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At Mailchimp, Holistic Marketing Tools Designed to Scale SMEs

CMO Michelle Taite discusses how email marketing is changing and how Mailchimp is evolving beyond email platform into an all-in-one marketing service with data-backed automations, AI tools and analytics.
Three employees sat at their desks in the office, with Mailchimp technology on a computer screen
Employees using Mailchimp technology at work (MAXIM PHOTO STUDIO)
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Marketing can present an intimidating challenge for emerging, independent businesses. A rapidly evolving industry, it is heavily influenced by tech giants and consumer trends, with constant launches and updates prompting regular shifts in key marketing metrics and commercial goalposts. As a result, marketers must constantly adapt — and at speed.

Originally designed in 2001 as an alternative to oversized, often expensive email software, Mailchimp has evolved into an all-in-one marketing platform for small businesses. Today, it provides marketing and commerce tools, A/B testing, website building and hosting products, content support, case studies and more to its 12 million active user-base across 190 countries.

In the last few years, Mailchimp has focused on launching new channels and functionalities from social posting digital ads and a marketing CRM to shoppable landing pages and advanced automations, to extend their benefits and impact beyond email marketing. With its AI and data collection, the platform offers built-in analytics so its users can generate in-depth insights about their audience.

Now, BoF sits down with Mailchimp’s chief marketing officer, Michelle Taite, responsible for the business’ end-to-end brand, acquisition, performance, product and lifecycle marketing activities globally. She shares how Mailchimp continues to empower their community of SMEs, to support their creative output, and help businesses to move from start-up to scale-up.

Mailchimp Chief Marketing Officer, Michelle Taite.

How have email marketing practices shifted in recent years?

Email is still one of the top three tools to drive growth across businesses, big and small, and a lot of the same principles stay true for email, but the environment, customer behaviour and tech is evolving constantly.

Customers are engaging in a tonne of different channels, and sometimes they are engaging with them all at once, sometimes separately. They expect more out of brands and out of one connection at any point in time, whether that is through personalisation or the type of messaging that they receive in an email.

As a result, brands have to create compelling connections, which is ultimately what drives engagement and, subsequently, action.

What initial marketing challenges do early-stage companies face?

The challenge is pretty universal, whether you are starting out or growing a business — it’s about connecting with customers. Connection drives interest and loyalty, referrals and a lasting brand relationship, so cultivating connection is key to growth. Brands and businesses must create a brand voice that is different and credible, that speaks to their owners’ values. That is what makes the connection real.

Wherever you are in your business journey, creating momentum and growing is hard. At Mailchimp, we help you do that by providing data-backed tools and insights through our platform to create that momentum, with the intention to be smarter, faster and more creative at driving that customer connection.

How should SME marketing practices evolve as they scale-up?

Companies don’t often think about the data advantage that they have as they scale up. You get more customers, and more customers means more data. A huge component of growing a business is working off of the insights that this data provides, so as companies scale with us, we are able to offer them more advanced reporting and more advanced insights on the data that they bring in.

Companies don’t often think about the data advantage that they have as they scale up. You get more customers, and more customers means more data.

My favourite example of how Mailchimp helped a company move from start-up to scale-up is [the organic Californian farm] Dirty Girl Produce. They started using our customer journey builder during a pivotal time for the business when their owner expanded his farm from 3 to 40 acres and wanted to boost sales. He created an automated journey that re-engaged these customers after 30 and then 60 days, to bring them back to the website.

He saw a 35 percent boost in his revenue after just a week of running this campaign. That’s not vastly different from what we see with the rest of our customers — when they use our customer journey boundaries, they typically see 4x more orders and revenue.

What analytics do you offer your users to create competitive advantage?

Our analytics are fuelled by data from Mailchimp’s 12 million customers across over 190 countries, which allows us to keep our ear to the ground in terms of what our customers need, and then provide and develop tools that better serve them. It’s about multiplying the insights that you have with the power of billions of our data points. We can also include learnings from platforms like Salesforce, or any of the other larger scope integrations.

We send over 500 million emails a day — billions of emails a week — so we are able to advance our artificial intelligence and machine learning platforms quickly. We’ll use that to take the guesswork out of marketing, so we can make recommendations on: what an engaging email for your brand looks; how it could read and feel; what the next best action for your customers could be, or the best subject line to focus on; what the right formatting is.

We send over 500 million emails a day — billions of emails a week — so we are able to advance our artificial intelligence and machine learning platforms quickly.

We can also assist with design recommendations to improve your performance with best practices across industries, by comparing your emails in real-time to other top performing emails in your industry.

How does Mailchimp help partners drive connections offline?

Mailchimp is about levelling the small business playing field, and we want to show marketers and SMEs the cultural space they are in, to help them disrupt it. As an example, we are partnering with the Black in Fashion Council at New York Fashion Week this season to support the showcase of five emerging designers that might not have otherwise had the opportunity to reach a bigger audience.

We know that, for emerging designers or small businesses in the fashion industry, growing a business is difficult and it is easy to get stuck. So, we figured the best way for us to support them is to give them a boost or some momentum to get into New York Fashion Week. The designers will then sell limited edition collections of ready-to-wear pieces, available in Spring Studios in New York City and online.

What makes Mailchimp’s approach different?

As a company that specialises in helping people build their brands and businesses, we aim to lead by example. In the last 20 years, our founders Ben [Chestnut] and Dan [Kurzius] have established what is a rebellious and fiercely individualistic brand. We hold ourselves to a high bar because we want to set an example for how to create connection with our own customers.

We also aim to be creative around where we meet our customers, whether that is through a film from Mailchimp studios or our editorial output via Courier in the UK. We also have a podcast, educational materials to help you understand all of our tools and tech, data analytics and hands-on assistance from our customer success teams. We want to be a partner along the journey, to help propel our partners forward.

What is the mid to long-term strategic focus for Mailchimp?

For Mailchimp next year, the focus is two-fold. First is to continue to create a connected journey for our customers by bettering the interactions that our customers have with us, our content, educational materials and tools. We have invested a lot in our own creative teams and branded our in-house team of 40 multi-disciplinary creatives, who are creating everything from advertising campaigns to websites to content that you see across our different platforms.

Second, we have an immense opportunity to continue to grow globally. We’re in 190 countries at present and we are looking to amplify the work that we have done, not only in English-speaking countries, but across the world.

Our recent acquisition by Intuit has given us a tonne more investment and that helps us execute our vision to empower the underdog. So, when we take our platform and tools, powered by fintech, we have an amazing machine that helps us become the centre of small business growth.

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