MailChimp review

MailChimp offers an easy way for marketing to do those, so-annoying (but vital), email campaigns

Overall Score 
Free entry point; Easy to create emails
Slightly clunky interface and sign-up forms; Reporting options not as extensive as rivals
Easy to use and powerful, MailChimp is the perfect option to manage an email campaign
Free for up to 12,000 emails to 2,000 subscribers per month; $10 (£7) per month for unlimited emails to up to 500 subscribers; $240 (approx £160) per month for unlimited emails to up to 50,000 subscribers

Social media might well have outpaced blogging as the communications medium du jour, but when it comes to grabbing eyeballs, there's still nothing that matches the impact of email. Pretty much everyone has either sent or received an email at some point...

Many medium-sized take one of two approaches to email: in some cases they send clunky Word-produced newsletters through Outlook to a hand-picked selection of customers; while in others they shell out for expensive enterprise-grade offerings. There is another way though: Indeed, there's a growing choice of affordable cloud-based email marketing services that offer the ability to quickly create emails and monitor their success.

Alongside Campaign Monitor, MailChimp is one of the best-known. It's pleasingly simple to set up an account; after entering basic details about your organisation you can quickly get into designing your 'campaign' – the email newsletter you send.

First you need to gain an audience and MailChimp deserves plaudits for making this so simple. If you already have a contacts database you can import it from CSV or text file or, a little more awkwardly, by copying and pasting from an Excel spreadsheet. You can also import details from CRM apps like Salesforce. If you're starting afresh, there's a clutch of pre-built templates for embeddable signup forms on your website or Facebook. These won't win design awards – too conservative – but at least there's a reference guide for manually styling the underlying code. And MailChimp does offer an open API (application programming interface) so savvy developers can plug MailChimp into other services for either import or export purposes.

First you need to gain an audience and MailChimp deserves plaudits for making this so simple.

MailChimp offers four types of email campaigns, from regular plain text or HTML newsletters to more advanced 'A/B' emails, that test the effect of different subject lines or delivery times on a segment of your audience. Once the more successful option has been determined, you can send that one to the rest. You can also limit the audience of an email by segmenting it by criteria such as the recipient's email address, location, or date of sign-up.

The constraints imposed by the variety of clients and platforms supported, inevitably means it is a struggle to produce visually stunning emails. So like the sign-up forms, MailChimp's collection of email templates is functional rather than beautiful.

Sign up for our free newsletter