Issue #317

The truth about Mailchimp

Mailchimp is popular among bloggers as a way to host one’s email list. And there is one fundamental reason for that…

Their free account.

For up to 2,000 contacts and if your needs are quite basic, then you can host your email list with Mailchimp for free.

All well and good. After all, Mailchimp is certainly a legit company who knows what they’re doing and you’re a helluva lot better off using Mailchimp than trying to self-host your list or something similar.

The problem comes when you try to actually build much of a business with this thing.

Case in point, I am working with a client right now and we wanted to send a simple segmentation email to the list. The email would contain 3 links and tell them to choose one of them based on who they are and what they’re most interested in.

My goal was that the person would click the link, we would automagically tag them, put them into a new automated email campaign, and send them to an appropriate page on the site.

This is simple stuff. But…

Apparently, Mailchimp is incapable of that. Even on their paid accounts, from the looks of it. The ability to put trigger links into an email is pretty fundamental… and it just isn’t there in Mailchimp. I found one article out there where the guy did some weird hack job to make something similar work, but wow was it ugly as sin.

So, what it comes down to is this…

Mailchimp is perfectly fine if your main intention is to send email newsletters. It’s good at that. It is a list-centric tool and it is built to the standards of a classic newsletter tool. Fancy email templates and the like… but limited in it’s ability to actually do real marketing automation.

If all you do it create content and send it out, Mailchimp will work.

Or, you just like chimpanzees and think the name is cool. 😉

But, for real needs of a growing online business, I’ll be frank…

I think Mailchimp sucks. Hard.

Around here at Blog Marketing Academy, I’m all about helping people build real business around their blog. Our focus isn’t just to blog your face off. In fact, a minority of what we do is actually blogging. If all you want to do is blog for the hell of it, Mailchimp all the way. But, for anything serious, you have no business using Mailchimp.

Mailchimp simply lacks real automation capabilities. It isn’t really subscriber-centric and that means you have very little options to ensure you can talk to each subscriber in a unique way based on what you know. That’s how real email marketing works. You’re not sending the same thing to everybody all the time. For more on that, check out my post: How To Increase Your Email Open Rates And Get Your Emails Delivered.

One more thing…

There’s also the mindset issue that comes with a free Mailchimp account.

I mean, you either want to build a real business here or you don’t. And if you do, you need to stop swimming in the kiddie pool. And Mailchimp is the kiddie pool.

Your email list is pretty much THE most valuable asset you will build in your business. If there’s any place that is WORTH investing money into, it is your email list. It is right up there with your web hosting in terms of importance.

You will not be able to build a real business on the back of totally free tools. You just can’t do it. So, if you’re spending a lot of time trying to stay “free” with anything yet expecting to somehow build up a real business, it’s time to reset your expectations. You can’t do it. There are startup costs with any business. And if you’re not willing to invest that, just go do something else.

Now, to end this off, let me address 2 things…

Thing #1: If you have a Mailchimp account, should you switch?

If they’re meeting your needs, then no. Mailchimp is fine at what they do. It’s just that… what they do doesn’t meet the needs of a real email marketing engine for a business that actually sells product. There are too many capabilities missing, or done in some oddball way.

If you are indeed intending to build a real business – and you know your email list should be utilized better than it is now – then, yes, you should leave Mailchimp.

Thing #2: What’s the better alternative to Mailchimp?

In my view, the best option for the majority of my readers is ConvertKit (not an affiliate link). ConvertKit is simple and ideal for blog-based businesses. It is subscriber-focused and has real automation capability. It is a quite impressive tool.

For quite awhile, I have been recommending Aweber on my site. They’re still good. They’ve made a lot of advancements to keep up with the times. In fact, the limitation described above with Mailchimp does not exist with Aweber. They have click automations while MC doesn’t.

Then, there’s the full-on automation tools like Drip, Active Campaign, etc. I’ve had 2 clients check out Mailerlite recently and it looks OK, too.

But, I think ConvertKit is the better option for most everybody reading this. It lacks some of the more full-featured automation ability of Drip or ActiveCampaign, but it has most of what people really need.

I will be changing my official recommendation for email list hosting to ConvertKit on the Blog Marketing Academy site. For my students to have the least issues building their own Email Marketing Engine, ConvertKit is the place to go.

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