Already the world’s most popular email service provider, MailChimp continue to expand their digital marketing tools. Their thriving ecommerce solutions division has helped the company grow at a staggering rate, from $280 million in 2015 to $400 million in 2016.
What’s driving this growth? The reason MailChimp features in the technology stack of some 2.4 million companies comes from making things really simple for users:
“For small businesses that don’t have a technology team, data is really hard to wrangle,” says co-founder and CEO Ben Chestnut. “We’re watching it, collecting it, and making sure it’s paying off.”
MailChimp’s success is part of a wider trends where in an increasingly complex world we are seeing that intuitive product design, low cost entry-point, and easy integration with a range of other platforms is often proving the deciding factor when marketers are choosing marketing tech.
The company also have the best style guide / tone of voice guidelines in marketing today, giving all interactions with the ‘chimp’ real warmth and, erm, humanity.
Yet don’t let the furry face fool you. MailChimp have some serious brain power and are aggressively pushing our more and more high-powered features, including:
MailChimp is a freemium email marketing service, useful for maintaining newsletter subscriber databases, sending mailouts and tracking the results (e.g. open rate, link clickthroughs). Around since 2001, its usage soared after the introduction of its free plan in 2009.
Datanyze’s analysis of which technology the top 1 million websites use sees MailChimp out in front, growing to a 45.7% share in the email marketing segment in Feb 2017.
MailChimp came 6th in the “Most Loved Marketing Technologies” in our 2015 Marketing Technology Report, scoring 7.7 out of 10. From the 1,001 user reviews collected, certain comments jumped out about MailChimp:
“Really great applications with user-friendly templates.”
“Cheap and effective.”
However, when a business gets to a certain size and has requirements to integrate with other platforms, users are finding they need to move away from MailChimp to more scalable email platforms to enable sufficient customer retention:
“MailChimp is great and free to start with, but once things get bigger, then sometimes other platforms are better to use cost-wise.”
“As the number of emails increases, it is becoming less capable to meet our needs.”
TrustRadius sees MailChimp score highly with an 8.0 out of 10.
Bob Thompson, President and CEO at CustomerThink Corp., summarises that MailChimp is “very affordable. Especially considering the functionality, a great deal.” He adds that “ease of use has also been helpful. My staff can use MailChimp with very little training.” He, and others, warn of MailChimp’s hardline on suspected spam:
“MailChimp takes a very hard line on spam complaints. This is generally good because it ensures a ‘clean’ signup process, but opt-in subscribers sometimes forget they signed up and complain anyway. If this surpasses a threshold (fairly low, in my opinion) you could end up with your account suspended until you explain what happened. While I understand the need to enforce quality, this is a draconian approach that puts my business at risk.”
Sherri Kesinger, Principal at Interactive Savvy, echoes this:
“…with an older list, MailChimp can get touchy about higher than normal bounce rates. If your bounce rate is too high, MailChimp will lock the account and require explanations about where you obtained your list, when you emailed to them last, whether they opted in to hear from you, etc.”
She does however recommend MailChimp for small businesses and entrepreneurs on a limited budget: “It works well “out of the box” with clean designs, user friendly layout and great WordPress integration, plus it’s free to get started if you’re working with fewer than 2000 contacts.”
Our sister site CallCentre.co.uk pitted MailChimp vs Constant Contact in context of customer retention.
FEBRUARY 2016 – New features
MailChimp have unveiled Inbox Preview to allow users to see when an HTML will look like across various email clients. It replaces Inbox Inspector, a feature since 2007 – MailChimp blog.
— Emma Crabtree (@Emma_Crabtree43) February 17, 2016
— Dov Hoffman (@dovhoffman) February 10, 2016
OCTOBER 2015 – Marketing tips campaign
MailChimp, in partnership with Facebook, Twitter, Google, Shopify, and WooCommerce, launches its Holiday Marketing Tips: a collection of resources designed to help online merchants and small businesses improve their marketing – Business Wire.
SEPTEMBER 2015 – Pro package launched
The email marketing firm launches MailChimp Pro, offering multivariate testing, comparative reports, priority support and more – Marketing Land.
In this video, a very calm gentleman takes 30 seconds to explain the thinking behind the Pro package:
MailChimp has a nifty email quantity slider to guide you through its service plans. Its unsurprisingly popular “Free Forever” plan permits up to 2,000 “subscribers” (people in your email list) and 12,000 emails per month.
Pricing plans start becoming a concern once you want to send unlimited emails (as soon as you’re sending two emails a month to a list of more than 6,000, you’re over the free limit), at which point any subscriber number over 500 will cost $10/month upwards.
There is always the pay-as-you-go option, with low volumes costing around $0.03 p/email.
MailChimp offers a number of templates itself, which can be accessed from the Email Designer.
There are Basic templates which can be manipulated within the Drag and Drop Editor; more stylish Themes, organised by category (e.g. sports or music, some of which are less flexible); it’s also possible to code your own and import them. MailChimp’s Knowledge Base details the different options.
To see what’s achievable, MailChimp has an “inspiration” site, showing off various email layouts and styles.
Themeforest has a range of email templates compatible with MailChimp starting at around $15 for plain ones. Anything cheaper than this might be a MailChimp compatible landing page / coming soon / under construction template – read carefully before you buy.
Email Monks – a template customisation shop – offers a clean MailChimp master template that you can tweak yourself if you have the know-how.
Presumably because it cannot offer comprehensive support to its large number of free plan users, MailChimp places great emphasis on its Knowledge Base, including this regularly updated “getting started” article.
Some have complained vociferously about the quality of MailChimp’s teaching materials, claiming they are confusing and vague.
The Nectar Collective has created a thorough blog to take you from a standing start to sending your first newsletter – it also includes a 30 minute video tutorial.
NYC Tech Club have created an extensive step by step 40 minute tutorial:
Brit James Stafford has created a library of videos from the perspective of creating a WordPress website; one of these is a 15 minute look at setting up an email list through MailChimp:
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