If you’re looking at email marketing solutions and are wondering where to start, this is my opinion on Free Mailchimp vs Mailerlite and why I think the latter is the better option if you are a small business just starting to build a list.

Mailchimp Changes

Earlier this year Mailchimp took the decision to change the structure of it’s plans as it moves into providing a full service marketing platform.

This was met with a lot of criticism from loyal users (including me!). I used to recommend Mailchimp to all small business owners who were just starting out. It had tons of features that you could use for free while you were starting to grow your list and was *relatively* easy to use.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure that the paid account will be worth it and I’m excited to see it integrate across marketing channels. But this is hugely frustrating to the small business owner who has enjoyed so many free features for so long.

This is what it means.

Current Mailchimp Customers

If you were a current user of the platform before the changes then you got moved onto the legacy plan. This meant that if you were on the free plan then you got to keep some of your existing features but were limited by what you could add. You can’t add any more audiences unless you upgrade and you can’t add any new multistep automations (there are of course work arounds for this – keep an eye out for another post I’ll be doing to show you how). The plan is still free up to 2000 contacts however.

New Mailchimp Customers

Rather annoyingly, I have noticed with a few of my clients that have new Mailchimp accounts, that you can no longer schedule emails. You can no longer set up multistep automations (so more than one email in a sequence). This makes it very restrictive and it frustrating for the user. Of course these features are available if you pay the minimum $14.99 per month (even the “Essentials” account which costs $9.99 per month is quite restrictive).

*I’m not against paying for a service by the way. I just like to be able to recommend services that my clients can try out until they are ready to pay. I have been super grateful for the free functionality Mailchimp has offered over the years.

The Alternative

This has prompted me to look for alternatives for my clients. If you’re a business just starting out and just starting to build your list, you may not want or need the expense of an all singing, all dancing email automation platform just yet.

This is where Mailerlite comes in. I have to say it’s a great option for a lightweight email automation tool.

Here’s why:

  • It’s free up to 1000 subscribers (sending 12,000 emails per month)
  • It has an easy to use drag and drop email editor
  • You can schedule emails
  • You can set up email automation
  • You can split test content
  • It has a built in image editor
  • It has a great selection of templates
  • Templates are mobile friendly
  • You can create sign up forms, landing pages and pop ups
  • It includes advanced segmentation
  • You can tag subscribers

To learn more about Mailerlite click here.

My Recommendations

If you are a current free Mailchimp customer, you signed up before the changes, you are happy with the features and you have less than 2000 on your list then I’d stay put for now if you’re only send out a basic weekly emails. You won’t see many changes unless you try to set up a new list or automation.

If you set up a Mailchimp account after they made the changes and feel restricted by what you can do and you’re not ready to pay, move to Mailerlite. Mailerlite have the functionality to move subscribers across quickly and easily. Read my tutorial here.

If you’re just starting out and are undecided whether to choose Mailerlite or Mailchimp. My advice would be to go with Mailerlite. You get so many more free features than you do if you join Mailchimp. It’s a shame because despite how un-user friendly it is I have loved working in Mailchimp over the past 5 years.


So Mailchimp Free vs Mailerlite. Who wins it for you? Let me know in the comments below.