Notes on Migrating from Mailchimp to EmailOctopus

I have had a project on the task board for over a year, but last week, I finally got to it: Migrating from Mailchimp to EmailOctopus.

I took notes I want to share here for anyone considering doing the same.

A few behind-the-scenes facts:

Our newsletter has about 1600 subscribers and is growing slowly but steadily. It gets sent two times a month, and we have some simple automations set up for welcoming subscribers and one other for people signing up for a course, but nothing complicated.

We started using Mailchimp around 2015, on a free plan, and since then, we have gotten from about $15 a month up to $50 a month over the years.

Apart from sending our newsletter, we used the survey feature for a bit, but that’s it.

Why we migrated

Costs

Mailchimp got more expensive over the years. Paying around $60 to send a newsletter twice a month is costly. That is $720 a year to send our newsletter, about 23 times a year, for a relatively small audience.

With EmailOctopus, we are now on a €14/month plan to send to a list of up to 2,500 contacts – we are going to be okay with that plan for a while

Comparing Pricing:
Mailchimp: 57/month * 12 = 684 EUR
Email Octopus: 14/month * 12 = 168 EUR
Cost savings: 516 EUR

And that is a big difference—a freed-up budget for other software.

Features

Mailchimp grew from a simple-to-use tool for small businesses and startups into an enterprise-grade solution. We only used the basic features of Mailchimp but paid for it all.

We do not need a CRM integration, complex user journeys, the social media post feature, advanced segmentation, or complex user journeys.

Solutions and Services navigation menu on Mailchimp website

EmailOctopus caters to a creator audience. Independent creators get featured if you check the case studies on their homepage. That’s why it caught our attention in the first place.

EmailOctopus Homepage – clear messaging towards ease of use and fair pricing

EmailOctopus has only a tiny overlap in terms of features with Mailchimp.

But it has all the things we need:

  • Create lists
  • Custom Email Templates
  • Import contacts
  • Create sign up forms (and landing pages if you want)
  • Email reports
  • API key to connect 3rd party access
  • and more

That’s all we need for running the Creators of All Trades newsletter.

Things I thought could be better in EmailOctopus:

  • The email editor
  • Notifications for list updates

Notes on Migrating

Migrating contacts

Exporting from Mailchimp into a CSV file and importing it into EmailOctopus is easy. You can create your custom fields in EmailOctopus and match the fields of your imported file.

Building the template

Here is where you will find fewer features compared to Mailchimp. The option to set specific mobile styles in Mailchimp is something I missed.

I used the drag-and-drop editor in EmailOctopus to build the template. Adding sections and content elements, it’s all easy to learn.
When adding content, I missed a way to crop or resize images inside the editor.

Previewing the email

Mailchimp offers options to preview the email in specific email clients and also a preview with personalization. That is not supported in EmailOctopus.

Domain settings

You can connect and authenticate your domain by adding CNAME records.

First send & SPAM

Telling from open rates and click rates, our first email sent from EmailOcotpus did not go into spam folders. That is something we feared when migrating.

Reporting

Again, the reporting is more straightforward than Mailchimp, but you get all you need. Open Rates, Click Rates, and an activity log are nice to look at.

Support

I got stuck a few times during email template creation and emailed with support. Responses were always within hours and helpful.

Screenshots of EmailOctopus

Browse these screenshots to get a better feeling for the feature set of Mailchimp

Misc.

Downgrading to a free plan in Mailchimp

After I deleted all contacts and met all other criteria to downgrade to a free plan, Mailchimp still said I was above the contacts limit.

After reaching out to support, I learned that I have downgraded in the past, and it is only supported once. I found that strange. But support was offered to me as a “courtesy,” another downgrade to the free plan.

Two-factor authentication in EmailOctopus

EmailOctopus supports 2FA, but I noticed it does not generate backup codes or send SMS as a second option. So if your phone gets stolen or kaputt, you can’t log in another way. I found that strange and deactivated 2FA again.

About EmailOctopus

It’s a bootstrapped company, meaning it never took outside money to develop the product or scale the company. Being a cheaper alternative to established alternatives is a central point on their About page. As is “keeping it simple”.

That said, comparing Mailchimp and EmailOctopus is similar to comparing apples to oranges. The initial focus of Mailchimp wasn’t that different (and it was also a bootstrapped company) from EmailOctopus in its early years, but it changed a lot – and with it, it’s pricing.

Mailchimp website in 2005 – A clear focus on making sending emails easier

FYI: Our Old vs. new Email Template

With my team’s help during migration, I rebranded and repositioned the newsletter. It is now called the Creators of All Trades newsletter. Here is the old vs. new template in comparison.

Conclusion

If you are looking for a straightforward email newsletter solution, EmailOctopus is an excellent choice. The non-existent feature bloat leads to shorter editing times. The email editor is simple to learn; you might have to custom-code your template for advanced templates.

By now, I have created two email newsletters in EmailOctopus and a simple automation setup, I am not regretting the migration.

If you have any questions, let me know.

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