Mailchimp, the integrated marketing platform explicitly aimed at small businesses, today announced the release of Smart Platform, featuring a set of enhancements reflecting an investment in data science and AI.
New tools include Creative Assistant to automate content creation; dynamic recommendations—including personalized product recommendations—based on customer performance data, as well as global industry trends; and a new customer journey builder.
Enterprise level. Mailchimp describes the new release as “nothing short of enterprise level marketing automation.” We asked Chief Product Officer John Foreman whether Mailchimp customers had reached a stage of digital maturity which would allow them to drive value from these kinds of tools.
“You would think small business would mean small amounts of data and low marketing sophistication,” said Foreman, “but that’s really evolved as more and more business owners grew up as digital natives. They’ve got digital marketing in their blood. Small businesses are now run digitally, and because of that they generate a ton of data.”
Foreman has also observed an increased respect for branding and brand presence, usually associated with larger companies. “Bring these three things together—sophisticated marketing needs, more data, and a respect for brand consistency across channels—and suddenly the desire is there for enterprise level marketing capabilities.”
The critical difference between Mailchimp’s offering, and offerings geared to the enterprise, lies not in power, but in the user experience, said Foreman. The small business owner needs to be able to use it.
Mailchimp integrates with eCommerce solutions such as Magento and Shopify, as well as website tools like WordPress. It also syncs with integration aggregators like Zapier, and has an open API.
Digital presence. With a digital presence now all but mandatory for businesses, we asked Foreman if Mailchimp was meeting customers at a very early stage of their digital journey. “Due to COVID, we’ve had increasing numbers of businesses coming to us saying, ‘I’m brick and mortar, I haven’t really been online and I need to get online right away.’ In April we saw a massive jump in domain sales and website publications. We saw a 50% decrease in time to publish a website.”
Mailchimp clients also sent very large quantities of email and surveys to find out what their customers needed and expected from a digital relationship.
Outgrowing Mailchimp? Is there a concern that what are now small businesses will outgrow Mailchimp’s offering if and when they themselves grow?
“It’s a fact of life that, if a business really takes off, they might have to transition to something more sophisticated, based on the size of their marketing team for instance. That’s fine. What we’ve said on product and engineering is that the reason you might leave Mailchimp should never be that, from a technical perspective, Mailchimp can’t handle what I want to do. We should be able to handle those enterprise needs.”
Why we care. Digital sophistication, even at the SMB level, is only going to accelerate over the coming months; and there’s a growing recognition that those businesses won’t settle for primitive digital tools.