Already the world’s most popular email service provider, MailChimp continue to expand their digital marketing tools. Their thriving ecommerce solutions division has helped the company grow at a staggering rate, from $280 million in 2015 to $400 million in 2016.
What’s driving this growth? The reason MailChimp features in the technology stack of some 2.4 million companies comes from making things really simple for users:
“For small businesses that don’t have a technology team, data is really hard to wrangle,” says co-founder and CEO Ben Chestnut. “We’re watching it, collecting it, and making sure it’s paying off.”
MailChimp’s success is part of a wider trends where in an increasingly complex world we are seeing that intuitive product design, low cost entry-point, and easy integration with a range of other platforms is often proving the deciding factor when marketers are choosing marketing tech.
Yet don’t let the furry face fool you. MailChimp have some serious brain power and are aggressively pushing our more and more high-powered features, including:
A/B/C/D/E/F testing features allows users to evaluate a variety of email components—from subject lines to send time—in a single test. MailChimp report that customers who use either the service or their standard A/B tests see, on average, a 20% boost in revenue.
Abandon cart tool which gently reminds users about items in their basket. Given that as much as 69% of online shoppers walk away from checkout without making a purchase, this is a key area. MailChimp report that this functionality has helped sellers to see an average increase of $610 monthly sales.
Product recommendations that uses a customer’s purchase history and predictive data to suggest other products he or she may want from a company’s store. Revenue from campaigns using it jumped an average of 31%.
Automated workflows that offers some marketing automation features at a low price point.
MailChimp came 6th in the “Most Loved Marketing Technologies” in our 2015 Marketing Technology Report, scoring 7.7 out of 10. From the 1,001 user reviews collected, certain comments jumped out about MailChimp:
“Really great applications with user-friendly templates.”
“Cheap and effective.”
However, when a business gets to a certain size and has requirements to integrate with other platforms, users are finding they need to move away from MailChimp to more scalable email platforms to enable sufficient customer retention:
“MailChimp is great and free to start with, but once things get bigger, then sometimes other platforms are better to use cost-wise.”
“As the number of emails increases, it is becoming less capable to meet our needs.”
TrustRadius sees MailChimp score highly with an 8.0 out of 10.
Bob Thompson, President and CEO at CustomerThink Corp., summarises that MailChimp is “very affordable. Especially considering the functionality, a great deal.” He adds that “ease of use has also been helpful. My staff can use MailChimp with very little training.” He, and others, warn of MailChimp’s hardline on suspected spam:
“MailChimp takes a very hard line on spam complaints. This is generally good because it ensures a ‘clean’ signup process, but opt-in subscribers sometimes forget they signed up and complain anyway. If this surpasses a threshold (fairly low, in my opinion) you could end up with your account suspended until you explain what happened. While I understand the need to enforce quality, this is a draconian approach that puts my business at risk.”
Sherri Kesinger, Principal at Interactive Savvy, echoes this:
“…with an older list, MailChimp can get touchy about higher than normal bounce rates. If your bounce rate is too high, MailChimp will lock the account and require explanations about where you obtained your list, when you emailed to them last, whether they opted in to hear from you, etc.”
She does however recommend MailChimp for small businesses and entrepreneurs on a limited budget: “It works well “out of the box” with clean designs, user friendly layout and great WordPress integration, plus it’s free to get started if you’re working with fewer than 2000 contacts.”
FEBRUARY 2016 – New features
MailChimp have unveiled Inbox Preview to allow users to see when an HTML will look like across various email clients. It replaces Inbox Inspector, a feature since 2007 – MailChimp blog.
OCTOBER 2015 – Marketing tips campaign
MailChimp, in partnership with Facebook, Twitter, Google, Shopify, and WooCommerce, launches its Holiday Marketing Tips: a collection of resources designed to help online merchants and small businesses improve their marketing – Business Wire.
SEPTEMBER 2015 – Pro package launched
The email marketing firm launches MailChimp Pro, offering multivariate testing, comparative reports, priority support and more – Marketing Land.
In this video, a very calm gentleman takes 30 seconds to explain the thinking behind the Pro package:
MailChimp pricing: How much is it?
MailChimp has a nifty email quantity slider to guide you through its service plans. Its unsurprisingly popular “Free Forever” plan permits up to 2,000 “subscribers” (people in your email list) and 12,000 emails per month.
Pricing plans start becoming a concern once you want to send unlimited emails (as soon as you’re sending two emails a month to a list of more than 6,000, you’re over the free limit), at which point any subscriber number over 500 will cost $10/month upwards.
The “Growing Business” set of features (including automation, time zones and support) is free once you’re paying a monthly fee, with the “Pro Marketer” feature set incurring a $199 charge on top.
There is always the pay-as-you-go option, with low volumes costing around $0.03 p/email.
MailChimp templates: Where to find the best ones
MailChimp offers a number of templates itself, which can be accessed from the Email Designer.
There are Basic templates which can be manipulated within the Drag and Drop Editor; more stylish Themes, organised by category (e.g. sports or music, some of which are less flexible); it’s also possible to code your own and import them. MailChimp’s Knowledge Base details the different options.
To see what’s achievable, MailChimp has an “inspiration” site, showing off various email layouts and styles.
Themeforest has a range of email templates compatible with MailChimp starting at around $15 for plain ones. Anything cheaper than this might be a MailChimp compatible landing page / coming soon / under construction template – read carefully before you buy.
The Nectar Collective has created a thorough blog to take you from a standing start to sending your first newsletter – it also includes a 30 minute video tutorial.
NYC Tech Club have created an extensive step by step 40 minute tutorial:
Brit James Stafford has created a library of videos from the perspective of creating a WordPress website; one of these is a 15 minute look at setting up an email list through MailChimp:
Salesforce update: Einstein AI is coming to Marketing Cloud
Welcome to TFM’s Salesforce Marketing Cloud hub, our summary of the latest advice and information about this fast-growing and fast-acquiring marketing cloud.
Salesforce announce Einstein: AI for everyone
Salesforce have announced they are bringing artificial intelligence capabilities such as deep learning, natural language processing and predictive analytics into all areas of their business. Billed as ‘AI for everyone’, Einstein will bring a predictive experiences for customers of Marketing Cloud, CRM and all other Salesforce platforms.
It is the culmination of $600m investment in artificial intelligence by Salesforce who have built Einstein from acquired companies such as MetaMind, PredictionIO and RelateIQ.
The platform will take various data sources to train machine learning models, including “customer data from CRM, activity data from Chatter, email, calendar and e-commerce; social data streams such as Tweets and images; and even IoT signal”.
While timing and pricing details are still to be confirmed, the initial benefit to users of Salesforce Marketing Cloud will be able to start creating predictive journeys. For example:
Predictive Scoring will score every customer’s likelihood to engage with an email
Predictive Audiences builds custom audience segments based on predicted behaviours
Automated Send-time Optimisation predicts the optimal time to deliver messages based on past customer behaviour.
Einstein will enable Salesforce developers to quickly build AI-powered apps using the tools that they already use.
AI-powered marketing is going to be a hot topic at TFM 2016 next week and we will be ask Salesforce to explain more in the Marketing Cloud All-Star Debate. Register for your ticket.
Salesforce is generally recognised as the leader in CRM software, and has been aggressively expanding into marketing with high profile acquisitions including ExactTarget in 2013 (which itself had acquired CoTweet, Pardot, iGoDigital and Keymail Marketing). In 2014, the group of services was rebranded Salesforce Marketing Cloud (SMC).
As with other marketing clouds Salesforce Marketing Cloud covers marketing automation (still branded as Pardot) and analytics across email, web, social and mobile, selling multi-year subscriptions to the software:
Salesforce provides an uplifting two minute video overview of the :
Salesforce Marketing Cloud review: What do the analysts say?
Salesforce Marketing Cloud can be found among the leaders in Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for Digital Marketing Hubs, alongside Adobe, Oracle and Marketo:
Gartner, in its analysis, recommends Salesforce Marketing Cloud for “midsize-to-large B2C enterprise[s] in the consumer products, retail, high tech or financial services industry with a moderate- to-high level of digital marketing expertise.” It also reports that “customers report high satisfaction with its intuitive user experience and journey-modeling capabilities” but also that some “report concerns over pricing and diminished support quality.”
“We have not had great support when adding a new business into our existing account. It would be great to get a dedicated person that could help with implementation/consultation even after we have our initial on-boarding. Businesses change over time, and it would be great to get the support from Salesforce Marketing Cloud”
“this is a very solid solution for email marketing. It is very scalable from a developer’s view. The proprietary AMPscripting is very powerful in allowing developers to leverage most of platform programmatically which most providers are lacking. I believe that is the one key component making the Salesforce Marketing Cloud superior to others.”
“We are leveraging their API to hook in several of our company systems to process triggers, imports and other applications. There is a lot of flexibility in terms of how you would create different applications depending on what outcome you are looking for.”
Salesforce have launched Wave Analytics for B2B Marketing app, a new app to enable marketing cloud users to dive deeper into marketing, CRM other sources such as Google Analytics, webinar or event registration data into a single view.
This easy-to-use app is based in part on consumer apps such as “Fitbit, Mint and Waze” which have made analytics more intuitive, and should improve the connection between marketing cloud and the sales activity recorded in Salesforce CRM.
In the largest ever acquisition in the marketing technology industry, Salesforce purchased ecommerce platform Demandware, effectively kickstarting the formation of a commerce cloud to complement its sales and marketing clouds – TFM.
Demandware brings with it hundreds of clients including Marks & Spencer – Adexchanger.
JANUARY 2016 – Free consultation
In the US at least, Salesforce is offering businesses in the retail industry a free consultation with its Marketing Cloud team to demonstrate, through bespoke planning, how its software suite can help them “build smarter one-to-one customer journeys” – Marketing Land.
NOVEMBER 2015 – Feature roll out
Salesforce has added predictive analytics – leveraging machine learning and data science to score and segment customers in real-time – to its marketing cloud – Information Week.
Salesforce Marketing Cloud pricing: How much is it?
SMC pricing starts from £280 per month (billed annually, so £3,360 per year) for personalised promotional email marketing. There are four broad solutions – “Email, Mobile, and Web Marketing”, “Social Media Marketing”, “Digital Advertising” and “B2B Marketing Automation” – each split into four packages – Basic, Pro, Corporate and Enterprise.
Salesforce Marketing Cloud training and certification
Salesforce University offers training and certification, via corporeal and virtual instructor-led training, self-paced online resources and private workshops.
Training paths include “User”, “Administrator”, “Developer”, “Solution Designer” and “Technical Architect”, with prices ranging from £325 to £3,250. Official UK courses are taught in Staines (near Heathrow).
Marketo, founded in 2006, is known for its marketing automation software, and claim to be the ‘best in class for marketing automation’. Marketo’s cloud-based applications cover a variety of bases including email, mobile, social, advertising, website management and analytics.
Gartner’s 2016 ‘Magic Quadrant for Digital Marketing Hubs’, positions Marketo as a leader in the category alongside Oracle, Adobe and Salesforce:
It’s not just the consultants who like Marketo. Last year, TFM visitors voted Marketo the third most loved marketing technology and users compare Marketo favourably to other marketing automation solutions in the market.
This comparison from users of TrustRadius shows an overall rating of 8.3 out of 10, with a particularly high score for lead management.
Marketo in 20 seconds
We asked Elizabeth Smyth, Marketo’s Marketing Director to explain what they do in just 20 seconds. Here is what she said…
An open platform
A key difference between Marketo and its ‘Marketing Cloud’ competitors, is that they are an open platform, integrating with a wide range of partners, while Adobe, Oracle and Salesforce are focused on integrating with their own products.
Marketo’s Launchpoint ecosystem of partners means that it integrates easily with various partners, such as the leading social relationship platforms highlighted in Forrester Wave research:
Marketo’s demo page has some helpful 4 minute videos on different aspects of the products, such as this lead management demo:
Marketo summit: The Marketing Nation Summit
Taking place in Las Vegas from May 9-12 2016, The Marketing Nation Summit is Marketo’s branded conference, with Arianna Huffington and John Legend among this year’s keynote speakers.
Previous years have seen the summit based in San Francisco in early April with 2015 enjoying an international roadshow which visited various US cities as well as the UK, Germany, Paris, Canada and Australia.
Marketo updates: What’s the latest news?
MAY 2016 – Acquisition
Marketo has been acquired by Vista Equity Partners for $1.79 billion, taking the company private again –TFM.
CEO Phil Fernandez stated that:
“The acquisition will allow Marketo to continue to focus on customer success and to remain the independent category leader, continuing to set the agenda for product innovation and thought leadership for the entire digital marketing industry.”
MARCH 2016 – Strategic partnership
Marketo is teaming up with consulting firm Accenture to help it land big, strategic accounts/ This upmarket mission will put its sales team in direct competition with the likes of Oracle and Salesforce – Fortune.
MARCH 2106 – Board reshuffle
Three existing Marketo executives will fill new roles: Fred Ball (former CFO) becomes executive vice president and chief administrative officer (CAO); Brian Kinion becomes senior vice president and chief financial officer (CFO); and Jason Holmes (former CCO) is promoted to executive vice president and chief operating officer (COO) – PR Newswire.
FEBRUARY 2016 – C-Suite appointment
Marketo hires its first chief security officer, 25-year veteran Jason Hoffman – CSO Online.
Marketo pricing: How much is it?
Marketo’s 2016 pricing is a little tricky to pin down, especially on its website – possibly because of the “desperate price competition coming from the large suite vendors” identified by Phil Fernandez, Marketo CEO.
Marketing Automation and G2 Crowd note Marketo’s three packages starting from $895 per month for Spark; Standard starts from $1,795 per month; Select is from $3,195.
The IBM Marketing Cloud is a suite of tools covering lead management, budget planning, email, personalisation, mobile, analytics, social and recommendations.
IBM pushes two innovations in particular: its Journey Designer software for improving customer experience; and its Universal Behaviour Exchange for connecting data across applications.
In mid-2014, IBM acquired marketing automation firm Silverpop which, alongside other acquisitions like Coremetrics (analytics), Unica (campaign management), DemandTec (cloud analytics), Tealeaf (customer behaviour analysis) and Xtify (ad-focused mobile messaging), round out its marketing cloud offering.
IBM explains it all colourfully in this 2:30 min overview:
IBM also seems keen that this 6 minute July 2014 Silverpop Product Demo still does a good job at explaining the basics:
IBM Marketing Cloud updates: What’s the latest news?
MAY 2016 – Amplify conference announcements
IBM laid down a few of its trump cards in the marketing cloud wars, bringing cognitive computing to parts of its marketing portfolio, including Real-Time Personalization and Cognitive Rule Adviser.
A selling point is that the big data-crunching supercomputer Watson can help an IBM client stay on top of where a customer might be in their journey e.g. whether they are an uninitiated amateur cyclist or a hardened cycling veteran.
The technology looks at customer data and suggests personalised offers and messages that might be appropriate at that point in time; it then analyses the respective success of these efforts and adjusts campaigns accordingly – press release.
IBM also announced its plans to weave together its acquisition of The Weather Company (making it the second largest location services company in the world) with Watson capabilities. By way of example, weather-related triggers can help marketers and ecommerce professionals automatically tweak assets and creative – AdExchanger.
FEBRUARY 2016 – Tech partnerships
IBM has inked deals with Apple, VMware, GitHub, WebSphere and OpenWhisk, all announced at its InterConnect conference in Las Vegas – Computer Business Review.
OCTOBER 2015 – New product
IBM Universal Behavior Exchange (UBX) to its marketing cloud, which unifies all the different bits of marketing tech involved – Ad Exchanger.
Mobile technology company Vibes announced an integration with UBX, giving users greater visibility into mobile data – Media Post.
MAY 2015 – New products
IBM doubles down on the customer journey, adding Journey Designer, Journey Analytics, Customer Experience Analytics and Commerce Insights to its marketing cloud – IT Business Canada.
Gartner, in its analysis, recommends considering IBM “if you are an enterprise business in any industry with a high-to-medium level of digital marketing expertise and unique requirements not met by other solutions.” It also praises IBM’s analytics offering as “robust”, but finds that the overall deployment can be complex, leading to customers often only using certain parts of the package.
“The application has very robust and flexible functionality while maintaining a relatively high ease of use. Relatively complicated segmentation logic can be created for a campaign by a knowledgeable user and the application design supports efficient execution.” They conclude that IBM Campaign is slower but more sophisticated than the “superfast” Alterian.
Another reviewer sums up IBM Campaign: “Well-suited for email campaigns. Requires a decent investment of resources to install and develop user processes. Works relatively well for projects with short turnaround times in an environment where data is pulled from multiple sources.”
IBM Silverpop Engage meanwhile scores 6.5 out of 10 on TrustRadius. An effusive reviewer exclaims: “I’ve been a customer for over 6 years and have very few complaints. And many that I had at one point or another along the way have already been improved. Engage offers the flexibility I need to manage, track, and report on a robust array of marketing programs. Their customer service, account management, training and industry advice/best practices has always been a fantastic resource. You can integrate their product with almost any other software especially if you have access to technical resources in house although they do offer many plug and play solutions too.”
Michael Hobley, Silverpop Administrator & Web Designer at Intertek, summarises:
“Silverpop Engage performs it’s core email function very well. The scoring module is also great for automating lead qualification. Excellent API and very helpful community and knowledge base. WYSIWYG editor is weak, and integration with MS Dynamics (a relatively new capability) has had some bumps. Product performance can be a little sluggish. Vendor is great to work with, and, on balance, we are very happy with the product.”
IBM’s Digital Analytics offering receives mixed reviews on TrustRadius, scoring 6.6 out of 10. Nolan Margo, Web Analytics Specialist at Petplan Pet Insurance, is scathing, mentioning:
“IBM Digital Analytics is HEAVILY geared towards online retailers, acting more as a website’s cash register as opposed to a tried-and-true web diagnostic and analytics tool. The support for IBM Digital Analytics was lackluster, we found ourselves often tangled in the bureaucracy that is IBM, when REAL problems occurred.”
Stewart Pratt, Regional Director, Strategy and Analytics at MarketShare, mentions of Digital Analytics that the “cost structure is often quite favorable, if a company has chosen other products within the IBM family” and counsels that “IBM Digital Analytics is a better choice who are focused exclusively on e-commerce, heavily regulated industries, or simply interested in precision marketing and CRM. For those companies which prioritize style, form, and flexibility over precision (aka Art over Science), other solutions may be more effective.”