Ahhhh Mailchimp. For many business owners and email experts, Mailchimp is email marketing’s preschool. It’s where we learn the basics, test the waters and start getting comfortable the idea of emailing a mailing list.
So it makes sense that this email marketing juggernaut owns an estimated 72.49% of the email market share.
Founded in 2001, Mailchimp sold to the global technology platform, Intuit for a whopping $12 billion.
In Mailchimp’s 2020 annual report, they announced:
- Mailchimp has 14M active users (growing YoY)
- Across the year, almost 14K people across 178 countries signed up for a Mailchimp account each day
- 333,635,013,935 emails were sent out!
- $314.6 million was generated from customers’ abandoned cart automations
- 515.3M e-commerce orders were placed as the result of an email, which resulted in a total of $61 billion in revenue generated
But what are the Mailchimp pros and cons? Who is the email platform suited to? And how can you tell when it might be time to graduate to a more sophisticated option? Let’s dive in.
1. Mailchimp Pros and Cons: Price
Mailchimp offers a very generous free plan, allowing you to send 10,000 emails per month and store the details of up to 2,000 subscribers. To provide a comparison against other popular platforms amongst Australian small businesses:
- ActiveCampaign doesn’t offer a free tier
- ConvertKit offers a very restrictive free plan for a maximum of 300 subscribers and offers very little in terms of features (namely no access to automation and lackluster reporting capability)
- Klaviyo’s free tier allows you to send a max of 500 emails to up to 250 contacts
- Flodesk offers a 30-day free trial, but no ongoing free option
- MailerLite provides arguably the next best free option, allowing you to send 12,000 monthly emails and store 1,000 email addresses (AND you can access their automation builder)
It’s a close call between Mailchimp and MailerLite, but Mailchimp’s free plan probably just takes the cake.
It’s worth noting though, that once you exceed 2,000 subscribers or are looking for advanced features that aren’t available on Mailchimp’s free plan, the price for Mailchimp gets steep quickly. And annoyingly for a platform that makes you pay per contact, subscribers in multiple lists count multiple times towards your monthly or annual fee, which honestly just doesn’t make sense.
Once you get to this point, other platforms like MailerLite and ConvertKit offer plans that are half to ⅔ of the price for a very similar offering.
Limitations of Mailchimp’s free plan that indicate it’s time for you to jump ship, include things like:
- Needing to create more than one audience
- Needing to schedule your emails
- Wanting to A/B test your emails
- Needing to create automations that have more than one step
- Needing more than one user to be able to access the platform (i.e. other team members)
- Needing to send more than 10,000 email per month or 2,000 emails in a day
- Needing to custom code your own email templates
2. Mailchimp Pros and Cons: Reporting
Mailchimp offers great email reporting. You can clearly view all of the basics – like open rates, CTORs, bounces, and unsubscribes – at an overview level or in detail.
You can also easily integrate e-commerce reporting so you can track orders and revenue generated directly from your emails.
Mailchimp reports also offer best-practice suggestions for how to improve your email performance, including tips like how to make your email content more skimmable or easier to read and how to draw more attention to your links and CTA buttons (although it’s worth noting this feature is only available on paid plans).
Their reports also provide click maps so you can see where on your email your subscribers are clicking. And this information is broken down by device so you can see where the majority of people are clicking on desktop vs. mobile.
Campaign benchmarking is another nifty report feature, however only for paid plans. Based on your industry, audience demographics, and audience size, you can see how some of your campaign’s core metrics (namely your open rate, click rate, and unsubscribe rate) perform against similar Mailchimp senders.
You can also view your email’s performance on a domain level, to understand what the makeup of your audience is (i.e. how many of your subscribers use Gmail vs. Outlook) which is helpful in detecting spam issues amongst certain inbox providers.
3. Mailchimp Pros and Cons: Email design
When it comes to email design, Mailchimp offers a nice variety of options without going overboard. They provide “layouts” which offer different email structures that you can add your branding to, and “themes” which are similar to “layouts” but with various branding options already applied (great if starting from a blank canvas isn’t your vibe).
You can also save templates, so once you’ve created an email design you like you don’t need to keep recreating it from scratch and you also have the option to use any past campaign you’ve sent as the starting point for a future email design.
And for the email pros? You can custom code your own email too – either by copying and pasting your CSS and HTML or importing it from a ZIP or URL – but only if you’re on the standard plan or above.
If you’re opting to use the “layouts” or “themes” option, it’s worth noting that the drag and drop email designer can be a bit fiddly. With multiple places offering options to edit things like font size, colour, and spacing, it could be more intuitive and therefore can take a little while to get the hang of.
Compared to other email platforms, I’d also say that Mailchimp’s content blocks are a little outdated in their looks and restrictive in terms of design flexibility. Other platforms like Klaviyo and Flodesk offer significantly more modern-looking content blocks to work with and provide more flexibility in how heavily you can customise them.
4. Mailchimp Pros and Cons: Deliverability
Deliverability might sound like nothing but it’s bloody important when it comes to email marketing. Keepin’ it simple, it relates to how often your emails land in your subscribers’ inboxes.
And unfortunately for Mailchimp (and Mailchimp users), the platform’s deliverability performances leave a bit to be desired. Research from April 2022 found 85.9% of emails sent from Mailchimp land in the inbox.
And while that’s not a terrible score, it doesn’t get close to the 98% that MailerLite scored or the 90.2% that ActiveCampaign recorded.
Mailchimp does however manage bounced email addresses well.
What does this mean?
After you send an email campaign with Mailchimp, the platform will track its delivery and clean bounced addresses from your audience. Email campaigns won’t be sent to those addresses anymore, but you’ll still be able to access them if you need to.
This practice is common amongst most email platforms though, so it isn’t exactly rave-worthy.
5. Mailchimp Pros and Cons: Integrations
While Mailchimp offers some handy integrations (Facebook, WordPress, and Stripe to name a few), I wouldn’t say it takes the cake in this area either.
If you’re looking for an email marketing platform that integrates well with e-commerce (and particularly Shopify?), it’s hard to go past Klaviyo.
MailerLite offers a handy stack of 133 integrations, including Typeform, Elementor, Eventbrite, Zoom, and G Suite (i.e Google Docs, Sheets, Forms, etc).
If you’re in the process of deciding what email marketing platform is right for you, integrations are an aspect of the equation I see overlooked far too often.
It’s crucial that your email marketing platform links well with your core business technology – be that your website, payment software, project management tools, teaching platform or otherwise.
Understanding if the integrations you need are a) available and b) native or via a third party like Zapier (which may require an additional fee). At the end of the day your email marketing platform will only be as powerful as the data you’re able to feed into it, so the more data you can access the better.
6. Mailchimp Pros and Cons: Automation and other advanced features
Mailchimp’s automation capability improved astronomically in late 2020, with the release of their Customer Journey Builder. However, this feature is available for paid plans only.
Comparing Mailchimp’s automation capability to that available on the free tier of MailerLite, for instance, I certainly wouldn’t be giving Mailchimp my hard-earned dollars.
And if I was to be parting with those hard-earned dollars? I’d be giving them to ActiveCampaign, where – depending on my audience size – I can get significantly more automation capability – as well as the ability to run A/B tests, send SMS messages, and more effectively segment my audience – at a cheaper price point.
So, who is Mailchimp suited to?
- For those just getting started with email marketing, it provides a relatively intuitive introduction to all the basics
- For those with no budget – if you’re looking for a free option, Mailchimp and MailerLite are your best bets
- For those who don’t need much audience segmentation (i.e. if you’re able to take close to a one-size-fits-all approach to your email marketing). If you have multiple ideal customer types that are quite different from each other and require unique messaging? Mailchimp is not the platform for you.