Mailchimp is Right
Last week, Mailchimp announced a very controversial decision to shut down Mandrill - their hugely popular email delivery API service. The announcement definitely created a stir in the development community:
Was it the right decision?
Did Mailchimp blow this one? Did they just shut down a beautiful cash cow - one with great loyalty and a bright future? Did they do irreparable damage to their relationship with the development community and their overall brand equity?
Or was this a savvy business decision that is going to streamline their overall offering?
I don't know. Time will tell. But one thing we know they got right in their announcement was their description of the evolution of the transactional email space. Specifically, they said:
In this, Mailchimp is very right. As we argued in a previous blog post - Product vs Marketing Messaging...huh? - the separation between messaging handled by a product team and messaging handled by a marketing team is far too wide. We have always believed that the marketer needs to be involved in creating the strategy, content, design...and optimization of any email (or message) that is a part of an overall user engagement program.
The "dumb pipes" to which Mailchimp is referring are the API services that save companies from having to build and maintain their own email delivery infrastructure. There are several players in the space - Mandrill was easily one of the biggest.
These are incredibly important services for product builders. Before they existed, sending any product email (let alone insuring deliverability) was far, far more difficult. So...we're very happy that these services exist.
However, these "dumb pipes" have not solved the other main problem with these types of product emails - the fact that they still must be owned and maintained by the engineering team.
Even with these "dumb pipe" services, the fact remains - the process of building and managing these engagement email initiatives is still too difficult.
Even with these "dumb pipe" services, these emails still need to be hard coded and have to live inside a product's code base. This means if someone wants to change a comma in one of the emails, or update an image, or (don't say it!) create a brand new engagement email, she has to fight for time on the engineering roadmap and wait for the next product release to get the change made.
To change a comma in an email.
Event with these "dumb pipe" services, it is too hard to understand whether or not these emails are being effective at driving usage and engagement.
The bottom-line, and the main point Mailchimp is making, is that even with these "dumb pipes", Marketing is simply too far removed from the creation and optimization of these email programs.
And this is the real problem that needs solving. And it is really the next step in the evolution of product marketing.
With Knowtify, our goal is to provide tools that help companies understand and drive higher levels of user engagement. And the first step in that journey is building tools that help bridge the gap between product and marketing. We know that if a message is an important piece of the user engagement puzzle...then it needs to be A LOT easier for Product and Marketing teams to collaborate to create the best and most effective messaging experience possible - for the company...and the end users.
This is the basis of #EngagementMarketing and we're glad to see initiatives that are moving us in the right direction.