MailChimp has been going through changes recently, I’ve been following the progress quietly for some time now. They initially changed their automation access to free accounts, then they changed lists to audiences. Both excellent changes.
Then they changed their pricing structure, which might not have been the smartest move. Although I get why they wanted to do it, I can’t imagine many people got to a point where they needed to pay for it. I don’t think it can keep up with the paid for competitors in the market.
MailChimp is amazing for a business starting out, or even an established business getting ready to get into email. The feature set is (was) good: lists, segmentation, basic email. The basic automation they have started to offer free to everyone was also a great step forward.
What makes MailChimp so great is the fact that they offer a free tier for anyone. It helps people get an understanding of email marketing and build a good follower base and for basic email marketing, it’s a great tool. However, if you start talking about paying for a tool or even getting fancier with automation then the waters start to get a bit muddy and MailChimp doesn’t offer the best solution.
If you are willing to spend money on a tool for email marketing, or even landing pages, you can get something that is already so much better than MailChimp and in order to make an impact, it needs to make its offering a lot better.
The email building functionality for MailChimp isn’t the easiest to use and it’s incredibly rigid. You get stuck with limited options on how to make something your own. Other tools, I’ve noticed, can make this a lot easier. This becomes embarrassingly clear when you try and make a landing page and it just doesn’t work as well as things like Unbounce. Although this is a specialist one trick pony, it does integrate with Marketing tools so makes the landing pages feature in MailChimp a bit redundant.
Automation functions are a good start, but it’s very linear so you can’t properly nurture an audience, you have to stick to one set of folks. Compared to dotdigital, Eloqua and other tools which allow for more interaction with different sections/types of interactions. In order to make this a decent paid for tool, then they need really work on that.
Other things they offer, like advertising solutions for major social platforms are also not important enough to consider buying the platform license. I’ve never used them and would likely aim for the advertising features for each platform I plan to work on.
Better automation tools: As mentioned above, the automation tools are incredibly basic for what you would ideally want for nurturing an audience. In a regular day I think about several ways to interact with the same audience and just running in a linear fashion won’t work. You need scenarios to keep nurturing those who have interacted with your email, not interacted with your email, or even looked at certain bits.
Easier email editing: The current editor for emails is great, don’t get me wrong. It does a brilliant job at what it’s supposed to do. But, outside of that, it’s useless. Everything looks the same, there’s barely any individuality and the features are limited. MailChimp doesn’t seem to be keeping up with the times when comes to email client improvements.
Removing the audience limitations: I understand the need for MailChimp to make money, really. But limiting how many audiences your users can have will only force people away – especially when you have offered unlimited audiences as a standard feature for so long.
Make landing pages better: This is already a crowded market. Bringing something into the market this late on and not have it on par with your competitors is ridiculous. The features and customisation of MailChimp’s landing pages are really basic and are not worth spending money on. Free? Maybe, but even then you could probably use your own website to make something better.
MailChimp is a great free tool, but as mentioned it lacks key things that make it decent enough to pay for. Against competitors its features lack a lot of important things and it feels limited in comparison.
I would worry that this recent change, forcing more people into a paid plan quicker, might persuade people to look at paid options first which could lose potential key customers.