Is Mailchimp’s free account still worth it?

By Hannah Moss

Is Mailchimp’s free account still worth it?

With so many changes being rolled out to Mailchimp recently, our Content Queen Hannah takes a closer look at what’s changed to find out if their free account is still worth signing up for.

If you’re a regular follower of our content, you’ll probably know by now that we rate Mailchimp as one of the best email marketing providers around. We explain why in our post 5 reasons why you should use MailChimp for your email marketing. It has loads of great features, is really easy to set up and use, and their Forever Free plan gives you everything you need – for free! Or, at least, that was the case until recently.

The Mailchimp evolution

Back in September 2017, Mailchimp announced they had a brand new look. They updated their logo, typeface, colors, and imagery, and even subtly changed their name from “MailChimp” to Mailchimp”. (I’m sure the lower case ‘c’ makes a lot of difference.)

I believe this marked the start of a bigger change for the company – at least publicly – as they started evolving from a simple email marketing provider to a much more comprehensive marketing platform. In May 2019, they officially announced that they’re now an “all-in-one Marketing Platform”.

Keeping up with the changes

As a marketing agency, we at Wildheart use a lot of different websites and online tools to help us in our work. These platforms are continually being updated and we often find ourselves logging in to a site to discover certain changes have been made. These are usually fairly minor changes, related to the design, layout or menu options, and are nearly always welcome improvements. If major changes are being rolled out to a site, the users and subscribers are usually notified.

But, what we’ve found with Mailchimp, is that over the course of a couple of years, lots of things started changing and evolving, so that almost every time we logged in we were discovering new features, changes in terminology, and updates we weren’t aware of. And, the more new accounts we started opening and managing on behalf of our clients, the more features we started realising were no longer included in the Forever Free plan. In fact, it’s no longer even called Forever Free anymore, as it’s highly likely that at some point you’ll need to upgrade to a paid account!

So, what’s changed in Mailchimp for the better?

So many minor changes have happened that it’s difficult to list them all. Some of the terminology has changed, for example Lists are now Audience, and much of the menu structure has been moved around. At one point the top menu was simply:

  • Campaigns
  • Templates
  • Audience
  • Reports
  • Content Studio

As of writing this, the top menu is now:

  • Create
    • Email
    • Ads
    • Website
    • Landing Page
    • Survey
    • Social Post
    • Signup Form
    • Postcard
  • Campaigns
  • Automate
    • Email
    • Ad
    • Postcard
  • Audience
  • Brand
    • Templates
    • Manage Website
    • Manage Domains
    • Content Studio
  • Reports

As you can see, they’ve had to completely update their site architecture to keep up with all the new features. You can now create websites, landing pages, ads, social posts, and even send printed postcards, all from your humble Mailchimp account!

This is all great news if you want your Mailchimp account to work harder for you and become a more rounded marketing tool. There are lots of other great improvements they’ve made too, such as: a more intuitive campaign builder; easier audience organisation using tags; improvements to their mobile app; the introduction of remarketing ads; organic social posting and scheduling; a marketing calendar; a subject line helper; and lots more.

Mailchimp changes we’re not so keen on

Of course, as marketers and yogis, we know that all things are impermanent. Products and services must continually adapt to keep up with demand, and none more so than in the digital realm.

However, as an agency that uses Mailchimp on a daily basis for our clients, there are certain changes we’re not so happy about too. Some features that were crucial to the way we work with our clients have now been removed from the free account. And these can create hurdles for our yoga and small-business clients…

No more scheduling

The biggest (and worst) change to Mailchimp’s free account – in our opinion – is that you can no longer schedule your email campaigns to be sent at a particular time. This seems like a huge oversight, as one of the main reasons for using email marketing software in the first place is to allow you to plan, and schedule, your emails!

You can of course still design and prepare your email campaigns in advance. But now – if you have one of the new free accounts – you’ll have to physically go into your account at the time you want to send your email in order to hit the send button. Not difficult, but not always convenient either.

Only one user allowed

In the free account, Mailchimp has removed the ability to have more than one user. This may not be a problem for most small businesses but if, like our clients, you need to give access to your trusted marketing agency (that’s us), this is now very difficult.

Until now, we’ve been able to manage all our clients’ Mailchimp accounts through a single login for each user. So, when I login for example, I can access all our clients’ accounts from one place, and easily switch between them whilst still being logged in.

However, for any new Mailchimp accounts set up from now on, we can only login using our client’s own login credentials. This poses challenges, not only from a security point of view (having to share login details across the internet), but also from a remote working point of view. As our team members work in various different countries, trying to login as our clients usually results in OTP (one time password) codes needing to be shared instantly via mobile or email – and when you’re working in different time zones, this isn’t always easy!

Multiple mailing lists are out

The final change we’ve struggled with is that you can no longer have more than one list (now called audience) in the free account. If this is the case for you, you’ll see this message on the audience page:

There have been instances where our clients wanted to manage two or three completely separate lists, for a variety of reasons, but this is no longer possible. In the free account, you can now only have one audience, which you can then organise using groups and tags. If you want to add any more audiences, you’ll need to upgrade.

What if you have a legacy Mailchimp account?

The good news is that if you have a legacy Forever Free account, you should still have access to all these features.

Our advice: If you already have more than one user or audience, and you want to keep these, or might want to use them in future – don’t delete them! Once you remove any existing users or audiences, you won’t be able to add them back in again later.

Even if you’re no longer using your Forever Free Mailchimp account, we’d suggest keeping it, just in case you decide to use it again in future. If you delete it and re-sign up, you’ll lose all those great legacy features you’ve been enjoying.

Will Mailchimp’s free account work for you?

So, what if you don’t yet have a Mailchimp account? We suggest it’s still worth signing up for the free version if you answer yes to the questions below:

  • Are you looking for an easy-to-use, intuitive email marketing provider?
  • Do you want a comprehensive all-in-one marketing platform that’s constantly evolving and adding new features?
  • Are you happy to send out your emails manually at the time you want to send them?
  • Are you ok only having one user login for your account?
  • Are you ok only having one audience (list), and using groups and tags to organise/segment it?

And, if you need more features than the free account offers, you can always check out Mailchimp’s pricing options to find the plan that’s right for you.

More help with Mailchimp

To help you get the most out of your Mailchimp account, check out these other useful posts:

Marketing tip #3: How to save money with MailChimp
4 steps to cultivating a high quality email list with MailChimp
How to grow your yoga community with email marketing

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