Mailchimp expands beyond email, aims to be full service marketing provider for SMBs

The company is launching an entirely new product suite and a major pivot in business strategy.

Mailchimp shifts their business strategy beyond email TechRepublic's Karen Roby and ZDNet's Natalie Gagliordi sit down to talk about Mailchimp's latest business move, becoming a full-service marketing provider for SMBs. Read more: https://zd.net/2Ecn1e0

Atlanta-based email newsletter giant Mailchimp, known in part for its role as an early podcast advertiser in season one of Serial, is expanding beyond its core business with the launch of an entirely new product suite and a major pivot in business strategy. In what the company describes as the biggest shift in its 20-year history, Mailchimp is aiming to become an all-in-one marketing platform for small businesses, with integrated CRM at its center. 

Mailchimp has been moving beyond email for the last two years with feature introductions like landing pages, Facebook ads, Google remarketing ads, postcards, social posting, and some marketing CRM tools. Today's announcement essentially brings all of those tools together, along with CRM and a new website builder product, into a single platform with tiered pricing. 

On the CRM front, Mailchimp previously offered tagging and other product features, but is now expanding that functionality so users can collect information, understand audiences, and act on insights all from within one platform. With integrated CRM, Mailchimp users can tag customers for more targeted marketing based on interactions, open rates and clicks. The platform also offers tips on how to convert audiences into paying customers. 

As for websites, Mailchimp said roughly 10% of its 11 million active users don't have their own websites, prompting the launch of its existing landing page function. The website builder, available in beta, expands upon landing pages and lets merchants buy a domain and build a simple website from templates. The websites will provide general information about a business and engagement opportunities, like downloads or commerce, on one or more pages linked together with a navigation.

In terms of pricing, Mailchimp is switching to a tiered pricing structure to reflect its move from an email service to a full-service marketing platform. With the new pricing model, Mailchimp said it wants to offer customers platform options that fit into their specific marketing strategies, regardless of budget size. Existing paid users can maintain their current pricing structure and won't be forced to upgrade, the company said. 

Also: Why the Shopify, Mailchimp integration battle is just a sign of what's to come

Additional platform features announced Monday include new ad retargeting capabilities on Facebook and Instagram; the ability to repurpose existing social content to Facebook, Instagram and Twitter; and the ability to send recurring postcards to audiences to encourage sales. Mailchimp is also bolstering its AI feature set and rolling out data-driven recommendations that aim to optimize marketing efforts based on insights from users' own data.

Looking at the larger market opportunity, Mailchimp sees SMB tech as a largely untapped market. The company bullishly considers itself ahead of the competition, touting its 20-year industry lead and more than $600 million in annual revenue ahead of this product evolution. But expanding into the CRM market means Mailchimp will face a significantly larger and increasingly crowded field of players ranging from Microsoft and Shopify to Salesforce and HubSpot.