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Mailchimp, from a newsletter tool to an ideal marketing solution for small businesses

Little by little, Mailchimp has upgraded marketing functionalities to its email service, which small businesses did not even dream of wanting and now can have with their newsletter partners. For SMB’s, Mailchimp could become a home run in terms of cost-effective benefits, and the agencies and clients are also looking forward to the changes that will greatly facilitate their work by automating basic administration for campaigns and reporting.

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Mailchimp is a well known company in the digital industry that has been on the email service market for 20 years, and a strong player at that. Today with more than 11 million active users and audiences of as much as 4 billion, Mailchimp goes a step further – becoming a unified marketing solution for tracking customer activity.

The new Mailchimp platform will include tracking and recording of user leads, social media management, automated campaigns, remarketing ads for Instagram and Facebook, BI supported by artificial intelligence, and among other, domain purchases and website development. Mailchimp has a considerable competition in the world of all-in-one marketing tools, but its advantage is in numbers associated with smaller businesses, and the SMB market is where Mailchimp directed almost all of its focus.

What the platform has to offer to end users and partners, and how a single company’s changes may impact current industry practices, we found out in a conversation with Krešimir Končić, CEO of Neuralab, who, as a Mailchimp partner, had an exclusive opportunity to learn more about the new features of the platform.


What does all-in-one Mailchimp bring us?

A shift from email and newsletter for Mailchimp is no surprise. For two years, Mailchimp invested gradually in new functionalities: from Facebook advertising, Google remarketing, landing pages, social networking, to CRM. Finally consolidating everything into a single functional solution in 2019.

One of the more interesting features of the new platform is tracking the user’s lifecycle, enabling the client to track all of the users’ connections to his business. In this respect, the majority of clients care most for complete integration with the eCommerce application and its user data, Krešimir explains.

Let’s say the user comes to the WooCommerce checkout and completes the order – all of the data, such as value of the shopping cart, product listings and discounts, will be found within Mailchimp, along with all digital campaigns data. The client then has a complete insight to eCommerce path of his user and knows what he is interested in. By doing so, the client can send the user campaigns and content directly based on user’s preferences. Such options were available before with various tools, but for the first time the client has an insight into exact data for a specific user and the nature of user contact with email campaigns, transactional emails, FB, IG or Google ads. Once one has an insight into the whole digital story, it is easier to grease the CX machine to work smoothly and assist the user.

Small businesses and users will surely benefit the most, and Mailchimp turns to them in the hope of being the first and best-buy solution for those who do not yet have their marketing tool, or that those who already use something bigger and more expensive will now have the option to switch to Mailchimp’s platform.

In addition, strong argument against using the competition such as Zoho Marketing, Marketo and Hubspot, certainly is the automation, which makes Neuralab and their clients particularly excited about, as it grows into a more powerful tool, Krešimir points out.

I see that both our clients and our production team are delighted with automation and a variety of “scripts” for robotic assistance in campaigns. For example, it is possible to send a series of 3 emails to a user if they left the eCommerce shopping cart, and, over the course of last year had accumulated over 3,750 HRK in orders (and are also from Osijek and had not yet clicked on Instagram ads). This is a noticeable trend in the industry that wants to spare developers the hassle of fiddling with digital marketing tools. Now, automation can be done by clients, marketing experts and teams directly involved with the content.

And automation is currently changing existing practices in the industry.

Tools that can be used by a client, designer, copywriter …

As a representative of Mailchimp’s partner, Krešimir attended a weekly workshop in Atlanta where Mailchimp representatives explained to their partners how they wanted to enable their own clients, i.e. web or eCommerce owners, to manage emails, automations, and various digital campaigns:

The idea is to reduce agency work on basic administration for campaigns and reporting. Everyone from the agency circles knows it’s tedious because clients generally have no time to deal with even the basic terms of use. But Mailchimp’s efforts are heading in the right direction because the tool must be clear to a designer, a marketing expert, and any non-developer who may work on digital campaigns.

If the success of Mailchimp’s automation depends on ease of use, Krešimir points out that Mailchimp could be on a safe ground there. Speaking from experience, he explains that entering the Mailchimp world is no feat, and that concept is known and recognizable from WordPress:

For example, when we sell a web project the least of our problems is explaining the benefits of Mailchimp and WordPress. But when we come to more complex and unknown tools with multiple features – extensive education and clarification for clients are needed.


Best-buy solution for small users?

While announcing this upgrade puts an emphasis on small businesses, they too will need to pay a few dollars extra for an all-in-one marketing solution if available free option is not enough. New packages have fewer numbers (contacts, etc.), which is understandable since they do include a number of new features. However, Mailchimp has announced that existing users who bought a particular package will retain the existing price and feature structure until further notice, and may upgrade from 15th of May to new packages at any time, if they wish to do so.

The new structure includes a free package of up to 2000 contacts, which should be enough for every startup or a steady business venturing to go online. It is a prerequisite that every business, in addition to that number of subscribers, should generate sufficient cash-flow to pay for modern tools. Mailchimp platform with all its tools and automation is the spine of online business and it makes no sense to be too frugal with it … Instead, skip one lunch at the restaurant and cook at home rather than saving those couple of hundred kunas for an enterprise grade tool (which at the same time saves hours in development and other work).

A $15 per month package has all the features that you might need for a more serious marketing platform and supports up to 100,000 subscribers. You shouldn’t save money on these things because it’s what generates income at the end of the day. The same applies to design, programming or copywriting services. You’re doing something wrong if you’re finding it to be too expensive. 🙂

Hubspot, Marketo, Zoho … Mailchimp?

When I ask Krešimir how he compares what he has seen and heard so far about MC’s upgrades to other all-in-one marketing platforms, he explains that it would be a futile comparison because this, for Mailchimp, is more of an upgrade to a huge base of users and functions:

This is a more a power-up for SMB users, that also strives to be useful to enterprise users one day. Mailchimp’s great advantage is that it is generally familiar to all clients, and its interface is top-notch.

In this context, Krešimir sees Mailchimp’s incomplete integration with the Google Ads platform and the inability to connect to 3rd party ad servers (or perhaps the ad servers controlled by the client) as a more significant challenge in competing with others, but he points out that this is more of an enterprise-level upgrade, which will, he assumes, come later on.


A useful add-on for existing tools for bigger users

More experienced and bigger clients must have surely found their marketing haven in one of the well-known all-in-one platforms. But if it occurs to them that Mailchimp is an interesting add-on or a more cost-effective option in regards to their needs, I asked Krešimir what are some of the “painless” options for switching to Mailchimp?

Mailchimp supports full integration via REST API and there is an option to integrate Malichimp into the existing workflow (using only some of the MC service modules). I think most of the big organizations will go in that direction. Of course, MC has a simple set of options for importing users, so it’s no problem relocating all user data (including custom data) to MC. Neuralab team has once switched 150,000 users in a matter of a few hours.

Technically, Mailchimp supports up to 50 custom fields for each user, so if you have a lot of linked data in Hubspot, it should be easy to switch them to the Mailchimp lists, Krešimir adds. But it is important to point out that Mailchimp is not a complete substitute for Hubspot, Market or Zoho Marketing Hub, Krešimir concludes:

Each tool has its own specifics that the client will have to use, and something each business needs to decide is whether to shut down other tools or synchronize them wisely. We see that developers are spending more and more time on interesting projects where two or more IT systems need to communicate and share information unhindered. Neuralab is currently on the lookout for new developers for such and similar projects.

In conclusion, Krešimir’s predictions for Mailchimp?

Mailchimp has shown that they are listening to the community, users and their partner agencies. Personally, I am kind of happy to see that they are in a way copying ‘the WordPress Way’, and are decentralizing their efforts around the entire digital ecosystem. This was also noticeable in the last “quarrel” with Shopify platform from March 2019.

The will and effort they have demonstrated in the development of the new platform, and even the very act of calling twenty partner agencies to Atlanta to work together on the new marketing hub, are impressive. Obviously, this is an important matter for the entire web industry, but I do think they will need to take care of some of the basics such as enabling email campaigns testing, creating a more complex design and copywriting statements, and boosting integration with the Google Ads platform. I anticipate they will be developing new functions that will come closer to enterprise functionalities like granular user privacy management, more generous API, and full support 24/7 (across all channels). Fun fact: MC has just recently made phone support available for its most expensive packages.

Author: ANA MARIJA KOSTANIĆ, Netokracija
Original article available here in Croatian.

Svjetlana Fučić
Svjetlana Fučić Product Manager

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