Welcome to the evolution..?
Mailchimp announced their All-in-One Marketing Platform on May 15, 2019. It sounds good, but what does it mean for the users?
I personally bumped an article to talk about this radical change only to find it anticlimactic. Why? The change has already happened. For the past several months, Mailchimp has been adding features and changing the internal narrative with existing customers. These incremental changes were in preparation for the big announcement. However, when the “changes” were revealed there were a few pricing changes, but no significant difference for those of us who were already implementing newer features.
Going Beyond Just Email
Sales and marketing powerhouses like Ontraport, Hubspot, Infusionsoft and even my personal fave Active Campaign have a firm foothold in the enterprise space. They may be are starting to realize that there are more small businesses in the world than there are captains of industry – cough cough Infusionsoft, I mean Keap, I mean Infusionsoft cough. The problem with having the Titans dip their toes in the waters of small business is that they still make great big waves [read they’re just not that easy to use]. Mailchimp has always had the most aggressive free plan of any email marketing software that I’ve tested and since 2018 – that’s not long ago to me either but software development moves fast – they have added features such as landing pages and postcards. It may not sound like a big deal, but the Mailchimp story has always been one geared towards companies that don’t have a team of marketing ninjas and the narrative they have crafted for these new features is one of focused communication with your people; the customers that you see every day.
So what’s with this new platform?
Like I said, it’s not at all that new. The pricing terms have changed, but the conversational switch from putting contacts into Lists to thinking of people as Audiences was made a few months back. While an audience by any other name is still just a list of people you can get in touch with, the core idea was making it easier to make sense of all those lists. The change in terminology is meant to trigger a cognitive change, one where the customers’ needs are thought of and adds a more personal touch. There is an overview, but all of the rich analytical data is brought down to the audience level so that it’s understandable at a glance how people got into this list and what they like about your business.
Let’s get back to those terms shall we?
I don’t really get into what they call them. The old pricing structure consisted of Free, $10 and $199. The new pricing structure is Free, $10, $15 and $299.
What are those!
Many people are hopped up about the pricing changes, but they actually make sense. The old pricing tiers were created back when all you could do from inside of Mailchimp was send an email. They maintained that pricing while introducing the aforementioned landing pages and postcards, as well as social media management, Facebook, Instagram and Google ad campaigns with lookalike audience finder (yes that means what you think it means), and smart recommendations, also known as lead scoring. 👀***So fancy!***
For more than two years, we’ve been adding new features, like landing pages, Facebook ads, Google remarketing ads, postcards, social posting, and our marketing CRM tools that have become the heart of the Mailchimp platform.Ben Chestnut, Co-Founder and CEO of Mailchimp
They have allowed customers to work the kinks out and test the waters at the same price while they rolled out each of these features sequentially. Now they’re saying to keep these shiny new toys, it will cost you an extra $5 per month..or you can still use some of this on that free, or $10 plan, because we’re letting you keep that old pricing structure while you decide what you need.
Where they probably need to work on the educational component of their message, is the Audience Dashboard. The basis of their pricing model is still how many people are in your audience, but that is now being calculated based on your entire audience, including those who have unsubscribed or aren’t engaged that haven’t been intentionally archived. That’s a good thing whether people realize it or not. This change forces companies to take a more active role in reviewing audience data and archiving those who no longer viable, or coming up with strategies to re-engage them. A large part of my days are spent developing ways to increase and keep customer engagement, because most businesses, even the ones with those teams of marketing ninja robots traditionally ignore the people already in their list. That’s just dumb. Salesfolk spend a good deal of time calling, emailing and chatting with people to get them to buy and then those same people hear crickets as the company moves on the next lead.
That’s a topic for another article, let me get back to this one…
My entire consulting career of the past three or four years has been developing marketing and sales funnels in Hubspot, Infusionsoft and Active Campaign for clients because there are entire universities both in and outside of those companies to teach people how to use them. Mailchimp has a user-friendly interface and a well-rounded feature set that I only see getting better. I’m writing this newsletter from the free plan, but I have no problem upgrading to the $15 plan to gain access to some rich features that will help me increase my audience beyond 10 new subscribers. They’ve taken the time to let me peek behind the curtain and see what’s available and how to use it. As a small business person, I have a clear understanding that letting me stay on the free plan forever doesn’t benefit either Mailchimp or myself because it means that neither of us has grown.