Mailchimp vs Email Octopus - my review!

I've recently moved my No CS Degree newsletter from Mailchimp to Email Octopus. I compare them and show how to get the best of both worlds!

I also made a huge thread about this on Twitter

Pros of Mailchimp

  • Lots of features
    I only scraped the surface but you can make one page sites just to host your sign-up form which are good for getting signups.

  • Good reputation for deliverability
    They are number 1 for a reason after all.

  • Good community of users
    As they are the biggest email sender there are lots of customers out there in Twitter and on forms to help you. Also , lots of tutorials.

  • Cheap to start off with
    You get 2,000 contacts for free. This is why it get's so many customers. For lots of people, this will last for a while.

Cons of Mailchimp

  • The price gets steep once you run out of the free plan of 2,000 subs

2,500 costs you $30

5,000 costs you $50

10,000 costs you $75

  • The UI is really, really bad!
    There is so much menu diving.

I remember how to get to different places though muscle memory. The layout is really unintuitive.

Let's see how to find pop-ups and edit them.

You might imagine there is a pop-up page? No chance.

You have to go do the following:

  • Go to Audience
  • Select Manage Audience from a drop-down menu
  • Select Signup Forms
  • And then finally go to Subscriber Pop Up.
    screenshot from mailchimp

This is just one example. There are lots of other features that are a pain to get to.

  • The landing page doesn't have social share images
    This means when you share it on Twitter there is no nice image. It looks really horrible. There's just a grey box. Instead you should make a landing page with Carrd which has automatic social image when sharing.

  • Mailchimp charges for contacts that are unsubscribed!
    So if you are facing your first Mailchimp bill check one thing: the company counts people who have unsubscribed as contacts. These contact are what your bill is based one along with your actual subscribers!

Some months I was just over the 2,000 contacts limit so I paid about $30.

BUT if I had known unsubscribed people were part of the contacts list I could have avoided going over the free limit by deleting these contacts from my list.

So be sure to regularly archive unsubscribed contacts so they don't go towards your bill!

  • Mailchimp only let's you downgrade your paid plan once!
    Yep, if your subscriber count changes or if you just maybe want to downgrade you can only do so once. It just seems pretty hostile. I've never heard of another subscription like this. Imagine paying for the highest quality Netflix account and then being told you can only downgrade to basic once. It's pretty messed up.

Pros of Email Octopus

  • Much cheaper than Mailchimp
    2,500 subscribers = free

5,000 subscribers = $20

10,000 subscribers = $30

  • Great customer support
    I was able to get help from the founder when I was getting set up.

My emails and tweets were answered really quickly

I hadn't set up my domain properly when I joined - if you don't do that your email deliverability will suffer so remember to do that.

  • Much simpler layout
    Navigation is far simpler than Mailchimp

Also, Email Octopus isn't packed with features which can be a good thing as it's easy to find your way around

Cons of Email Octopus

  • No built-in pop-ups
    Lots of people do pop-ups wrong

Put them as exit pop-ups.

That way it's not something that pops up immediately.

Most people ignore these.

Have your pop-ups appear when the user is about to leave the site.

About 33% of my sign ups come from exit pop ups.

BUT, Email Octopus doesn't offer pop-ups

Instead it offers an integration with about product, Poptin

Poptin costs $49/m.

Sorry, but that's an awful lot for a pop up!


I made a super smart solution to get a pop up working in Email Octopus for free!

  • Back up your Mailchimp subscribers to a csv and store that somewhere secure
  • Delete all your Mailchimp subscribers
  • You now have an empty Mailchimp account so downgrade to free membership if you haven't already. If you have already downgraded once they'll offer you two free months if you stay. That's what I did as a temporary fix.
  • Go to Zapier and make a zap
  • Your Zap will use Mailchimp in step 1 to collect email addresses from your Mailchimp pop-up
  • Step 2 will send these subscribers to Email Octopus!
    So this way what happens is
  1. Person goes on No CS Degree

  2. When they leave there is an exit pop-up

  3. They sign up to my awesome newsletter and their information goes to Mailchimp like normal

  4. But now Zapier finds their email address and sends it over to Email Octopus

  5. Bam! I now have a new subscribers in my Email Octopus account ready for my next super duper newsletter

You just have to keep an eye on Zapier so everything keeps connecting.


My recommendation is to go with Email Octopus.

It's a lot simpler to use and a lot cheaper!

You can make a cool sign up page using Carrd and that has a nice social image share when you put it on twitter

I'd have a Mailchimp account just for the pop-up feature.

Then connect with Zapier like I outlined.

  1. 7

    Haha. Nice review Pete. Cool pop-up workaround.

    Long live Team Octopus!

  2. 4

    I switched from Mailchimp to EmailOctopus after hearing their IndieHackers episode, but ended up switching back to MC because EO didn't offer tagging or segmentation. But now I just noticed EO added segmentation last month so maybe I'll switch back to EO again lol. What a rollercoaster 🎢

    1. 1

      haha, what a journey!

  3. 4

    +1 for EmailOctopus.

    I tried them out for a while when I was approaching my MailChimp free tier limit. They were the best I tried.

    • Nice, simple API
    • Customer support was quick and responsive, directly from the founder

    The one big missing feature was tags. They don't allow users to assign tags to contacts, and that's something I need. They said they're hoping to add it by end of 2020, so I'll revisit it if that feature becomes available.

    One service I recommend avoiding is BigMailer. They have one of the worst APIs I've ever seen, and they're missing almost every feature you'd expect of an email service.

  4. 3

    Great content, Peter! I can´t agree more on the "The UI is really, really bad!". I don´t know how many times I cursed their designer when suffering through their menu system just to change a word or a date.

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