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Change is afoot for MailChimp users

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In May, after rolling out additional features for a number of months, MailChimp announced some BIG changes for users, and they’re not all good news.  We’ve used MailChimp for a number of years, and it’s been brilliant – free to use (up to a certain number of subscribers), easy to use and provided integrations with our website and social media.  For the time being it looks like we’re safe from any of the major pricing changes, but read on for how they might affect you.

  1. Your pricing was previously based on the number of subscribed addresses on your List – it’s now based on the total number of addresses in your “Audience”.  Yes, unsubscribed and cleaned addresses now count towards your total.  This will make a huge difference to some users’ pricing – the number of unsubscribed and cleaned addresses in our audience is almost half the number of subscribed or active addresses.  We could be facing a 50% price increase – luckily our total number of addresses is still under the free limit of 2,000, but some users won’t be so lucky.  If your total number of subscribers is over 2,000, MailChimp will ask you to delete or archive some, or transition to a paid plan on 15th June.

  2. Previously you were able to have multiple lists on the free plan, you can now only have one Audience.  MailChimp’s suggestion is that you use tags and segments to divide your Audience.  We have two separate geographic locations for our business, and have already tagged our list accordingly – while this works for us, it won’t work for every business, particularly those with completely separate revenue streams.  It looks like any existing lists will be accepted under the new terms of use, but you will not be able to create any new lists if you are on the free plan.

  3. MailChimp have been rather vague about the remit of changes, particularly whether existing users will be able to retain their current plans, or will be automatically transferred onto the new pricing scheme.  Some bloggers are reporting that you’ll be able to keep any existing features/lists/pricing, some are claiming that the changes will be applied to all users.   Tech Crunch were told:

    Existing paid customers maintain current pricing structure and features for the time being and can move to the new packages at any time.

    This user has been given conflicting accounts by different MailChimp employees about whether he can remain on legacy pricing or will immediately be transferred to the new scheme.

  4. Pay As You Go users will see any credits purchased before 15th May 2019, expire in one year.  These previously had no expiry date, which could be an issue for anyone who has recently bought a large number of credits but wasn’t planning to use them immediately.

  5. Multi-step automation, A/B testing and other variation testing are no longer available on the free plan.  This is one change I can understand – we’ve had access to a huge number of features on the free plan, it’s fair that they want to restrict some of those to their paying customers, who want to feel like they’re getting value for their monthly fee, over and above the larger number of subscribers permitted.

Why is this happening?

MailChimp is no longer just an e-mail marketing solution – over the last few months they have introduced the ability to create Facebook and Instagram ads, landing pages, and generally reach potential customers on every available digital channel (and some offline channels as well!)  So it makes sense that they now want to count unsubscribed and cleaned addresses – while these people are no longer receiving your e-mails, you can contact them on alternative channels.  (Although I really think that for EU/GB users, this goes against the principles of GDPR, even if it’s not expressly prohibited!)

From a business perspective, we understand the need to occasionally tweak your offerings and pricing plans, particularly as your business grows.  Sometimes it’s just not sustainable to offer something for free any more – and MailChimp used to offer users a very powerful marketing system, for nothing.  Perhaps it’s just time for the bubble to burst, and for users to accept that they need to pay for services with such capabilities, after all there’s no such thing as a free lunch.  Or are MailChimp risking alienating large numbers of loyal users – whose e-mails on the free plan all contained the MailChimp logo at the bottom to advertise their services?  You can read the updated terms of service here, and find pricing details here.

What do you think – will you be continuing to use them?  

If you would like training on how to segment your existing lists, how to safely remove cleaned addresses, or indeed how to set up an e-mail marketing system, please get in touch.

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