Smartlead vs Mailchimp: Best Cold Outreach Tools 2024

Last Updated on
June 7, 2024
Jason Gong
App automation expert

This article compares Smartlead and Mailchimp as tools for cold outreach, aiming to help you select the best tool with a detailed review of their features. While these tools offer a range of capabilities, we focus only on their use in cold outreach. Our goal is to save you time on repetitive tasks by selecting the right tools, including using Bardeen, a task copilot that automates actions across your apps to save time.

Campaign CreationUser-friendly, simple steps, linear structureVariety of templates, drag-and-drop editor
DeliverabilityUnlimited mailbox warmups, auto-rotating accountsStrong open and click rates, domain authentication
PersonalizationUnlimited custom fields, CRM data integrationAudience fields, merge tags, group tags
AILimited AI, personalizes with custom dataAI-powered content generator, customizable types
Native EnrichmentClay integration for lead data enrichmentNo native features, relies on external tools
Social AutomationSMS, Twitter, WhatsApp integrationLimited to ads management, cross-posting
PricingPlans from $39/month, 14-day free trialPlans from $13/month, free plan available

Campaign Creation - Smartlead vs Mailchimp: Customizing Sales Outreach

Smartlead provides a more streamlined approach to campaign creation in its Sequences feature compared to Mailchimp, particularly for sales-oriented tasks.

Detailed campaign creation with Smartlead, focusing on personalized follow-ups.

Smartlead excels in facilitating direct sales engagement by allowing unlimited auto-rotating email accounts and customizable follow-up tasks. This flexibility is vital for maintaining high deliverability and personalized engagement. In contrast, Mailchimp, while robust in offering a variety of pre-built email templates and a drag-and-drop editor, primarily focuses on broader marketing needs and may require additional tools for personalized sales outreach.

Additionally, Smartlead’s ability to set specific wait times between sequence steps offers users more control over the timing of their outreach, enhancing the natural flow of communication with prospects.

For businesses needing a dedicated solution that aligns closely with sales processes and offers detailed control over campaign execution, Smartlead is the preferable choice. However, for those focusing on general marketing or needing a wide range of template options, Mailchimp remains a strong contender.

To further enhance your productivity and personalize outreach, consider integrating Bardeen into your workflow. Bardeen's automation tools can help streamline task creation and email follow-ups, saving time and improving response rates.


Straightforward campaign creation steps in Smartlead's Sequences.

Smartlead offers a user-friendly interface for creating email campaigns within its Sequences feature. The process is straightforward and linear, allowing users to set up a series of automated emails and manual follow-up tasks to engage with their sales leads effectively.

  • Simple, linear campaign structure: Smartlead's Sequences are designed for ease of use, with a clear step-by-step approach to campaign creation. While this may limit the ability to create complex, branching sequences, it makes the tool accessible to users of all skill levels.
  • Unlimited auto-rotating email accounts: A standout feature of Smartlead is its support for unlimited auto-rotating email accounts within campaigns. This allows users to distribute their outreach across multiple email addresses, helping to maintain deliverability and avoid potential spam flags.
  • Customizable email and manual follow-up steps: Users can create personalized email templates and set manual follow-up tasks, such as phone calls or LinkedIn messages, to create a well-rounded outreach strategy.
  • Wait time configuration: Smartlead allows users to define wait times between each step of the sequence, enabling them to create a natural, timed progression for their campaigns.
👍 "So i prefer to instantly. It's better for warmup, everything else in between in my opinion." - r/Emailmarketing


Mailchimp offers a variety of pre-built email templates for different purposes.

Mailchimp, originally an email marketing tool, provides a user-friendly interface for creating and formatting emails using simple drag-and-drop tools. While it's primarily used for marketing emails, some users adapt it for cold outreach as well.

Key features of Mailchimp's campaign creation:

  • Pre-built templates: Mailchimp offers a wide selection of professionally designed email templates for various purposes, such as newsletters, announcements, and product promotions.
  • Drag-and-drop editor: The intuitive drag-and-drop editor allows users to easily customize templates by adding, removing, or rearranging elements like text, images, and buttons.
  • Mobile responsiveness: Mailchimp's templates are designed to be mobile-responsive, ensuring that emails look great on any device.
  • Personalization: Users can personalize emails with merge tags that automatically insert subscriber data, such as names or locations, to create a more targeted and engaging experience.
  • Brand consistency: Mailchimp allows users to save their brand assets, such as logos and color palettes, for easy access and consistent branding across all campaigns.
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Deliverability - Avoiding Spam, Reaching Inboxes

Smartlead stands out for its robust deliverability tools, especially for businesses using cold outreach strategies.

Smartlead's dashboard displaying email warming and spam avoidance tools.

Smartlead provides unlimited mailbox warm-ups and auto-rotating email accounts, crucial for maintaining a healthy sender reputation and ensuring emails land in inboxes rather than spam folders. These features are complemented by automated rate limits which help manage the number of emails sent, reducing the risk of being flagged as spam.

On the other hand, Mailchimp excels in managing deliverability for warm outreach with its strong compliance to best email sending practices but lacks services like email warming, which are essential for cold outreach scenarios.

Mailchimp's analytics dashboard showing engagement metrics.

For businesses focusing on cold email campaigns, Smartlead is the preferable choice due to its specialized deliverability features. However, for those engaging with an existing subscriber base where cold outreach isn't a priority, Mailchimp's robust infrastructure and compliance practices make it a reliable option.

To further enhance your email strategies, consider using Bardeen to automate tasks like creating personalized email drafts or managing follow-ups, making your outreach efforts more efficient and effective.


Smartlead offers robust email warming features to enhance deliverability.

Smartlead provides comprehensive deliverability management for email campaigns, focusing on key aspects like mailbox warmup, spam avoidance, and rate limits. By addressing these critical elements, Smartlead helps users maintain high deliverability rates and reach their target audience effectively.

  • Unlimited mailbox warmups: Smartlead offers unlimited email warmups to gradually build a positive sending reputation, reducing the risk of emails being flagged as spam.
  • Auto-rotating email accounts: The platform supports multiple inboxes and automatically rotates between them to distribute sending volume and maintain optimal deliverability.
  • Automated rate limits: Smartlead enforces rate limits during the email warmup process to prevent sending too many emails too quickly, which can trigger spam filters.
  • Spam avoidance: The platform provides guidance on avoiding spam triggers and maintaining a clean sending reputation.

While Smartlead excels in email warming and managing multiple inboxes, it currently does not offer built-in email accuracy checking. Users may need to verify email addresses through third-party tools to ensure list hygiene and further improve deliverability.

👍 "Best warmup pool too" - r/Emailmarketing
👍 "So i prefer to instantly. It's better for warmup, everything else in between in my opinion." - r/Emailmarketing


Mailchimp's email dashboard shows strong open and click rates, indicative of good deliverability.

Mailchimp is renowned for its strong email deliverability rates, thanks to its adherence to best practices in email marketing. The platform helps users maintain a positive sending reputation by providing tools and guidance to ensure emails reach subscribers' inboxes.

  • Domain authentication: Mailchimp offers domain authentication, which verifies that the sender is authorized to send emails from their domain, improving deliverability and reducing the risk of emails being marked as spam.
  • Custom email domains: Users can add and verify their own custom email domains within Mailchimp, further enhancing their sending reputation and deliverability.
  • High engagement rates: Mailchimp's email dashboard showcases strong open and click rates, demonstrating the platform's ability to deliver emails effectively to engaged subscribers.

However, it's important to note that Mailchimp does not provide email warming services, as the platform is designed for sending emails to opt-in subscribers rather than cold outreach. This highlights the importance of building a quality email list and following best practices to maintain high deliverability rates.

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Personalization - Crafting Tailored Emails for Better Engagement

Mailchimp provides a robust personalization framework with its audience fields and merge tags, making it highly effective for tailored email campaigns.

Mailchimp's detailed merge tags for audience personalization.

Meanwhile, Smartlead's approach to personalization is equally powerful, offering unlimited custom fields that cater to a wide range of personalization needs.

Smartlead's interface for mapping unlimited custom fields.

Both platforms excel by allowing users to insert specific data points into emails, but Smartlead may edge out if you require extensive customization beyond the standard demographic fields. Integration of a tool like Bardeen can augment these platforms by automating personalization processes, pulling lead data from various sources, and crafting personalized messages using advanced AI.


Smartlead supports unlimited custom fields for personalization.

Smartlead provides robust personalization capabilities within its email sequences, allowing users to tailor each message to the individual lead. By supporting an unlimited number of custom fields, Smartlead enables a high degree of customization to make emails feel personal and relevant.

  • Map fields from your CRM: Smartlead can pull in data from your CRM, like a lead's name, job title, or any other custom attributes you've defined. This information is then available to dynamically insert into your email templates.
  • Unlimited custom fields: There's no limit to the number of custom fields you can create and map to your email campaigns. This flexibility allows you to personalize based on any data points you have about your leads.
  • Merge tags for dynamic content: Within the email editor, you can easily insert merge tags that correspond to your custom fields. When the email is sent, these tags are automatically replaced with the specific data for each recipient.


Mailchimp's audience fields and merge tags for signup form personalization.

Mailchimp provides a range of options for personalizing emails based on subscriber data collected through signup forms. This allows you to create more targeted and relevant content for your audience.

  • Audience fields: Manage the fields available on your signup forms, such as email address, name, phone number, and birthday. These fields can be set as required or optional, and visible or hidden on the form.
  • Merge tags: Insert personalized content into your emails using merge tags. These tags pull in subscriber data from your audience fields, allowing you to address subscribers by name or include other custom information.
  • Default merge tag values: Set default values for merge tags in case a subscriber's information is missing. This ensures your content still makes sense even if certain fields are left blank.
  • Group tags: Create groups to categorize subscribers based on their interests or preferences. These groups can be used to send targeted content to specific segments of your audience.
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AI - Generating custom, engaging emails for your audience

Mailchimp has a clear edge over Smartlead in the AI Sequences feature, thanks to its ability to write full sentences using AI.

Mailchimp's AI text generation in action

While Smartlead offers personalization through the insertion of hard-coded custom column values, it does not support the creation of new, contextually relevant text as Mailchimp does. Mailchimp's AI can dynamically generate engaging and tailored email content, enhancing the effectiveness of marketing campaigns.

For businesses looking to leverage AI for impactful email communication and personalization, Mailchimp provides a more robust toolset. If increasing engagement and automating content creation are priorities, consider enhancing your email strategy with Bardeen.


Smartlead's Sequences AI feature provides personalization capabilities for email campaigns, though it has limitations compared to more advanced AI tools. The feature relies on using custom column values from your lead data to personalize emails, rather than generating entirely new sentences.

Key aspects of Smartlead's Sequences AI:

  • Limited AI capabilities: Cannot write complete sentences; instead, it inserts pre-defined custom values into emails
  • Personalization based on custom data: Utilizes custom column values from your lead data to tailor emails to each recipient

Reddit users have mixed opinions on Smartlead's features, with some preferring it for specific functionalities like email warmup, while others question its overall effectiveness compared to alternative tools.

😐 "So i prefer to instantly. It's better for warmup, everything else in between in my opinion." - r/Emailmarketing


Mailchimp's AI-powered content generator for email campaigns

Mailchimp offers an AI-powered content generation tool that helps create compelling email copy tailored to your audience. This feature leverages artificial intelligence to suggest relevant text based on your selected content type and target audience.

  • Customizable content types: Choose from various content types like paragraphs, bullet points, or subheadings to structure your email effectively.
  • Audience-specific copy: By providing information about your target audience, the AI tool generates copy that resonates with their interests and preferences.
  • Improved engagement: AI-generated content can help capture your subscribers' attention, leading to better open rates, click-throughs, and overall engagement.

While Mailchimp's AI-powered content generator is a useful tool for crafting email campaigns, it's essential to review and refine the generated copy to ensure it aligns with your brand voice and campaign goals.

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Native Enrichment - Amplify Lead Data for Personalized Campaigns

Smartlead has a slight edge due to its integration with Clay for lead enrichment, despite not offering direct native enrichment.

Integration options in Smartlead for enriching lead data.

While Smartlead doesn't have native enrichment, its integration with Clay allows for robust lead enrichment, offering buyer signals and more detailed lead information. This capability is crucial for businesses focusing on personalized marketing and sales strategies.

Mailchimp, on the other hand, lacks native lead enrichment features entirely, relying solely on external tools for any form of lead data enrichment. This could limit flexibility and increase dependency on third-party services, potentially complicating workflows.

For businesses seeking a more integrated solution for lead enrichment within their sales and marketing platforms, Smartlead provides a more streamlined option. Additionally, integrating Bardeen can further enhance this process by automating data collection and enrichment tasks, making it easier to manage and act on lead information effectively.


Clay integration provides lead enrichment capabilities in Smartlead.

While Smartlead does not offer direct native lead enrichment, it provides a built-in integration with Clay to enrich leads with additional data. This integration allows users to access buyer signals and other information from external sources to gain deeper insights into their leads.

Key aspects of lead enrichment in Smartlead:

  • Clay integration: Smartlead connects with Clay to enable personalized outbound campaigns by enriching lead data.
  • Buyer signals: The Clay integration provides access to buyer signals and other data points to help sales teams better understand and engage with their leads.
  • Streamlined workflow: By integrating lead enrichment capabilities directly within the Smartlead platform, users can access the data they need without switching between multiple tools.


Mailchimp does not offer native data enrichment capabilities within its platform. To gather additional information about leads and contacts, such as buyer signals or data from other sources, users need to rely on integrations with external tools, like Bardeen.

While this may be seen as a limitation, it allows users to choose their preferred data enrichment providers and integrate them seamlessly with Mailchimp. This flexibility enables users to select tools that best fit their specific needs and budget.

Key points:

  • No native data enrichment features
  • Requires integrations with external tools for lead enrichment
  • Allows users to choose their preferred data enrichment providers
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Social Automation - Engaging Leads Across Multiple Channels

Smartlead offers a more versatile social automation feature compared to Mailchimp, specifically in the realm of direct social media engagement for lead nurturing.

Smartlead's multi-channel approach includes SMS, Twitter, and WhatsApp

While Mailchimp excels at managing social media ads and cross-posting content, it lacks the capability to incorporate social media messaging into its sequences, limiting its utility for direct lead engagement.

For businesses that prioritize engaging with their audience through direct messaging on platforms like Twitter and WhatsApp, Smartlead's comprehensive integration is more beneficial. Additionally, if you're looking to automate your Twitter DMs or manage multi-channel communication effectively, Smartlead provides a robust solution.

In contrast, Mailchimp's focus on ads management may suit businesses that primarily aim to enhance their social media presence through advertising rather than direct interaction.


Smartlead's mail sequence editor with options for social media outreach.

Smartlead's Sequences feature enables users to create automated campaigns that incorporate various communication channels beyond email, including SMS, Twitter, and WhatsApp. This multi-channel approach allows for more diverse and comprehensive outreach strategies to engage with leads and prospects.

Key features of Smartlead's social automation:

  • SMS integration: Send personalized text messages as part of your outreach sequences
  • Twitter automation: Automate tweets and direct messages to engage with leads on Twitter
  • WhatsApp integration: Incorporate WhatsApp messages into your sequences for a more personal touch
  • Customizable wait times: Set specific wait periods between each step of your sequence
  • Manual steps: Include manual tasks like phone calls to add a human element to your outreach


Mailchimp is primarily an email marketing and automation platform, with limited social media integration capabilities. While it does not offer the same level of social media automation for lead enrichment as some dedicated sales engagement tools, it still provides useful features for managing social media ads and cross-posting content.

Key aspects of Mailchimp's social media integration:

  • Social media ads management: Create, manage, and track social media ad campaigns directly within Mailchimp
  • Cross-posting: Share email campaigns and landing pages across various social media platforms
  • Limited lead enrichment: Mailchimp does not provide extensive social media automation for lead enrichment purposes

While Mailchimp's social media automation features may not be as comprehensive as those found in dedicated sales engagement tools, they still offer value for businesses looking to streamline their social media advertising efforts and maintain a consistent presence across multiple channels.

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Pricing Plans - Comparing Affordability and Value

Smartlead edges out Mailchimp slightly in terms of pricing flexibility and features provided at lower cost tiers.

Smartlead offers a range of plans with extensive features at each level.

Smartlead provides a 14-day free trial across all its plans, which allows significant testing and exploration of features before committing financially. In contrast, while Mailchimp also offers a free plan, its free trial for premium features isn't explicitly stated, potentially limiting initial access without upfront investment.

Both platforms bill monthly, but Smartlead's entry-level plan at $39/month is slightly higher than Mailchimp's $13/month Essentials plan. However, Smartlead includes unlimited email warm-up and dynamic sequences even at its lowest tier, which are critical for high-volume email operations and are not covered under Mailchimp's lower-tier plans.

For businesses that prioritize advanced email automation and dynamic content capabilities without needing to immediately jump into higher pricing tiers, Smartlead provides more value upfront. Yet, for very small businesses or those just starting out, Mailchimp's free starter plan could be more appealing.


Pricing plans offer increasing features and capacity based on business needs.

Smartlead offers a range of pricing plans to suit the needs and budgets of different businesses, from small startups to larger enterprises. All plans are billed monthly and can be changed or canceled at any time.

  • Free trial: A 14-day free trial is available for all plans, allowing users to test the platform before committing to a paid subscription.
  • Pricing model: Plans are priced per month, with costs ranging from $39/month for the Basic plan to $94/month for the Pro plan. The cost per email sent starts at around $0.0065 for the Basic package.
  • Plan differences: Higher-tier plans offer increased capacity for active leads and monthly emails, as well as additional features such as custom CRM, email guide assistance, and active support.
  • Enterprise solution: For businesses with more advanced needs, an Enterprise plan is available. Pricing for this plan requires contacting the Smartlead sales team for a custom quote.


Mailchimp offers four pricing plans with different features and send limits.

Mailchimp provides a range of pricing options to suit various business needs, from a free plan for those just starting out to a premium plan with advanced features for larger teams.

  • Free Plan: Includes basic features for up to 1,000 contacts and a single user seat.
  • Essentials Plan ($13/month): Offers core email marketing features like A/B testing and scheduling for up to 5,000 contacts and 3 user seats.
  • Standard Plan ($20/month): Includes additional tools for optimization and personalization, supporting up to 6,000 contacts and 5 user seats.
  • Premium Plan ($350/month): Provides unlimited contacts, users, and priority support, along with advanced features like multivariate testing and dedicated onboarding sessions.

All paid plans are billed monthly based on contact or email send limits, with the option to upgrade or downgrade as needed. Mailchimp does not require an annual contract or communication with a sales representative to get started.

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The verdict, which is best for sales campaign creation?

Smartlead and Mailchimp both offer unique strengths for different types of sales campaigns. Smartlead excels with its straightforward campaign creation and features like unlimited auto-rotating email accounts, making it ideal for sales-focused outreach. Mailchimp, with its vast array of templates and intuitive design, serves well for broader marketing campaigns and general email outreach.

If you need a tool specifically for sales and want detailed control over your campaigns, Smartlead is the better choice. For general marketing or when you need a variety of pre-made templates, Mailchimp is highly capable and user-friendly.

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