MailChimp Review: Easy Email Marketing

Once a website is up and running, it is time to start driving traffic towards it.  This can be done in a number of ways, but e-mailing campaigns are tried and true.  The only question most people have is: how do they start an e-mailing campaign?  Well, there are many ways in which one can get e-mail addresses, but those addresses will probably need to be handed over to a custom service that focuses on e-mail marketing. MailChimp is just such a service, but are they right one?

Getting Your List Into MailChimp

There are numerous ways to build and integrated lists into MailChimp.  It is possible to integrate lists from Salesforce, Highrise, Google Docs, a CSV file, FreshBooks, or Excel, and MailChimp even offers generated forms that can make the sign-up process easier.  For those that demand the extra flexibility, an API is available that allows for tech-savvy site owners to program or otherwise create a custom front-end that people will see, while all of the data is passed directly to MailChimp.  All of MailChimp’s forms include a double opt-in process which might reduce the number of people in any given database, but it does significantly reduce the number of spam e-mails one sends and that can be important when one considers all of the CAN-SPAM criteria.

 

 

At Blogging.com we manage all of our email campaigns with MailChimp. Check out the subscribe box below this post to see how users can get signed up with our email program. Simply put MailChimp makes it easy to get a subscribe form easily integrated into your site.

Using the Data to Craft E-Mails

Once the contact information is imported and ready to go, it is time to start building mailing lists.  Remember that mailing lists can be broken down by a number of criteria, so there may be good arguments for using several mailing lists.  Each site owner will have to make their own determinations here, but this also brings up an interesting point.  What if a product or service is branded, and marketed under different names to different client lists?  MailChimp can handle that, and it does so with amazing efficiency.

Mailchimp dashboard

The e-mail editor is intuitive but very powerful.  It also features a very useful branding functionality that lets one save an e-mail for a product and send it to multiple lists while using the brand as a variable in the e-mail itself.  A variable is just what it sounds like, something that changes.  In the case of sending e-mails, the data pulled from the contact list databases are all variables, but the actual name and/or brand of the product can be list-specific variables.  Consider this: what if a website were to market a weight loss pill that could also double as an energy pill.  A smart strategy might be to establish two sites that sell the same product under different brand names.  Does this mean that one needs two MailChimp accounts?  No!  MailChimp can actually handle this via the branding function which associates the brand and/or product name (as well as any other information one wants) with a list-specific variable.  This is incredibly useful for those who are trying to appeal to slightly differentiated markets with the same products.  One e-mail needs to be crafted and MailChimp sorts out the rest.

Creating an e-mail, chimp style

On the subject of crafting e-mails, it goes without say that even a monkey could make great looking e-mails thanks to the intuitive yet powerful user interface of MailChimp.  Plenty of templates are available to inspire or serve as the basis for clever alterations.  Creative types can create their own custom HTML e-mails if they see fit, but MailChimp offers so many tools that it is hard to imagine using another program to create HTML e-mails ever again.

Get Connected

There are also plenty of add-ins and plug-ins available for everyone’s favorite primate-themed e-mail marketing tool.  WordPress integration is dead-simple, as is the Twitter social networking integration.  Social media is certainly taking off and it will be interesting to see how e-mail marketing companies deal with it, but it certainly looks as if MailChimp is in the game for the long haul as they are embracing social networking in a way that few others have.  You can easily tell how many tweets and re-tweets one has received, but that is probably just the beginning.  It will be interesting to see how social integration continues to evolve in regards to e-mail marketing.

One happy chimp

Management Made Simple

Campaign management could not be simpler.  A summary list of bounced e-mails, opened e-mails, click rates, and unopened emails is presented both in terms of percentages as well as raw numbers.  List clean-up is semi-automatic, which makes managing multiple lists far easier and less unwieldy.  All data can be exported to Excel for any further uses that one sees fit.  Google analytics and the aforementioned Twitter integration offer a nearly complete picture of how individual recipients respond to e-mails as well as broader view of how a whole list responds.  This can be vital data for anyone trying to fine tune their marketing campaign.

What MailChimp Doesn’t Do

MailChimp does a lot, but what it doesn’t do is design e-mail marketing campaigns. You still need to plan out your campaign and the message you want to convey. MailChimp can certainly make getting a campaign off the ground a lot easier and does so in a cost effective way, but it will not do all the work. MailChimp still requires e-mails lists to be gathered and generated as well as e-mails created, but MailChimp is the only web-based simian-styled e-mail marketing service that makes both of these functions easier.

Not For Affiliates

Affiliate marketers are BANNED by MailChimp! Checkout out “Section F” under their Terms of Use.

You’ll see Affiliate Marketers, right in between MLM and Credit Repair. On a list that also includes Escorts, Illegal Goods and Gambling as services and industries that are barred from using MailChimp.

MailChimp Terms of Use, Prohibited Industries

Probably not the best company for Affiliate Marketing to be associated with.

Okay, so a good majority of those industries are understandable… but what does that mean for someone who has a MailChimp account and includes affiliate links without realizing that they are violating these terms.

Users May Be Confused And Not Realize That They Are In Violation

MailChimp Barring Account Access

In fact if you read the very next section on the MailChimp Terms of Use they even joke that if you read that far into the terms… you are probably associated with an industry that is frequently associated with spam.

MailChimp says that they’ll cancel your account and block you from your own list… if you are caught in violation.

Imagine working hard building your list, then finding out one day that it’s all gone.

MailChimp is taking a very serious stance against term violators. They have a team made-up of MailChimp employees and independent contracted workers using internal technology to review the content of emails being sent out.

Conclusion

MailChimp is a great service… but they are positioning themselves as a pure newsletter service.

I think that they do a brilliant job at that, they make it very easy for anyone to jump right in and create a very eye-catching newsletter. They have all the analytics tools that you would expect, and I really love their ebooks.

They just aren’t a service that affiliate marketers should be using… again not because they are bad.

They are just looking to work with a different type of customer.

If you are planning to do affiliate marketing, my best recommendation is using AWeber. You can read my review: AWeber: The Best Email Management System? and decide if AWeber makes sense for your business.

To be totally fair, I haven’t heard of many MailChimp users being banned… but I just don’t like the idea of my business being in jeopardy so easily, basically loosing all of your subscribers in an instant.

Not my kind of odds.

What do you think? Let’s continue the conversation in the comments section. I’m really interested in what everyone has to say.

The Price

Nothing is free, but wait…MailChimp is!  Or rather, MailChimp can be free…if you can live with a few limitations.  A free account can store up to 2000 subscribers and send no more than 12,000 e-mails per month.  Alternatively, there are high-volume monthly plans that start at $380 for 450,000 e-mails per month and 75,000 contacts as well as a pay-as-you-go credit-plan that starts at $9 per 300 e-mails and only gets more affordable.  With a free plan available, it really does not make sense not to give MailChimp a try and see if it can help you drive customers to your site.

Nick Reese is a multi-passionate entrepreneur who believes anyone can transform their business and life they they’ve got guts and hustle. He’s also the co-founder of Broadband Now which aims to simplify the broadband shopping process.