For the small business owner, it is always a pleasure to find useful tools that help you better market your business. It’s even more of a pleasure to find one that offers a robust free option.
MailChimp is an email marketing and list management service that is simple to use and supports many powerful features. Its mascot is a cartoon chimp that delivers humorous comments as you use the product. The “Forever Free” plan includes up to 2000 subscribers and 12,000 emails per month. For most small business owners, this is more than adequate to help you incorporate email marketing into your marketing activities.
There are many reviews written about MailChimp that go in to much more detail than I will, but I wanted to highlight the main reasons why I’m a convert to MailChimp and why I recommend this service to my clients.
All the important email marketing features are included in the service, such as:
- Creating and managing your opt-in list.
- Creating and sending your email campaigns.
- Personalizing your emails to individuals.
- Tracking opens, click throughs and unsubscribes to analyze the effectiveness of your campaigns.
- Using autoresponders to set up automatic emails structured around your user’s activity.
MailChimp also makes it easy for you to:
- Upload your contacts from a .csv file directly into MailChimp, mapping your fields when uploading. This should only be used to migrate your list from another opt-in mailing list and not to upload a random list of email addresses!
- Manage your email list, including opt-ins, unsubscribes and removing bounced emails to ensure you comply with the spam laws.
- Remind your subscribers about where and why they opted in to your list, keeping unsubscribes to a minimum and avoiding someone identifying your email as spam.
- Easily create interest groups to provide more relevant information to your subscribers without duplicating your contacts into different lists.
- Create your campaign using their wizard that walks you through all the steps such as choosing which list, creating your email and sending it.
The really cool stuff includes:
- A wide variety of easy to use templates that can be customized without knowing any HTML.
- Extensive videos on how to use their service and guides to help you with email marketing. Maybe you don’t need all the hand holding, but when you do, it’s there.
- Integration with Google Analytics to see how your campaigns are driving traffic to your website.
- Sending your campaign to Twitter and Facebook (even though it is recommended that you shouldn’t auto-post to your Facebook page, this still is a nice feature for those of us who need to maintain our visibility while servicing clients!)
- RSS campaigns that enable you to track readers of your blog.
- Pre-coded signup forms for your site that integrate very easily in the widget area of WordPress (there’s a MailChimp plugin as well).
- Integration of your signup form into your Facebook Business page.
- Easy to add Twitter Tweet and Facebook Like buttons to your campaign including Facebook commenting.
- Loading your brand colors from your website which provides an easier way to customize your campaign to be consistent with your brand.
- Coding your contacts by MailChimp with a rating of 2 to 5 stars based on activity that enables you to segment your list and remove contacts that are dormant (2 stars).
- Free unlimited file and image hosting plus integration with Flickr and iStockphoto.
- Mandatory use of a double opt-in process to reduces the number of spambots that sign up for your list and keeping your list clean.
The bottom line: MailChimp is my first choice for an email marketing service for small business owners. Their service is comprehensive, versatile and easy to use.
What features have I missed that you find useful in MailChimp?