Lemlist vs Instantly.ai: Cold Email Tool Showdown 2024

Last Updated on
May 23, 2024
Jason Gong
App automation expert

This article compares lemlist and Instantly.ai on their cold outreach features, aimed at guiding you to select the best tool with a detailed teardown of both. While both tools offer more than cold outreach, our focus here is strictly on this aspect. Our team brings firsthand experience and research to help you make an informed decision.

lemlist Instantly.ai
Campaign Creation Visual, social media integration, branching conditions Simplified, linear sequences, no conditionals
Deliverability Email warming, spam avoidance, rate limits Unlimited email warming, spam avoidance, rate limits
Personalization Dynamic variables, liquid syntax, custom visuals Customizable emails, templates, dynamic placeholders
AI AI-generated campaigns, basic AI commands No AI for sentence creation, lack of AI-driven lead signals
Native Enrichment Basic lead enrichment, limited details Enrich leads with data from multiple sources, requires external data
Social Automation LinkedIn actions via browser extension, personalization No direct automation for LinkedIn, additional tools needed

Campaign Creation: Complex vs Simple Sales Sequences

For creating complex and visually organized sales sequences, lemlist stands out with its sandbox environment for branching conditions and multiple sequential actions.

Sandbox environment in lemlist for crafting sales sequences with branching logic

It also supports outreach through email and social platforms like LinkedIn, offering a versatile approach to reach leads. In comparison, Instantly.ai provides a more straightforward experience with linear sequences that suit simpler campaigns.

For those needing to enrich lead data, Bardeen can offer valuable insights by finding timely info on leads to tailor your outreach, potentially improving open and response rates.

If your sales strategies rely on intricate sequences and multi-channel outreach, lemlist is the superior choice. However, for businesses with simpler needs or those just starting out, Instantly.ai's basic offerings might suffice.


Visual sandbox for creating multi-step email sequences.

The lemlist Sequences feature stands out because it lets you design and run complex email and messaging sequences. It's like a sandbox, so you can see your whole campaign and how each part connects. Plus, it works with LinkedIn, so you can reach out on social media too.

  • Visual Campaign Setup: Arrange emails and tasks in a clear, visual way.
  • Social Media Integration: Send messages on LinkedIn along with emails.
  • Branching Conditions: Make your campaign smart by setting rules for what happens next based on different situations.

Some Reddit users really like how lemlist helps them with their emails:

👍 "using Lemlist to create 'custom' automated email campaigns" - r/Emailmarketing


Simplified campaign creation interface in Instantly.ai Sequences.

Instantly.ai Sequences provide a straightforward way to set up linear email sequences for simple outreach campaigns. Without the complexity of conditional branches, users can quickly create a series of emails to engage prospects and close sales leads effectively.

  • Linear Sequences: Ideal for uncomplicated outreach campaigns.
  • No Forking or Conditionals: Keeps the focus on simple, direct communication.
  • Easy Step Addition: Quickly add new steps to the sequence.
  • Variant Options: Allows for testing different message approaches within a single step.
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Deliverability - Ensuring Emails Reach the Inbox

Instantly.ai offers a competitive edge with its integrated email warming service included even in the most basic package.

Integrated email warming settings in Instantly.ai

This approach not only supports multiple mailboxes but also allows users to simulate opens and reads, which can improve deliverability. lemlist, on the other hand, requires a separate subscription for its lemwarm product to provide similar benefits.

When considering deliverability services, Instantly.ai's inclusive feature could save you from incurring extra costs. If enhancing email deliverability is a priority for you, consider using an automation tool like Bardeen to craft personalized emails, which can increase open and response rates and build a better sending reputation.


Deliverability score indicator in lemlist's Sequences.

In the realm of email marketing, getting your message to the recipient's inbox is critical. lemlist tackles deliverability challenges head-on with lemwarm, a separate product that focuses on warming up emails, avoiding spam filters, and managing sending rates. While lemwarm requires an additional subscription, it's designed to enhance your campaign's chance of landing in the inbox.

  • Email Warming: Lemwarm actively works to warm up your email account.
  • Spam Avoidance: Provides strategies to prevent emails from being marked as spam.
  • Rate Limits: Allows you to set daily limits on the number of emails sent.
  • Multiple Mailboxes: Supports managing several mailboxes to distribute the sending load.

Reddit users discuss the importance of proper email settings and practices to maintain high deliverability.

🤔 "Be sure that DMARK/SPF/DKIM are working." - r/agency


Email warming settings in Instantly.ai to improve deliverability.

Instantly.ai’s deliverability focus is clear in their Sequences feature. They include unlimited email warming even in the most basic package. This is key for users who want to ensure their emails reach the inbox and not the spam folder. The platform offers built-in tools to simulate email opens and reads, which can help your emails look more like regular traffic and less like spam.

  • Email Warming: Built-in service to improve sender reputation.
  • Spam Avoidance: Simulates email opens and reads to reduce spam flags.
  • Rate Limits: Adjustable settings to control the number of emails sent per day.
  • Multiple Mailboxes: Supports connecting and managing several email accounts.

Users on Reddit have discussed the effectiveness of these features, with some reporting issues with deliverability to certain domains despite following the warm-up process.

😐 "Been doing the warm up for almost 2 months now and still even basic messages going to spam" - r/Emailmarketing
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Personalization: Crafting Targeted and Engaging Emails

Instantly.ai offers more comprehensive personalization features out of the box compared to lemlist.

Instantly.ai's editor showing placeholders for dynamic content

While lemlist allows for basic dynamic variables and conditional logic, Instantly.ai extends this with a variety of pre-made templates, emoticons, and images, making it easier to create visually appealing and customized emails.

Additionally, with Instantly.ai, you have the ability to access a suite of options such as email tracking and setting a daily email limit, which lemlist does not show in the screenshots provided.

To further boost personalization, you can enrich lead data using Bardeen with integrations like Apollo, Clearbit, and Snov, and even craft custom outreach messages with Bardeen’s integration with OpenAI.


Adding personalization to emails with custom variables and dynamic content.

Personalizing emails can significantly increase engagement, and lemlist's Sequences feature offers options to customize your messages for each lead. The ability to insert dynamic variables and use liquid syntax for conditional content helps create a more targeted and relevant experience for recipients.

  • Dynamic Variables: Insert basic fields like name and company into your emails.
  • Liquid Syntax: Use conditional logic to tailor messages, include current dates, and set fallbacks.
  • Custom Images and Landing Pages: Enhance your emails with personalized visuals and destinations.


Email personalization with placeholders for dynamic content insertion.

Instantly.ai's Sequences feature provides robust tools to customize outreach emails, ensuring that your messages stand out and feel personal to each lead. From crafting your template to adding the final touches, personalization is at the core of the Sequences feature.

  • Customizable emails: Full control over email content with the "campaign" function.
  • Template variety: Access to a range of pre-made templates or create your own.
  • Dynamic placeholders: Use {{ }} brackets to insert variables like lead names or company details.
  • Preview option: See how your email looks before sending with a "preview" button.
  • Rich content: Add links, emoticons, and images to enhance your message.
  • Advanced options: Includes email tracking and settings to limit daily emails sent.
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AI Comparison - Automating Email Campaigns

lemlist stands out for its AI capabilities, allowing you to create entire email campaigns with AI assistance.

AI-powered campaign creation in lemlist

In contrast, Instantly.ai does not currently offer AI features for enhancing sales sequences, which may limit the level of automation and personalization you can achieve. While lemlist may offer only basic commands for AI at the email and message level without much customization, it still provides a significant advantage over Instantly.ai, which lacks such features altogether.

For those looking to incorporate AI into their sales strategy, the choice is clear: lemlist is the better option. Plus, to further augment your sales sequences with additional context on leads, consider integrating with a platform like Bardeen that can enrich lead data with social activity and company information.


AI-generated campaign input fields in lemlist Sequences.

Lemlist's Sequences feature includes AI tools that allow you to generate full campaigns automatically. However, while you can use AI to write complete sentences, customization options are limited. Here's what we found about the AI capabilities:

  • AI-Generated Campaigns: Create full email and messaging campaigns automatically.
  • Basic AI Commands: Use a few simple AI commands to write sentences.
  • Limited Customization: Lack of extensive customization options for AI-generated content.
  • Personalization at Scale: Leverage AI for personalizing content, though within the tool's constraints.


We've explored the AI capabilities within the Sequences feature of Instantly.ai, particularly in the context of sales sequences. Despite the suggestive name, it appears that the platform does not currently offer AI-driven functionalities for crafting sales sequences or leveraging custom signals for each lead. This may be an important consideration for users seeking advanced AI assistance in their sales engagement processes.

Key takeaways on AI feature:

  • No AI for sentence creation: You cannot use AI to write sentences in sales sequences.
  • Lack of AI-driven lead signals: Custom signals for leads are not enhanced by AI.
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Native Enrichment - Acquiring Detailed Lead Information

When it comes to native enrichment, lemlist offers basic functionality that may fall short for users seeking detailed and current lead information.

lemlist enrichment details

Instantly.ai, while capable of enriching a list of leads, does not include a native enrichment database, which limits the scope of available data without external resources.

To enhance the enrichment process, you might consider integrating Bardeen, which can automate the task of gathering additional information from platforms like LinkedIn and company websites, complementing native features.

For those who regularly need to enrich lead data beyond basic details, lemlist's native enrichment may require augmentation with a service like Bardeen to achieve a more comprehensive understanding of leads.


Detailed view of lead information with enrichment feature in lemlist.

Lemlist's Sequences feature offers native enrichment capabilities, providing you with buyer signals and additional data on your leads. However, it's important to note that this functionality is more basic compared to specialized enrichment tools. The data provided may not be as comprehensive or up-to-date as what you could get from dedicated services.

  • Basic lead enrichment: Gather essential information on leads within lemlist.
  • Limited details: Enrichment features are not as thorough as dedicated tools.
  • Simple list building: Easy to compile leads but with less depth in data.
  • Manual searching necessary: May need to supplement with external research.


Instantly.ai's Lead Finder with detailed filters for targeted lead generation.

Instantly.ai's Sequences feature offers a powerful way to enrich lead information by integrating data from various sources, giving you better insight into your leads. However, it's important to note that while you can enrich a list of added leads, Instantly.ai does not provide a native enrichment database, which means you'll need to have your lead data ready or use external sources to enrich your contacts.

Key aspects of Native Enrichment:

  • Enrich leads with data from multiple sources for better insights
  • Requires external lead data or databases for enrichment
  • Does not include a native database for lead enrichment
  • Buyer signals to understand lead engagement and readiness
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Social Automation - Automating LinkedIn Outreach

When it comes to social automation, lemlist stands out with its ability to automate LinkedIn actions through its browser extension.

Easily create LinkedIn messages in lemlist sequences

Users can send connection requests, engage with posts, and message directly, all from within lemlist's ecosystem. Instantly.ai, however, does not provide native social platform automation, requiring users to integrate with additional tools such as Dripify or Hey Alfred.

For those who want to enhance their workflow, Bardeen can retrieve information from social platforms for enrichment and is developing features to automate social interactions.

In this matchup, if you're looking for a tool that streamlines your LinkedIn outreach without needing another service, lemlist is the clear winner.


Setting up LinkedIn messages in lemlist Sequences with personalization options.

Lemlist's Sequences feature extends its functionality to social automation, particularly for LinkedIn activities. By using a browser extension, lemlist performs actions like connection requests and messages directly within the LinkedIn platform. This local execution mimics human behavior, making the automation process less intrusive and more natural.

Key aspects of social automation:

  • Browser Extension: Perform LinkedIn actions locally
  • Connection Requests: Automate LinkedIn invites to connect
  • Post Engagement: Automatically engage with posts
  • Messages: Send personalized LinkedIn messages


When using Instantly.ai's Sequences for sales engagement, one aspect to consider is its capabilities in social automation. It's important to note that this tool does not currently automate social platforms such as LinkedIn. For those looking to incorporate social media tasks into their sales sequences, additional tools like Bardeen would be necessary to fully automate the process.

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Which is Best for Your Outreach Needs?

Between lemlist and Instantly.ai, the choice depends on your outreach campaign complexity and personal preference. Lemlist excels in creating detailed, multi-step sequences with conditions, making it ideal for complex campaigns needing customization and social media integration. Its visual campaign setup and branching conditions are standout features for those who value flexibility in campaign design.

Instantly.ai, however, offers a streamlined approach, perfect for straightforward, linear campaigns. Its ease of use and absence of conditional branching make it suitable for users who prioritize simplicity and quick setup over detailed customization. The inclusion of variant options within steps also allows for some level of testing different messages, which can be beneficial for optimizing campaign performance.

If you're diving into nuanced, multi-channel campaigns with a need for detailed customization, lemlist is the way to go. For simpler, direct outreach efforts where ease and speed are key, Instantly.ai might be your best bet. Both platforms have their strengths, so the best choice ultimately aligns with your specific campaign requirements and goals.