For bloggers, building an email subscriber list is vital for staying in front of your readers on a regular basis. There are several popular list-builder options among the best email marketing tools and best WordPress plugins, including Sumo, OptinMonster, Thrive Leads, and Hustle.
But typically, no single tool provides both email marketing services and active list building (which is why LeadPages acquired Drip back in mid-2016, though Drip is a marketing automation platform rather than an ESP).
That’s why the recent announcement from MailChimp that they now offer a pop-up form builder for list building is interesting. So how does MailChimp’s functionality stack up against a specialized tool like Sumo? Here’s a comparison.
Ease of Form Creation: MailChimp
Note this refers to a pop-up or slide-in, not a static form. This is almost a toss-up between the two tools as both are quite intuitive. But MailChimp gets a slight edge for making the design of your pop-up or slide-in form just dead simple.
Form Design Options: Sumo
This is the flipside of ease of use. Sumo is slightly more complex, but provides far options. You can create forms not only for lead capture, but also for push notifications, links to other content, or to encourage social sharing.
It provides multiple form-type options (full-screen “welcome mat,” pop-ups, slide-ins, smart bars, and more). And you get complete. granular control over images, fonts, colors, and size.
Form Display Options: Sumo
This is where Sumo really shines. As shown below, the display options for the MailChimp list builder are quite basic.
Sumo, in contrast, lets you control not only when to display the form but also on which pages, and under what conditions the form should be displayed or hidden for specific users.
Ease of Website Integration: Sumo
For WordPress sites, Sumo’s display options are sophisticated yet easy to use. For MailChimp, the process is trickier: whether you choose to “publish” the form to your site or copy and paste the form display code, it means copying script code into your site.
While it’s not terribly difficult to add script or HTML code to your WordPress site using either theme options (if provided) or a plugin such as Insert Headers and Footers or Add to All, it can be a little intimidating to non-technical users. It can also take a little experimentation to get the MailChimp pop-ups to display. This is likely an issue they will fix in a future release.
ESP Integration: Depends
If you are using MailChimp as your email service, their new pop-up builder is the simplest way to add subscribers (and it’s free).
Sumo offers MailChimp list integration, but you have to be using one of their paid options (starting at $29 per month) to get that feature. If the other capabilities of premium Sumo packages are worthwhile for your blog, this is the way to go. But $29 just for the email integration may not make sense.
Of course if you’re using a different ESP, MailChimp forms won’t be any help.
This remains to be seen. Sumo and other list builders have their own track records of performance. Only time (and testing) will tell if the MailChimp forms can work as effectively.
Sumo provides more powerful, yet easy to use, options for form display, form design, and site integration. For most bloggers and site owners, this will likely be the better choice.
However, if you are already using (or considering) MailChimp as your ESP, and want a way to automatically add subscribers and build your list without paying for premium features you may not need, then the new MailChimp pop-up forms builder is definitely worth checking out. MailChimp also offers learning resources like its Marketer’s Guide to CRM, which details how business owners can use CRM tools to understand audience data and make smarter marketing decisions.