Mailchimp vs. Constant Contact Email Platforms for Photographers

"Thunder Moon III", Copyright Jim Nickelson

Recently I launched my first email newsletter for my photography and printing businesses using Mailchimp (you can sign up here if you are interested in receiving future ones). Services like Mailchimp provide a valuable service to photographers or other artists who are marketing their work, providing a means to create and deliver attractive and effective e-mail newsletters. Since I’ve also used Constant ContactConstant Contact (find it here) quite a bit during the last year (as part of FocusMaine), I thought my thoughts/review of the two might be useful to other artists who are thinking of using one of these services, especially since these two seem to be the two biggest players in this space. Mind you, this won’t be a full review or blow-by-blow comparison — just my thoughts as a photographer and newish user of each.

Before I discuss the differences between these two, there is a threshold question – why not just send emails from your normal email program? The first advantage for me is that email platforms provide an easy and clean way of managing a big list and, importantly for compliance with anti-spam laws, also provide a quick and safe way for people to unsubscribe from your lists. If your list isn’t big now, hopefully you will be in the future, and it is better to start off with a platform rather than trying to move an existing list. The second advantage is of design – you can create much nicer and more professional emails using these platforms than you can with your regular email editor. The third advantage is deliverability – I have no way of confirming this, but apparently more of your emails do get delivered by using these platforms as anti-spam technology recognizes that emails coming from these sources are less likely to be spam. The final advantage for me is tracking and reporting – for each email campaign, you can track pretty much everything – where people clicked and didn’t click, who opened and clicked, what worked and didn’t work – and thus improve future mailings.

So, why did I choose Mailchimp when I already had experience with CC? First, it is a bit less expensive than CC for comparable plans, and their forever free plan that limits you to 2000 subscribers is actually pretty full-featured. CC gives you a free two-month demo but it obviously has an end. CC also had a number of small but annoying fees, such as charging you extra if you wanted to have more than 5 image files loaded for your account.

Another advantage of Mailchimp is that it is ridiculously easy to use and to create a good-looking email. CC seems to have more potential power and is not horrible in terms of user-friendliness, but I think Mailchimp hits a sweet spot on capability and usability, particularly for more general users. As one example of its power and simplicity, when I used one of the standard Mailchimp templates, it went out and automatically found my home website, grabbed the colors and such from there, and made my template match – just like that. Slick. I found Mailchimp’s design templates to be both more varied and also more attractive than those I used with CC, too.

As a warning, Mailchimp inserts monkey-related humor throughout its website, too, which may be a good thing or a bad thing depending on your personal sense of humor (I like much of it personally). But it is reflective of its user-friendliness when compared to CC, which feels more corporate.

Both of these services are free to try and I encourage any photographer wishing to make their email marketing more powerful and professional to consider either one. I think many people, particularly visual artists, will be better served by the clean designs and ease-of-use of Mailchimp, but CC is also certainly worth a look to see if it has exclusive features you might find essential.

Do you have experiences with either of these programs you’d like to share? Feel free to comment below…



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