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What MailChimp Users Should Know About

3 min read

Are you a Mailchimp user? Are you a small business utilising their free plan?

If you answered YES to these questions, then read on, as this latest update may impact you:

MailChimp updated their Standard Terms of Use

Many small businesses enjoy the opportunity to utilise free systems offerings, at least until their business expands enough to justify the spend. MailChimp is one of the businesses that offer free plans with user-friendly functionality and truly allows a small business to prosper.

It is important to note that Mailchimp updated their Standard Terms of Use (TOU) on May 15, 2019. The changes affect two primary areas:


They introduced a new pricing model for new paid users, as well as current paid users who choose to switch to one of their new paid plan offerings. free plans also are impacted.

The changes include:

  • You can now choose your preferred package, based on the feature set that works best for you. Sounds awesome! Then, you’ll choose your projected audience to create your full pricing plan. Under this new pricing model, your account will no longer auto-adjust to a higher or lower paid tier based on use.
  • Your Audience will be the contacts that you engage through your service for purposes of your Monthly Plan or Free Plan

But what does audience ‘engagement’ mean?

Subscribed, unsubscribed, and transactional (or e-commerce) contacts count towards your audience

Cleaned, pending, reconfirmed, deleted, and archived contacts do not count towards your audience

So here is the WATCHOUT – In their TOU, Mailchimp state that you may elect to archive contacts at any time, but any profile changes for an archived contact (whether initiated by you, the contact, or an integration) will automatically unarchive that contact.

Why is this a big deal?

If a contact is unarchived, it will immediately count towards your audience for your current billing cycle and any future billing cycles unless and until archived again.

But wait there is more

If you are a current Free user

You can remain a free user so long as you have 2,000 or fewer contacts in your audience, and you’ll now have the new free plan features. Great! If the new way of counting contacts caused your audience to exceed 2,000 contacts before June 15, 2019, Mailchimp would have automatically archived your unsubscribed and transactional contacts.

BUT – As it is after June 15, Mailchimp began calculating your audience as described above. This is ok as you can manually archive contacts to keep your audience under 2,000 contacts.

However, If you go over the limits for the Free Plan more than once, you’ll no longer qualify for the Free Plan, (even if your future sending volume and audience numbers are within the limits of the Free Plan). THIS MEANS you will need to move to a monthly paid plan.


The second change worth a brief mention is a convenient update for those with clients in Europe. Previously, Mailchimp users subject to the GDPR had to sign and submit an agreement. Now, the DPA is automatically incorporated into their TOU.


In light of these changes, it might be worth implementing the following:

  1. Free Mailchimp users need to be vigilant to review and filter their contact lists – now called ‘audiences’. Ensure that your ideal audience is on the list, but make sure you remove the spammers and riff-raff as they may end up costing you.
  2. Set up a regular review of your audience/ contacts to remain safely below the 2000 limit, especially after an offer where the intake will increase suddenly.

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