Ever wondered how Drip Ecommerce CRM really stacks up against Mailchimp? This is a no-holds-barred comparison of two platforms that were both built to help your business boom. But what does that mean, exactly?
It means we aren’t going to add esoteric fluff to this comparison. We won’t plug in weird labels that don’t mean anything to you, fill the page with clunky jargon, and it means we won’t stack the deck in our favor (even though we are the ones putting on this riveting review). We also won’t let this review sit stagnant when either Mailchimp or we reveal new features and functionality.
After all, we want the same thing you do; success for your online business so you can live the life you’ve always wanted. This means helping you pick the ecommerce tools that will help you sell more, even if that’s not us.
This comparison features nine ecommerce email marketing software essentials that should be considered when choosing your next platform. See how Drip and Mailchimp meet each must-have, then make the best decision for your online shop.
1. Plays Nice with Facebook
Us: Drip’s Facebook Custom Audiences integration is one of the slickest automations you could ever want. You can start, stop, or change which of your Facebook ads your customers are seeing based on any actions they take all while staying inside the app—this includes creating new Facebook custom audiences whenever you need to.
Automate which ads your customers are seeing on Facebook while simultaneously sending them a meaningful email campaign all based around things they’re doing, like visiting specific product pages on your website.
If you aren’t sure how to set up your first automated workflows featuring Facebook, the nerds at Drip have already made some for you. We have workflows set up that retarget your customers with Facebook ads, use your Shopify account with Drip and Facebook, and even add or remove customers to different audiences depending on their lifetime value.
You can also connect your Facebook Lead Ads to Drip so when someone submits a form, they can be automatically entered into any campaign or workflow you have set up to nurture them.
Because Drip is all about making sure you have the opportunity to connect with all of your customers—no matter where they’re spending their time—the platform now lets you reach customers beyond the inbox. So if social media like Facebook isn’t one particular customer’s jam, you can now engage with them through multichannel workflows, SMS text messaging, and, heck, even good old-fashioned direct mail.
Mailchimp: Mailchimp works with Facebook, too, but in a different way. Inside of Mailchimp, you can build Facebook ads—including picking your audience and setting your budget—and track how well those ads are doing. This is great for lead generation and building good-lookin’ ads.
You can also add signup forms to your Facebook pages and integrate Facebook Lead Ads with Mailchimp, but you can only do this by connecting the two apps through Zapier, a third-party integration platform. Mailchimp doesn’t have the ability to automate Facebook Custom Audiences, yet, which makes tailoring your retargeting efforts tricky.
Mailchimp also enables you to engage with folks who aren't subscribed to your marketing emails. The difference with Mailchimp, though, is that you don't have the option to not engage with unsubscribed people and, therefore, not pay for them. Your monthly Mailchimp bill will reflect the total number of people in your audiences whether you're taking advantage of this feature or not.
Winner: While a close call, the ability to seamlessly add customers to custom audiences automatically gives Drip the edge here. This functionality makes tactics like upselling and cross-selling on Facebook super easy and time-free. Plus, Drip gives you the option to not engage with unsubscribed people, which means you don't have to pay for them.
2. Automation Capabilities
Us: It’s tough to compete with us in the automation ring. We were born from a simple automation rule (if lead signs up on an opt-in widget, then lead is added to an email list) and have been setting the standard for what ecommerce marketing automation can do ever since.
You can create simple one-step if-this-then-that rules inside of Drip, as well as campaigns and workflows that automatically move customers along their journeys. With all of the apps that integrate with Drip, your customers can trigger a vast range of automations with virtually any action they take on the web.
Automations can be triggered by a seemingly endless number of actions people take inside of Drip or your other integrations. What’s more is you can start and stop automations based on what milestones people reach, such as making a purchase.
For example, make rules like “if someone buys something, tag them with ‘Customer,’” or “if someone views the sunglasses page three times, send them the sunglasses coupon code email.” Ya know, automations that help you understand your customers and engage with them when it matters most.
Mailchimp: Automations inside of Mailchimp are found within email “campaigns” and can be triggered from a variety of behaviors. However, actions that trigger an automation are more limited than inside of Drip—you have roughly 25 triggers you can choose inside Mailchimp.
Prescriptive triggers like this are best for very simple automations, such as “if Person X opens Email 1, then send Person X Email 2.”
Winner: If you’re looking for a basic automation tool (think autoresponder, cart abandonment email, or multi-day email sequence), Mailchimp fits the bill. If you’re looking for a deeper variety of automations, like rules and workflows, with a deeper variety of triggers and actions especially good for growing online shops, you’ll want Drip.
3. Visual Builder
Us: We want the experience to be as fluid as if you were mapping out your ideas on a piece of paper or taking things to the whiteboard.
Distinctive colors identifying things like delays, triggers, and goals make up your workflows, which makes them easy to follow. Workflows can be as simple or as sprawling as you need, but with a clean and user-friendly interface, you won’t have to worry about retracing your steps again and again.
Mailchimp: This builder is visual in the way that you can scroll through it like a clean timeline, but it could get murky if you’re trying to follow different paths someone could take. Each portion of the builder has a nice text description telling the user what triggers each step in a workflow, who it affects, and what the action being taken is. Odds are you would have to still take pencil to paper and draw out each customer journey to see where your customers end up at the end of it all though.
Winner: It depends what your goals are—simple customer funnels or bigger workflows with more steps and goals. If you’re building a workflow such as “Trigger > Send email > wait 1 day > Send Email 2,” Mailchimp will work. Drip wins, though, when your marketing strategy is ready to stretch beyond basic funnels.
4. Individual Customer Journeys
Us: Drip is constantly working to make each customer journey as clear to you as possible. By doing this, you can rest assured you aren’t making big decisions on a whim, but instead you have lots of collective data telling you what your customers typically are doing.
Lead Scoring, visual customer timelines, segmenting by “# of clicks over X amount of time,” and more are all features you can use to identify your most engaged customers (and your least engaged customers) so you can communicate with them with more meaningful messaging.
And, with Drip’s latest feature—Workflow Split Testing—you can now see exactly which customer experience earns the highest order conversion, the highest revenue, or the most site visits. Test an entire workflow or just bits and pieces to see which strategies work best with your customers.
Mailchimp: Similarly, Mailchimp also has a system that will tell you a customer’s purchase intent. Mailchimp uses a system called Contact Ratings; a five-star scale that shows you how engaged someone is (with five stars identifying your most engaged leads). Mailchimp decides which behaviors are worth with its own formula, then it averages the score behind the scenes to create the star rating for that person.
For example, opening an email might be worth one star and filling out a Lead Ad might be worth three stars. If Person X took those two actions, they’d be a two-star lead.
Winner: If you really want to understand what your customers are doing, where they came from, what their LTV is, and more, Drip wins.
5. Segmentation Capabilities
Us: Drip’s people-centric segmentation is based on tags. We understand that each person has a unique experience—everyone comes from different sources, takes different actions, and is interested in different things. While tags aren’t unique to just Drip (other online marketing platforms also use tags), the level of automation you can achieve using tags is.
Because every person comes from different sources, takes different actions, and is interested in different things, personalized communications should be at the very top of your ecommerce business’ plan. Applying tags that identify unique actions and journeys to each customer makes it possible to make segments that are as niche or broad as you want for each broadcast email, workflow, or campaign. Tag everyone based on names, dates, custom fields, any action they take, and beyond so that you can make personalized communications for them that actually mean something.
And, to take segments to a whole new level, Drip’s latest Shopper Activity API hooks up to any ecommerce platform and makes it possible to segment, automate, and email based on shopper activity. Segment people based on items and brands purchased, add product details and images to cart abandonment emails, trigger automations based on items ordered, and more.
Mailchimp: Segmentation in Mailchimp is based on audiences (previously known as lists). This means that you can create an audience for each segment of people you want. For example, Audience A might include people who have started a workflow for customers and Audience B might include people who live within 25 miles of your brick-and-mortar shop.
If you want to send an email to everyone in both audiences, you run the risk of getting charged twice for each person who happens to be in both segments. If you need audiences of segments that stay completely separate, then this arrangement will work for you (like if you have a couple accounts you’re running email marketing for and need to keep people apart). But if you need to blend people in your audiences, you run the risk of paying more than once to send one email to two lists of segments.
Winner: Drip takes it here, too. Audience-based platforms are OK when you don’t have a critical need for segmentation. But if you really want to speak to your customers on a deeply personal level, you’re going to want to get as specific (and segmented) as possible with everything from emails to landing pages to Facebook ads. Plus, you avert the whole “pay twice for one email” issue.
6. Fit Your Stack
Us: Drip is proud of integrating natively with nearly 100 other online marketing tools (and counting) with even more possibilities through tools like Zapier. With deeper integrations across your entire marketing stack, you’re able to automate practically every part of your marketing. We're especially proud of our native Shopify Integration. With one-click historical integration sync, Guided Workflows, and comprehensive revenue dashboards, Drip's Shopify integration is one of the (if not the) best-in-class.
Know when someone hops into a webinar, finishes an online class, downloads an ebook, or buys a product, and automatically react with the right message at the right time. Trigger meaningful workflows and campaigns by actions people take in any integrated tool.
Mailchimp: Mailchimp’s integration library has hundreds of tools on the roster (it’s a tall stack). Some are native integrations with Mailchimp, and others are made possible through third-party platforms like Zapier or PieSync.
However, one recent Mailchimp bummer is that it no longer integrates directly with one of the biggest ecommerce platforms today: Shopify. If you’re looking to connect the two accounts, you’ll have to go through a third-party app.
Winner: Mailchimp has been around basically since the dawn of the internet, so their integration options stretch seriously far and wide. But with their Shopify Integration newly no longer available, Mailchimp's match with ecommerce store owners has come into serious question. Because of that, Drip has the edge here.
7. Ease of Implementation
Us: The time from the moment you sign up to the moment you start sending with Drip won't be long at all, and anyone should be able to easily implement Drip on day one.
However, we also realize some of our customers might be coming with a ton of existing data, automations, and more from their past platforms. If that's the case and you'd like a hand in making the move over to Drip, we're more than happy to help.
Our ECRM customer success team is at the helm to help you find out what additional service you might need to get you set up and sending quickly and smoothly. Your solutions discovery and one-on-one consultation time with Drip is always flexible, so we can work together on whatever you need at the time. Whether you need help with training, reviewing and optimizing your automations, recreating workflows, and beyond, we have a success plan for you.
Like we said, you can do all of this on your own if you’d like, and if at any time you hit a snag or have a question, feel free to chat with our support team (live chat available 7 am – 7 pm CT, Mon. - Fri.).
Mailchimp: You can import your list into Mailchimp from any integrated service you’re using. They have a handy guide to importing contacts from a variety of other services, so you’ll know exactly what to do and where to click, which is a nice reference if you’re doing this on your own.
You can also import custom HTML templates so you won’t have to reinvent the mousetrap when you move over. Need help migrating lists to Mailchimp? If you’re looking for a helping hand as you migrate, you can choose from a pool of Mailchimp experts, ranging from agencies to solo freelancers, that you can hire during your transition.
Winner: I’d say this is a tie. Both Drip and Mailchimp are willing to help you out and provide resources if you’re willing to DIY. However, if you already have workflows built in your current platform, odds are good they won’t translate well in Mailchimp.
8. Is It Built for Humans?
Us: SaaS platforms are useless to you if they’re impossible to navigate. Technology shouldn’t be overly complicated. It’s here to help us, the humans, and it only makes sense that it should be as intuitive as possible.
Drip is entirely built with the busy online marketer in mind, which is why our platform makes it possible to do things like create automations, segment people, or build campaigns in as few clicks as possible. Plus, our visual workflow builder is the easiest way to see where you’re guiding your customers in a glance.
The color-coded visual workflow builder is the easiest way to see where you’re guiding your customers, and the point-and-click email builder makes creating bold and image-driven emails simple.
And, when it comes to getting personal, Drip makes it easy to add personalized, dynamic content that automatically adapts to each customer. From top-selling products in your store, to product recommendations and price-drop notifications, this is automated messaging at its finest.
You can always hop into the app and give it a test drive with our free 14-day trial. Try how it feels to navigate and build inside the app to see if it fits your taste.
Mailchimp: Despite its focus on a fuzzy chimp, one of the most pleasing aspects of Mailchimp is how human it is. The company recently shifted from being primarily focused on email to now being a sort of all-in-one marketing platform, further expanding its humanness.
In many cases, your next step is clear and concise. However, things start to get a little foggy when it comes to building automations. Like I mentioned before, the more complex an automation gets, the more confusing it becomes to follow the user journey. Building campaigns relies on text instead of a visual builder, which makes it tough to follow.
But where it lacks in automation intuitiveness, it makes up for with it’s easy-to-use drag-and-drop email builder and friendly pre-made templates.
Winner: Both Mailchimp and Drip have clutter-free navigations, easy-to-understand email creators, and a friendly environment throughout the whole app. If you want a very human way to map and build customer workflows, though, Drip wins.
9. Workflows You Can Set Goals In
Us: One of our favorite features inside of Drip’s automated workflows is goals. A goal is exactly as it sounds — the specific milestone you want your customer to hit when they’re in a workflow.
If they enter a lead nurturing workflow, your goal might be a conversion. Or if they enter a cart abandonment workflow, you might have a goal of “Made a purchase.” When your customer hits these goals, they’re automatically moved forward in your workflow.
This prevents your customer from receiving unnecessary emails in your workflow. For example, they won’t continue receiving emails urging them to revisit their shopping cart even after they bought everything that was in it. This saves you a bunch of unnecessary email sends and it saves your customer from angrily muttering, “I already bought that!” as they scroll through their inbox.
Mailchimp: Mailchimp has a “goals” plugin that can be downloaded. Their version of a goal tracks which pages of a website someone visits so that you can trigger an automation based on that activity.
For example, if someone visits a specific product page with the goal code installed on it, that could trigger an automation that would send them an email about that product (or whatever action you’d want to happen when someone hits that goal). This is different from Drip as the goals won’t stop a campaign once a milestone has been hit, but it is a great way to trigger relevant campaigns in Mailchimp.
Winner: Being able to set a goal in a workflow that saves your customers from getting redundant emails could be the difference between a great customer experience and an annoying one. Drip takes the cake.
Mailchimp vs. Drip: The Verdict
In the end, both Drip and Mailchimp at least touch on each of these nine email marketing necessities, but one probably aligns closer to your ecommerce needs right now.
Where Mailchimp wins: If your business is in a place where you want to stick to sending out one-time broadcast emails to audiences of people, or if you really only need to automate as far as one- or two-step campaigns, then Mailchimp is a safe bet for you.
Where Drip wins: If you’re looking for a more robust automation platform, Drip outperforms Mailchimp. The visual workflow builder makes it easier to see where customers are headed, plus there is virtually no end to the number of triggers you can set up that send users into campaigns and workflows.
Drip also has the edge when it comes to its integrations with Facebook Custom Audiences. In addition to generating leads with forms in Facebook Lead Ads, the integration with Custom Audiences offers so many options when it comes to triggering workflows and rules, and retargeting customers with Facebook Ads.
Where both Mailchimp and Drip win: Both of these email marketing softwares check the boxes for working with your marketing stack, playing nicely with Facebook when it comes to lead generation, and speaking in a language you totally understand.
Either platform will be able to send people a timely email, but in order to pick which one fits your bill, take a close look at the level of automation your business is going to need to succeed in the future.
Want to save this checklist of nine ecommerce essentials as you continue on your journey of exploring Drip or Mailchimp alternatives? Download the whole thing here and reference for as long as you need.
Or if you’re ready to try Drip and see how close you can get to your customers, let’s get started.