MailChimp is currently the number one email marketing service provider. Sendy is a self-hosted email marketing application which works through Amazon SES. In this post, I am going to take a look at how Sendy measures up to MailChimp.
MailChimp is the more mature product. As a result, it has more features. If the only important factor was number of features, MailChimp would be the clear winner from the beginning.
However, Sendy’s great advantage is that it is much cheaper than MailChimp, if you are sending emails in volume then, Sendy must be cost saver.
I’m going to cover these different factors in detail so you can draw your own conclusion.
Sendy vs Mailchimp Features
MailChimp is loaded with features. Most of these core features are supported on all email marketing platforms (including Sendy). For this reason, I am only going to outline the features that are unique to MailChimp. Some of them are useful for all users, and some are quite exotic (which means that most users will not need them).
Let’s look at the most useful features first.
Email template designer:
MailChimp has an integrated email designer. It uses a drag and drop interface to arrange a new design for an email campaign. This is used to create eye-catching HTML emails which display well on a variety of devices.
All email marketing packages offer the ability to import custom HTML email templates – so what is so special about having an integrated HTML email designer?
Anybody with a little HTML web design experience (but no html email experience) would be forgiven for thinking that HTML email is simple. After all, most HTML emails have simple layouts compared to HTML websites. Modern web browsers all do a good job of displaying standards based HTML, so coding an HTML email should be easy, right?
However, there is a hidden dirty secret about HTML emails which makes coding them by hand a literal nightmare. It all comes down to the ways that different email clients work, or rather, don’t work. Because as of this moment, the majority of email clients and email capable devices are not able to display standard HTML content properly! And yes, this includes the email clients on Apple devices.
Instead, email designers need to hack together hideous code that is designed to account for the different quirks of these clients and devices. Testing this code is torturous, slow, and making a mistake can be very embarrassing when the confused user complaints start to roll in after sending out the email.
Of course, a WYSIWYG editor is never going to produce the same level of results as a hand-coded email template from a top designer. But when a quick design that just works is all you need, then the MailChimp designer is a strong feature.
Note that there are standalone HTML email editors and well-tested responsive email templates available on the Internet. Some of these are free. Some are not.
For this reason, this feature alone should not be a deciding factor when choosing between Sendy and MailChimp.
You can check our previous post: Free Drag and Drop Email Editor for Sendy.
One thing that MailChimp does which Sendy cannot do is split testing. Split testing is where you have several different ideas for a campaign and you want to see which one will perform best. Sendy can test the two different ideas by sending some of to the list version A, and some of to the list version B. It track to see which version gets the best result, and then send the winning version to whole list.
This type of split testing can be done by hand in Sendy (by segmenting lists), but having a feature that does it automatically is a plus for MailChimp.
Email Client Testing:
MailChimp has a built in tool to ensure your email will display correctly on the most popular email clients and devices.
Testing emails across a broad range of platforms is supported by third party tools, including the excellent and thorough Litmus. In fact, 9 out of 10 times I would prefer to use Litmus instead of the built in tool to make sure I was covering all the possible device / client combinations. Nonetheless, having a built-in tool can be a time saver.
Just to make this point clear, MailChimp’s testing service only covers the top ten client/device combinations. This is not enough to feel protected, as there are dozens of combinations of operating system, device size and email client to account for.
Sendy vs Mailchimp Exotic Features
These features are less likely to be on anyone’s list of “must have” criteria. Some are quite useful, and others were probably included to make the service appear more competitive.
* Email Beamer:
You can configure and launch a campaign by sending an email to MailChimp instead of logging in. The most rudimentary email list manager programs of the past were controlled like this. Most users want to have more control, which is why email marketing applications have web interfaces in the first place.
* Geolocation and Timezone Delivery:
These features are potentially useful, but remember that GEOIP information is not 100% reliable. For most users, targeting the country where they live is good enough, so this is not a “killer feature.”
* MailChimp Coupon Scanner
This installs a scannable coupon into your email, so your clients can print the email and bring it to your shop. Then you can scan it with your phone (and the MailChimp app) to give them a discount. Obviously this is really just useful to bricks-and-mortar clients, and even then there are other ways to do this. Depending on the account holder being present with their phone makes this feature quite brittle in my opinion.
* MailChimp Snap
This lets you take a photo from your phone, add some text and then use it as an email campaign. Maybe useful if a totally unexpected promotional opportunity occurs, but otherwise this is bloat.
* MailChimp VIPs
This allows you to mark some of your subscribers as VIPs. Then, if they open your emails or click on your link, you are instantly notified through your phone! This is a little bit creepy… but under some circumstances it may make sense. However, how would you feel if your phone rang 30 seconds after you opened an email?
* MailChimp Gather
This allows you to send SMS text messages during an event, instead of emails.
They need to subscribe to a special list to receive these SMS messages.
MailChimp makes sure that they never find out your phone number, and you never find out theirs.
This is nice, but you can do the same thing for free on Twitter. Trying to get users to jump through hoops and subscribe again during an event is very difficult indeed. And that is one less thing for everyone to try to learn.
Although Sendy does not have all the extra bells and whistles of MailChimp, it does have all the standard features you would expect from an email management application. It is user-friendly and has great reporting facilities. It handles bounced emails and spam complaints. You can handle multiple campaigns, lists and even have separate login accounts for different clients.
On balance, the extra features of MailChimp are attractive, but there is nothing here that you can’t live without.
Sendy vs Mailchimp Price Comparison
For new accounts, with a small number of subscribers and emails sent per month, MailChimp is free. This does not include all of the fancy features, which are reserved for paid accounts, like autoresponder and more.
For very small companies which are not planning to do much email marketing, using the free option may make sense.
However, as your list of subscribers and number of emails sent per month increases, the costs become much higher.
Here are the monthly prices for MailChimp once you move beyond the 12,000 free email allowance:
501-1,000 – $15
2,001-2,500 – $30
2,501-5,000 – $50
5,001-10,000 – $75
10,000-25,000 – $150
25,000-50,000 – $240
As you can see, the monthly cost can quickly escalate into a major expense.
Sendy, on the other hand, sends emails through Amazon’s SES service. This is an excellent quality service from Amazon that gives you access to the same email sending infrastructure that Amazon uses. This means that due to economies of scale, Amazon is able to provide this service at a tiny fraction of the price.
Basically, you can send 10,000 emails for $1!
So if you had a list of 10,000 subscribers, and you sent 4 emails to each of them in a month, it would cost $4 with Sendy through Amazon SES. With MailChimp, it would cost $150!
If you sent zero emails the next month, with Sendy, this would cost $0 for emails. With MailChimp, it would cost $150 (same price even if you send nothing)!
Now, as Sendy is a self-hosted service, you will need to pay for hosting services in order to keep it connected to the Internet. It is not possible to set it up on a your laptop, as the Amazon Web Services integration requires a domain name based URL to communicate with the Sendy installation. Also, it would not be useful to be installed on a machine that is not connected to the Internet 24-7.
Check this detailed comparison of Mailchimp vs Amazon SES.
One last factor
On the basis of what we have seen above, Sendy looks like a clear winner. There are some features that MailChimp has over Sendy, but these are not so strong that they offset the huge month-to-month price difference.
But there is one major drawback in using Sendy.
Setting the software up in the first place require advanced technical skills. And, as it is a hosted service, you are responsible for ensuring that database data is backed up and kept secure.
One of our earlier posts EasySendy Makes Sendy Setup and Support Easy on Cloud describes the challenges in detail.
These challenges can be significant enough to deter users without adequate IT resources.
Solution for Sendy Installation and Hosting:
Of course, there is a solution to the difficulties of setting up Sendy and administering the server. EasySendy is a specialized hosting company which specializes in setting up the application and handling all of the difficult AWS, DNS and server details so that you can focus on using the package and running successful campaigns!
Give EasySendy a try and say goodbye to the high cost of MailChimp and other managed Email Marketing Platforms.
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