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When you’re on a shoestring budget it can be hard to decide what tools your energy and money is best spent on. I’m all about being frugal and pinching pennies which is why I love free services and tools.
So for many biz owners and bloggers, Mailchimp is a no-brainer when creating your first email list. While it’s easy to use and a great free option (for up to 2000 subs), it’s super limiting and not very intuitive for growing your list.
That’s why I started using MailerLite, switched my list over, and never looked back!
Mailchimp is good, but not great
Mailchimp is one of the most popular and well-known free tools to start growing your email list. Unfortunately, it’s not very user friendly and the way things are configured isn’t very intuitive.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve read in a Facebook group, “My Mailchimp popup won’t work” or “Where do I put this code form Mailchimp”.
You also can’t create separate forms for content upgrade, to do that you have to use complicated segments and groups. They’ve also been super slow to add features that are available in other email marketing tools.
I quickly became frustrated with limitations of Mailchimp. So when a handful of people in a FB group were exclaiming their love for MailerLite I decided to check it out.
MailerLite – your new best (email) friend
I wasn’t convinced at first even though they have this page comparing their features right to Mailchimp’s. But after spending an entire day playing with the features and seeing how it all worked, I was sold. I switched all my opt-ins on this site and moved my entire list over.
So what’s so stinkin’ great about MailerLite?
First, it’s free just like Mailchimp.
You only get up to 1000 unique subscribers and 12,000/mo emails to send with the free plan but upgrading to the next tier is super affordable (like $10 a month).
Second, they have so many great features: landing pages, pop-ups, embedded forms, automation, link triggers, segmentation, custom fields, and more!
Free 14-page interactive workbook that teaches you the basics of email marketing
Okay, okay, I loathe popup opt-ins and would never have them on my website but I’ve seen the complaints about Mailchimp’s popup integration and you often need to use a third-party plugin. I’ve not tested out the popup capabilities myself but the features and options seem impressive with MailerLite.
Mailerlite has a great builder for all of it’s different forms. Making popups is easy and you can even set your trigger rules, something that you can’t do on Mailchimp.
There’s also a landing page builder!
While you can always build landing pages on your own WordPress site, it’s great that you can create them quickly right in your email marketing tool.
I’ve used the Mailerlite landing page builder to create stunning landing pages complete with all the features you’d want like countdown timers and share buttons.
They also give you stats and analytics so you can see how well your landing page is converting.
Automation is easy.
With MailerLite you can set up as many automated emails as you want, based on whether a user has just joined a group or based on a certain date.
With MailerLite I was able to add content upgrades to my posts, create a webinar, and create a free email course. You can’t do most of those things with Mailchimp (free) alone.
There’s also link triggers. So you can sort your subscribers into different buckets based on their interests or start an entire workflow based on a click!
So what’s the catch?
I didn’t think there was one. However after deciding to purge my list of users who weren’t opening my emails it became more clear. MailerLite advertises 1000 free unique subscribers all over the place but it takes a bit of digging in their Knowledge Base to find out what that really means.
For example, if I have 50 unique emails and send them all an email, that counts as 50 towards my 1000 limit.
Let’s say I decide to delete 5 of those people who were inactive and another 5 unsubscribe on their own. Now suppose another 30 new subscribers sign up and I send out a new email to all 70 of those subscribers.
To most people, they would believe they are at 70 unique subscribers now. But that’s not the case – MailerLite is still going to count those people that you deleted or that unsubscribed. So instead of 70 your account limit has reach 80. You can’t replace used subscribers with new subscribers.
While this isn’t a huge deal, it does suck. They aren’t that transparent about it before signing up and the terminology they use about “unique subscribers” can be confusing. Obviously, because I just realized this after using the platform for over a month.
This means I’ll probably hit the 1000 free limit way before I actually have 1000 real, engaged subscribers. I still think MailerLite is a great way to build your list on a budget and has tons of great features but it seems like a really odd way to handle unique emails.
So if you do move your subs over, it’s better to purge inactive users before importing your list.
Mailchimp isn’t completely innocent either as they will count every subscriber as a new one even if they have the same email but are on different lists. So if [email protected] is on 3 of your different lists, she will count as 3 subscribers.
Edited to add: One of MailerLite’s amazing employees has stated in the comments that the counter resets every 30 days, so your unsubscribers will eventually roll off your account.
Updated on 3/30/2019 to add: I still use Mailerlite and this subscriber count thing hasn’t been an issue in the entire time I’ve used it. Though recently they have put more limitations on the free version.
For example, now you can only send 12,000 emails a month unless you upgrade your account. This may or may not be a problem depending on how big your list is and how often you send out emails.
I’ll keep using MailerLite because for a free service, it still blows Mailchimp out of the water in terms of features and support. Hopefully by the time I do reach that 1000 emails threshold, I’ll see the need to move to something more powerful like ConvertKit.
So what are your favorite features of MailerLite? Do you think you’ll move away from Mailchimp after learning about this new platform?