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Instantly vs Lemlist: Battle of The Cold Email Software

Instantly and Lemlist are two powerful cold emailing platforms with very different origin stories. With cold emails being the backbone of many businesses, the tool you use to send them can make or break your strategy (or at least give you less of a headache). Let's talk about both Instantly and Lemlist differ and which makes the most sense for you & your agency.
Updated June 16, 2023
two envelopes fighting in a boxing ring, 4k photorealistic digital art
two envelopes fighting in a boxing ring, 4k photorealistic digital art

Sending cold emails is a pivotal part of the sales process for many businesses across the world. I'm sure you've heard of both Instantly and Lemlist and want to see how they stand against each other.

Created by two vastly different companies, Instantly was created by a small group of cold emailers who got tired of platforms charging per email account, they got rid of that. Lemlist was created by Guillaume Moubeche in 2018, also stemming from frustrations with the current tools that were available.

Both tools have their unique strengths, and understanding their differences can help you make an informed choice on which would work better for your agency.

We've used them both for our agency over the last 2.5 years and god rid of Lemlist mainly because of it's price. Instantly was so much more affordable, and we've come to realize it really has all of the features we need – so we never looked back.

Even though we use Instantly now, we have over a year of experience working with Lemlist both internally and for our clients, so we'll give you an accurate rundown of how we feel about both tools.

Whether you're a B2B sales representative, a marketing expert, or a business owner, you shouldn't have to stress to figure out which investment is going to yield the best results (and least headaches).

How Does Instantly Work?

Instantly helps you personalize your cold email campaigns and automatically send them to your prospects. Connecting your Google Workspace, Microsoft/O365 accounts, or Zoho mail, emails and custom tracking domain to Instantly is quick and effortless. 

You can import leads in three simple ways - manually, via a CSV file, or through Google Sheets. After sending your email campaigns, you can monitor their real-time status through their analytics. Instantly provides you with graphical data such as send rates, open rates, and reply rates.

Not receiving responses? Instantly guides you in creating follow-up emails. Instantly also allows you to do A/Z testing (at no additional charge), so you can create an unlimited number of versions of each email.

How Does Lemlist Work?

Lemlist works similarly to Instantly but has a slight edge over individual cold emailing (over sending business and enterprise emails). They also have powerful email personalization and includes tons of templates.

You can add custom text, images, and videos to your cold emails. Lemlist also includes reports to show you open rates, CTRs, response rates, and unsubscribe rates.

Connecting your email is nearly identical to Instantly, you simply connect your provider (Gmail or Office 365, etc) and set up your custom tracking domain. To protect your reputation, Lemlist also helps you control your sending speed and volume to cap the volume of emails you send per day.

They are partnered with Bouncer for email verification. Lemlist also allows you to do A/B testing in just a few clicks.

Lemlist offers a lot of integrations to various CRM tools and Chrome extensions. They also include their very own warming tool (called Lemwarm)

Instantly vs Lemlist Feature Comparison

Both tools can send personalized cold emails, make automatic follow-ups, allow unlimited email-sending accounts, and provide detailed reports of your campaigns. But where do they differ? And what works the same?

Instantly

Lemlist

  • 4.8 stars with 60 reviews

  • $39/per month *unlimited email accounts

  • Works well with small to medium sized businesses

  • Limited to 5000 emails per month

  • 4.2 stars with 116 reviews

  • $59/per email/per month

  • Better for freelancers/small businesses

  • Limited to 500 emails per day

Leads Importation

Both Instantly and Lemlist allow you to import leads manually, by uploading a CSV file or using Google Sheets. But Lemlist allows you to also import leads from Pipedrive, a very powerful CRM system. Alternatively, you can use the LinkedIn Chrome Extension. Instantly does have support for Zapier, and I'm sure they'll add more integrations in the future.

Winner: Lemlist

Instantly AI lead import screen showing CSV, manual, or Google Sheets integrations

Email Verification

With Instantly, leads are verified using BulkEmailChecker or MillionVerifier. Lemlist uses Bouncer, Debounce, or Zerobounce. Although both tools help you reduce bounce rates and protect your reputation, Lemlist offers more options. Regardless, a solid email checker will work no matter who they are branded under. You just need a solid service.

Winner: Tie

Split Testing

Lemlist offers A/B testing, which means that you can test two different versions of your cold email. But with Instantly, you can create as many variants you desire (A/Z testing). Lemlist does allow you to customize emails with funky templates (that work with dynamic data), so I'd argue A/B testing actually allows you to do more with these custom templates.

Lemlist custom image templates that work with dynamic email and contact data

Winner: Lemlist

Sending Limits

Google allows Gmail users to send a single email to 500 recipients a day or 500 emails a day. Exceeding the limit may cause your Gmail account to get blocked. To avoid this, both Instantly and Lemlist offer the same feature that allows you to set the limit for both your entire account and individual campaigns.

You can also set the time gap between email sends, a great feature for making email sends seem more natural.

Winner: Tie, they do the same thing!

Third-Party App Integrations

Lemlist has many more integrations than Instantly, especially when it comes to workflow and multichannel campaigns. LinkedIn Chrome Extension is their best integration so far. I really think Instantly should improve on this because their pricing makes the tool almost worth it by itself. I don't think lemlist would be able to compete if Instantly added a bunch of integrations and ways of uploading lead lists.

Winner: Lemlist

Campaign Analytics

I absolutely love Instantly's analytics dashboard. You can see how many emails you've sent, the open rates, and reply rates. You can also tag emails to help visualize the opportunity amount (which we don't do, but would be really useful if we did)

You can also view campaign analytics individually (the above screenshot is our entire account). Here you can see how many people you've contacted per campaign, if the campaigns are still running, and their interaction rates.

Lemlist shows a progression bar for all your campaign steps. You can see history for each A/B performance, but it's not as beautiful and simple to understand as Instantly. We didn't switch to Instantly because of this, but it definitely wasn't a factor in us staying with Lemlist.

Image from Lemlist Analytics

Winner: Instantly

Email Warm-up

Lemwarm is the best feature of Lemlist, and probably one of the best email warm-up tools you can find combined into an email software. With this powerful tool, you can gradually increase your email-sending volume to help maintain high deliverability. The Smart Cluster feature in the Smart plan allows you to send automated, personalized emails based on your goals and audience.

Instantly also has a built-in automated email warm-up feature that gives you a bit more control over how you want to warm up emails. We've written a tutorial about it if you want to check it out.

Email warming is really about making things look legitimate to an email service provider. I love the customization options because you can customize things down to what feels like for each individual email you're warming!

Winner: Instantly

Keep in mind that Google decided to ban all automated warm-up services starting February 2023. This means that this feature can no longer be used via Gmail. You can still perform email warm-ups but only manually (so go and enable this in either one of these platforms)

Instantly vs Lemlist: What Can I Get For Free?

Instantly offers a 14-day free trial and you don’t need to enter your credit card details to get it started. You can connect up to 2 sending accounts, upload 250 leads, and send 1000 emails to them. You also have access to all the other features from the Growth Plan. The free trial is only available for individual users and not for teams.

Lemlist also offers individuals a 14-day free trial and also doesn’t require credit card details. You can test out a lot of features such as multichannel campaigns, LinkedIn Chrome Extension, CRM integration, and A/B Testing. However, you are only allowed to send up to 50 emails a day with limited LinkedIn actions, and you cannot use Lemwarm.

If you're on edge – try them both out. You don't lose anything. And this is an investment that stands as the backbone of your sales process. Choosing the wrong provider could result in a month-long headache down the road if you need to transfer everything over.

Winner: Instantly

Instantly vs Lemlist: Price Comparison

Instantly has managed to position itself competitively, particularly in terms of pricing. With a monthly Growth plan specifically designed for individuals, priced at $37, users are allowed to send 5,000 emails and upload 1,000 contacts.

On the other hand, its Hyper Growth plan, created for businesses and teams, costs $97/month and permits the sending of 125,000 emails along with an upload limit of 25,000 contacts. A standout feature of Instantly's pricing is the considerable 20% discount available for customers who opt for an annual payment (which we currently pay for – but I would recommend monthly until you really know if Instantly is right for you/ your team).

Lemlist offers a more user-centric pricing structure. Its Email Outreach plan is priced at $59 per user per month, whereas the Sales Engagement plan stands at $99 per user per month. Lemlist also offers two tiers for its Lemwarm solution - the Essential plan at $29 per user and the Smart plan at $49 per user.

Just like Instantly, Lemlist also provides a cost-saving opportunity through its annual payment options. Despite these incentives, when the overall pricing structures of both platforms are weighed (think about paying per email domain), Instantly emerges as the more affordable and thereby the winning choice.

Winner: Instantly

So Which Is Better, Instantly or Lemlist?

If you are a growing company and have multiple domains to connect and send from, you should be using Instantly. If you are a solo entrepreneur sending emails from a single email account, lemlist is the better choice.

We've never run into any support issues when using Instantly or lemlist, but we have heard some pretty rough reviews about lemlist's support staff. We've never personally encouraged this, so take it with a grain of salt. In general, the pricing model of lemlist makes the tool almost silly to use after a single domain.

Instantly has a great UI/UX and made for serious cold emailing. Lemlist is definitely aimed at the everyday emailer and you can tell by their branding and bubbly interfaces.

What are your thoughts? Have you tried Instantly AI or Lemlist? Drop a comment below to let us know!

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Written by Justin Gluska
Justin is the founder of Gold Penguin, a business technology blog that helps people start, grow, and scale their business using AI. The world is changing and he believes it's best to make use of the new technology that is starting to change the world. If it can help you make more money or save you time, he'll write about it!
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