On the surface, Mailchimp seems like a great deal. The popular email marketing service has a free plan, and its paid options have low starting costs.
But when I dug deeper, I quickly found its faults. The free plan has limited sending capacity and features, while the paid plans tout features that other platforms offer for less. In addition, Mailchimp’s unusual way of counting contacts may cost more than you expect.
Regardless of the size of your email list, it’s important to choose an email marketing service you get the most value from. That’s why I analyzed Mailchimp’s pricing and tested the platform to help you make the right choice for your email marketing needs.
Mailchimp Features & Pricing Overview
Decent Value for the Money – but Only If You Calculate Carefully
Mailchimp pricing tiers include four plans: Free, Essentials, Standard, and Premium. If you’re part of a nonprofit or charity, you can get a 15% discount. You can also save 10% for up to three months if you set up two-factor authentication.
Mailchimp’s paid plans are contact-based, meaning you pay based on how many contacts you have. The more contacts you have, the higher the price. So who counts as a contact?
- Subscribers: Those who have opted into your list.
- Unsubscribers: Contacts who have opted out of your list but can still receive ads or transactional emails.
- Nonsubscribers: Those who have interacted with your business – via an app integration or a purchase from a linked e-commerce site – but who haven’t opted into your list.
What does this mean for your list? If you have more unsubscribers or nonsubscribers than subscribers, you could end up overpaying for an email marketing service where you only email a fraction of your contacts.
Pay-As-You-Go pricing – which is available with the Essentials plan – may offer better value, but it comes with limited features. Let’s take a closer look at Mailchimp’s pricing plans to see how they stack up.
Mailchimp’s Free plan includes basic email marketing features: one list (or audience, as Mailchimp calls it), up to 2,000 contacts, and a customer relationship management tool (CRM) to track your contacts. It also includes behavioral targeting to help you send relevant campaigns to the right people. With the Free plan, you can send up to 10,000 emails per month at no cost, making it a reasonable option for marketers with small lists and limited email needs.
The Free plan includes about 70 templates that you can use for email campaigns and single-step automations. You can also access the Creative Assistant, which uses your logo and brand colors to create designs for your campaigns.
Mailchimp’s Free plan goes beyond email marketing, with tools to reach your audience across different channels. You can build a simple website, design shoppable landing pages, and create social media ads and posts, all of which we tried and tested in our Mailchimp review. And although you can add more functionality by connecting apps like Square, Canva, and Zapier, Mailchimp’s list of 250 native app integrations is a fraction of the amount that many other email marketing services offer.
While Mailchimp’s Free plan may seem generous, once I started looking at what some of its competitors offer for free, I realized that it’s pretty limited. For example, AWeber’s Free plan gives you dynamic email content so you can send more relevant messages plus 24/7 support so you can get help around the clock.
With Mailchimp, you’d need to upgrade to a paid plan to access either of those features. Mailchimp’s Free plan only has 30 days of email support and lacks the necessary tools to track how your audience is responding to your email campaigns. If you want to use dynamic content, create funnels to nurture leads, or leverage A/B testing to find what works for your audience, you’d need to pay for Mailchimp’s Essentials plan.
The Essentials plan removes Mailchimp branding and includes three audiences, over 100 email templates, and up to three users. With this plan, you can add up to 50,000 contacts and leverage a monthly sending capacity of up to 10 times that. You can, however, choose a pricing tier for a smaller contact list. For example, if you pay for up to 10,000 contacts, you can send up to 100,000 emails per month. If you have a small or medium-sized list and only need to email your contacts about twice a week, then this sending capacity would be plenty.
Mailchimp’s Essentials plan is the cheapest option to come with the customer journey builder, which lets you create and visualize marketing automations. This plan also comes with prebuilt marketing funnels, which is helpful for setting up automations efficiently. In addition, you can use A/B testing to experiment with different subject lines, sender names, and send times to see what works best for your audience.
Although the Essentials plan has contact-based pricing, you can choose to pay as you go. Essentially, you purchase credits in bulk. Each email costs one credit. This option may seem ideal for low-volume senders but might not be the most cost-effective in the long run. Mailchimp doesn’t publish its Pay-As-You-Go rates, so you’d need to check your account for more details.
No matter which pricing strategy you choose, the Essentials plan includes 24/7 email and chat support. If you prefer phone support, you’ll need Mailchimp’s Premium plan, which is significantly more expensive.
Is it worth spending the extra money? Access to more support options can be useful, especially when you’re new to the platform and have lots of questions. But after testing other email tools, I’ve found that it’s possible to get great support without paying for a premium plan. As I mentioned before, you’ll get 24/7 phone, email, and chat support with AWeber’s free plan.
|Contacts||Monthly Price||Total Price Per Year|
Mailchimp’s Standard plan lets you add up to 100,000 contacts, which makes it a better option for marketers with larger lists. You can create up to five audiences, which means you can customize lists for different aspects of your business. For example, this is a great way to keep your direct-to-consumer (DTC) and business-to-business (B2B) lists separate. You can also take advantage of dynamic content and send time optimization to reach your audience at the right time.
If you want to automate your email marketing efforts, the Standard plan is the cheapest option you should consider. With this plan, you can see the entire customer journey builder and create automations with multiple paths or starting points. Although Mailchimp’s customer journey builder is helpful for visualizing your funnels, other platforms offer similar tools for less.
With the Standard plan, you can create behavior-based automations. This is great for e-commerce brands that can increase sales by sending highly targeted messages based on contact activity.
The Standard plan may be sufficient for most marketers with larger lists, but it pales in comparison to what you get with other top email marketing services for the same price. For example, this plan only supports five users, which isn’t great if you have a big team. On the other hand, ActiveCampaign’s cheaper Professional plan supports 50 users, making it useful for large organizations.
If you’re a bigger business that needs more users and advanced analytics and testing, then the Standard plan isn’t going to cut it. You’d need Mailchimp’s Premium plan, which is significantly more expensive and hardly worth the cost.
|Contacts||Monthly Price||Total Price Per Year|
If you’re in e-commerce, then you’ll need to purchase some add-ons with the Standard plan or higher. For example, to send transactional emails about purchases or abandoned shopping carts, you have to purchase blocks of credits for 25,000 emails each, depending on the number of emails you want to send. For $29.95 per month, you can also purchase a dedicated IP to improve deliverability.
|# Blocks||Email Sends Per Month||Price Per Block|
|1 to 20||1 to 500,000||$20|
|21 to 40||500,000 to 1 million||$18|
|41 to 80||1 million to 2 million||$16|
|81 to 120||2 million to 3 million||$14|
|121 to 160||3 million to 4 million||$12|
|161 +||4 million +||$10|
If you’re looking for Mailchimp professional pricing and features, you’ll find them in the platform’s Premium plan. This enterprise-level plan is designed for marketers with big lists – you can add up to 200,000 contacts and create unlimited audiences.
The Premium plan comes with advanced segmentation, where you can include unlimited conditions and complex audience filtering. Since you can segment contacts based on e-commerce purchases, email campaign activity, website engagement, predicted demographics, and other factors, you can send highly targeted emails and thus get better results.
Advanced segmentation is crucial for big businesses, but do you really need the Premium plan to use this feature? Not necessarily. Sendinblue’s generous free plan includes advanced segmentation.
Let’s look at another feature of Mailchimp’s Premium plan: multivariate testing – a step up from A/B testing where you can compare your campaign’s performance for up to three variables. This ensures you get better results from your email marketing efforts. However, Mailchimp doesn’t let you test automated workflows. So again, there’s a limit to Mailchimp’s services.
If you’ve got the budget for an enterprise-level plan, you’re better off with a different email marketing platform. For instance, ActiveCampaign’s Enterprise plan comes with custom reporting, a custom domain, and a dedicated account representative – much more than what Mailchimp offers. With these personalized features, you could optimize deliverability and get the analytics your business needs.
|Contacts||Monthly Price||Total Price Per Year|
If you have over 200,000 contacts and send frequent emails, then Mailchimp’s high-volume plan may be a better deal. It includes Premium plan features, but with greater sending capacity and a custom pricing structure. There isn’t a ton of information available about this option, so contact Mailchimp directly for pricing.
Mailchimp Pricing Comparison Table
|Plan||Starting Price||Monthly Email Sends||Customer Journeys||Support||Best Feature|
|Free||$0||10,000||No||30 days of email support||Free website builder|
|Essentials||$9.99||10x maximum contact count||Basic||24/7 email & chat support||A/B testing|
|Standard||$299.00||12x maximum contact count||Advanced||24/7 email & chat support||Behavior-based automations|
|Premium||$299||15x maximum contact count||Advanced||24/7 email & chat support and phone support||Multivariate testing|
Mailchimp Cancellation & Refund Policy
Beware of Mailchimp’s Strict Account Closure Policies
Like many email marketing services, Mailchimp has a no-refund policy on most cancellations. You can get a refund in rare cases, such as a system error.
But you can’t get your money back if the platform closes your account for a compliance issue. Fair warning: there are a lot of potential compliance issues when you use Mailchimp. The platform’s acceptable use policy is lengthy and warrants a full read before considering a commitment. Mailchimp prohibits you from using its services for affiliate marketing or multi-level marketing. In addition, you cannot promote the following products and services:
- Pharmaceutical products
- Gambling services
- Credit repair services
Although Mailchimp allows you to promote plenty of other products and services, some are subject to strict reviews. You can expect your account to be scrutinized closely if you market products and services like:
- Online dating
- Trading and stock market content
- Real estate, mortgages, and loans
- Vitamins and nutritional supplements
If you opt to cancel your Mailchimp plan, you can do so relatively easily. Simply navigate to your account settings and click Permanently delete this account. Be sure to export your contacts and unsubscriber lists first so you can upload them to your next email marketing service.
Because most Mailchimp plans require prepayment for the month rather than for the entire year, you only lose up to a month’s worth of subscription costs. If you opt for a Pay-As-You-Go plan, you’ll lose all the credits you purchased – so keep the no-refund policy in mind when you stock up on credits.
To keep costs low, you can also consider pausing your Mailchimp account up to two times per year. During this time, you can’t send campaigns, and payments are frozen until you resume your account.
Alternatives to Mailchimp
Mailchimp’s Free plan might work for budget marketers with more limited sending and automation needs, and its affordably priced mid-tier plans could appeal to organizations that can pay for more options like a customer journey builder, A/B testing, and behavioral targeting. But these plans don’t include essential features for savvy marketers to take their business to the next level, like advanced segmentation, comparative reporting, or phone support. For that, you’d have to pay a high price for the enterprise-level Premium plan to market your business effectively – which frankly, isn’t worth it.
To find a platform that’s better suited to your needs, I’d recommend looking at our list of the best email marketing services in 2021 or consider these alternatives:
- Sendinblue’s Free plan: If you want a no-cost plan with fewer restrictions, consider Sendinblue. You can send up to 300 emails per day to unlimited contacts and take advantage of transactional emails, SMS marketing, and a marketing workflow editor.
- GetResponse’s Plus plan: If you want powerful email automations and conversion funnels, consider GetResponse’s Plus plan. It comes with an automation builder, contact scoring, social media ads, e-commerce, and funnels so you can automate your sales and marketing efforts.
Mailchimp Has Affordable Options – but Look Elsewhere for Enterprise-Level Plans
While I appreciate that Mailchimp offers a free plan, it’s not a viable long-term option. Mailchimp will lure you in with its free plan, forcing you to spend time setting up your email marketing on its platform, with the aim to get you to upgrade rather than switch to another service when you’ve outgrown it. For me, upgrading to Mailchimp’s Standard or Premium plan just doesn’t make sense. Neither have enough custom features or dedicated services to justify the high cost – especially when alternatives like ActiveCampaign and GetResponse have more robust enterprise plans.
How does Mailchimp pricing work?Mailchimp has a free plan as well as three contact-based pricing plans, which, to be honest, is somewhat confusing. You pay based on the number of contacts you have, including subscribers, unsubscribers, and nonsubscribers. While a cap on contacts is customary, Mailchimp also caps the number of emails you send, which is both unusual and costly in the long run. With this kind of pricing system, you’ll have to pay much more than you would with other email marketing services.Is Mailchimp really free?Mailchimp has a free plan, but it has limited features and sending capacity, something we looked at in-depth in our Mailchimp review. If you want to build customer journeys, split test your campaigns, or get better support, you’ll need a paid Mailchimp plan. For a more flexible email marketing tool, I’d consider Sendinblue’s Free plan, which I cover in more detail above.How many emails can I send with Mailchimp for free?With Mailchimp’s free plan, you can add up to 2,000 contacts and send up to 10,000 emails per month. Once you exceed these limits, I’d recommend you try a different email marketing service that’ll provide you with better value and more advanced features.