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Chimps Ahoy: A Firsthand Review of the MailChimp Email Marketing Platform​

Dogs may be man’s best friends.

But chimps are quickly becoming content marketers’ best friends.

I’m not just talking about any old chimps, though—I’m talking about MailChimp.

If you’re in the biz, I’d reckon that you’re already familiar with this email marketing platform.

Outside the biz, even more people are becoming acquainted with the brand thanks to their kooky ad campaigns about MailShrimp and KaleLimp. (Those commercials not only do a good job of showing off the brand’s quirky personality, but also got a nerdy-snort-laugh out of me.)

And it only makes sense for them to branch out and try to reach a wider audience. After all, most businesses can use emails to their advantage these days.

​Who Is MailChimp Good For?

mailchimp-review-logo

  • Anyone who’s firing up their first email list. There’s a free program with basic features that’s more than enough for a first-timer. The platform is so simple and intuitive to navigate that it’s a perfect place for anyone to start learning about email marketing.
  • Those looking for splashy, stylish newsletter designs. Plenty of cool, eye-catching templates to choose from here!
  • Looking for plain, professional newsletters? There are simple, stationary-style templates too.
  • Humans who want to do less work and make robots do the heavy lifting. Is it the future yet? I’m ready to have a personal household robot to take care of my chores and a work robot who can crank through my emails and blog posts.

Even though we’re not living in that futuristic dream world yet, MailChimp makes sending email campaigns a heck of a lot easier with their automation features. Analyzing data, generating reports, scheduling and sending email campaigns is a nice, quick process.

  • Those looking to connect with new email signups through a series of “welcome!” emails. On my company’s main website and blogs, when someone new signs up for our emails, we have a MailChimp autoresponder campaign in place to shoot out a friendly “Welcome to Our Site!” email, plus a whole follow-up series of emails.

We get a lot of positive replies and “thank you!” emails in response to the welcome message, so we’ve found it to be a nice way to build a real relationship with all of our many, many new subscribers. It would be impossible to do this without MailChimp automation!

  • Data geeks who love seeing numbers crunched. That’s right, I said data and reports. You can only trust your gut instinct to a certain extent. Want those precious open rates and click-through rates to skyrocket? Experiment on MailChimp, assess what’s working and what’s not, then pivot to the strategies that yield the best results.
  • Content marketers with big, bad mailing lists that just overwhelm other platforms. Already have a solid email following? You can nimbly handle mailing lists of millions here.
  • Constant Contact converts. Maybe you’re here because you’re currently using Constant Contact and are ready to update your platform to something shiny and sleek. I hear that happens quite a lot. MailChimp won’t let you down.

​A Peek at MailChimp Plans and Pricing

Good news: MailChimp makes it free and easy to start.​ You can hop right over and test it out for yourself! See how you like it.

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The prices shown above are starting prices, and those will go up based on how many subscribers you have and how many emails you send per month. My personal experience is based on working within the Growing Business and Pro Marketer plans, but we’ll review the basics first.

Our Review of MailChimp​: The Email Marketing Platform with Mega Personality

The Basics of MailChimp

Below is what’s available in the “free” plan and above. We’ll dig into features for the paid plans afterwards.

  • Tools for building your mailing lists. Wondering how you get from website to mailing list? MailChimp provides you with clean, appealing sign-up forms that you can add to your website or CTA.
  • Beautiful newsletters. They say “beautiful newsletters” as a brag on their site, but I’ll tell you what—you can make some email art here. And you don’t need to be a seasoned email marketer or graphic design artist to make this a reality for you.

You can start with templates if you’re a no-nonsense type of marketer. These simple layouts will get you up and running fast. Some templates are quite unique and can add personality to your emails, and some are designed to achieve specific goals (e-commerce, event invitations, sales campaigns).

mailchimp-review-templates

From the template on, you just need to work with their simple click-and-drag setup. Click on the components you’d like to add to your email and just drag them over into place. Bada-bing, bada-boom, you’ve got an email!

mailchimp-review-drag-drop

Your emails will be mobile responsive. It doesn’t matter what devices your recipients happen to be on when they click open your emails anymore. With MailChimp, you can rest assured that every recipient will get a nicely-formatted version of your email. Plus, you have the ability to preview how your newsletter appears in all different formats.

mailchimp-review-mobile-preview

Don’t forget to add a spicy dash of visuals. Nobody sticks around to read a boring, black-and-white email anymore. On this platform, uploading images is a cinch and there’s media storage for later reference.

  • Stats and reports. It’s so nice that, even with the free plan, you’ll get some stats delivered to you.

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  • Facebook marketing. I’ve never used MailChimp for Facebook marketing.

So, that about covers the basics you’ll find in the free plain. MailChimp’s other two plans, Growing Business and Pro Marketer have this and more.

​​Special MailChimp Features for Growing Businesses and Pro Marketers

Growing Business

  • Automation
  • E-commerce features
  • Multi-user accounts for teams
  • Send time optimization
  • Integration with Google Analytics
  • Assessment of ROI

Pro Marketer

  • Advanced automation
  • Advanced segmentation
  • Demographics
  • Multivariate testing (see screenshot below)

mailchimp-review-multivariate-testing

The Biggest Pluses and Minuses of MailChimp

Refreshing sense of humor. ​I’m a big sucker for the jokes that pop up all over this email platform. When I’m hard at work on email campaigns, they help to lighten the mood a little. It makes for a pleasant user experience, so I’ll toss an extra point to MailChimp for these.

The main downside I can tell you about is that I’ve experienced somewhat frequent technical issues, particularly with RSS feed blocks. That said, customer support has always been highly responsive, always available to chat out a problem in an instant messenger or via email. I’ve had some near misses—and unfortunately some actual misses—with campaign send-out deadlines due to technical issues, which is never fun, but at least I’ve had people to walk me through problems and solutions.

Automated emails can get lost in the shuffle if you’re creating many more campaigns. For example, the language learning company I work for has one email about Mandarin Chinese which gets sent out, automatically, every week when there are new blog posts. But since we’ve set that up, we’ve created hundreds upon hundreds of new email campaigns. Which means I have to remember to filter campaigns by type or click backwards in time through our campaign history to locate that one automated campaign. (Using the Filter menu to find RSS campaigns by type is actually pretty easy once you get used to it, but this feature isn’t as intuitive as it could be.)

Limits to mailing list capacity. On their site, MailChimp claims that there’s theoretically no maximum limit to how many recipients an email campaign can have. Well, I believe I’ve pushed it to the maximum limit—it was just shy of 1,000,000. A cool million.

At that point, my email campaign backfired and didn’t mail out properly. After chatting with customer support, we decided the issue was the number of recipients and I opted to break the list down into two separate campaigns with about 500,000 recipients each. No biggies.

And never fear, because segmentation by recipient characteristics can break the list down into more manageable chunks and help you target specific people—for example, break the list down into recipients living in different time zones, or who have indicated different interests. Generally speaking, this is what I do with my company’s big, fat mailing list—all the recipients are broken down into segments of no more than 200,000, and each segment gets its own special email.

 

And, well, that’s a wrap! That’s what can be achieved with MailChimp in a nutshell, or as small of a nutshell as I could muster.

Hopefully, you’ll enjoy working with these friendly, personable helper-chimps as much as I have.

 

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