Updated December 2021
Mailchimp started out as an email broadcast platform, and although that’s still its core competency, in recent years it has expanded to include things like web pages, ecommerce sites, social media posting, and surveys.
This has been both helpful and confusing. On the one hand, it’s nice that Mailchimp can do more than just email. On the other hand, it leaves many users (and would-be users) wondering what Mailchimp can and can’t do, and what other software tools they need to fill in the gaps.
Juggling many pieces of software can be frustrating and time-consuming. That’s why many business owners are opting for all-in-one Sales & Marketing Automation (SMA) software solutions like Keap.
Here’s a detailed breakdown of what Mailchimp can and can’t do well right now.
What is Mailchimp Used For?
Mailchimp is primarily for getting leads into your email database and then sending them broadcast messages via email and social media. (“Broadcast” refers to sending a mass message to many people at the same time.) It also has some website and ecommerce functions. Let’s look at each area in a little more detail.
Mailchimp allows you to create opt-in web forms to get people signed up for your email list. You can capture basic fields like first and last name, email, phone number, and address, and create custom fields to collect information specific to your type of business. You can also segment your list into different audiences.
Sending many emails at once is the core feature of Mailchimp, and most of its advanced features are in support of that. Some of Mailchimp’s email features include:
- Email templates
- A/B testing (paid plans only)
- Multivariate testing (Premium plan only)
- Automated nurture campaigns
- Email reporting
It’s important to note that most of the advanced features require a more expensive plan, so be sure to look at the pricing packages to make sure you’re getting the one that has the tools you need.
Another caveat to be aware of is that Mailchimp only does email broadcasting and some email automation. It doesn’t work for sending individual emails. More on that later.
Landing pages, website builder, ecommerce
Mailchimp has added a suite of ecommerce website tools that allow you to:
- Build and publish a website
- Set up an ecommerce store
- Accept payments online (in the US and UK only)
For people just starting out and needing a basic website, it provides a quick solution. But if you have more complicated needs, be sure to look more closely into what is provided to make sure it will meet your needs. Also consider how quickly you might outgrow Mailchimp’s ecommerce website because it can be a pain to change providers when your business takes off and is growing fast.
Social media management
Mailchimp now features social media posting. Social post scheduling is available with some of the more expensive plans.
With the higher plans on Mailchimp, you can send out postcards for things like announcing a special offer, appointment reminders, and recurring brand awareness campaigns.
Mailchimp has some other features like task management, appointments, surveys, and ads, but the core of Mailchimp is really lead collection and email. To their credit, Mailchimp is adding more features as time goes on, but several competitors already have many of the features that Mailchimp lacks.
What Are Mailchimp’s Limitations?
If you’re currently a Mailchimp user or thinking about getting Mailchimp, you’re probably wondering what else it can do besides the basic core functions. Let’s look at the most commonly asked-for features.
Can you use Mailchimp as a CRM?
One of the first questions marketers need to consider is: Is Mailchimp a good CRM?
Although Mailchimp stores email addresses and names that can be segmented into audiences, that’s about where it’s functionality as a CRM ends. For full CRM capabilities, you’d need to add on a standalone CRM product like Pipedrive, or better yet, use an all-in-one SMA software that includes a full CRM, like Keap.
Can Mailchimp send text messages?
No, Mailchimp doesn’t have SMS text messaging capabilities at this time. For that you’d need to add another provider or use an all-in-one-solution like Keap that includes text marketing.
Can you send an email to one person in Mailchimp?
While it is possible to send a Mailchimp campaign to just one person, that’s a pretty clunky workaround, and most people would be better off just using a regular email account.
Why would someone even want to send an individual email in Mailchimp? So that there’s a record of every email to every person in one system. For example, when you send email broadcasts from Mailchimp and individual emails from Gmail, the two systems don’t talk to each other. It’s not easy to see that Suzy Smith got a special offer email from Mailchimp and on the same day she got an email from your sales team that has a different offer.
In an all-in-one-solution like Keap, all you have to do is click on a contact record to see every communication that was sent to that person, including email broadcasts, individual emails sent from systems like Gmail or Outlook, custom automated emails, text messages, phone calls, everything, all in one place.
Can Mailchimp do marketing and sales automation?
Mailchimp has basic email automation, but doesn’t have the full sales and marketing automation capabilities that all-in-one solutions have. This is due in part to the fact that Mailchimp doesn’t have many of the other features you’d need to fully automate your business, like invoicing, text marketing, sales pipeline, etc.
Can you create a sales funnel in Mailchimp?
Although you can create basic funnels using landing pages, email drip campaigns, and an online shopping cart, Mailchimp doesn’t have features that support a sales team, like a Kanban board and an advanced CRM.
Mailchimp’s features are better suited for ecommerce and content-based businesses rather than service-based businesses and B2B businesses.
Can Mailchimp do drip campaigns?
Yes, if you have a paid plan, you can set up drip campaigns (also called email nurture campaigns) in Mailchimp using the Customer Journey Builder.
Can Mailchimp send quotes and invoices?
No. Although you can set up an online shopping cart with Mailchimp, you can’t make and send custom quotes, invoices, and contracts.
Can Mailchimp accept payments?
Yes, but only in the US and UK. As part of their ecommerce feature set you can create an online store with a shopping cart that accepts payments. The system can be set up to send order and shipment confirmation emails, as well as abandoned cart emails.
Can Mailchimp do appointment scheduling?
Yes. This is a newer feature. You can create an online form for people to schedule 1:1 appointments, and set up automated notification emails.
Who Is Mailchimp Best For?
Mailchimp is best suited for ecommerce companies selling a product online, or people who mostly just want to send out email and social media content.
Service-based businesses and B2B companies that have a longer, more personalized sales cycle are better off with a solution like Keap that offers sales pipeline tools, quotes, invoices, and contracts, and full marketing and sales automation.
Alternatives to Mailchimp
If Mailchimp doesn’t have all the features you need, don’t worry. There are software solutions that offer all of the features listed in this article in one platform. We think Keap is the best alternative, but if you’d like to look at other options too, check out this article on Mailchimp alternatives.
As you weigh your options, it’s important to ask yourself: Where will my business be in 2, 3, 5 years? Will this platform still work for me then? It’s extra work to switch platforms, so it’s wise to choose one that grows with you as your business grows.
For example, Keap’s Pro and Max editions give you advanced functionality you can’t get with Mailchimp. Keap has won awards for its user-friendly interface, so it’s ideal for Mailchimp users who value ease of use.
You can see a more detailed comparison of Keap vs. Mailchimp, or go ahead and start a 14-day free trial of Keap now (no credit card required).