OMG, is everyone leaving Mailchimp? Is Mailchimp no longer a good newsletter provider for entrepreneurs and digital businesses? HALP, is everyone leaving Mailchimp?!
Seems like there have been a lot of articles and tweets this year about the sky falling for Mailchimp. Mostly around their pricing changes and charging for unsubscribers and non-subscribers, which went into effect in May 2019.
I was asked a lot (my inbox and mentions filled on the days after the pricing change) to weigh in on this when it happened and I mostly kept my mouth shut. Not because Mailchimp has me in their back pocket (they don’t), but because I didn’t yet know the consequences of the changes, so I wanted to be clear on those before saying anything publicly about them.
I also honestly think the problem here—with specifically this, but generally everything else on the internet—is the loudest voices are the only ones heard. 99% of Mailchimp’s customers didn’t angrily tweet or write about the changes because a) the changes had zero feature changes on legacy paid plans, and b) the changes weren’t actually awful or the result of an evil, profit-driven company doing dastardly things to screw their customers out of money.
Since May, I’ve re-recorded every single lesson for Chimp Essentials (my course on Mailchimp)—entirely using their new paid plans. I did this because the course needed a refresh, and because I wanted to see how the changes worked in real life business examples of needing Mailchimp to do something for your business. By learning and using the new features well enough to be confident teaching them (see: hundreds of hours), I gained the insight I needed to form an opinion.
If you think the fact that I make money from teaching a course about Mailchimp might make me too biased to believe, I understand. But read what I don’t like about their software below before making that determination. I want to have an honest conversation about the changes—good and bad—to Mailchimp paid accounts (for new plans, remember existing paid plans have no feature changes).
Changes I dislike
I told you I wasn’t a Mailchimp shill! There are things I absolutely don’t like, but that’s fine, because no business is perfect. None of them are enough for me to cry out that the sky is falling on Mailchimp or for me to leave.
Charging for unsubscribers
This is a legitimate change if you want to market to your unsubscribers (which I disagree with, but get that some companies use postcards and digital ads). If I could toggle OFF the ability to market to non-subscribers and unsubscribers, meaning there was technically no way I could email or target those people, not paying for that functionality would make sense. If I did ever need to target them with things like postcards or ads, even once, then yes, I should totally have to pay for that privilege.
A shift from just email
I get why Mailchimp has added social posting, ads, and postcards into their platform as a business move since they serve small businesses with limited time so accessing everything in a single place is smart. But, I know I’m not alone when I say that I really just want email from Mailchimp. They do email so well—in the past and currently after these changes. My entire business runs almost entirely on Mailchimp and almost all of my revenue is generated by Mailchimp campaigns and segmented automation sequences. Their software is powerful enough to run my business (a one-person company, with limited time) with 2 courses, 3 software products, 2 podcasts and this list. I don’t need postcards, social posts or ads though, so again, a way to toggle “Just Email” and pay accordingly would be nice for the newer plans.
HTML/hosted signup forms
Mailchimp’s move to audiences instead of infinite lists makes so much sense, and is what I’ve been teaching for years. BUT, if you use HTML forms or hosted signup forms, you can’t further tag or segment users who are already on your list. Instead, they get an error message saying they’re already subscribed. There are workarounds, of course, like WordPress plugins, Zapier, or using their API, but tagging or segmenting folks from forms feels like it should be a fundamental feature.
Do you ever wonder why so many people talk about email platforms that aren’t Mailchimp? Not all, but most do it because other email platforms pay out really high affiliate rates. I’ve always maintained that ConvertKit’s smartest feature was paying 30% commission for the life of the person you refer (honestly, it’s brilliant). That’s a LOT of money. Whereas Mailchimp pays you a whopping $30 in credit, one time. I’m certain that some anti-Mailchimpers actively promote other software because it fills their bank accounts with cash money (and good for them!).
Changes I really like
Tags have become much more powerful. You can now tag people who signed up via a specific landing page, or tag them once they’ve finished an automation or automation sequence. Tags are even in their API, so plugins like MC4WP let you tag contacts who sign up via specific forms. Tags are FABULOUS. This is how smart email marketing works—targeting the right people, at the right time, with the right email.
You can create unlimited landing pages on any plan. How awesome is that? You can even tag people from specific landing pages, making it easy to create content upgrades, bonuses, etc.
30 days of support for free users
What? As someone who runs a few software products myself, I couldn’t imagine the amount of work that goes into offering support to people who don’t pay for your software product. But, Mailchimp does it, and does it well.
No changes for legacy users except a small price increase
Most of the outrage online was misinformed and directed at changes for existing paid users. For example, some contended that legacy paid plans would be charged for unsubscribers. In reality, there are no changes for existing paying users on legacy plans other than cost. Legacy plans do not change in functionality, but may not get every new feature they release. That seems fair to me.
Ability to run a complex online businesses (or businesses)
Nothing’s changed here, but I still feel the need to mention that I believe Mailchimp to be exceptional at helping me run my company and generating sustainable income for it. People always tell me, “I can’t use Mailchimp, my business is too complicated” and my answer is always either, “Maybe complexity is a business problem not a Mailchimp problem” or “I do some pretty complicated things with Mailchimp, can I show you how?”
While I would never tell anyone to use Mailchimp I’m 100% happy to clear up misinformation about their platform because it’s something I use and enjoy using, as well as something I really enjoy teaching. I teach this Mailchimp course because it’s what I use for my own business, and the lessons are based entirely on why Mailchimp is great for running your own online business.
After carefully looking at the changes and spending time with them on the new plans, I feel just as confident using their software as I do teaching and selling a course about it.
Admittedly their free plans are now much more limited, but think about it: they’re a business who needs to profit to stay in business. They don’t have to offer free plans, and any business who does, does so because free plans can lead to paying customers.
If you’d like to ditch Mailchimp, then please proceed. I truly hope the change is for the best in your business. Honestly. The only thing I hope is that you’re armed with the correct information before you switch, because switching (if you have tags, automations, merge fields, etc) takes so much freaking time to do. It took me four months to fully decide what I liked and didn’t like about the changes, after careful research, learning and recording lessons on the changes.
Mailchimp is still the email marketing platform I use and believe in to run my online business which includes selling courses, software products, books and speaking directly to my audience through a weekly newsletter. While I noted some drawbacks of the changes, they aren’t nearly enough for me or literally millions of other Mailchimp users to switch.