A budget Mailing List Manager with ideas above its station! Not just a beginners tool but a well featured competitor to other better known solutions.
We recently changed our mailing list provider and looked closely at four products. Mailchimp, SendinBlue, Fluent CRM and MailerLite. It was close, very close between SendinBlue and MailerLite. In the end, our choice was made on a very specific use case that was better supported by the product we chose. This MailerLite review focuses on the functionality we found in the research stage of the project.
Why Use a Mailing List?
We have been talking to a number of people recently about their mailing lists. There are a number of reasons for the topic to suddenly drift into focus, but large amongst them are Google and Apple’s new policies around Cookies.
The short of it is that support for third party tracking cookies is to be withdrawn from Google Chrome and has been continued subject to an opt-in by Apple in the latest version of iOS.
You can get the full story and our take on the implications over at Helter Skelter Digital in our article Death of the Cookie.
Suffice it to say, in the wake of these revelations we decided to review our own Email strategy and found it wanting. Like so many Email lists it had been allowed to stagnate and posts were sent irregularly. No more!
In actual fact, Mailing Lists offer nearly twice as much efficiency as PPC, for a fraction of the cost. The gotcha is that it takes a while to pull together a list large enough to make a serious impact on your business but nonetheless it’s something it would be remiss to ignore.
MailerLite do one thing and they do it very well. Email list Management. The concept is simple. You put a form on your website and offer people the opportunity to sign up for your regular mailouts. If they sign up, then MailerLite sends out a confirmation e-mail, conforming with GDPR Double Opt in requirements and if the user conforms they are added to your list.
You can organise your list into segments and groups, create popups, forms and landing pages for your website and do the usual split tests (A/B Testing) across campaigns.
A well designed and intuitive interface is available in five languages and there is an app for iOS. Recently they have launched MailerLite Academy, a free program that helps the user to get the best out of the software.
What’s not to like?
Pricing is straightforward, affordable and comes with generous allocations. The Free plan is limited to basic functionality although the free trial allows full use for two weeks.
|Subscribers||Emails / month||Monthly cost|
|0 – 1,000||12,000||Free|
|0 – 1,000||Unlimited||$10|
|1,001 – 2,500||Unlimited||$15|
|2,501 – 5,000||Unlimited||$30|
|5,001 – 10,000||Unlimited||$50|
Compared to MailChimp this pricing is way better. No hidden gotchas, no weird ceilings on audiences. What you see is what you get.
Pros and Cons
Is MailerLite right for you?
I would recommend MailerLite without hesitation to anyone getting involved with Email marketing for the first time or anyone for whom Email marketing is a drain on their time and resources. It’s refreshingly simple to use, the MailerLite Academy offers excellent advice on a range of topics and you can grow with the tools.
The strategy of using third party products to extend MailerLite is interesting. Whilst it offers a lot more functionality, it comes at the cost of added complexity and it’s not entirely clear from browsing the catalogue of integrations, organised by function, which tools are best suited for particular purposes. The strategy is not uncommon, but it does encourage complexity.
Our in house strategy has always been to choose tools that will grow with you rather than tools that you have to grow into. MailerLite fits the bill. Its easy enough to master quickly and can be extended when you need to do so.
For small businesses, bloggers, freelancers and creatives, MailerLite is practically perfect. The Landing Page builder is a significant differentiator too.
|Usabilty||5||Very easy to navigate with a beautifully usable interface.|
|Newsletter||5||Very straightforward. Inevitably similar to MailChimp but how else would you do it?|
|Editor||5||A no code editor that looks and feels like the WordPress Gutenberg editor. If you’re used to dealing with content blocks, you’ll have no problems here.|
|Personalisation||4||Personalisation is possible in a fairly limited way, No support for programming logic but you do have access to ‘dynamic content’ blocks, which will display only to selected groups/segments.|
|5||Classic Mailout, A/B testing, autoresponders, surveys, recurring newsletters and date-based (specific, and one-off mails, for things like membership reminders).|
|Templates||5||There is a catalogue of well designed very modern templates which are all easily customisable. Templates aren’t included in the free plan which is disappointing but the range of content blocks available makes this easier to accept!|
|Automation||4||MailerLite offers steadily improving marketing automation, allowing you to create workflows based on campaign actions, such as opens and links clicked, or conditions based on custom fields and segments.|
|List Management||4||You are able to segment your subscribers using a wide variety of variables. There is a tagging system which MailerLite calls “groups”. Unlike MailChimp, having the same subscriber in multiple groups only counts as one subscriber.|
|Migration||5||Very straightforward using CSV files which are widely supported|
|Registration Forms/ Opt-in & Opt-out- Process||5||Straightforward to create and use, with several types of forms available, including pop-up, embed, unsubscribe forms and subscribe buttons. You can also send data to MailerLite from a custom form using the API. This is simple to do but make sure you set Double Opt-In to on.|
|Deliverability||5||We can’t fault it so far!|
|Reports and Analysis||4||MailerLite has basic reporting available, reached intuitively via campaigns, or subscribers. It has ecommerce integration, limited to WooCommerce and Shopify,. Also supports click-mapping and Google Analytics.|
|Languages||5||MailerLite is available in 5 languages.|
|Design-Testing||You can preview how your design will look on desktop and mobile|
|Bounce Management||After five soft bounces, or one hard bounce, subscribers are automatically moved to a bounce folder where they can be managed.|
|Blacklist||You can exclude segments or groups from receiving emails|
|Storage available for data and images||There’s no limit on the size or amount of images you can store.|
|Authentication||SPF and DKIM (Domain Keys).|
|Custom Domain||You can add a custom domain on the Premium plan. All links across campaigns and confirmation emails will have your domain, instead of the MailerLite domain.|
|Account access||Two-factor authentication (2FA) available through the Google Authenticator App. Team members can be granted granular access.|
|Landing Page Editor||A proper differentiator.|
|Support||Email and chat. The knowledge base is good, and the MailerLite Academy excellent.|
|Overall rating||5||MailerLite passed every test we set it. We’ve been using MailChimp for ever and MailerLite seems like a breath of fresh air!|
We have been using MailChimp for ever. We decided to jump ship last year when it became obvious that the functionality was being squeezed in order to force users to upgrade.
Additionally, I don’t know if it was just me, but I found myself using Google as the Help menu was spectacularly unhelpful.
MailChimp is piling on the functionality, has a lovely new design but it is still more expensive feature for feature than most of its competitors. So I left. After finding out from Google how to export my mailing list!
I absolutely loved SendinBlue. It was almost impossible to differentiate between it and MailerLite and we opted for MailerLite on a fraction of a half point in the end. I feel so badly about this that I may review SendinBlue as well!
This is a left field choice. We came to Fluent CRM through Fluent Forms and liked it so much we kept it in the running for our mailing list solution. Unlike every other platform here it is not a cloud based solution. Instead it runs on WordPress.
Fluent CRM is a CRM based on Mailing List functionality. As such it offers more functionality than both SendinBlue and MailerLite but it’s association with a single site put it out of the running for us. We needed to serve several different lists, we can do this using segments based on the origin in MailerLite.
We chose MailerLite in the end, after discounting MailChimp fairly early on in the process. Very close between MailerLite and SendinBlue. Fluent CRM was an outlier.
You can get a free trial of MailerLite and see for yourself!
Is the Free Version of MailerLite Worthwhile?
Yes. The key restriction is the number of users which is set at 1000. If you have more than 1000 subscribers and you can’t afford $10 a month you’re not doing Email marketing right!
Will I be forced to upgrade?
Only by the numbers of subscribers. MailerLite is very reasonably balanced between price and functionality.
Does MailerLite restrict the number of Emails?
12,000 emails per 1000 users per month. If you’re sending 12 emails a month then you’re probably sending too many.
Where is the best place for a Sign Up Form?
This is a question of design. Most people have a sign up form on the home page and again on individual posts. Statistics suggest that half way up the page is better than the bottom or top of the page.
How do I attract more Subscribers?
Not strictly speaking a concern of the software! We may do a post on this topic, but in a nutshell providing useful content, creating a brand that people what to be part of does the trick.
See how we use MailerLite by signing up to our mailing list right here! Every month we mail out a precis of the latest posts, subscriber only content and when we can get them, discounts and deals on software.
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