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May 29, 2023

Mailchimp exists to send emails

Despite lots of other things it can do, Mailchimp’s entire business model really rests on one thing – it’s ability to send emails.

As such, any activity which might impact that is likely to be viewed by Mailchimp as a bad thing and will cause it to protect itself strongly… which could mean bad things for you as a Mailchimp user if you ‘skate close to the edge’ and alert Omnivore…

How does Mailchimp protect itself?

Mailchimp has millions of email accounts and sends hundreds of millions of emails, so it can’t individually asses each email account and the actions it takes.

It does however use technology to assess each account and identify actions that could cause it a problem – i.e. impact it’s ability to send emails.

…and this technology has a name “Omnivore” (or as we like to call it, “Mailchimp PD”).

Omnivore is a constant monitor in the background and if it spots something that you do that it deems as “dangerous to Mailchimp”, it’ll step in and do something about it.

What qualifies as dangerous to Mailchimp?

Mailchimp’s ability to “hit the inbox” is down to how the emails it sends are viewed by the inbox providers (Gmail, Yahoo, corporate servers etc.).

These inbox providers are protective of their customers and as such want to ensure the emails that hit their customer’s inbox are “good” and not spam.

So they will look at activity that marks a sender as a spammer and mark the sender as bad.

…and so any activity which is deemed “spammy” is not good news for Mailchimp in it’s goal to get emails delivered.

The inbox providers know whether something is bad by looking at things like open rates, unsubscribes and complaints.

Any campaign that has too many of these is potentially spam – and so it’ll penalise the sender of those campaigns (ultimately Mailchimp) in the future.

Typically low open rates will just mean you’re less likely to get into the inbox… but unsubsribes and complaints are the type of thing that Omnivore is on the lookout for.

What are the consequences to your account?

Mailchimp PD will step in to protect Mailchimp when it sees something which isn’t good and will impact Mailchimp negatively – but there is a scale and the punishment is usually in line with the problem it spots.

There are 3 levels of “bad things” that can happen with corresponding penalties associated with them:

  1. Something bad has happened, but you may not be the one to blame!
    Omnivore spots something it doesn’t like in your account, but only gives you a warning to “do better” next time, which you must acknowledge.
    A one off campaign which generates a “higher than average unsubscribe rate” will likely trigger this warning.
  2. You’ve done something bad!
    Omnivore marks you down as a bad emailer and limits your ability to add new contacts to your database.
    This is usually caused by you importing contacts that Mailchimp sees as bad, or by ongoing issues with unsubscribes (This is why Mailchimp insists you have permission to email people before you add them to the system).
    The impact is that you’ll not be able to import any new contacts and must use a form with a Double Opt In.
  3. You’ve done something really bad!
    Omnivore has seen multiple issues and locks your account until you demonstrate you’ve not done anything wrong.
    This could be a very high complaint level on a campaign or consistent high unsubscribes.
    The only way to get around this is to demonstrate to Mailchimp they’ve got it wrong.

“I’m Innocent”

Omnivore is an automated system and occasionally gets something wrong – so if you are innocent and can explain to Mailchimp clearly why they are wrong, your account will be returned to it’s working status.

…but if you can’t demonstrate this, then chances are you may need to start another account or move to a new provider – because you have done something wrong.

Mailchimp PD does it’s job

Successful email marketing is all about positive ongoing relationships with good contacts.

It’s not sending spammy content to people who’ve not signed up for these emails.

Omnivore (Mailchimp PD) works quietly away in the background to stop those who’d choose to use Mailchimp in a bad way from continuing to send emails and impact all the other users of Mailchimp negatively.

Occasionally it gets a bit to zealous in it’s search for bad emailers, but ultimately, all good emailers should be happy Omnivore exists.

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Robin Adams

Robin Adams

Combine 50% marketer and 50% geek to get the perfect combination of marketing expertise and technical understanding. Marketing, MailChimp and how to get the most from email, Robin knows it all

The main man behind and the MailChimp Answers Facebook Group. What this man doesn't know about MailChimp...

Proficient in all things MailChimp, Marketing and Systems


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