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The Mailchimp Controversy - Which Email Marketing Option is Right for Me?

Who's the best email marketing provider for authors?

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Well, the internet has been blowing up recently concerning some changes Mailchimp have made to their business model and the impact this is having on authors using their service. Of course, the internet being the internet, there are lots of (very vocal) opinions, many of which are kinda missing the point…

Namely, when you are building your email list, you’re free to do what you want with it.

Meaning, you’re not stuck with Mailchimp if their new changes don’t suit you. End result = if you don’t like your service, go elsewhere. Spend ten minutes getting annoyed, then get back to work.

These days, I send over 500,000 emails a month – and I’ve tried a bunch of different email marketing providers over the years, Mailchimp included. As my business changed, my requirements changed, but I always recommended Mailchimp as a great place for beginners to start building up their email marketing game.

But have things changed?

 

First, a little background…

For many years, Mailchimp was the go-to solution for anyone looking to introduce email marketing into their businesses. Which, let’s be fair, should be everyone.

They stood out from the pack by offering a clean, easy-to-use interface, that did one thing very well – which was sending broadcast emails. Their free plan gave you up to 2,000 email subscribers to play with before you got charged, and their pricing for premium plans was very reasonable.

In recent years, Mailchimp have added more and more features to stay in step with the competition. First, they offered email automation to people using their free plan (hoorah!) and then, more recently, they (finally) introduced a “tagging” based system to organise your subscribers, rather than a “lists” based system.

Meaning, in basic terms, you wouldn’t end up with one person subscribed to multiple different lists (and potentially getting multiple copies of the same email). Also hoorah.

But at the same time, Mailchimp also started experimenting with “extra” features – such as the ability to create and manage Facebook & Google advertising from inside your Mailchimp account, cart abandonment campaigns (when someone visits your checkout but doesn’t buy) and various e-commerce focused features.

It started getting pretty clear that Mailchimp were re-focusing their business from the “anyone who wants to dabble in email marketing” pool to the “small businesses making money” pool. A smaller demographic, to be sure, but potentially a much more lucrative one. Why? Because those small businesses will be more likely to pay.

 

 

This is all well and good, and probably a wise business move for Mailchimp. But what about authors? How does this affect us?

Well, the bottom line is – Mailchimp was never really designed for authors. Not really. It wasn’t even terribly well suited to “internet marketing” in general, due to their clunky “lists” style subscriber management and the sheer amount of faff one had to endure to set up multiple email automations that could be triggered depending on a subscriber’s actions.

But I always recommended them as a place to start because, well, (a) most beginner authors don’t have a ton of automations, and (b) it was free until you got to a point where you could probably afford it, and (c) it’s not that much effort to switch providers (well, unless you have a ton of automations, in which case I wouldn’t recommend Mailchimp anyway).

Mailchimp are much better with their email functionality now – especially since introducing a “tagging” based subscriber management (and actually making the tags do something) – but this functionality has been around for years in other providers, which we’ll get to in a moment. So it’s hardly ground breaking.

And herein lies the rub:

 

 

1. Does an author need the extra e-commerce and CRM features Mailchimp is bringing to the table?

Unless you sell a lot of books direct from your own site, then no, you don’t. And I’m yet to meet anyone who has any desire, conscious or unconscious, to run their Facebook and Google ads from inside Mailchimp.

It’s not terribly difficult to run these ads from their native dashboards, and the reporting is better there anyway. At most, I’d venture this is a “nice to have” but it’s not going to make your ads perform any better.

2. Who is Mailchimp for, these days?

Mailchimp has been leaning towards attracting small e-commerce businesses in recent years, and now they’ve gone “all in”. To be frank, they were never particularly great at email (their automations were fiddly and often didn’t do what you needed them to) but they’ve fixed a lot of that now. They’ve also added a bunch of features perfectly suited to a business that sells their own products or services direct and wants to keep tabs on the customer from start to finish, including measuring profitability, spend, and performance.

In other words, in my view at least, Mailchimp is going after the Infusionsoft crowd. So if you’re looking for a “one stop shop” to run your business, AND you sell direct from your own site, Mailchimp might actually be pretty good for you.

3. How does Mailchimp stack up with pricing?

Here’s where it gets slightly less clear cut. Mailchimp still offer you 2,000 contacts for free. But now they’ll count anyone who’s unsubscribed as part of that number – meaning you’ll need to go export your unsubscribes and then delete / archive them to keep on top of that (and you’ll still get charged for the month you “go over” your limit).

They also don’t automatically move you up and down their pricing plans as your audience grows, which is annoying (but is actually what the big CRM services do too – eg Infusionsoft. You need to keep on top of it yourself there too).

But again, it’s still 2,000 free contacts. The closest comparable service, Mailerlite, gives you 1,000 email subscribers for free. So chances are, if you’re just getting started and only have a few hundred (or zero) email subscribers, you’re going to be on a “free” plan with Mailchimp longer than you would Mailerlite.

But does that mean you should go with Mailchimp?

 

 

4. Should I use Mailchimp or someone else?

I always recommended Mailchimp for beginners because it was free, and it did the bare minimum you needed to grow an audience, build a relationship, and, you know, actually sell books.

Nothing much has changed there. With the free plan you get 2,000 contacts, one-step automations (eg – a welcome email) and the ability to broadcast to people. You get a workable tagging system and a generally pleasant interface, albeit one that’s gotten a little bit confusing recently.

But, all in all, everything you need to get started.

It’s when you hit that 2,000 limit that things get tricky. Maichimp will still have everything you need, and a bunch of extra stuff you don’t need, but their pricing starts at around $50 per month once you hit 2,500 subscribers.

Compare that to Mailerlite – which has a better automation builder, simpler tagging, and is really just as good at all the important stuff, and their pricing starts at around $30 for 2,500 subscribers.

 

 

Gun to my head, I can’t think of any reason to recommend Mailchimp over Mailerlite for anyone hitting that 2,000 email subscriber limit.

But then, that’s always been the case. Mailchimp have historically been pretty poor at offering workable email automations beyond all but the most basic sequences. They fixed that, but now they’ve boosted the price. So I still wouldn’t recommend them for anyone looking for a service that’s focused on email. Because they’re not.

So – upshot. If you’re a beginner with a small email list (or no email list) choose between Mailchimp and Mailerlite. They’ll both do pretty much everything you need. Once your audience grows large enough, and / or you start experimenting with multiple automations, Mailerlite or Convertkit are likely your best bet.

Mailerlite has everything you need, and once you hit 2,500 subscribers it’ll cost you $30 a month – and is free up to 1,000 subscribers. Between those two figures you’ll pay $10 – $15 a month.


^^ Elodie uses Mailerlite to onboard her new subscribers and can segment them between her two main genres easily (NB: in the video Elodie shows us the sequences on a flowchart program, not Mailerlite itself) – find out more about email marketing sequences here

 

Downsides: their signup forms aren’t terribly customisable (and if you enable ReCaptcha you’ll probably break anything you’re using to sign people up that isn’t Mailerlite itself – why they choose to implement this in an iframe is beyond me…), their GDPR options are a little weird (you don’t appear to be able to make email consent mandatory, which would be useful-actually-necessary for people offering things delivered by email) and they had some crippling issues with deliverability and getting themselves blacklisted in the past. The latter issue appears to have been resolved (you now need approval to use their services) and the other niggles are fairly minor, and there are workarounds.

Convertkit has everything you need too, but also offers a fantastic visual automation builder, with the ability to send your subscribers off on different paths depending on which actions they take. So instead of having to build five different automated sequences and then link them all up somehow, you can build a “choose your own adventure” style email sequence all in one go. Everything they offer is super customisable, and it’s easy to create multiple paths for subscribers to take without much sweat.

Downsides: I haven’t been able to find any, other than it costs more.

 

 

The Bottom Line

At the end of the day, it doesn’t really matter who you choose. Honestly. Any one of the major email marketing providers has everything you need to grow your business as a total beginner, someone who’s growing, or someone who’s been doing this for years and needs a bucket-ton of automations and other features. Choose one that you like, that fits your needs, and you’re good to go. If you don’t like Mailchimp, move on to someone else. That’s the thing about email – take your list with you when you go.

If you’re an e-commerce business, chances are Mailchimp will be a pretty good fit. Your other alternative is something like Infusionsoft (which we use) but the pricing for those guys starts at $199 per month. Which makes $49 per month sound like a damn good deal – which it is, for the features you’ll get. The major issue being – 99.9% of authors don’t need them. But hey, if you want to sign up for their free plan, you can’t really go too wrong until you start approaching that 2,000 contact limit or start needing to add more complicated automations.

Downsides: if you’re an author, you’re paying for a lot of features you won’t use. They don’t have a visual email automation builder, which makes setting up more than a handful of linked sequences a total pain. Their pricing doesn’t move up and down with your audience growth – and their interface can get a bit overwhelming, and you’ll have to pay for people who unsubscribe, until you archive or delete them (which might take you over that month’s contact limit anyway). Deleting or archiving unsubscribes also means you’ll need to keep some kind of record of them somewhere, for GDPR purposes, so you’ll probably need to export a CSV and save it somewhere. Which is also a pain. But again, this is a common requirement for CRM platforms – as you’re not just paying to send people emails.

If all that sounds too annoying, you’re probably better off elsewhere. But if you’re already with Mailchimp, I wouldn’t necessarily suggest you run for the hills – unless you’re close to that 2,000 contact limit, or you want more powerful automations, there’s no immediate reason to jump ship.

 

 

Final Thoughts

If you focus on email and have a few simple automations, I’d wager Mailerlite is a good fit for you. They have everything you need, nothing you don’t, and assuming they’ve fixed their deliverability issues (which it looks like they have), I could only find a few minor niggles – which might well be things you won’t even notice. They’re also aggressively priced, and have plans from $10 a month once you hit 1,001 subscribers or more. They also don’t charge for unsubscribes.

If you have – or plan to have – lots of email automations, and want to send different subscribers down different paths (eg – you write under multiple genres / pen names / series) and want to manage all of that in a super-easy interface that you can configure and personalise to your heart’s content, then I’d recommend ConvertKit.

Convertkit comes in at roughly the same price as Mailchimp, and they’re much better at email.

If you want a full-blown e-commerce CRM with built in checkouts, merchant accounts, affiliate tracking, webhooks, order tracking, tax calculations, and finance reports, then you’ll want to look at Infusionsoft (which is what we use) or Ontraport. And I’m guessing that applies to practically zero people reading this…

 

 

I’ve used / played with all the services mentioned above – and there are dozens of other options I’ve never used, which might suit you perfectly (Aweber, Constant Contact, ActiveCampaign, etc). The main thing: don’t spend too long hung up on which platform to use.

They all have their pros and cons, and all suit different budgets. Just make sure you’re using something to grow your email list – and remember, you can always switch later if you change your mind.

 

And now I’d love to hear from you: are you considering who to use for your email marketing? Are you currently with Mailchimp and thinking of switching? I’d love to hear from you in the comments!

67 Comments
  1. I’ve seen this same discussion from another source. I have only 400 subscribers and likely will not hit 2,000 for a few years. What I’m worried about is being able to move my list over to another service when the time comes. Someone stated that would not be possible, that you would have to go to new service and email all of your old subscribers and ask them to subscribe to your new website. Has anyone else had this experience or know if this is true?

    1. Nick Stephenson says:

      No, you can export your entire list and switch providers any time you like.

      1. Ed Oakley says:

        Nick, I just switched from Active Campaign to Kartra, sent an email to the list of 5,000 and got so many “bounces-is that the term?” that Kartra stopped the mailing. A nightmare. I know this doesn’t reflect what everyone else is saying, but it happened.

    2. J. D. Brink says:

      Lyle, you should be able to “export” your list as a cvs(?) file, save that to your desktop, and then upload it elsewhere. Then that whole list of email addresses and names gets populated to the new service. That’s basically what I did a while back. I’m using Mailerlite for the most part (still have some signup forms floating out there that go to Mailchimp, which I’m very slow about replacing), but I like Mailerlite way better.

    3. Minister Dee says:

      You may have to recreate your email campaigns, but you should be able to download your lists and upload to the new provider. You already have permissions. Right?

    4. Daina says:

      If you are making a new website, yes. But why would you need to make a new website if you’re just changing a mailing service provider? Your subscribers are subscribed to your site, not Mailchimp or Mailerlite or whatever you use. It doesn’t matter to them, they shouldn’t be bothered every time you change a service you use. It’s the same as if you were migrating your site from WordPress to, I dunno, something else – you’re not making a new site, you’re migrating an existing one, and the visitors/subscribers don’t really care if you run it on WordPress or whatever.

  2. Our company uses SendInBlue over MailChimp which we found does bounce backs much more often. It is a free alternative up to a certain point and has beautiful custimizations and easier lists. So far, we’re liking SendInBlue much better. One of its downsides is that it’s unable to be added to a wordpress page. We get around this by taking our Mailchimp subscribers and exporting them to SendInBlue.

  3. Thank you for this Nick. For some time now I’ve been considering the move to either mailerlite or convertakit.

    My email list is 2k now but with the regularity ( which is a bi monthly newsletter ) and subscribers coming to me now with regular bookfunnel promos run each month, convertakit is sounding more probable for me.

  4. Tammi says:

    This is good stuff, Nick. When I left MailChimp a couple of years ago, I went with Active Campaign, but that was mainly because I’d learned it previously and didn’t want to deal with a learning curve anywhere else. I’ve always heard amazing things about ConvertKit from everyone who uses them. And I use Mailerlite for a client who didn’t want to pay for a premium service yet, and have been surprised by how functional and easy it is.

    One question: Are you sure that the new tagging system replaced the lists? My understanding as I experimented with it was that “Tags” replaced what used to be called “Static segments” and now “segments” was what used to be called “Dynamic segments,” but that list creation (and duplication of subscribers across lists) hadn’t changed. I’d love to hear some more about this!

    1. Nick Stephenson says:

      Mailchimps initial foray into “tagging” was a little lacklustre – a tag is really only useful if it can be applied automatically (eg – someone clicks a link / downloads a file / signs up to a particular list) and if a tag can then automatically trigger an automation (eg – when someone signs up for list B / clicks item B they get email sequence B).

      At first Mailchimp’s tags didn’t do any of that, and were therefore fairly pointless. But it looks like they’ve fixed that now with their move to “audiences” instead of lists, and brought themselves in line with what their competitors have been doing for quite a while now.

      1. Tammi says:

        Absolutely! If you want your onboarding to do anything more than briefly introduce you, things like tags, if/then splits, etc are absolutely necessary, and I’m always frustrated by clients or students who wanted to do fancy things but also want free Mailchimp.

        To that other point, though, have the recent changes made it so that you’re only charged once for each subscriber, no matter how many lists/tags they’re on? Even with these not-great developments, there are definitely people for whom Mailchimp would be a good choice, but I’m always hesitant to recommend it because of the potential for double-dipping.

        1. Nick Stephenson says:

          In theory, yes. But I’m on a legacy plan (I switched to pay as you go so I wouldn’t lose access but also wouldn’t get charged – I occasionally need to screen-share stuff) and it seems each of my lists (several dozen) have been converted into audiences.

          Which is fairly funny, as I would now be paying $250 a month for this LOLLL.

          So it LOOKS like a subscriber is counted twice if they are on 2 different audiences. But for most people, you’d put everyone in one audience and then tag / segment them, so that shouldn’t be an issue.

          Again, that’s just what I’m seeing on my account that I don’t use any more, but it looks like you won’t pay twice so long as a contact is just in the one “audience” (which should be 99% of people).

          See “Before you Start” here: https://mailchimp.com/help/create-audience/

          Big Warning For Legacy Users: if you have multiple lists, check they haven’t been automatically converted into different audiences – it’s expensive 😀

  5. Shelley Hazen says:

    i was hoping you’d have some insight on this. I’ve been using Mailchimp for years and I’d just finished setting up links and landing pages and automations when this news came out. Needless to say, the advice from some people to up and quit Mailchimp had me very, very frustrated. I don’t intend to switch though, because of all this legwork and the fact that my audience is apparently too small to matter. Maybe when I’m famous. 🙂

    One point of confusion for me: users are going to be charged based on an audience size that includes unsubscribed contacts… I thought that was unavoidable. Based on your interpretation, as long as unsubscribed contacts are deleted, they don’t count toward audience size. Correct?

    1. Nick Stephenson says:

      Yes, no real burning need to switch just now if you’re well under the 2,000 mark and don’t need automations with more than 1 email.

      And yes, if you delete / archive a subscriber then it won’t count towards your total. But you’ll possibly still be charged if you go above your limit, even if it’s just for a day or two while you trim those unsubs down.

      ^^ this is fairly common for CRM services, but obviously if you’re only using Mailchimp for email it’s a little frustrating.

      1. Muz says:

        Nick, what are the actual steps to deleting and eliminating unsubscribers? I don’t see the process.

  6. Thanks for posting about this. I am author with over 5K subscribers on one list and under 2K on another and have already switched one account from MailChimp to Mailerlite and am switching the other soon. Fellow authors may find the article by David Gaughran interesting in terms of possible long-term problems with Mailchimp:

  7. I just purchased Sendy, which is self-hosted email list software which runs off your own website PLUS your Amazon SES account (which if you’re a 10,000 Readers student, you already have Amazon S3 and can just add it). Sendy costs $59 for a one-time software purchase + $89 to have them install it if you don’t know how to code (recommended) + $.10 cents per 1,000 emails that you send via your Amazon SES account.

    PROS of Sendy:

    – One time fee ($59)

    – Installation fee is reasonable if you don’t want to do it yourself (recommended) $89

    – Cheap cheap cheap cheap cheap emails from Amazon S3!!!

    – Unlimited mailing list subscribers on your self-hosted website

    – You can create as many different lists off of as many different pages as you wish, helpful if you have multiple pen-names or maintain multiple streams of reader magnets off of different books.

    – You get many of the features of MailChimp without the cost

    CONS of Sendy:

    – Not a lot of support. The guy who wrote it is a database manager and this is his hobby. He kindly helped me out and answers questions in the forum, but this is more of an intellectual challenge for him to code an alternative solution for the big-tech mail providers (kind of like all the Linux and GIMP volunteers) than what he does for a living. i.e., buy it, it works, but it’s up to YOU to do it right.

    – Super-fiddly to install … you’ll need some coding skills or will need to PAY $89 for somebody who knows what they are doing (recommended);

    – Between-version updates are free (i.e., 4.2, 4.3, etc), but if they have a MAJOR update (i.e., 5.0), you need to BUY the new version or be satisfied with the old version. This doesn’t happen often, but it’s a cost to factor into your decision.

    – You’ll have to MANUALLY install those updates into your website, or pay somebody to do it for you (I paid super close attention to what they did so I can replicate it myself, but then I already had some rudimentary skills and asked lots of questions so I could understand what they were doing).

    – No tagging capability at this time. You’ll need to maintain separate lists and use whatever list-cleaning process you use to make sure you don’t double-send.

    – SUPER IMPORTANT – you must VERIFY your list with Amazon SES, and then ALSO verify that your feedback mechanisms for UNSUBSCRIBES is properly installed or your SES account might get blacklisted by Amazon or you may get marked as a spammer by certain email services and not understand why your email open rate drops to the floor. This is why I recommend you PAY SENDY to install your software, because that second part is rather tricky.

    – If you use shared hosting and your website is kinda slow, there may be a delay between when a reader clicks your READER MAGNET link inside your book and your page loads for your self-hosted website reader magnet page. A lot of us overcame this problem by putting links in our books that go directly to MailChimp so the load is instantaneous. I.e., 1) you will need to re-do your reader magnet links and reupload your books; and 2) you may lose some readers who don’t feel waiting for your website page to load.

    Anyways, here’s another solution, by no means a perfect solution, but if you’re like me and don’t like getting constantly “stiffed” by these big tech giants who lure us in, and then change the rules of the game, check it out. There are pros and cons.

    https://sendy.co

  8. I left Mailchimp for Mailerlite a few years ago. They have free monthly webinars and answer questions within a couple hours. Everything I currently need is available. I recommend it to author friends.

  9. D. L. Keur says:

    Why pay at all? Use the announcement list feature where you host your website. Every solid hosting service offers that feature.

    1. Nick Stephenson says:

      Not sure what an “announcement list feature” is, but if you want to offer email incentives, onboarding, engagement, sales emails, and be legally compliant you’ll need an email service to send mass emails and set up automations 🙂

      1. I expect they’re talking about the embedded email that some website providers include. They are usually quite limited (Wix includes 3 per month in their free level, for example) and didn’t have proper unsubscribe functioning, last I looked. Very easy to use for a blog though – post and send all in one step!

        1. Sallianne says:

          I’m just starting out and just set up my Wix site but haven’t gone live because I didn’t understand the email thing. Should we forgo the Wix email program? Are they not legally compliant with all the unsubscribe stuff now?

  10. Great article that presents all the details in a clear and objective manner. Thank you! I’ve been with MailChimp from the beginning and don’t see a need to change right now. I’m nowhere near the 2,000 mark yet; and, after reading your thoughts, I am most likely to make a move to Convertkit when I get closer to that threshold if I do switch over. Thanks again for the info!

  11. Christa says:

    I have been using Mailchimp right up until now. 1989 subscribers has just now made me scramble for a better solution. Thank you for your insights! I have been looking at MadMimi that has a delicious interface but may be too simple. If you have any thoughts on them, I am all ears! After reading your article, I am thinking ConvertKit may be the right fit. Thank you again!

  12. Thanks for alerting me to this article. It is extremely helpful to me at this time since I am finally considering an email list. As with many other writers, time is a problem and with presently finishing up formatting and getting a book out while continuing to write another, I am trying to market as well. But I am hoping to take the leap in the next few weeks. Based on this article, I think I will probably go for Mailerlite. Have a great day, Nick!

    1. Nick Stephenson says:

      You really can’t go wrong with either of them. If you can afford the extra $$ for convertkit it makes running multiple automations across different audience segments super easy – so if that’s important to you, I’d sway to them. Otherwise Mailerlite is perfectly fine too 🙂

  13. Amy says:

    Hi Nick: I went over the 2K limit with a joint giveaway, and am now being charged $82.50/month by MC. This is just too rich for my blood, so I’m going to give MailLite a go. Thanks for this article!

    1. Holy mackerel! That’s way too rich for my blood, too! I just started doing BookFunnel promos recently and had my mailing list double in April. While I’m not close to the 2,000 limit yet with Mailchimp, I don’t want to be screwing around with making changes when I’m going to have other things to do when my list is that big (like getting more books out.) Given the fact I’m getting ready to launch another pen name later this year, I think I’d better make the move now so I have more flexibility.

      (And somehow I messed up my own name… Speidel shouldn’t be that hard to type!)

  14. I have a 15K+ list and the price is killing me. What is the best deal for people with larger email lists?

  15. Interesting discussion. I have (so far) a small list, beginning with MailChimp, trying out ConvertKit (I didn’t like their clunky method for composing newsletters), and ending up at MailerLite. At that time, ML had pretty much instant help which has now gone away for free subscribers. It might take a day to get help now. And yeah, setting up the email sequence was a learning curve for me. Now I’m pretty much down with their set-up, and I love how easy it is to drag and drop elements into my newsletters.

    In the beginning, I had quite a few would-be subscribers not complete the double opt-in, so I removed it. Soon after, I began getting spam subscribers. Adding the ReCaptcha has eliminated that problem.

    Bottom line: I recommend MailerLite to my author friends.

    1. DS Kane says:

      Nick –
      Thanks for offering all this very useful information. I’ve been using MailChimp for several years and have about 3k subscribers. When the number increases over 3k, I delete inactive subscribers. My marketeer manages the list for me.
      – DS Kane

    2. Linda Lenz says:

      So funny to see my maiden name here (LInda Kurth).

  16. Eric says:

    I’m partial to GetResponse and Mailerlite.
    GetResponse has one of the best visual automation systems on the market, and they grow as you grow (with webinars, abandoned cart etc.).
    And now they have a killer feature – “autofunnel” – works REEAALLY well!
    Also – they are cheap! ($15/month)

    Or Mailerlite – also great but you MUST have a domain name email e.g. “joe [at] zbooks.co etc.

    And did you know that Gumroad also have a FREE email autoresponder?
    Definitely worth checking out!

    You can segment according to which product/book they bought.
    Upgrading from the free plan only costs $9/month!

  17. Suz says:

    I loved ConvertKit but I got to 6000 subscribers and it was just too expensive to justify when it wasn’t converting to sales.
    I now use Send in Blue. It’s not as easy to use, and the tagging/segmenting isn’t as good but it’s a LOT cheaper.

  18. Caroline Clemmons says:

    I use MailChimp. I like it and hesitate to change. Saving $20 a month is tempting, though. I have 4900 subscribers.

    1. Dariel says:

      Thanks, Nick! This is very good information. I’ve considered Active Campaign, but Mailerlite’s less expensive plans have spoiled me. I made a trouble- free move from Mailchimp to Mailerlite 2 years ago and I’m happy with Mailerlite for the most part. My list is fairly large at 21K, so I pay annually to save a percentage.

      I still have my Mailchimp account because of older sign-up forms floating about heaven knows where, and a few new subscribers come from those forms every month. I set them up before I understood the importance of analyzing traffic.

      I use Zapier to import new subscribers from Mailchimp to my active account at Mailerlite, then delete them from Mailchimp once a quarter. That way, I stay on the free plan with Mailchimp.

  19. Katje says:

    I was with MailChimp and I’m switching to Mailerlite — I never got close to 1,000 subscribers, and to be honest my email newsletter game was pathetic. So this actually gives me a pretty great chance to start over from scratch.

    So far it’s been a bit of a learning curve as my first and only experience with email was Mailchimp and they approached things differently, but I’m really liking the features Mailerlite has — and I love that I can manage multiple accounts from one account, and still keep my pen names super separate.

    The automation is pretty great, if complicated to figure out at first (way more features than MC’s was, and MC ended up removing it from free plans anyway), and they allow you to put surveys right in the email — meaning with a survey in your onboarding you can easily allow your readers to self-segment, as you can set up rules that apply to the questions to segment them depending on how they answer.

    I did briefly consider the services where you pay from the very beginning, but to be honest they’re not really options for me. I’m a small fish still and just can’t afford it. And honestly, Mailerlite free offers me a lot more than Mailchimp free did.

  20. Karl Sjogren says:

    I dipped a toe into this space a few weeks ago with an email management platform called SendinBlue, which is cheaper than MailChimp or Constant Contact.
    It took me a bit to figure out how to format my message, but it eventually worked. The only hitch was that I didn’t implement the name insertion properly. As a result, my 300 messages had a salutation of “Dear [first name].”
    I’ll return to it soon. My focus is to get my first 100 books sold, and feel that a personal email and articles will make that happen faster than a mass mailing.

  21. Linda ODea says:

    I’ve been considering leaving Mailchimp for some time but am delaying because of the work involved in moving my automations. However, I’m fast approaching a time (actually, should’ve done it already) where I need people who sign up to go to different automations using tags. Mailchimp says it’s possible but for once they weren’t very helpful in how to do it.

    I’ve considered Mailerlite due to price but Convertkit may be more feasible due to the different reader magnets I now have. However, I read an article where Convertkit didn’t do so well on deliverability. Mailerlite did very well 92.6% compared to Convertkits 81%. I was surprised.

    Also, for those of you currently with Mailchimp. I contacted them about their pricing change and they said that I was grandfathered in with my plan unless I leave or become inactive for 90 days or more. I’ve been with them several years. I don’t know what their criteria is for “grandfathering” plans in, but if you’re with them and not quite ready to change, contact them before panicking.

    1. Linda ODea says:

      sorry, forgot to post the link for the article where they broke down deliverability of the different email providers. https://www.emailtooltester.com/en/blog/email-deliverability-jan-2019/

      1. Nick Stephenson says:

        That report shows Convertkit coming in third overall – ahead of Mailerlite – but it will vary depending on your usage.. (it’s worse at some things, better at others). A lot of deliverability comes down to what you put in your emails too. We get about 97% – 98% on ours.

  22. mary hagen says:

    I’ve never used Mailchimp, but I’ve thought about it. With all the negative articles I’ve read lately, I’ll skip it.
    Thank you for your informative comments.

  23. Tracy says:

    I don’t see any reason to switch from Mailchimp just yet and your concise explanation helped cement that decision. I am cl8sing in on 1000 on my list so its something I’ll be considering though.

  24. Jill Smith says:

    Hi Nick, I often read your articles and don’t reply but I’m about to start a little job where they do mass mailouts but from what she tells me it’s just from email not using any setup. I suggested Mailchimp in the interview and will take your article with me to see where they want to go. They are a small subsidy publishing company and I will need to learn their procedures before suggesting implementing anything, however, I thought this article timely.
    Thanks for your useful tips.
    Jill

    1. Nick Stephenson says:

      Pleasure! Yes, be careful “just emailing out” to more than about 30 people – it’ll get caught in spam filters / never delivered in the first place if you’re not using a proper service.

  25. Sally Rigby says:

    I’m currently with Mailchimp and have a list of 2700. I was undecided what to do but after reading your post have decided to stay where I am for now as it does everything I want and I don’t fancy learning a new system or changing all my integrations etc.

  26. Cathy Baker says:

    One of the faculty members from last week’s writer’s conference said it’s just a matter of time before MailChimp drops the free option altogether. Do you agree?

    1. Nick Stephenson says:

      impossible to say! Though reading between the lines they must not have been converting enough free plans otherwise all this change would be unwarranted… they might move to a free trial model, but if they’re targeting the infusionsoft crowd my guess is they’ll try and woo people at the stage before they’re ready for infusionsoft, making the free plan a sensible option. It’ll be VERY difficult to convince someone who thinks they need infusionsoft to get Mailchimp, unless they’re already bought in to that eco-system.

  27. Jenn says:

    I switched to email octopus a while ago. It uses AWS. I have over 7K subscribers for $19 per month.

  28. Wendy Owen says:

    I tried Mailchimp when they discarded their double optin. I think I lasted 1 week. Mailerlite has much better functionality and deliverability. For a free service I think it’s excellent for people just starting out.

  29. Brooklyn Ann says:

    I did start with Mailchimp and still use them for sending out ARCs, but left them for Mailerlite years ago because at the time Mailchimp did NOT have free automation and Mailerlite did. I am also lucky in that I got granfathered into Mailerlite’s former price of $84 a year for 1001-5000 subscribers.

  30. mailer lite wouldn’t accept me because I haven’t built out my web site yet

  31. Amy Waeschle says:

    I did exactly this–started a pen name this year, and wanted it separate from my “real” author list because of the content (didn’t want to mix up my romance readers with my women’s fiction by accident). So I started the pen name with MailChimp because it was free, but I got so annoyed. I just recently moved to MailerLite. I couldn’t stand MailChimp’s lack of features I needed–and the recent change meant that I couldn’t add any emails to my existing automations unless I upgraded! Or make new ones unless I upgraded! I also hated the way it manages the creation of segments/groups when sending an email–it seemed like every time I would have such difficulty targeting the users I was after. For example: there was no way to negatively filter out a particular group, which is essential. And they don’t let you tag users that do certain things like click on links inside emails, which is pretty standard and really necessary. So far MailerLite (switched a week ago) is working quite well. For my real name author business, I switched from MailChimp to CovertKit last August and it’s like night and day–automations are a dream, form builders are handsome and customizable, everything is so visual and intuitive. My only complaint is it’s a little expensive, and when I was onboarding the help desk was slow to respond and I got frighteningly stuck a couple of times. The help response time has improved though, and my confidence in using the system has also improved. I would disagree with Nick here and say that it DOES matter who you pick–and to NOT pick MailChimp. I started there with my first book 2 years ago and it was fairly limiting then, so switched, and this time around, MailChimp is ever MORE limiting. Email marketing for authors is supposed to take work off your shoulders, not add to it. MailerLite and ConvertKit both reduce your stress and deliver beautiful emails and let you tag users easily. I would encourage all new folks skip the “start with MailChimp because it’s free” step and proceed to MailerLite. If your list grows and you want a slicker platform, upgrade to ConvertKit.

  32. Rick says:

    Interesting! Thanks for the information and update. I had/am considering Mailchimp. Here is the problem I have…unless o have missed something somewhere, how does one build an email list?

  33. Ida Smith says:

    Thanks Nick for the article. I’ve been with Aweber for years probably paying too much, because I was told that Mailchimp emails were often blacklisted. I’ve recently been thinking of switching to Mailchimp or another email provider to cut costs, but also because I get really frustrated with setting up emails. I send out short stories to my readers and when I copy and paste them or other content into Aweber it often changes the font and loses formatting including indents or spaces between paragraphs, italics, bold, and font style and size. I spend a LOT of time correcting these formatting issues. Does anyone know of an email marketing platform that you can copy and paste content into the emails without a lot of format cleanup afterward?
    Thanks.

  34. Karen says:

    If you switch providers, I guess you lose the record of the past emails you’ve sent to your lists?

  35. Bronwyn says:

    I spent a lot of time researching autoresponders before I even signed up – deciding to go with something paid ($20/mth) where I had a lot of room to grow, all the tools I could want (campaigns, broadcasts, automations, integrations) and great customer support. I’ve been with Aweber for about 3 years now and have no complaints – they are awesome!

  36. Arial Burnz says:

    I use ActiveCampaign and I absolutely LOVE them. $45/mo for 5k subscribers on the Lite plan. They have a SUPER robust automation system, tagging, custom forms and an amazing customer service team. I HIGHLY recommend ActiveCampaign.

  37. Ruth says:

    I think for now I’ll stick with MailChimp. But I do have some non-subscribers I’d like to archive so I’m not paying for them. How would I go about doing that? Thanks!

  38. Malcolm says:

    Great reading. I have moved from technical (nuclear safety systems) to a suspence novel that is coming together slowly. This is now a hobby and is fun. In between tech writing and novel l I have two guest blogger jobs and a few travel articles. These provide regular published vissibility. Where do I expand from here, and how? I need a plan.

  39. Linda Lenz says:

    Wonderful article, Nick. Thank you. And all the comments below are very helpful too. I’ve been following you for about 3 years now and love your smart and funny mailings. We’re with Mailchimp now but will probably switch to something else when our list gets bigger. My husband Rick is the author and I help with the newsletter among other things.

  40. Elizabeth says:

    I have been using MaiChimp for seven years now. As soon as I hit 2,000 subscribers, I started paying $30 per month. My subscribers are now below 2,000 but I’m still paying $30. Thank you for the hint about culling the unsubscribes.

    I’d like to continue with MailChimp since I’m all set up there, but I don’t want to pay for subscribers I don’t have. I’m looking into Mailer Lite, but the thought of all that set up work makes me think sticking with MailChimp might be a good idea.

    Time to explore.

  41. Helena Halme says:

    Hi, thank you for this clear article. I’ve been with MailChimp for a couple of years and have 4,000 sign-ups on several different lists. I also have a few automations for various freebies. All of this makes moving from MC a complete pain. I will have to set aside at least a day or two to update all backmatter on my books, website links etc. And learn another piece of software and redo all of the emails in the automation sequences. So, although I do find MC and their automations, in particular, really cumbersome, I think I will stick with MC for now and move to Covertkit when I hit the next price level of 5,000 sign-ups. (To guard myself against the unsubscribes being counted towards the billing, I have archived all my contacts that have unsubscribed.) Is this what you’d recommend?

  42. Amy says:

    One of the things I don’t see mentioned in this article is the deliverability of ConvertKit vs Mailchimp. Mailchimp does have a higher average rate of getting emails into inboxes than ConvertKit. What has your experience been?

    I’ve used ConvertKit and Mailchimp for advanced segmentation and automated emails. Both work and while I really like Mailchimp, I favor the email platform that is easiest for the user and gets used.

  43. Leon Stevens says:

    I have been using MailChimp since March 2020. I use it for my weekly newsletter and email collection (integrated with several other promo sites that I use).
    It’s relatively easy to use. and I don’t think that I will need to switch or upgrade soon, although that would be a good thing (meaning my mailing list had skyrocketed).

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