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Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 14 December 2018

Review: MailChimp takes monkey business out of campaigning

App, which has been operating under Rocket Science Group since 2001, reached a robust US$400 million in revenue last year

MailChimp: courtesy: Rocket Science Group
MailChimp: courtesy: Rocket Science Group

MailChimp is known as the go-to brand for email marketing software for small businesses - but does its app perform as well?

If you haven’t heard of MailChimp, it is used by 15 million businesses to send campaign emails; it has a series of straightforward email templates and an easy interface to upload, create and manage your email lists and campaigns before checking the results in the reports section.

There is also the automation section, which allows you to send a targeted series of emails triggered by a specific date or event, such as your business anniversary, or subscriber activity (say, first purchase or abandoning your shopping basket).

Those automations have become a crucial tool for e-commerce companies. More than two-thirds of online shoppers leave the checkout without buying and this one "abandoned basket" email has given MailChimp’s clients an extra US$610 in monthly sales, it claims.

Developing these e-commerce solutions helped MailChimp, which has been operating under Rocket Science Group since 2001, reach a robust US$400 million in revenue last year.

The mobile app has the same four functions in its navigation, plus a dashboard where you can get an overview of your audience, campaign engagement, activity and statistics. You can create lists and upload individual contacts, which is useful if you are on the move, but to import a detailed contacts list from a spreadsheet, text file or, say, Google Contacts, you’ll have to go to the desktop.

You can create a campaign in the app using one of six templates - they have accessible names such as "showcase products", "make announcements" or "tell a story". You then input the campaign name, recipient list, email subject and the content of the email, from logo to photo to snippets for each story within your email.

You can upload imagery from your phone’s photo library, Dropbox or Google Drive. You can also send a test email, replicate or delete a campaign and resend an email that has already been sent.

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The Reports screen displays reports for recently sent campaigns and open and click-through rates for each, with a 24-hour performance graph. Reports can be exported to be shared with colleagues or clients.

Automation workflows cannot be created in-app, only displayed there once created on the website. These sophisticated marketing tools were, for years, available only to high-paying users but were made free to all earlier this year.

The company says that small businesses “look to MailChimp to help them build their brand” and automation allows them to create “sophisticated” campaigns to compete with bigger companies.

MailChimp is unapologetic about the full functionality not being available from the app. It calls its mobile options “comprehensive” but, as it says on its site, “This app can do a lot for you when you’re out and about, but it’s not meant to replace the full version of MailChimp.”

Where the app comes into its own is a quick proof-read, preview and send of a campaign you have already created, or checking statistics from your latest email or revenue generated. The app is easy to use for basic functions, but would be bewildering to an entirely new MailChimp user.

MailChimp has a decent free offering for up to 2,000 email subscribers and 12,000 emails sent per month. For businesses sending more emails, there are monthly and pay-as-you-go plans, costing $20 to $35 a month, with the Pro subscription - offering different time zone sends, help with segmenting your marketing lists by predicted demographics such as age and gender and additional customer support - costing $199 per month.

There are also two complementary apps in the suite. If you download the MailChimp Snap app, you can send basic, photo-based email campaigns from your phone using a photo from your camera roll or your Instagram feed, picking a template, adding a product link, logo and a quick note and call to action. The MailChimp Subscribe tablet-only app will allow you to create an email sign-up collector form for your website - a great tool if you do not yet have a mailing list.

A billion emails are sent via MailChimp every day. That is still under half a per cent of the 269 billion business and consumer emails that the research firm the Radicati Group estimates are sent globally every day - but it’s not peanuts for this monkey business.