MailChimp, ConvertKit

We Are Leaving MailChimp: Our Other Options For Email Marketing

You’ve heard us preach about the amazingness that MailChimp is for small business owners. Heck we’ve done several blog posts about it here, here and here. We still stand by this. There’s just one thing we’ve got to tell you. We’ve left MailChimp. 

We are leaving Mailchimp! | Think Creative Collective

Yup, you read that right. Why you might ask? Simply because of growth and opportunity. Two things were happening with MailChimp that we didn’t like so we started to see what our other options were. Below, we’ll share with you the reasons why we left MailChimp, features of other top email service providers, and who we ultimately went with. 

So here’s the deal: investing in email marketing is good for your business. Like, $44-back-for-every-$1-spent kind of good according to Direct Marketing Association 2013 Statistical Fact Book. When we first started with MailChimp, however, there were key features that we were not getting that we didn’t even know how to use. You don’t know what you’re missing until you know what it is, right? Like targeted segmenting. (MailChimp says they do this, but trust us, it is not true). 

We were also getting charged for multiple subscribers who were the same person. For example: if you signed up for Main List + Webinar List + Ebook List you would count as three people even if you used the same email. So eventually the more lists we had (to target our followers) the more times one person could be on more than one list. We were constantly being upgraded to the next highest plan every time we offered something new to our audience. No bueno. 

So we started looking around. Below we’ve broken down the top email service providers and their key features and pitfalls. We’ve also created a handy chart for you down at the bottom.

MailChimp

  • $50 a month for 5,000 (some could be duplicates)
  • automations, series
  • can’t specifically target on the back end (they call it segmenting or grouping, but it’s your subscriber who has to decide which category they fall into not an automatic process)
  • drag and drop templates
  • e-commerce connectivity
  • phone app

Bottom line: MailChimp was great to grow with. It was easy to use and beautiful. However, we started to find that our emails were getting sent to the Promotions tab or worse the Spam folder (no bueno). Their customer service is slim to none (chat box is hit or miss with someone helpful and they take days to respond to your email without really answering your question). Once we hit 5,001 subscribers we knew it was time to go. 

ConvertKit

  • 30-day refund policy
  • $79 a month for 5,000
  • responsive opt-in forms - allows you to have as many opt-in offers as you want
  • landing pages
  • automation and segmenting (easily exclude purchasers)
  • no templates (which leads to higher open and engagement rates)
  • personalized email no longer lands in the “promo” box - unlimited everything (Forms, Courses, Landing Pages, Automation Rules, Emails)
  • personalized support team (Nathan Berry - the founder - often answers our emails when we have questions, now that’s customer service)
  • no e-commerce integration yet, but you can easily target people who already purchased vs haven’t purchased in your emails

Bottom line: this is who we switched to! Once we realized that MailChimp wasn’t the only one double counting your subscribers and that their segmenting was not how we needed it to work, we wanted to get straight answers from people. We emailed ConvertKit and asked if we could schedule a call. We hopped on the phone with the creator of ConvertKit to pick his brain. He explained to us their powerful “tagging” capabilities and how that led to no one being counted more than once (with the same email). He also eased our minds that we’d be switching from cute, designed and beautiful templates to plain text emails and how that actually benefited us (hello, higher open rates). We’ve since emailed and gotten responses within hours (even on a Sunday) from the creator himself. We are so pleased with the transition and excited for our future email marketing capabilities. Interested in making the switch? 

Constant Contact

  • free trial for 60 days
  • $60 a month for 5,000 for basic $85 for plus
  • 1 user with basic 3 with plus
  • free custom template with plus 
  • automation only with plus
  • FB promotion with plus
  • customer surveys, collect donation, register for events and track coupons with plus
  • real live support (personal experience their support is AMAZING, you get your own rep)
  • e-commerce integration with third party

Bottom line: We actually used Constant Contact last spring during their free trial offer so we can speak from experience. First, of utmost importance their customer service is ah-mazing. Like you hop on a call with a team member who walks you through all of their features and helps you grow. You get your own team member to email or call at anytime (literally they told us to call that number if we were struggling with something for more than 1 minute). They also have some pretty cool Facebook Promotional features to help grow your audience on that channel. We ultimately didn’t want to pay for a service at the time (we still weren’t paying for Mailchimp). They also don’t have great targeting features like ConvertKit has.

Aweber

  • 30 day free trial
  • $69 a month for 5,000
  • automation and segmenting
  • customer support (call chat or email 7 days a week)
  • 700+ templates
  • ecommerce integration with third party

Bottom line: We’ve never personally used Aweber, but word on (the internet) street is that their customer service is amazing. It’s also been said that MailChimp doesn’t particularly like you sharing affiliate links with your audience, but Aweber supports it. So if you’re monetizing for your business you’ll want to consider a switch. Aweber also counts your subscribers as multiple if they are on multiple lists and even counts a unsubscriber until you manually go in and delete their record. 

Get Response

  • $49 a month for 5,000
  • landing pages and autoresponders
  • webinars 100
  • 3 users
  • 24/7 chat, phone support, email support
  • drag and drop editor
  • CRM and e-commerce
  • try free for 30 days
  • email templates
  • app for phone
  • double count subscribers 

Bottom line: Get Response double counts for your subscribers just like MailChimp does. That’s enough to not use them in our book.

Active Campaign 

  • $113 a month for 5,000
  • 14 day free trial
  • no app
  • chat and email support
  • 3 users
  • email templates
  • drag and drop design
  • autoresponders
  • ability to integrate e-commerce with API 
  • plus features gets you
  • custom domain
  • custom branding
  • 1:1 training
  • SMS marketing
  • 25 users
  • automation

Bottom line: It seems expensive for not that many different features. 

Infusion Soft

  • $299 a month for 5,000
  • 4 users
  • have to pick either sales automation OR e-commerce
  • difficult to learn and manage
  • Infusionsoft helps streamline the way you market to new customers by automating lead capture and follow-up. Trigger personalized communications based on email sends, opens, clicks, form submissions, and payment history, so you know messages will be timely and relevant to customers' needs.
  • Set up online shopping carts and manage your online store, inventory, fulfillment and billing from a single system. Plus, create discounts, subscription plans, and promo offers to sell products or services.
  • training is $199
  • 24 hour chat webinars, user guides
  • phone app: "simple but not very useful" Apple Store Review

Bottom line: Hella expensive, yo. We’ve heard this is quite the powerhouse of email marketing (like all-in-one sort of deal) so it’s no wonder that there’s quite the learning curve. We haven’t personally dove in o InfusionSoft (no free trial, just a demo) so we can’t speak from experience but we’ve heard most people hire someone to manage their accounts because of the complexity. Also, big names (like Pat Flynn of Smart Passive Income) with lists with over 135,000 subscribers left Infusionsoft (and Aweber) to come to ConvertKit. So, yeah we think they have room to grow.

So we can't exactly just do a whole post on email providers and not give you an opportunity to hang out with us! So if you are interested, there is some pretty awesome stuff waiting for you on the other side.

Before ya go, we have something extra just for you. Want to watch our quick scope that we did yesterday talking more about the awesomeness that is Convert Kit? You can watch that here, plus here all about how the process of making the switch. Head here to read more about if Convert Kit is right for you. (That is an affiliate link so if you're switching we'd love the be the ones they thank)! 


We are also pretty much in love with Instagram!


MailChimp, Email Marketing

Mailchimp 101: Setting Up Your First Automation

So you have built a list, sent out some emails and are starting to see things grow, but you are really ready to take this thing up a notch. You know Mailchimp has some powerful capabilities, but you aren’t quite sure how to set them up or what they would be ideal for. We are here to help. 

So you have built a list, sent out some emails and are starting to see things grow, but you are really ready to take this thing up a notch. You know Mailchimp has some powerful capabilities, but you aren’t quite sure how to set them up or what they would be ideal for. We are here to help | Think Creative Collective

As many of you know Mailchimp is just one of many email automation tools on the market. It's a favorite among many small businesses as it is very user friendly and starts off… completely free. As your list grows managing that growing pile of information can get a little hairy, but Mailchimp has options to grow as you grow.

If you decide Automation is something you want to tackle, it is a paid feature, so regardless of where you are at in the game this is something you will need to consider. 

You have heard the term automation and you are already scheduling emails, so this may have you confused. How is this different from the regularly scheduled programming? Well, Automation allows you to have “triggers” built into your email that puts someone down a path, allowing you to send specific content to just them or even a small segment of people inside your list. Automated emails are ideal for:

  • A Welcome email series
  • Launching a new product or service
  • Drip marketing campaigns
  • E-course notifications
  • Personalize emails based on interests
  • Send based on customer's website activity or behavioral targeting
  • Provide product recommendations based on previous purchases

Some of these methods are much more complicated than others. So let’s start with the basics. Today we will cover how to setup your first automation - a welcome email series.

CREATE NEW AUTOMATION

You’ll find the “automation” feature on the bar located at the very top of your screen. You’ll want to click here to either upgrade your account or to start a new automation workflow. After you select which list you’re sending to you’ll have your choice of workflow style starting with the most common options. Today we’re walking you through a “Welcome Email Series".

So you have built a list, sent out some emails and are starting to see things grow, but you are really ready to take this thing up a notch. You know Mailchimp has some powerful capabilities, but you aren’t quite sure how to set them up or what they would be ideal for. We are here to help | Think Creative Collective

Once you’ve selected your workflow style you’ll want to configure your emails just like you do when you send regular campaigns. 

SELECT YOUR TRIGGER

Here’s where you can make automation super simple or super intricate. Since we chose a “Welcome Series” the idea is that your subscribers will get an email when they subscribe to “welcome” them so MailChimp has it set for your automation to trigger when someone subscribes to your list. You can also decide to allow imported subscribers to be add to this list (only select this is you know how to download and import subscribers to your list)

ADD EMAILS

MailChimp has suggestions for all workflows to add 5 emails to your automation sequence. Please note this is totally up to you. You can create an automation sequence with one email or a ton of emails; you get to decide what works for you. We like to send out around 3 emails as part of a welcome series. You could break it down however you like, but here’s what we’re doing:

  1. Welcome to Think Creative Collective
  2. Check in on our reader
  3. Offer additional resources 

We suggest you space these out over time so you aren’t bombarding your subscriber all at once. We’ll show you how to schedule them in just a bit.

So you have built a list, sent out some emails and are starting to see things grow, but you are really ready to take this thing up a notch. You know Mailchimp has some powerful capabilities, but you aren’t quite sure how to set them up or what they would be ideal for. We are here to help | Think Creative Collective

Once you click “add email” your first automated email will pop up on the list. Then click “design email” so you can add in content as you normally do. Once you are done with your first email just “save and return to workflow” to add in any additional emails. Don’t worry nothing is sent to anyone until you manually start the workflow. 

SCHEDULING EMAILS

Once you have the design and copy placed in all of your emails you’re ready to assign when they will go out. As default the first email is set to go out immediately after people subscribe with the second email being sent out 1 day later and the third email being sent out 1 day later after that one. We’d recommend keeping the first email set to immediately after someone subscribers so you can welcome them quickly. Depending on the content of you following emails you may want to wait a week or a few months before sending anymore. To change the date simply click “change delay” on the email you want to reschedule.

So you have built a list, sent out some emails and are starting to see things grow, but you are really ready to take this thing up a notch. You know Mailchimp has some powerful capabilities, but you aren’t quite sure how to set them up or what they would be ideal for. We are here to help | Think Creative Collective

Here you have the option of pushing it back hours, day or weeks after the previous email is sent, opened, clicked, api request, not opened or not clicked. For now let’s just worry about setting emails to send after the previous email was sent. All those other options are for a more seasoned email sender. 

For this particular workflow we decided to send like this to cover a total of 2 months for this series:

  1. Welcome to Think Creative Collective (send immediately after subscribed)
  2. Check in on our reader (send 4 weeks after previous email sent)
  3. Offer additional resources (send 4 weeks after previous email sent)

YOU’RE READY TO SEND

Once you have all your emails designed and scheduled you’re ready to send! It’s important to note that once you start this workflow you cannot change the order of the emails being sent. You can, however, edit the content, design and when they’re are supposed to send. It will always tell you how many people are in queue for the next email and you are able to “pause” emails to edit or to temporarily pause the series. 

If you already have people on your list but you are just now creating a welcome series no worries! MailChimp will ask you before you send if you want to include people that are already on that list or not. Depending on your audience and the content of your email you may or may not want to add them in. 

Figuring out your first automation may be a bit tricky, but the behind the scenes communication it provides for your subscribers is so great. This is definitely one of those “above and beyond” ways you can communicate and interact with your people that they’ll definitely appreciate. 

If you feel like you need a more 1:1 approach be sure to check out our Education services! We'll walk you through everything you need to know. 


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MailChimp, Email Marketing

Mailchimp 101: Setting Up the Signup Form (Including where to Put Your Freebie)

Many months ago I shared a little Mailchimp 101 on the basics of setting up and sending marketing emails. But what if you want to use this baby to grow your list? What I mean by that question is how can you send emails to people if you can’t get them on your list in the first place? Right?

Today, I am going to walk you through how to set up your list sign up or opt-in forms and all the way  to sending them the freebie they signed up for!

Mailchimp 101: Setting Up the Signup Form (Including where to Put Your Freebie)  |  Think Creative

Before you get started you are going to need a few things:

  • Your logo saved as a JPG and/or a Styled Header Image that includes your logo (550 pixels wide)
  • A super awesome Freebie saved as a PDF. If you don’t know what to give away I have a FREE E-Book with 101 of them for you to choose from.
  • A Mailchimp Account tied to your business email (Sign up takes 30 seconds if you haven’t done it already)

Step 1 - Create a List


Here is a 2-minute video and step-by-step on how to get started.


Step 2 - Signup Forms


Navigate to the list you would like to work on. Just below the list title hit “Signup forms”

Navigate to the list you would like to work on. Just below the list title hit “Signup forms”.

The easiest place to start will be “General Forms”. Hit select to go to the next step.

The easiest place to start will be “General Forms”. Hit select to go to the next step.

You will automatically be placed on the first form page – called “Signup form”

You will automatically be placed on the first form page – called “Signup form”.

Here is where you will want to define all your required fields, but also entice people to join your list.

Keep in mind the less information you require of people the more likely they will be to sign up for your list. I personally prefer First & Last Name as well as Email Address. Here is where you will use the styled header image or logo image we chatted about at the beginning. To have it fit perfectly in the form you want the image to be no more than 550px wide.

Here is also where you want to use all your Copy Ninja skills. Generally people won’t want to sign up unless you are offering them something of real value. Think about how you could frame your freebie into a super valuable commodity.

Here is where you will want to define all your required fields, but also entice people to join your list.

Next you will want to navigate to the top and click on the drop down menu. Customizing every step of the process is going to make this the most seamless for your potential leads. 

Next you will want to navigate to the top and click on the drop down menu. Customizing every step of the process is going to make this the most seamless for your potential leads.

The next page you will want to customize is the “Signup ‘thank you’ page”

Here at a minimum you want to keep the look consistent and remind them they need to head back to their email to finish the subscription process. 

Here at a minimum you want to keep the look consistent and remind them they need to head back to their email to finish the subscription process.

You alternatively can send them to a thank you page you have designed on your website. You would just need to list the URL in this box and hit Save. 

You alternatively can send them to a thank you page you have designed on your website. You would just need to list the URL in this box and hit Save.

Next you will want to customize the confirmation email. Make sure to adjust the Subject line so they know it is from you. I personally like to keep it simple, because really all I want them to do is click yes so I can now store their email address. Keep in mind I do keep using the same header image for brand consistency so the subscriber knows exactly who the email is from. 

Next you will want to customize the confirmation email. Make sure to adjust the Subject line so they know it is from you. I personally like to keep it simple, because really all I want them to do is click yes so I can now store their email address. Keep in mind I do keep using the same header image for brand consistency so the subscriber knows exactly who the email is from.

Don’t skip the “Opt-in confirmation captcha” – sometimes people will be asked to fill out a form to claim they are human and not in fact a robot. Feel free to make this make fun, or even a little humorous. 

Don’t skip the “Opt-in confirmation captcha” – sometimes people will be asked to fill out a form to claim they are human and not in fact a robot. Feel free to make this make fun, or even a little humorous.

After confirming they will be taken to another "Thank You" page.

After confirming they will be taken to the Thank You page.

On this page you can also choose to redirect them to your own website on a particular page or you can notify them a nice pretty welcome email is coming with their freebie. People are not always attached at the hip with their inbox, so give them something to do in the mean time.

On this page you can also choose to redirect them to your own website on a particular page or you can notify them a nice pretty welcome email is coming with their freebie. People are not always attached at the hip with their inbox, so give them something to do in the mean time.

Step 3 - Sending the Freebie (i.e. AMAZING Opt-in)


I personally love sending a welcome email to new subscribers. This gives me the opportunity to introduce myself and tell them a bit more about my business. Plus, what an awesome opportunity to ask them to follow you on social media. 

I personally love sending a welcome email to new subscribers. This gives me the opportunity to introduce myself and tell them a bit more about my business. Plus, what an awesome opportunity to ask them to follow you on social media.

Now the Trick to ensure they actually receive this after signing up is by checking off the "Send a Final Welcome Email" box. I can’t tell you how many questions I get about this goofy little box. 

Now the Trick to ensure they actually receive this after signing up is by checking off the little box at the top. I can’t tell you how many questions I get about this goofy little box.

Now to give them the freebie inside of the email you have a couple of options. The easiest and least painful is by using a link directly in Mailchimp. When you highlight and click the link button at the top rather than putting in a URL you can change the dropdown to say file. 

Now to give them the freebie inside of the email you have a couple of options. The easiest and least painful is by using a link directly in Mailchimp. When you highlight and click the link button at the top rather than putting in a URL you can change the dropdown to say file.

You will then be transported to the file manager where you can upload or import directly from a URL. 

You will then be transported to the file manager where you can upload or import directly from a URL.

After you have uploaded the file. Hit select on the right hand side and you will be taken back to the email screen you were just working on. 

Click on Advanced Options and make sure “Open in a new window” is selected.

Click on Advanced Options and make sure “Open in a new window” is selected.

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MailChimp, Tutorial, Email Marketing

MailChimp 101: The Small Business Email Marketing Solution

Email marketing doesn’t have to be complicated. And you don’t even need the help of a designer, developer or marketing expert to make it happen. MailChimp is one of the simplest, easy-to-use mass-email systems on the market. Today I am giving you a little inside knowledge into the useful tools that lie under the hood. This tool can provide the insight to directly market to your audience, straight from their inbox. Join the more than 8 million people who use it to design and send 600 million emails everyday (source).

MailChimp 101: The Small Business Email Marketing Solution  |  Think Creative

The Pros of MailChimp

The interface is intuitive and easy-to-use. Whether you are about to crack open MailChimp for the very first time or a seasoned professional you should be very pleased with the user experience. Every time you create an email you are walked through the process in a quick and simple to understand interface.

It is completely customizable. MailChimp offers quality templates, but also allows you to customize every email to be tailored to you and your brand. On a team? No worries, you can collaborate with multi-user accounts.

MailChimp grows with you. Whether you need to send to 50 or 50,000, MailChimp has the solution for you. As a small business owner with less than 2,000 subscribers you can send up to 12,000 emails a month for FREE. As you grow, you can adapt your marketing to fit your workflow. If it is time to integrate with a CRM or send automated (yet personalized) emails, MailChimp has you covered.

It syncs with Squarespace. I am a no fuss no muss kind of girl. As a Squarespace advocate, I value saving time and simplifying my workflow. Squarespace offers simple forms for email signups that will automatically sync with your growing email subscriber list.

Take the guesswork out of pressing send. MailChimp provides you with great feedback on all the emails you send, giving you detailed analytics, from how many people opened an email, down to where on the email people clicked most. Utilize their send time scheduler and never doubt when to press send again. MailChimp will globally optimize the send time based on your most engaged users.

Getting Started with MailChimp

Sign up seriously takes 30 seconds (no credit card required). Even if it ultimately isn’t the perfect solution for you, it doesn’t hurt to give it a shot. Link your email, create a username and password and you will be launched onto your dashboard. There, MailChimp will walk you through a tour of where to find exactly what you will be looking for and things you should do to get started.

Grow Your List(s)

Organize your subscribers into lists. These are the foundation of every marketing campaign. Think about ways you may need to segment your audience - perhaps how or when they signed up, category of people/type of client.

Each time you create a new list in MailChimp, regardless of type, you are asked to input default information like the name of your list, who the emails will be coming from and a reminder for how people got on your list.

When you have your list set up you can immediately begin adding subscribers by manually entering their name and email address, uploading a spreadsheet or importing from another site or database.

Need more help creating or importing a list? Or perhaps creating or designing a sign up form?

Build a Campaign

Once you have a list set up you are ready to get started on the actually email. You can begin by creating a template or jumping straight into the email process. For first timers I would suggest starting with a Regular Campaign (for more advanced users you might want to take a stab at an A/B test).

Don’t panic, you don’t have to have any prior HTML knowledge to use or operate their system. Just use the step-by-step process to set up receipts (pick your list), select a template (or use one you have already created), and make adjustments to design and layout. Before you press send you will have a chance to confirm all the details and can even send test emails to yourself (or anyone else), and preview what your email will look like on a mobile device.

And then the easiest (and for some reason most nerve-wracking part)… pressing send. Although, I do find the “Chimp’s” high five rather rewarding after every email.

MailChimp 101 - High Five  |  Think Creative

Need more instructions? That’s cool, I have you covered.

Check on the Performance

After a campaign has been sent you can check on it’s performance in the Report’s section of your dashboard. This allows you to reflect on what is and isn’t working. Perhaps you notice a certain link is clicked more. Or a certain section of the email gets more attention because of it’s placement.

Each report is detailed with information such as how many people opened your message (and who), how many people clicked through (via a link) and which links were the most popular. Mailchimp also syncs with Google Analytics to give you more in-depth reports.

Learn more about reports.


MailChimp is an all-in-one small business email marketing solution. Utilize its intuitive interface to manage lists, create campaigns and review performance.

Do you utilize MailChimp for your email marketing? What features do you find the most beneficial?


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