what is mailchimp

What is Mailchimp and why do you need it?

Mailchimp is a very popular email marketing platform. Its’ primary function is to send newsletters and automated emails to grow your business results. Email marketing lets you connect with your customers, engage with them and build meaningful, long-lasting relationships.

Email marketing is a very very effective channel. The DMA has calculated email has an average ROI of $38 for each $1 spent, proving email to be an extremely cost-effective way to grow your business.

Let’s dive into what Mailchimp is and answer everything you need to know about Mailchimp and their marketing platform to streamline your email marketing efforts.

In this article:
What is Mailchimp?
Why start with email marketing
How does Mailchimp work and what is it used For?
What is the best Mailchimp training?
Is Mailchimp just an email marketing tool?
How does sending emails with Mailchimp work?
What does Mailchimp cost?
Who uses Mailchimp?
Why you should use Mailchimp
Why people don’t use Mailchimp

What is Mailchimp?

Mailchimp is an email service provider (ESP), built for helping businesses with email and online marketing. Founded in 2001, Mailchimp has grown to become one of the top email newsletter services today.

mailchimp email marketing software

With Mailchimp you can send newsletters and automated emails. You can build your email list with form or import your known contacts. Mailchimp offers pre-designed email templates and a drag and drop email builder. The tooling has built-in email analytics. With all of that, Mailchimp is pretty attractive software for businesses to start with email marketing.

Some interesting Mailchimp stats:

  • MailChimp has a 60% share of the email industry
  • Mailchimp sends 10,794 emails every second
  • Has over 11 million active customers with a total audience of 4 billion
  • Sent 8,778,853,528 emails over the Thanksgiving weekend
  • MailChimp customers generated more than $321,538,039 in revenue, using Mailchimp product recommendations

Why start with email marketing?

Email marketing is a key ingredient in the marketing strategy of most businesses, especially SMB (small and medium sized businesses). By coincidence that is where most of the users of Mailchimp fall under!

Email marketing is key to stay in touch with your customer base. It is the cornerstone of any digital business. Email marketing usually includes sending out a regular email newsletter that can include special offers, updates, information and advice.

For people with a blog, it would also link to your newest blog posts. Either automated with an RSS feed, or you can manually include links yourself. (check out this guide to email marketing for bloggers).

You can also send out one-off emails to promote your event, a special offer, or an urgent news you to highlight besides your newsletter.

How does Mailchimp work and what is it used For?

For starters, Mailchimp is a free email marketing tool as long as your list is less than 500 subscribers / 2500 emails a month. In short you can create, send and manage newsletters with Mailchimp. And then manage your subscribers, lists and CRM.

Mailchimp lets you create email marketing newsletters, or as some people endearingly call it: Chimp Mail. 😀 The Mailchimp mascot is Freddie, you can see him in the logo and all around the site and email tool. (has little to do with how Mailchimp works, but everything with why people use Mailchimp and like it.)

what is mailchimp freddie

In Mailchimp you can send email to 1,000s of people in one go, the only limit is the size of your email list. This is much different than you would in for instance personal email like Gmail or Outlook. All newsletters can be personalized and segmented in email lists / segments, to make it relevant to the subscribers.

You can also do some marketing automation, creating drip campaigns and email autoresponders, although this is not as elaborate as some other Mailchimp alternatives.

What is the best Mailchimp training?

A great way to get started with Mailchimp is to follow a specific Mailchimp training. Using Mailchimp effectively is the key to getting better results, and driving more profit.

You could spend days, weeks trying to learn Mailchimp and using newsletters by yourself, or…. know everything taught through self-paced videos in a few hours. Of course there is the MailChimp academy, which is a good place to start. Then you can look at Udemy which has a couple of reasonable MailChimp trainings, be sure to filter them through though to have a recent one that also fits your maturity level (because many are basic).

Is Mailchimp just an email marketing tool? or more?

While Mailchimp started as an email marketing platform, they have today grown to become an all-in-one marketing platform.

Last year, they added a host of new solutions to their platform for small businesses. You can create landing pages, postcards, Facebook Ads, do Google remarketing and other social ads. It also introduced (simple) CRM tools and an integrated app experience.

Mailchimp now officially claims to take care of everything businesses need to grow and market their brand. (a little overstated, but hey!)

How does sending emails with Mailchimp work?

To start sending emails you first create an account with Mailchimp. Then it is on to create a first email campaign. Writing the email, give it a subject line, enter the content, select the list, and schedule the time to send it. Then overcome your fear and press the send button.

mailchimp email marketing software send button

Let’s look at the important ways that mailchimp works in more detail.

1. Create signup Forms

As mentioned, your email list is super important. To start building an email list, Mailchimp lets you create signup forms to collect opt-ins and contact details. Once the new signups are in the tool, you can engage with them send them emails, etc.

The subscribers on your email list form the foundation of a long-lasting relationship.

mailchimp form builder example

Mailchimp’s Form Builder tool lets you create, design and customize signup forms which can be used on your website, Facebook page, mobile app and blog.

2. Design professional email Newsletters and templates with Mailchimp

Mailchimp has a drag and drop email editor that is easy to use. You can start from scratch or use one of the pre-designed templates and design tools to help you get started.

Mailchimp has over 100 email newsletter templates to choose from, suited for various messages and occasions. With the drag-and-drop email designer, you can add content and customize the colors and styles. But it is up to you to write your email copy and hook your readers.

mailchimp free email templates

Images, logos and other files can be stored in Mailchimp’s content studio.

Content studio is like an archive of (re)usable assets for your emails. So you don’t have to host your images anywhere else, and have access in case you need it for other campaigns.

3. Set up Email Automations

With Mailchimp email automation you set up email triggers. A normal newsletter you would schedule at a set time. These are a bit different. Triggers are sent automatically when certain conditions are met. Say for instance an email that triggers after someone fills in a form, or trigger to send a birthday email on their birthday.

Some examples of trigger Mailchimp emails:

  • Build your brand (welcome emails to new subscribers),
  • Increase sales (product recommendation emails, abandoned cart emails)
  • Boost customer loyalty (customer re-engagement emails, feedback emails)

Email automations generally perform better, because automated emails based on triggers are often more timely, personalized and relevant. Remember: right message to the right person at the right time!

4. Track Campaign Performance

To improve your email marketing, you want to know what is working and what what’s not. So we need to track the performance of our emails.

Mailchimp has overviews and dashboard with list growth, engagement, and revenue reports. These have valuable insights and are what you would typically expect from a simple email marketing software like Mailchimp. Helping you optimize campaigns and make well-informed decisions.

mailchimp stats ecommerce revenue

The most important reporting and statistics that Mailchimp has for you:

  • Email campaign reports – to track the performance of your email campaign, shows clicks, open rate, bounces, social activity and purchases
  • Automation reports – shows the performance of automated emails
  • Landing page reports – to track the performance of the landing pages created, shows views, clicks, list signups, and revenue
  • Ad reports – to track ad performance, shows views, clicks and RO

5. Integrate Mailchimp with other apps and web services

Integrating your email provider with other marketing channels helps to keep things in order and streamline your processes.

Mailchimp can be integrated with over 300 apps and web services, across categories.

  • Analytics – Swydo, Adverity Datatap, Geckoboard, etc.
  • Content – Outgrow, Scoop.it, WisePops, etc.
  • Design – Canva, Stripo, etc.
  • Customer Service – Accelo, LiveChat, Help Scout, etc.
  • Marketing – LeadBoxer, OptinMonster, Unbounce, etc.
  • Social – Hootsuite, AddThis, etc.
  • eCommerce – Drupal Commerce, BigCommerce, Magento, etc.

Who uses Mailchimp?

Mailchimp is one of the most popular email marketing software there is, so naturally it is used in a lot of different industries and across business sizes. They have mastered the art of “email marketing for everyone” very well. Mailchimp is used by over 20 million customers from some of the world’s well known companies, universities,charities up to small businesses and local clubs.

mailchimp market share email marketing

Mailchimp isn’t enterprise software though, and as far the automation goes, many would find the functionality only takes them so far. So it is mostly used in smaller and midsized businesses.

1. E-commerce and retail

For brick and mortar and online stores, Mailchimp can be used to attract customers, drive traffic, capture customer information and create online ads to reach new audiences.

E-commerce and retail companies can also integrate with their ecommerce platform of course. Think about triggering birthday emails and, send them product recommendations and re-engaging with lapsed customers. Mailchimp lets businesses show details on purchase behaviors in the Mailchimp interface.

While there is a lot of retailers and ecommerce companies use Mailchimp, many senders looking for more mature ecommerce email marketing will tend to use an email marketing tool that is specialised in online commerce email. Especially once they get bigger email database or want more automation or data insights.

2. Mobile and Web Apps

Mailchimp offers functionality to engagement and grow your mobile or web app.

Connecting users’ in-app activity to Mailchimp and creating personalized mails based on people’s behavior. These can be multi-channel campaigns – it is good to know that Mailchimp offers solutions to market and grow your mobile or web app.

3. Startups and small businesses

Startups and small businesses often begin using Mailchimp for their email marketing. It is the most well known email marketing application. Mailchimp is pretty easy to get into, compared to enterprise marketing platforms. They don’t need to spend a lot of time training and can spend more time getting things done.

As an owner, there are a lot of companies or agencies / freelancers that can help you with designing the email marketing templates, or you can design emails, newsletters, and landing pages yourself using the drag and drop and per-designed templates.

4. Online marketing agencies

A lot of online marketing agencies support Mailchimp, this makes sense because a lot of their clients use Mailchimp :D. There are some features specially for agencies to help you and your clients grow. You can manage multiple clients from one login.

While Mailchimp does have an agency program, where agencies get a discounted rate. It isn’t the most generous out there. (which bring us to pricing…

What does MailChimp cost?

Mailchimp is free email marketing software to start as long as you stay under 2.000 subscribers and 10.000 emails. You would say “that’s great” and it is, the freemium model is how they became so big in the first place.

But nowadays there are many competitors on the market that also offer free and cheap email marketing software. And Mailchimp is actually quite expensive compared to those. Yikes!

What does mailchimp cost

Mailchimp offer four pricing tiers, starting at free ($0), essentials ($9.99), standard ($14.99) and premium ($299) Let’s take a deep-dive into each of these Mailchimp plans to help you do a price comparison and decide which one will be best suited to your needs.

The free Mailchimp email newsletter plan

Is Mailchimp really free? Yes, you can start with Mailchimp for free here.

The free email marketing plan lets you add up to 500 contacts and send up to 2500 emails per month. You will get access to the audience dashboard, content studio (to create campaigns) and a few of the basic email templates. Apart from emails, you can also create landing pages, postcards, Facebook ads, Instagram ads, and pop-up forms.

If you get more than 500 contacts, you will need to upgrade. Signing up for the free email software plan will mean that every email you send will have a Mailchimp logo in the footer. So most people won’t stay with free for long and opt for another vendor or to go with essentials / standard.

Essentials Mailchimp email newsletter plan

The essentials plan starts at $9.99 per month for 500 contacts and 19.99 for 1500 contacts
You get access to all the email templates from Mailchimp, can do limited A/B testing, are able to schedule and pause email campaigns.

One of the biggest benefits of this plan over free is the access to email and chat support and the removal of the Mailchimp logo in the footer.

Mailchimp Standard plan

Starting at $14.99 per month for 500 contacts and 49.99 for 2500 contacts, it gives you access to additional audience insights, lets you create Google remarketing ads, design custom email templates and set multi-step event-based automation.

Mailchimp Premium plan

Starting at $299 per month for 10K contacts, the premium is the one where you can create a number of audiences and use Mailchimp’s more advanced segmentations to target contacts at a granular level.

Another feature you get access to is Multivariate Testing which takes A/B split testing a step further and you’re allowed to test a number of different variables to assess which one is most effective. The Premium plan also makes you eligible for receiving phone support.

Why should you use Mailchimp?

Now that you know what Mailchimp is, what Mailchimp does and the various Mailchimp cost plans, let’s take a look at the pros of using this email marketing service.

1. Simple and intuitive interface

Mailchimp’s interface is clean, simple and user-friendly at first glance. You can drag and drop email designer and customize email to add a touch of your brand to create attractive emails.

It makes it incredibly easy for a new user to familiarize themselves with this platform. The problem though is with some of the more advanced features, they seem to be hiding in submenu and it isn’t all that logical compared to other email marketing platforms. Mailchimp also have their own terminology they use.

2. Ideal for beginners

Owing to its easy-to-use interface and several integrations, Mailchimp is ideal for people who are new to email marketing platforms. Apart from that, it’s ‘free’ plan makes it an attractive start package for beginners.

There is a lot of free starter trainings and videos online on how to get started with Mailchimp.

3. Segmentation

Mailchimp’s segmentation feature takes basic audience segmentation and makes it easy to pull of. Through their advanced segmentation feature, you can create more targeted, precise and relevant campaigns based on a set of combinations such as purchase activity, gender, age range, and more.

4. A/B testing

While most email service providers offer A/B testing, Mailchimp lets you test multiple variations of content in the higher plans. For instance, you can create different combinations of headlines, images and body copy to see which one resonates best.

Mailchimp provides a complete breakdown of the performance of each of the combinations to understand which permutations and combinations attracted clicks.

When you shouldn’t use Mailchimp?

Well, no software is perfect and the same holds true for Mailchimp. Here are the cons of using Mailchimp.

1. Affordable, only in the short-term

As a new business or startup, going for their free email newsletter plan seems to be an affordable option because it includes most of the features at zero cost.

But, as your business grows and you touch the 500 contacts mark, you realize this plan will no longer serve you. Forcing you to go for an upgrade which is quite a steep increase in price. As mentioned, the free option also only works with Mailchimp logo at the bottom, most professional senders wouldn’t like that. And the support in the free version is very limited.

2. Limited automation features

Mailchimp offers limited automation options – which is a serious downer coming from an established email service provider like theirs.

While it does offer basic options such as auto responders, and feedback emails, it fails to build custom automations and the kind of advanced segmentation that their competitors are providing.

Mailchimp’s automation feature lacks a workflow editor which typically everybody has nowadays. Workflows are quite hidden and not as easy to use and set up as you might think.

3. Limited customer support

Mailchimp’s customer support is rather disappointing compared to others. The free email marketing plan gets you only support for the first 30 days via email.

While you have access to their Knowledge Base, there will be instances when you will be in need of customer support – and that would require you to upgrade to paid plans.

Even then there is no phone support until the premium plan.

Conclusion: What is Mailchimp?

So there you go – you wanted to know “What is MailChimp?” and you got to know everything you need to know about using Mailchimp, along with its’ pros and cons as well.

It’s safe to say that Mailchimp is a good email marketing software choice for small business email marketing. Good when you’re learning the ropes of email marketing as well.

You can use it as an email blasting service or as a free newsletter service to grow your market and business.

Adela Belin

Adela Belin is a content marketer and blogger at Writers Per Hour. She is passionate about sharing stories with the hope to make a difference in people's lives and contribute to their personal and professional growth. Find her on Twitter and LinkedIn.