Email marketing: Beware of MailChimp, what happens when the monkey flings poo…

I make my living now via my websites. I am doing ok, I am far from being rich. In fact I am just making ends meet but things are looking up. But if you do any email marketing be careful of the service you use. Monkeys are well-known to fling some poo now and again.

Lets keep one thing clear, I use Mail Chimp and I love them. The interface it pretty, figuring things out as a newbie is painless and things were working fine for the last year and a bit. But in mid November I decided to update my autoresponder. Things went awesome. I went in, tweaked some things and sent the users to new URLs in the messages. I got rid of the old content at the previous URLs  (Read: made some dead links) to get rid of some junk copywriting and content. Finally crafted some killer copy and thought ‘Im just going to lay back and enjoy the new revenue this tweaked stream will bring me….’

So wait I did. and waited and waited…. nothing, crickets, but given it was so close to Thanks Giving and Christmas I thought that since what I market is 3D CAD tutorials or ‘work stuff’ that people are not motivated to buy that kind of thing during this time of year and write it off as a seasonal low. This turns out to be very very wrong…

Fast forward to January. I get an email from one of my sign-ups saying the links in the email don’t work… I check out the message he got and it was the old auto-responder from prior to the November change with the dead links! AGGGHHH!!!!  Wait what! I triple checked this. It was working, I sent out test emails and everything. It was supposed to be working.  I then immediately get on Mail Chimp and although I was fuming I would maintain composure and give them the facts. But first I needed to check if this was my fault. Here is a screen capture I did after I determined it was not my fault.

I got Christy on the Mail Chimp chat and we walked through everything. She was awesome and dealt with me patiently even though I was obviously perturbed. Great work Christy!  I was impressed at how politely you handled me and my problem. I know I was not in the best mood and you calmly helped me.

It was determined that:

it seems that the issue is related to something we’ve been seeing where campaign archives and previews were grabbing some old/cached content.

They even say that they will keep an eye on things here for me:

We definitely understand how frustrating this can be and they’ve already pushed through a fix to resolve these issues going forward, and will continue to monitor things to help ensure that things are going as expected.

Awesome! Great service, prompt and courteous…. So why am I still pissed off??? Well lets look at my revenue through the last year. Through this channel of sales I made 18K, divide that by 12 months and you get 1500 per month. Now This screw up lasted 3 months before one of my recipients decided that instead of trashing my ass out of their in-box that they would contact me and ask whats up. I really owe that guy and in the end gave him a free membership to my site in thanks… 3 MONTHS! that is 4500.00 in potential lost sales 45 freaking hundred dollars in lost sales! 4500! I could have bought two MacBook Pros for that!!!!

Deep breath Ben Deeeeeeep breath. I then write them and say that conservatively I would have made $2000 (Note I quoted less than half what the projected revenue would be). I also said I do not expect Mail Chimp to cover that but it would be nice if they made a peace-offering. The fact that I had to ask double pissed me off. If this was one of my customers I would have IMMEDIATELY offered a refund and or at least a year membership as an apology. But I digress they did pony up and offer something….

As a courtesy, I’ve gone ahead and credited the account with a free month, to thank you for your patience while we investigated this issue. Please don’t hesitate to let us know if you have further questions or issues.

Sound screeching tires sound bite… Wait…WHAT!!!! 

So let me get this straight. You admit this was your systems problem and you dealt with it promptly and nicely. I tell you I conservatively lost $2000 in sales because of this and you offer a free month… A FREE FREAKING MONTH! That is only worth $50.00 WTF Batman!!! That’s only 2.5% of what I lost. Did I mention that I am fairly new at this and although I make a living at this I am just scraping by. That $4500 is HUGE to me. That’s make it or break it money…It is a major hit to my bottom line. and all you can offer is 50 bucks?!?!?!? Really?

I feel an analogy coming on… You just get a new house and decide to put some new furniture in it. The couch is worth a few grand. You then decide to have a party and invite some friends over. One friend gets plastered and pukes on your couch and then passes out on it. When he gets up the zipper on his jacket gets jammed in the cushion and it rips the shit out of the couch ruining it. He then looks at you and shrugs as he is leaving your house. So even though you are pissed you politely ask him if he can help out in at least the cost of cleaning it. He then promptly digs into his pocket finds a fiver and some change tosses it at you and leaves…. Are you angry?

So lets take stock here. They have a great system. They have a great interface. Great service. But have a really really deluded idea of what is fair. They are great most of the time and moving my list would be a huge pain. But at the same time how much money am I going to lose because of them? Should I stay? What would you consider decent compensation for a folly like this? Funny thing is if they immediately without having me ask them for something in exchange in lost sales I bet a couple free months of the service would have been enough. No flaming blog post, no angry customer, likely have me say ‘they are great, they screwed up once but totally made up for it with service and compensated me for my losses’ and maybe gained a few customers. But the fact that I had to ask and them for compensation and then for them to offer something of so little value. DUDE did you not hear that you cost me upwards of $4500 in sales?!?!?!

Am I going to leave them? I don’t know what do you think? What would you consider fair compensation?

Note: If you use MailChimp make sure that the monkey does not toss some poo at you. Go check out your auto responders and make sure they are operating properly. Be careful and triple check your stuff and re-check it regularly otherwise you might end up losing thousands of dollars…