Mar 28, 2013

We’re Unifying Your Mandrill and MailChimp Data

Update (3/16/16): Mandrill is now an add-on for paid monthly MailChimp accounts, and is no longer available as a standalone service. Existing Mandrill users have until April 27, 2016 to merge their Mandrill account with a MailChimp account. See this article for additional details, including pricing information and instructions for merging your accounts.



A little less than a year ago, we launched Mandrill as a startup inside our company, and already these jerks have +40,000 users. What’s Mandrill? Well, if MailChimp was a car, Mandrill would be an engine–built just for developers. As you can imagine, marketing is not exactly a favorite pastime for most developers, so they aren’t always up to speed on email marketing vendors. These devs often ask us if Mandrill has an "email marketing plugin of some sort," so they can "get their marketing team off their back." Ha. Well yes, as a matter of fact we do have a marketing plugin for Mandrill. It’s called MailChimp. And in v8.1, we’ve begun unifying Mandrill and MailChimp data.


Mandrill Activity History

For starters, activity from Mandrill will now appear inside MailChimp’s new Subscriber Profile pages, down in the Activity timeline:


So you can drill down to a subscriber on your MailChimp list, and see if they’ve opened any transactional or personalized emails delivered via Mandrill:



And don’t forget you can now filter that Activity timeline by date range:



Here’s an example where I can see an engaged MailChimp customer that’s had trouble logging in recently, and reset their password:



So that’s showing we’ve linked Mandrill data to MailChimp. The next part is where it gets actionable.


Segment Lists By Mandrill Tags and Activity

You can now create targeted segments of your MailChimp lists based on activity tracked in Mandrill. For example, maybe you want to send a followup or reminder email to customers who opened a transactional email, but didn’t click:


Another example. Let’s say you want to send an email campaign to your MailChimp list, but you don’ t want to bother the people who already received one of your automated and personalized "recommendation" messages from Mandrill:




Or maybe you want to send an event invitation to customers in Atlanta who’ve clicked something in a transactional message:


In the example above, we’re creating a segment of my list to people who’ve clicked the transactional emails tagged in Mandrill with "Activation Email," and who live near Atlanta.

The "live near Atlanta" criteria is pulling from MailChimp’s dataset. Yep, you can use all the built-in tracking that MailChimp gives you, like geo-location, user-agent, and social media, and mash it with Mandrill activity data:


Okay, the example above’s admittedly a little crazy. But still, you get the point–unifying your Mandrill and MailChimp data can be really powerful. You can even build a segment of your list based on Mandrill behavior, then send our Autoresponders to them.

Chimp and Monkey Powers: Unite

When you set up a Mandrill account, you can link it to your MailChimp account on the Integrations screen:



Just like you’d connect MailChimp with Twitter or Facebook. Easy.


Then, under the MailChimp Reports tab, you’ll find a link to Mandrill:



This makes it super easy for a marketer to hop over to Mandrill and check out how the transactional messages are going.  Then you can do those things that marketers enjoy doing, like running comparison reports on the delivery rate for gmail vs. hotmail:


and you can design emails in MailChimp, then pass them as templates to be used in Mandrill’s transactional messages (I mean, unless you want your devs to design the emails themselves):



What’s ahead

MailChimp’s got some serious inertia that’s keeping us moving faster and faster, so it wasn’t easy starting Mandrill. But now that it’s live and running strong, our goal is to further integrate it with MailChimp in order help bridge that gap between devs and marketing. Marketers shouldn’t have to beg and bribe devs to run queries (you should willingly shower them with gifts), and devs shouldn’t have to deal with delivery and list management issues.


Speaking of Mandrill…

The Mandrill team have recently announced some disturbing amazing news over on their blog. Namely:

  1. They’ve fundamentally rebuilt their architecture to make SMTP email delivery faster 
  2. With that increased scalability, they dramatically reduced prices

Servers everywhere (not people).

Transactional emails, such as password reminders and account activation messages, need to get to your customers’ inboxes fast. And your customers are all over the globe. We thought about how to make email delivery fast in every country. At first, we considered opening up offices in every country, and placing a sales person or a tech evangelist in each one of them. But when we tested how fast those humans could deliver email, we found that none of them could deliver email faster than a properly configured email server (some people were able to click the "send mail" button impressively fast, but we ran into hardware limitations with their keyboards and mice). Before you suggest hummingbirds and cheetahs, yes–we already thought of that, but I’ve learned the hard way that hummingbirds can be really, really violent.

So we decided to put servers around the world instead:


Fact: Computers deliver email faster than humans. Silly humans.

The fascinating thing about those dots, imho, is how fundamentally different Mandrill’s approach is to MailChimp’s. It had to be. With MailChimp, customers send one payload to our servers, then we deliver copies of that one message to thousands or millions of recipients (in total, we send more than 4 billion emails a month). In MailChimp, it’s okay if you hit "send" and it takes an hour for 10 million emails to get distributed. So we can centralize our servers to make things more efficient. But Mandrill users send tiny, one-to-one emails to their customers. Fast. For them, we need a big, distributed network of computers to shave a few milliseconds off of every SMTP request between their servers and ours. Read up on the chattiness of SMTP here. There’s a point to all this geeky server efficiency talk…

We pass the savings to you

After abandoning our plans to put humans, hummingbirds, cheetahs and yes–genetically spliced "cheetahbirds" around the globe, we had a lot of money left over in the budget.



So we dropped Mandrill’s prices. Significantly.

Examples of how much more affordable Mandrill just got:


That’s less than $3 to send 25,000 emails. After the first free 12,000 emails. Wait, OMG who approved this?!?

Clearly, I’m going to have to watch the Mandrill team more closely. You should too–if you’re a fan of the "change fast" side of MailChimp, you should stop by the Mandrill lab every Friday for their weekly release notes. They’re growing fast and innovating faster.