Tool Review: MailChimp

When it comes to email marketing, we’ve helped businesses use a ton of different tools at Exothermic. Depending on your company means you may have different priorities and needs. Fishbowl, for example, is one of the main email marketing programs for restaurant and food-chains. Bronto and Listrak, on the other hand, works more with larger e-commerce corporations.

But if you’re a small business getting started or even a larger one doing your first email marketing push – MailChimp is currently our go-to recommendation.

Forever Free

MailChimp was one of the first email marketing providers who created a free plan and then stuck with it. To date, they still have a “Forever Free” account tier where you can have up to 2,000 subscribers and send those subscribers up to 12,000 emails per month.


They don’t require a credit card, a contract or anything other hassles.


If you’re using WordPress or another common content management system (CMS), any of the top e-commerce tools (Magento, Shopify, WooCommerce or BigCommerce), Salesforce or other notable customer relationship management (CRM) tools – the list of compatible integrations with MailChimp goes on and on.

Integrations are important for tools in your “marketing stack” so they can play nicely together. You wouldn’t want an email marketing tool that can’t connect with your website, for example, because then you’d have a really hard time providing an easy way for people to sign-up. Speaking of…

Sign-up Forms

MailChimp does a really, really great job of making it easy for you to add people to your system. A lot of systems we’ve used before have very convoluted sign-up processes or data migration processes if you’re taking names from one system and adding them to another.

Sign-up forms and other methods for getting contacts actually into your database are key to growing your email marketing efforts. MailChimp does well at holding your hand through this process and making it easy for nontechnical people to set these components up.

Continuous Improvements

They’ve also come a long way. MailChimp used to be the go-to for start-ups and more technical people because although they had a free plan, it used to be ideal only for teams that were able to upload their own HTML into the system to send it off. Which meant you had to have someone savvy with HTML to make good use of it.

Now, they’ve made continuous improvements to make the user interface (UI) more intuitive and enabled people with no technical skills to get up and running.

It’s still not the most intuitive but with some guidance (and actually taking the time to read their really excellent support materials), just about anyone can get by.

It’s easy to move on

If you outgrow MailChimp’s free plan, they make it very easy to upgrade but also to move on to another system. MailChimp used to be a stepping-stone service but they are doing more and more lately to keep users within their system – and being very transparent about it, too. They even opened their own business and used MailChimp in their “What’s in Store” series to walk people through their own experiences.

All in all, it’s our go-to for getting brands new to email marketing onto a system over other tools like Constant Contact, AWeber, MadMimi, MyEmma and Hatchbuck.

That being said – if you’re new to email marketing and you have the money to invest (rather than opt for free), you may also want to check out Hatchbuck, a relatively new player in this scene that we’ve come to really like.

Getting started with email marketing

Email marketing may seem passe by 2017, but it’s still one of the most effective digital marketing channels to date.

Nearly everyone has an email address, whereas social channels are scattered across different demographics. There are hard, trackable numbers you can associate with email marketing and a ton of different ways to use them, regardless of your business’ focus point.

Here’s a quick overview on using email marketing for a small to medium-sized business. Continue reading “Getting started with email marketing”

What is Gamification?

In 2012, I wrote an article on Gamasutra, one of the leading game industry news sites, about gamification – “Gamification: the Misunderstood Dirty Word

Surprisingly, it still holds up. Half a decade later, here’s the overview along with a few recent revisions.

Gamification – what is it?

Gamification is still pretty misunderstood.

“Gamification” is, in essence, the process of using game mechanics and game design to enhance things that aren’t games.

In the marketing and startup world, this concept is being heavily embraced and making a lot of people a lot of money right now, whether they have experience in game design and deserve that money or not. Similar to the buzzword of social media, the true experts at social media are the people who were experts at communication and social mechanics that took their knowledge and applied it to online networks. Continue reading “What is Gamification?”

We’re fans of: Litographs

Every month, we highlight a brand that we’re fans of and we think you should know about ‘em, too. For April 2017, our focus is on Litographs.

What is Litographs?

Litographs is an e-commerce company that produces t-shirts, posters, and tote bags created entirely from the text of books. Danny Fein started the business in 2012 on Kickstarter and 2,714 backers provided over $100k for the premise of “entire books on posters and t-shirts.” Continue reading “We’re fans of: Litographs”