For a number of years, my email newsletter software of choice has been MailChimp. I’m not certain how I found it, but it was probably from the link at the bottom of some organization’s email. It’s easy to use, affordable, and effective, so I use it for most of my own projects, as well as those of my clients.
Let’s take a look at some of the key reasons why MailChimp can be a useful tool for your marketing, communications, or advocacy campaign.
First, there’s the cost. I know most people would start with a laundry list of features, but for sending out simple email newsletters, cost often trumps other factors, especially for associations, nonprofits, or other resource-challenged organizations. MailChimp excels in this area. The best deal usually turns out to be a plan based on the number of email addresses on your list(s), allowing you to send an unlimited number of emails to them each month. Alternatively, you can pay per email you send, if you happen to have a large list but send very infrequently or only to targeted subsets of the master list.
If you happen to have 10,000 email addresses, you can send an unlimited number of emails each month for just $75. That’s a pretty good deal.
Of course, affordability doesn’t matter if the emails never get delivered. Fortunately, I have never had a problem with deliverability when using MailChimp. As one of the major players in the space, they have clearly done their work with ISP’s and others to ensure they do everything right to make sure their emails don’t end up in spam folders.
So it’s affordable and it works, but is it easy to use? You bet. MailChimp comes with many pre-made templates that can be easily customized. You can also develop your own layouts from scratch, if you prefer (and have the HTML design chops). Even the most unsophisticated employee in your organization should be able to get going with MailChimp using minimal instruction.
What about advanced features? MailChimp tends to keep things simple, but they do offer some higher-end capabilities, including A/B testing, RSS integration, social sharing, and integration with apps like Eventbrite and Wufoo. For agencies, there’s the ability to use a single sign-on to access multiple client accounts — a real boon for folks like me.
MailChimp also enables you to send to targeted elements of your list, based on things like pre-specified segments, subscriber activity or “member rating” (in other words, how often do they engage with your email by opening or clicking).
I will say that I find the list segmentation abilities a little clunky, but they do work. It just takes a little planning since the best way to use MailChimp tends to be to have a segmented list rather than multiple lists — it’s just a different construct than what I prefer. For example, if you have 3 lists (say members, prospects, and media) you can’t send to all 3 simultaneously. Instead you would need to set up a single list and have different segments to ensure you send the same message in a de-duped fashion. It’s not all that hard, it’s just not the way many of us think.
Finally, MailChimp offers up simple, solid reporting that tells you in real-time how many people have opened your email and clicked on links. You can then drill down to see which links generated clicks — and which users clicked which links. It’s very useful data in helping you understand the effectiveness of your messages.
Bottom line: MailChimp makes an excellent solution for your email newsletter needs.