Jan 30, 2014

A Look at Mobile Usage in MailChimp

While working on our 2013 Annual Report, every department at MailChimp sifted through data to find interesting stories to tell. Our UX Team noticed that in December 2013, we had a 48% increase in traffic from desktop browsers, compared to December of 2012. Not bad, but when they looked at traffic from smartphones, we saw a 119% increase. There was also a 105% increase in traffic from tablet devices. When I heard all that, I breathed a sigh of relief. That’s because over the last couple years, we’ve been completely redesigning MailChimp from the public website, to the app, all the way down to the email templates you use, to be mobile friendly. The idea was to make MailChimp work from any device so customers can just get their work done. These were not easy changes for us to make (and definitely not easy for users to adapt to), but when you look at the trends, I believe they were wise long-term investments. In a way, this post is a "state of the union" about all our mobile efforts for our customers.

MailChimp’s native apps

In 2013, in addition to making our web app responsive for mobile browsers, we invested heavily in building out our suite of native mobile apps. The idea was that people use different devices in different ways with different goals. (See "Broad trends in mobile usage" in this post). Instead of building one giant, all-encompassing app, we decided to build multiple apps. If nothing else, this approach keeps us flexible in a "rapidly changing mobile landscape." Here’s a rundown of what we accomplished with our native apps:

  • We created MailChimp Editor, which helps you design your email campaigns with drag-and-drop ease and collaborate with coworkers from your tablet device, even when you’re offline. Not only was this a huge undertaking, it also required all sorts of changes to our API (specifically, we had to create an API for the new drag-and-drop editor).
  • We added Chimpadeedoo for Android, which was also our first foray into making apps "universal."
  • We launched Gather, which was our experiment with urgent, SMS broadcast messaging. The experiment was a success, so you’ll see us integrating Gather into "MailChimp Proper" in the months ahead. And yes, the recent snowpocalypse in our hometown of Atlanta is making us particularly motivated to get this done.
  • We made back-end updates to Pyow (coupon codes for retailers).
  • We updated the icon for Golden Monkeys, an app for tracking VIP engagement.
  • We added an Android app for Mandrill.

But by far, the bulk of our work was in MailChimp Mobile. With just under 500,000 downloads since its launch, it’s our flagship mobile app.

Making MailChimp Mobile universal

Here’s another stat: MailChimp Mobile is used 73% of the time on iPhones, and 26% of the time on iPads.

Back in December, we pushed an update to MailChimp Mobile for iOS to make it a universal app. "Universal" is Apple’s way of describing an app that works on both iPhones and iPads. We took advantage of the screen real estate we have on the iPad to introduce an iPad-specific dashboard. Under the Recent Campaigns half of the Dashboard, you can swipe through the reports of your last 5 campaigns. Then, tap on data in the report to see opens, clicks, abuse reports, and unsubscribes in a way that’s unique to the iPad.

MobileJanuarySmall_Dashboard

Switch over to List Growth to see how your lists are performing month-to-month with a breakdown for each list.

MobileJanuarySmall_ListGrowth

It’s nothing groundbreaking or revolutionary, but it’s refreshingly useful for things to just work on multiple devices. As you’ll see below, for us the meaning of "universal" goes beyond how our apps look on smartphones vs. tablets.

Next: Connecting all the apps

We’ve started to think about how our suite of mobile apps can connect with each other, and with desktop browsers. Let’s say you’re on the couch or in a plane/train/automobile with your iPad, reviewing your campaign stats in MailChimp Mobile. You notice something that makes you want to change an upcoming campaign. You can tap the draft in MailChimp Mobile, and open it in MailChimp Editor to make your changes.

MobileJanuarySmall_New

If you collaborate on campaigns with coworkers, you can add comments via MailChimp Mobile or MailChimp Editor, and they’ll appear everywhere (the web browser, too). If there are people in your company who don’t have any of our mobile apps or access to the web browser, they can still submit comments and approve campaigns via good old fashioned email replies. Connecting the universe of MailChimp apps is possible thanks to our API (I’ll say it again and again: invest in your API first).

Not "mobile work." Just work.

It’s hard to talk about mobile usage without resorting to the everything is mobile and mobile is everything!!! hyperbole. I think we’re past all that, and businesses just want to get their work done. Remember when we were "working on the information superhighway (insert sound of modem connecting)"? Yeah, no. It’s just "work" now. I think that’s what makes these mobile usage numbers so interesting to me.

More mobile usage stats from December 2013:

  • 26,000+ new accounts connected to MailChimp Mobile. Interestingly, about 2,000 of those users connected a second account that they manage. (For example, a creative agency might manage multiple MailChimp accounts for different clients.)
  • 10,266 searches were performed on iPhone, and 2,743 searches on iPad (the work on this began in 2012).
  • 334 customer profile notes were added, and 19 notes were updated, via MailChimp Mobile.
  • 181 comments were added via mobile apps.
  • More than 600 reports were shared.

Those numbers are really granular and admittedly unsexy, but I think they show how people just want to get their work done with whatever tools they can get their hands on. We just want to help them get that work done easily.