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Mailchimp is an incredibly popular email service, and one can’t help but WANT to like them due to the insanely easy to use interface and incredibly high deliverability they promise. Yet beyond that facade of smiles and kisses lurks a few things that are buried deep in their terms of service. Maybe not that deep, but still… when signing up for an email provider, few really read the fine print.

We expect some basic functions from any Aweber/iContact/Getresponse ESP (Email Service Provider) and we expect they’ll be able to be our go-to system for all things email when it comes to mailing our devout followers and business contacts. However, that’s not the Mailchimp I’ve come to know.


#1. Affiliates
There’s been a few major media mentions of Mailchimp’s hate-on for affiliate marketing. Like it or hate it, Affiliate marketing is the 800lb gorilla of online marketing. It arguably drives a HUGE portion of all online sales. Yet right in Mailchimp’s terms of service, they strictly state they do not allow that type of marketing.

#2. Email Policies
Everyone knows that getting a high complaint rate is going to get you kicked off any ESP. No shocker there, that’s one of the major flaws of not owning your own email marketing server. I’ll even give them props for giving people severe warnings about high bounce rates. That’s fair. However, what shocked me in a last client mailing was that a high unsubscribe rate triggered an account lockdown! People that were specifically told to opt-out if they weren’t interested in the list.

Naturally they’re also an opt-in email service only. If customers have not opted to receive the emails, they’ll force you to reconfirm your list. They’re really not the place to clean your list. Yet another good case for having your own email server. Granted, you shouldn’t really use a commercial server for that either but at least you could mail your cleaning alongside your good list for a low overall complaint rate on a commercial server.

#3. Lies
I don’t like that they aren’t upfront with their policies and that folks basically have to signup and get in trouble or read the long winded terms of service to realize they’re a very strict sender. I don’t like that they’re other policies ARENT written down and you basically find them like trip wires. What I’m shocked about and really actually quite frustrated by is the lies they tell their customers.

They specifically stated in emails to one client that a high unsubscribe rate was something that ISPs would give them trouble for and could get them banned. Any commercial sender knows that the only place unsubs are recorded are within the email software (in this case Mailchimp) itself. The only thing ISPs actually see is hard and soft bounces and complaints.

No ISP cares about unsubscribes, they are simply users exercising their rights to remove themselves from a list. If you send an email out saying “We’re changing business directions and from now on we’re going to only sell left handed golf clubs, please unsubscribe if you prefer right handed” and you get a 12% unsubscribe rate… that might very well be a logical business move to differentiate yourself in your market.