Mailchimp has been one of the largest email marketing platforms available in the digital marketing industry for quite some time.
In this post, we take a look at everything Mailchimp has to offer, including concerns some users have in regards to pricing and privacy.
This is part of our email marketing blog post series. So if you're interested in other email marketing tools too, check this post: 5 Powerful Email Marketing Tools Compared – Which One Is the Best?
But now – lets get started with our Mailchimp Review!
Mailchimp's Email Marketing Platform
Mailchimp is now an all-in-one marketing platform. They offer more than just email marketing services today. You can use the platform to build simple websites, run targeted ad campaigns and optimize your social media strategy.
We're going to focus on Mailchimp's email marketing platform for the purpose of this review. We'll discuss everything the platform has to offer in terms of what's most essential to your email marketing strategy, beginning with the features most marketers look for: email forms, templates and automation.
Mailchimp offers numerous ways for you to create email forms, among them being:
- Form Builder – A drag-and-drop design tool that enables you to build custom forms with unique designs.
- Embeddable Forms – A simple opt-in form with HTML embed code ready to go.
- Subscriber Pop-Up – A tool you can connect directly to your site to publish a pop-up form on the fly.
- Landing Pages – Fully-fledged, custom-built landing pages hosted by Mailchimp that features an opt-in form.
Each method uses a different UI layout, which may be intimidating at first glance, but they're all incredibly easy to pick up.
Adding and removing fields from your form is easy, and the settings are straightforward. If you look above the form builder, you'll notice a setting that, once enabled, will give new subscribers a choice between receiving HTML or plain-text emails from you.
Sadly, it doesn't take long to notice how limited Mailchimp forms are when compared to email marketing services like Convertkit, GetResponse and MailerLite.
You can only create one signup form and one popup per audience, for starters, and that main form is basic in terms of design. You can add a banner image to the form, but that's about it. You can't add a background image or use a split-style design. All that's available are a few color selection tools for the background and text.
Plus, you're limited in how you approach your email marketing strategy when you can only use one form. Multiple landing pages are available for campaigns, such as when you want to offer a lead magnet on a new blog post, but this will require you to lead visitors away from your page to have them subscribe, which may result in fewer subscriptions when it comes to simple campaigns.
If you want to create different forms for different purposes without having to use landing pages, you're going to have to use lead generation tools like OptinMonster, Thrive Leads and Convert Pro alongside Mailchimp.
Mailchimp Campaigns: Email Templates + the Email Builder
One feature many marketers look for in an email marketing platform are email templates. Mailchimp excels at this.
No matter what type of email you want to send, regular, automated or plain text, you'll create them in the Campaigns section of the dashboard.
There are a few ways for you to get started:
- Layouts – Templates that give you a framework to start with but have no content.
- Themes – Fully-fledged templates with completed designs. Categories include ecommerce, events, holiday and newsletter. A few dozen templates are available in the free plan. You'll unlock more when you upgrade.
- Saved Templates – Your own library of templates.
- Campaigns – A separate library of templates generated by ones you used in previous campaigns.
- Code Your Own – A text editor you can use to create your own templates from scratch. You can also import HTML code from ZIP files and URLs.
Some templates have outdated designs, but Mailchimp has a quite a few impressive templates to pick from, even in the free plan. Plus, the email builder is intuitive enough for you to create your own spectacular designs.
It uses a drag-and-drop UI that enables you to add a variety of different elements to emails, including different ways to insert text and images, buttons, social media buttons, videos, and even products.
When you use a fully-designed layout, you'll find it's easy to swap out predetermined content with your own. There's even a collaboration tool that enables you to send test emails to whomever you work with on campaigns. Their replies will appear in the Comments section of the builder.
Mailchimp Campaigns: Automations, Segments & Tags
Automations have never been Mailchimp's strong point, historically. However, the service has worked hard to improve this aspect of email marketing ever since they transitioned into an all-in-one marketing platform in 2019.
Mailchimp's automations are quite impressive as a result, despite only giving you one form per audience. After a bit of fiddling around inside the dashboard, it's quite clear they've revamped their automation, segmentation and tagging systems to be on par with those offered by competitors.
You can see this in the workflow interface available in the Customer Journeys section.
As long as you have a paid account, you can accomplish almost any automation your email marketing strategy needs with Mailchimp.
For example, a common way to segment your list is to organize subscribers into two groups: Buyers and Non-Buyers. When you integrate your ecommerce platform with Mailchimp, you can set up an automation that assigns customers into the Buyers list automatically after they complete their first purchase.
A popular way to segment an audience even further is to segment them by interest. For instance, if your business is centered around teaching your audience how to make money blogging, you can assign them to different tags based on how much revenue each subscriber currently generates from their blog.
This enables you to send targeted content to your audience. After all, a blogger who generates five figures a month would not benefit from a tutorial on how to add their site to Google Search Console, something you should do for new websites.
In Mailchimp, you can segment your audience in this way by creating links for different tags on your website and setting up an automation that assigns a subscriber to a particular tag when they click that tag's respective link.
You can then select that tag in campaigns to send targeted content.
Mailchimp continues to expand the capabilities of their marketing platform, so more and more automations will likely come throughout your time as a customer.
Mailchimp's All-in-One Marketing Platform
Mailchimp offers an entire suite of tools to help you amplify your marketing strategy. You can even go one step beyond landing pages and use Mailchimp to register domains plus build and host simple websites.
We should also mention all of the other features Mailchimp offers to help you market your business outside of landing pages and emails, specifically advertising, social media posts and postcards (ads sent to a subscriber's real mailbox).
Mailchimp integrates with ad platforms powered by Google, Facebook and Instagram. It enables you to track users who visit your website so you can retarget them with brand-related ads across Google, Facebook and Instagram. You can do this users who subscribed as well.
Along with running ads on social media, Mailchimp's marketing platform allows you to schedule social media posts on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. You can set these up when you create new campaigns.
Mailchimp's marketing platform also includes customer profiles that predict which demographics customers are in and can help you target your messages based on certain actions users take. They include purchase and engagement behavior across your website, campaigns and app.
Mailchimp also speeds up the creative side of marketing. Along with email templates and the email builder, you can store files (including freebies to send to new subscribers) in the Content Studio.
Dynamic content in emails helps you send personalized messages to subscribers without needing to create two separate campaigns. Plus, the platform has a creative AI that generates designs for email and social media posts automatically.
Lastly, Mailchimp produces a plethora of data that'll help you optimize your marketing strategy across the board through campaign-related reports and analytics, A/B tests, and surveys.
Mailchimp uses a complex pricing structure that's dependent on the features you want and the number of “contacts” you have.
The free forever plan gives you one user account , up to 2,000 contacts and 10,000 emails to send every month, but features are limited. Basic segmentation and tags are available as are Mailchimp's audience insight tools.
Plus, signup forms and basic automations are enabled. You're simply not able to use the platform's more sophisticated marketing tools.
Paid plans come in three versions, but pricing is determined by the number of contacts you have. They start at the following price points:
- Essentials – $9.99/month for up to 500 contacts
- Standard – $14.99/month for up to 500 contacts
- Premium – $299/month for up to 10,000 contacts
Prices increase when you reach certain milestones, such as 1,500 contacts, 2,500 contacts, 5,000 contacts, etc. The Premium plan supports up to 200,000 contacts, after which you'll need to get in touch with support to discuss your options for a custom plan.
What is a Contact in Mailchimp?
One of the first things you'll notice about this service is how they use the term “contact” in place of “subscriber.” In Mailchimp, not everyone who is subscribed to your list counts toward your monthly limit for contacts.
Contacts that count toward your monthly limit are defined as individuals who are subscribed, unsubscribed and non-subscribed (individuals who have interacted with your ads and other Mailchimp-tracked marketing materials but haven't subscribed).
Email addresses that send hard and repeated soft bounces are not counted nor are subscribers who have signed up but have yet to confirm their subscriptions. Archived subscribers aren't counted, either.
This means you'll be charged for individuals who are no longer subscribed or have yet to subscribe as they still exist in your database and can be included in retargeting ad campaigns despite not being able to receive your emails.
This is unfortunate as you'll be paying for contacts you can't even send emails to. Your only option is to go through your list and archive users from your unsubscribed and non-subscribed lists on a regular basis.
Mailchimp has worked hard improving its email marketing platform to make it less complex and more in line with its competitors. It's even gone a few steps further to expand its marketing platform as a whole, giving you multiple ways to attract leads.
It's also one of the most popular email marketing platforms out there, which means it'll likely integrate with every tool you want to use it with.
Plus, it's a great option for new bloggers as it enables you to grow your list to 2,000 subscribers for free.
In fact, Mailchimp's biggest cons don't exist in the services it offers but rather the way it conducts business. The service is still largely seen as an email marketing platform first and foremost, but because it now labels itself as an all-in-one marketing platform, you're now required to pay for “contacts” you can't even send emails to.
This is true even if you never create a single ad with Mailchimp as unsubscribed contacts are counted as well. Mailchimp including those ad services has also increased its risk of violating privacy concerns, especially those mandated by the EU's GDPR laws, as these technologies utilize pixel tracking that cannot be disabled.
The postcards feature, the one where you can send marketing postcards to your contacts' real mailboxes (snail mail), violates user privacy even further as recipients have no way of knowing they're opted in to this service despite being able to opt out.
Plus, if you don't have a contact's shipping address, Mailchimp will use that contact's email address to find an associated shipping address across the web, which is as far away from consent as you can be. Not to mention Mailchimp assumes no liability for any legal action taken against you as the result of your use of postcards.
Lastly, Mailchimp is strict on affiliate marketing, and while it doesn't outright ban the use of affiliate links in the emails you send to subscribers, its restrictions aren't clear, and some legitimate marketers have had their accounts closed with no warning. If you decide to use Mailchimp, be wary of using affiliate links in campaigns.
With that said, Mailchimp is still a powerful email marketing platform. You can get started with the free plan and send up to 10,000 emails to 2,000 contacts per month. Paid plans start at $9.99/month for up to 500 contacts. Certain features are restricted to higher plans.
- Mailchimp Dashboard: Mailchimp
- Mailchimp – Form Builder: Mailchimp
- Mailchimp – Form Builder Design: Mailchimp
- Mailchimp – New Campaign: Mailchimp
- Mailchimp – Email Layouts: Mailchimp
- Mailchimp – Email Builder: Mailchimp
- Mailchimp – Customer Journey: Mailchimp
- Mailchimp – Segments: Mailchimp
- Mailchimp – Websites: Mailchimp
- Mailchimp – Social Media Posts: Mailchimp