MailChimp is by far the ESP with the most personality, which is why I can’t help but mention it in list of favorites. Visit their site and you’ll see what I mean. But aside from that it has some pretty fantastic features you won’t find elsewhere. Use MailChimp if:

  • You want to send your emails out WITHOUT their logo on it. MailChimp doesn’t require you to attach their logo to your outgoing emails — so you can pretend you’re doing all this impressive HTML email sending without help from any 3rd party provider.
  • You think you can refer enough friends and associates to significantly decrease your email marketing costs. MailChimp may not require you to put their logo on your emails but if you DO, and someone clicks on it and signs up for their service, you get $30 credited to your account. (Incidentally the person you referred - the clicker - ALSO gets $30, which is pretty cool.)
  • You want to do split testing to see, for example, which subject line works better. MailChimp has a new A/B split testing feature, which you can use to run quick, automatic A/B tests with every single email you send. No need to setup randomized segments, send multiple campaigns, and constantly analyze piles of campaign data. They do it all for you. You just click the "A/B" button, specify a few criteria, and their patent-pending A/B tester handles the rest—automatically.

What I like about it: As I mentioned earlier, aside from all the great features, they also have personality! After going through all the boring corporate-type websites I have to visit each day, is like a breath of fresh air. All their web copy, including the articles in a truly fantastic resource center, is infused with wit and an often irreverent tone I find totally refreshing. (For example, they have an article entitled "Stupid HTML Email Design Mistakes (Seriously, You Should Know Better"). They also have an excellent 65-page Email Marketing Guide you can download for free at their site.

What I don’t like about it: They have 4 basic HTML templates you can customize, and though the customization wizard is cute and easy to use, there are no "ready-made" templates available that you can just tweak a little bit. You can upload your own template, but can only edit code (no WSIWYG editor). So the email creation process takes a bit longer.

Pricing: MailChimp has 2 pricing plans (which is also pretty cool). One plan is for frequent senders, based on number of subscribers. This starts at $15 for 0-500 contacts. The other plan is a prepaid "Pay-As-You-Go" plan on a per-credit basis, starting at $15 for 500 email credits (good for sending to 500 subscribers).

Free Trial Details: Email up to 100 contacts Free for 30 days

So there you have it! As I mentioned at the beginning of the rundown, all of the ESP’s in my favorites list are cheap, have excellent delivery rates, and offer all the tools you need to create, send and track your emails - so in the end the choice really boils down to what suits your particular needs and requirements.

My suggestion? Try them all out, and see which is the best fit for your personal preferences.

Good luck, and happy ESP-shopping!