Mailchimp

Email marketing

Updated May 1, 2018

9 updates


SCORE BREAKDOWN

User Interface

19/25

Cost

22/25

Differentiation

14/25

Effectiveness

10/25

Pros

  • Very affordable
  • Easy to use

Cons

  • Poor analytics options
  • Focus on stopping spam means less subscribers

Mail Chimp is the market-standard for email marketing, but due to strong anti-SPAM measures and focus on small organizations, it isn’t well suited for most campaign or causes. With an affordable plan and easy-to-use features, you can strategically reach contacts with uniquely styled emails and materials. It is ideal for quickly getting a message out to supporters, sending notifications for upcoming events, and making the all-important ask for a financial contribution.

Easy to Use

One of the strengths of MailChimp is it is dead-simple to use. Creating an account is very straightforward and all automated. MailChimp just asks for contact information of the account manager as well as an email to use as the “from email” for all of the emails sent. 

One of the most useful features in MailChimp is the contact manager, which allows you to seamlessly upload and export email contact lists. You are then able to easily categorize email contacts in separate lists for more targeted campaigns and newsletters (i.e. grassroots volunteers vs. general email list). Contacts that unsubscribe to your emails will be removed from the active lists (the “number of unsubscribed” metric is shown after each email is sent). You must agree that all email addresses being uploaded are from individuals who are willingly receiving your communication. It is important to note that MailChimp’s pricing scheme is based on the number of managed contacts. If the same contact (email address) exists in two separate lists, Mailchimp will count that as two contacts. 

Whether writing a newsletter to nonprofit supporters or a message to get out the vote, you can easily create and manage unique email campaigns. You are able to choose from a variety of themes, layouts, and templates to make your email unique and quickly insert photos, info, and links. The design tools available are relatively flexible, but we have certainly found restrictions in the design that a front-end engineer can get around. Uploading your own design does reduce MailChimp’s ability to track engagement and built-in automation. The designs from one email can be saved as a template to work from or simply duplicated to start your next campaign. 

Before sending a campaign, MailChimp gives you multiple opportunities to review your content before the email is sent out to a contact list. You can choose either to send your email immediately or schedule your emails to automatically send when you want, which is very helpful to schedule fundraising emails on a regular basis or event reminders.

Basic Reporting

MailChimp automatically produces simple reports that measure your emails’ click rate, open rate, and overall effectiveness. It displays email statistics based on campaign and contact list in order to better understand how to effectively reach your contacts. You are also able to see the number of clickthroughs for your individual links in the email which is helpful particularly for tracking leads for fundraising and email engagement.

The reports produced are relatively simplistic and more advanced email statistics are available for additional purchase, such as social-demographic data and comparing performance across lists. Don’t look to MailChimp to be your “deep learning” recommendation engine or utilizing external third-party data within your email strategy. MailChimp focuses on small organizations and ease-of-use for the most common email marketing use cases.

No SPAM!

One of MailChimp’s pride points is its focus on quality, long-term email engagement. Therefore, MailChimp has aggressive anti-SPAM measures. All subscription forms for contact lists default to double-opt in (requires a subscriber to confirm their subscription via email). Their software monitors for SPAM reports and is quite sensitive. Campaigns and (some argue) causes are excluded from most of CAN-SPAM because these organizations are not selling a commercial product and First Amendment considerations. As far as we know, MailChimp does not support special considerations for causes and campaigns who use its platform. MailChimp is focused on small businesses and if a business behaved similarly to most causes and campaigns (aggressive email asks and uploading large email lists), it would be labeled SPAM quite quickly.

Gets (part of) the job done

MailChimp offers a free version of the software with an upper limit on contact, but allows you access to most of its tools. The Growing Business Plan is offered for $20.00/month and a Pro Marketer Plan is $199/month. For small causes and campaigns, the $20/month is more than enough.

Overall, MailChimp is a great communications platform for newsletters and fulfills the most common needs of email. Volunteer coordinators and fundraisers will find this tool to be particularly helpful; however, this isn’t the tool for the majority of email campaigns due to more advance targeting tools, low-level modeling, and aggressive anti-SPAM measures. 

If you have any feedback on this review or you would like to suggest an app for us to review, please drop us a note – telegraph@joinlincoln.org.


Screenshots

SCORE BREAKDOWN

User Interface

19/25

Cost

22/25

Differentiation

14/25

Effectiveness

10/25

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