MailChimp Changes 2019

If you’re a MailChimp user you will probably know by now that they are making a few changes, and the changes will affect all users in some way, so…

I urge you to make yourself aware prior to 15th June in case you need to take any action!

Here’s (quite a long) summary for your info, with my recommendations included:

Overview of changes

On 15th May MailChimp announced a new direction aiming to give users more of a ‘one-stop-shop for marketing themselves’, looking to expand their email marketing services to become an all-in-one marketing platform including Google ad remarketing, Facebook and Instagram ads, Postcards, Landing pages, and also now posting directly on Facebook and Instagram.

For current users though, the biggest change to note, is that MailChimp no longer determines monthly charges based on total subscriber count (as has always been the case), but instead, they will now base monthly charges on Audiences (this was the old ‘Lists’ which got updated a couple of months ago).

‘Audiences’ include unsubscribed emails, meaning that users will be charged for unsubscribed emails as well as subscribed ones.

Audience changes

There is now a new method of defining an audience of contacts based on a user’s ability to market to or interact with those contacts.

Subscribed, unsubscribed, and transactional (or e-commerce) contacts count towards your audience.

Cleaned, pending, reconfirmed, deleted, and archived contacts do not count towards your audience.

MailChimp definitions are as follows:

1. Subscriber: Someone who is actively subscribed to your email list.

2. Unsubscribe: Someone who has unsubscribed from your email list and no longer wants to receive emails from you.

3. Cleaned: An email address that has been ‘cleaned’ out of your list because it’s been deemed undeliverable by Mailchimp due to a hard or soft bounce.

New archiving feature

This allows users to move contacts out of their audience if they are ‘unsubscribed’ so as not to count towards that audience.

You can elect to archive contacts at any time, but any profile changes for an archived contact (whether initiated by you, the contact, or an integration) will automatically unarchive that contact.

You cannot engage in any activity through MailChimp with archived contacts unless and until they are unarchived. If a contact is unarchived, it will immediately count towards your audience for your current billing month and any future months unless archived again.

Account changes for current Free Plan users

  • You can remain a free user so long as you have 2000 or fewer contacts in your audience.
  • If the new way of counting contacts causes your audience to exceed 2000 contacts before 15th June 2019, they’ll automatically archive your unsubscribed and transactional contacts.
  • After 15th June, they’ll begin calculating your audience in the new way, but you can always manually archive contacts to keep your audience under 2000 contacts.
  • If you want to go over the Free Plan limits, you’ll be required to upgrade your account and select a paid for Monthly Plan.
  • If you exceed your Free Plan limits, or otherwise upgrade your account to a paid Monthly Plan, you’ll only be provided one complimentary downgrade to the Free Plan (provided your sending volume and audience numbers drop down to the Free Plan limits again).
  • If you go over the limits for the Free Plan more than once, you’ll no longer qualify for the Free Plan, even if your future sending volume and audience numbers are within the limits of the Free Plan.

A note on the number of audiences:

For new users, MailChimp are only allowing Free Plan users to have just ONE audience list.

I’ve heard that MailChimp will honour any multiple lists you currently have set up...but have also had clients reporting that they are being asked to upgrade because of this anyway.

Service changes for current Free Plan users

Automations: Free account holders have always been able to create custom email sequences, but going forward they will only be able to create simple two-step automations (e.g. just a trigger and an email).

MailChimp have said that any existing automations already set up can be kept, current Free Plan users just won’t be able to create new ones or add to your existing ones.

A work around: The way to get around this to become familiar with a ‘post-send action’ to update a tag or a group. By doing this you’ll be able to trigger a new email automation and then add a post-send action to that. Check out MailChimp’s guide here.

Templates limited: A great feature of MailChimp’s is the easy drag and drop template builder with the various pre-set themes you can use. However, now with free accounts you will only be able to access 8 basic templates to create new campaigns. Again, if you already have custom templates set up, you get to keep them.

Limited sending options: You can still schedule emails to send, but the advanced scheduling is not available, and the A/B split testing on free accounts has been removed.

Users limited: You can no longer have multiple users accessing your account – unless they are registered as an agency. Good news is that for existing logins as all of these will remain currently.

Moving forward you will either need to share your login details (for GDPR compliance, use LastPass) or add a new user as an agency. It’s probably best not to delete any existing users, and instead, keep them and re-use/change to another user at a later date if need be (but of course, making sure you are within GDPR compliance).

Paid user changes

Mailchimp is moving to a new pricing model for new paid users as well as current paid users who choose to switch to one of the new paid plan offerings. If you are a current monthly paid user, you can keep your current monthly plan and pricing.

New Monthly Plan options

Users can choose their preferred package, based on the feature set that works best for them based on their projected audience.

Changes to note

  • Entry-level plans are now limited to just three audiences: This will greatly affect anyone who writes to multiple audiences, or keeps separate lists for different reasons (onboarding, blog subscription, Lead magnet download, etc.).
  • Premium plan only allows you to have five audiences.
  • Basic paid plans will no longer include multi-step automations: Mailchimp will no longer include the feature to welcome new sign-ups to your list with an automated sequence of emails in new Monthly plans, unless you upgrade to a more expensive plan.
  • No time optimization on basic plans: Another thing no longer included in entry-level plans are features such as send time optimization and delivery by time zone.
  • No automatic plan upgrades: Mailchimp will no longer automatically move you up (and down) the various pricing tiers depending on your usage/subscriber count.

Pay as You Go Credits Plan changes

If you are a current Pay as You Go user, all credits purchased before 15th May 2019 will expire on 15th May 2020, and all credits purchased on or after 15th May 2019 will expire 12 months after purchase.

If you choose to buy Pay as You Go Credits, you’ll have access to the features of the Service included in the ‘Essentials package’. Pay as You Go Credits have no cash value, cannot be refunded or redeemed for cash, and represent a limited license to use the Service for the specified volume and type of service.

My Advice

1. Archive your unsubscribed…even if you have a paid plan.

CLEAN OR ARCHIVE YOUR LIST BEFORE 15th JUNE OTHERWISE…

If you’re a Free Plan user, MailChimp will pause your account and ask you to upgrade.

If you’re a Monthly Paid Plan user, MailChimp may increase your monthly fee dramatically with the new audience count.

Archiving data in MailChimp maintains contact information while not making it ‘active’. It also takes these contacts out of the total subscriber count so they won’t be counted towards your total.

If you have a large mailing list, you are likely to have a lot of unsubscribes.

MailChimp’s justification for charging by Audiences is that you can now use remarketing services to reach these unsubscribes by sending them a postcard or running a Facebook Ad to unsubscribes. But if you never use these services, you will be charged. So if you don’t intend to re-market, then it is best to ‘Archive’ the contact.

Best practise for most businesses is to keep ONE list of all your subscribers and use tags and groups to differentiate segments of your audience.

Where archiving could become problematic

MailChimp’s workaround of archiving seems like a sensible way to keep control of the Audience count, but there are some things to consider.

Carrying out this archiving task in the first place and then making sure you regularly archive is likely to create yet another task on your ‘to do’ list.

This is the type of stuff you can, of course, get a VA to help with, but it’s worth considering the extra time it will take to keep our list in good shape.

2. Think about moving to another platform – what are the options?

For any new users, I would say look at alternative options before you begin using MailChimp.

For the current Free Plan users with existing audiences, you may have a little breathing space until you hit the 2000 total, but perhaps start planning ahead and look at other options now.

If you only want to use MailChimp for email then it is worth staying with them. Their free plan gives you enough to still send lovely emails to your subscribers. Just make sure you check your list on a regular basis for unsubscribes and archive them to try to keep costs down.

And, if you like the sound of what MailChimp has to offer in the long run and are happy to pay for previously free features, then I say, go ahead and upgrade!

BUT, what are the alternatives?

There are many different CRM systems out their for small businesses to use with many different functions. But the mailing systems I know of that can be considered as an alternative to MailChimp are:

ActiveCampaign: If your focus is keeping those lists organised and you’re wanting to mail to many different audiences using segmenting, and automation, ActiveCampaign could be good option. I’ve used this for a client previously and I’d say has just as good functionality as MailChimp.

Mailerlite: If budget is your main concern, Mailerlite gives a good mix of cost and functionality.

ConvertKit: If money is less of an object, ConvertKit is recommended by many VAs. Aside from having much more functionality, you’re only charged per email rather than how many lists that email address is on.

MailChimp is still a brilliant tool

Don’t be too hasty to jump ship…make sure you do consider all options carefully.

When you look at it, it’s not as though the entire interface is changing. It’s still the same MailChimp we know and love, you’re just probably going to need to pay for it and keep a better handle on your lists.

If you feel like this is all a bit of a headache and need support with any of the systems you use for your business, feel free to drop me a line (rachel@pinkdogservices.co.uk) to find out how I might be able to help out.

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