Time To Ditch Mailchimp?

Mailchimp attracted extreme criticism this week when it became clear how its new marketing services would impact its core email offering — particularly in terms of pricing — leading many long-time users to start explore alternatives (including this one).

I have been a loyal and happy Mailchimp customer for over eight years. I have also recommended Mailchimp to thousands of other authors. There have always been cheaper services, or those with more bells-and-whistles when it comes to advanced automation options and the like, but — for me at least — Mailchimp was always the perfect combination of price, user friendliness, and reliability.

Until yesterday.

FYI: this is a long and comprehensive post going over the changes to Mailchimp’s Pricing Plans and Terms of Use. If you want the short version, if you had a (paid) Monthly plan before May 15, you are protected from the worst of the changes for now, but might still want to scoot down to Alternatives to Mailchimp at the bottom of this post as I still think bad things are on the horizon for you. For everyone else — i.e. Free, Pay As You Go, or New users — the negative implications are much more immediate.

What Happened With Mailchimp‘s pricing and policies?

Mailchimp announced its pivot towards a full-service marketing platform on Monday. But it wasn’t until Wednesday that Mailchimp Legal began emailing existing users about changes to the Terms of Use that were kicking in immediately that day.

These changes included entirely new pricing tiers and policies, and a revamping of associated feature sets, with some pretty radical differences. Mailchimp’s emails weren’t clear on what was changing or who was affected, Help pages weren’t updated properly, and Support was giving out conflicting information.

When the dust settled, it wasn’t pretty.

The biggest change of all is that Mailchimp no longer determines monthly charges based on total subscriber count — as has historically been the case, and as is standard among email services. Instead, Mailchimp now bases monthly charges on a new metric which it calls Audiences, which some users may have noticed appearing in their accounts recently.

Key here is that Audiences also includes unsubscribed emails, meaning that users will be charged for unsubscribed emails as well as subscribed ones. Naturally, this announcement was received very negatively by Mailchimp users, as some would be facing increases of over 100% in their monthly charges (myself included). The situation was compounded with a lot of confusion, as the Help pages at Mailchimp weren’t yet fully updated to account for these changes, and Support seemed confused about whether existing users would be grandfathered in under the old terms.

First, Mailchimp explicitly told me in an email that legacy users would be affected by this new policy.

Mailchimp Policy changes email

Several hours later, after a hugely negative reaction online, Mailchimp appeared to backtrack, saying that legacy users would be unaffected by these changes — which would only apply to new users. Whether this was a change of heart, or muddled messaging, or a simple error, it’s hard to know for sure.

However, this doesn’t appear to be the full story — which seems typical of this bungled rollout. And several more crucial changes buried in the new Terms of Use haven’t been communicated to users at all. Some of which are pretty damn big. (You can read the new Terms of Use here.)

Furthermore, a close examination of the now-updated Help pages shows that legacy users of the Mailchimp’s Free plan will be badly affected by these changes. Previously, Mailchimp’s pricing model was free up until a user reached 2,000 subscribers, at which point you transitioned to a paid plan. It was a clever approach from Mailchimp which got them lots of new customers and made it the easiest service to recommend.

Mailchimp’s pricing policy is now changing. Not only will unsubscribed users count towards the 2,000 threshold, all those on a Free plan who subsequently transition to a paid plan will do so under the new pricing regime with no option to be grandfathered in under the old system.

New Mailchimp policy on Free plans

Additionally, those who are paid customers under the Pay As You Go system — where users pay per send rather than per month, something which was very popular with users who emailed more sporadically then regularly (for example, if you only used your list to announce new releases) — will be adversely affected also, despite Mailchimp’s claims.

First, any credits they purchased before 15 May will expire in one year — despite Mailchimp previously stating that these credits will never expire. That could get Mailchimp in some legal hot water, of course, and has caused extreme anger, particularly among those who stocked up and bought significant numbers of credits recently.

Mailchimp is explicit about not offering any cash refunds for purchased credits, but it seems email credits will now convert into dollar credits towards a Mailchimp Monthly plan. However, anyone converting to this monthly plan, even if they do it right away will be subjected to the new pricing regime, with no option to be grandfathered in under the old system.

New Mailchimp policy on Pay As You Go plans switching to Monthly plans

The only customers spared — for the moment — are those who were on a legacy paid Monthly plan as of 15 May, the day these changes were announced. I asked Mailchimp if they could guarantee that legacy Monthly plan users wouldn’t be forced into the new pricing regime at any point in the future. I also asked Mailchimp if moving to a new pricing tier (i.e. when your subscriber count increases) would trigger a move to the new pricing regime.

Mailchimp failed to respond to these inquiries and would only confirm that if you purchase any add-ons to your legacy plan, this may immediately trigger a move to the new pricing regime. So, I think it’s probably wise to conclude that this change will come to legacy Monthly plans too, sooner rather than later, I would guess — probably under some guff about “harmonizing the Mailchimp payment plans” or similar corporate blather.

Indeed, in a statement to TechCrunch, all Mailchimp would say is that legacy customers will “maintain current pricing structure and features for the time being” — which isn’t very reassuring and sounds very temporary.

Naturally, this has some people asking what the alternatives are, and I’ll get to that in a moment. But you’re probably asking yourself how we get here, and, crucially, whether there is any chance of this change being rolled back.

UPDATE September 11: As predicted, Mailchimp pricing plans for Legacy users have now changed and prices increased have by 15-20%.

Mailchimp’s Big Pivot

Mailchimp has been slowly building out additional marketing services over the last couple of years: customizable landing pages, a real-world address finder so you can do things like send postcards to your customers, and the ability to run Facebook, Instagram, or Google Ads to your email subscribers via their platform.

This week, Mailchimp fully pivoted to becoming a CRM platform — short for Customer Relationship Management. Essentially, Mailchimp wants to be your go-to platform for managing the entirety of your relationship with a customer, not just for email marketing.

This begs a lot of questions of course. Why would Mailchimp want to do this? Well, according to founder and CEO Ben Chestnut, this pivot will help Mailchimp bring in a staggering $700m in revenue for 2019.

The other obvious question is why anyone would want to run their Facebook or Google ads via Mailchimp, and that question is much harder to answer. Mailchimp claims these changes are driven by customer demand but that is difficult to believe.

You may or may not be interested in the deeper reasoning behind this big change from Mailchimp, I merely explain it to show that this is new set of policies has been a long time coming, is part of an overall corporate strategy which Mailchimp views as central to its future. In other words, this approach is unlikely to be reversed. It seems that Mailchimp has invested to much in this pivot.

Which leaves authors with a choice. Can they keep recommending Mailchimp? Can they keep using Mailchimp — even though switching is a giant pain in the ass?

I’ll argue momentarily that the answers to those questions is “No” and “Probably Not” but let’s break down the full implications depending on what kind of user you are, before looking at alternatives recommended by the Newsletter Ninja herself — Tammi Labrecque.

Why Mailchimp’s Pricing and Policy Changes Are Bad

Mailchimp’s rebranding as a supposed one-stop-shop for all your customer marketing needs is more worrying on a general level, as it indicates a lack of focus on the core product — particularly pertinent when Mailchimp launches those other services by making adverse changes to its email offering.

Of particular concern, however, are those immediate and negative changes to email:

  1. Charging by Audiences is patently unfair. You aren’t using those contacts, but you have to maintain records of them for GDPR compliance (and other reasons I’ll get to), so there is no justification for deciding how much you pay based on inactive subscribers.
  2. This will inflate costs for mosts users, significantly in some cases. If you have a large mailing list, you will have a lot of unsubscribes. It goes with the territory. Things that also increase unsubscribes include very common practices such as listbuilder promos, competitions, reader magnets, BookFunnel giveaways, or any kind of advertising aimed at boosting your mailing list. Most galling of all, those who are strict about engaging in email best practices such as list hygiene/list culling and using onboarders to weed out users who shouldn’t be on your list, will have a lot of unsubscribes for the most legitimate of all reasons. Finally, if — like me — you run your onboarder through a separate list, which people do for various logistical reasons, all new sign-ups essentially get unsubscribed when they finished onboarding and moved to a new list. Which means in practice your Audience size will be over double your actual subscriber count. Under the new Mailchimp pricing regime, this means your costs will now double too.
  3. Mailchimp’s justification for charging by Audiences is that you can now use their remarketing services to reach these unsubscribes, like by sending them a postcard or running a Facebook campaign to unsubscribes. But Mailchimp will charge you for unsubscribes even if you never use these services. Which is completely ludicrous. You can’t charge customers for services they have never used and have no intention of using.
  4. Deleting unsubscribes is definitely not the answer, as I’ve seen some suggest. Deleting unsubscribes could cause you two kinds of legal trouble. First, under my reading of GDPR, this will put you in breach of the requirement to maintain records of how a customer subscribed. You can only delete their records if they request a deletion. (That’s my understanding, at least, as someone who is not a lawyer and definitely not a GDPR expert.) Second, if Customer X unsubscribes from your list in the normal manner, and then enters some kind of group competition or promotion (like BookSweeps or a BookFunnel giveaway) that you are participating in, you are not legally allowed email Customer X again. But if you have deleted them as a contact, you will have no record of this unsubscribe, you will add Customer X to your list again when importing all the participants, and then when you invariably email Customer X again you will be breaking the law. Third, if you have any level of visibility, you might be attracting junk/spam sign-ups to your list. If you are a big author, you probably get a lot of junk sign-ups. Leaving these spammers as Unsubscribed acts as a kind of block from them signing up again under that email and keeps the problem manageable. Simply deleting these junk sign-ups leaves spammers to sign up again under the same address, removing your only real defense, other than double opt-in — which doesn’t prevent it from happening.
  5. Mailchimp’s workaround is extremely problematic. Mailchimp has attempted to defend the above by saying, “If you plan to use Mailchimp for only email marketing, you can archive your unsubscribed contacts so that they are not counted towards your whole audience pricing.” I’m not entirely clear on the GDPR implications of archiving contacts, even after reading Mailchimp’s Help pages and explicitly asking Support about same in numerous emails — a subject which was ignored, I should note. Even leaving that non-trivial matter aside, archiving unsubscribes fails to deal with the problems above surrounding importing previous unsubscribes, preserving customer history for various business reasons, those who do onboarding via a separate list, and fails to prevent junk sign-ups. Even with this workaround, it will still increase your costs as Mailchimp’s pricing plan will charge you based on the highest point your audience reached over the last 30 days. It also creates yet another layer of busywork, forcing users to manually archive everyone that unsubscribes, and the more irregularly you do that, because it’s a cumbersome process and Mailchimp hasn’t designed the tools to do it easily and quickly, the more you will end up paying. As with double-counting subscribers who are on multiple lists, Mailchimp has again made a top-down business decision that unfairly costs users unless they engage in continual, maddening busywork. Except this is several factors worse as no one can avoid unsubscribes.

And, of course, there is a massive trust issue with Mailchimp now, where there was none really before. It’s hard to give your backing to a company that has screwed its users in such a dramatic fashion.

UPDATE May 22: A UK lawyer has been in touch to dispute some of my interpretations of GDPR above and I’ve noted those issues at length in this comment below. Doesn’t materially affect the overall post, but fans of GDPR arcanery — everyone, right? — might want to read that.

What Should You Do?

Given all the above, here are my recommendations for New users, Free users, legacy Pay as You Go users, and legacy Monthly users.

I think New users should avoid signing up for a Mailchimp plan unless they reverse these changes — which I doubt will happen. So New users should look for alternatives. You’ll get info on some of those below.

Same goes for Free users. They may have a little breathing time until they hit that 2,000 Audience total limit, but Free users should start planning ahead and looking at other services.

The same also goes for Pay As You Go users. The situation is a little more complicated for them, depending on how many credits they have purchased. Those with significant credits may wish to interface with Mailchimp’s billing department to see what options are available in terms of converting to Monthly plan credit. But, in general, my recommendation is that Pay As You Go users should look for alternatives so they are ready when their credits are used up. It’s an open question whether Mailchimp is planning to phase out Pay As You Go altogether at some point — it could explain why credits suddenly have a 12-month shelf life.

The situation is more nuanced again for legacy users on a paid Mailchimp Monthly plan (which includes me). For the moment, we seem to be spared this new pricing system. It’s notable that Mailchimp Support were reasonably quick to respond to my other questions yesterday, but pointedly refused to give any guarantees that legacy Monthly users wouldn’t eventually be subject to the new pricing system at a later point, despite numerous opportunities to do so.

My take is that it will probably happen at some point for legacy Monthly users too. Indeed, the new Terms of Use — which everyone automatically agrees to by continuing to use Mailchimp after 15 May — explicitly gives Mailchimp that power.

Mailchimp Billing Changes from Terms of Use

Because of this, and all the foregoing, particularly the trust issue which has now appeared out of nowhere, my recommendation for legacy Monthly users is to start looking for alternatives too — although you appear to have a little more breathing room than everyone else. For now, at least.

More Stealth Changes At Mailchimp

In case you are still unconvinced of the need to look elsewhere for mailing list services, I discovered some more changes which weren’t communicated to users at all. These currently affect new users only, and anyone else switching to a paid Monthly plan, but I think we can expect them to impact everyone eventually. Certainly, they indicate the direction Mailchimp is heading. And that is a very worrying direction indeed.

Basic Mailchimp plans are now limited to just three audiences. In other words, you can’t have more than three separate mailing lists without paying for a premium plan which costs 50% more. This will greatly affect anyone who writes in multiple genres, or keeps separate lists for whatever reason (onboarding, different niche, separate pen name, blog subscription, side business, etc.). Even the premium plan only allows you to have five audiences. To show how limiting that is, I currently have seven audiences before I even launch my new pen name. And, of course, the new pricing regime means you can’t even combine audiences without getting charged double for moving those names across.

Most shockingly, Mailchimp’s basic paid plans will no longer include multi-step automations. This is a fairly basic feature for any email service — it’s normal to welcome new sign-ups to your list with an automated sequence of emails. Mailchimp will no longer include that feature in new Monthly plans, unless you upgrade to a more expensive plan, which will be charged at an even higher rate per month. Also not included in entry-level plans anymore are previously included features such as send time optimization and delivery by time zone.

Another change which is bound to be hugely unpopular, and sure to cause Mailchimp trouble as they haven’t flagged this to users either, is that Mailchimp will no longer automatically move you up (and down) the various pricing tiers depending on your usage/subscriber count.

Mailchimp Paid Monthly Plans - Terms of Use changes

Instead the onus will be on you to continually and proactively purchase higher plans as you grow. If you fail to do so, Mailchimp will levy penalty charges on your account. Despite Mailchimp saying in the new Terms of Use that these charges are detailed on the pricing pages, I couldn’t find them anywhere.

Finally, Mailchimp has had a long-standing and permanent 10% discount for using two-factor authentication. This is now transitioning to a temporary, three-month discount. It’s yet another back-door price increase, and 10% is not nothing either.

To sum up all the financial aspects, Mailchimp pricing has massively increased through underhanded means, and features have been gutted at the same time. To give a real-world example, if I was starting a new Monthly plan with Mailchimp today, the cumulative effect of these changes would mean I’d actually be charged triple what I’m paying right now without even getting the full set of features I have right now. For that, I’d have to subscribe to the Premium plan where I’d be facing an increase of up to 500%. It’s crazy!

Alternatives to Mailchimp

As I have been using Mailchimp for the last eight years, without needing to look at alternatives, I thought it best to bring in a real email expert to make some recommendations here. Regular readers will know that I named Newsletter Ninja as my book of the year in January. Here is the author, Tammi Labrecque, with some quick advice for those looking to switch providers:

If budget is your primary concern, MailerLite represents a nice intersection of cost and functionality. If money is less of an object, ConvertKit is recommended by heavy hitters like Andre Chaperon. And if your focus is robust tagging, segmenting, and automations, ActiveCampaign is an excellent choice (and it’s what I use).

Tammi Labrecque, email expert.

In the interests of full disclosure, please note the MailerLite/ConvertKit links are affiliate links (mine not Tammi’s) but the Active Campaign is not. I’m also a Mailchimp affiliate, and have been for eight years, in case you think such relationships color any perspectives here.

I haven’t made my own decision yet, but I’m personally leaning towards MailerLite. I will send maybe a million emails in 2019, so I’m a reasonably heavy user. While I do have onboarding sequences and engage in a little tagging and segmenting, I don’t go heavy into those activities at all, so, for me personally, I think ConvertKit or Active Campaign might be overkill. But they may suit your needs better, so check them out.

I couldn’t possibly do a comprehensive survey of all available alternatives in this already long post. But if you have personal experience of any service you wish to share, please do that in the comments below; I think everyone would find it helpful, whether your experience was positive or negative.

Making Lemonade

While all this is undoubtedly a giant pain in the ass I’m going to try and weave a silver lining here and redo my automations when I switch. Freshen them up, link to some of the previous highlights of the newsletter. Tweak a few things here and there. Doing all that is a pain normally, but if I must redo them again, I might as well buff them up.

If you want to use this an opportunity to reorganize your lists, change your email approach, get better at automations or tagging or segmentation (or learn what all that stuff is), then I’d strongly advise you to purchase Tammi Labrecque’s superb book Newsletter Ninja.

And if you want much more hand-holding, as luck would have it, Tammi’s excellent Newsletter Ninja course is opening up again in July and there are only a few places left. I took it myself previously and it genuinely was career-changing. I don’t say things like that often, people.

You can check out the course here, but let me just stress that it’s not just a bunch of videos. You get group classes and individual consulting as part of the package, so you really do get tailored solutions for your particular mailing list needs. (I’m not an affiliate for her course, by the way, and only get paid in the frustratingly soft currency of kudos, which isn’t accepted in any of my local bars.)

That’s it! Thank you for making it to the end of this post before dying of old age. Please do comment and tell us about your mailing list provider experiences and consider sharing this post with your fellow writers so they know what’s up.

Oh, Mailchimp. What a self-inflicted and catastrophic fail.

UPDATE May 22: A UK lawyer has been in touch to dispute some of my interpretations of GDPR above and I’ve noted those issues at length in this comment below. Doesn’t materially affect the overall post, but fans of GDPR arcanery — everyone, right? — might want to read that.

UPDATE July 4: I went with MailerLite in the end. I’ve been using them for several weeks and am very happy. I published a guide to from Mailchimp to MailerLite right hereit covers everything from pricing and feature differences, to moving your subscribers, rebuilding automations, logistics, and pitfalls to watch out for.

One last thing…

I hope you enjoyed this post! I just wanted to let you know that I send out exclusive content like every Friday to my mailing list subscribers.

I talk about the latest tricks with Facebook Ads or BookBub Ads, I also get into topics like content marketing, reader targeting, email marketing, and everything else under the sun that pertains to building audience and reaching readers.

By signing up to my list, you get access to the all the old emails too, as well as sneak previews of upcoming books (meaning you get the jump on the latest tricks strategies of everyone else), and exclusive discounts too.

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David Gaughran

David Gaughran

Born in Ireland, he now lives in a little fishing village in Portugal, although this hasn’t increased the time spent outside. He writes novels under another name, has helped thousands of authors build a readership with his books, blogs, workshops, and courses, and has created marketing campaigns for some of the biggest self-publishers on the planet. Friend to all dogs.

348 Replies to “Time To Ditch Mailchimp?”

  1. Hi David, I’m a new subscriber, so I’m looking around your site and found this article very interesting.
    I noticed that your newlsetter links were ConvertKit’s, have you switched from Mailerlite to ConvertKit and if so, why? And was it easy?
    I honestly fear the hasstle of moving from MailChimp (something I’m sure they are counting on…), so I would prefer not to do it twice.

    1. Hi Nathalie. I was with MailerLite for around two years and then switched my author newsletter to ConvertKit a few weeks ago. I still have my fiction lists at MailerLite and plan to keep them there for the time being. I still recommend ConvertKit and MailerLite – and which is better for you specifically will depend on your particular needs. MailerLite is a lot cheaper and it’s a great place to grow. I ran into some issues with things that might not apply to the typical user – such as integrating my course – and some which might – I don’t think the automations are as robust or flexible as they are at ConvertKit (this won’t matter if you only use basic automations). But overall I’m still very happy to recommend MailerLite and whether it suits you more than ConvertKit really depends on list size, budget, complexity needed on the automations front, and so on.

      I might do a video soon compare the pros and cons of each – there are still some things I prefer about MailerLite even though I’m happy I made the switch (I like the email creation interface more, for example). So if you are on my list, keep an eye out for that.

  2. Hello David. Thanks for the post.
    Do you if we can keep our Legacy plan when we pause mailchimp, or if we have to subscribe to a newer plan when we restart our plan after pausing it ?
    Thanks for your reply.

      1. Hello David.
        I just received the answer from malichimp that “If you pause the account while under the legacy Monthly plan, when you’re ready to reactivate the account, you will have the option to remain on the legacy plan.”
        I will now pause my Legacy account for a month and I hope they keep their word.
        Fingers crossed

  3. A big problem with Mailchimp (and maybe others ) is that location of subscribers is based on IP addresses. So, unless you collect physical addresses from subscribers you have no idea where they reside. e.g. Contacts who use Gmail may show location data in Mountain View, USA where Google’s servers are located. But your subscriber could live in South Africa or Outer Mongolia for all you know. Makes it impossible to target your marketing efforts by Country.

    1. This was my first thought when Mailchimp rolled out the ability to target your Audience with Facebook Ads – Mailchimp has no idea where my audience is! It listed the top 5 locations of my subscribers as Google HQ in Mountain View, Microsoft HQ in Seattle, and so on.

      Now imagine restructuring your entire business around that proposition…

  4. These comments are increasingly spooky. I’ve stayed with Mail Chimp, telling myself I’ll move my list when I have time to learn a new system (classic procrastination.) But with Mail Chimp seeming to push so hard for money, I wonder if they’re in financial trouble. Now, that’s a question, so I’m not starting a rumor. Does anyone have some insight?

  5. Great article!

    I find recently MailChimp has been charging me different prices every month. £23.14 in January, £28.12 in Feb, £30.59 in March. When I contacted them, they say the billing team will reply to me but not really.

    Also, though I still have credits in my account, it still deducts money from my bank card. I emptied my bank card so that they can’t steal money from me. Guess what, then I can only contact them via email. Only paid users are entitled to live chat or phone call! The company is really dying for money

    Last but not least, I find the once-for-time downgrade rule very ridiculous. Why is it people can only downgrade once? Now I have less than 2000 audience but because I used to have more than 2000 audience, I still have to use a paid plan. It’s totally a waste of money.

    I am seriously considering other options. Thanks very much for the suggestions. The company is just dying for money. I do not feel secure and I think it will ask its users to continue to pay more in the future.

    1. I’m not sure what is happening with your billing there, but a serious drop (in what were previously great) customer service levels was the main reason I started looking for alternatives – which is why I was ready to jump ship when they jacked up prices and changed up the terms.

  6. Any further updates or suggestions for replacements?

    For the most part, I didn’t even notice the change(s) because I run a small list for a small sports club and have used the same template I created when I first started with MailChimp over 10 years ago. The automation and api links to the website may have stopped and never really noticed but always thought MC was great. It only became an issue when I was trying to assign the task of sending emails to another member of our organization and that functionality is gone. Over the years I can’t even count how many people, clubs and companies I recommended MailChimp to because it was a friendly entry-point and low/no-cost risk to newbies. They kind of decided to screw over their fanbase.

  7. Hi David!

    I have a few clients who all have free accounts on MC and still have access to the automation feature for onboarding and any other automation. I cannot find anything saying this is permanent, I assume this will go away eventually?

  8. Yep. Looks like we “undergrew” Mailchimp. The changes have been disturbing to me too. Would have been better if they’d just said, “We don’t want you anymore, freeloader!” lol. I think we will be going in search of another CRM.

  9. Hi David, only just come accross your brilliant article whilst trying to find out where my missing campaign drafts have disappeared to. As I’m on the free plan I now have no access to support so I’m rather stumped and have 3 draft cmpaigns that were due to go out!

  10. I’ve been following this conversation since it was first published. Have learned a lot — thanks to all!

    For some odd reason, after telling me my cost was going up to $20 a month (my list is under 500 active subscribers), MailChimp started billing me $9.99 a month. Okay. I don’t get it and I’m not going to ask. But I made the decision a few months ago to switch to MailerLite, just had to wait until I had time. I’ve spent the last few weeks setting up signup forms and automations; this week, I’ll move my list over and next week, start using MailerLite. Will downgrade MailChimp to free and keep it in case I ever need it.

    The MailerLite support team has been awesome. There’s probably been a dozen times when I needed instructions on how to do something (stuff that was easy once I knew where to go) and they answer within minutes.

    David, thanks for getting this ball rolling.

  11. Thank you David for your blog article about Mailchimp! I thought I was losing my mind as archived lists dating back from 2009 suddenly appeared and they were accusing us of using these lists (when we only worked with our most current so definitely their systems). So they instructed me to re-archive these lists (I couldn’t delete them) so I had to work back to 2009 in deleting any old databases (manually – no bulk delete or archive opportunity was offered!) and from our new CRM We uploaded the only list we are working with along with any unsubscribes or bounces from our only active current list – they have come back to say I need to now upload all unsubscribes and bounces from those going back to 2009!! After now possibly 8+ emails to ‘support’ at Mailchimp I have become blue in the face with frustration as those lists don’t even exist!! It’s not even the same CRM system we use anymore anyway! I agree, I think they are wanting old data pulled in (which creates a greater database of unsubscribes and bounces that from your article, it does sound like they want to charge against). So after my ramble of frustration against Mailchimp, I just want to thank you for your outline in your blog. It so makes sense and now I know there are others having this issue – I’m cancelling my client account (I’ve threatened them with this easily 5 emails ago but they owe credit repayments so that will be another fight – but I just need to work with a provider who will get our campaigns out without suspending the account – for no reason but their own!!) thank you again David – you’ve helped to pull me out of the blue and back into sunshine!!

  12. I know there are already lots of comments about this, but I just want to clarify from my own experience that when you archive someone who unsubscribes, all their data and subscription status are saved, so even if you try to re-upload them in some manual non-GDPR compliant way, Mailchimp prevents it, just like it does before you archived them.

    I don’t think this problem is really that much of an issue and I think it has a lot to do with Mailchimp’s recommendation to use ONE bit list with groups and tags to manage them. It’s a good recommendation that takes a lot more work and management than the lazy way of having multiple lists, but in the end we see great success with mailchimp and their methods (25% open rates and 2-4% click-throughs).

  13. In Australia, we recently had a Royal Commission into Banking. In it, the Banks were absolutely slammed for charging dead customers banking fees and forced to make refunds. The cost of this was significant. This is absolutely no different than Mail Chimp charging for unsubscribes. I would suggest there are some big lessons here and Mail Chimp would be wise to learn the lessons as they could be opening themselves to significant litigation and cost.

  14. I was actually scammed by The Alternative Loan Machine $4,200. I know them. They are local to me. I paid them for work on my credit that they assured me would be done. It wasn’t done. They promised a refund. It’s been 2 months and the refund never came. Now, no one answers their phone, returns calls, or is on line at their chat “Help Desk” anymore. All the assurances of preventing scams and ensuring work, ended up all being B.S.

    Then i was looking online just as you’re doing right now and i came to find out about a good samaritan who helps people fix their credit for so much lesser amount of money, i emailed them and my credit that wasn’t fixed in 2 months was fixed in 72 hours. Their email web site should be https://mahogany-lending-group.business.site/ contact today and thank me later guys…


  15. I’m not a frequent email sender, I send out a couple of emails per year when I release a new product. I don’t have a huge audience either, less than 1,000 subscribers. Signed into my Mailchimp account today (I’ve been using it for six or seven years) and found that I could no longer use the custom email templates which I myself had coded and added to their system over the years. What the hell? Taking away features that have been available for years and then forcing customers to pay in order to get those features back is pretty stupid. So tired of getting jerked around by these companies and their search for infinite growth and blockbuster IPO prices.

  16. I’m not trying to defend mailchimp per se, but from the perspective of their business these changes might make sense.

    Companies provide free accounts as their lead magnet. As authors, we know that the goal of a lead magnet is to have a chance to convert a sign up into a buyer.

    Mailchimp does have some good features including valuable integrations. Because of this I suspect people use free accounts to collect addresses and never pay mailchimp a dime and it goes on for years. And perhaps mailchimp has looked at their sign ups ( like we as authors do) and decided that too many people haven’t converted and aren’t likely to convert. As authors what do we do when that happens? We purge our lists.

    Maybe Mailchimp has adopted a business model that is closer to the needs of who they consider their true customer. Digital marketers who send lots of campaigns and run retargeting ads. Most authors aren’t regularly sending several mailings a month and then retargeting. So maybe mailchimp has decided they’ve got enough customers who do do those things to support the model.

    For me this has been a cautionary tale about building up a business using free accounts and free workarounds. It’s great while it lasts, but at some point the free lunch buffet ends. And there are so many providers out there that we can turn to that meet our needs. We need to be thankful for that, too.


    1. I hear what you are saying but I actually do all those things. I have a reasonably sized list that I email every week, and together with various onboarders and automations, that’s quite a few emails going out quite regularly every month. I also run quite a few retargeting campaigns. But Mailchimp is no longer very good at the first thing and is never going to be good at the second thing. If you are spending any kind of money on Facebook, or have any kind of skill with Facebook Ads, or want any kind of decent return for that matter, I don’t know why you would use a third-party service like Mailchimp, which is only going to hobble your ads, instead of doing them directly. (I’d also argue that running ads targeting your list is one of the easiest Facebook campaigns anyone can run.)

      I just can’t figure out who Mailchimp is for anymore. A small to medium business that wants a full-on CRM is going to be using Hubspot or Salesforce or Infusionsoft or whatever. I don’t know why anyone would pick Mailchimp for that job.

  17. Mailchimp’s business model has changed yet the UI and implementation of the CRM feels like an bolt-on.

    Very confusing to use and the user experience is crap from the perspective trying to create automations, segmentation, custom forms.

    Mailchimp really have shot itself in the foot. There are far better services that does better CRM and better mass mail send out. Mailchimps easy email builder is no longer its niche as most services these days has it built in.

  18. Have been a MailChimp user since 2015.. Didn’t even realize whats been happening until I came across this article on Google today.. It seems everyone is recommending MailerLite so perhaps will be jumping ship!

    Thanks for the article.

  19. I received yesterday an email from MailChimp informing me that “the price of [my] legacy plan is increasing from $74.99 to $84.99 a month for [my] account effective with your October billing cycle.”

    This is simply outrageous. I “only” have 6,000 subscribers, and sending them one newsletter a month for $84.99 is simply not in my budget. Back in the time when MailChimp was charging $50ish USD per month, I could accept that. At $70 USD I started thinking “well, as soon as I have some time available, I’ll look for other alternatives to the Chimp”. But this email from yesterday was just too much to swallow. This is just theft, plain and simple. As you wrote, MailChimp “charging on this BS new “Audience” metric and not subscriber” was already scandalous. But this means “Good by”!

    I spent the last 24 hours looking for alternatives out there, and decided to give Sendinblue a go (I’m going with their “Essential” plan at 29€ a month). I already set up a new form on my site to collect subscribers emails, and even created a newsletter draft. I’m very satisfied with the result.

    So Good by for good MailChimp, you won’t be missed.

  20. For anyone who thought this post was alarmist, particularly with regard to paid legacy monthly users, Mailchimp has just dropped the hammer on them now too: prices are up 15-25%, kicking in October 1st. Not much time for people to make move either, which is quite crappy.

      1. Very happy with Mailerlite! I’ve sent 14 major campaigns now and open rates have been consistently good – higher than Mailchimp, and on my test account they are popping into Inbox almost all of the time instead of being 50/50 about hitting Promotions, which is a great sign. The threshold for that seems much more predictable too in terms of how many images and/or links will trigger that – so I can fiddle with the email before sending.

        Customer service is quick and responsive. Cost is lower. Automations are much better once you get your head around how they work – same goes for groups. The set-up is a little different and requires a slight mindset switch, but better I think. Interface is cleaner too, and email creation is less janky. Two thumbs up!

  21. Looks like I will be moving away.

    I have used Mailchimp for my tennis club mailing list for sometime and am nowhere near the limit audience wise. However not being able give access to the account to other is a bit of a problem – though not enough of a problem to warrant paying a monthly fee. Fortunately, existing users can access the account but our committee changes often at which point will end up with one user (not sure how we will change ownership of the account when we are down to a single user).

    Thanks for the article.

  22. Mailchimp = Mailchump.
    Shameful. Our costs just jumped six-fold. We’re a charity and simply can not afford it. What a headache they’ve caused. Time to ditch the chimp.

    If this were the Rental industry, a price hike like that would most likely have legal ramifications.

    I’d like to see Wired do an article on this.

    1. Hi Jeff,

      I can appreciate that, please let me know if we can help. We have many affordable packages and services so could probably help you get to a better place.


      – Paul

  23. In my business, I have 560 clients. Some use Mailchimp’s free and some use paid accounts. Since MC removed the ability to schedule sending campaigns in advance for free accounts, we have find a new service provider for everyone, since I can’t be managing some of them on MC and some on another system. Plus having to tell all of them constantly to archive their unsubscribes. Sheesh!

    If anyone knows an email marketing platform that offers:
    1. Free contacts up to at least 1,000
    2. The ability to share templates among other accounts like MC does
    I’d love to know.
    Mailerlite is great, but can’t share templates. Maybe this will become a feature…I’d switch to them today if they had it.

    1. Hi Linda. If you are bringing that many clients with you, I think it’s worth talking to any provider to see what they can do for you. I don’t know if Mailerlite might have some workaround for you or not, but if I was in that position, I’d reach out to a few of the more suitable providers and see what they can offer.

      1. Thanks, I’m currently trying to run down a good solution. Seems like everyone does one part of what I need, but not all parts.

  24. My problem (as a free user of Mail Chimp) is that I never knew or it was just changed that the free version has a max of 2000 sends of emails. So, my small list (N=40) with a weekly email to the subscribers exceeded this limit. I figured when I got to 500 I would be totally willing to pay the fee, I might even be willing to pay the fee when I got to 100 subscribers, if they wanted to lower the limit. But I’m not willing to pay the fee when I am still doing this as a hobby and not making any money from my blog. It is a shame they have alienated small timers like me. I’ll be switching to something else. Thanks for your thorough discussion of what happened and the additional post of your experience with a different vendor. I’ll be moving to that one based on your recommendation and discussion.

    1. I’m also a small time MailChimp user and increasingly confused over what I can do for free. I was figuring I could put off dealing with this for a while, since I have a small list and monthly newsletters. I thought I could go up to 2000 subscribers before I had to deal with money, and that seems a long way off. But is it 1000? Is there a lifetime limit on number of emails? Sigh – guess I will need to apply some brain cells here after all.

    2. Hi, that’s not correct.
      -was 2000/subscribers / 12,000 monthly email sends
      -now 2000/subscribers / 10,000 monthly email sends
      40 emails a week = 160 emails a month (roughly), so you are good
      …even with 2k subscribers, emailing them weekly you won’t go over your monthly max.

      Features taken from free plan:
      -no scheduling the time of a newsletter to go out (you have to do it right away or leave it there and send it when ready);
      -send time optimization
      -no custom templates (which hits me hard), this is not even available to the “Essentials” plan;
      -you don’t have access to all the pre-built templates and layouts ;
      ….among others already mentioned.

  25. I’m a bit late to the game as I just discovered the change with MailChimp. This is a very helpful article along with all the comments. This really narrows down my research in finding an alternative to MC.
    My biggest issue is the maximum number of audiences. I use MC to send e-vites and newsletters to specific groups, all that need to be on separate lists.
    Over the past 7 or 8 years using MC I’ve been able to have upwards of 20 different audiences but now on the free plan I’m limited. This will not work for me.
    From my reading, it sounds like MailerLife may be the best option. Does anyone have another suggestion for a platform that allows many lists/audiences?

  26. I suspect that post current iteration of changes: the ML fiasco which caused a lot of authors, myself included to finally give up and move on (I left, very bitter over both the drastic drop in open rates, lack of recovery AND ML’s crappy handling of some promises they made about compensation for a month of down-time).

    I’ve used ML, MC, reachmail and did a lot of searching-researching before choosing Email octopus. I am not saying I am an expert by any means (nope, not even close!).

    There were some very handy and powerful tools on reachmail. I LOVED their list-compare-scrub feature. You can upload a new list, and compare it to existing lists to automatically remove duplicate subscribers. WOW. That was an amazing feature. The downside, for me, is that the email-builder was not nearly as user-friendly/intuitive as MC/ML. Their rates are divine, but I eventually returned to ML, as I am not as techy as I needed to be, to do it easily. I gather they have upgraded their email builder since then- so this may not be the case any more:)

    Email Octopus- A great intuitive layout and use. Making the transition was a guided walk through. Literally. they have short videos for every and any step or question you might have. it was SIMPLE to get set up because of this. The only downside is that they do not have some of the bells and whistles– but they are developing several of those high-interest features, and 2- they are really responsive to work with.

    All in all- as I began to say at the beginning– I suspect that as the few top-dogs get “bigger” and start changing the rules to maximize their profits.. more of us will start looking at the “second tier” players.. and discover that they have a lot to offer and at less of an expense:)

  27. Hi, Good post David. Was trying to find info on current changes but seems the Mailchimp website isn’t updated.

    You mentioned that you have 9 different lists/Audiences on a new account for yourself. But is this after using segments and tag robustly? I have managed to reduce my Audience size significantly using those. And also wondering whether this is a good move in the long term as it pushes us to keep all our contacts within one Audience and thus get a total analytical overview. Unlike if we had different lists and we got separated analytics for each list with no way to collate all that data.

    1. Hi Priyanka, I understand that you can use segments and tags to slice and dice the one Audience, but I have very specific reasons for wanting to keep those audiences completely and permanently separate. And this actually cuts to the core of a growing problem that many have had with Mailchimp for some time: Mailchimp is making top-down decisions (we want you to use just one list and then divide it up with segments and tags) for its own best interests. It doesn’t care that customers may have completely logical reasons for organizing things a different way. Or even just simple preferences. For example, I prefer to have my onboarders as separate lists for a whole bunch of reasons. Mailchimp doesn’t want me to do that. But shouldn’t I get to decide what works best for me?

      I was happy to see there are no such restrictions at Mailerlite since I moved there. I can have all my onboarders as separate groups. It will even automatically move them into my main lists/groups when they graduate from onboarding – something Mailchimp forced me to do manually as yet another disincentive to organizing my account that way (the tendency of Mailchimp to penalize customers with busywork if they do things a different way was really tiresome). And separating things like this doens’t appear to affect their ability to give me the analytical picture I need – just FYI.

  28. Keeping in mind that users would have to sign up twice if you used different email services for different things–and it’s hard enough to get them to sign up once–no, splitting between two email services isn’t really a good idea.

    With regard to the Mailerlite rejection, did you reach out to support directly to find out why you were rejected? Initially, I was rejected also. Their automatic algorithm leaves something to be desired. I asked a live person to review my account, and it was approved very quickly. (They have support people checking the email 24/7.

  29. thanks for this. I am a pre-new user. Just setting up my blog and all materials suggest using mailchimp as a newbie. After watching lots of training video and trying to set my account up, I still couldn’t see automation under the free plan. It was not until I read this article that I discovered automation is not available under the free plan.
    My question is this
    1. Can I use different email service providers on one blog? Maybe MailChimp for regular newsletter and another ESP for the automation.
    2. I tried registering for mailite but my account was not approved, which other ESP can a totally newbie use


  30. On another note – this audiences feature. What a ludicrous thing. I’ve spent HOURS trying to figure out why of the 36 tagged contacts, only 19 of them are being lined up for my mail out. I’m about to delete my entire audience and do mailings 1 at a time – statistics be damned — just so I can get my ruddy distribution out. I would pay to have the old mail chimp back but this is un-purchasable, compounded by a being a waste of time. What a half baked roll out, and crappy feature this audience is. If tags don’t work, meaning I need to rely on audiences … but paid plans only allow 5 audiences … well. In the stock market we say “short”.

  31. My email list signup url is in so many places… I suppose I can keep a MailChimp account open for a while and migrate any new subscribers from there to Mailerlite (or whatever). Most of you are smarter than me on this topic – any better ideas?

    1. It’s like the old joke about asking for directions. “Well, I wouldn’t start from here…”

      What you need to do is this: hunt down every instance of that link and replace it with a link you control – i.e. one on your website. Host the sign up form there. That way, if you ever have a situation like this again, you only need to make some quick changes on the back-end of your website, as all the links hither and tither are pointing at that one page (you control). Like this one: https://davidgaughran.com/amazon-decoded-landing-page/

      (And, yes, I learned the hard way!)

      Also, I recommend keeping your Mailchimp account open for a little while to monitor any new sign-ups that might trickle in, so you can try and hunt them down again.

  32. Another thing they did was remove the Import from URL feature from the free plan, and even from the $10/mo plan. That’s a deal-breaker for me and my clients.

  33. Getting a book launch ready and want to use maillite. Followed all the information in detail, have woocommerce MailLite plugin and e-commerce automation activated. Checked and double checked everything… Unfortunately when a purchase is made (free plus shipping offer) the email of the person making the purchase never gets to maillite.

    Not sure where to go from here, only other choice is to return to Mailchimp which is what I am trying to get away from.

    1. Before you give up on Mailerlite, try tech support. There is really is someone on duty 24/7. Support may not be able to solve a problem immediately, but in my experience, they keep working at it until they do. If that doesn’t work, they may refer you to the makers of the WooCommerce Mailerlite plugin. Either way, it’s worth a shot.

    2. Hey Scott,
      Sorry to hear you’re experiencing some difficulties there – sounds like you have a real dilemma on your hands there! Actually, if you’re willing to give something else a go I would wholeheartedly recommend Mailigen – they have seamless woocommerce integration and it seems to work perfectly for me; been using them for a while now and never had any similar issues. Also as Elisa says above, you would be assigned a dedicated account manager (support bod) who can talk you through any issues… I think like most ESPs they offer a 30 day free trial too. At any rate, if you’re stuck – maybe it’s worth a try! I hope it works out for you, and good luck with the book launch 🙂

  34. We use Mailigen for several years now. Prices are competitive and as a bonus we have our personal account manager who follows campaign results and notifies us if we have missed something, like last time we copied wrong link in a campaign… I don’t know how non of us missed it. At first thought it is just as something to add on, but there is actual person there!

  35. Holy cow. I am so new to everything. This is totally not what I needed to hear right now. I have a Squarespace author platform and just launched my debut novel earlier this month. My launch in and of itself was (and still is, I suppose) a problematic learning experience. One thing I’ve garnered is that sites like Bookfunnel, etc. can be useful tools in building your email list. In looking at these sites, I quickly learned that I need code from my website provider for said tools. And of course, Squarespace does not allow you to use code with their freshly launched email campaign services. So, of course that lead me to cancel my Squarespace email campaigns and head to Mailchimp, which, I think, is the only other service Squarespace allows integration with. Now I find out that Mailchimp has raised their rates for seemingly ridiculous, self-service purposes and I would love to take your advice and go elsewhere for newsletter creation/subscriber email address storage, but like I said, I don’t think it is allowed. So now I’m completely lost and confused and very much a newbie at this whole thing. I’m also thinking I probably should have just gone with WordPress or Wix like a normal indie author.

    Any suggestions or clarity would be greatly appreciated.

    Thank you for the red alert and for Decoding Amazon, which I just read and found to be very helpful for my next launch.

    1. It sounds as if you’re talking about an onsite email signup form. At least, that’s the only thing I can think of that would require code from your host provider. There may be other ways to get accomplish the same result.

      I’m not familiar with Squarespace, but email newsletter platforms typically also offer a link to a subscription form hosted on their site that will in most cases look the same as the one that would appear on your site if you had the code. Yes, that’s one additional click, but it gets the job done. Put the link wherever you were going to put the sign-up form. If you have the capability, you can make it a clickable image rather a raw link so it’s more enticing.

      I don’t know if others have had this experience, but I don’t get most of my signups from my website form. When I was with Mailchimp, it was under 1%. Where did the other 99% come from? Giveaways I hosted on my site (requires some money for prizes), BookFunnel, and more recently StoryOrigin. Prolific Works is similar, though I’m not using it at the moment. Free book offers should attract readers, which is what you want for subscribers.

      To make that work you need a reader magnet, a work you can give away for free to encourage signups. Some people give away older novels (or even newer ones for very limited times), but that’s obviously not going to work for someone who only has one. Some promotions on these sites allow you to give away previews, but you can also write a short story specifically to use as a magnet. (I recommend one set in the same universe as your novel and somehow connected to it.) You’ll get far more signups this way than from a form on your site.

      Whether or not Squarespace is a good fit for you depends on your goals and budget. If you just want a place to display your books, put up a bio and post news every so often, almost any hosting will do. And it’s hard to beat free when you’re starting out and probably don’t have an enormous budget to work with. If your plans are more ambitious, and if you have the budget to support them, I’d go with some form of WordPress. You’d do that if you wanted to create a blog that would attract a large readership (like David’s). Some people write about self-publishing for other authors. Some people write about material related to their books. (A writer have historical fiction might write about history, for example). Putting up high-quality resources is another way to attract people to your website. Some authors also sell from their website, though that has to be well set-up to work.

      The thing about free, unlimited plans is that they don’t have a huge amount of resources behind them. Also, there are typically a lot of sites on the same server, competing for what resources there are. As long as you have low traffic and a relatively small site, that isn’t going to matter. If your website begins to grow, though, you’ll find its performance may be sluggish. That could be a turn-off to prospective customers. I got to a point at which my first site was slowing to a crawl, and then I needed to change.

      1. Thanks, Bill. I do have a short story magnet that is in universe to my novel and that is an offer at the end of my book, if the reader signs up for my mailing list. So you’re saying I can take that same story and use as a magnet on other sites? I love that idea. Does the story magnet need cover art though?

      2. Yes, you can use the magnet anywhere you want. But it will need cover art. I think all the sites insist on that. It makes sense, though. It will look more appealing. Remember that most of your signups will come from promotions you do in conjunction with other authors, though you can give a link to anyone you want or put it in the back of your book to handle fulfillment. Visualize your magnet on a page with fifty other magnets. Yours is the only one with no cover. You see the problem.

    2. I built my WordPress website in 2013 using YouTube tutorial and I am NOT a techy. I use a free theme called Pytheas and put all the widgets and footers in myself. I couldn’t figure out Mailchimp ( and the plugin never worked), so I went with MailerLite. I am in process of sending my first email (I don’t use a newsletter), but MailerLite is so much more user friend,y for a no -technical person like me.

  36. Mailjet is a good alternative if pricing is the issue, and especially if you’re looking for a tool that can handle transactional email as well. Same email design, contact management, analytics, etc., but only pay for email you send (not contact storage, “audiences”, etc.) https://www.mailjet.com/mailchimp/

  37. Just want to mention that I’ve opted for Mailerlite and have begun the process of transferring everything across. I was really amazed by how simple the automation building process was – much less fiddle than Mailchimp. The whole UX of Mailerlite is pretty neat and clean and intuitive too. Definitely a fan so far. I’ll probably encounter some hiccups along the way, and maybe I’ll blog about it too.

    1. I’ve an encountered a few, but support has been very helpful with them. I made a mistake in migrating the first time (forgot to associate the fields), and support told me it would be okay to just upload again. That triggered a previously unknown bug that caused all the MC unsubscribes to be activated as subscribers again. That was fixed by deleting and then uploading an MC list purged of all but currently active subscribers. (Basically, if I was paying attention in the first place, I wouldn’t have had the problem, but for now, no should try to correct a mistake by transferring the data again.

      The other one support is still working on. I have my API and integrations set to double-opt-in. It works with Gleam and StoryOrigin, but BookFunnel people get activated without having to confirm. I’m sure they’ll get that one ironed out soon.

      I’m a big fan, too. I like pretty much everything about the service. I was surprised to find the editor more feature-rich than Mailchimp’s.

  38. Honestly, the only thing that was good about MailChimp is integration with other apps and services – although lately, that has issues as well. The overall platform keeps changing, and for those of us that use it daily, we all know it sucks. Constant formatting issues, and wasting loads of time adding individual padding to ensure formatting works… The changes in Lists and to Audience is unhelpful – and also during one of my website integrations for a client, instead of the MailChimp logo it came up with an Aweber logo!! I think Aweber has bought MailChimp and has been fiddling with it (wrongly) for some time now. Looking to move my clients away from it entirely, as I can no longer recommend it anymore. Personally, I think there needs to be a rethink of email newsletters, entirely, as most of us don’t want our inboxes filling up with fake offers for the rest of our lives just because we clicked on a page once. After 12 years, I vote “Time to ditch.”

  39. I have a small list, but I serve several clients and love being able to do so from one login…do the others offer that? My biggest confusion with MC today is this – are we now forced on the free accounts to use ONE list and we have to put everybody there. Weird if you have subscribers, clients or advertisers. If that’s the game, so be it…just can’t verify how that works now. Anybody?

  40. My switch to Mailerlite has gone smoothly. They really aren’t kidding about having 24/7 support. Whenever I send in a support question, I get an answer within a few minutes, and if I reply to the email, I get fairly quick answers to follow-up questions as well.

    I was impressed that Mailerlite has four different editors (html, rich text, classic drag-and-drop, new drag-and-drop). The new one is very sophisticated and more flexible than Mailchimp’s editor.

    There was a minor glitch with API double opt-in not working with BookFunnel–the subscriber got activated without a confirmation email. Tech support is working on that. Otherwise, everything looks good.

    1. I just signed up… Seems I am limited to only 10 subscribers and then I have to ask for more. YIKES… Not going to do any serious advertising to my lead capture page if that is the limit.

      1. You can probably get that taken care of in 10 minutes. The free plan clearly states you can have up to a thousand signups. I don’t know why Mailerlite displays a different number to start with. Knowing I had a sizable list to import, I went with the 1000 to 2500 plan, but initially the dashboard displayed a much lower number permitted. It adjusted automatically when I did my imports. Likely, the same thing would happen to you on the 11th subscription, but ML is serious about 24/7 support. Shoot them an email, and someone will reply within minutes.

    1. I have a WooCommerce site and I just checked and there is an official plugin to connect to MailerLite in the Add Plugins area. I expect that there are other official plugins for the other mailing services.

      I am staying put with Mailchimp for the moment mainly because I am not doing very much with my email lists right now. However, there are plans for the future.

  41. Speaking of GDPR, this seems like a good place to point out a potential GDPR issue with some email list providers. Whether it’s truly a legal issue or not, I don’t know, but it certainly worried me.

    When GDPR was coming, Mailchimp made a big deal out of the importance of GDPR-compliant subscription forms. That was a good suggestion. What wasn’t so good was the ways the forms were implemented. It was possible to check no marketing permissions and still click subscribe. In other words, you’d have a subscriber who hadn’t given permission for email marketing but who was on your list, anyway. Not exactly unambiguous consent!

    MC suggested a workaround but eventually fixed the form so that at least one marketing permission had to be checked to subscribe. What it didn’t fix, and what I noticed only as I was moving to Mailerlite, was that someone could withdraw permission for email marketing and still stay subscribed. The change wasn’t visible unless I opened a particular user’s profile and then scrolled down through their history. They still showed as subscribed to email in chart view. They still showed as opted in to email in their own profiles. Only a notation in their history–and, luckily for me, a blank column in the csv export–showed that they had opted out.

    Imagine my surprise to discover that something like half my list was in that condition! Some of them I think had done it by accident, as they continued opening and clicking long after. Others probably intended to do it, though why they didn’t unsubscribe I don’t know. Either way, I was still unknowingly sending email to them.

    I’d already imported my list into Mailerlite, so to fix the problem, I had to delete all my subscribers, purge the ones who hadn’t consented from the csv, and re-import.

    To be fair, Mailerlite’s GDPR form lets people subscribe without clicking any marketing permissions, exactly the way Mailchimp’s did in the beginning. Fortunately, there’s a relatively easy workaround if you don’t want permission for anything except email. Mailerlite’s customer service people, who are great, pointed out that, if I didn’t need permission for other kinds of marketing, I didn’t need to use the GDPR checkboxes. Their regular opt-in checkbox does block subscription if it isn’t checked. To be on the safe side, I borrowed the GDPR verbiage about consent to email marketing and made clear in the form that checking the opt-in box was granting permission. The way Mailerlite is set up, the only way to cancel that opt-in is to unsubscribe, which is how the system should work.

    Anyway, that’s something to look at, no matter which email provider you pick. Making consent to email marketing and subscription two separate options if all you want the subscription for is email is problematic unless the provider has a workaround. I don’t know what an EU court would do with a situation in which someone had clearly subscribed to a mailing list but just as clearly opted out of email marketing–but I don’t think any of us want to find out firsthand!

  42. Thanks for this article! It gave me the insights i was looking for (you missed the pay-as-you-go credits price increase though: 100% since 2017!).
    As an agency we administer quite a lot of accounts, and some audiences in our own account. Do any of the mentioned tools, like MailerLite have this ‘agency’ functionality like Mailchimp does?

    1. Not sure if this will work for your situation since the app is Mac-only, but Direct Mail (https://directmailmac.com) does support agency usage. Each client can be grouped into their own “project” and administered separately.


    I’ve been contacted by a UK lawyer who – together with her also-UK-lawyer husband who specializes in data protection issues – thinks that my characterization of GDPR and the various requirements surrounding same that we have are incorrect. She accepts that the situation is very confusing, and confused, and that we will probably need settled case law before the situation is 100% clear, but she feels the best approach is to Delete unsubscribes ASAP, not to archive or leave as unsubscribes. Now, this statement is not legal advice from her or me or anyone else. If you want actual legal advice you should consult your own lawyer. But I wanted to flag this for anyone concerned.

    However, I should also add that this interpretation doesn’t quite square with the advice that (non-lawyer) I read on the ICO website, which tells us we must have a written record of any withdrawal of consent (i.e. the unsubscribe), which to me seems to suggest that we have to maintain unsubscribe records (whether archiving satisfies this requirement is a further matter for debate). Finally, I should further add that this lawyer dismisses that concern, and thinks the actual legislation takes precedence over the ICO guidance, and that seems to suggest that deletion is more appropriate.

    It’s as clear as mud, as you can see. Just flagging this to all of you. (Any mailing list providers, please do feel free to comment or point to resources which specifically answer the question of how unsubscribes should be handled in relation to GDPR.) The relevant ICO guidance notes are here: https://ico.org.uk/for-organisations/guide-to-data-protection/guide-to-the-general-data-protection-regulation-gdpr/consent/how-should-we-obtain-record-and-manage-consent/#how4

    Either way, I don’t think it particularly changes the situation regarding Mailchimp, or the price rises, or the way they have gutted features and then tried to repackage this to everyone as a great thing, or my concerns for the direction it is headed or, most importantly, my recommendations to start looking elsewhere.

    GDPR, of course, is considerably less clear-cut…

    1. GDPR is a massive topic by itself, and it’s not hard to find conflicting information all over the place. I’m not a lawyer, either, but in this case, I can’t see the harm in keeping a record of unsubscribes via archiving. GDPR also provides for data erasure, and both Mailchimp and Mailerlite explicitly provide for such requests, if I remember correctly. In order for that attorney’s interpretation to be correct, an unsubscribe request would have to be equivalent to a request for data erasure rather than just a withdrawal of consent for email marketing–or am I just crazy? (And how could anyone be expected to comply with GDPR requirements when there seems to be little agreement on what they are? I’ve seen even European companies doing things with cookie consent that I’ve read explicitly elsewhere are incorrect under GDPR. What a mess!)

      1. I think their argument is that the legislation’s clear preference for data minimization trumps the guidance notes’ call for keeping records of unsubscribes, and that might pertain more to companies who keep data on customers generally, and an email address/email marketing is just one aspect of that (like a cable company or something). For those only collecting email addresses/engaging in email marketing, she feels it’s not applicable. I see where she is coming from, I’m just not totally sold on that view yet. And, as another lawyer put it to me, if we are wrong about keeping unsub records, and really do have to delete, that’s easy to rectify. But if the other side is wrong about deleting being the way to go, then that’s not so easy to rectify…

    2. I am no lawyer, just wanted to add one example. Some time ago I saw a fellow author asking what to do in this situation. Someone asked to be deleated from his list. He did. The same person afterwards got in touch and wanted to know how she/he had ended up on the list in the first place. The author had deleated the person and could not answer when he or she had joined.

      1. Yes, that’s definitely problematic. What I would recommend is making archival backups. Since email providers typically allow export in something like CSV, that gives you a record of how the deleted person subscribed in the first place. If the person subsequently files a request to be forgotten, it’s easy to delete that row from the CSV.

        Fearing I might lose some of my confirmation data in the move from MC to ML, I exported all my data to csv. As it happens, I was able to create custom fields in ML that let me transfer the most critical information successfully, so if someone I imported asks how they got on the list, I have the answer.

    3. For electronic marketing, such as an email mailing list, the PECR (Privacy and Electronic Communication) regulations (try not to snigger at the acronym) apply – there is guidance on the ICO website. If an individual asks to unsubscribe from your mailing list you can still keep a record – your ‘do not contact’ list. You can then screen against this list to ensure you don’t contact people who have unsubscribed. A request for erasure is a different matter – and whilst anyone can request erasure it doesn’t automatically mean this can be done eg. Dear HMRC, I don’t want to pay taxes anymore, please erase my records = NO.

  44. Hi David,
    Thanks so much for this great post. I’ve been planning to switch to MailerLite ever since MailChimp started charging me a monthly fee, and now this is the kick in the pants I needed to just do it.

    As you pointed out, switching is a pain. Someone may have already asked about this in the above comments (it’s a lot to wade through) — do you know of a tutorial or other resource that spells out the switcheroo from MC to Mailerlite in easy steps for those of us who now need to take the plunge?

    Thanks again for this post and for all you do to help the indie author community.

  45. Hi All,

    Has anyone ever tried using SendPulse? If so, can you share your experience with it?

    I checked out their features and it seem to be quite comprehensive.

    1. I’ve signed up for SendPulse but haven’t used it yet, so it’ll be interesting to know if there are any actual users who are happy with it.

  46. Fascinating post. Also, as I know, MailChimp servers are located in the US, but GDPR requires EU based. So, since I mostly operate with EU email subscribers, I better choose services what comply and do not ask to pay additional for unsubscribed, bounced, inactive through signup forms. Such as mailgen.com 🙂

    1. I don’t think GDPR requires EU based servers, just that you comply with GDPR requirements if you are based in the EU, or for any subscribers of yours that are based in the EU.

      In any event, Mailerlite is based in the EU.

  47. Hi David

    Very interesting. I only just decided to trial a newsletter (as an author) and I chose MailChimp as it was free. My starting point was: although my blog is a distraction from writing, it could be a channel to my readers.
    I found MailChimp hard going as most instruction videos talked Lists and MailChimp had Audiences. The interface isn’t logical and Two Factor Authentication has locked me out of the account before I was even ready to go. Just to get a feel, I used several of my own, separate, emails and deleted them – I’m wasting my time if MailChimp are racking everything up just to get stuck into billing. It was a step in the dark and I’m now questioning the whole thing. As my newsletter hasn’t kicked off, I’m tempted to kill it. I’ll be watching what happens next.

  48. This is an excellent article on a major market change so thanks for taking the time to write it. Seems that the ‘free’ aspect to MailChimp’s whole marketing strategy is backfiring as people don’t like change, it makes them feel uncomfortable and generates a lack of trust. I also think people don’t really value what they don’t pay for.

    We provide email newsletter marketing and won’t charge to help get folks started in the right way. If anyone needs help switching or want to chat, let me know.

  49. I am going to go back and read all the replies, so if my comments and questions have been answered, I apologize.

    First of all — what a pain. I’ve been with MC since we started. We’ve grown quite a bit, and now have five newsletters, all set up through Subscriptions in one list. (So I can send to all, or only to a single newsletter.)

    In addition, we are a membership site, and have a plugin that ties membership to Mailchimp.

    And, we have multiple forms in multiple places (including FB and our site) that tie to Mailchimp.

    ALL of this infrastructure will have to be replaced — and I’ve seen no indication from our membership services provider that they work with anything other than Mailchimp.

    I will start the process of looking at other providers and seeing how to tie them into our infrastructure — but this is a time suck I hadn’t counted on, and don’t have time for. If we were just starting out, that would be one thing; but doing this after some years of building out around Mailchimp just makes it horrible.

    1. It’s such a pain. I was hit by a big Mailchimp bug in Jan/Feb which crippled all my automations, so I’ve JUST gone through the process of rebuilding them all. (MC were good about it, I should add, and gave me credit, but it’s still a huge pain to go back and redo something I just redid. Dragging my feet tbh)

  50. I switched to Convertkit about three years ago and I am honestly so happy I did. Their interface is super easy to use, and even when they do make changes, the ‘new’ system is also easy to pick up too. For example, you used to connect signup forms to subscriber sequences as you created the form. Now, you create them separately and connect them using an automation builder. But now you can visually see the path that subscriber can take, and make sure they’re going where you need them to go! True, they’re not free, but you really do get what you pay for, and because Convertkit is so easy to use, I save time when I need to send emails, which is time I can spend elsewhere.

    1. That’s good to know. It’s a toss-up between ConvertKit and Mailerlite for me right now, just trying to decide if I really will get that deep into automations in the future to justify ConvertKit.

  51. I use Active Campaign.

    Yes you pay out the gate for it, but I really like its robust platform, in terms of tagging, segmenting, automation etc. I will admit I likely don’t use it as effectively as I could, but I’m getting some further ideas from the your friend’s book on email marketing.

    I find ac’s tech to be streamlined and I like how the automation setup and the email interface feels intuitive.

    That’s my .02

  52. The absolute worst change for me is that they removed the custom templates and code your own emails from the free plan. I can see above and in your article this is not the focus for a lot of people, but I still see this as a big issue. I have been recommending MailChimp to EVERY client I get. I then assist with the custom templates. Seeing as they are small businesses and start ups it was a great option to use the Free plan. They could see how they went, build up an audience and then they could upgrade when necessary. Even if a client has a paid account I will now need to pay AU$15 to TEST my template build without having any people on a list or without sending an email at all.

    1. There were enough terrible changes to fill another 3,000 words, but I figured I’d imposed enough on everyone’s time. Some other huge ones which only got a passing mention: removing all automations from both free and basic paid plans. The first is such a huge change not to flag to people on existing free plans – I believe Mailchimp still hasn’t clarified if existing users will just see their automations grind to a halt on June 15. And it’s absolutely crazy that paid subscribers will have to upgrade to a more premium plan just to get basic automations beyond a welcome message.

      1. So true! And only 1 week after going through all the automations because of the Shopify Mailchimp breakup.

        Great article though, thanks!

      2. Yes, it was the removal of custom and code your own templates from the free plan that really hit me. I’m a volunteer for a tiny non-profit community organisation in the UK that has a mailing list of about 250 subscribers – I have the expertise to produce an auto-generated monthly HTML newsletter but the organisation has no budget for marketing and communications (its annual turnover is less than £200).

        I always used ‘From URL’, and the first I found out about this was when the button didn’t function when I tried to send out my May newsletter.

        In the end I switched to MailerLite – although MailerLite’s free plan doesn’t support custom templates I’ve found that pasting the HTML code for the newsletter generated from my website into its basic template works fine.

  53. For the technically inclined, I recommend taking a look at phpList, which is what I’ve been using (albeit not optimally) for my list since I left Mailchimp over a year ago. There is a hosted option which removes some of the technical headaches, but my needs are pretty low and technical aptitude is high, so I’m hosting my own and using the AWS SES plugin so that my Web host isn’t sending my bulk mail. As a BookFunnel user too, I can report that there’s no real difficulty importing CSV files from BookFunnel (although I do a fair amount of tweaking to the data to get more value from it before loading it into phpList).

  54. I “was” a free user and recommended MailChimp regularly. I haven’t had a new book release lately. About 2 months ago I went to check my account. It had been deleted – with no possibility of reinstatement. NO NOTIFICATION! No “So sorry!”

    Thanks for your post. I won’t go back.

  55. Thank you, thank you, thank you David!! I had read the note from Mailchimp and was gearing up to just delete all the unsubscribes – not actually thinking about any implications like GDPR – just thinking about costs. This post helped me collect my thoughts a bit better. Since I am a VA and responsible for about 75 Mailchimp accounts – three guesses what I’ll be doing for the next week or so??? 🙁

    My personal list is with CampaignMonitor – which I don’t see mentioned here. I’m quite happy with them. I’m Canadian and they invoice me in the same amount in Canadian dollars each month. A small thing, but it makes it easier to budget when the costs are set rather than tied to an ever changing US exchange rate.

  56. Thank you David, this was very useful. I went on a purge once I got close to 2,000 with MailChimp, but it looks like I’ll have to switch. I’d rather be writing than manually archiving! I’ll look into MailerLite.

  57. First of all, thank you David for this great post. I was doing some updates on one of my websites and saw a recommendation for a WordPress newsletter plugin that might be a solution for some folks. https://www.thenewsletterplugin.com

    It is free initially, with a premium upgrade, and I have not fully explored this yet. However, it might be a good solution for me, and perhaps for other folks.

    I am wondering if this is the wave of the future (using a WordPress plugin) rather than a service like Mailchimp or the others. Anyone have any thoughts about this?

  58. I tried YMLP at first. They didn’t require me to add an address and skimped on several other things that made me wonder what else they weren’t legally following, so I moved to SendInBlue.

    What. A. Nightmare. Every time I added a new subscriber, my account got locked. I had to jump through hoops to prove that my subscribers were legit. As an indie author, like you said, unsubscribes happen. Especially after doing a big giveaway or something like that. Again, every time, my account was locked.

    They finally told me they didn’t care that I was a paying member, if I got any unsubscribes again, they would not unlock my account and would not refund my pre-paid year in advance fee I’d already sent them. They 100% do not understand indie authors and publishers, or understand the basic idea that unsubscribes are NORMAL and happen, and good users clean them out and take care of their lists.

    Good riddance to bad rubbish. I’m now on Sendy. I’m not a tech person at all, but following their tutorials, it was a breeze to set up. There aren’t any pre-built templates, no, but their builder is sufficient for my needs. You can import templates from elsewhere, and add straight HTML coded newsletters as well.

    You own the service, so you have no one screaming about how many emails you send, how many subscribers you send, how many unsubscribes you have, or how many lists you set up. It’s a one time fee for the program, and then you own it, so now random price increases and license fees out of nowhere. Sending mail with Amazon is dirt cheap.

    You have full control over your newsletter, and my god, it’s so liberating to know that when I schedule a newsletter, I won’t wake up the next morning to see that it never sent because my account was locked for verification. Again.

    1. Hey Mandi, I’m Noelia Santa Ana a community and brand builder for Sendinblue.

      Thank you for your feedback on your experience. I’m very sorry that you had a difficult time adding new subscribers to your contact list.

      You are absolutely right that we take the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and other laws protecting the privacy of online users very seriously. But, these regulations can certainly make the process cumbersome at times. We’ve tried to make things easier by adding more transparency and improving our process for ensuring best sending practices on our platforms. We’ve also added tutorials to make it more transparent and easy for our clients to build their list in accordance with these regulations.

      ? https://help.sendinblue.com/hc/en-us/articles/360000454204-Creating-a-GDPR-compliant-subscription-form

      1. You’re missing the point. I’d proved multiple times that I was following the laws and regulations, that my subscribers were legit, that I was following best practices.

        When I did get a few unsubscribes after a big giveaway, where people signed up just for the giveaway, you didn’t give me time to clean my own list to show that I was following regulations, you simply locked everything and refused to allow me access to my own paid account and services.

        When I am doing all this and still get repeatedly locked and treated terribly by your support staff, you are not a company I could recommend to anyone. Which is sad, as previously I’d recommended you to all of my fellow indie authors and small business owners.

    2. Mandi, thanks for sharing. I was considering Sendinblue as well, but looking at your experience and that of others who have voiced similar concerns, I think I’ll give Sendy a try, once I approach 2k subs. The response from Sendinblue’s team isn’t very reassuring either.

      A question: how reliable is delivery through Sendy/Amazon SES? A majority of my subscribers are on gmail / yahoo / hotmail and I don’t know if emails sent this way have a higher chance of getting marked as spam. Are your open rates now similar to what they were before?

  59. Just a push for Mailerlite – yes, there were problems. From my point of view, they were resolved. I have open rates in the 60-80% range, and it’s been months since I had a spam complaint. I’ve contacted customer service many times (hi, guys!!) with questions about how to do things (not problems) and I was always helped quickly.

  60. Hi David,

    I’ve been with ConvertKit for a couple of years now. They are not the cheapest option in email service providers, but they are very user-friendly and, in my experience, very responsive to inquiry.

    For instance, I recently cut my list almost in half, back to just under 2,500, to ditch non-engaged subscribers. This then meant I had effectively paid too much of a yearly premium for my service.

    I emailed ConvertKit about it and within a couple of days they adjusted my account and refunded me $181 on my annual subscription.

    The tagging in ConvertKit makes making multiple lists incredibly easy and this is probably what I like the most. But knowing the operators will respond positively and quickly to any issue is a big plus too.

  61. Great article, thanks for taking the time to be so thorough. I’m very far away from MC’s 2,000 subscriber limit no matter who you include so I have some time to explore other options. You asked for other services we have personal experience using and I wanted to mention VerticalReponse. They limit the free plan to 300 subscribers which is well within my audience size at the moment. They provide help with landing pages, email campaigns and email automation. I had no trouble with them but I wasn’t pushing up against size limits or needing special help.

  62. Hi David,

    Thank you for your timely article about the MailChimp Apocalypse, I now am rethinking starting a newsletter for my short story podcast site. I do not plan to use Mailchimp and will keep looking.

    JB Wocoski

  63. Very helpful article. Although it’s going to eat up an entire weekend of mine, I’m definitely switching to MailerLite.

    Such a shame that Mailchimp made that decision. The entire reason I started using them is because of the simple feature set, portable API, and reasonable pricing.

    I definitely don’t need a full CRM and will definitely not be paying for it.

    Thanks again for the article!

  64. So, this article is all over the place right now. Has Mailchimp made any comment on this? I think that having my trust broken with them would have been a little bit softened if they were not totally silent on this whole thing.

  65. Thanks for the very informative post, David.

    My needs are simple, and, as someone else said earlier, if an archived user resubscribes in a GDPR-compliant way, there isn’t likely to be a problem. That said, the changes make Mailchimp look like an unreliable partner, and certainly not a very focused one for an author looking primarily for an email newsletter provider. Anyway, what makes Mailchimp think that someone who unsubscribes wants to hear from you by postcard or through Facebook remarketing? Those approaches might make sense for people who want to hear from you, but it’s hard to imagine how they make sense for people who’ve explicitly said they don’t want to hear from you.

    I have a couple of questions about alternatives. Based on examining the sites of some of the leading providers, my finalists are Mailerlite and AWeber. You said earlier that AWeber counts unsubscribes, but what’s your basis for that statement? All of the references to pricing I can find on the AWeber site explicitly quote prices in terms of number of subscribers. Am I missing something?

    Also, one thing that Mailchimp does well is collect a lot of consent data. I know it’s possible to export the Mailchimp list, and I noticed Mailerlite even has a mechanism for importing it without requiring an export file from you. My question is whether all of the Mailchimp data transfers. I’m thinking about things like the response to the checkbox consenting to email marketing, date of consent, and MC also seems to have some kind of EU identifier number. Does that kind of thing transfer? I suppose I can use a file exported from MC if there’s ever a question, but that’s not as satisfactory as having the data well-integrated to start with. (And I don’t want to ask all my current subscribers to re-subscribe–I’ve been done that road before.)

    1. Hello Bill,

      We always advise our clients to export all of that data from MailChimp for the future reference just in case.

      For MailChimp specific fields (such us EUID) – you can create custom fields in your MailerLite account and import them that way.

    2. Even if there’s no GDPR-compliance issue with previous unsubscribes getting re-added via a (legit) competition or list-builder promo, you have to watch out for reader reaction. I don’t personally engage in aggressive list-building techniques like that very much, but those who do tell me it’s a constant issue, and if you don’t weed out previous unsubscribes, many of them might not realize that they are getting re-added to your list and can react very angrily when they get your next email. You don’t want that.

  66. Mailerlite let me down on several occasions, once when their automation sequence fell over and they lost track of where subscribers were on the sequence. This was a disaster for me, but mailerlite didn’t really care. Yes, they are cheap, but they seem to roll out new features rapidly, and then let people down. Complaints are met with a shrug of the shoulders.

    Sendinblue have very strict limits on spam, but unfortunately some subscribers don’t seem to know how to unsubscribe, and a few spam reports, even if false, will lead sendinblue to suspend your account.

    I went with sendy and installed it on my own server. My emails are delivered via AWS (Amazon Web Services) and the cost is negligible. The inbuilt editor is very basic, but if you want drag and drop, there are ways around this.

    If you were on the MC free plan, you could switch to mailpoet – it’s’ a WordPress plugin and is free for up to 2000 subs, but you’ll need to look into a delivery service like AWS. It’s one thing to set up an email on your own system, but it’s a very bad idea to actually send the newsletters from your own server. This isn’t as complicated as it sounds.

    1. Hi Michael! I’m Noelia Santa Ana a community and brand builder for Sendinblue.

      At Sendinblue, we can definitely be a bit strict on our anti-spam regulations. This is because we want to make sure all of our users on our platform have the best possible results. We take data protection regulations such as the The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the SPAM-ACT very seriously. These regulations help our clients maintain positive relationships with their contacts. However your feedback has inspired us to write a blog post on how to unsubscribe from emails without affecting the sender’s spam reputation. Thank you Michael!

  67. Hi David,

    Have you looked at the Thunderbird “Mail Merge” add-on?

    The “Mail Merge” add-on works with the “CardBook” add-on

    The “Mail Merge” add-on also works with the “Send Later” add-on

    Can Thunderbird with these add-ons replace your Mailchimp setup?

    Thank you

  68. Over the yearsI’ve run mailing lists from my own server before there were alternatives, (yeah, I’m that old) 🙂 and all the majors. I now run my most promising list (and my focal content) on ConvertKit and I truly like it. I had a few small lists – I write using three different pen names in different genres (full time) – on MailChimp and was in the process of moving the smaller lists to MailerLite before this news. I found MailChimp clunky and it was no loss to see them switch focus. I note that once you get upwards of a few thousand subscribers most of the pricing for all systems gets very close.

  69. Thank you for this article. I was shocked about the changes, especially about the automation changes. If you have a big Mail-Funnel with seperate categories, you can’t use mailchimp anymore, without paying 299 $ a month, is that right?

    Definately will look for something else.

    A lot of partners will do the same.

    All the best,


  70. Thank you so much for this informative post. I’ve been on the MailChimp free plan for years, as I slowly grow my list. I haven’t sent many emails — in part because I have found MC extremely clunky to use. I have several lists set up: each time I create a new opt-in offer I create a new list. I have found it difficult to send to all lists at the same time without having to duplicate the email multiple times. Now that I’m getting ready to ramp up my email activity and my offers, it was looking like time to switch. This info has sealed that intention. Better to build with a solid partner that will be easier to use and more transparent. Very grateful I stumbled on your post. Thank you.

  71. Hi David,

    Thanks for the comprehensive description of the changes going on with MC. I would just like to share one of feature that is now no long available to the Free users.

    It is the scheduling function. In the past, I could prepare festive greeting emails in advance and then schedule it to be sent on the day before the festive greeting. Now that function is not longer available.

    I conduct training classes on MailChimp and am now looking for another software to use.

  72. Hi Ilma,

    I conduct training courses teaching insurance agents to use MailChimp to keep in touch with their clients. Over the last 2 years, I have gotten more than 500 signups with MC. Due to this incident with MC, I am deciding to switch to Mailerlite.

    When I checked with support, I found out that I can only have one domain email address per account. Meaning that john@abcinsurancecompany.com and jill@abcinsurancecompany.com can’t have their own separate account and must share the same account.

    Can you confirm this?

  73. David, you deserve an award for this post, subtitled “MailChimp Commits Suicide?”

    All, I would love some feedback. I have a series of maybe 20 emails that go out, one every two weeks, with tips from my non-fiction books. How in the world can I have someone not start the whole series over again if I switch providers? If John Doe should get #8 and Jane Smith should get #13, is that even possible? There are 1500 people going through it.

    For those of you on other services, can you have people sign up to multiple “thingys” (to use the tech term) on one form? What I have in MC is a master list, with a music and a writing group, and each of those is also divided into different sub-groups (I write two kinds of music and two kinds of books). With a single sign-up form, I have people signing up for between 1-4 of these all the time by checking the boxes. I’d be grateful for any tips on how to do something similar elsewhere.

    1. Randy: are you looking to build multiple, separate automations – like different onboarders depending on where the sub comes from or what they choose on the form? Or just to tag them and/or put them on separate lists depending on the source/choices on sign up?

      All of that should be possible on most of the recommended mailing list services these days, but if you are looking for tons of options on the automation/tagging front – advanced things like conditional tags and so on – then check out the likes of ActiveCampaign and ConvertKit.

      Mailchimp is fairly unique in the way that it was pushing everyone to have one list all the time. Other services don’t really do that. If you want to have separate lists for your music, and your writing group, or whatever, then you can totally do that without getting subs double counted like on Mailchimp.

      Not sure about a guide for this, but perhaps you could pop a question to any of the providers and ask if that kind of sign-up feature is built into their forms – they should be able to help you directly.

  74. For what it’s worth, Mailchimp seems to address some of the issues you mention in your blog here: https://mailchimp.com/help/change-pause-legacy-plan/

    Of note is that they will continue to automatically increase your legacy plan pricing according to subscriber count, just like they did before. Like you, I’m planning on moving away from Mailchimp, but at least it’s not as bad as I thought it might be.

    1. Yeah I noted above that the change in prices/features and SOME aspects of the new Terms of Use don’t kick in for legacy monthly users… yet. But surely that hammer will drop at some point.

      As such, I’d advise starting the process of looking at new providers, but, yes, you do have more time than others. I’m in this boat too, but I’m going to start the process right away and get ahead of it. Mailchimp won’t be changing direction, and the direction is pretty damn troubling.

  75. Thank you for your thorough information. I’m just getting ready to build campaigns and start adding subscribers. I will NOT be using MailChimp. They obviously can’t be trusted and I want my provider to be focused on being there best email provider, not the best CRM and 50 other integrations.

  76. I use Mailerlite, David. Cheaper than MC, does everything I want it to, and I haven’t had any problems. Their tech support has been great, and deliverability seems pretty good. I recommend them.

  77. David, thanks for helping me make sense of the gobbledegook MailChimp has been sending out. Ever since the new audiences thing, I’ve been thinking of making a switch. Guess it’s time.

  78. I’ve used Mailchimp and Mailerlite – ending up at GetResponse. They aren’t the cheapest, but they offer landing pages, pop-ups, a ‘color magic’ option that will transform templates to your web site colors and have just added funnels (an add-on feature) that does the following according to them: “With Autofunnel, you get 40+ conversion-optimized scenarios written and designed by industry experts to sell, build contact lists, showcase your offers, and help you grow.” The automation design is set up differently than Mailchimp and Mailerlite, so there’s a bit of learning curve, but once you’ve got that down, it works like a charm.

  79. I migrated from MailChimp to MailerLite about 4 years ago purely based on costs. Then ML had those spam problems and once was down for an entire week. I then moved to ConvertKit. For those who have really complex tagging and data needs, IMO ConvertKit is tops in the field. It is an excellent platform. You are never charged for double entires because it uses a real database where the customer is the unique ID. This allows you to track every promo, every list, every cross-promotion on a customer-by-customer basis. I LOVED having all that information.

    However, you also pay for that. After two years with ConvertKit and paying more than $100/month for 12K subscribers, I had to re-evaluate how much I use all that data and if it was worth it. For me, I decided it wasn’t. It’s great to have all the data. My geek girl flag flew. But the reality is I don’t really have time to keep on top of it and act on it to make it worthwhile. Writing 4-6 books per year, doing the marketing for that, and keeping up with social media takes most of my time. AND I was seeing (and continue to see) less engagement and opens on my emails. When I started dong email lists way back in 2006, I was getting open rates of 60% and more. Around 2014-2015 it dropped to 45% and in 2017 it dropped to 35%.

    Given that information, I decided $100 per month and expending so much energy on my email list wasn’t the best way to spend my time. So, I now use Sendy. As someone above mentioned, it is a bit technical to set up. I set it up on an Amazon server (which is pennies for email delivery) with a 20K per day limit (I don’t even use that in a month). However, because I wanted more automation and drip campaign features, I decided to transfer that to Easy Sendy (easysendy.com) a year ago. Specifically, I use Easy Sendy Drip. I now pay $39/month for 15K subscribers and have all the automation and data information I can use. To get up to what I was paying on ConvertKit, I would have to be at 50K subscribers, so I have plenty of room to grow. I get all the data I need, plus Google Analytics integration, contact form integration, and more.

    Easy Sendy does make it easier for the non-technical person and the pricing is great. The delivery using AWS is amazingly fast and reliable. The only downside I experienced was that their setup documentation was a bit confusing as it was obviously written by someone where English is not their first language. However, they do have good customer service and once I explained what I wanted to achieve they took care of it for me.

    As with all things, this may not be the best solution for everyone but I do recommend looking into it for those who are looking at a switch.

  80. I’ve been using Mailerlite for a couple of years now. What I love most about them is their support, which I’ve contacted day or night and gotten speedy, clear, and honest answers.

    I’ve left less than 2k subscribers in Mailchimp to get them for free, but I guess it’s time to move them over. Sigh.

    Thanks for the heads up, David. And I couldn’t agree with you more about “Audiences.” Yuck.

  81. Thanks for the detailed info, David. Here’s my two cents on other options:
    I switched to ConvertKit in 2016 and have been happily using it since. It’s a pricier option than some other ESP, but if there’s one thing I’m willing to spend money on, it’s my email list. There’s a post on my website about why I switched with a short demo video, if anyone is interested. The link there is an affiliate link.

    Quick summary of why I like CK:
    1. I made the switch for features, but immediately noticed a change in tone – Actual people who are helpful reply to my emails.
    2. One list – I tag subscribers according to where they came from and can segment how ever I like. It’s more flexible than the MC list-centered approach and there are no double emails to readers because they’re on two lists–they auto de-duplicate.
    3. Automations – tagging and setting up autoresponders is easy
    4. Integrations – connects with other services like Teachable
    5. Landing Pages are included
    6. Ease of use – I always found MC clunky (rather like Goodreads). ConvertKit is so much easier for me to use. It works the way my brain does.

    The only downside I have with ConvertKit is the cost–it’s more expensive, but I’m willing to pay a little more for ease of use and peace of mind.

  82. For those of us who are ditching MailChimp, does anyone know how or if we can download our contacts with the opt-in info? I’m not seeing how to do it. I can download with an opt-in date, though. Is that enough for GDPR? I’ve always had a double opt-in, so I *think* that covers me, but I don’t know how to PROVE that they double opted in after I export the contacts.


  83. And don’t forget…everyone who is planning to switch from MC to any other system, you’re going to have to update ANY AND ALL places you have your sign-up links if they’re linking to an MC landing page. This means social media, websites, email signatures, and (ugh!) back-of-book links for all your books. Another time suck thanks to those funky monkeys.

    I’ll leave you to go bang your head against your desk for a few minutes…

      1. When I revamped all my email stuff about 18 months ago, I started pointing at pages on my site – like this one for non-fiction – instead of at those Mailchimp forms. Aside from having more control over how they look etc., it does prevent less fussy work when you have to do something like switch provider. So maybe consider an approach like that now if you have to run around and change everything anyway. Could future proof you a little more.

      2. Exactly, any solution that lets you change things up in the future without the dreaded updating the backmatter problem is a good one. I like SmartURL for things like that. One tiny little address that points to a location I can change whenever needed.

        Thanks for the great information, David and all. I’m in the midst of switching away from MC right now. I was on the verge of *finally* starting to use my list, so this really was perfect timing!

  84. I switched to MailerLite several years ago and I’m so happy I did. These changes are horrible. In fact, I just completely deleted my unused Mailchimp account because I don’t trust them not to start charging me for the 300-ish addresses that were in there.

  85. Thanks for the heads up on this, David. I’m on a paid plan and am (probably?) protected the worst of the changes for a while but I agree that it is a good idea to go ahead and start looking into making the move. A pain in the arse but I refuse to be forced to pay for a scheme that I consider both illegal and unethical.

  86. Hey David,

    I use DRIP. It’s on the pricer side, and I’ve tried to find something else that’s cheaper, but I’ve recently given up on doing that. I love data, and I think it’s really important to be able to group, tag, create campaigns, mini campaigns, and analyze them the way that DRIP allows.

    I’m a newer author, and after reading lots of ‘how-to-be-an-indie-author’ type of courses and guidance, it appears that once upon a time, you just had throw a few pages in the back of your books that said “join my mailing list ” or ‘join my arc team’ or ‘like me on social media’ or ‘please leave a review’ and a large number of people would actually do these things.

    A great reliable, FREE way to build a pretty high caliber list. But I think this tactic worked because many of these were hybrid authors with a dedicated audience that actually new and like the author and didn’t mind these requests.

    But… if you’re new and coming into this without an established audience, we’ve got two major problems. One is building an audience, but the other is realizing that the vast majority of people on our ‘lists’ aren’t customers at all. Most of them have come to us through takeovers, giveaways, and other promotions (bookfunnel, prolific works). Traditionally ‘your’ list consisted of people who’d purchased something. Now, many lists are composed of people who’ve never bought anything from you.

    The reason I like DRIP so much is I can track people. From where they’ve entered my on- boarding sequence through my campaigns, DRIP gives me the ability to see who actually becomes a paying customer and where they came from. It’s fuzzy, sure, but I feel it helps me to make better decisions about where to invest my time and limited resources in building an audience. It’s nice to have that big list, sure, but if 75% of people on it never buy, what’s the point? I’d rather be writing.

    DRIP has tried some of things that Mailchimp is doing, and I’m holding my breath, but right now it’s optional. If I want them to keep track of my unsubscribes ( at this point selling to my actual subscribers keeps me plenty busy) then I can pay for that. If I don’t I check the box no and that’s it.

    If someone knows of a better and cheaper way to do these things. I’d appreciate the recommendation. But right now I feel caught between the devil and the deep blue sea, and I’m just going to stay in the boat i’m in for now.


  87. While I don’t like what MC is doing and it’s obvious they aren’t interested in helping small fish become big fish and just want the big bucks…a few quibbles…

    IME MC has always charged me for unsub emails. Perhaps I am wrong, but due to my observation that they were costing me money I had my admin weed them all out late last year.

    The bigger issue imo is…if they are charging us for unsubs why the hell is it so damn hard to delete them?

    So yes…time to stop giving MC any word of mouth. I’ve been a faithful customer for 6 years but generally found their customer service to be draconian and unhelpful. One billing error and they just cut you off…won’t even talk to you to sort it out. Did that with them two years ago.

    I have my Amazon SES training spooled up and ready to go…just need time to sit and go through it. Otherwise, I’ll be looking at Mailerlite. I recently noticed Wix has lowered their pricing substantially as well …but I haven’t had time to examine how it functions and what limits they place on it (last time I poked at them, they threw up a lot of obstacles and hoops to routine use of their newsletter feature.).

      1. Sure, but they’ve done the work of building the reputable servers that provide rock-solid stability and ultra-high deliverability, where every other mailing list service has to start from scratch.

    1. I went to your site, but there’s no way to contact you with a question such as which sites you’re compatible with?

  88. I switched from a free MailChimp account to MailerLite at your recommendation yesterday. Super-easy to do. Signed up for the account first, of course. They approved me in less than five minutes.

    Then, I went through and archived all unsubscribed users on MailChimp and exported the cleaned list as a CSV file.

    Imported the subscriber list into MailerLite. Took less than 5 minutes, maybe? Very easy.

    Interestingly enough, there were two email addresses subscribed to my MailChimp list that wouldn’t import because they were banned at MalerLite? One was in Asia somewhere, the other had no origin info attached. (Pre-GDPR sign-up.) I thought that was unusual, that they were banned, but it looked like the one with no origin had opened like one email ever. (I should’ve been better about sweeping out inactive subscribers.)

    Archived ALL users on MailChimp except myself. I have to keep that free account because I stupidly put the MailChimp newsletter link in EVERYTHING and need to change it over. I deleted all my automated emails except the one welcoming new members, but I put in there a link to please go to my website to my Newsletter page there and sign up for the current newsletter because I’ve switched hosts. I also added a similar message to my sign-up form, and included the link to my website’s newsletter page there, too. I’ll sweep those stray MailChimp subscribers out once a week or so for the next several months, then drop back to about once a month.

    I did go for the $15 a month MailerLite option, because I’m 100 subscribers away from tripping the limit anyway.

    Frankly, MailerLite’s drop-and-drag email creation is not only better than MailChimp’s, it has more options in it to make it easier to create a nice-looking newsletter to focus on selling books. I love the options.

    Lesson learned — do NOT put a newsletter link in e-books. Put a link to a PAGE on your website where the subscription info is located in case you ever have to change providers. Now I have to go change all my front/back matter on my self-pubbed books, but I won’t be able to change the ones in my publisher-pubbed books. Thus, I keep the MailChimp free list for now.

    My other recommendation (I didn’t think about it until after I’d done it) is to segment your inactive subscribers, who’ve opened one or no emails in the past several campaigns, send them a targeted message to subscribe at the new list, then unsub and archive them. THEN sweep the active subscribers into the new service. That’ll save you some subscriber numbers and give you a tidy, active list.

      1. Thank you, Paul.

        UPDATE: I’ve been using MailerLite for a couple of weeks now, and wish I’d started my newsletter here from the very beginning. It’s FAR easier to use in pretty much every way than MailChimp was, including the automations process. I like the template creation process, too, and their drop-and-drag builder seems to include far more starting options to customize. I’m a fan and will be recommending it to other writers who need to build their newsletters.

        I also like how easy it was to integrate with WordPress (what I run my site on).

  89. I’ve been using Direct Mail for Mac for about fifteen years. No clue if it might work on a Windows machine. It is more basic than MailChimp but offers just about everything a smaller use like me would need. Until recently, it was hard to integrate, but they recently offered direct FB, and WordPress integration. With Sumome, you need to use Zapier. (Simple—I learned how in a couple of hours of online reading and making mistakes). It has both HTML and WYSIWYG interfaces, autoresponders, advanced scheduling all that good stuff. IT’s priced by # of subscribers or a penny an email. For a small list like mine, $20 bucks lasts a hell of a long time: 2,000 emails/a couple of years. It’s free to download. It got off to a slow start as a nitch player for Mac users, but has grown in the last year or so. (My site is undergoing a change in theme, and is a tad messy right now. The direct integration is on the home page. It has other subscriber forms using the older integration, which is to be fixed soon. (I promise myself….)

  90. David, thanks for taking the lead and asking MailChimp questions. I agree that the company is positioning itself to go after much bigger fish than most of us indies. It’s past time for me to move on.

    Keeping records forever to be GDPR compliant is absurd on the face of it. Who has to keep them? Frankly as a U.S. citizen I don’t see that I am legally obligated to do so. Should MailChimp keep them even after I delete the names and sever my business relationship with the company? It won’t want to. Whether GDPR may be interpreted as having global hegemony will be tested via case law in the coming years, but my guess is that enforcement will be impossible with us small fry. I can just imagine one of those mythical Interpol agents storming into my home office demanding to see my archive of names of people who don’t want me to have their names. Ludicrous.

  91. I have just discovered that the reason some of the e-mail newsletters I’ve been receiving have become unreadable is that they are sent via MailChimp.

    For quite a while now I’ve been deleting them unread, or putting them into a “read later” queue because about 2/3 of the content is long URLs that aren’t even in so one can click on them. There’s a site called TinyURL that performs a useful and free service by shortening long urls to avoid them cluttering up newsletters, but MailChimp deliberately lengthens them. So ditching MailChimp is long overdue.

  92. I left Mailchimp a long time ago because of price, and switched to MailerLite. MailerLite is great as far as cost and ease of use. It’s really intuitive to set up automations and newsletters.

    HOWEVER, they’ve had a lot of issues which eventually led me to (mostly) leave them too. They had a glitch which turned off ALL automations. People who were in the middle, were stuck. I couldn’t simply turn everything back on and have people pick up where they left off. Nope. Either had to pull them or start them over. There were also a bunch of other issues and glitches I can’t remember at the moment, but one I do. It was huge. A breach of privacy. I had everything set up to show a MAILING address at the bottom of every email, but they switched something internally which made our BILLING addresses show in the emails. For me, that meant my HOME address. Not okay, not even in the slightest.

    That’s when I switched to ActiveCampaign. They aren’t perfect, and they aren’t cheap, but they’re RELIABLE. I haven’t experienced a single glitch in over a year. My privacy hasn’t been compromised. My emails go out when they’re supposed to. Automations run as they should. They do need to update some of their features (don’t get me started on the image library!) but they ARE working on the issues and constantly ask users for feedback. I’m happy with them and would recommend them to authors who can afford it. The peace of mind is worth it!

  93. David, maybe you can try looking into emailoctopus.com, and run it through Amazon Web Services (AWS) via your own website. I started out with Mailchimp, bolted out of Mailerlite after that SPAMHaus debacle and then Adam Croft mentioning that they have a very risky data protection practice. I then looked into AWS and never looked back. You can run AWS through emailoctupus or Mailpoet. Mailpoet has better features but cost runs similar to Covertkit. emailoctupus’ rates are similar to Mailerlite. Both are very responsive to client inquiries, and are based in Europe and totally GDPR compliant. AWS is also very vigilant with weeding out SPAM, and the beauty of that is you’ll never have to rely on other servers again. Your emails to your subscribers run directly from your own verified domain.

    It isn’t easy for newbie authors using free plans to set up. But for those with a bigger list, it could be an option. For myself, I found the trouble of setting this system up to be totally worth it. The drawback of emailoctopus is that they don’t have tags and also subscribers can sign up to more than one list, and the subscriber would be counted as a sub for every list they subscribed to, and you’ll have to sort that out via Excel. Mailpoet though does the same thing as Mailerlite–only send to a subscriber once no matter how many lists they’re on, plus you can see from your website dashboard which lists a subscriber is on. I do really like Mailpoet.

  94. Wow. I switched two years ago from MailChimp to MadMimi because the latter was less expensive and has a simpler interface, which saves me time. MadMimi doesn’t have all the bells and whistles of MailChimp (e.g. limited use of emojis in headers), but for my author marketing it’s more than enough. And the support team is incredibly quick to respond and helpful.

  95. Hi, David. I switched from Mail Chimp to ConvertKit over a year ago, and I have not looked back. I was tired of paying twice for subscribers who were part of two different audiences (young adult and thriller).

    There is a learning curve with ConvertKit, but their help system and their response time when you have a question has always been amazing. They’ve even helped me troubleshoot through a couple of problems. (And it’s true when I say: If I was able to do it, anyone can!)

    I love their tagging mechanisms. I can now track who my customers are by retailer and by series of books. I can offer exclusive content like bonus scenes or alternate endings through another signup form that will send them into a new sequence of emails without signing them up for the same list a second time or a second list. This was something I couldn’t do with MailChimp w/o putting them on a new list and paying for them AGAIN.

    I loved ConvertKit during the first year so much that I ended up saving by paying for a full year on Black Friday last year. I decided the increased price from MailChimp was worth it since it’s my most important asset in my business of staying in touch with readers.

    Drawbacks: learning curve and setup time, not as graphic heavy for people who are used to MC (I like the low graphics and lots of white space, though), slightly more expensive than MC, but not that much.

    Pros: customer service, clean emails, tagging system, segmenting.

    1. Two other things I like about ConvertKit: the ability to resend to subscribers who didn’t open the first email of an important campaign, and the way they track “cold subscribers.” They make it much easier to keep engagement up.

  96. I used Mailchimp until a year ago when their prices forced me to look for an alternative. I moved to Sendy, which was great in terms of cost (less than $1 a month!) but you need tech knowledge to make any changes, which doesn’t work for me, and there is little integration with other services (such as Bookfunnel) so I recently moved to Email Octopus. They have a free plan for up to $2,500 subscribers, and then $19/month for up to 10,000 subscribers. It doesn’t have all the bells and whistles that Mailchimp has, but it is a good basic plan with full integration. They are based in London and one definite con is that they don’t have 24 hour support, but they tell me that it will be coming soon. They were very responsive to my emails regarding difficulties I had getting their widget to work on my WP press site (turns out the problem was my theme and they came up with a solution that worked.) So far, I am happy with the move. Everything is working smoothly, including my automations.

    1. Yep! I’m using emailoctopus too and love it! They don’t have live 24hr support but they’re very prompt in responding to emails and inquiries within 24 hours so tech support hasn’t been a problem for me at all.

  97. I switched from Mailchimp to MailerLite at the end of 2018, mainly for price reasons. So far, MailerLite’s been fine. I don’t have a huge list ( a bit over 3K) and ML doesn’t have quite all the bells and whistles that MC did, but it works for me. My MC account is currently paused and I don’t see that changing anytime soon.

  98. Mailchimp has the WORST customer service!!! I’m on a paid plan, just paid the bill again but they have me listed as free which means no way to contact anyone to say help…my email link isn’t working in linktree/instagram!!!! Losing business by the hour. Have tried everything possible to try to reach them but nothing…silence!! I’m done with them as if today and being a business coach had recommended Mailchimp to so many clients…THATS ENDING TODAY TOO!!!

  99. I’m not sure this is really as drastic as that.

    I mean – I moved to Mailerlite years ago, when the Chimp first began adding weird requirements to signup forms. I think Mailerlite is a much better service for most authors: it does everything Mailchimp used to do, back when it was the best platform, and does it at a fraction of the cost.

    Literally a fraction. My annual Mailerlite fee is about the same as what I’d pay for a month of the Chimp.

    But these changes aren’t insurmountable.

    For example, archiving should be fine for removal of people from the list. Archive unsubscribed names and you won’t be charged for them. Simple.

    The concern about people resubscribing…I’m not 100% sure about. My understanding is that if a person has unsubscribed and then later resubscribes through a GDPR compliant method, you have once again acquired permission to email them. In other words, a deleted name who later resubscribes is again viable for sending to (provided they have rejoined the list in a GDPR compliant manner).

    IANAL. And GDPR case law is still forming. But my current read is that this isn’t an issue.

    The broader issue for most authors is that we really DON’T NEED a full-fledged CRM platform. Not most of us, anyway. Mailchimp is making movement toward being a service that offers more than we need or want, so moving forward writers using their service will increasingly be charged a premium price for services they’re not using.

    Because of that, I suspect most writers who are Mailchimp-users would be better off looking at other services. Mailchimp is simply more than we need, and is charging for things we don’t use.

  100. David great article! Anyone looking to ditch Jailchimp or try something different we launched a product last year 366 Degrees https://366.io It can handle all your Email Marketing and Sales Outreach Engagement activities. Some new stuff coming this summer also (integrated personalized gifting, greeting cards, postcards, gifts). We are tightly integrated with Nimble CRM and Salesforce

    Would for you to give us a try….


  101. I’ve used Vertical Response for years. Was thinking about switching to Mail Chimp because my web maven prefers them, and they seem to integrate better with other programs.

    VR is okay. A little pricey, IMHO, but customer service is good, and the interface is simple enough.

  102. I’ve been using Mailerlite since 2016 and have been happy with them overall, but their stumbles last year have made me adopt a new level of best practice which makes my lists (44k people in total) less reliant on record keeping by the service provider.

    I use automations which not only set custom fields for lists that people are on (Mailerlite uses lists as tags), but what stage in the automation people are up to. So if they join, they get sent a welcome email, the “status” field changes to welcome 1. Then if they’re sent the followup, the status changes to welcome 2, etc etc.

    Then I copy every single subscriber into a master list, with 50-odd custom fields, all toggled on and export the works, about once every week. So if something effs up (and people please please don’t fool yourself into thinking that it won’t happen, even if you’re on an expensive service–it happened to me on Mailchimp), you know where everyone is, what lists they’re in, what interest tags they have, and, if you really want to spit the dummy, you can take this list and walk to another provider without a lot of damage. Oh, and save all your automation emails in Scrivener.

    Also don’t fool yourself into thinking that server downgrades and spam listings don’t happen to other providers. They do. All. The. Friggin. Time. Difference with Mailerlite is that they’ll actually talk about it. I’ve suggested to them they shouldn’t, but they’re nice people so they talk about it anyway.

    Mailerlite has recently added a feature where you can show/hide sections of emails to people who are marked with a particular tag. I run a deals newsletter and this has made the world of difference to me.

    Other nice feature are:

    – The price
    – A really nice and clean email creation window
    – In-email surveys! Seriously, how cool is that? And your subscribers are tagged according to what they click! All without your having to lift a finger.
    – You can have automations that don’t send emails. You can’t believe how handy that is for sorting people.
    – Subscriber-based program, rather than list based–which is what Mailchimp uses, and this is old-fashioned and kinda horrible overall, because the most obvious reason you get charged twice if a subscriber is on two lists, but also for reasons of being able to get *really* granular with your segmenting with subscriber-based systems.

    Some disadvantages:
    – The website can be slow. Like get-me-some-coffee type of slow.
    – If you pay annually and your subscriber number drops, you won’t get downgraded until your annual payment is up.

    If you want more info, I’m happy to answer questions. I have been using Mailerlite almost since they started because I got screwed by mailchimp in 2016.

    1. Thanks Patty for that very detailed feedback on Mailerlite – truly appreciated.

      One follow-up: how often do you see something screw up on the automation front?

      Mailchimp always kept a handy record of customer history, so you could see what emails they had received just be clicking on their address – when they were sent Email X, when it was opened, when it was clicked on. But obviously you would have to proactively check a given person to see if something wasn’t working – which you wouldn’t normally do unless you had reports of something going wrong.

      Is this something you see happening less/more/the same on Mailerlite? What you are talking about sounds like the right way to do it, I’m just fully aware of my own limitations in terms of laziness and wondering if I’ll go to all that trouble right around the time of migration, or whether it’s something I’ll put on the list for later.

      Or is it one of those things that would actually be much easier to do while you are rebuilding automations?

      1. David, that’s the way I did it. After my massive automation screwup on Mailchimp, and then again when Mailerlite changed their entire system, I decided to take that part into my own hands. Inside Mailerlite, when you click on a subscriber, you see a page where all records of that subscriber are held. Mailerlite is located inside a GDPR country (Lithuania) and their blog post on GDPR was often referred to by email marketers worldwide.

        This page tells you what emails the subscriber received and opened or clicked. But, honest, with 44k subscribers, I’m not going to go to that level. I got books to write.

        Also, when you really go down into the weeds, you will see some weirdness and discrepancies at times. Sometimes subscriber numbers in lists will take a while to update. I’m sure this is a result of servers running at different times, but people, especially those with small lists and lots of time, will often comment on this. I saw this as new user on Mailchimp as well. For example, try deleting people on Mailchimp. You delete them, they’re still there! You delete them again, they’re still there! Come back a hour later, the first 100 are gone but the rest are still there! WTF. I still have about 6000 people in my (free) Mailchimp account that I can’t seem to delete. It’s nuts.

        The list open rates are weird in Mailerlite. I think they use a rolling open rate over a time period, or something, so your list open rates are likely to be hugely inflated, like 90% or something. Better to look at the email level.

        Their support is magic! They have a really responsive chat window.

      2. Hello Patty,

        Thank you for sticking with MailerLite and for your honest feedback. We really appreciate it! Taking responsibility and being transparent are one of the main values we have.

  103. David,

    Many thanks to you for providing all the details which MC didn’t include in their message to users.

    I’m still confused, though, about changes to automations on Free plan. I’m a current Free plan user & I use an automated nurturing sequence that runs AFTER the welcome email. Will i still be able to do that?

    1. Hi Sheryl, a couple of people have been asking this, and it’s not 100% clear.

      On one hand, Mailchimp seems to clearly state that all Free users will transition to the new pricing system on June 15. That *seems* to mean that you would get the new feature set from that point. If that’s the case, you will no longer have access to multi-part automations – which are getting gutted from the Free plan and even the basic Paid Monthly plan (which is absolutely crackers!).

      So what happens to automations that are in motion? A very good question. One that Mailchimp needs to answer rather quickly…

  104. I switched from Mail Chimp to Mailerlite some time ago. The only feature now that ML does not have that MC does that I ever used is for subscribers to be able to go in and update their user info (name, email address, DOB, etc.). The workaround for this is to just simply create a new form they can enter their info. If it’s their email that’s changing, they’ll be double subscribed and they’d have to manually unsubscribe from the email they didn’t want to use anymore, but until that feature is implemented, it’s a workable alternative.

    The biggest thing is, they do have segmentation now. So the way that MC used (I forget what they call it now, it’s been so long) where you add sub-segments they belong to, ML just has Groups. There’s not really a way to distinguish a parent group from a sub group other than implementing your own naming conventions, but say you want to email your Main Reader Fan Subs, and there’s a section of your email you only want to show to your Kindle Unlimited identified people, there’s a way to target that section to only a specific group using ML’s new email setup (versus their classic drag and drop).

    Automation is pretty up there, too, in my opinion. You can set up an automation for people who click a certain link to be added to a specific group, for example. And being added to a set group can trigger a welcome series of emails, etc. And creating a survey is infinitely more easy to add to a campaign with ML than it was in MC, unless MC has changed the way that gets added from the time I left them.

    ML is not without its flaws, but their customer service has always been open to taking my suggestions and has implemented every one I’ve made except for so far the user update I mentioned above.

    Sorry I can’t speak for any of the other providers. I’ve only ever used MC and ML.

    1. I agree with all of this. Mailerlite is not perfect but such an easy platform to use and so much simpler to “tag” they use groups as the tags and it’s so easy to put people in new groups when you need to. Plus no duplicate emails to pay for… ever!

    2. Hello Nicole,

      Thank your for using MailerLite and we really appreciate your feedback. We listen to it and it’s very important to us. It is one of the key factors that help us to improve and move forward. Keep it coming! 🙂

  105. Wow. I was just about to start a new Mailchimp account for a new project. I guess I’ll be going with someone else.

    That someone else won’t be Mailerlite, though. They still regularly have issues that mess up delivery or automation or some other part of their system. I can’t trust such a critical part of my business to something so unreliable.

    1. Hello Philip,

      If you are having deliverability problems you should definitely contact our support so we can investigate further. Each case can be very different and caused because of different reasons.

      Thank you.

    1. I don’t know the second one at all, but TinyLetter was bought by Mailchimp several years ago, and the Mailchimp CEO said recently in an interview the other day that they will be closing it down sooner rather than letter, after they integrate it fully under the Mailchimp umbrella.

  106. HUGE THANK YOU to everyone making recommendations for Mailchimp alternatives and, in particular, for sharing their experiences with their email list service – good or bad. It’s all helpful.

    And it’s helping me personally. I was leaning strongly towards Mailerlite, and I’m still considering them, but also looking at a few others. Please keep the recommendations, experiences, and warnings coming. They are useful for everyone.

    1. E.g. I’m also looking at ConvertKit, which is a good bit pricier than some others, but the price gap seems to close a lot once your list gets over a certain size (whereas with something like ActiveCampaign that doesn’t seem to happen as much). Mulling over a few more too.

  107. I’ve been using YMLP (Your Mailing List Provider) for years. Chose it over MailChimp, because I couldn’t figure out the latter. 🙂 I’m not saying it’s the best there is, but for those with only one list and not all that many subscribers, it works just fine. The free plan is up to 1000 subscribers, and comes with no additional perks like statistics. Allows for automated mails when one subscribes. The free plan hasn’t changed it years. The first paid tier is $3,75 a month, with unlimited subscibers, and the highest is $5/month, and they come with all sorts of options. (This is my affiliate link to YMLP http://ymlp.com?a=CS7AJ2 , if anyone is interested.)

  108. I actually don’t know much about Revue and Substack, I just signed up for both tools and looked around a bit. They have clean user interfaces and are simple and pleasant to use but they lack the automation features of marketing-oriented newsletter platforms, which may be a deal breaker for some.

    They both support also paid newsletters but monetizing this kind of content may be difficult for authors who aren’t influencers or celebrities.

  109. It may be too-high a technical bar for many authors to hop, but I use sendy.co software installed on my own web servers and send my weekly author’s newsletter to 12,000 readers via Amazon SES cloud services and it costs me $3.10 a month.

    Running your own server/cloud combo scales up nicely to handle bigger user bases, also.

    Amazon gave me a million newsletter sends a month for a similar install I did on the SFcrowsnest.info magazine server.

    I started out using Topica back in the 1990s (the first MailChimp-like service), then moved to MailChimp when Topica became too greedy and started upscaling their service offering to target blue chips rather than struggling artists. Sounds rather like what MailChimp are now doing.

    I finally went DIY and migrated all my readers to Sendy when I worked out the nasty costs of having a large list but not much sending activity on it.

    I mean, come-on, it shouldn’t cost $1000s of dollars just to have a few plump database tables sitting around. That’s just charging for air.

    Indie author. Indie email list solution!

  110. Thank you David for your comprehensive explanation of the bafflng email received yesterday. In addition to the nightmare GDPR regulations that hit us a while back, and caused me a month of blood sweat and tears to get my list (sorry- audence) organised, I also moved an automated list of continual posts over from iContact simply to avoid needing to go through the entire GDPR saga again. BUT that meant that all those who had been receiving the posts for a year or two had to be restarted at #1!!! So now, if I move to Mailerlite am I going to have to start them all over again? They were all very forgiving and understanding last time but to do it again? Can anyone tell me how I find out if I could start folk on an automated list of posts at whatever point they are at?

    1. I don’t know enough about Mailerlite to tell you how automation works, but one would think you can have your existing list skip onboarding just by not switching it on until they are already imported so that it only triggers for new subscribers from that point on.

      But maybe someone with Mailerlite experience can answer you in more detail (or you could try emailing them).

      1. Yes, import first and then turn on automation, but if I’m not mistaken, there used to be (and may still be) a box you can tick to say whether or not to run the imported subs through the automation. It’s been a while since I’ve imported so this could have changed.

        But what I do is have a separate group for New Subscribers, and joining that group triggers my Automated welcome series, and once they go through the welcome series they are funneled automatically into other groups.

        So if I import and want to skip the automation for some reason, I just import them into a group that’s not New Subscribers, one they’d have ended up in after the automation anyway.

    2. I recently switched to mailerlite from mail chump, set up automations etc. You *should* be able to start people midway through an automated list. Not sure if you can do it automatically, as in Mailerlite will automatically know where they’re currently at. I’m pretty sure you’d have to do that part manually. But their automation triggers do allow for things like “Send to people when they join X list”.

      So, with a little playing around, I imagine you could set up your automation process, then add in a temporary trigger to kickstart the process midway for everyone if that makes sense.

      For example, instead of putting that trigger at the very beginning of your automation – initially anyway – you put it mid way, turn it on, import your clients … thus starting them at the midway point of the automation, then modify the automation again so it only effects new sign-ups.

      Again, this is in theory. I haven’t actually done it. But looking at their triggers, it seems like it should be possible.

    3. Hello Shirley,

      The “quickest” way to do this would be to set up different automation sequences (that start from the last step your subscribers took) and start it that way. Your subscribers won’t start from step #1 but this will require some manual work.

      We do plan to implement feature in the future to “drop” subscriber anywhere in automation sequence.

      Thank you!

  111. Just dump the flying monkeys. Find a brilliant iT person to create a NEW platform with you, the disgruntled indie, as a coop. Why not??? You guys think you can’t do it. Surely someone — say a spouse — knows his/her way around these things. Just do it. I’d volunteer my dear iT guy, but he died. But that doesn’t mean you can’t find someone else to help out.

    1. Sounds like a great opportunity for someone – authors have very particular needs and there are A LOT of us. At the very least, it’s an opportunity for MC’s competitors.

  112. If you’re moving off MAilChimp, you have a mindset change to make. MC organizes things by Lists/Audiences, with segmentation based on the source signed up, location, etc. Other services organize by the subscriber, but then tag them with unlimited # of tags. In MC, if you had both horror and thriller books, you had two audiences. Some subscribers overlapped and you were charged twice. I use ConvertKit, which means I have a subscriber with a Horror tag and a Thriller tag. It’s a more efficient way of working. However, you must pay attention to the tags upfront so you don’t wind up with hundreds of them. The tag taxonomy that you use should be lean and powerful. For example, BOOK: Title, SOURCE: Bookfunnel, TOPIC: Horror. Then, when you send anything, you choose the tags to whom you wish to send. It’s a mindset change.


  113. I think they are trying to screw existing free users and go for a new type of user that wants everything in one place.

    I am ok though, I get to keep my price and features.

    1. If you’re on a Monthly paid plan you get to keep your price and features… for now. But everything points to that changing further down the line. I think you are facing an eventual price jump, a gutting of features, and a worsening of terms. Might be wise to have an alternative lined up for when the hammer drops on you too.

    1. Please do feel free to share your experience in more detail. A couple of us are definitely curious and would like to hear more from someone who has actually used them.

  114. Heya 🙂

    Nice post, I’ve seen quite the flurry on this. FWIW, I wouldn’t recommend MailerLite; their server hygiene was pretty bad last year, causing my domain to burn in hellfire (https://www.mondegreen.co/changes-in-the-empire/ – my site where I detail switching to Sendy, and why MailerLite was a trash fire for me).

    Would I recommend Sendy? Not for advanced users or those without tech know-how, but it works well for me so I’m sticking with it. My hunch is MailChimp know how badly MailerLite screwed their sender reputation and are capitalizing on audiences unwilling to go back there.

    1. Thanks for the warning. I’ve heard good and bad about Mailerlite. All the bad seems to focus on these issues from last year. I need to dig into that more to see if it was resolved conclusively or whether it is still a concern. I’ll check out your post – thanks. I haven’t fully decided quite yet…

  115. Thank you for sharing, David. After receiving the email from Mailchimp yesterday, I was at a loss on what to do, even if I am on the free plan and only send an occasional newsletter. I’m not happy with what I read from them at all.

  116. While I now agree with you on Twitter that email can be a viable marketing option, I think authors can achieve the same results by offering email subscriptions to newsletters and announcements on their websites and make use of services such as Twitter. I’m forming a marketing plan for my published works and upcoming novels. Research indicates writers can build an audience base with some work…for little to nothing in cost.

    1. Hi Tannera – email has a number of unique advantages, which I talk about in detail in Strangers to Superfans. In short though, it has a certain intimacy and creates a very different atmosphere – which really deepens engagement, and the relationship building aspect. This isn’t all intangible either. Email converts way better than any other form of communication.

      It isn’t even close.

  117. I was planning to leave Mailchimp when I got close to 2000 (I’m at about 1400) but I just noticed today that the automation email didn’t go out as it was supposed to, and being on the free plan I had no one to contact. I’m sure they’re overwhelmed with their beloved overhaul anyway. I decided to bite the bullet and go back to Mailerlite today on a paid plan. Mailerlite’s interface is so much better. Happy to leave them behind. It will take Mailchimp a while to realize how many customers they’ll lose as it takes time to delete and close accounts, especially if you’ve recently sent out newsletters and they are still gathering data.

    1. AFAIK automations have been axed from the free plan – they aren’t even on the basic paid plan anymore, you have to get the upgraded plan for 50% more to get those. They still do the automated welcome email, but that’s it. No real automations, no proper onboarding.

      Whether that has kicked in yet for those on the free tier, I don’t actually know, or whether that has caused some tech issue. Support is probably swamped now too – one would imagine. Although my sympathy for Mailchimp is severely limited by how self-inflicted all this is.

  118. Ages ago, I started with a MailChimp account tied to PayPal for any charges (before I moved to Mailerlite). One thing I’ve been suggesting to author friends who set their account up like i did using PayPal–whether it is/was a free account with them, or used them in a paid account before–but use something else now, go into your PayPal Profile and flag MailChimp as Inactive. If MailChimp is listed as Active, they can charge your PayPal account–no matter how long it’s been–but if you click to make them Inactive, if they invoice you they won’t get paid unless you approve the invoice. This was a terrific post, David, (thank you) and if you or someone in the comments has already mentioned this, I apologize for any repetition. I didn’t see it anywhere, so wanted to add the caveat.

      1. I was already in switch mode from MC to Mailerlite when all this came out. I’ve always felt MC was complicated. Then I received a block out notice. They’d closed one of my lists for disuse. I only used it rarely. But I needed it. So that made me frustrated. I’d started the rollover by sending a message to my list cleaning it up by moving. Nice articles showing which list for different interests separating my list into 2 distinct lists. Had I unwittingly stayed with MC, I would have lost the newly cleaned 2nd list the day after I built it! Now I’m so glad I ran into the problem before the bigger problem! I built my first for history and genealogy buffs in Mailerlite much quicker than MC and sent a thank you gift to “new” subscribers. The 2nd list is for cat comedy lovers. That will go out before the end of the month from a much more confident writer!

        After, I already plan to export everything from MC to keep records. I had used a list builder promo that delivered a lot of emails, but most unsubscribed after they got their free book. All those hundreds would count and they never opened a newsletter.

        On automatons, Mailerlite is so much easier to set up. I never managed to get MC to work right.

        But my suggestion is to use different companies for different lists to keep costs down for those just getting started. It also gives a level of freedom if a company changes policies as MC did. You won’t lose entire lists.

      2. It’s probably just me, but in two attempts over time at signing onto their free service, I found MC user-unfriendly to the point of throwing in the towel. And those graphics, oy. I’m pretty willing technologically, but whatever’s going on over there (or was) always seemed like pig Latin or something. Grateful for this article and the discussion about ML. Thanks!

  119. David, thank you so much for providing clarity on the new changes MC is making. I am a MC user and had been getting the legal e-mails. Your post is far clearer than what they have been sending out and I think I’ll start looking for a better alternative.

  120. I can fully understand launching a new business as a one-stop setup to automate advertising over multiple platforms. In fact, I’d be interested in learning about such a startup company. I see its value to a busy writer. But as my dad often said, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

    I like Mailchimp for what I originally contracted them to do five years ago; deliver my newsletters twice a month. Why make it a mandatory change to “this and that” when a separate market can be established for “this or that?”

    This kinda reminds me of the joke where the old Sunday school teacher is given a hotel bill that includes all the amenities she didn’t use, but was asked to pay for “because it was there and available.” She submitted her own bill, charging the hotel manager for her personal escort service, “because it was there and available.”

    C’mon Mailchimp, I like the idea of eating healthy, but when I go to a pizza parlor, I don’t want to be forced to buy a salad, just because some bean counter at corporate says it will be profitable. Just give me the pizza. And I’ll pay you for the pizza. Done deal.

    1. That really bugs me too. They could easily set this up as optional, and not impact the email side at all.

  121. Thank you for digging into this – the vaguely worded email they sent out yesterday was … not great. I’m a legacy paid monthly user so theoretically not immediately impacted but as you say, it’ll come soon. I’ve got 10K+ unsubscribes which presumably they’ll want to charge me for shortly. Like you I’m uninterested in basically all of the integrated marketing services they want to sell me – postcards (seriously? POSTCARDS?), retargeting FB ads towards people who unsubscribed (no thank you), etc. But switching out is a HUGE hassle.

    Am nervous about MailerLite because I’ve heard (internet rumor) that you’re messages are more likely to be flagged as spam. This could be total bunk. But like you I don’t need the bells/whistles of ConverKit. So what WILL I DO? Complain and drink. Blah.

  122. Thank you for digging into this – the vaguely worded email they sent out yesterday was … not great. I’m a legacy paid monthly user so theoretically not immediately impacted but as you say, it’ll come soon. I’ve got 10K+ unsubscribes which presumably they’ll want to charge me for shortly. Like you I’m uninterested in basically all of the integrated marketing services they want to sell me – postcards (seriously? POSTCARDS?), retargeting FB ads towards people who unsubscribed (no thank you), etc. But switching out is a HUGE hassle.

    Am nervous about MailerLite because I’ve heard (internet rumor) that you’re messages are more likely to be flagged as spam. This could be total bunk. But like you I don’t need the bells/whistles of ConverKit. So what WILL I DO? Complain and drink. Blah.

    1. This is the one thing giving me pause about Mailerlite. I know quite a few of the… shall we say blacker hats in the author community were using Mailerlite. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that Mailerlite then had issues last year with getting some of their servers apparently marked as spammy – which had a knock on effect on legit users.

      They appear to have recovered from that quickly and there doesn’t seem to have been a recurrence. But, yes, that’s a worry.

      1. So this sucks. I was with MailerLite up until the ‘incident’ last year when there servers were affected. It had a terrible knock on effect, as in suddenly half of my list weren’t getting my emails and even my website’s spam score, which had always, always been clean, was negatively affected. I decided to leave MailerLite and go back to Mailchimp soon after, tagging my former MailerLite list so I could keep an eye on their performance rates after the switch. Guess what? Months later, nearly all the subscribers I moved over now all have 2 star ratings, which I can only assume means my emails are going straight into their spam folders. I’ve always followed the rules when it comes to mailing lists and have strong ethics when it comes to spam. Even if MailerLite have fixed the problem, it seems like my mailing list was tainted because of what happened. So I guess I’m now looking at one of the more expensive options. Sigh.

      2. I have Mailerlite (paid) & MC (free plan). I like ML’s customer service and the dashboard/set-up is pretty similar, so it works for me.

        My two concerns are: 1) my open rate is MUCH lower with Mailerlite, and 2) the spam issue. After sending ML newsletters, my email address did start being marked as spam for some people who I email regularly. Actual people I connect with.

        My suggestion would be to set up a separate email address dedicated only to newsletter, and have the ‘sender’ email address be that one, vs. your main email addy.

        I’m thinking about going full Sendy, and being done with newsletter providers. For ppl with huge lists or frequent sends, it might be worth looking into. You’re managing all compliance, etc yourself, so there are some drawbacks, but might be worth it.

      3. I have Mailerlite (paid) & Mailchimp (free). I like Mailerlite, their customer support is great, and their dashboard is fine for me. Maybe not as slick as MC, but fine.
        I have 2 problems with ML:
        1) my open rate is MUCH lower;
        2) the spam issue. After sending ML newsletters, my email address suddenly started being marked as spam by people who I interact with. Real humans, who I know, people who’ve emailed *me.*

        If using Mailerlite, my suggestion would be to set up a separate, newsletter-dedicated email address, and have the emails come from there. Don’t taint your ‘real’ email addy.

        I’m thinking of just going full Sendy. You’re managing all the design, compliance, etc yourself, so there are downsides, but it has all the features (tagging, you can sent up automation, etc) and for those with big lists or many sends, (like you, David) it might be worth it.

        If anyone does go Sendy, sign up for your Amazon SES account before you leave, to make sure you get approved.

        And be sure to download your favorite newsletter templates from Mailchimp before you go! Then you can import them into Sendy, b/c Sendy has no ‘done for you’ stuff like other newsletter providers. B/c they’re not technically a newsletter provider. Of course, it’s only $79, paid once. And the send rate for Amazon SES is $1.00 per 10K emails.

      1. Hi Paul, I appreciate Mailerlite engaging here in the comments, and that survey is interesting. However, it’s not that scientific in that the sample sizes are really small on those tests. It might be an excellent barometer of where everyone is with deliverability right now, it might be selling you a little short, or it could be being generous – you really can’t say when there are only a handful of emails in each test. Indeed, the wild swings that some companies have inbetween such tests would seem to back that up.

        Is there anything more comprehensive that you can link to (or any internal such data you can mention?) It’s definitely better than nothing – so thank you – and what I’m asking for might not exist, or be publicly accessible, so it’s welcome nonetheless. But I thought I’d ask, just in case.

      2. Hello David,

        Industry benchmarks. Different data than Email Tool Tester provides but it still may be useful https://www.mailerlite.com/blog/compare-your-email-performance-metrics-industry-benchmarks

        The idea of doing something more comprehensive that can be easily shared and understood is interesting and worthy of consideration.

        However, data and testing provided by independent, 3rd parties will probably be considered more objective in any case. Also, just like the industry benchmarks, deliverability is something that depends on many different factors and users can have a very big impact on that as well – the quality of email list (bounces, spam complaints), previous engagement of receivers.

  123. Thanks David for staying on top of this issue. I used MailerLite a few months ago to do onboarding for subscribers from a group giveaway and I liked it.

    This couldn’t come at a worse time as I’m planning a big launch next month and will now have to move my list over to ML and set up new automations, but I’ll just have to buckle down and do it.

    1. It is a pain, but probs best to get ahead of it and have the new automations ready for the bump in traffic so you can start winding down the others (this I am not looking forward to – I just had to redo them all in Jan/Feb after a huge Mailchimp bug cratered them all…)

  124. David, thanks for the comprehensive analysis. What do you think of the platforms focusing on editorial and personal newsletters such as Revue and Substack? Are they useful to authors?

    1. I don’t know anything about either other than I’ve seen a few journos using Substack recently. Feel free to fill us in!

      1. I actually don’t know much about Revue and Substack, I just signed up for both tools and looked around a bit. They have clean user interfaces and are simple and pleasant to use but they lack the automation features of marketing-oriented newsletter platforms, which may be a deal breaker for some.

        They both support also paid newsletters but monetizing this kind of content may be difficult for authors who aren’t influencers or celebrities.

      2. Yeah I think authors generally want to use their newsletter to sell products or deepen relationships (or best of all: deepen relationships to sell products!), rather than monetizing the actual newsletter. But thanks!

      1. I love the drag and drop on mailerlite. I think it’s much smoother than Mailchimp. I just switched back today from mailchimp to Mailerlite. I wish I never moved in the first place

  125. When my MailChimp costs hit US$100/month, I moved to a self-hosted AWS-based application, Sendy ( sendy.co/ ) and immediately cut my costs to $5/month. The program itself is a one-time cost of $60, but you’ll need a reasonably technical server guru to set it up; it took my coder about ten hours. There are also managed Sendy services like EasySendy ( sendy.easysendy.com/ ) with monthly subscriptions that are vastly cheaper than MailChimp.

  126. I have had a Mailchimp account for almost as long as you have, David. I was on a monthly paid plan ’til I took a real job managing a set of much larger lists (first in Aweber, then in ActiveCampaign), and left my own peeps hanging in email purgatory.

    As I’m getting ready to get serious about an upcoming fiction release, I checked out ConvertKit but ultimately decided to make the jump to MailerLite. It’s definitely got its quirks, but it’s a great value for the price.

    I just spent this morning wrapping up all my forms and automations in the new system so now I can reach out to my old Chimp list, invite any of them over to the new space who want to come, then nuke that whole account.

    Bye Felic– I mean MailChimp!

    1. Is there some reason you wouldn’t just import those contacts and resume emailing them from Mailerlite? Or is this a long-dormant list or something?

      1. Yeah, the list has been dormant for a couple years, and it’s a bunch of early-stage writers, not genre-specific readers — I’d be sending something totally different from what they signed up for and that’s just uncool.

        So I’m going to send them a little “Christmas Newsletter” with what I’ve been up to and the blurb and covers for my new series today, invite them to join if they want, and nuke the rest. How’s that for commitment to my new direction? 😉

  127. Hi David,
    Super useful post as always!
    I used to use Mailchimp, until they flagged my account and requested a bunch of information over, and over, and over again. I lost patience with tech support and started looking elsewhere. I tried Klaviyo, which is another option (great optics and design!) but more expensive, and finally landed on Mailerlite. To date with them, my experience has been phenomenal. Their website is easy to use, way more user-friendly than Mailchimp, and the automation sequencing is awesome 🙂
    Keep up the awesome posts!

  128. Thanks for such a thorough review. I use MC and Mailerlite at the moment (for reasons) and in my opinion, Mailerlite is a much better service and much cheaper. I’ll be switching everyone over now.

  129. Hoorah David!

    As someone who can’t yet afford a paid plan, I’ve been using MC’s Free Plan. I currently onboard people using various reader magnets and I’ve tailor-made some lovely welcome sequences for each giveaway, which means I have several lists (audiences, whatever – insert eye roll). Once they’re through the welcome sequence, I then copy them over to my main newsletter list (audience, sigh) and unsubscribe them from the original list (screw it, I’m using the word List!!). So, yeah, my unsubscribes are fairly high because of the way I manage my lists.

    Sure, I could export those lists so I have a record of everyone and then archive the unsubscribes as MC suggests, but the issue for us Free Plan folks on this new scheme is that we’re only allowed ONE audience and, from what I gather, they’re taking away the onboarding sequence feature for free users. It’s like a chimp-sized “F-you freeloaders” from MC.

    I’m failing to understand why MC thinks you will continue to “market to” someone who has unsubscribed. From my understanding of both U.S. law and GDRP this is completely illegal.

    Anyway, thanks again for putting to words everything that’s been screaming through my head for the past few days. Time to go hunt for another mailing list option.

    1. “I’m failing to understand why MC thinks you will continue to “market to” someone who has unsubscribed. From my understanding of both U.S. law and GDRP this is completely illegal.”

      That was my take, too. If someone has unsubscribed, why would I want to reach out to them again? In the off-change that they changed their mind? I certainly don’t intend on using a CRM system (I, like you, am on the free plan right now) and I don’t want someone else doing FB ads and targeting user who already said, “No thank you.”

      1. Have you ever seen the show Father Ted? The priests have a housekeeper who is always pushing tea on people whether they want it or not. Maybe this is the new MC Theory of Marketing. “Aw, c’mon, you want an email, don’t you? Surely, you’re wanting an email from me. Go on, take it.”

      2. Suppose you wanted to that. ‘Retarget’ unsubscribes with a facebook ad. Okay…. what’s to keep you from downloading a CSV from your provider of your unsubscribes, then taking that list and uploading it into facebook and run an ad? Why do you need to pay mail chimp (or anyone else) to keep track of a dead list?

      3. Same. I read that but under Canadian CASL legislation my understanding is if someone is unsubscribed, that’s it – no more marketing to them whatsoever.

    2. Totally. There was all sorts of stuff I could have gone into more detail on but this post was already getting aircraft carrier size trying to cover the main angles. All of the plans (for new users) have been gutted. The free plan is losing a ton of features, and the threshold for going paid is effectively lowered now, whatever Mailchimp officially say. The basic plan has tons of features stripped out, and the price is effectively higher now, as they are counting by Audience. Even the new middle-tier paid plan has less features than the basic paid plan pre-May 15 had, and it is 50% more expensive. And the premium level STARTS at $299 a month now before you get into counting the size of your Audience. Yikes.

      As for contacting people after they unsub and whether that is a GDPR breach, again, not a lawyer or GDPR expert, but my understanding is that emailing them after they unsubscribe is definitely a no-no. Running a Facebook ad or Google ad to unsubscribes seems to be legally permissible, but ethically questionable perhaps – that appears to be a personal call, but I understand the queasiness. Sending them a postcard after they unsubscribe is hilariously creepy. “NOBODY LEAVES MY LIST. YOU ARE IN MY AUDIENCE FOREVVVVVVERRRRRRRR.”

      More seriously, this is a good reminder to be 100% GDPR compliant with your mailing list sign-up forms and ensure you have a Privacy Policy on your website which says you may use sign-up/traffic data for remarketing purposes, if you so desire. Mailchimp now requires same in the new Terms of Use too FWIW.

      1. Identifying real-world addresses for email addresses for any reason is worrying. When did that become a thing?

        And what about Aweber? I haven’t seen any mention of it so far.

        Switching is going to be a pain. It means downloading all lists from MC and uploading them to a new service. That’s not so bad. The heavy work will be changing the links for new subscribers in all my books and re-publishing them.

      2. As for the links, as you are going to the trouble of replacing them all anyway, consider pointing them to a sign-up form on your site, instead of one from whatever mailing service you use.

        Example: https://davidgaughran.com/amazon-decoded-landing-page/ – that’s hosted on my site, not Mailchimp’s. So when I need to change, I just have to fiddle with some back end stuff on my site. I don’t have to go around and reformat 10 books. It doesn’t get rid of ALL busywork, but does massively reduce it, and future proofs you to some extent.

        Also you get more control about how it looks, and so on. Those little things can make a big difference to sign-ups.

      3. JJ Toner, a solution to the links is your books is (if you use WordPress) is to use a plugin called Pretty Link. It lets you create links using your domain (like mydomain.com/gohere). Put those in your book. Then if you have to redirect the link, it’s easy to do from your website and you don’t have to make any changes to your book.

    3. Hi Tammie,

      I don’t know if this will help your onboarding process but what you wrote seemed similar to what I’m trying to do with MC, which is not send people my main newsletter while they’re still in the welcome sequence.

      At the end of my welcome automation, I have the last email in that automation tag them as “regular” (MC call this a post-sending action). And when I send my main newsletter, I only send it to people who have a “regular” tag in their profile.
      Might that help you at all?

      Incidentally, I freaked out about losing my automations too, but it seems we might now be on one of MC’s “legacy” pricing plans where we keep those features – for now. Like everyone else though, I’m worried. This could be the writing on the wall for the (frankly incredible) free service I’ve enjoyed up to now.

      1. Thanks Pauline,
        It would help, but I have various giveaways for my lists (different first in series, for example) and I have the welcome sequence for each list oriented around those giveaways.

        If I learned how to tame my “generosity” and whittled down to one list (which MC is forcing Free Plan folks to do), that would absolutely work.

        Since I’m currently a freeloader, I am not considered legacy and will lose not only my ability to have multiple lists with MC, but also my ability to have an automation sequence.

        Since I can’t afford any of their paid plans as yet and even their cheapest plan won’t allow me to keep my current automation/list structure, it’s off to some other service for me.

        It’s all really disappointing and frustrating and going to be a huge time suck away from writing to get it resolved.

      2. Tammi, I’m in the same MC-freeloader boat. In fact, I recently finished your book and implemented your on-boarding strategy. I’ve also been running two highly successful automated email courses for a couple years now. Poof! That’s all gone now. Please keep your fans posted about which service you choose. I’m probably going ActiveCampaign or Mailerlite. Both seem to offer what I need in terms of automation and subscriber mgmt at a fraction of what it’ll cost me at MC once the changes go into effect.

        Great book, btw!

      3. MC hasn’t taken away lists we already have. We just can’t make more new ones now as long as we’re Free.

        Archive your unsubscribes.
        Existing automations still exist.
        Cleaned emails are counted for Audience, but those can no be deleted, unlike before.

    4. And in Canada, you can’t market to someone who has unsubscribed … canada’s CASL laws are too strict and regulators are too money hungry. Just LOVE handing out fines. Ask CIBC who incurred a huge fine. But you need to maintain your contacts, subscribe & unsubscribes for record keeping. So Mailchimp – goodbye!

  130. I can’t tell you how valuable this was for me. I spent a lot of time setting up a mailing list using MailChimp over the last five years or so. Your article has saved me countless more hours of researching and agonizing over what to do now. Thank you!

  131. This is worrying for a relatively new author like myself. I have few enough subscribers to make moving providers be not too much hassle. But, come on, shouldn’t we be able to just use an email provider with automation without worrying?
    I was with MailerLite, but changed to MC because Adam Croft came across an issue where emails were not being delivered. He has a big list. His Indie Author Mindset Group will give you more details, but he recommended changing away from ML.

    Where does this leave me? Well, I’ll explore it all a bit more but might well change to the one that the Ninja advocates.

    Thanks David for keeping us from becoming mushrooms.

    1. I don’t know the exact reasons Adam changed his recommendation (I do remember him being a big fan of Mailerlite previously but I know they have had a couple of issues in the last year too). Unless money is no object and/or you can really justify the expense of some of the pricier services like ActiveCampaign, I don’t think there is any service that you can give an unqualified recommendation to – they all have their pros and cons. I think it’s most important to figure out what YOU need, rather than what any one person recommends, and then find the right service to serve that set of needs.

    2. I’ve used AOL mail for about nine years and it’s always free and doesn’t pull the stuff that MC does. I feel so sorry for everyone going thought this. I guess Mail chip doesn’t want its free members to become happy paid members. Wonder what idiot is their CEO?

      1. Hi Ilma,

        I conduct training courses teaching insurance agents to use MailChimp to keep in touch with their clients. Over the last 2 years, I have gotten more than 500 signups with MC. Due to this incident with MC, I am deciding to switch to Mailerlite.

        When I checked with support, I found out that I can only have one domain email address per account. Meaning that john@abcinsurancecompany.com and jill@abcinsurancecompany.com can’t have their own separate account and must share the same account.

        Can you confirm this?

      2. Hi Scott,

        You can definitely have multiple emails (users) under one domain. If you have domain “abcinusrancecompany.com” you can have both emails under the domain John and Jill. You can also set up their user level – administrator, manager, viewer, accountant and custom. Does that answer your question?

  132. Great article, David. I switched from MailChimp to MailerLite a couple years ago and haven’t regretted it. I stuck with them through their short-term problems. They’ve added a bunch of features and the prices are reasonable (unlike MC). Customer service has been responsive. Unless ML does something similar to what MC is doing, I don’t plan to change.

    1. I’ll second this about MailerLite. I mvoed over to them as soon as I outgrew the 2,000 free subs at MC and I haven’t regretted it. In my opinion, their interface is actually easier to use, especially their automations. If they have any savvy at all (and I think they do) they’re watching and learning what NOT to do from this debacle!

      1. I’m with Mailerlite too, and very happy. You guys must be cracking open the champagne after one of your competitors just shot themselves in the foot so comprehensively.

        What is it with internet companies and that dreaded, much-loathed buzzword … pivot? Next they’ll be trumpeting something to do with blockchains.

        There’s nothing wrong with starting up a business to do something reasonably well, and then sticking to it. Refine and improve, sure, but ‘pivoting’ (ugh) ala Mailchimp and Instafreebie/Prolific Works is nearly always a mistake.

      2. Simon, for some reason I cannot directly reply to your comment.

        When you become so big you start looking for other ways to expand and grow. Obviously, there will be some unhappy customers who just want a simple tool to do one or two things and not overpay for additional functionality that’s not even necessary for them.

        The good thing is that you have so many options to choose from and you are not limited to only one. Very happy you chose MailerLite! :)) Thank you!

      1. Waitaminnit…
        The CEO of ML just commented? Okey dokey… decision made. TTYL ML peeps.
        (Now I gotta redo 90 titles’ mailing list magnet manuscripts and reload them to Amazon… thanks MC)

      2. I’m in the process of doing this (not for that many, because most of mine are through my publisher and I can’t change them). What I did was create a page on my site in WordPress, which will stay constant, and embedded the form there. So if for some reason I ever need to change again, that will stay the same. (And I can’t believe I was so short-sighted that I didn’t think about that from the start.)

      3. Ilma, I would like to believe this, but MailerLite did recently change pricing, or at least removed some of the features of free accounts. (If memory serves me correctly there may have been price increases as well, but I can’t 100% confirm that without research.) Unfortunately, when the changes occurred, people were not grandfathered in.

        In light of the above, can you clarify what you mean when you say ML won’t change prices?

      4. I’m pretty sure Ilma said they “wouldn’t change the pricing as MC did”, not that they wouldn’t change the pricing.

        I’m sorry, but as a business owner, prices cannot remain stagnant forever. That would be the perfect way to go out of business quickly.

        I would expect prices to rise gradually, in line with inflation every few years, or even due to rising running costs, but not change dependent upon variables such as those chosen by MC.

  133. Thanks for the speedy and comprehensive update on what’s happening. I’m just starting out and my list is tiny so the move to another provider is not that problematic but I just can’t get over the size of the middle finger mailchimp is giving to it’s existing customer base.

    Hostingfacts.com as a good article about email services (obviously excluding the now outdated mailchimp section). SendinBlue sounds interesting but I have no personal knowledge of it. I would be interested to hear from anyone who does as it sounds about right for me.

      1. Hey,

        Found this article after researching why MailChimp was now difficult to use. Having used them for many years. After reading the article I signed up to MailerLite. And have to say its better than MailChimp, tenfold! (I’m on the free plan).

        Within 2 hours I’d created a new email, imported the address list and deleted the MailChimp account.

    1. I think someone has commented below about SendinBlue, Alistair. Feel free to ask them more questions and I’m sure someone can fill you in.

      1. Hi Alastair,
        Re: SendinBlue: It’s been a couple years since I went through that fiasco. On paper – well, not even paper – via ether, they sounded great. I’m sorry to say I can’t remember exactly the muddles, but there were several. They are not forthcoming, and they pulled a shocking bait-and-switch. Again, apologies for my lack of memory regarding the details. (Too many positives in life to savor to bother with giving negatives more energy.) Bottom line, I spent several months trying to make it work and never got a single newsletter out.
        There are many other superior options.

      2. Hi Blythe Ayne!

        I’m Noelia Santa Ana, a community and brand builder for Sendinblue. I’m sorry to hear that you had a bad experience with us, but we really appreciate your feedback — it’s how we always continue to improve!

        Please give us another chance! We’ve made a ton of changes and added several new features to the platform to take your marketing even further (landing pages, Facebook ads, retargeting ads, chat, and more). We’d love to have you back and hear your thoughts!

      3. I just mailed a campaign through SendInBlue yesterday. Works fine, great pricing. A simpler, more intuitive interface, imo, than the chimp.

    2. I use sendinblue and it’s considerably cheaper and seems to work fine. Have never understood why it’s not more popular.

  134. Hi David
    I’m currently on the free plan and was worried by this. However, it seems free users can archive their unsubscribes etc and stay on the free plan. Here’s the relevant para in the email MailChimp sent yesterday:
    • If you are a current free user
    You can remain a free user so long as you have 2,000 or fewer contacts in your audience, and you’ll now have the new free plan features. If the new way of counting contacts causes your audience to exceed 2,000 contacts before June 15, 2019, we’ll automatically archive your unsubscribed and transactional contacts. After June 15, we’ll begin calculating your audience as described in Section 7B of our TOU, but you can always manually archive contacts to keep your audience under 2,000 contacts.

    1. Hi Roz. After June 15 all Free users will be under the new pricing plans, meaning that unsubscribes will count towards your 2000 total, and you will be under the new pricing regime when you graduate to a Paid plan – with all the attendant issues outlined above. In addition, archiving unsubscribes is not a suitable workaround for all the reasons detailed above (under the heading “Why Mailchimp’s Changes Are Bad”).

      1. Thanks, David. On your recommendation I purchased Ninja and was about to implement the strategies. Really glad this happened before I really went for broke. Thanks for the detailed post.

      2. In about 2 hours, I was able to set-up a MailerLite account, transfer over my MailChimp list, and delete my MailChimp account. The MailerLite features are even better than Mailchimp in my opinion (for the free plan — I have a very small list). Did Mailchimp’s new approach have financial implications for me now? No. But the details of the pricing you nicely outlined is so outrageous, so contrary to logic, that I wouldn’t want to be associated with such a company even for a small free account. I was fine being a Mailchimp. I don’t want to be a Mailchump.

    2. I have been using firedrum since about 2011. All the basics covered and a few extra cool features, very competitive on prices and support is stellar.

      1. Hi!, I just realized!!!…and for me it´s worse than the end of Game of Thrones !… 🙁

      2. Yes I saw that too. It looks like you can’t add a new email to an automation unless you upgrade, but it seems you can still edit emails within an existing automation.

        This sucks.

      3. So sad that low cost, long life pay as you go points packages are gone along with free access to set up automated campaigns.

        My personal website-related email costs will rise from $9 a year to $9.99 x 12 = $120 subs + $150 smallest credits package = $270! = a 2900% increase.

        Guess I’ll go manual! Shame.

      1. Each list/audience has an export button and you can download/export them as a csv file. It’s a good idea to do that periodically anyway even if you aren’t moving right now. You can also export all your account data in one zip file.

      2. Export your list to back it up OFTEN. I did not and MailChimp has managed to delete the last names of ALL my subscribers. I just subscribed (for the moment) at the $10/mo level in hopes I can get someone there to help me rectify this. What a mess!

      3. Oh god, nightmare territory. Hope you get it resolved soon! And thanks for the reminder to back up my data.

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