On Changing Mailing Service Providers

I received an email from Mailchimp last week that stated that their terms of service would be changing. As I normally do, I just deleted the email, assuming that it would probably be something minor that would hardly affect me. I’m happy with Mailchimp – they have been my mailing service provider from the day I realised I needed to have a list of subscribers and send them email on a regular basis.

Much to my dismay however, the indie author community immediately erupted over the changes being implemented. Read David Gaughran’s very comprehensive post here.

The most notable change for me is that the Chimp has moved over from list subscribers to list audiences – meaning where I once would have paid only for the people subscribed to my list and not for those who choose to unsubscribe and no longer want to hear from me, I now have to pay for the size of the entire audience, both subscribers and unsubscribed. Mailchimp’s reasoning behind this is that they keep the details of people who have unsubscribed in their database and it can be used for target marketing. My argument is that I do not want to market to people who have already indicated that they are not interested. It seems spammy to me and I’m pretty sure it also goes against the GDPR regulations. Either way, from a practical point of view, if someone has unsubscribed from my mailing list, then I don’t want to bother them anymore and I most certainly do not want to pay for them being in my supposed audience.

This is particularly pertinent to newbie authors such as myself who have to first gain an audience by making a free book available to anyone willing to give me their email address in exchange for it. Inevitably I get lots of bargain hunters subscribing and then unsubscribing (sometimes almost immediately, before even reading said book and deciding whether or not it would be worth staying on my list to learn more about me and my books). It’s bad enough that I’m giving my hard work away for free, it’s absolutely unacceptable that I now have to pay for these email addresses who don’t ever want to hear from me again.

As someone who is currently still within their previously free plan (less than 2000 active subscribers), there are even more changes that affect me too:

  • I now have to pay extra for my automation sequence (the most important part of the list building toolkit)
  • email templates and custom branding are out the door
  • segmentation is on the highest paid plan
  • no more audience insights
  • no more dedicated customer support
  • only 1 audience (so no more multiple lists for my multiple small businesses)
  • I now have a cap on the amount of emails I get to send per month (i.e. 10k emails, which is used up quickly if you are a weekly mailer, even with a small list)

There are probably a few smaller things that I’m unaware of right now too, but which will inevitably trip me up just when I want to use them.

I am quite disappointed. I’ve been using Mailchimp since 2017 and have become comfortable and knowledgeable with its interface and features.

Although I am still on the free plan, my first full-length novel is coming out at the latter end of the year and I was hoping to increase my number of subscribed users to a significant amount before then. With these kinds of changes, Mailchimp has made it practically impossible and a lot more expensive to do so.

Please note that I’m not opposed to paying for a service – I just want to get my money’s worth when I do. Especially since I earn ZAR and have to spend USD. The more I have to spend, the longer I have to stick with the (soul-destroying) day job.

I have one more mail going out with Mailchimp at the end of the month. After that, it will be time to move to a new service provider.

Are you adversely affected by Mailchimp’s changes? Are you planning to change service providers? Who would you recommend instead?

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