Off the top of your head, name one email service provider.
I bet you said MailChimp and with good reason.
MailChimp has been the email marketing tool of choice for many businesses for a while now. Before they changed their tagline to “Marketing Platform for Small Businesses”, they were known for “Send Better Emails” and of course the cute monkey.
In this MailChimp review, we want to explore the truth behind that statement. Does the platform still send better emails? What do all these up and coming ESPs have on MailChimp?
What is MailChimp?
MailChimp is an easy to use email service software that enables your business to expand its reach through targeted emails. While MailChimp’s IMO since 2001 has been primarily email marketing, the company has evolved over the years to become an all-in-one marketing platform. If you are a Small to Medium size business looking for an emailing tool that also doubles up as a CRM, domain host and landing page creator, MailChimp is all you need.
What Are The Best MailChimp Features?
Before we start this MailChimp Review, here are the most outstanding benefits associated with MailChimp;
1. The most significant advantage MailChimp has over its competitors is their lifetime free account. If you are below 2000 subscribers, you can use the free plan which allows you up to 10,000 emails a month and you can use most of MailChimp’s basic features. This includes the in-build CRM, email templates, integrations and fantastic reporting.
2. It’s fair to say the free plan is not the only reason why MailChimp has attracted over 17 million customers. The easy to use interface, where you only need to drag and drop the provided email templates and then edit them to your liking is another one of its selling points.
3. Of course, there is also the fact that MailChimp integrates with almost every app in this world, especially e-commerce apps. It also helps that you can share your campaigns on your social platforms and then follow up to see how they are performing.
With all these top notch features, it’s easy to see why MailChimp would be your email service provider of choice. However, upon a closer look, the service has more than a few issues.
We will look more into that in this MailChimp review.
How Does MailChimp Work?
If you have used any other email marketing platform before, MailChimp will take some getting used to. This tool uses a language of its own, lovingly known as MailChimp-ese. When you sign up for the free plan, you need lists depending on what your business is offering.
To get started, create forms to draw subscribers into your list. You can embed this form at the bottom of a blog post, on your social media post or the website’s first page. Editing forms on MailChimp is not fun or easy. Since MailChimp integrates well with Thrive Leads and LeadPages, you can use them for form building instead.
When you have your lists, you can now start a campaign by choosing to follow one of the automated workflows. It’s unfortunate that you can’t create your own workflow, but the provided ones work just as well.
What’s not to like at MailChimp?
If all you need is a home to store subscribers and broadcast an email now and then, MailChimp is a perfect choice. Unfortunately, it becomes problematic when you need more advanced features that take email marketing to the next level. The issues we can include in this MailChimp review include;
- Simplistic automation
If you have used ActiveCampaign, you understand what next-level automation means. MailChimp’s definition of automation is a list of 15 very rigid pre-made workflows. You can only use these automated tabs to create your campaign, which means you don’t have the flexibility to be creative.
To be fair, you can edit the automation, but you need some thorough knowledge of the platform and a lot of time. It feels like you have to do everything manually to enjoy some automation.
- MailChimp Pricing
If you want to enjoy some of MailChimp’s advanced features, you have to upgrade to the next tier. MailChimp’s price when you subscribe to the paid tiers add up pretty quick. Paid MailChimp plan starts at $10 for 0-500 subscribers, $15 for 500-1000, and $20 for 1000-1500 subscribers and so on. Alternatives like GetResponse and ActiveCampaign have pocket-friendlier packages as you go up the ladder.
However, if you are not a frequent sender, you can use the Pay as You Go plan where you buy credits for each email instead of paying monthly.
- Abnormally fast updates
The reason why MailChimp has remained relevant and powerful over the years is that they continuously improve their product. Unfortunately, this can be frustrating for users who have spent a day trying to figure out something and then it’s changed. If you are new to MailChimp, this may not be a problem, but old users have to deal with the latest changes every week.
- Poor Customer Support
MailChimp has gone above and beyond to ensure you never need customer service. This could explain why they don’t provide support to free plan users after the first 30 days.
Their product is easy to use, regularly updated and intuitive. MailChimp also has a ridiculously rich knowledge base where you can find just about anything.
However, if you ever need someone on one support, you have to reach their customer care through Live Chat or Email during working hours only. This means you are on your own at night or over the weekend. Sometimes, their support takes ages to reply to a customer or send you copy-pasted solutions without taking the time to understand your problem.
- Poor deliverability
Poor deliverability has been one of the most highlighted issues with MailChimp. It is common to find MailChimp emails in the Promotion Tab where few people look. However, according to them the problem is usually not MailChimp servers but the email itself and the email domain used.
For instance, if you send a message that has words like ‘free’, ‘sale’, it is likely to be flagged as a promotional email. Fortunately, MailChimp helps you to craft an email that won’t be flagged down as spam, so you only need to utilize the feature.
Some of the other recommendations MailChimp says will help your emails stop landing in spam, and promotional folder include;
- Send high-quality and informative content.
- Authenticate your email to prove you are the on sending the emails not MailChimp
- Manage your audience wisely to ensure you only have real subscribers
- Send an email to the right people.
- Redundant contact count
Imagine you offer a course on Teachable, a free- emails series on how to make a blog and you are selling one of your eBooks. Chances are, some subscribers all in all of these categories. While other email marketing tools count a subscriber as one no matter how many lists they have subscribed to, MailChimp counts the subscriber multiple times. Besides the fact that redundancy will cause you to pay more, it also makes you think you have more subscribers than you actually do.
- No affiliate marketing
MailChimp’s affiliate program is one of the worst in its class. As if that wasn’t bad enough, the company doesn’t allow affiliate marketing. In their legal policies, you should not use MailChimp to send any offensive or persuasive content. This includes pornography, affiliate marketing, selling illegal goods and services, escort and dating services, multi-level marketing, make money online content, online trading, among others.
MailChimp reserves the right to discontinue the account of anyone who violates these policies. Your account can also be disconnected if you get too many unsubscribes, hard bounces or someone reports you for spamming.
MailChimp Review: What Are Some Good Alternatives?
Since MailChimp isn’t the optimal solution for most peoples email marketing needs we thought we’d compile some solid alternatives for you to consider.
ActiveCampaign vs MailChimp
While you won’t get a free plan on ActiveCampaign, their paid plans are more affordable than MailChimp by far. They also offer a free trial for you to test the waters. Feature-wise, ActiveCampaign has a fantastic visual automation editor that allows you to do anything you want with the workflows. The platforms also leads in customer support and always take their clients suggestions seriously.
Interestingly, ActiveCampaigns email editor is not as straightforward or intuitive as MailChimp’s, so they lose a few points there.
GetResponse vs MailChimp
GetResponse compares to MailChimp because they both have an inbuilt CRM and allows seamless integration with multiple ecommerce apps. However, GetResponse’s Autoresponder 2.0 takes marketing automation to a whole new level without costing you an arm and a leg.
GetResponse also allows for webinar hosting and RSS to Email capabilities at affordable prices. The software is very similar to MailChimp but with better features.
ConvertKit vs MailChimp
The newest kid in town has gained popularity for having the easiest interface in the business. It also allows you fantastic flexibility with the workflows as well as contact management. Recently, ConvertKit has launched a free plan to compete with MailChimp, and it comes with customer support.
However, ConvertKit was designed for bloggers, so their three email templates are very basic. If you want something more attractive and thematic, MailChimp wins in this area, and it is cheaper.
MailChimp Review: Pros and Cons
As usual, here is a simple breakdown of the pros and cons you can expect from MailChimp.
- Generous free plan
- Thorough reporting of everything you need to know
- Integrates with almost everything
- Amazing email editor with beautiful templates to choose from
- Expensive subscription plans
- Disappointing automation features
- Stringent policies
- Redundant contact count
- Poor support
Final Thoughts For This MailChimp Review
This MailChimp review is not meant to undermine MailChimp in anyway. There is no doubt MailChimp is a great ESP with incredible features, easy to use interface and of course great integrations.
If you only need essential email marketing, the MailChimp free plan is more than enough. But if you are looking for advanced automation, flexibility and more affordable plans, check out any of the other MailChimp competitors.