December 19, 2014

Email Marketing with MailChimp

Some claim that email is dead. It is a familiar refrain that many marketers hear, and perhaps say, but it is not true. With over 95 million emails sent per day on average, MailChimp proves that email is still a viable way for small businesses to get the word out. This MailChimp review is for business owners looking for an easy-to-understand email marketing platform.

MailChimp is a Web-based email marketing service that comes with a great suite of tools.  One of the most important things to know is the service is completely free if you are mailing less than 12,000 emails per month to less than 2000 email accounts. This “forever free” option does not give you access to all of the features and it does leave a MailChimp icon embedded in your newsletters. That seems a small “price” to pay for free, in my opinion.

Full disclosure: The TechBizTalk newsletter, about cool new gadgets and software, runs on the MailChimp platform, still at the free level and I’m a big fan of the service. This screenshot below shows my recent efforts to build a few newsletters.

Email Marketing with MailChimp

MailChimp Q4Sales dashboard

What I Really Like:

  • Their sense of humor. They like to keep things cheery. However, if you are the type who does not like to mix business and pleasure, the optional fun posts can be blocked.
  • MailChimp wants you to succeed and provides many free resources on how to get started with email campaigns. Lots of tutorials and support posts.
  • MailChimp allows you to create your own newsletter or use one of many elegant templates.
  • You can segment your mailing list to target different audiences. The RSS-to-email option that will automatically send out your newsletter when you update your blog.
  • Ever wonder how well your advertising is doing? Let the program take care of that by sending you a report that tells you who is opening your newsletters and who is sharing them on social networks.
  • Apps that allow you to work from both Android and iPhone operating systems.

What I Would Like to See:

MailChimp starting screen 2

  • My only item or issue is that even though I know some of the terms, even I get lost a bit in figuring out which to do first – start a campaign or start a list. As it turns out, if you don’t have a “list” then you can’t start a campaign. They make this clear when you first signup and start, but it is easy to forget. When I came in the next time, I found myself wondering what to do first. Some help boxes over the items would be useful. But, to be fair, this is mostly “operator error,” meaning me. There’s obviously more to like than “like to see.” The screenshot above shows both options, but the service does make it hard to start (naturally because you need a list structure, even if it is empty). You can choose “Create Campaign” but it reminds you that you need a list.

If you find that you exceed the forever free level, which means your business is growing, paid plans start at $10/month. They also have a pay-as-you-go option that is like buying stamps and very affordable, too.

Take a look at MailChimp and keep the conversation going with your customers.

18 Comments ▼

TJ McCue - Product Editor


TJ McCue TJ McCue served as Technology/Product Review Editor for Small Business Trends for many years and now contributes on 3D technologies. He is currently traveling the USA on the 3DRV roadtrip and writes at the Refine Digital blog.

18 Reactions

  1. We enjoy using MailChimp too since it’s easy to use and the free level is still very generous! Like you said, their sense of humor really sets them apart.

    The icon at the footer of each email isn’t too noticeable if you pick the white color option (for light colored emails of course).

  2. Good review TJ. One thing I noticed when I looked at Mail Chimp a while ago was it didn’t allow you to customise the opt in forms like Aweber. That meant you couldn’t have different types such as horizontal and vertical. Is this still the case?

    • I believe that is true Susan. But I have found success on my WordPress website using Gravity forms, Integrating Mail Chimp and making my own list builder from my site that looks cleaner, and it from my own site and not an secondary URL.

  3. I am a big fan of MailChimp. I send around 15,000 emails twice a week promoting my most recent blog posts. I particularly like the RSS feed campaigns which allows me to automatically send my regular emails showing the most recent posts automatically.

    Setting up the RSS campaigns is not for the faint of heart, but the chat based support is pretty good.

    Steve Moran
    seniorhousingforum.net

    • steve, imagine my surprise coming across you on here, I also use mail chimp, and am very happy with it, the free version as well as the paid.

  4. Would be worth mentioning their integration directory and the possibilities offered by third-party integration.

    Datafield have been joining the directory offering a chance to get new subscribers directly using a tablet / kiosk that can be displayed anywhere (nice for retailers or at trade shows) and even when you are offline. here is the link: http://connect.mailchimp.com/integrations/datafield

    Cheers,
    Antoine @Datafieldapp

  5. Thank you for sharing the information, it did help me to overcome my concern of not knowing a lot about mailchimp software. I think I will start here now that I have seen your review.

  6. We, as a school district, are looking for a product that will let multiple people contribute to the content of a weekly newsletter. In effect, building the newsletter collaboratively. Will MailChimp serve that purpose?

    Thanks.

  7. We have around 2,000 subscribers, and mailchimp has served us well. I love all the features, and it is simple and easy to use. Also, it integrates with Google Analytics beautifully.

    Very happy with the free services! (I use 123contactforms.com for web forms, beautiful tracking and integrations.)

  8. TJ,

    I feel the need to share some good words on MailChimp – so here they go:

    I’ve been with several email marketing platform, but I think MailChimp is the most intuitive of all. The cutting-edge email newsletter design tool is very simple to use – and so trendy (they sport flat design – the hottest design trend today.)

    …and I love the chimp mascot!

  9. Got off to a bad start
    Went to confirmation page (Confirm you are Human and type in 2 words)
    I did that and clicked confirm and 10 minutes later its still grinding away so I clicked out of it as am not going to wait that long for anything
    All my browsers etc right up to date
    This happened twice
    Going now to try a third time but will see what happens

  10. You would have to be a very poor business person to use Mailchimp. How can you trust a vital part of your marketing to a company who only has service M-F 9am to 5pm EST and only by email and who can shut you off at their whim. They built a tool called OMNIVORE that doesn’t work and shuts down innocent email marketers thinking they are spam. Read the social media reviews and you will see they have the worst service and shut off people accounts for no reason and don’t tell them why.

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