What do you do when you are the last one to join the party? What do you do when you don’t have the moolah to outspend your counterparts? What do you do when you are fighting against giants?
You choose your battles wisely.
Nothing epitomizes that like Mailerlite does. Mailerlite is an email marketing tool that was founded in 2010 well after the other extremely successful email marketing platforms.
Most of us might be zoning out thinking that it is a lifestyle business (a lifestyle business is a business set up and run by its founders primarily with the aim of sustaining a particular level of income and no more; or to provide a foundation from which to enjoy a particular lifestyle.)
Just so that you know, over 320,000 businesses, start-ups, and freelancers around the world use ML. And they hit million dollars in revenue in their 3rd year. All this while being completely bootstrapped.
2010 was the year that MailChimp was acquiring users at will, thanks to the freemium model they announced in the winter of 2009.
MailChimp was already 3 years old and was widely loved and respected for getting their branding right. Led by a cool monkey named Freddie — the mascot who captures the spirit of their brand’s personality.
Now, who doesn’t like a monkey that smiles, winks, and sometimes high-fives?
If you aren’t someone who hasn’t known much about MailChimp, you would have to spend barely a couple of minutes to fall in love with their content and visual language. For starters, here’s a page from their content style-guide. MailChimp’s voice is Fun but not silly, Confident but not cocky, Smart but not stodgy, Informal but not sloppy, Helpful but not overbearing, Expert but not bossy, Weird but not inappropriate. MailChimp’s tone is usually informal, but it’s always more important to be clear than entertaining.
When you got someone who is killing it with branding, you got high standards to live up to. Now, this is where Mailerlite pulled out their secret bunny (strictly metaphorical, of course).
The Mailerlite Detour
Being the last mover, they could have easily panicked and spent all their time on raising capital. But instead, they are focused on telling a new narrative.
Let’s dive right into what they did right.
Keep it simple. Mailerlite is obsessed with clean design and simplicity. What can be more simple than the drag-n-drop editor they introduced? Even their language is simple, clear and concise. This simplicity extends beyond the product into operations — no complex corporate structure, no unnecessary features, no investors.
Move people(employees & customers). They primarily stick to real photographs with people and go light on illustrations. Be it their blog or their social channels, they are constantly trying to faces of their team. This not only adds a humane touch to the branding but it also involves the whole team. After all, we make products for people.
Build a culture. When you treat people like adults, they behave like one. Since most of the team works remote, a strong culture of ownership becomes pivotal. But it is not all work and no play — Twice a year they have workations, i.e. the team meets, works and travels together for a week or so. This mixture of fun and ownership is what turns employees into evangelists. So don’t find it surprising to see the team passionately talking about their company/work life on their personal social accounts.
Provide awesome customer support. When you see a company caring about its employee so much, you are bound to subconsciously believe that when you sign up as a user, they will care about your business. And it’s not just talk. Their 24*7 customer support for even the forever free plans is a testament to that. While writing this piece, I mailed out a query to their support staff on a Saturday and I got a response in under 5 minutes.
Always be helping. They help small businesses and startups create beautiful emails and newsletters. With that, they help you learn. They share their stories, resources, and experiences that help people. Here’s one such thing you will enjoy — books that changed our business.
For a brand to be extremely successful, what they stand for should trickle down to everything they do. So, when they say that the serve small businesses, you can see it at every level — be it adding features to their product(forms, mail automation or landing pages) or the freemium plan which doesn’t put a cap on any feature.
Ultimately, that’s what makes Mailerlite’s story different — everything they stand for trickles down to everything they do.