I’m often asked by people that are unfamiliar with Infusionsoft if they should pick it, or a simpler software like MailChimp for their email marketing. What these people fail to understand is the magnitude of the differences between these two applications.
Comparing the two is like comparing a tricycle and a Porsche. With MailChimp, you can do very basic email auto-responders, monitor some click throughs, check what is working, and operate it on your mobile device if you’re on the go. It is easy, it looks clean, and it will be reliable for you – to a point. The main factor here is, at which point should you consider Infusionsoft? When you want to move away from the basics and start learning how to handle the big engine and the tons of torque, you might consider switching. With Infusionsoft, you can run your entire business: marketing, email, CRM, online shopping cart, affiliate program, and so much more.
So, with all that said, let me begin by giving you my opinion: Infusionsoft is a game changing application, and, by comparison, MailChimp is just one piece of the overall picture.
If you are just starting out with email marketing, MailChimp is as good a choice as any. In fact, this service is free if you are under 2000 subscribers and 12,000 emails. For a start up looking for an intuitive platform to manage your email marketing, I would recommend it; however, as your business grows, you are going to eventually run into some serious limitations and then, if you decide to change providers, the pain of change can be quite a burden.
In this post, I’m going to compare the two applications as well as to take a deep dive into why I use Infusionsoft over MailChimp.
MailChimp has been designed with a simple goal: broadcasting and automated email follow up.
MailChimp is not a great CRM tool, and they don’t offer a shopping cart or the detailed monitoring systems that Infusionsoft provides. It provides a way to do automated email follow up and simple analysis. It does, however, provide for relatively headache free A/B email campaign testing, as well as a clean mobile service that allows you to create and send email right from your mobile device – the latter a feature that is not yet available in Infusionsoft (A/B email testing is available in Infusionsoft, but it takes a little more work to set up).
MailChimp also offers reports on your traffic which can be synced with Google Analytics, which allows you to do so simple tracking on what your clients are reading and opening (Infusionsoft also offers similar reports). Overall, for email marketing MailChimp works great, but for an integrated service you’ll need to set up other marketing systems.
- Low cost (free for under 2,000 subscribers – scales up for services and subscribers)
- Easy to use mobile app
- Clean and intuitive interface
- Simple analysis and monitoring
- Limited features (little functionality beyond sending emails)
- Limited customization for segmentation and tagging (which I will get into later)
- Usability falls off drastically after a few thousand subscribers
The Biggest Drawback of MailChimp: Multiple System Chaos
MailChimp is a very simple application that does one thing very well – hence the short list of pros and cons. However, I have saved the biggest drawback of MailChimp for last…and that is this: If you use MailChimp, you will suffer from Multiple System Chaos.
As MailChimp only does one thing, you are definitely going to need other systems to handle the other parts of your business that are shown in the image below. Do you really want to have to deal with that? I sure don’t!
Infusionsoft: The Solution to Multiple System Chaos
Comparing MailChimp vs Infusionsoft – two (extremely) different applications – on a feature by feature basis means you’ll completely miss the (very important) bigger picture!
I am a talented marketer, however, I am not the most technical person in the world and couldn’t write a line of code to save my life. For people like me, this means that using multiple systems will either result in lots of manual work (lame!) or the need for developers to write lots of code which can be a huge challenge as it requires a talented developer and a budget to pay for them.
Infusionsoft eliminates the need for multiple systems because not only does it do email marketing, but it is also my CRM system, my online shopping cart, and my affiliate program – all in one. As you are going to see in the remainder of this post, the integration of these 4 pieces is absolutely critical to your success.
Stop and Look at the Big Picture
Before I dive into all the reasons why I am such a fan of Infusionsoft, I’d like to draw your attention to the bigger picture. No matter what type of business you are in, there are some pretty important things that all businesses have in common. These things include:
- Attracting interest
- Capturing leads
- Nurturing prospects
- Converting prospects to customers
- Delivering your product
- Upselling and repeat sales
- Getting referrals
In a nutshell, this 7 step process can be referred to as lifecycle marketing and Infusionsoft has been designed from the ground up to support you in every single step, whereas MailChimp at best will only support you with steps 2 and 3.
Keep reading and I will, by way of example, show you why this is such a big deal.
Here at BrightIdeas.co, we attract interest with our content – which normally consists of blog posts, videos, and podcasts. Neither Infusionsoft or MailChimp really play a part in this step, so, while the concepts are extremely important, for the purposes of this post, we don’t need to talk much about it.
If you would like to learn more about how to attract interest, check out our Lifecycle Marketing Guide.
Capturing leads is generally done with what is called a lead magnet, which most often is a free piece of content that is given away in exchange for someone’s email address.
In my case, the current lead magnet is the Conversion Tactics Toolkit, which is a 4-part video series on how to maximize conversions.
Both Infusionsoft and MailChimp make building a web form (the thing that goes on your website to collect their name and email) pretty darn easy as they both have form building wizards that don’t require any technical skill at all. Just drag and drop form elements until you have a form that looks how you want. Below is a screenshot of a form that I use to begin segmenting my list.
Once you’ve captured a lead, what you do next is going to make a massive difference to your results, and it’s where most people really screw up.
Here’s what most people do: they begin sending the exact same sequence of emails to every single person that subscribes. Bad Dog!!!
I literally cannot stress enough the importance of segmenting your list. Why on earth would you send the same content to everyone? The needs of each of your subscribers differs greatly, so why would you send everyone the exact same content? You wouldn’t!
If you don’t segment your list, your email open rates will suffer and your unsubscribe rate will be much higher. From a marketing perspective, creating a Youtube video of your cat would be more effective :)
Infusionsoft Makes List Segmentation Easy. MailChimp….Not So Much!
With MailChimp, you can segment your email lists by simple metrics like join date and if they’ve purchased from you.
You can ask MailChimp to monitor new traffic who meets a certain criteria and have it segment them accordingly, which is pretty neat. The problem is the criteria is relatively limited and you can only do so much to specify your target market.
Lack of Segmentation = Lack of Profits
With Infusionsoft, I don’t need to have separate lists, each with unique and hard to decipher names. Instead, all I need to do is apply something called a tag to a contact record…and, I can name that tag anything I like so that when I look at it later, it will be extremely easy for me to remember what it’s for.
(MailChimp’s “Merge Tags” are basically custom fields you can add to contact records that allow it to have a bit more CRM functionality.)
Here’s a few examples of some of the tags I use (I have hundreds of them):
- Clicked link to MobiLead Method sales page
- Clicked link to [name of guest] interview
- Bought [name of product]
- Registered for [name of webinar]
- Attended [name of webinar]
Essentially, a tag is like a little sticky note that I use to “stick” to anyone based upon something they click, watch, buy, or do.
Applying a tag is done automatically and can be applied in any of the following ways:
- Subscriber clicks a link in an email
- Subscriber fills out a web form
- Subscriber buys a product
- Subscriber flows through a campaign sequence
Tagging is unbelievably powerful and I could devote an entire post to it. The thing that I want you to understand here is that a tag can be applied without the need for a user to fill out another web form, so that means that I can make it extremely easy for a subscriber to be tagged based on their actions, or in the case of applying a tag as a part of a campaign sequence, I can apply a tag without my subscriber doing anything at all.
And yes, I can remove tags in the exact same way.
Tags in Action: A Practical Example
Ok…this is important, so just in case this whole tagging thing isn’t really making sense, I want to give you an example as it pertains to nurturing a prospect.
When I capture a lead via a web form, I can tell Infusionsoft to apply as many tags as I like. At a minimum, I apply a tag that adds them to my newsletter list. I also apply a tag for the date they subscribed.
After they complete the web form, I direct them to another page with a video and another web form (the one shown in the screenshot further up in this post) and then more tags are applied to tell me that they have segmented themselves and what their occupation is.
Now they might, depending on which segment they are in, begin to receive a series of emails inviting them to a webinar. For this example, let’s say that there are 3 emails to be sent. If they click the registration link in the fist email, they do not receive the second and third email. If they don’t click the link in email #1, they will receive email #2, etc…
With MailChimp, this is much more limited. If someone is added to a list, they receive every single email that is a part of that list’s sequence unless you personally adjust the segments each and every time you want to send out an email.
With Infusionsoft, I might ask them to fill out a web form to apply/remove a tag, but I don’t have to as I could just as easily use any of the other methods that I have described above.
This one bit of functionality is incredibly powerful and it would take me far more than just this blog post to point out all the ways that this can be used.
To show tagging in action, let’s continue with this example…
Converting Prospects into Customers
Now that my subscriber has told me their occupation, Infusionsoft will send them a sequence of emails with links to product offers and content that are highly relevant to that occupation.
More Relevant Content/Offers = More Profits
Let’s suppose that this product offer sequence has 10 emails in it. If my subscriber clicks the link to the sales page in email #4 and buys the product, Infusionsoft will apply a tag that says something like “bought product A” and Infusionsoft will then immediately stop the 10 email sequence and will now start another sequence of emails that was designed specifically for buyers of product A (assuming I created a campaign to follow this logic).
Key Take Away: most people need to be reminded a few times to register for a webinar or buy a product, so with Infusionsoft, I can create multiple email sequences that will stop as soon as the user takes that action that I want them to…even if there are more “reminder” emails in that sequence. This one feature alone is hugely valuable as it increases revenue while avoiding sending too many emails to people who’ve already taken the desired action.
In the product A buyer sequence, I can do anything I want. Here’s a few examples:
- Ask how they like the product
- Ask for referrals
- Send upsell offers
- Automatically register them for a webinar
- Start another campaign
Focus On Your Hottest Leads
Lead Scoring is another feature of Infusionsoft that is incredibly powerful because with lead scoring, you will always know who your hottest leads are at any given time, simply based upon which tags have been applied.
So, supposed a subscriber clicked on a link to a sales page from an email that they received as part of a campaign they are in. When that link is clicked, the tag is applied, and then, as you can see below, a lead score can be increased (or decreased) for a given period of time.
Within Infusionsoft, leads are scored using a simple scale of 1 to 5 flames and, if you are creative in how you build your campaigns, you can trigger further automation that is starts when a lead score moves from 1 to 2 flames, or from 2 to 3 flames, etc…
Why do this? Don’t you think people with 5 flames should be paid attention to? I sure do!
MailChimp’s “VIP Subscribers” feature attempts to do something similar, but it’s much less intensive and automated.
Create Lists on the Fly
From time to time, most businesses want to offer some kind of special promotion or discount on one of their products. Thanks to all the tagging that I do with my subscribers (remember, I apply tags for virtually everything my subscribers do/see/click/attend), I can very easily create a list of potential buyers based upon any criteria that I like. For example, I can easily create a list of invitees for a webinar that would appeal to only a portion of my entire audience and then send invites to only these people.
In both cases, all I would need to do is to run a query against my database that looking something like this:
Show me all the contacts who:
- Subscribed between this date and that date
- Have clicked the link to my MobiLead Magnet sales page
- Have attended at a particular webinar
- Who are not yet MobiLead Magnet customers
Hopefully, you get the idea. With tags, I have unlimited power to create a list of suitable contacts and then send them an offer anytime I want.
This is nearly impossible to do with MailChimp.
As I hope you are starting to realize, applying tags is an incredibly powerful and easy way to segment your list and MailChimp simply cannot do this. It’s just not built that way…plus, it won’t tie into your online shopping cart unless you buy more software or hire a programmer.
With Infusionsoft, this is all done via the visual campaign builder. Below is a screenshot of a campaign created to recover an abandoned shopping cart. Tags and automation are the key to making this work.
As I said earlier, MailChimp does not have a shopping cart, so, without hiring a programmer, this type of integration will be impossible to do.
Delivering Your Product
So, now that you’ve collected the money via Infusionsoft’s online shopping cart, you actually have to deliver the product or service.
If your product is digital, you can have Infusionsoft automatically send out an email with a download link. This is easy as pie.
If your product is physical and is shipped by a fulfillment partner, you can have your campaign send a message to your fulfillment partner’s server and the order will be fulfilled automatically after the order is placed. This means you don’t have to do order fulfillment and and instead can be off doing something else…like say…sipping a margarita on your patio or playing with your kids :)
If your product is shipped by you or your staff, or you have sold a service of some kind, you can tell Infusionsoft to assign tasks to you are anyone else on your team. You are only limited by your imagination.
Did I mention that Infusionsoft has a CRM component? Well, it does, it’s a fantastic tool!
You can pull up any customer record you like and see a summary of all their tags, their orders, the campaigns that are running, the emails they’ve opened, and anything else you could ever want….and it’s all in one place…which means no more wasting time searching through multiple systems for the data you need!
Upselling and Repeat Sales
Unless you have only one product, or you like to continually look for new customers, upselling your customers to generate repeat business is a very good idea.
The reason for this is obvious: you don’t have to incur the expense of finding a new customer, so your net profit per transaction will be much higher than if you did. Well-designed upsells can provide a massive part of your revenue.
With Infusionsoft, you can put product upsells on auto-pilot, and when you do, it will make a massive difference to your bottom line.
For example, when people purchase the Best Buyer Formula, they are asked if they’d like to purchase an upsell of bundled done-for-you content, and many of them do so. If, during the checkout process (which is handled by Infusionsoft), someone doesn’t purchase the upsell, I have additional email sequences to make offers down the road, and that all happens on auto-pilot.
You cannot do this with MailChimp.
Back when I ran my last company, Dyrand Systems, we got a lot of business from referrals from our existing customers. This happened because we did two things right: we delivered a premium service that our customers loved, and then we asked them to refer us to other people.
Back then, the asking part was a manual process that was done by our account managers.
Thanks to automation, identifying your happiest customers and then asking them for referrals can now be done completely on autopilot.
With MailChimp, you cannot do this on auto-pilot.
While extremely capable, Infusionsoft does have a few drawbacks.
First, it is much more expensive that MailChimp. The software requires an up front investment of $1,500 to $2,000 and then costs between $219 and $379 per month. MailChimp is free to start and costs $40-$475 (for 2,000-50,000 subscribers, respectively). But remember…do you want a tricycle or a Porsche? Unless you’re just getting started and don’t expect significant revenue in the future, or any revenue any time soon (in which case, perhaps you’d better consider a different business model)
If you are struggling with justifying the price, I would encourage you to check out the many Infusionsoft success stories and tutorials that I have published. In each, you will hear an entrepreneur describe how Infusionsoft has had a huge impact on their business.
The other drawback with Infusionsoft is that the application, due to its much vaster array of capabilities, requires more learning to attain proficiency. The good news is that Infusionsoft’s free training material is excellent, as is their support department. Plus, their new visual campaign builder has dramatically simplified the user experience. When people see the campaign builder for the first time, their response is generally something like “wow!” or “that is totally awesome!!”.
In addition to these two resources, there are also an army of Infusionsoft Certified Consultants who would be happy to assist you, my wife being one of them :)
Obviously, no system is perfect and prior to choosing which one is right for your business, a thorough investigation must be done. Hopefully, if you are trying to decide if you should choose Infusionsoft or MailChimp, this post has been helpful to you.
If you have additional questions, please use the comment form below and I promise to provide you with a prompt answer.
If you are a marketing consultant or run a marketing agency and are thinking of purchasing Infusionsoft, I’d like to let you know that if you use my affiliate link, I can have Infusionsoft give you a copy of a full campaign that I created just for agencies. You can see this campaign here.
In addition, I have also created an extensive library of tutorial videos and interviews with highly successful Infusionsoft users that you will likely find incredibly valuable.
And finally, if you have questions, please contact me directly.