Mail Chimp and Constant Contact changes over the last year and using each for small business

Posted May 06, 2013

Over the last two years, I’ve managed two different email campaigns. For a freelance client, I’ve used Constant Contact to create and send her email newsletters. A little over a year ago, I mailchimp logostarted using Mail Chimp to manage Philsquare’s email campaign (you can sign up for emails on our contact page!) Each have under 200 recipients so my thoughts and suggestions are definitely for smaller organizations with a low number of subscribers; not for those with thousands of recipients. I also work with templates provided by each service, I don’t upload a custom created template.

Over the last two years, I've created on average, two emails per month for my freelance client. Her content consists of news in her field, a fun article (related to the season or holiday) and anywhere from one to three examples of what she sales with pictures and descriptions. For an above average internet user, figuring out how Constant Contact worked wasn’t hard (especially since CC set up a template that matched my client’s website: branding, for the win!) But the interface (up until the second half of 2012) was clunky and elements of emails frequently looked differently than I had intended them to.

When I started full time at Philsquare I knew I wanted to have a consistent email plan. Our initial email list was small - under 40 people - but these people were vital contacts to the business: 99% of our new work at that point was from referrals. My first impression of Mail Chimp was two-fold. The interface was more appealing and easier to work with than what I was used to with Constant Contact. The thing I didn’t like was the rigid templates. If I picked a template based on what content I wanted and then decided to add or take something away, I couldn’t easily edit the template. I had to pick a new template and MC would do it's best to put content in the new template but it didn't work great.

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At this point, in the middle of 2012, my preference between Mail Chimp and Constant Contact were about equal with a slight preference to Mail Chimp because it was free (for the number of subscribers I was working with).  Both CC and MC provide great reporting tools after your email is sent: opens, click throughs, your campaign averages, your industry averages, who’s opening, who’s unsubscribing, etc. 

Towards the end of 2012, Mail Chimp introduced a “Drag and Drop Editor” that allows builders to easily add or remove modules as they build the email. This change made email building 20x easier and made Mail Chimp my preferred email service.

The Mail Chimp service, free for up to 2,000 subscribers and 12,000 emails per month, is definitely a better option compared to Constant Contact’s $15 monthly service for up to 500 subscribers. Constant Contact does have other tools that work with their email including social campaigns, surveys and event management but these cost an additional fee. Mail Chimp integrates Survey Monkey (which is free for a small, basic survey). 

Your content, once you decide on a service, is a whole other blog post. Email content should be based on your business, who gets your emails and your ultimate marketing goal. I recommend attending Beth McKeon’s Email Content Strategy Workshop here in Lawrence in a couple weeks.  Beth is the publisher of the Lawrence Kids Calendar.

Do you use email services to send emails for your organization or business? Which do you prefer to use? What features are priority?