In this post, I discuss why my MailChimp account was terminated. And what I did about it.
Why was it banned?
Apparently the emails I've been sending are in violation of their Acceptable Use policy.
What it boils down to is that this site, nichefacts.com, which is technically in the notorious 'make money online' space, had autoresponder emails that contained keywords that presumably triggered an automated review/suspension of my account.
Below, I'll discuss the email I received, how I responded, and what you should do if your account is banned by MailChimp.
*Update: I have switched to ConvertKit and I'm happy so far. What I like best about it is the minimalist, modern design and its intuitiveness.
The Termination Email
This is the email I received:
MailChimp is not able to serve as the email provider for your account with the username [redacted], because the content associated with your industry conflicts with our Acceptable Use Policy (mailchimp.com/legal/acceptable_use) or presents a significant risk to our deliverability.
Though we don't judge anyone's content or industry, there are strict anti-spam and ISP rules that we must comply with in order to maintain the best possible sending reputation.
These filters are sensitive to certain keywords, and some industries tend to generate greater-than-average complaint rates with their emails.
When I first received the email I thought that it was some sort of glitch on their end- but after replying back, it became apparent that the account was terminated and there was nothing I could do about it.
Their account suspension page essentially reaffirmed the email's vague wording:
If you tried to log in to MailChimp, but got an Account Suspended message, our abuse-prevention system or human review team likely noticed something about your account or last email campaign that raised a red flag.
The Offending Email
Given the limited amount of email I send, I think it was this email that triggered the violation:
If you're looking to earn affiliate commissions on high-ticket items, my post on gym-equipment is a goldmine.
This is a great SEO play- if you focus on publishing long-form, high-quality, product reviews on items like elliptical machines and weight benches, you can begin tallying affiliate commissions on items that cost hundreds and even thousands of dollars with Amazon Associates, Walmart, Jet and other fitness-equipment retailers.
Let's run the numbers...
Take elliptical machines, for example- a 201,000/monthly search term.
A quick scan of some eCommerce sites shows me that an elliptical trainer ranges in price between $500 and $3,000 on average.
Some of these elliptical machines are in the Amazon.com Sports & Outdoor category, which earns you a 4% commission from Amazon if you're an affiliate. That means for every elliptical you can get someone to order, the average commission you earn will be between $20 - $120.
Imagine the average commission is $70. If you're able to get 3 elliptical orders a day, you'd be making $210 a day on average.
That's $76,650 in a year.
I Already Did The Keyword Research For You
Check out this keyword research table for gym equipment- it lists out ALL the gym equipment keywords I could find. Scroll through these gym equipment niches. I hope they provide you some inspiration.
As always, if you have any questions, just respond to this email!
As you can see, while the email contains certain keywords like "cash" and $ signs, it's not spam.
It walks the recipient through the math of making a sustainable living from affiliate commissions.
If you're like me, your Spam folder is chock full of obscene and unsolicited emails from suspect senders- and apparently I was now lumped in with this crowd.
That said, I do understand that they probably have hundreds of thousands of users sending millions of emails. Their brand reputation and email deliverability essentially depends on the quality of the emails their users are sending.
If Google, for example, begins spam-filtering MailChimp-sent emails because it offends Gmail's standards, that will dramatically hurt their bottom line. I am somewhat sympathetic to that issue. Regardless, from my end, the user experience in this case was awful.
What Recourse Do You Have?
There is no phone support- so if you're suspended there's no one you can speak with. At least in my case.
I pasted in the content of the 'offending' email to support to demonstrate its legitimacy.
Obviously, I'm not some 'sexual health spammer' blasting my subscribers with erectile enhancement offers.
Their support was completely unhelpful- there was no wriggle room. And, honestly, it's not like I would have continued using MailChimp even if they had given me a 'reprieve'.
This sort of automated termination is a real red flag- I would never have felt comfortable building my online business on the back of a platform that is so cavalier with account suspension.
What I Did
I asked for a 3 month refund for the inconvenience. They accepted and provided the refund once I deleted my account.
I'm now in the process of evaluating autoresponder alternatives. I also took the time to post my experience on some blogs that evaluate autoresponder services.
It's important that this issue receives some exposure- especially if you think the content of your emails might be mistaken for spam.
I'm currently in the market for a new email provider. At the end of the day, MailChimp did have limited functionality.
For example, if you want to merge 2 lists, their support had a convoluted workaround. So if you have an opt-in that you just want to send 3 emails to as part of a funnel, and then merge it with you primary followup sequence- it isn't easy to do.
But, I've found it difficult so far to find an honest appraisal of autoresponders because every review I've seen is an affiliate review. I'm considering ConvertKit, but have seen some negative reviews.
You really don't want to have to migrate from email providers- it's a considerable hassle.
Anyway, what to do if MailChimp suspends or terminates your account...
- Figure out if you can recover AND whether you even want to.
- Ask for money back for the inconvenience.
- Find an alternative provider.
When you source an alternative provider, you'll want to do some due diligence ahead of time.
For example, if MailChimp bans you because you used keywords they don't like, you'll want to make sure the new provider doesn't have a similar policy.
That's something I'm definitely going to be asking about ahead of time. As well, this termination gives me a reason to up my list-building strategy.
Now I'm actually forced to switch email providers and implement a more powerful strategy using a more robust software solution. That's the silver lining in all of this.
If you've been banned by MailChimp, let me know in the Comments section below.