Klaviyo Vs. Mailchimp: How To Pick The Right ESP For Your Brand


If you’re looking for an email service provider, a quick web search will reveal that you have a lot of options — probably too many to sort through efficiently. However, if you take a few moments to look at your own inbox (not your spam folder), you’re going to find that the companies you have subscribed to generally use one of two main providers: Klaviyo or Mailchimp. 

Yes, there are other services, but these two are among the most used and best rated in the industry. As well, Klaviyo and Mailchimp provide a great comparison, because each of them, like the marketers they cater to, tends to focus on specific target audiences. 

What Is an ESP?

By now, of course, you don’t need extrasensory perception to realize that ESP stands for “email service provider.”  More specifically, ESPs are platforms that send mass emails on your behalf for commercial purposes, like email marketing. ESPs are distinguished from services like Gmail, Outlook and Yahoo, which are referred to as inbox providers. This isn’t just because most inbox providers are free. Google Workspace, for example, is a paid inbox provider, which still imposes limits on the number of emails you can send per day and the number of recipients you can add to one email. 

Do You Need an ESP? (Yes, You Really Do)

If you’re new to email marketing and you’re thinking about saving some money by using your Gmail account, you should reconsider. Not only is manual email marketing time-intensive, it can put you in hot water with the FTC. 

Take a few minutes to review the CAN-SPAM Act, which outlines your responsibilities when using email for marketing purposes. Violating the law can cost you up to $43,792 in fines, for even the most basic things, like failing to: 

  • Properly identify your company 
  • Provide your physical postal address
  • Provide an unsubscribe option
  • Honor any unsubscribe request within 10 business days

More than that, using an ESP builds credibility with internet service providers and inbox providers so that your messages will actually make it to your recipients’ inboxes. If an ISP detects anything shady going on — like someone sending out the same message hundreds of times from a Gmail account — it will direct your messages to the spam folder, assuming it doesn’t just block your emails entirely. 

ESPs like Mailchimp and Klaviyo have worked for years to build good karma with ISPs, so your messages will get to your recipients’ inboxes instead of their spam folders.

Klaviyo vs. Mailchimp

Both Klaviyo and Mailchimp are established leaders in email marketing. Both firms regularly receive five-star reviews and enthusiastic testimonials from their thousands of devoted clients. However, each has established itself in specific niches, so you’re likely to find that the features of one may not be as important to you as those of the other. 

Best Features of Mailchimp

Mailchimp is a highly recognized and reputable ESP that has been geared toward small businesses for the past 20 years. It’s designed to be an all-in-one marketing platform for companies with limited time and resources, providing more than 240 different integrations with other platforms and websites. 

Mailchimp offers unique messaging options, like physical postcards to be mailed to your clients, and a wide range of additional services including websites and domain-hosting services. 

For price-conscious marketers, Mailchimp is generally less expensive. The standard, 10,000-contact account costs $105/month, compared to Klaviyo’s $150 fee for the same number of contacts. Mailchimp’s monthly send limit is 120,000, whereas Klaviyo has unlimited sends, but that’s still a lot of emails for a 10,000-contact base: 120 per customer per month, or four emails every day to each person on your list. 

Finally, if you prefer managing your marketing campaigns from a smartphone rather than a laptop, Mailchimp offers both Android and ioS apps, whereas Klaviyo’s app is for iOS only. 

Best Features of Klaviyo

Klaviyo positions itself as an ESP that is focused on sales and revenue. According to the company’s own data, customers who moved from Mailchimp to Klaviyo saw an average increase in total store revenue of 46%. 

Klaviyo was designed primarily for e-commerce stores, and its features delve right into e-commerce and digital marketing:

  • Integrations pull in more data
  • Email automations are easy to customize
  • Data is more up-to-date
  • Forms are more flexible

If you own a Shopify store, you’re likely to find that Klaviyo has the ability to drive more sales by integrating email marketing with Facebook and Instagram marketing. Overall, the company says that Shopify stores earn $85 for each dollar spent on Klaviyo. 

Anyone using Facebook ads should understand the power that pixels provide in cross-platform advertising campaigns. This is another place Klaviyo excels, as it integrates pixels directly into each email you send to each customer. Mailchimp also uses pixels, but these are limited to landing pages rather than the emails themselves, unless you opt for a third-party integration.

Shopify store owners should also appreciate Klaviyo’s one-click integration, a service Mailchimp does not currently offer. Mailchimp users have the option to connect via ShopSync or another third-party tool like Zapier or Automate.io, or to manually add Mailchimp code to your Shopify store’s header code.

Comparing ESPs For Yourself

If you’re a sole proprietor just getting started and looking to get the most bang for your buck, Mailchimp will likely be your best solution. It gives you a wide range of services that go above and beyond email marketing. 

However, if you already have your website up and running, and your primary interest in email marketing is integrating it with your other digital marketing campaigns, then Klaviyo’s features will likely tip the scale in its favor, particularly if you’ve already got a foothold in e-commerce.

Both Klaviyo and Mailchimp offer a free trial, so regardless of what any comparison says about them, you’re always free to try out both and decide for yourself which is the best fit for your needs. And speaking of free offers, the marketing consultants at Hawke Media are more than happy to help you decide which is the best fit for your company’s specific needs during a free consultation

David Weedmark is a published author and e-commerce consultant. He is an experienced JavaScript developer and a former network security consultant.


Leadpages: What Is an ESP

FTC: CAN-SPAM Act: A Compliance Guide for Business

Mailchimp: Connect Your Shopify Store to Mailchimp

Klaviyo: How to Edit the Location of Your Tracking Pixel

Hawke Media: 9 Ecommerce Platforms We Love

Hawke Media: Free Consultation

Special thanks to our friends at HawkeMedia for their insights on this topic.
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Steve has entrepreneurship in his DNA. Starting in the early 2000s, Steve achieved eBay Power Seller status which propelled him to become a founding partner of VisionPros.com, a contact lens and eyewear retailer. Four years later through a successful exit from that startup, he embarked on his next journey into digital strategy for direct-to-consumer brands.

Currently, Steve is a Senior Merchant Success Manager at Shopify, where he helps brands to identify, navigate and accelerate growth online and in-store.

To maintain his competitive edge, Steve also hosts the top-rated twice-weekly podcast eCommerce Fastlane. He interviews Shopify Partners and subject matter experts who share the latest marketing strategy, tactics, platforms, and must-have apps, that assist Shopify-powered brands to improve efficiencies, profitably grow revenue and to build lifetime customer loyalty.

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