(This story originally appeared in Forbes)
Yeah, you’ve got a few good tips in there and probably a “call to action” for recipients to click and land on your website. Maybe it generates a response or two. Maybe even a sale. But with a five percent click through rate you’re really not setting the world on fire. People get too many emails as it is. There’s already too much content out there. No one’s really reading your monthly newsletter.
But, not to worry. That’s about to change. The monthly newsletter is going to disappear. And who do we thank for that? Intuit. That’s because Intuit just bought Mailchimp.
Mailchimp is not a customer relationship management system. It’s an email marketing platform — and a very good one. In my world of small and mid-sized businesses Mailchimp is one of the most recognizable email marketing platforms around. Now it’s owned by Intuit, the maker of QuickBooks. And for those users of QuickBooks who are willing to invest some time and money, my expectation is that this integration will kill off their monthly email newsletters…and instead send emails that will actually help them to start generating actual revenues.
“Together, Mailchimp and QuickBooks will become a powerful engine for small and mid-market business customers to get, engage and retain their customers, run their businesses, optimize cash flow and remain compliant,” said Alex Chriss, Executive Vice President and General Manager of the Intuit Small Business and Self-Employed Group said in a statement. “Today, QuickBooks helps more than 7 million small and mid-market businesses get paid fast, access capital, pay their employees and grow in an omni-channel world. Mailchimp’s addition will bring speed and velocity to these efforts, with the acceleration of mid-market expansion opportunities and global growth for both brands.”
Let’s first agree that of the 7 million companies that Chriss refers to, the vast majority are smaller mom and pops that are basically using QuickBooks as a glorified bookkeeping and payroll system like they’ve been doing for years, even decades. These same business owners have purchased CRM systems with the hopes of “integrating” their sales and marketing campaigns with their accounting. Many of these CRM applications say they “integrate” with QuickBooks and if you mean synchronizing a customer’s contact information between the two systems then I guess you can say that that’s true.
But there’s a big dis-connect between CRM and accounting. What is it? It’s not marketing based on contact data. It’s marketing based on sales data. Actual sales data.
If you’re a current QuickBooks and Mailchimp user, then you’ve got data in two different places. You’re probably sending out a newsletter to your email lists that you exported from QuickBooks or from your CRM system to Mailchimp. Or maybe once in a while you’re sending out a promotional message. But you’re doing this in the dark. You’re basing your communications on a checkbox where someone opted-in to receive your monthly communiques. Maybe there’s some interesting stuff in these email newsletters. But they’re all missing something important: history. Sales history.
C’mon, you don’t want to email your customers a newsletter, do you? I know what you want to do. You want to email every customer who bought a Model 758Z Titanium Superfudge and let them know that there’s now a new accessory available that will make their Model 758Z Titanium Superfudge even more productive and then provide them a link where they can buy. Or you want to email every customer that purchased an Excalibur II Refrigeration System from you in 2010 and remind them that the unit is more than five years old and could use maintenance — maybe even an upgrade to the newest Excalibur V Refrigeration System.
You want to group all of the customers that receive annual lawn maintenance services from you and let them know that there’s a new fertilizer treatment that will allow grass to grow even greener than ever and would they like you to include that fertilizer (for a small fee) on your next visit?
Or whether or not the customers who purchased the British colonial style dining room chairs (that have that decidedly modern feel by the way) are now available in a new shade of Burlywood…yes, Burlywood… and wouldn’t that be great as part of a home re-design?
Or how about all of your online customers who purchased the USB C to USB Adapter Pack that’s compatible with the iMac iPad Mini/Pro (and the 2021 MacBook Pro too!) and is now available at a special price and would make the perfect stocking stuffer for that tech geek at Christmas.
Are you getting this?
Newsletters are nice. But let’s be real. Customer don’t want newsletters. They want deals. They want to buy stuff that either replaces or makes the stuff they previously bought even better. When customers are buying a product from a company — and assuming they’re happy with the experience — then companies want to sell more products to those customers. Maybe you can keep them interested with a nice monthly email newsletter. But the way you’ll really grab them is by leveraging the purchases they made from you before and then creating for them a customized, personalized offer by email that they can’t refuse based on those purchases.
Where do you get that data? From your accounting system of course! The problem is that today’s email systems integrate with CRM systems, not accounting systems. But it’s the accounting system that holds the key data to generate sales.
So if the QuickBooks/Mailchimp marriage lives up to its (and my) expectations then millions and millions of small business owners will be stepping over their CRM systems and instead extracting actual historical accounting data (QuickBooks) into their email marketing platform (Mailchimp) and (finally) creating real, profitable, revenue-generating campaigns.
And when that happens it’s the end of your monthly newsletter. Thank goodness. No offense, but your newsletter really wasn’t that interesting anyway.