MailChimp vs SendGrid vs When Should I Use Each One

Use the right tool for the right job.

Photo by Austin Distel on Unsplash

Looking for Email Marketing software can be quite confusing because the options are endless. What makes things worse is that it’s hard to understand why there are so many different options and what each one does.

I’m taking 3 famous examples of email marketing software and explaining what each one is most suitable for. I won’t go into an in-depth analysis of all the features, but I will rather explain the main use cases for each of these tools. After reading this article, you should have a good understanding of which tool to use in each scenario.

Newsletters: MailChimp

Probably the most common use for Email Marketing is sending out newsletters to a list of subscribers. Mailchimp is exactly the right tool for that, as it’s suited for promotional emails and it also features great design tools.

Platforms like MailChimp, also provide you with signup forms and other tools that allow you to capture emails from your visitors.

So to summarise it:

  • MailChimp-like tools are great for promotional emails, updates and announcements
  • To use them effectively, you’re sending emails to subscribers (not cold emails)
  • Easily designing aesthetic emails is one of the main appeals
  • Emails will most likely land in the “Promotions” tab
  • Volume: From small to very large scale

Email Delivery Services: SendGrid

Let’s say an order has been completed on your website and you want to notify your customer about the details. You want to make sure the email lands in your customer’s inbox, and that it hopefully lands in their “Updates” or even “Primary” tab.

Setting up an SMTP server of your own can be a hassle, and since it initially doesn’t have any reputation it won’t work that well and the emails may be marked as spam.

What are some good examples of Email Delivery Services? SendGrid & Mailgun. These 2 platforms, allow you to very easily connect your backend software to send out emails either through their SMTP or through their API.

Note: SendGrid also offers an Email Marketing platform, but their core strength is their email delivery service.

With these tools, you entirely avoid setting up your own mail servers. These platforms are better suited for transactional emails.

To summarise:

  • Email Delivery Services are used for transactional emails (or for very high volume burst emails)
  • These transactional emails are typically sent from your own software (order updates, daily reports, etc.)
  • Emails will most likely land in the “Updates” tab
  • Volume: From small to very large scale (the larger the scale, it makes sense to get a dedicated IP. At a small scale, a shared IP can work better)

Sales Engagement:

Tools like, Lemlist, Mailshake, or many others are used to automate cold email outreach. In cold email outreach you’re reaching out to people & businesses who aren’t subscribed or related to your business already.

These tools connect with your email provider, like Gmail or Outlook for example and send personal emails as you. You can set up campaigns for sales, getting information or getting backlinks for your blog.

These campaigns should be small-scale. The key thing to remember here is that even though automated, the emails you are sending are “personal”. This means that your sending behavior should be realistic.

Key Points:

  • Sales Engagement or Cold Email Outreach tools are used for cold emailing new prospects (for sales, feedback or SEO backlinks)
  • These emails are as if custom-written by you in Gmail or your preferred email provider (they are not designed and don’t contain a lot of HTML)
  • Emails can land in the “Primary” tab if well-written and not spammy
  • Volume: Only Small Scale (Never more than 300 emails per day)

Note: The only way to increase volume in Cold Email Outreach is to add new emails.

Choosing which email marketing tools to use was very confusing for me in the past. Since working with dozens of tools, I now have a better understanding of what each one does and this is why I wanted to share this information with you.

Which one should you use?

My answer is: Don’t use just one. Use multiple tools, and use each one for exactly the right reason. I’ve seen the best results in open rates and CTR when using the right tool for the job: MailChimp (or Intercom) for newsletters, Mailshake (or Outreach) for sales engagement and Mailgun (or SendGrid) for transactional emails.

Founder & CTO @ GuestFlip Connect with me:

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