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We ran a Facebook Ad through MailChimp… here’s what happened

If you’ve ever run an ad through Facebook’s Ads Manager, it’s likely that you’ve run into a few hiccups along the way. MailChimp’s recent integration with Facebook might be a response to this, or at least we’d like to think so.

MailChimp now allows their users to run Facebook Ad Campaigns directly through the MailChimp platform. At first glance, we didn’t quite see how this was different from the traditional Ads Manager approach; but after running a Campaign, we found some key differences between MailChimp’s approach and Facebook’s.

If you’re thinking about trying out MailChimp’s new ads feature, here’s what to expect.

Getting Started

You’ll start your ad campaign just like how you’d start a newsletter in MailChimp — under ‘Campaigns’. Then select Facebook Ad in the drop down menu, and select the Facebook account you’d like to run the ad through.

Your Facebook account should already be connected to your MailChimp account if you’ve opted to have social sharing or auto-tweets of your newsletters in the past. Be sure to integrate your MailChimp account with your Facebook account here if you haven’t already done so.


As long as you have a MailChimp list that is more than 100 contacts, you can specifically target current supporters. You can also select a target audience “blindly” — similar to how you would on Facebook Ads Manager.

Contacts on a list: Use this option if you have a specific message or product you’d like to share with an existing MailChimp list.

People similar to your list: Use this list if you’d like your message to be seen by people similar to a list that already exists in your MailChimp account. For example, if you have a list of nonprofit Executive Directors in California but want to serve an ad to any nonprofit Executive Director, you’d select this option.

People with interests: Use this if you have a specific community in mind that you might not already have access to in your MailChimp lists. This option is similar to the backend of Facebook Ads Manager in how it allows you to target audience members based on age, location, interests and other demographics.

Budget + Content Creation

MailChimp only has ‘Lifetime Budget’ as an option — ‘Daily Budget’ is not available at this time. We usually run ‘Lifetime Budget’ ads anyways, so this wasn’t a roadblock for us.

Creating content for your ad is a breeze. Select your image (or images if you’d like to run a Carousel Ad**), insert your destination URL, add a headline and description, then submit. You’re done!

You can even browse their suite of gifs and use a gif as your ad creative.

As you can tell, MailChimp’s user experience is a lot more self-explanatory than Facebook’s. However, they eliminate most of the Ad Objectives, leaving you with a combination of Engagement and Traffic Ad Objectives. It’s also unclear which of these two objectives MailChimp ads optimize for — we’re interested to see how they expand on the feature in the future.

What We Liked…

What’s great about MailChimp Facebook ads is that if you are an admin to a bunch of different Facebook pages, you can run an ad to any audience in your MailChimp account without having to upload them to the backend of Facebook Audiences and access them there. This is great for social media managers who control Facebook pages that might share similar audiences or target demographics. You can even serve an ad to users who have unsubscribed from a list of yours!

All ads created through MailChimp optimize for Clicks to a website. This is good if you intend to create Traffic Objective ads (send users to a 3rd party site) but is limiting if you’d like to use more complex ad objectives like Lead Generation or Conversion. Facebook Ads Manager has MailChimp beat on the more complex Ad Objectives.

Another plus: because you are creating the ad directly on their platform, any pictures you’ve used in newsletters or MailChimp campaigns in the past are already there for you to use in your Facebook ad— you can now cross pollinate with graphics and content you’ve used in previous MailChimp campaigns. Everything operates as smoothly as it would if you were building a newsletter campaign.

What We Didn’t Like….

One thing to note: MailChimp does not allow the creation of Canvas, Video or Slideshow ads.

Ads created in MailChimp also don’t transfer to your Ads Manager, which means you won’t see reporting on the ads in realtime. MailChimp ads are housed under ‘Campaigns’ in your MailChimp account and nowhere else since MailChimp doesn’t have the ability to access dynamic Ad Accounts on Facebook. You’ll see reporting on your ad the same way you view reporting on newsletter campaigns in MailChimp.

There’s a little bit of lag time between what is reported on MailChimp vs. what is shown on the ad in rotation.

At the same time MailChimp said our ad had been served to 75 people, Facebook said it was served to almost 2000.

The Long and Short of It

All in all, our ad was set up in minutes, ran for 5 days with a relatively small budget, and still managed to reach over 9,000 people.

MailChimp’s integration is a simplified, user-friendly version of the Facebook Ads Manager.

In the end, our ad is not going to reach more people simply because you used MailChimp instead of Facebook. However, if you’re better suited to target a specific ad to an audience that is most likely to engage with your ad, you will have higher engagement on that ad. Using MailChimp’s new integration makes it easier to create an ad and target specific people you already have in your MailChimp lists and users who have similar characteristics.

If you are already well versed in how Facebook Ads Manager and Audience Insights work, then MailChimp’s integration might be more complicated to try and adopt — more places for ads reporting = more mess.

If you’re struggling to operate within Facebook Ads Manager, would like to save time in setting up ads, and want a user interface that’s easier to manage, MailChimp’s new Facebook Ads integration is for you.

We assume MailChimp will incorporate the more complex settings of ad types and objectives that Facebook hosts in the future, but for now, they’re off to a good start.

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