Confused with Mailchimp's convolutaed pricing structure? You're not alone! Check out our Mailchimp Pricing Guide to learn exactly what plan is right for YOU.
If you are running an online business, or simply wanting to begin sharing messages with an online audience, you are likely looking for an email service that can give you great-looking content while saving you a few bucks.
While many email services such as Mailchimp offer free accounts for users, they are incredibly limited in their ability and functionality. The most effective parts of the service - such as unique branding abilities and access to insights are reserved for paying customers.
So which of Mailchimp’s pricing plans is right for your business or personal needs? In this article, we will take a look at what Mailchimp offers through their pricing plans, and create a strategy for deciding which plan best suits your online messaging needs.
Mailchimp has quickly risen to the role of an industry leader in the online email marketing realm. By creating an account through Mailchimp’s service, users can quickly begin generating template-based email campaigns that reach targeted audiences based on user-defined lists.
Once users have built an audience of email accounts, they can build email campaigns built from customizable templates. A user-friendly drag-and-drop interface makes building an email quick and seamless. You can even add images and video to increase the engagement with the digital consumer who expects flashy content in their emails.
If you are just starting out with your online business, or are looking for an easy way to start sending newsletters and updates, starting with Mailchimp’s free starter account may be tempting. Mailchimp is packed with great free features such as:
These features alone are pretty enticing for anyone looking to get started with sending emails that make recipients hesitate to push the “delete” button. Unfortunately, with as nice as these features are, there are some vital elements of the service that you need access to make it worth your while. How do you find those features? You need to pay up!
Before jumping into a conversation on the pricing structure of Mailchimp and which option is best for you, it is important to take a look at what Mailchimp lacks. Whether a paid-only option or missing completely, there are many elements of Mailchimp’s service that are lacking. Here are a few reasons to take a look at Mailchimp’s full suite of options before committing to a paid plan:
The free account that Mailchimp offers does not allow for auto-response email creation or implementation. The ability to send auto-responses is vital to effective digital email marketing efforts, and you will need to jump up to a paid option if you want to take full advantage of this capability.
If you are wanting to make money through your email strategy, you will need to lay down some cash for some of Mailchimp’s advanced features. Time and effort will need to be taken to adequately integrate your email forms into your website even with the free service.
Like any subscription service, Mailchimp will make it pretty difficult to leave if you decide to jump ship to another service. With their audience-building mechanisms and campaign template creation, Mailchimp bets on your lack of desire to repeat your work in keeping you as a customer.
The numbers don’t lie when it comes to this business model, as Mailchimp currently hosts over 12 million subscribers that collectively bring in over $400M in revenue each year.
Consider the steps it takes to make the switch, and you will see why Mailchimp requires your commitment once you get started:
As you can see, when it comes to choosing a price plan with Mailchimp, you will want to go into the process with a clear mind as to what it will require to pull out later.
When you use any online software with a company, it is likely that you will face issues and errors that require online customer support. Unfortunately, Mailchimp only offers email tech support with their free plans and offers phone technical support on their Premium plan.
This one huge. If you are planning to use your emails for promoting products through affiliate links, Mailchimp currently forbids affiliate marketing. Based on their policies, Mailchimp doesn’t allow for users to utilize their email services to promote other products or services outside of the direct account holder. Simply put, Mailchimp wants its users to be doing business directly with their subscribers - a strategy that prevents spamming consumers with unwanted affiliate-link emails.
With Mailchimp’s email services, sender reputation is everything. A sender’s reputation grows as your open rate increases and your bounce or spam rate decreases. If your audience begins to mark your emails as spam or unsubscribes at too high of a rate, your reputation will drop quickly. Mailchimp is pretty ruthless when it comes to penalizing reputations - too many negatives and they will ban your account quickly and permanently.
In the online sales market, eCommerce services such as Shopify have quickly become the go-to for selling products and services through websites and social media. Unfortunately, Mailchimp does not currently offer Shopify access within their system. If you rely on the use of Shopify or other similar eCommerce systems, you may want to consider another option at this time.
While the above negatives can seem costly, Mailchimp is still a fantastic service if it meets your needs. However, to take full advantage of everything Mailchimp has to offer, you need to select a paid plan. With various plans available, it can be difficult to navigate the options and choose what is right for your marketing needs and budget.
The rest of this article will focus on the available pricing plans that Mailchimp offers, as well as a guide that will help you choose the right plan for your business or personal needs.
For those not wishing to get into the weeds of specifics with Mailchimp’s available plans, here is a quick overview of the available pricing plans, including Mailchimp’s description of each plan:
Free Plan: $0
Essentials Plan: $9.99/Month
Standard Plan: $14.99/Month
Premium Plan: $299.00/Month
It is important to note that Mailchimp denotes each of these plans as “starting at” their price. As we will see below, the pricing for each plan can rise depending on your usage and audience size.
Mailchimp’s pricing plan is based on a unique system that counts the number of individuals that are included in each of your “audiences.” This means that you may have subscribers that exist in various campaign audiences, and each instance of a subscriber in an audience is counted as a unique individual. As your audience grows, Mailchimp will have you incrementally increase your monthly payment price in accordance.
What does this mean? Mailchimp will charge you on the total number of audience members you have in your account, regardless of the number of true subscribers in your system. This means you need to continually clean your data or risk being charged more and more as you add new campaigns using the same subscribers.
Mailchimp also charges you for unsubscribers - an important caveat for using the Mailchimp system. When someone clicks the unsubscribe button, they are not automatically cleared out of your system. They live on as a useless data point that continues to cost you valuable budget money! This is another reason that you will want to consistently analyze your subscribers to keep your prices low.
We won’t reiterate the details of the free account here (see above), but a basic free account will cost you nothing to use. However, as we stated above, the free account is extremely limited and will offer none of the essential features necessary for running successful marketing campaigns that drive traffic and increase revenue. With a free account, you are limited to 2,000 subscribers and one audience, as well as access to the following features:
If you are ready to start paying a bit for increased features, the first step in the paid plans for Mailchimp is the “Essential Plan”. With Essential, users will gain all of the features listed above in the free plan, with the added features of A/B testing and templates. However, the biggest addition - and the reason most pay - is access to technical support.
Unfortunately, the Essential plan lacks in its availability of the coveted auto-response function. Without having the ability to automatically respond to emails as they are responded to, you will have trouble running a thriving digital marketing campaign.
Listed below is the full list of features that are included in Mailchimp’s “Essential Plan”:
Other than the ability to access the support system, the Essential plan doesn’t add much to the free account. If you are looking for a functional email marketing system that has the bells and whistles that you need to run successful campaigns, you should consider adding a couple more bucks a month and jump up to the Standard Plan.
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Mailchimp markets its “Standard Plan” as the recommended price for most users of their system. Based on the features, the Standard Plan offers many of the features of other leading email services and gives users the necessary functions and insights to run most high-quality marketing campaigns. Here is a list of everything that Mailchimp’s Standard Plan offers to users:
With the above features included, the Standard Plan is most likely the plan that you will choose for any small to midsize business. Due to this plan being the standard, Mailchimp capitalizes on the expectation that users will quickly fill up their audiences with subscribers, and incrementally adjust the price higher and higher. This is where Mailchimp really makes their money on users, and where you should be aware of your ongoing pricing structure.
Here is a simple breakdown of what to expect price-wise as your subscriber count rises:
Remember, Mailchimp counts subscribers in multiple audiences as unique data points worth money, as well as unsubscribers, so you will see your pricing quickly rise as you add individuals to your email campaigns.
The final offering of Mailchimp’s pricing plans is the “Premium Plan”, which exists at a much higher rate per month than the previous two plans. When you sign up for the Premium Plan, you gain access to Mailchimp’s entire system of features and accessibility - which is why they market it to “email marketing professionals” only.
Here is what you gain access to with a Premium Plan:
When you consider what is added with the Premium Plan, it may be difficult to justify the price per month of the features. The increase in price is nearly twenty times that of the Standard Plan, it is based on the availability of unlimited users and audiences. The multivariate testing and comparative reporting options are not quite intriguing enough to warrant this much of a price increase unless you are a professional who lives and breathes high-level marketing data.
Unlimited subscribers, users, and audiences should be part of a Standard Plan for any email service, so offering that capability at such a high price may turn away most users toward other options.
As seen in the Standard Plan breakdown, you can quickly get to the pricing of Premium simply with a growing business! Unless you are starting out with nearly 100,000 emails that you intend to reach out to on a consistent basis, you may want to stick with the Standard Plan and adjust your price as you grow.
Mailchimp also offers a pay-as-you-go plan that you need to do a bit of site searching to access. With this plan, you pay through buying credit that you use to send emails, rather than the monthly subscription price.
The standard version of the Pay-As-You-Send plan offers 5000 credits (one credit per email subscriber) for $150. The plan doesn’t offer auto-response features, and can quickly become an incredibly expensive plan unless you plan to only send emails on occasion to a select list of recipients. It does not take much sending for you to exceed the Standard Plan.
As seen above, your Mailchimp usage will be based on your needs. Before setting out to select a pricing plan, sit down, and write out the goals you hope to accomplish with your email marketing. If you are looking to simply grow brand awareness through email newsletters, then you may be fine with the free or essentials plan - offering just enough functionality to increase your following without overwhelming you with unnecessary features
If you are just starting out as a small business or online seller, you may wish to target new customers and keep loyal clients engaged through consistent communication. If you already have a sizable audience that you wish to keep in touch with, consider the Standard Plan, which will get you started with all of the digital marketing and email features you need to grow your audience and drive your traffic to websites and landing pages.
You really need to be running a massive operation to justify the cost of the Premium Plan. As stated above, unless you are working with a list of over 100,000 active subscribers, you may want to shy away from this plan until your Standard Plan grows to the Premium pay level. Otherwise, you may be losing a lot of money for not much gain.
Based on the features and functionality of the Standard Plan, we cannot really encourage any other plan than this when using Mailchimp. Having the ability to send auto-responses, as well as having access to customer support is vital for any marketing strategy - elements that are only offered in true form at the Standard level.
As you increase your email audience, you will want to build a consistent data-cleaning routine that keeps your list short. Otherwise, you will quickly see your price per month climb through sneaky increments. Your business should be able to function with the Standard Plan with ease and succeed in creating nearly any marketing campaign you need.
Do you agree with our breakdown of Mailchimp’s pricing plan? Have you found a must-have feature that one of the plans offers that we did not mention in our review? Let us know! We would love to interact with you and use your experience to continue offering great content on our site!
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