Mailchimp may have started out as an easy to use newsletter tool, but that was almost 20 years ago. Today’s company still does email, but at its core, it is now a marketing automation platform for small businesses that also offers a website builder, basic online stores, digital ad support and analytics to make sense of it all. Like before, though, the company’s main goal is to make all these features easy to use for small business users.
Today, Mailchimp, which has never taken outside funding, is taking the next step in its own transformation with the launch of a set of AI-based tools that give small businesses easy access to the same kind of capabilities that their larger competitors now use. That includes personalized product recommendations for shoppers and forecasting tools for behavioral targeting to see which users are most likely to buy something, for example. But there’s now also a new AI-backed tool to help business owners design their own visual asset (based in part on its acquisition of Sawa), as well as a tool to help them write better email subject lines.
There’s also a new tool that helps businesses choose the next best action. It looks at all of the data the service aggregates and gives users actionable recommendations for how to improve their email campaign performance.
“The journey to get here started about four years ago,” Mailchimp’s founding CEO Ben Chestnut told me. “We were riding high. Email was doing amazing for us. And things look so good. And I had a choice, I felt I could sell the business and make a lot of money. I had some offers. Or I could just coast, honestly. I could just be a hero in email and keep it simple and just keep raking in the money. Or I could take on another really tough challenge, which would be act two of MailChimp. And I honestly didn’t know what that would be. To be honest with you, that was four years ago, it could have been anything really.”
But after talking to the team, including John Foreman, the head of data analytics at the time and now Mailchimp’s CPO, Chestnut put the company on this new path to go after the marketing automation space. In part, he told me, he did so because he noted that the email space was getting increasingly crowded. “You know how that ends. I mean, you can’t stay there forever with this many competitors. So I knew that we had to up our game,” he said.
And that meant going well beyond email and building numerous new products.
“It was a huge transformation for us,” Chestnut acknowledged. “We had to get good at building for other customer segments at the time, like e-commerce customers and others. And that was new for us, too. It’s all kinds of new disciplines for us. To inflict that kind of change on your employees is very, very rough. I just can’t help but look back with gratitude that my employees were willing to go on this journey with me. And they actually had faith in me and this release — this fall release — is really the culmination of everything we’ve been working on for four years to me.”
One thing that helped was that Mailchimp already had e-commerce customers — and as Chestnut noted, they were pushing the system to its limit. Only a few years ago, the culture at Mailchimp looked at them as somewhat annoying, though, Chestnut admitted, because they were quite demanding. They didn’t even make the company a lot of money either. At the time, non-profits were Mailchimp’s best customers, but they weren’t pushing the technology to its limits.
Despite this transformation, Mailchimp hasn’t made a lot of acquisitions to accelerate this process. Chestnut argues that a lot of what it is doing — say adding direct mail — is something that was more or less and extension of what it was already good at. But it did make some small AI and ML acquisitions to bring the right expertise in-house, as well as two e-commerce acquisitions, including Lemonstand. Most recently, Mailchimp acquired Courier, a British magazine, newsletter and podcast, marking its first move into the print business.
With this new set of products and services, Mailchimp is now aiming to give small businesses access to the same capabilities the larger e-commerce players have long had, but without the complexity.
To build tools based on machine learning, one needs data — and that’s something Mailchimp already had.
“We’ve been doing marketing for decades,” Mailchimp CPO Foreman said. “And we have millions of small businesses on the platform. And so not only do we build all these tools ourselves, which allows us to integrate them from a visual design perspective — they’re not necessarily acquisitions — but we have this common data set from years and years of doing marketing across millions of businesses, billions of customers we’re talking to, and so we thought, how can we use intelligence — artificial intelligence, machine learning, etc. — to also sand down how all of these tools connect.”
Chestnut says he isn’t likely to put the company on a similar transformation anytime soon. “I really believe you can only take on one major transformation per decade,” he said. “And so you better pick the right one and you better invest it. We’re all in on this all-in-one marketing platform that’s e-commerce enabled. That is unique enough. And now what I’m trying to get my company to do is go deep.”
Finnish startup HappySignals, an Employee Experience Management Platform provider, has announced the successful closure of a €4.7 million series A funding round led by Nauta Capital, with Vendep Capital also participating. HappySignals will use the funds to further its mission and scale up operations in Europe and the US. Founded in 2014, HappySignals aims to…
Healthcare is perhaps the most important sector in the U.S. economy. It is the largest: close to $ 4 trillion per year is spent on healthcare in the United States. It employs more people than any other industry, accounting for 11% of all American jobs. Nearly one quarter of all U.S. government spending is on healthcare.
Read more here.
The post [Zebra in Forbes] AI Will Revolutionize Healthcare. The Transformation Has Already Begun. appeared first on OurCrowd Blog.
So far, 2020 has been mostly a garbage year, but it has also been consistently interesting in terms of the amount of change that it has brought.
Venture capital? Changed. Public markets? Very changed. How to go public? How about a SPAC? E-commerce? Going through a once-in-a-generation step change. E-commerce venture investment? Down. Fintech investing? More nine-figure rounds than ever. Fintech losses? New records.
The list goes on. But amidst the signals and noise, there has been a notable theme struck by some public companies in their earnings reports, and private companies’ investors in interviews: The digital transformation is accelerating.
This concept is something that TechCrunch has covered at length this year, including this column, where we’ve chatted with folks from Twilio and Qualtrics to collect their in-market observations.
But if companies of all stripes are racing to modernize operations with more software and more cloud, why aren’t we seeing more revenue acceleration amongst public SaaS companies?
That’s a question Redpoint’s Jamin Ball asked the other day on Twitter, posting a chart showing that most SaaS and cloud companies posted revenue deceleration in Q2 2020 compared to Q1 2020. Less revenue growth during a longer period of supposedly COVID-led digital acceleration? Odd, given what you’ll hear talking to any booster of public or private cloud companies.
Indeed, the narrative in mid-Q2 was that things were looking better than expected amongst startups, at least, and by late Q2 that many were actually catching a COVID tailwind. But if their public brethren are any indication, things could be slower among private companies than anticipated.