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Best Free Email Marketing Service: MailChimp Review

Best Free Email Marketing Service: MailChimp Review
Credit: MailChimp.com

After conducting extensive research and analysis, we recommend MailChimp as our 2018 pick for the best free email marketing service. To understand how we selected our best picks, you can find our methodology and a comprehensive list of email marketing services on our best picks page.

MailChimp is an excellent email marketing service that has a completely free plan for businesses with fewer than 2,000 contacts. The service includes all the features and tools small businesses need to run successful email marketing campaigns. Here is a breakdown of why it's one of our best picks.

While nearly all email marketing services allow you to test-drive their software for a month or two, MailChimp is one of only a few to offer free plans that never expire.

MailChimp's Forever Free plan allows up to 2,000 subscribers and 12,000 email sends per month. The free option provides access to all of MailChimp's design and list-building tools, automation options, and a host of reports.

If you have more than 2,000 subscribers or want to send more than 12,000 emails a month, then you will have to choose a paid plan to use MailChimp. The paid plans provide some additional features, such as the ability to integrate your account with your CRM service and send emails to various segments of your subscriber list. The cost of these plans ranges from $30 per month for up to 2,500 contacts to $150 per month for 12,801 to 25,000 contacts. All of MailChimp's paid plans include an unlimited number of emails each month.

MailChimp also offers the Pro Marketer package for an additional $200 per month. This can be added on to any of the paid plans. It includes advanced segmentation, 50 additional merge fields and transactional email capabilities.

Editor's note: Considering an email marketing service for your business? If you're looking for information to help you choose the one that's right for you, use the questionnaire below to get quotes and information from a variety of vendors for free:

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While it doesn't have the litany of features that some of its more expensive peers do, MailChimp does provide most of those that are important to small businesses. These are some of the more valuable features MailChimp's free plan includes:

  • Responsive design: All of the templates feature a responsive design that ensures the emails display properly on all devices, including smartphones and tablets.
  • Landing pages: You can create landing pages with MailChimp's drag-and-drop editor, starting with a template if you like. The landing pages may showcase products, advertise sales and discounts, run a giveaway, announce a presale, and offer a free download.
  • Social media ads: You can create Facebook and Instagram ads with MailChimp. The system allows you to build single-image or carousel ads with in-app photo-editing tools and targeting options.
  • Segmentation and groups: You can send targeted emails with segmentation groups. When someone joins your newsletter, you can segment them by groups such as location and demographics.  Prebuilt segmentations include new subscribers, active subscribers, inactive subscribers, potential customers and recent customers.
  • Signup forms: MailChimp's built-in signup forms are customizable and can be used to collect subscribers on your website and social networks.
  • Reports: MailChimp provides free plan users with a host of valuable data on individual campaigns and overall email marketing success. The system offers reports on opens, bounces, unsubscribes and opens by location.
  • Automation: You have access to automation tools, which allow you to send emails that are timely and relevant to your subscribers. These include welcome emails when subscribers are added to the list, win-back messages for inactive subscribers, and email recommendations based on subscribers' e-commerce behavior.

Other features that are available to paid plan users include more segmentation options, deeper analytics, transactional email services, a wide range of testing tools and integrations with CRM services.

Besides being free, the appeal of MailChimp is how easy the cloud-based service is to use. When you log in, the dashboard provides easy shortcuts to create new emails, add contacts to your subscriber lists, view campaign reports and access the automation tools.

The dashboard also offers some quick weekly stats on how large your audience has grown, how many customers unsubscribed and how many emails never reached their targets.

 

The MailChimp dashboard includes a variety of analytics to give you a quick overview of your email marketing efforts' performance.

 

When creating an email, you can choose from nearly 100 predesigned templates for various themes, such as newsletters, holidays and events, or from basic layout designs. You can edit each template any way you want. You can add or remove content blocks, such as text and images, and you have full control over the size, font and colors of the text, and the colors and designs of the backgrounds. In addition, there is a complete photo editor that lets you alter images any way you like.

After creating an email, you can run it through several tests to ensure it will display as you intended. You can see how it looks on computers and mobile devices and make sure all the web links are working properly.

It is also simple to create your contact lists with MailChimp. You can add email addresses in one at a time, or import entire batches via CSV files. Once you've added addresses, you can review how each subscriber reacts to your messages by seeing how many of your emails they open and how many entice them to click through to your website.

 

MailChimp provides nearly 100 predesigned templates for you to choose from for creating messages.

 

MailChimp's customer service was hard to judge. The company does not offer phone or live chat support to free plan users. Our only option was to reach out via the online form on its website.

We sent some of our questions through the form and were pleasantly surprised to get a thorough response just a few hours later. While we would have preferred to speak to someone over the phone, or at least by live chat, getting a detailed reply so quickly did provide us with some assurance that users can get help when they need it.

Where MailChimp's support shines is its online knowledgebase. It has detailed articles and numerous videos on how to use the system, create messages, build lists, etc. We like how it provides both written documentation and step-by-step videos. It makes learning how to use the service an easy process.

The biggest drawback to MailChimp's free plan is the customer service. All support for MailChimp, even on the paid plans, is over email or live chat. Phone support isn't available to anyone. Free plan users only have access to the 24/7 email support for the first 30 days. After that, they must rely on MailChimp's knowledgebase to answer their questions. Paid plan users have 24/7 email support available to them, as well as live chat support Monday through Friday. If you are think you will need more support, you might want to consider one of MailChimp's paid plans or GetResponse, our pick for the best low-cost email marketing service.

Want to learn more about email marketing services? Here's a breakdown of our complete coverage:

Additional reporting by Chad Brooks.

Editor's note: Considering an email marketing service for your business? If you're looking for information to help you choose the one that's right for you, use the questionnaire below to get quotes and information from a variety of vendors for free:

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Saige Driver

Saige received her Bachelor’s degree in Journalism and Telecommunications from Ball State University. She is the social media strategist for Business.com and Business News Daily. She also writes reviews and articles about social media. She loves reading and her beagle mix, Millie. Reach her by email, or follow her on Twitter.