The review evaluates all important aspects an email marketer should assess before deciding what service to choose: pricing, additional costs, prohibited content and actions, customer support, tech stuff.
The color scheme I used is intuitive: red is for disadvantages or features worse than the competitor’s, green is for advantages or better features.
Now let’s see who wins this email marketing game …
1. Free Plans Comparison
|Max. no. of subscribers||1001||2,000|
|Max. no. of emails per month||unlimited2||12,000|
|RSS to Email||included|
|Facebook Page Signup Form||included|
1,2 Note: Mad Mimi free accounts opened before January 2015 benefit from the old terms valid when they were opened: up to 2,500 contacts, max. 12,500 emails per month.
3 Update, May 2, 2017: Mailchimp announced that the marketing automation features are now free for all users.
|No. of Subscribers||Monthly Price||Monthly Price|
1Note: MailChimp offers the following discounts:
- 10% – when you add two-factor authentication to your account with Google Authenticator
- 15% – to nonprofits and charities
3. Additional Costs Not Included in the Prices
3.1 Costs Incurred Due to Unsubscribed But Not Deleted Email Addresses
|The suppressed list is where Mad Mimi stores all your Bounced, Unsubscribed, and Unconfirmed subscribers. The amount of contacts stored here DO NOT count toward your total of stored contacts (what we use to determine your plan level).||Any addresses stored in the Cleaned or Unsubscribed sections of your list will not be sent to and do not count toward your total subscriber count.|
|Source: Mad Mimi Help Area,
What is the “Suppression List”?
|Source: MailChimp Knowledge Base,
How MailChimp Pricing Plans Work
None of these email marketing services charges for unsubscribed email addresses.
Related Blog Post: Who Else Charges You for Unsubscribes?
3.2 Costs Incurred Due to Duplicate Email Addresses
|You CAN have the same contact show up in multiple lists, in your Mimi audience. This does NOT mean that the contact is duplicated, it merely means that he is categorized in more than one way. It’s helpful to think about your “All contacts” list as a master, total list – and all your other lists as simple filters, or lenses, for different ways of looking at that single, master list.||MailChimp treats each list in your account as a completely separate entity, and counts each subscriber toward your total subscriber count. Duplicate subscribers are included in your total subscriber count. For example, if a subscriber’s email address appears on three different lists, it is counted three times.|
|Source: Mad Mimi Help Area, How Does Mimi Handle Duplicate Contacts When Sending?||Source: MailChimp Knowledge Base,
MailChimp – About Monthly Plans
Note: MailChimp policy to charge for duplicate email addresses may increase your costs significantly if you segment your mailing list and the sub-lists don’t exclude one another.
Example of segmentation that won’t increase the costs:
- sub-list “Men”
- sub-list “Women”
Example of segmentation that may increase the costs:
- sub-list “Newsletter Subscribers”
- sub-list “My Affiliates”
To find out more about this issue and see how the list segmentation may even double your costs in case you use an email marketing service that applies a policy similar to MailChimp’s policy, read the article The Unexpected Side Effect of Your Email List Segmentation.
4. Prohibited Content
|– Work from home1, make money online2, and lead generation opportunities
– Online trading, day trading tips, or stock market-related content
– Multi-level marketing (MLM)
– Affiliate marketing3
|Source: Mad Mimi Terms of Service Agreement, 3. Prohibited Use||Source: MailChimp Acceptable Use Policy, Prohibited Content|
1, 2Note: Since the terms “work from home” and “make money online” are very generic and include also content that doesn’t flag the spam filters (example: blog monetization articles), I have asked both companies what is their understanding of these terms and what is the content they actually prohibit.
While MailChimp didn’t bother to answer my request (ticket LTK122140166650424X) – not even sending a simple “sorry, no comments” reply, here’s Mad Mimi’s answer:
“Due to the often-ambiguous and frequently transforming nature of online marketing trends, we don’t have an ‘exact’ definition of what that entails. The mention of ‘work from home’ and ‘make money online’ is not all-inclusive terminology, and while traditionally it encompasses things like ‘make money filling out surveys,’ or ‘earn a bunch of money with this online cash machine,’ etc. it’s not limited to a specific online money making trend.
As a permission-based Email Service Provider, maintaining the sender reputation of our IPs/mailers (and thus, the deliverability for all our users) is a primary concern of ours. Addressing issues with unsavory senders, and even well-intentioned senders in difficult-to-service industries, can require some amount of adaptability. While the Prohibited Use section lists certain problematic sending scenarios as a guide, it’s important to note that Prohibited Use ‘includes, but is not limited to’ these scenarios.
If potential users/senders have specific questions about their content or business, we invite them to check-in with us with recent examples of their content and the URL of the site(s) they’re promoting. This helps us provide a more accurate determination of whether or not there may be any issues with certain content via our network.”
3Note: While MailChimp Acceptable Use Policy prohibits affiliate marketing, it includes a link to an article from the Knowledge Base that partially contradicts the Policy:
– “MailChimp doesn’t stop campaigns that contain any affiliate links, just campaigns that contain URLs that are on blacklists.”
– “While affiliate marketing is fine under certain conditions, we do not allow affiliate marketers.”
Without being disrespectful, saying that affiliate marketing content is prohibited, then saying in a help article that most affiliate links are OK, but affiliate marketers aren’t accepted … doesn’t make sense. If you promote someone else’s product or service via an affiliate link, you are an affiliate marketer. On top of that, a help article cannot supersede the Legal Policy the user agrees to comply with.
Update, February 25, 2016 – MailChimp updated the Acceptable Use Policy and the link to the article that partially contradicts the policy has been removed. The article “About Affiliate Links in MailChimp” isn’t deleted from their Knowledge Base though.
5. Prohibited Actions
|Nothing unusual||You may not delete, bulk unsubscribe, or otherwise modify your list in order to avoid MailChimp billing thresholds.|
|Source: MailChimp Acceptable Use Policy, Prohibited Actions|
Scenario: Suppose that you have 470 subscribers and buy MailChimp service. $10/month. Then you get 31 new subscribers. 501 subscribers = next paid plan, $15/month. But you notice that some old subscribers are inactive. Why paying more, right? You decide to delete some inactive subscribers in order to avoid the next billing threshold. You cannot be forced to buy the service MailChimp wants, can you?
However, it’s obvious that the scenario above is against MailChimp’s Acceptable Use Policy.
I’ve contacted MailChimp in order to find out what’s their view. Here’s the answer – Ticket LTK122140166584932X:
When it comes to using list deletion and unsubscribes to avoid billing thresholds, our primary concern is with frequently importing and deleting lists in order to send to a much larger number of subscribers than would be supported by the account’s designated billing rate.
For example, if a user has an account that is billed for 5,000 subscribers, and chooses to send to 15,000 subscribers through that account by importing a list of 5,000, sending to them and deleting the list, importing the next 5,000 subscribers and sending, then deleting them and sending to the last set of 5,000, that would constitute a violation of our Acceptable Use policy by way of importing and deleting several smaller lists in order to send to 15,000 subscribers for the cost of only 5,000.
Provided that multiple lists are not being deleted and imported in this manner in order to send to more addresses than are being charged for, the account should be safe for sending with regard to billing and Acceptable Use.
My comment: Both my scenario and the scenario from MailChimp’s response are possible. Both are prohibited by MailChimp’s terms quoted above. However, the customer support says my scenario is OK. The question is… can a response to a help ticket supersede company’s Legal Terms? The answer is obvious, isn’t it?
6. Customer Support
|• Chat support: Mon-Fri, 9am-6pm EST.
• Email support is available 24 hours a day, and we make a serious effort to respond in less than an hour.
• We don’t offer phone support, but if you really, really want to get us on the phone, just shoot us an email and we’ll schedule a call.
|• Chat support: –
• Email support: Mon-Fri, 9am-5pm EST
• Phone support: –
|Source: Mad Mimi Contact Page||Source: MailChimp email message acknowledging the receipt of a support ticket submitted via their online form.|
Mad Mimi: Usually I got their responses within 5 minutes.
MailChimp: Usually I got their responses within 24-25 hours.
Direct comparison: when asked whether they charge for unsubscribed email addresses or not (see the section “Additional Costs Not Included in the Prices”), Mad Mimi responded after 3 minutes, MailChimp responded after 24 hours and 26 minutes (Ticket: LTK122140165153032X).
7. Tech Stuff
7.1 Email Deliverability
These days all major email marketing services – including “Mimi” and the “Chimp” :-) – have dedicated deliverability teams, are registered with all major ISPs, and so on, and their overall deliverability is very good.
However, sometimes, in particular cases, some messages land in the recipients’ spam folders. Due to heavy marketing language used by the sender, blacklisted domain names included in the mailing, etc.
For example, some months ago the newsletters sent via MailChimp by Jason Curtis – one of my social media buddies – landed all, one after another, in my Gmail spam folder.
I cannot know for sure, but my guess was that this behavior was caused by the fact that all the newsletters included bit.ly links. For several years bit.ly domain name has been blacklisted by Spamhaus.
The only MailChimp fault was that their system didn’t automatically detect the blacklisted links in order to block the messages before being sent.
While Mad Mimi’s system blocks the messages that include some problematic links such as those of ClickBank or TinyURL, I don’t have inside information regarding an actual integration with any major blocklist.
7.2 Integration with the List Building Plugins
While both email marketing services integrate with all major list building plugins, let’s see what differentiates them …
7.3 More Tech Stuff About Mad Mimi
Mad Mimi has a very easy to use interface and includes all basic features you need in order to send email newsletters, manage your email lists and analyze the results of your email campaigns.
While you can find out who opened or clicked the links from a certain email, what emails each subscriber opened and what links they clicked, there’s no aggregate report to show who hasn’t opened emails or clicked links since a certain date. If you want a report that shows only the inactive subscribers, you have to ask the Customer Support for it.
7.4 More Tech Stuff About MailChimp
MailChimp’s interface is a little bit more complicated and some pages even lack navigation buttons. For example, if you start creating a campaign and then you change your mind, you’ll notice that all previous navigation buttons have disappeared. You can only move further or go to the initial Dashboard page.
As opposed to Mad Mimi, MailChimp has many advanced features and reports. Some of them are pretty useless and most probably you’ll never use them (example: the report “Email Domain Performance”). However, MailChimp has some very useful features that aren’t provided by Mad Mimi:
Delivery by Time Zone – Timewarp delivers your campaign according to recipient’s time zone;
Delivery Doctor – spam filter diagnostics;
Email Client Testing – it makes sure your email design looks great in all the major email clients and mobile apps.
8. Affiliate Programs
|• Commission: 25% – recurring
• Payment threshold: $25
|• Earn email credits when you refer new paying customers through MailChimp MonkeyRewards program.
• MonkeyRewards have no cash value. They can’t be redeemed or refunded as cash. They can only be applied toward MailChimp purchases.
|For a Product sale to be eligible to earn a referral fee, the customer must click through from a Special Link from your site, email, or other communications to the Mad Mimi Site and sign up for the product during that session. The session ends once someone closes their web browser, navigates away from the Product Site, or otherwise leaves the Product Site without signing up for a product1 before leaving the site.|
|Source: Mad Mimi Affiliate Terms||Source: MailChimp Knowledge Base,
1Note: Practice showed that Mad Mimi’s wording “signing up for a product before leaving the site” includes signing up for a free account. Therefore if a referral signs up for a free account and upgrades later, then the commission is earned.
Update, May 30, 2016 – As per the notification sent on April 16, today Mad Mimi closed its affiliate program.
9. Conclusion – Who’s the Winning Email Marketing Service?
Any product or service has advantages and disadvantages. Since one-size-fits-all doesn’t exist, I won’t tell you that one email marketing service is better than the other one.
If you’re looking for a free plan that you don’t want to use for a shorter period of time only, then MailChimp should be your choice. Many bloggers use it for their small size mailing lists.
If you’re looking for more features and complex reports and you’re willing to pay more to get them, then MailChimp is again a good choice for you.
If you’re looking for a cost-effective email marketing solution, an easy-to-use interface and maybe the best customer support in the industry, then Mad Mimi is your best choice.
To Your Email Marketing Success!
P.S. Do you use or ever used any of these two email marketing services? Share your experience with us!