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Mailchimp review: Is it really everyone’s email marketing tool?

Literally the gorilla in the room, that’s what Mailchimp is in email marketing. It’s been around for so long that it’s the first newsletter tool that comes to mind.

In 2001, The Rocket Science Group launched with Mailchimp an email marketing platform. In recent years, it has added domain and web hosting, and more features turning it into a full-fledged marketing platform.

Mailchimp is a browser-based service so that you use it whenever you’ve got an internet connection. Since it’s been around for so long, it’s a mature service where most of its kinks have been worked out. It’s a free tool that will cost when your subscriber list grows.

Pros and cons of Mailchimp

As an email service provider, you can create and schedule emails with Mailchimp. With the added features in recent years, it has developed into an inbound marketing solution with signup forms and landing pages, while also letting you run social media and Google retargeting ads.

Pros

  • Free forever plan
  • No manual approval process
  • Add a social post to your campaign
  • Landing pages included in all plans
  • Fair pricing
  • Email list segmentation

Cons

  • Many email marketing features like segmentation and multi-step automation need a paid subscription
  • Pricier than similar services
  • The user interface is not always clear resulting in occasional navigational issues
  • Since Mailchimp is adding more and more features, there are periodic usability and design changes

Who is Mailchimp for?

At the core, Mailchimp is a solid email service provider. It will help businesses across many different industries to create and send professional-looking email campaigns. As such, it gives you all the tools to add email marketing to your business.

Mailchimp user interface

To sign up, you enter your email address, user name, and password. When you’ve confirmed your email, you still need to confirm you’re a human with an image captcha. If you’re anything like me, I wish you luck, as I never succeed in the first attempt in any kind of captcha. These web tests are supposed to prove that you’re human, but they’re only annoying.

Once you’ve successfully proven you’re not a bot, you can choose a subscription. You can always start with the free plan (jump to pricing for more info). To help you set up your account, Mailchimp guides you through the process. It’s lengthy and doesn’t just end when you’ve finally reached the dashboard with the message that your account is all set up.

Mailchimp signup process

It’s understandable that Mailchimp wants to help guide and set up everything from integrations to importing contacts since only then can the service play to its strengths. However, it makes the process tedious, especially if you’re a seasoned email marketer and considering moving to Mailchimp.

Once the setup hurdles are cleared, most people will find their way within minutes in the interface. As Mailchimp is so feature-rich, the interface can feel a bit cluttered at times. The icons were not really clear and self-explanatory so that I was glad for the tooltips that appeared when hovering over them. In its efforts to prevent us from doing any mistakes, even simple tasks like deleting a draft feel tedious as it needs extra steps to really confirm the deletion.

Mailchimp tooltips help to clarify what an icon means

Campaigns

Setting up a campaign is a matter of minutes. Mailchimp gives you tips on how to write your subject line while its drag-and-drop builder is easy to grasp and to use. If you are already using a website builder, you’ll be able to use it (almost) instantly. The editor lets you preview your design as mobile as a desktop. The editor lets you undo or redo your last step. To speed up the design process, you can choose a template provided by Mailchimp and customise it.

Mailchimp mail builder

As a full-fledged marketing platform, you can add a social post (Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram) to your campaign.

Sign up forms

In line with being a full-fledged marketing platform, Mailchimp gives you different ways to capture emails: You build your own form with its form builder, embed a form, add a popup form, and use one of its integrations to create a form. To include the forms, each type has its own way which will be shown at the end of the design process.

List management, segmentation, and be personalisation

Creating and importing contacts is intuitive. The contact management feature is quite advanced: The segmentation can sort and target contacts on your list based on what kind of activities your subscribers have done. The segments are dynamic, which means that Mailchimp will move the contacts in and out of a segment when they have met a certain condition or conditions.

Automation

Managing and segmenting your list will you send personalised mail to your contacts. You can set automated workflows based on triggers. Mailchimp divides automation into classic automations and customer journeys. The first is a linear automation that will send one or a sequence of mails without regard to what the subscriber does – this is good to use as an autoresponder. The customer journey includes conditional steps so that it can take into consideration the actions that the subscriber performs. You can make your own workflows or edit the workflow templates offered by Mailchimp.

Mailchimp integrations

Mailchimp integrates with all the major ecommerce platforms as well as social media. Integrations include payments, marketing, events, and many more.

Mailchimp reporting

Mailchimp reporting will show you things like open rates, click rates, in short, the basics needed to show how your campaign did. The higher the plan, the more advance the reporting. You can connect your Google Analytics to Mailchimp to get more detailed reporting.

Social media ads

Not only can you share your campaigns as a social post, but you can also run Facebook and Instagram as well as Google retargeting ads.

Landing pages and websites

As an alternative to hosting signup forms or product pages on your website, you can create a landing page with Mailchimp. Regardless of the plan, you can create as many as you want. The website builder uses a point-and-click editor which is quite easy to use.

Mailchimp website builder

Support

Customer support can only be reached for paying customers. Then, you’ll get 24/7 email and chat support. The phone support is limited to the highest tier. With the free plan, when you click on the help button, it will open the guides and tutorials. This knowledge base is extensive and searchable.

Pricing

Mailchimp plans are based on how many subscribers you have, how many people will be working with you, and how many mails you send per month. In short, it’s usage-based. The free plan will take you quite far if you don’t mind having the Mailchimp logo in your newsletters.

See Mailchimp’s current prices

Is Mailchimp right for you?

Consider Mailchimp, if you are starting to build a list, or if you have less than 2000 contacts and send less than 10’000 mails per month. If you need a newsletter service that integrates with other tools, Mailchimp offers 100s of integrations to popular and less known services (WordPress, Quickbooks, etc).

If you’re running on a tight budget, the paid subscriptions are not working to your advantage, since you need to calculate if the costs will be based on the number of emails you send, or on your contacts number. It also does not help if you want to have multiple mailing lists. Each mailing list is siloed, which means one contact can be in more than one mailing list. Lastly, should you run a Shopify store, look at alternatives. For some reason, Mailchimp pulled its Shopify integration.

If you have questions or want to share your experience, feel free to leave them in the comments.

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