What do Mad Mimi and Mailchimp do?
The short answer? Mad Mimi and Mailchimp let you send e-newsletters. A lot of them. The slightly longer answer is that they also enable you to store your database online, automate your mailouts using autoresponders and examine how people respond to your marketing messages.
What is an autoresponder?
As usual with my email marketing reviews, I'll start with a word about autoresponders.
Autoresponders are e-newsletters that are sent to your subscribers at pre-defined intervals after they sign up – you can set them up so that immediately after somebody signs up to your mailing list, they receive a simple welcome message; a week later they could receive a discount code for a particular product; three weeks later they could receive an encouragement to follow you on social media. The idea is that your email marketing gets automated – once you’ve set things up correctly, subscribers automatically receive key messages from your business without you having to bother sending out e-newsletters manually (although you can still of course do this when you need to). Autoresponders save you time and, used judiciously, have the potential to generate new business.
How do Mad Mimi’s and Mailchimp’s autoresponders compare?
Both Mailchimp and Mad Mimi allow you to create ‘classic’ autoresponder campaigns, where a user is automatically opted into a cycle of communications (or ‘drip’) after they subscribe to a mailing list. However, Mailchimp’s autoresponder functionality is considerably more sophisticated, in that you can set up autoresponders based on other actions taken by users – for example, clicking on a particular link in an e-newsletter, opening it or purchasing a particular product.
Many users will manage fine with the more basic autoresponder functionality offered by Mad Mimi (which is based on time interval or dates like birthdays or anniversaries) but some – those running complex e-commerce businesses for example – will appreciate the significantly greater flexibility that Mailchimp offers on this front. Mailchimp essentially allows you to create and edit a range of sophisticated automation workflows that cater for a variety of business or organisation types: e-commerce, education, bands and charities to name just a few. There's nothing comparable really in Mad Mimi.
There are multiple pricing tiers for both Mad Mimi and Mailchimp - so many that I'm not going to list them all. However, it is safe to say that Mad Mimi is a clear winner when it comes to pricing, coming in considerably cheaper than Mailchimp regardless of whether you have a small or large database.
For example, if you have 5000 subscribers, it will cost you $27 per month with Mad Mimi to host and send unlimited emails to your database; this comes in a whopping $23 per month cheaper than Mailchimp (who charge $50 for the same privilege). At the larger end of the database spectrum, using Mad Mimi to host a database with 50,000 records will cost $199 per month, to Mailchimp's $240 per month. Work the total costs out over the course of a year and you'll really appreciate the difference in pricing.
There are a couple of things worth noting however: firstly, with Mad Mimi’s cheaper plans, your emails will be sent out more slowly than if you are on a more expensive one. I feel this could be explained a bit better on the Mad Mimi website – after a good peruse I’m not really sure what their ‘2x’, ‘4x’ speeds really refer to, but the general vibe is that the more expensive plan you are on, the faster your emails wil be sent. I don’t think this will be a massive issue for most users though and have yet to receive any complaints from Mad Mimi users I know regarding the pace of delivery of campaigns.
Mailchimp also provide a 'pay as you go' option which may be helpful to businesses that are not interested in making much use of autoresponders and just wish to send the occasional e-newsletter. This works on a 'price per email sent' basis, with the actual price varying according by volume (for example, it's 0.03c per email to send an e-newsletter to 1,000 people; 0.01c if you're sending it to 100,000).
Finally it's worth pointing out that Mailchimp is generally a far more sophisticated tool, so although Mad Mimi plans are unquestionably cheaper, you do get far more functionality for your cash when you sign up to a paid Mailchimp plan. We'll look at functionality of course in more depth below.
Both Mad Mimi and Mailchimp offer free plans. Up until fairly recently, Mad Mimi’s was the more generous of the two - allowing you to store up to 2,500 subscribers and send them up to 12,500 emails; equivalent figures are 2,000 and 12,000 for Mailchimp.
Now, however, Mad Mimi have made their free plan a much more basic affair: you can only host a mailing list of 100 email addresses with it. This makes Mailchimp an instant winner when it comes to the free plan side of things (although bear in mind that its free plan does not include use of autoresponders and many other useful features).
With Mad Mimi, you don’t get templates so much as ‘themes’ – colour schemes that you can apply to one simple but pleasant template (you can apply a few different content layouts to this, but you're basically dealing with the same template throughout). Mailchimp on the other hand comes with over one hundred templates that you can adapt to meet your needs (or you can start with a blank template if you prefer). These are all very professional in appearance and a wide range of categories (to suit different business types) is available.
Both tools provide easy-to-use drag-and-drop style editors to help you edit your template, with Mailchimp’s being the more flexible (albeit slightly fiddlier) of the two. Mailchimp's email builder allows you to create a greater number of layout styles (for example, you can add image groups, buttons and boxed text in Mailchimp; Mad Mimi doesn’t offer any of these options).
One major advantage of Mailchimp's templates is that they are responsive - meaning that e-newsletters will automatically resize themselves to suit the device they are being viewed on. Mad Mimi's, on the other hand, are not, meaning that in order to make your Mad Mimi e-newsletters more mobile-friendly, you'll need to either use large typefaces in them or code your own HTML template. The sooner that responsive templates are available in Mad Mimi, the better.
- the ability to capture and store data online
- design and send HTML emails
- create autoresponder campaigns
- create RSS-to-email campaigns (meaning that you can automatically send your database an e-newsletter version of your blog every time you add a new post)
- access key statistics about open and click-through rates.
As mentioned earlier, the key area where Mad Mimi comes out significantly ahead of Mailchimp and it is to do with how much data you can use on a paid plan. Mad Mimi is much cheaper to use than Mailchimp – particularly if you have a lot of data. If you have a very big database or are confident that your list is going to develop into a large one, then Mad Mimi is seriously worth considering over Mailchimp.
If, however, more advanced functionality is a key concern, then Mailchimp is definitely the stronger product. When it comes to form-building, templates, autoresponder options, data management and statistics, you get significantly more flexibility / functionality with Mailchimp.
Four key advantages of using Mailchimp over Mad Mimi that are particularly worth pointing out are:
- Mailchimp provides split testing, where you can test different subject headers or send times on a sample of your data before rolling out the best performing one to your entire database. Mad Mimi do provide a 'campaign comparison tool' which you can use retrospectively to test e-newsletter variants against each other, but I'm surprised that they don’t seem to offer a more straightforward split testing option.
- Mailchimp's autoresponder functionality is much more advanced than Mad Mimi's, providing users with a wider range of triggers that can be used to start drip campaigns, or switch subscribers from one to another. With Mailchimp, you can use triggers such as purchases, birthdays, email opens and more to kickstart a cycle of autoresponders; with Mad Mimi you are limited to two triggers: a users subscribing to a list or clicking on a link in an email.
- As mentioned above, Mailchimp's email templates are responsive (mobile and tablet friendly); Mad Mimi's are not.
- Analytics reports in Mailchimp are far more comprehensive and you can drill down into your subscribers' behaviour in much more depth.
Both Mailchimp and Mad Mimi allow you to embed sign-up forms into your website and as such you should be able to incorporate either service into your site or social media presences easily (both services allow you add a Facebook sign up tab with a minimum of fuss too).
When it comes to third party integrations though, Mailchimp comes up trumps again; far more online services and products offer direct integrations with Mailchimp than Mad Mimi. That said, there are quite a few key products that integrate directly with Mad Mimi, including Etsy, Bigcommerce, Salesforce and Zoho. And of course in many instances you can use Zapier to create workarounds for products that are not directly supported by Mad Mimi.
The bottom line
There's no question that Mailchimp is the more fully-featured tool here. It comes with significantly more bells and whistles than Mad Mimi and has effectively become an industry standard solution for email marketing, offering advanced features and integration with other important online services out of the box.
That said, if you are on a budget or have a seriously large database that you need to regularly send e-newsletters to, it's hard to find a more competitively priced email marketing solution than Mad Mimi. It ticks several of the basic email marketing boxes; but you will have to live without responsive emails and split testing functionality, both of which are generally seen today as key tools in creating a successful e-marketing campaign.
Good alternatives to Mailchimp and Mad Mimi
If you’re interested in alternatives to both Mailchimp and Mad Mimi, we'd recommend checking out Getresponse, which offers a similar (and in several ways better) level of functionality to Mailchimp whilst generally coming in at a cheaper price.