What is the Best Free Auto Responder – MailChimp?
Product Name: MailChimp Email Auto Responder
Overall Rating: 4.5 out of 5 Stars
Price: Free Plan, $10-$35 Monthly Plan, Pro Add-on additional $199
Owners: Mark Armstrong, Ben Chestnut and Dan Kurzius
What is MailChimp?
MailChimp came into existence in 2001 and more than 10 million people and businesses use their services. It is an email service provider (ESP) that helps you, the marketer automate your email lists for your business. Many users praise this Email Service Provider (ESP) as being the best free auto responder.
This company helps businesses send out bulk emails to subscribers and customers. The main objection of email marketing is to manage your subscriber lists, review campaign reports and build email campaigns. In this review, I will give you an honest opinion of how MailChimp stacks up as an email service provider.
Who benefits from Using MailChimp ESP?
The use of MailChimp can benefit a new business owners just starting out with 500 or less email subscribers all the way up the business owner who has 100,000 email subscribers or more. This email service provider can be beneficial to beginners, intermediate and advanced business owners.
• Integration with apps that most of us already use such as, Facebook, Twitter and Google.
• Mobile options that you can have with you wherever you go. You can check reports, make notes to a subscriber, and send out a campaign and more.
• Advanced analytics that can help you grow your business.
• Great automation (paid plans) for online sellers.
• The requirement of MailChimp that all free members must include the MonkeyRewards badge to all your campaigns is really a win-win situation for you because you get paid for anyone that signs up for a paying plan under your badge.
• You are provided with a billing calculator so you can estimate the cost of your monthly plan based on the total count of subscribers in your campaign for a particular billing period. This will keep you from getting any surprises on your bill because you will know beforehand by using the billing calculator.
• If you have a Forever Free or Monthly plan and add the MailChimp Pro plan in the middle of the billing period, MailChimp will prorate the first month of the MailChimp Pro plan.
• Every list in your account is independent of the other. Therefore, if a subscriber is on more than one list they will be counted separately in each list. Meaning, a subscriber can be counted several times over.
• Under the Forever Free plan, if your business grows to 2,000 subscribers, you are still allowed to continue to collect new subscribers and will be allowed to work on your lists, but MailChimp will put a hold on your account.
You will not be able to send emails to your lists or even perform testing emails until you upgrade to a paid level. If you don’t want to upgrade you have to reduce your subscriber list down to 2,000 or less before the hold will be released for you to start sending again.
• Your monthly billing rate will be determined by the highest total amount of subscribers during the billing period even if that total count was reduced. You have to maintain the reduced subscriber total for an entire billing period before you will be downgraded to the lower monthly rate.
• The Forever Free plan does not offer auto responders for your email. You have to manually send them yourself.
• Difficult transition from the free account to a paid account.
MailChimp uses a Knowledge Base of tutorials, guides and videos to educate their users on how to use the email service as well as tools to use to help the growth of users’ businesses. They also provide several free e-books to help facilitate your learning experience.
MailChimp has wisely included a glossary that you can refer so beginners can learn to understand the language of the product. Users don’t have to skip over terms they do not understand only to miss out on important information.
With these training tools, MailChimp is able to provide complete information that shows you how to navigate their software easily. Necessary training is provided that instructs how to build campaigns, creating email messages and the easy to use templates for ready-made campaigns. There is also instruction provided to show users how to view and utilize reports.
If you have questions you may select a topic that is related to your problem and get articles that give answers to the most asked questions. If you don’t get the help you need this way, you will have to access a contact form to send in and then wait for a response.
MailChimp has what they call a “Support Team Liaison”. Each week the support team meets to discuss issues that users may be having on a regular basis and decide what steps should be taken to provide better support to resolve those issues. Then they add the information to the Knowledge Base that will clarify a particular process or make a process more user friendly.
Those who have the Forever Free plan will get an introductory period of 30 days of free email support. At the end of the 30 days, Forever Free plans will keep access only to the Knowledge Base to get information on specific issues. If you have a paid account you have an option to send email or use live chat for technical help.
The support agents are available 24 hours a day, every day. However, on the weekends only the email service is available.
MailChimp has five different business levels.
• Starting Up – MailChimp offers a Free package that allows up to 2,000 subscribers and
allows you to send up to 12,000 emails each month. There is no limited trial period and no contracts. There is no credit card information taken. There is however, a limit to the total emails you can send within a 24-hour period; that is 2,000 total emails.
This free plan level offers you the use of all standard designs, campaign tracking, setup tools and list management. In this plan you will have send out your email campaigns manually. There is no access to MailChimp auto responder.
MailChimp requires that everyone who has a free plan must include the MonkeyRewards badge in all campaigns and signup forms.
A MonkeyRewards badge lets you earn mail credits for referring paying customers to MailChimp. MailChimp will track the clicks that come from your badge and will add $30 in credits to your account and the new account of the person who signed up through your badge. This is similar to an affiliate program and is really a good way for you to earn a little money.
• Monthly Plan – This plan was created for business owners who will send out at least one
campaign each month to their complete lists. The monthly billing is determined based on the total amount of subscribers in all lists in your account.
If your subscriber totals less than 50,000 you are able to send as many campaigns as you want to within each billing period. MailChimp provides a billing calculator so you can get an estimate of how much it will cost for a monthly plan.
• Pay As You Go Plan – This plan is for owners who send out email less than once a
month. You can buy credits whenever needed and they don’t have an expiration date. You will have to purchase enough credits for the total number of your subscribers you need to send to; one credit for each email sent. You will also be required to purchase credits for any “test” emails you plan on sending so be sure to include those when determining the total count for your estimated costs.
• MailChimp Pro – This plan has advanced features that you can add to any MailChimp
account. Features that are provided for this plan include comparative reports, compliance and delivery insights, testing campaigns, and the ability to stop delivery of some campaigns sent.
• High-Volume Plan – This plan is for big businesses who send out millions of emails
each month. MailChimp requires that they review the campaign history from the past to verify if the lists are clean and have a low bounce rate, number of unsubscribes and the rate of spam complaints.
If you exceed the number of emails you are allotted to send during the billing period, MailChimp will automatically jump you up to the next highest pricing plan based on the number of emails you send per month. You must contact the High-Volume Team if you would like to get this plan.
MailChimp has one of the most inclusive features from any free plan that I have ever seen. I can understand why many users think of it as the best free auto responder. However, the Forever Free plan doesn’t offer auto responders, which is basically the reason many look for an email marketing system. It also doesn’t offer any tools that will help your emails get through spam filters, but this plan still ranks pretty high.
COMPARISON OF MAILCHIMP PLAN FEATURES
As mentioned earlier, the Starting Up is actually the Forever Free plan – costs nothing up to 2,000 subscribers, but the number of emails is limited per month. However, if you don’t want to have a limited amount of emails, you can select a monthly plan. If you select a monthly plan, then the number of subscribers is decreased as shown in the Growing Business Pricing below.
Courtesy of MailChimp — http://mailchimp.com/pricing/growing-business/
Pay As You Go Plan
$60.00 One Time
2,000 Email Credits
Courtesy of MailChimp — http://mailchimp.com/pricing/growing-business/
$25.00 per month
+ $199.00 Pro Subscription
Courtesy of MailChimp — http://mailchimp.com/pricing/pro-marketer/
MailChimp does not limit itself to providing you with the e-marketing services, but it also offers file hosting services. The hosting doesn’t use traditional methods of attaching files for the subscribers’ use.
All you have to do is upload and then link to the files hosted in MailChimp directly from the campaign builder tool. Once that is done, check your reports and you will be able to see just how many subscribers actually clicked on the file links.
MailChimp has video training to learn the details of how to use this feature. MailChimp imposes a limit of 10MB for individual files in the File Manager. Also, the images you use in your campaign have to be less than 1MB so that the files will be able to load quickly to the subscribers.
There are a few reasons why MailChimp won’t allow the use of traditional attachment.
- Attachments used for large lists will use an excessive amount of bandwidth. Using hosted files is less costly for MailChimp and also results in better delivery rates. Since it allows them to keep their costs down it allows them to be able to offer the option of having a free plan. Additionally, it allows MailChimp to provide it’s users with tracking information.
2) Many times Internet Service Providers (ISPs) block emails that are over a particular size. Using attachments can increase the size of your emails and can cause your emails to get blocked.
3) Usually virus scanners see attachments that are delivered from any bulk mailing service as a possible security threat. If that happens, the virus scanning program will block the attachment or block the email all together.
MailChimp is not accredited with the Better Business Bureau (BBB), but there is no requirement that a business get accreditation. As of January 2016, MailChimp had a rating of “F”.
Within the past three years there were a total of 25 complaints. Twenty complaints were closed; six were closed in the last 12 months. There were 3 closed due to billing issues and 17 were because of problems with the product. There were 5 complaints that were not addressed by MailChimp at all.
Courtesy of Better Business Bureau – http://www.bbb.org/atlanta/business-reviews/web-design/mail-chimp-in-atlanta-ga-5001250/complaints
Overall, it seems that most users like MailChimp, but there are a few things that could stand some improvement.
1) Most of the complaints seem to fall on customer support. It seems that users believe that not having phone support is a drawback for more difficult features when you need help right away. It is felt that in those situations, the Knowledge Base is not sufficient even though the materials are comprehensive.
2) Users seem to be of the opinion that availability of customer service options should be the same no matter which plan you have, free or paid.
3) Several advanced features are an add-on fee on top of the required monthly paid account.
MailChimp is a totally legitimate email service provider (ESP). It provides the best free plan than any other ESP. The many features that the free plan provides are very adequate for a small business or a business that is just starting up. Even though the service doesn’t provide auto responder capabilities for the free plan, overall it still provides more than enough efficiency to keep your email campaigns running smoothly.
While I feel that MailChimp’s overall pricing is fair, I find a little pricing problem that could occur to those using the Forever Free plan should they exceed to the allotted number of subscribers (2,000).
Most small businesses usually send out less than 6 email campaigns each month, but if your total subscribers exceed 2000, you will end up paying about $30 a month for subscriber totals of 2001 to 2,500. Although, you will get bumped up to the next limit of email each month you have to consider if that increase with a paid account makes since if you already send out emails of much less than is allowed with the free account.
After reading the Acceptable use Policy I have some trepidation about using MailChimp even though I think they are an excellent choice for business owners who are just starting out and for small businesses. I say this because I am an affiliate marketer and affiliate marketers are not allowed to use MailChimp per their Acceptable Use Policy.
In accordance with MailChimp’s Acceptable Use Policy – Prohibited Content”: *, a determination has been made that there are certain business types that do not adhere to their standards of acceptability and are not allowed to use their ESP. I have included an excerpt of the partial list of business types.
Courtesy of MailChimp – http://mailchimp.com/legal/acceptable_use/
It appears that affiliate marketing has been deemed not to be an appropriate business due to high rates of abuse complaints and would jeopardize their system.
Because the types of businesses listed are prohibited from using the MailChimp ESP, they run the risk of their accounts being banned. Therefore, I would definitely recommend that you make sure your business type is not listed in this list before applying for an account with MailChimp.
You will end up with a lot of wasted time and efforts if you open an account only to be banned later causing a disruption in your business. For this reason, I would not recommend the use of MailChimp to any business that is listed in MailChimp.
Although I may be prohibited from using MailChimp ESP because my online business is Affiliate Marketing, I still believe that MailChimp has the best free auto responder in comparison with others. I think it is actually just a little shy from being equal to AWeber ESP.
Name: MailChimp Email Service Provider
Verdict: [X] TOTALLY LEGITIMATE [ ] SCAM
Recommendation: [X] Highly Recommended [ ] Recommended [X] NOT Recommended *
I would love to hear about your personal experience or brief assessment of MailChimp ESP. If you still have any questions, please feel free to leave them below.
Please feel free to contact me if you need help with anything. Just make a comment below or you can always get in touch with me through wealthyaffiliate.com (here is a link to my profile).
Founder of Mom’s Trusted Affiliate