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Which CRM Is Best for Your Business: Mailchimp or Lead Gen & CRM (Formerly SharpSpring)?

On the lookout for a cost-smart CRM that still has loads of automation and customization? Then you are likely eyeing your options between one of the oldest names in the book, updated with expanded abilities, and one only recently outpaced in popularity but freshly rebranded by parent company, Constant Contact. The most important consideration for selecting a CRM is verifying that it fits your company’s size and needs. For small businesses looking for basic email marketing services on a budget, Mailchimp or Lead Gen & CRM (formerly SharpSpring) might be the right fit. 

Lead Gen & CRM (formerly SharpSpring) or Mailchimp? 

If it has been a while since you’ve thought of Mailchimp, it may be because you think of it as a simple newsletter marketing software without much in the way of customer targeting or segmentation. However, it has made strides in developing its campaign and automation features in recent years. For B2B or B2C businesses who aren’t looking to get too complicated, perhaps you have a reliable local customer base and want to regularly get the word out about seasonal specials in a quarterly newsletter, making beautiful, user-friendly email campaigns will be a breeze with Mailchimp’s refreshingly cost-effective and intuitive email marketing software. 

However, if you’re an online business that desires to nurture new subscribers with data-driven campaigns, you may want to consider its more well-rounded cousin: Lead Gen & CRM. This freshly named cloud-based management platform has been around since the early days of marketing automation. Newly refocused after its 2021 acquisition by Constant Contact, it has the features (and information architecture) of a service that has grown through many permutations. While intuitive navigation may not be its strength, it certainly offers a compelling balance between usability and customization when looking to improve conversions. Upon its 2023 rebrand, Lead Gen & CRM teased new features, such as better reporting, advanced lead scoring, and an overdue update to its email builder. However, these updates remain to be seen, and not all businesses require the same level of flexibility regarding lists and contacts. Smaller companies may be better off benefiting from Mailchimp’s accessible interface and contemporary email design. Still, a quick dive into comparable features will reveal which is suitable for your needs and goals. 


Granted, selecting Lead Gen & CRM over Mailchimp’s free plan means a steep increase in what could potentially be huge savings. However, the user functionality at your disposal with Lead Gen & CRM will offer far greater automation and list segmentation often needed for small to medium-sized businesses who wish to segment contacts in multiple lists and enroll them in subsequent campaigns. Moreover, what may begin as a bargain with Mailchimp can add up over time as contacts are charged individually when added to disparate lists. If you intend to get granular with your drip campaigns, you may be better off consulting Lead Gen & CRM’s flexible contracts. 


If an intuitive interface is your priority, this step-up in automation and segmentation features also entails a more sprawling, less user-friendly site map. And, as Mailchimp has added more advanced features over the past few years and Lead Gen & CRM has largely been eclipsed in performance and flexibility by HubSpot, the question between the two bears a little more comparison to confirm that you are choosing the right CRM for your email marketing needs. You may find an even more advanced system will be necessary to achieve your goals or find that Mailchimp’s simple design is worth the reduction in features– just keep in mind the limitations of its free 30-day email customer support in the event you do run into any roadblocks. 


Both Lead Gen & CRM and Mailchimp can send targeted emails to your subscribers. What was once an area of limitation for Mailchimp, it now offers access to many of the same features Lead Gen & CRM and HubSpot offers, such as A/B testing and automations that send when triggered by a specific action. However, if customer analysis is your goal, Mailchimp may not have the flexibility you need to quickly change settings based on customer data as you won’t be able to move subscribers between lists or get too nuanced with analytics. 

Marketing Automation Flow 

One of the most significant differences between the functionality of Lead Gen & CRM and Mailchimp is the flexibility of automation flows. While both systems offer this option, there are far more limitations with Mailchimp. For instance, you can send and schedule emails with Mailchimp, but unlike Lead Gen & CRM, you won’t be able to trigger actions between automations. While Mailchimp doesn’t have as much versatility in how you can customize these campaigns, it is far more novice-friendly in providing pre-built campaigns to get your automations up and running. 

Landing Pages 

Both Lead Gen & CRM and Mailchimp also have features to create webpages to collect subscriber information or promote services with landing pages. While this feature is markedly similar between systems, the notable exception is that you can make as many as you want with the free version of Mailchimp. This benefit makes it a great option if you need to quickly get the word out about a particular product or special offer to a static subscriber list. 


Lead Gen & CRM generally provides the complexity necessary for more granular customer targeting sophisticated business needs. However, one way Mailchimp truly outshines its competitor is through design customization. The numerous user-friendly email templates available make creating beautiful marketing emails a breeze. While Lead Gen & CRM has promised improvements in this area, it currently offers the same boilerplate pre-rebrand email designs available when it was SharpSpring, limiting your ability to create innovative layouts and content blocks for unique, eye-catching emails. 


If you are new to email marketing, Mailchimp’s price is hard to beat, as you can try out most of its email service features for free. The potential downside is as your understanding develops, you may need more flexibility, and you won’t be able to schedule your campaigns with the unpaid version. Suppose you already know that you’ll want this functionality eventually. In that case, it may make sense to spring for the more expensive but more versatile Lead Gen & CRM to avoid the headache of changing management systems down the line. Especially given that this value will be supported by their generous one-on-one customer support, compared to Mailchimp’s free version, which offers  30 days of email-only support.

If you are interested in further exploring your options with CRM management, our inbound experts can help you decide what is best for your business needs! Contact us or call (417) 799-2233 for your free consultation.

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