A Comprehensive Review of MailChimp
While e-marketing is not exactly rocket science, MailChimp was established in 2001 by The Rocket Science Group. It is a cloud-based email marketing platform founded by Mark Armstrong, Ben Chestnut, and Dan Kurzius.
They started the software on the side, but it blew up quite quickly. MailChimp is presently the central point of The Rocket Science Group, even as the group continues to develop other applications.
MailChimp is pretty well-known for its knack for combining pleasure with serious work. To be perfectly honest, MailChimp is among the most prominent brand names in email services. The free option this marketing solution provides is probably the best one you’ll come across.
If you’re willing to pay, you get even better e-marketing tools at your disposal, some of which include auto-responders, spam filter diagnostics, segmentation of lists by time zone, and several tools to help you integrate the software with social media.
More than six million people are subscribed to MailChimp, from community groups to reputable firms like Vice UK, TED, and The Economist. About 5 billion emails monthly are sent out by MailChimp. The company keeps improving on its services and making them more adaptable. MailChimp is completely cloud-based and also offers a mobile application for both iOS and Android devices.
MailChimp provides for both small start-up businesses and large firms and corporate bodies sending out millions of emails monthly. It appears, however, that the company is paying more attention to marketing for smaller businesses as they have stopped a lot of their high-volume pricing plans. So much of the material on their website is currently aimed at helping beginners instead of more experienced professionals.
This review touches on everything you need to know about MailChimp, so you’ll be able to make an informed decision about if you need their service.
MailChimp’s price plans have been made a lot easier. Let’s take a look at this.
New Businesses: The Free Plan
For users, entrepreneurs and businesses that don’t demand so much from email marketing, MailChimp’s free plan is more than fitting. It allows you to maintain a subscriber base of up to 2,000 people and send up to 12,000 emails on a monthly basis. Granted, you won’t be getting all the elaborate features of the paid plans, but you’ll still be getting quite a great deal.
Essentially, the free plan is a paid plan without the auto-responders, spam filter diagnostics, client email testing, time zone delivery, and Social Pro. You won’t have access to conversational replies that filter out office-style replies and tailors the conversation to suit each subscriber’s profile.
The only price for this plan is the tiny MailChimp logo beneath each email. If you’re not comfortable with this, you can always upgrade to a paid plan.
If 12,000 emails per month doesn’t quite cut it for you, you may subscribe to the “Growing Business” package with prices ranging from $25 to $4,400 monthly for subscriber bases of 1,000 to 1,000,000 people, and as many as 12,360,000 emails per month. On this plan, you can access MailChimp’s Mandrill – a system that creates and sends targeted emails to individual subscribers.
The paid plans that MailChimp offers do come with a truckload of benefits, pricey as they may be. However, you must bear in mind that investments in marketing usually pay off in the long run.
If you are willing to let go of an additional $199 every month, MailChimp will grant you access to their most innovative marketing tools which include multivariate (or split) testing with up to eight variants, cutting-edge testing, and so much more. You also get precedence in terms of support and you can stop mail delivery if you run out of stock. It’s loaded.
EASE OF USAGE
It is quite easy to open a MailChimp account. You simply need to provide your name and email address and you are good to go.
However, upon your first sign-in, you will need to fill in some more information such as your physical address, the name and details of your organization, and your website (a Facebook, Twitter, personal or blog page will do if you don’t have a company page yet). You also get to put up a profile picture and subscribe to MailChimp’s “Getting Started” series of emails if you want to.
MailChimp’s dashboard isn’t exactly attractive as they don’t apply so much color except where they wish to capture your attention. It’s quite orderly and user-friendly, nonetheless. Even beginners wouldn’t have any trouble navigating the dashboard.
At first, you get three major options – creating and sending a campaign, creating or importing a list, or building an audience using sign-up forms. Immediately you get started, the dashboard will appear displaying your recent activity, list growth and a news-feed of current events.
Until recently, a major drawback was encountered while importing contacts. Although versatile, it felt as though it were a part of an old-fashioned and less convenient website.
This problem has now been fixed, and so the importation of contacts can be done from a variety of integrated sources and file types. You even get an advance warning if your new list size moves you into a new pricing range. Prior to the adjustment, the warning came in the middle of your import and froze the process waiting for approval. Although small this change does save considerable time.
CREATION OF EMAIL CAMPAIGNS
You don’t need to have a list set up before you can create a campaign. The MailChimp software allows a “send to self” option which is just what most beginners testing the system need. You’ll need to input your campaign information and select your tracking options. You get quite an assortment of merge tags that allow you to customize your emails.
Next, you’ll need to select a template. MailChimp offers 23 basic templates and hundreds of theme ones covering a wide range of industries and circumstances. You may decide to begin with a basic blank template or a ready-made theme.
Either way, the editor is quite straightforward. Adding text blocks dividers, images, buttons, social share icons can be done quite simply by dragging and dropping the desired elements into your chosen template.
You have access to several layout options, and you get to save what you come up with as a new template which you can use at a later time. Every 20 seconds, your work is automatically saved, and so you don’t have to worry about your computer crashing.
If you want to code your own designs, then you can use HTML to design your emails anyhow you want them to be. If there is a design you want to use, importing the HTML code from a website or a zip file is also possible. However you choose to design your emails, you get to preview them in both desktop and mobile formats.
SENDING THE E-CAMPAIGN
With your email designed, you are pretty much set to go. Sending is quite easy from here. You can select or change the list you want to send to, test your subject line, and make final modifications as desired. This done, you get to either send the message immediately or schedule it to be sent later.
Lists can be added to MailChimp in several ways. There is the option of uploading an existing CSV or XSL list, or importing contacts from different other programs, software and sites like Salesforce, Zendesk, Highrise, Eventbrite, Google, Batchbook, and so many more. MailChimp places a lot of emphasis on permission-based, opt-in lists, just like all valid email service providers do.
In terms of managing your lists, MailChimp has some really cool features. For instance, on creating a new list, MailChimp automatically creates a sign-up form for it. You can now personalize this form and include it on your website or social media platforms.
INTEGRATIONS AND ADD-ONS
On MailChimp, you can integrate more than 500 other applications. You can search for them by typing in their names or by checking out the “Industry Collections” targeted at those in e-commerce music non-profit, or publishing. Some of the better-known add-on options available on MailChimp include Google Analytics, ClickTale, eCommerce 360, CRM Integration, Zendesk, and Eventbrite.
The social media integration options include Social Sharing (which connects you to Facebook and Twitter), and Social Pro for paid plans, which helps in collecting your subscribers’ demographic data and giving you info on how they use social platforms.
This info can then be used to segment your lists and design targeted campaigns. The Social Integrations Collection allows you to integrate your MailChimp with your Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram and Pinterest accounts.
MailChimp takes the security and privacy of its more than seven million users very seriously. It has message transfer agents (MTAs) in data centers with locations throughout the US. These centers are protected using both physical and electronic safeguards. Each data center has DDOS mitigation in place and is unlikely to be caught off guard.
A lot of users seem to be quite satisfied with the services provided by MailChimp. However, many would agree that there is still so much room for improvement. For instance, their iOS-based mobile app ranks quite poorly (1.5 stars) on the iTunes Store because of its limited functionality and bugs. Non-mobile users are a lot more enthusiastic, it seems, as MailChimp is rated at 4.3 stars on G2 Crowd.
One of the common criticisms of the MailChimp service, in general, is the lack of phone support which is a major blow to their customer service. Secondly, so many users complain about the opt-in process during importation or exportation of lists into or out of MailChimp.
What another bother for some users is that the pricing plans on MailChimp are somewhat confusing. The separately priced nature of the program can make it a bit tricky to know what exactly you are getting or what is required to run the kind of campaign you are looking to run.
The fact remains that the majority of customer reviews for MailChimp are quite positive. On Google Apps Marketplace, the software is ranked at 4 out of 5 stars based on 92 user reviews and the Android-based app is similarly ranked.
A lot of users praise the simplicity and user-friendliness of MailChimp, although, quite contrastingly, a lot of users are clamoring for easier customization options. All the same, many users do find MailChimp quite user-friendly and easy to navigate. Beginning email marketers will find it a great place to kick off.
The free plan is just great and has generated quite a following. A lot of users find it the e-marketing free plan that offers the greatest value.
The analytics and reports provided by MailChimp is pretty sound. The free plan may not provide all the details and elaborations that expensive email marketing packages do, but you can integrate Google Analytics into it, and several stats and reports they provide are pretty valuable.
The editor provided by MailChimp is quite good. Some do find it difficult to use, but a lot of users find it quite easy and enjoy the templates they provide.
MailChimp is an established, trusted and user-friendly email service provider, offering a wide variety of features at considerably reasonable prices. The company’s security and privacy guidelines are top-notch. Additionally, a lot of advanced features have been added to the software to make for an even better experience.
Their free plan is as generous as it gets for those users with moderate email marketing needs. A lot of fresh upgrades have been geared toward segmentation and automation, which add remarkable intensity to the already loaded software.
However, the absence of phone support (which is the main pride of competitors AWeber) is a major drawback, especially if you are seeking instant help or if you are having trouble describing the problem by text. The only softener to this problem is that since MailChimp has a lot of users, you can easily find a third-party video or guide addressing whatever problem you may have.
If you are searching for a good email marketing platform, you won’t be risking much in giving MailChimp a shot and finding out if it cuts it for your business.