Intuit Mailchimp Global CMO: We Are “Fighting Daily” To Resolve Personalisation & Scale Dilemma In Email Marketing

Intuit Mailchimp Global CMO: We Are “Fighting Daily” To Resolve Personalisation & Scale Dilemma In Email Marketing

Michelle Taite, global CMO of Intuit Mailchimp (pictured), has said that as the platform expands its footprint around the globe — particularly in Australia — it is “fighting daily” to resolve the inherent conflict between email marketing as a channel and the personalisation that consumers crave.

“If I had a magic wand, I would want hyper-personalisation for every consumer. I want every email to be hyper-personalised. In a world where people are getting thousands of emails per day and billions of them are being sent just today, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t be able to segment, to think about customer journeys, especially with the help of AI,” Taite said during an exclusive chat with B&T.

“If you think about the explosion of different media channels and the messages you get, the expectation [from consumers] is that they have to do less to get to the right things. Our research suggests that half of consumers think that. They believe that they need to be personalised too, but also that they’ll do less searching so that messages will come to them and they will be able to interact with brands in more meaningful ways.”

Mailchimp, as Taite pointed out, has historically serviced “solopreneurs” and small businesses but was looking to expand its operations and business to work with larger companies and agencies following its 2021 acquisition by Intuit.

“We’ve developed advanced capabilities and tools for mid-market marketers and specifically ecommerce marketers, knowing that they have slightly more complex user journeys,” she added, noting that Mailchimp is the number one email and marketing automation platform in the country.

Servicing those more complex user journeys and creating more personalised messaging should be easy for marketers using Mailchimp’s platform, too, said Taite. The company’s software is used to send around half a billion emails per day and the data gleaned from those transactions allows it to train artificial intelligence and machine learning algorithms to improve performance. Specifically, Taite said that its smarts can “create connections” based on what customers might want at any given time, how to create useful segments, benchmark against industry performance, create lookalike audiences and create behavioural triggers to send comms.

Mailchimp, as with every other martech company over the last 12 months, is also using generative AI, built on Intuit’s existing technology, to create content at scale, too.

“As a marketer, selfishly, five years ago, I had to think about my number one objective and create assets to only service that target because it was impossible to create many journeys and assets,” said Taite.

“But now, we’re enabling customers to do exactly that. They can think about the small segments of people that truly act in similar ways and, ideally, get to a one-person [segment] and then the insights and data we have on their behaviours and what they need to create an amazing value exchange.”

That approach is something that Mailchimp has railed against in its own marketing. Its 2023 “Clustomers” campaign, produced by its award-winning internal creative agency Wink, depicted a jumbled mess of consumers with a variety of different needs.

Speaking at last year’s In-House Agency Council, Jeremy Jones, the global group creative director for Wink, said that being in-house gave the team the confidence and safety to try different things.

“What’s really big for us is we foster a safe place for creativity to thrive, so we can do the best work of our lives,” explained Jones.

“We do all of this by making things, lots of things, not just ads. But things that add value and inspire.”

Taite explained that the campaign was based on an insight from Mailchimp’s own customers and demonstrated a fundamental misunderstanding of how businesses grow.

“They treated a tonne of customers in the same way rather than personalising the messaging. As marketers, and at small businesses, we think about growth through acquisition. However, acquisition is five times more expensive than retention or engagement. Getting to that first-party data and understanding how you hyper-personalise these messages across the funnel for different customers allows you to take advantage of that and grow,” she said.

Taite added that the numbers on email marketing don’t lie. While half of Australians want personalised communications — that number jumps to nearly two-thirds of the 25-34 age bracket, according to Mailchimp’s research. Plus, the majority of Australian consumers are happy to receive targeted brand recommendations based on their personal data after searching or shopping for a product on search engines (58 per cent), in person (60 per cent) and on a website (58 per cent).

“Email has a $42 on-the-dollar ROI. It’s one of the highest ROI channels but it’s often not seen as a growth channel for those that don’t know it well,” she added.

“There are three pillars of change. One is the economic environment and the cost of living. The second is the lack of digital skills and with data comes the need to have analytics and, in marketing craft, this isn’t necessarily found everywhere. The last is the change in cookies and the channel mix, partially due to the economic environment and partially to the walled gardens, as a result, email is very well suited to drive growth.”

But even Mailchimp’s research shows that consumers need convincing to hand over their data, with 76 per cent wanting assurances about how their transactional data will be used and 82 per cent wanting the same for their personal data.

“You need to take the first-party data that you’ve pulled together for many years and sift through that in a meaningful way, using AI to drive engagement,” she added.

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