A MailChimp Review, For The Good Affiliate Marketer

As I was doing my normal daily blog hopping I happen to notice that there seemed to be a lot of people promoting Aweber as the best auto-responder on the market. Apart from expounding all its good points they will generally tell you, somewhere in the post, that it must be good because all the big boys use it. This may be true but I’m sure that one of the reasons that a lot of people use it and for promoting the crap out of it is because they’re also an affiliate.

Which is fine as I understand how one tends to get emotional about promoting something that they love to use, heck I do the same when telling people about the FlexSqueeze theme. I do take exception though when while promoting it they have a go at MailChimp. Yeah, I know I did the same thing when I compared FlexSqueeze to Thesis but I never said Thesis was bad in that post, just that it wasn’t as good! :innocent1_tb:

To be quite honest not all the posts actually said MailChimp was bad but some of the comments did allude to that and the biggest contention was the fact that the guys at MailChimp do not like the way some people run their affiliate marketing. It’s true though, if you’re looking for a list to push your affiliate products down people’s throats then MailChimp is not for you because you try it with them and they will kick you out. And so they should too because that type of marketing hurts their name reputation, something that’s very important to them.

Image via CrunchBase

That doesn’t mean that you can’t promote affiliates, just that your campaigns should not focus just around affiliate marketing. Honestly if I joined a list and all I got was campaigns promoting different ways of making money, growing my business or other affiliates then I can assure you I will drop that list like a hot potato.

I swore long ago that I would never have a list but that was only  because I thought the only reason for having one was to use it against my subscribers by pushing crap down their throats. It was only after a lot of thought and soul searching that I found a way in which I could use a list without going against my principals which was when I wrote my post Why The List Hater Has His Very Own List! That then led to my post Why I Chose MailChimp Over Aweber where I talked about why I liked MailChimp so much. In that particular post I described how you could be a MailChimp member and promote affiliates.

I know it seems like I’m rehashing old topics but its necessary because people need to know, especially when you’re just starting up your list and you can’t afford the expense of paying for one such as Aweber. That plus I would love to build a new breed of affiliate marketers, one that cares about their subscribers and would never use them just for the sake of peddling their wares.

Have you ever noticed that a lot of the products you get in your inbox from those affiliate marketers never make it to their blog? Now, why is that unless they’re not all that comfortable about actually posting about it, like one I received in my inbox today from a reputable marketer that seemed to be nothing less than a pyramid scheme. So its good enough for their list but not good enough for their blog?

That’s where we can be different as we would only promote affiliates that we absolutely believe in and because we believe in them we’re quite happy to post about them on our blogs. That is what makes MailChimp the perfect auto-responder for us because if you use it, as I do, to tell your subscribers when you’ve written a new post you will be driving traffic to that post, and if that post is an affiliate product you love you will be killing two birds with one post.

So basically all I’m saying is don’t write MailChimp off just because you’ve read somewhere that it doesn’t accept affiliate marketers because the truth is they don’t accept the wrong type of internet marketers, and that’s not us is it?

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Reviewing Two More Auto-Responders MailChimp Still Wins

Ever since I wrote my post on Why I Chose MailChimp Over Aweber I’ve had several people ask me about what other auto-responders I had tried out. Before I get into that there is something you need to know about me. I hate to shop around, I feel its just a waste of time. If I find a product or service that I like I just go out and buy it. This surprised the heck out of my wife but she’s used to it by now. It’s like when we needed a new car,  I knew how much I wanted to spend so when I found a car that was within the budget I bought it.

In the case of auto-responders I wanted one that was free and so I was pleased as punch when I found MailChimp. The only reason I looked any further was because Ben brought to my attention how they wouldn’t allow affiliate links to be used in campaigns. Read the above post to find out how you can use affiliate links with MailChimp as long as it’s done properly and in a non spamming way. Once I had found that I could use affiliate links the search stopped, but just I thought it best to post my results of the other two I had tried out.

List Wire

List Wire is the brainchild of Gary Ambrose. This auto-responder is completely free, forever, no matter how big your list grows. A word of warning though, the sales pitch starts from the moment you land on the home page where you will see a rather entertaining video where Gary uses a sales pitch to promote Listwire as well as trying to sell you some of his other products. Nothing wrong with that as that’s what online marketers do.

So, knowing full well I would be signing up for a list that would more likely than not fill my inbox with offers, which it does on a daily basis, note to self to unsubscribe, I signed up. After using MailChimp I found Listwire to be cumbersome and that it lacked the features I was used to. I’m a person that likes things to be easy to use and my personal opinion is that Listwire lacked that. Perhaps if I stuck it out it would have become clearer but I wasn’t prepared to do that when I already had one that was so easy to use.

Auto-Responder And Mailing List Manager

One other option I had thought about was to have my own auto-responder. I was sure that somewhere out there I would be able to find a way of having my own auto-responder thereby having complete control and never having to pay anyone for having a list. I came across the Auto-Responder and Mailing List Manager. That link will take you to their home page where you can either try the free unrestricted Lite version or opt to buy the Pro Version for around $74 for one domain. Needless to say I opted for the Lite version.

I downloaded AMLM, unzipped the file and uploaded it to a directory on my Wassupblog domain. The installation instructions are quite simple but there were some technical problems with the installation. I found the solutions to the problems quite easily in the forums, and apparently it only occurs with the Lite version. One would have thought though that they would have resolved those issues even with the Lite version as it makes the whole product somewhat suspect.

Anyway, I got it to work and all and all it is pretty simple to use. You can send plain text as well as html but unlike MailChimp that has professional templates ready for you to use you have to design your own. You can produce your own subscription box of which this is a sample. Take note that although this box is fully operational I will not be using this as a list were you to accidentally sign up. If you want to join my growing list you’ll find the real form in my sidebar over there on your right.

Name: *

Email: *
Country: *

While it does all the basic stuff you would want from an auto-responder it lacks some of the features, which even at such a short time, I’ve become accustomed to with MailChimp. Having said that you may still want to trial the free version, who knows, you may find it adequate for your needs.

Edit: I just tried to unsubscribe from Gary Ambrose’s list and got the following message.

WARNING! You are canceling your List Wire account!

Please read this short message before you continue!

If you remove yourself from this list you will also be permanently, and irreversibly canceling your List Wire account, and any sub-accounts you have under the username, sire!

If you choose to continue the unsubscribe process, you will no longer have access to any of your lists, sub-lists, prospects, messages, and any other data stored with List Wire.

Unsubscribing will also cause all of your subscription forms, squeeze frames, followup messages, and tracking links to stop working immediately.

To keep your List Wire account, and continue using our services, you must remain on this list and continue receiving our promotional messages. Simply close this page, and take no further action.

If you are absolutely sure that you wish to continue with the unsubscribe process, knowing that you will be canceling your List Wire account, and permanently losing access to all List Wire services and data, you can remove yourself from this list by clicking link below.

Needless to say I went and unsubscribed. Lucky for me there was nothing for me to lose. I just thought you should know in case you were thinking of using Listwire.

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Why I Chose MailChimp Over Aweber

Now you’ve all heard about Aweber and how it’s supposed to be the bees knees of auto-responders? Well I decided against it because I just couldn’t see the value in it. These guys are so up themselves they won’t even offer a free trial! Instead you have to pay $1 to sign up for the first month and after that the cheapest rate is $19/month and if you have more than 500 subscribers you can expect to pay a lot more, up to $149/month. No wonder people using them have to keep shoving stuff down your throat, if they don’t they’d be losing money.

I sampled several auto-responders, more about them in a future post, and once I was through trialing them I decided that my list would be powered by MailChimp. As long as you don’t have more than 1000 subscribers and you don’t send more than 6000 emails a month your account is absolutely free. That knocks Aweber completely out of the ball park as far as trials goes.

Image via CrunchBase

What I love most about MailChimp is that you still get so much even though it’s a free account. I’ve actually had list members compliment me on the quality of my ‘newsletters’ and it’s all so easy to do because they have a large collections of templates that you can use to design absolutely stunning campaigns. You can even design your own templates.

There are so many features available to you with a free account, some of which include;

  • Multiple Lists: If you want to run more than one campaign targeting different lists then you’ll be happy to know you can do this with MailChimp
  • Good Reporting Features: There are so many reports you can keep track of. You can see who opened the mail, who clicked on what links. Whether or not any got bounced. Who’s unsubscribed. You can even connect it to Google Analytic and check whether a particular campaign has increased your traffic.
  • Connect With Twitter: Not only can you send your campaign to your lists, you can also send it out as a Tweet or via other social networks including FaceBook, Digg, Delicious, Buzz and MySpace. This is a Tweet of my last campaign.
  • Video Tutorials: I love the fact that they have video tutorials that help you to get the most from their site.

As far as I’m concerned these guys offer me all that I need to run a campaign and it’s all for free! If I ever grow my list to the extent that I need to pay for their service then I’m more than happy to do that.

Email Marketing Best PracticesThere was one point that was brought up by Ben Wan who mentioned that their TOS didn’t allow the use of affiliate links in the campaigns. This didn’t bother me all that much as my list was more for informing my subscribers of new posts than it was for promoting affiliates. Still, I could see how this would be important   for others so I decided to email support.

I spoke to a bloke called Edwin and I asked straight out about affiliate links and their TOS. This was his reply.

Hello Peter,

It’s nice to virtually meet you.

In the general sense we can only support affiliate content that is being sent to a list that is current and has been collected through a double optin process.  Also affiliate content can compliment newsletter content but can not be the entire focus of a message itself.

We would have to see an example of your newsletter to be able to say for sure if we could support it or not.

Feel free to email us back if you have specific questions or comments beyond this that we can assist you with.

MailChimp.com / Client Services

Well, I thought that was entirely reasonable. It’s obvious these guys are as much anti spam as I am, and let’s face it most of those guys that have lists send out so much crap it may as well be spam. These guys want to make sure people don’t give their product a bad name and I can understand that. Anyway, I purposefully put in an affiliate link into the next campaign and emailed him a copy.

He got back to me the next day saying that the example was fine but warning that the word “affiliate” in the content could have some spam filtering issues.  No worries then, that means I had absolutely no reason for not using MailChimp, I could even use affiliates in my campaign as long as I wasn’t a complete ass about it.

So, have you joined my list yet? If not you really should. As a member you will be listed on the My List page. You will never miss out on a post again. I will always try to include a link or two to other members blogs so that they also benefit from my campaigns. As a subscriber you may even learn a thing or two about what makes Sire tick, something that others will not be privy to. :wink_ee:

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