What is MailChimp?
Mailchimp is an email-marketing management system. Instead of risking your email being blocked by spam filters and black lists, using a system like Constant Contact or MailChimp assures you’re doing all your email marketing with compliance with email marketing laws. You can create newsletters, special discount emails, announcements, monthly reports, weekly tips, etc that can be scheduled to mail out to your subscriber list at any time in the future.
Ease of Use: Intermediate
MailChimp tries to be easy to use, but it’s complex nature when it comes to adjusting templates to fit your company’s style, adjusting problems when you paste in text that still has html code embedded in it, and the frightening lack of an undo button in the modules makes this a program that can cause enough frustration that it’s not for the utter beginner.
That said, if a beginner wants to use this program, hire someone to set up a template or two that you can replicate and just change the words and images in it each time. This will make it much more user-friendly because you’re going ot ignore a lot of features of MailChimp.
Time Involved: 30-60 minutes
I’m an advanced user. Setting up a new newsletter takes about 15 minutes. Your mileage may vary depending on skill and how complex the mailer is you want to send. Keep in mind there’s a learning curve. It will get easier the more you use the program.
Quality: 8 out of 10
MailChimp’s excellent selection of premade templates as well as it variety of features makes it easy to customize a top-notch looking email. That said, the fact it likes to get glitch when you copy/paste text from, say, a Word document or from your blog means you run a good risk of the final product not always being as polished as it could be. (A work around is to paste your text into the Notepad program, which strips the formatting and makes the text ‘plain text’, then copy the stripped version and paste that.)
Cost: FREE for up to 2,000 subscribers
Yeah, you read that right. Constant Contact is only free for like a month or so. MailChimp is free UNTIL YOU START SUCCEEDING LIKE A BOSS. Now, that said, I opted to use the Pay-As-You-Go plans which allow you to buy credits much like a Go-Phone does. Why? Because some features like Auto-Responders are only available to paid accounts. I wanted to have a special ‘thank you download’ email get sent when people signed up for my newsletter so I use the Pay-As-You-Go plan. It’s still really affordable with 300 emails for $9. If you’re using more than that a month, hop into the monthly $10/month plan. Still very affordable.
Worth it? YES!
A year ago MailChimp spent a lot of time and effort trying to make their email management system as powerful and beautiful as Constant Contact. While they’re not there entirely yet, they’ve made huge strides. There’s no doubt in my mind which is the better value. The huge number of features and sophisticated tracking of who opens and clicks through your email seems more than worth it – especially if you’re just starting out and need a free way to handle your emails!