Mailchimp is a very poular email marketing tool and almost seems like a right of passage for new business owners. A part of the initiation test of whether you have enough tenacity, grit and determination to make it as a small business owner is the challenge of setting up Mailchimp without banging your head on the table more than 300 times. It’s a good indicator of whether you’ve got what it takes to make it as an entrepreneur!
I’m joking of course though there is some truth in the frustrations that I hear about from new (or even seasoned) business owners about how confusing it is to get everything set up. And some of those frustrations are specific to Mailchimp, leaving me recommending another tool, Mailerlite, more and more.
When I’m asked why I prefer Mailerlite to Mailchimp I’ve usually not had a clear answer ready but I’ve given it some thought and wanted to share the 3 things that I feel really let it down, 2 of which are real deal breakers for me.
I’m not saying you shouldn’t use Mailchimp. There are lots of people who get on well with it and if that’s you then stop reading and go and have a cup of tea instead but if you do find it annoying then perhaps these reasons might help you to understand why a different system might be easier to use.
1. The way they count subscribers
Firstly let’s be clear that Mailchimp offer a very generous 2000 subscribers for free which is jolly nice of them.
However, while 1000 subscribers may seem like a dizzying number of people initially, the way Mailchimp count a subscriber is a little bit sneaky. When someone signs up for your freebie you will put them onto a list in order to send them some nice automated emails (see the next point) and then you’ll move them to the main list so you can send them a newsletter. At this point they are showing up twice in Mailchimp so you’ve used 2 of your free spaces.
Mailchimp only let you sign up to a list once so you need to have a new list for every freebie you offer. Or waiting list. Or workshop. And so on. And while this might not seem like a big problem when you are starting out with 1 freebie it can quickly turn into a big, fat, complicated mess of lists and if each subscriber ends up on 2 or 3 lists then your actual number of followers before you start paying is more like 300-500 which is not that hard to get. I don’t really mind that you have to pay, I mind how complicated it all gets.
2. Automations can’t move people from one list to another
Automations are really cool. They are the part of all good email marketing tools that allow you to send people emails while you are in the pub or on holiday without lifting a finger, based on what they have asked for and how they have interacted with your previous messages. It’s brilliant.
Mailchimp introduced automations to their free account last year which means you can send a welcome email to a new subscriber as well as a series of really useful emails spaced over a polite period of time. Unfortunately you can’t use automations to move people from one list to another (which you can with a lot of the competitors). This means that your list management has to be manual, which takes time and also means you are more likely to make errors. Both these things = stress in my experience so this is a big issue for me.
3. To use their GDPR compliance you can’t use embedded forms.
GDPR is a big thing and Mailchimp have made it easy to get people to comply, but only if you use their forms on their site. This can make it tricky to get your branding spot on and means you need to send people off your site to enter their details.
More sophisticated systems offer the option to enter your details on your own site and just confirm preferences off site which gives a better user experience and makes it much easier to set up without creating your own confirmation fields.
So with these 3 specific gripes against Mailchimp out of the way, what do I suggest you use instead? I recommend Mailerlite which:
- Uses groups rather than lists to divide up your people so though you only get 1000 people for free you can send them anything and everything you want without them ever being more than 1 person.
- Has fancy automations that let you move people from one group to another.
- Lets you embed pretty forms into your website while still being able to confirm user preferences in a GDPR complaint way.
What are you using? Does it drive you crazy or do you love Mailchimp?
If you fancy getting started with Mailerlite you can get a free account here and if you would like to know more about my new course that will get you all set up then you can find out more about that here.