“MailChimp is simple, easy, and gets the job done. We use them for our monthly newsletters. They’ve got the right tools and templates for beginners to pick up on quickly, but they also have developer features in case you want to run more complex email campaigns. We have a lot of clients who also use MailChimp with a lot of success.”
-Jeanne Hardy, Founder & CEO of Creative Business Inc.
Why startups love MailChimp
We love MailChimp. We use it for our Stacklist newsletters and have been incredibly happy with it. It’s simple, it’s intuitive, and it’s easy to use. There’s a reason it’s the industry standard, appearing on 56% of stacklists.
eCommerce: you can connect MailChimp to your online store to learn more about your customers.
List building: with MailChimp, it’s easy to build and manage list of subscribers.
A/B testing: figuring out what works is an important part of improving any email campaign. This testing allows you to find out what gets the best click rates.
Analytics: MailChimp has robust reporting tools that give you insights into what is working in your emails and what is not.
Segmentation: MailChimp allows you to segment your users with such qualifiers as location and activity. This ensures you are always reaching your target customer.
Early pricing: In the beginning, MailChimp’s pricing options seem ideal, but they quickly spiral as your list gets bigger.
Note that before the spring of this year, one notorious deficiency of MailChimp was that it was missing robust transactional email capabilities. This year’s rollup of Mandrill into the MailChimp product - though not without controversy and a corresponding price increase - has largely closed that gap. MailChimp now serves both email marketing as well as transactional emails.
Why do people leave MailChimp? They grow.
Eventually there comes a point when startups grow out of MailChimp. The most common reasons?
Customer Service: While Mailchimp customer service is generally responsive and able to help with basic inquiries and troubleshooting, when you’re pushing the limits of the software, you sometimes need a dedicated account manager. The needs for a 9AM-6PM call-bank customer service portal often gives way to needs for account managers who can help your team innovate and even on occasion design new product features around your needs.
Complex systems: Larger enterprise platforms like Marketo and Pardot become more efficient for larger companies. Often these softwares require a dedicated specialist to manage properly. Once you have someone that can really take a deep dive, you can optimize your usage of a more sophisticated platform and do more in areas such as segmentation.
Pricing: Pricing for Mailchimp is awesome - even free - as you’re starting out. As your email list grows, MailChimp’s pricing makes it a less compelling option. This is most common complaint. So let’s go into that ...
“We used MailChimp until the list got large. The pricing model doesn’t work when you have over 100,000+ subscribers, and when we hit 500,000+, it was no longer tenable.”
-Samar Birwadker. Founder and CEO of Good&Co
There is a MailChimp plan for every subscriber count. You can check out their calculator here. MailChimp is a moderately priced tool until it scales. More sophisticated software, like Marketo, can cost more and less complex options, such as SendGrid, can cost less.
At one point, you are going to need to do more than MailChimp can accomplish.
As you can see from the table above, if you are using MailChimp for a small user base or don’t need advanced features then their pricing point becomes more attractive. However, as your list grows, you get less bang for your buck, and less features. Once you hit 50,000 subscribers MailChimp becomes one of the most expensive options. While the “lite” or “essentials” packages resemble MailChimp’s pricing, anything with advanced features quickly becomes more expensive.
Marketo: drive engagement
“We have used MailChimp in the past but we are switching to Marketo. Marketo replaces a lot of different products we are using. Marketo has a lot of bells and whistles--it does landing pages, A/B testing, everything a software suite needs to do. It’s a really cool product.”
-Chris Campbell, CEO of ReviewTrackers
Marketo is aimed at B2B marketing. With their software, you can create landing pages, perform a/b testing, and do behavioral scoring. You can also do event marketing, and it will help with webinars. Marketo also works with mobile.
One of Marketo’s most useful tools is its engagement engine, which helps you nurture leads and personalize responses to your customers. This will help a great deal in moving people through your funnel. If you need to drive engagement, target digital ads, or need a marketing automation service, Marketo could be for you.
SendGrid: email delivery, simplified
“We did marketing campaigns with MailChimp, but found that when we got into transactional emails, like integrating notification emails, SendGrid was better. When we first started using SendGrid, they were better for transactional but were weaker than MailChimp for marketing emails. But they’ve made a lot of product improvements for email marketing campaigns in addition to their strong transactional emails.”
-Ryan McQuaid, Co-founder and CEO of PlushCare
SendGrid is best known for its transactional emails, but it has made great strides into improving their email marketing and automation. It is a popular tool, appearing on 11% of stacklists. SendGrid is great at drip campaigns, and arguably gives you more for free than MailChimp does. SendGrid also prides itself on its email deliverability rates. There are less templating tools than MailChimp, which is a drawback.
Sailthru: make every digital interaction the most relevant one
“When we purchased Sailthru (in 2013), it was by far the easiest system to use for the price. That combination continues to be true. Moreover, now that we have the system up and running, the switching costs seem high.”
-Samer Hamadeh, Founder and CEO of Zeel
Sailthru is used by companies such as The Muse and SeatGeek. Sailthru is all about analytics. If your operation could improve from greater data and insights – like most companies -, then Sailthru could be a good fit for you. Sailthru is a bit more complicated to use. You need to be more comfortable with HTML than alternatives. However, there is good drip functionality.
Active Campaign: grow your business
Active Campaign is uniquely useful in that it combines an email marketing tool with a CRM. With Active Campaign, you can do split testing and event based campaigns. There is a drag and drop feature, making customization easier. It is also mobile ready. There is contact and lead scoring that allows you to capture emails and leads more effectively. It even does transactional email.
AWeber: connections that last are built in the inbox
“AWeber provided the easiest level of entry to email marketing.”
-Zach Obront, Founder and COO of Book In A Box
AWeber is used by companies, such as PivotDesk and RealLife Global. It has over 700+ templates to pick from and offers 4 split tests. It also integrates with WordPress, Paypal, and Facebook. They are known for their customer service and for their email delivery rates. There’s also a drag and drop feature for easy customization!