from nearly any other email editor, you might have moments of confusion like I did. Want to add an image? There’s no image widget on the sidebar; instead, you create a new block and choose image from the dropdown list. 

Meanwhile, email design options are relatively sparse. The basics are there—buttons, various layouts, images—but MailerLite boasts a more impressive set of features, like interactive menus and integrated surveys.

The end result? ConvertKit’s email design process feels a bit more limiting than MailerLite’s, and definitely less customizable. Part of this is intentional: ConvertKit has a strong focus on deliverability and claims a 99.73% deliverability rate. Minimalistic emails help avoid spam filters: a pure text email will have higher deliverability than an email stacked with media and code.

While ConvertKit doesn’t have many templates—15 at current count—they’re all excellent. And ConvertKit’s Marketplace features more designs, many of them free.

ConvertKit template library

ConvertKit’s segmentation features make it easier to organize your audience

ConvertKit replaces the traditional email contact list with tags. Organizing your subscribers using tags is more flexible, and makes it easier and quicker to spin up new, custom segments based on the needs of each email campaign. You can also set up rules to automatically assign tags, such as when a subscriber opens a particular email. This opens the door to hyper-targeted campaigns sent to people who’ve interacted with your content in a specific way.

To send an email to anyone from the U.S. who downloaded my newsletter’s lead magnet, for example, it’s easy to create a segment quickly using the relevant tags.

Editing a segment in ConvertKit

MailerLite has a similar tagging feature—called “interest groups”—and theoretically, it lets you do a lot of the same things. But in practice, it’s more complicated. Assigning tags to subscribers automatically, for example, is as simple as adding an “if this, then that” rule in ConvertKit. That same process feels overengineered in MailerLite, where you have to use the visual editor to create a dedicated automation just for that purpose.

Using MailerLite, it’s simple enough to tag subscribers based on their signup source, and create segments that automatically populate with subscribers who meet those conditions. But in general, navigating those features is less flexible and takes more work than in ConvertKit.

Editing a segment in MailerLite

ConvertKit’s automation features are more versatile, but you get automation for free with MailerLite

Both products have powerful email automation features, but ConvertKit comes out ahead—although MailerLite is your only choice if you want automations on the free plan.

MailerLite’s visual automation designer makes it easy to build each step in your workflow, and it includes a few features ConvertKit lacks—namely, multi-trigger workflows and the ability to A/B test the individual emails in your automation.

MailerLite's automation features

Compare it head-to-head with ConvertKit, though, and MailerLite feels sluggish. It’s hampered by the fact that it requires every type of automation to run through the same visual automation builder. The result is that for some tasks—like automatically adding a custom tag, or sending a single welcome email—creating an automation in MailerLite takes longer than it should.

ConvertKit takes a different approach, breaking the task of “automation” into three features:

  • Rules: Simple “if this, then that” rules for actions like tagging subscribers when certain events happen.

  • Sequences: Multiple emails that are sent in order, spaced out with flexible intervals of time. If you’re building a simple email drip campaign, this is all you need.

  • Visual automations: For creating powerful funnels that string together rules, email sequences, triggers, and integrations.

You can create simple ConvertKit automation using Rules in a matter of seconds.

ConvertKit's if this, then that automation features

Creating Sequences in ConvertKit is also refreshingly simple: the tool offers single-window editing, allowing you to create your entire email series without jumping between screens. For more complex workflows, there are 28 thoughtfully-designed automation templates that you’ll love if you’re a creator. Each is focused on real-world scenarios, like “Welcome subscribers to your podcast” and “Pitch your book with a free chapter,” making it easy to get up and running fast.

ConvertKit's automation templates

ConvertKit is designed to help you grow your audience and monetize

ConvertKit’s niched-down audience of creators has enabled the company to focus on innovative features its target audience really cares about. For most users, that means two things: growing faster and making money.

Take audience growth, for example. Newsletter discoverability is a massive challenge: most businesses rely on funneling users from social media or their website to email. But ConvertKit came up with a different solution: the Creator Network, which helps you grow faster by getting referrals from newsletters with similar audiences.

ConvertKit's Creator Network
Image from ConvertKit

Improving your email signup conversion rate is another key way to boost subscribers. Lead magnets can help with this, but rolling out different lead magnets across your site can be a headache. I’ve hacked a solution together on MailerLite, but it’s messy: you have to host lead magnets on your website, move subscribers into groups based on their signup form, and then create a unique automation that delivers the lead magnet. ConvertKit makes this way easier by including an “incentive email” as a feature within its forms, and by hosting and delivering the lead magnet for you.

Monetization is another area where ConvertKit shows serious strength. While MailerLite lets you sell products and run a paid newsletter via a Stripe integration, the execution feels clunky by comparison. If your goal is to make money with your email list, ConvertKit wins by a landslide.

It’s easy to set up digital products and get paid with ConvertKit Commerce, ConvertKit’s all-in-one commerce solution. Plus, an “automatic content upgrades” feature helps nudge users to upgrade from free to paid products.

ConvertKit offers plenty of other ways you can make money, too:

  • Upselling subscribers to a paid newsletter

  • Recommending other newsletters in the ConvertKit Creator Network

  • Adding sponsored ads to your emails, which ConvertKit facilitates with its Sponsor Network

  • Tip jars to give your audience another way to support you

ConvertKit also has a handy potential revenue calculator showing how much you might make with various money-earning features enabled, depending on the size and growth of your email list. (According to the calculator, a list of 10,000 people monetized via premium subscribers, newsletter recommendations, and sponsorships might earn up to $6,000 per month.)

ConvertKit's potential revenue calculator

MailerLite offers more advanced analytics

Neither MailerLite nor ConvertKit are analytics powerhouses, but MailerLite definitely has the edge here. ConvertKit offers a level of analytics that’s decent enough for most users: you can see stats for individual emails, as well as for each email within an automation. And if you upgrade to ConvertKit’s Pro plan, you can get deliverability reporting that shows how many emails are actually reaching their destination.

But generally, it’s pretty basic: you can see your open rate, click rate, which links were clicked, and which subscribers opened your email.

ConvertKit's analytics

ConvertKit could offer much more in terms of data visualization, as MailerLite does with its chart showing at which hour of the day subscribers opened each campaign, or its interactive map showing their location. Little touches like this make MailerLite’s analytics fun to explore, and easier to get useful insights from.

MailerLite's analytics map

MailerLite generates an email heatmap to see where users click, and its analytics also appear contextually where they’re needed to help you make decisions—for example, next to each email in an automation.

MailerLite has a better free plan, and its paid plans offer excellent value

For budget-conscious email senders, MailerLite is a no-brainer. Its “forever free” plan, which covers you until you hit 1,000 subscribers, includes features like email automations and advanced reporting. Meanwhile, its entry level paid plan is $15/month for 1,000 subscribers, while ConvertKit costs $29/month for 1,000 subscribers. For 5,000 subscribers, you’ll pay $39/month for MailerLite and $79/month for ConvertKit.

While ConvertKit isn’t the cheapest option, it offers a ton of value for creators and anyone else who can benefit from its unique monetization and audience growth features. It also has an impressive free plan if your list is under 1,000 subscribers—though you’ll need to upgrade if you want to automate your emails.

Both integrate well with other software

With MailerLite’s 140+ integrations and ConvertKit’s 120+ integrations, it’s easy to connect both of these platforms with other apps. MailerLite has strong integrations with CRMs, eCommerce platforms, and form software, while ConvertKit’s native integrations are tailored more toward creator-centered platforms like Kajabi and Teachable.

Both MailerLite and ConvertKit integrate with Zapier, which means you can also connect them to thousands of other apps. Learn more about how to automate ConvertKit or MailerLite, or get started with one of these pre-made workflows.

Zapier is a no-code automation tool that lets you connect your apps into automated workflows, so that every person and every business can move forward at growth speed. Learn more about how it works.

MailerLite vs. ConvertKit: Which should you choose?

MailerLite and ConvertKit each have their advantages. If you’re not sure which to go with, here are a few suggestions to keep in mind.

Go with ConvertKit if you sell digital products or if you’re a solo creator, like a blogger, author, or course creator. You’ll get newsletter growth and monetization features you can’t find anywhere else, and the platform’s segmentation, automation, and templates are designed to make your life easier.

Choose MailerLite if you run a small business that isn’t focused on digital products. It’s also the best choice for most free users, who get a more full-featured plan up to 1,000 subscribers.

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