Mailchimp

5 min read

Email marketing is one of the most underutilized tactics in digital marketing. Unlike social networks it provides a direct line of communication that you own1. When handled correctly email can be a powerful tool to deliver a targeted message that can drive people to take action.

Learning any new technique or tactic can be overwhelming, but Mailchimp is one email service provider that can make sending your first email easy. They offer a suite of tools that allow you to capture email addresses, create and send emails, and track your results.

Creating a Campaign

Mailchimp provides a guided process when creating a new campaign. Within Mailchimp, a campaign is a single email that is sent to a list of subscribers. There are four different campaign types you can create:

  • Regular ol’ Campaign, which is your standard html/text email.
  • Plain-Text Campaign, which offers no styling or presentation options.
  • A/B Split Campaign, which allows you to test two alternate versions of the same campaign.
  • RSS Driven Campaigns, where content is automatically pulled from your website’s RSS feed.

The A/B split campaign is a nice way to try different subject lines or offers with a subset of your audience, and then send the winning option to everyone. The RSS option allows you to repurpose content from your blog for a weekly email, allowing you to avoid additional content entry2.

Campaign Edit

Content and Design

When adding content you utilize Mailchimp’s drag and drop interface to add and remove content areas. Content editing is done through an interface familiar to anyone who has used Wordpress or any word processing software. The flexibility of the content editing enables you to only include the content you need instead of trimming or bloating your content to “make it fit”.

If you don’t have a designer at your disposal, Mailchimp offers ready-made templates which are easily customizable, allowing you to match the look and feel of your campaign to your existing brand. If you have a designer/developer at your disposal, Mailchimp fully supports custom templating to make your email look truly unique.

Reporting

Once your campaign is sent Mailchimp provides a nice reporting section which highlights key metrics for your campaign. The reports track individual user activity and offers comparisons to previous campaigns as well as industry averages (Based on the vertical you identified during setup). This information is extremely valuable, helping you gauge the success of your campaign and provide insight as to what content resonated with certain recipients.

Reporting

Additional Features

With the increasing number of people reading their emails on mobile devices having your content be responsive and supported across a wide range of devices is increasingly important. Mailchimp Mobile allows your to test your campaign on your personal mobile device, while Inbox Inspector remotely tests it on a wide range of devices and email clients. Using these two methods you can greatly improve the quality of your email for all of your recipients and avoid countless hours of testing and troubleshooting.

One of the biggest issues you can encounter when sending an email campaign is having it end up in the spam folder. Mailchimp’s Delivery Doctor offers additional protection against having your email flagged as spam. This service runs your email through a number of common spam filters to see whether it sets off any red flags, providing you with details so you can correct the issues. If your target audience is likely to have aggressive spam filters this feature is invaluable to ensuring you’re reaching people on your list.

Pricing

Mailchimp provides a free tier with a limit of 2000 subscribers and 12,000 emails per month. If you were to hit the subscriber limit you could send each person 6 emails per month for zero cost.

The free tier excludes some of the more advanced features mentioned above and requires you to display a Mailchimp logo in the footer of each email you send. If you hit the limits of the free tier and want to upgrade to paid subscription you’ll pay approximately $30 per month to start. This price is around the same monthly cost you’ll find with competing email marketing services.

A paid subscription starts at $10 a month, providing you with access to all of Mailchimp’s features and allowing you to send as many emails you want per month. As you add new subscribers, your monthly costs will increase.

Mailchimp Guides

Final Thoughts

Mailchimp offers a great suite of services and a solid foundation for building great email marketing campaigns. With it’s generous free plan and helpful how-to guides it’s a great place to start learning.

The features for paying subscribers provide additional security and piece of mind for the monthly fee. I would love to see some more advanced features3 for experienced email marketers added. Without these features it’s possible to outgrow their service in the long-term.

If you’re just getting started with email marketing, Mailchimp is a no-brainer. It takes less than 30 seconds to sign up today, and no credit card required, so give it a spin.


  1. If you have 10,000 fans on a social media network and it suddenly shuts down you have 0 fans. If you have 10,000 subscribers to your mailing list, you are in total control of that information and can use it at will. 

  2. Be careful with how you use this feature. Email is a more personal communication tool, and simply regurgitating your content to your email list might not be something that resonates with them. 

  3. Drip Campaigns, Chained Auto Responders, and deeper integration with third party services are on the top of my want list. 

Published on March 8th, 2014