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.

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At Art of Blog 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.

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.

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Written by Nick Reese

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.



  • Russ says:

    Having used both Aweber and Mailchimp and having looked all the other major email service providers out there, I have to agree with you . . . Mailchimp rocks. I also like them because they’re a local company for me (in Atlanta).

    Mailchimp makes it easy to send email campaigns and analyze the effectiveness of each. And they also have a nice RSS-to-email platform that I like better than Feedburner’s

    And like you said, it tough to beat FREE!

  • Scott says:

    I have to agree. I use Mailchimp at work with over 3000 contacts on the newsletter. I also use Mailchimp for my personal photography and it has never let me down.

  • Chad says:

    I have to say that I also decided to join forces with the MailChimp for my own upcoming websites, and I have not ever regretted that decision, not even for a split second. MailChimp is awesome.

  • Nancy says:

    I’ve used Mailchimp for a couple of months now.. and I’ve run into a weird problem. My email newsletters (written in Dutch) get auto-translated… in Dutch. Some Dutch words are written the same way as English words, but have a totally different meaning. Sometimes the result is even insulting.. I’ve unchecked the auto-translate box, so this shouldn’t even happen. It really is a big problem for me. I love Mailchimp and the way it all works, but I need this thing solved. Now 1 out of 10 of my subscribers gets an offensive letter in stead of a newsletter.
    If anyone knows how to solve this.. please help.

  • The Money Is In The List: Building A Subscriber Base says:

    […] opinion. Instead here are a couple of reviews from other people who do use Mailchimp, one from Art Of Blog and […]

  • Thu Nguyen says:

    HI Nick,

    I’ve only begun to skim the surface with e-mail marketing but it’s somewhere up my alley. I’m going to take it for a spin soon however the mass information it gives confuses me as such that I can’t take action! Overall, I’m still setting up my e-mail responder system. I just haven’t yet decided what to do with my campaign. :)

    Thanks for this review. I needed to get as much feedback as I can on who, where and how it’s used.


  • Terry says:

    Tried using their paid service. Mailchimp keep bragging on their website that they have one or two hour ticket response time, live chat etc., but I have tried to access them via live chat about five times in the last three months and there has never once been a representative available. I could say to clients such as yourself that I provide no telephone support and make life easier for myself/maximise my profits.

    Mailchimp overcharged us. After lots of toing and froing, Dan Kurzius, Partner Client Services, promised us a refund. Tried to email and phone him over 10 times, but he did not have the decency to reply or give the refund. We are owed several hundred dollars and it’s been two years now.

    Mailchimp is full of hype but extremely poor on living up their words.

  • Natasha says:

    Thanks Nick for the concise review of Mail Chimp. I’ve been teetering over whether or not to try it. With all of the scammers and hackers on the internet, you can never be to sure who’s trustworthy. Now, I’m leaning more toward trying it. I hope it goes well.

  • Jane Sheeba says:

    I have just started using Mailchimp. Actually love it for the flexibility and options. But I read a lot on the web that Mailchimp bans accounts that send mails with affiliate links. So if I use Mailchimp for my blog’s Newsletter, shouldn’t I send a promotion or an offer? That’s the only itchy stuff, otherwise I am happy with Mailchimp.


  • Andrew says:

    While Mail Chimp does have a great UI and nice API integrations, I do not recommend it for anyone who will want to upload list segments from offline systems and send just to those portions. Mail Chimp does not offer a Global Unsubscribe list or a Global Suppression list, and that causes some major headaches if you want to email a portion of your list (pulled from your order management system, for example), but not email those who have previously unsubcribed.

    The work around they offer is horrendously time consuming and at the time of this email just isn’t working. It shouldn’t take hours to get an email list up and an email out.

    They have a nice package for people who never bring their emails into an offline system for segmentation. If you do, and deal with physical products like us, STAY AWAY until they add the basics of Golbal Suppression and Global Unsubscribe.

  • Lisha says:

    Does Mailchimp send automated pre-scheduled emails? I don’t reallt get how it works. I really want to set up an email campaign, but I have no idea where to start. Is there some step-by-step guide about how to set up an email marketing service?

  • Paul says:

    Mailchimp are a bunch of non professional amateurs if you ask me. I’ve been with them for months, paid £100’s and now I found out that all the autoresponders I did setup up during this time, never worked, missing on literally 100’s of leads worth £10,000’s because of the google analytic code they said, furthermore, on the latest version 8, they changed a fundamental feature without prior notice: we are working with account managers that needs to see their clients responses, one by one; now the open and unopened report link have been disabled for good so the share reports do not shown any more email by email who opened and who clicked, also the paragraphs have disappeared [a bug]. In all circumstances nothing but “there is not a ETA for this, ETA for that..” a complete shamble!
    And if you are reading this, Mr Mailchimp, your reply in response to this is not welcome, unless you are willing to indemnify £20,000 in lost contracts, and don’t even start with the software is provided as is, because that only means it is totally unreliable as it has been demonstrated. Good luck with that!

  • Jeri says:

    I would NOT recommend using an Ipad for MailChimp! I could not copy/paste from excel sheet without loosing first and last names. If I tried to move more than 100 names, the site would log me out. When I went in all info was lost. Very frustrating. Definitely won’t be using MailChimp or recommending it.

  • akhil says:

    Looks like mailchimp is better for me. Thanks for the excellent review.