The pressure to establish an online presence has haunted small businesses since the rapid explosion of e-commerce. With the spread of COVID-19 shutting down in-person interactions, many owners have experienced a dramatic shift in needing to build a virtual audience.
Now, while in a global pandemic, how can businesses adapt and thrive in a saturated virtual market?
Praised for its friendly user interface and customer service, Mailchimp has consistently performed as a top competitor in its field. Since recently expanding into an all-in-one marketing platform, its user reach has widely diversified.
Users now have a generous range of marketing tools, but how are they really using them? Freelance or small business owners often lack a large enough team to maintain a marketing strategy, so what impact does using Mailchimp have towards reaching big-picture goals?
The biggest overall trend was the expected growth of new marketing companies coming forth and offering cheaper - if not free - memberships to use their platforms.
Amazon SES was the most anticipated next competitor. While its user interface or branding was not nearly as friendly, its incredibly cheap prices are sure to be a pain point for Mailchimp who just increased their subscription prices.
I interviewed 5 freelancers, small business owners or staff members, aged 25 - 40 years, who frequently used Mailchimp within the last year.
Many sticky notes later, I grouped my findings into five major pain points:
While 4/5 users praised Mailchimp for its intuitive navigation and trustworthy brand, all 5 users mentioned lacking direction behind their marketing content and not having the time, resource, or knowledge of how to measure its impact.
Through an empathy map, I broke down even further the collective behavior of Mailchimp users based on my 1:1 conversations and secondary research.
Through journey mapping, I added a visual storyline of Dani’s emotional reaction to her daily routine as a Mailchimp user. This process was extremely helpful in humanizing points of frustration and brainstorming ideas that could ease Dani’s workflow.
While my assumption was correct - Mailchimp is cranking out so many new features that users are overwhelmed by options - I was surprised to discover how many users claimed they did not have a clear marketing strategy because they lacked the support, knowledge, and/or resources to keep up with one.
The problem wasn’t just that users needed more direction on what Mailchimp tools to utilize - users first needed to establish goals that clarified why using certain marketing tools will improve their business.
Most users felt overwhelmed by data and what to do with it. How do you make data fun and engaging to busy dreamers on a time crunch?
Keeping in mind Mailchimp’s broad user base and that every business has its own set of needs, the feature needed to be customizable and adaptable. The data needed to be easily digestible that could then provide the foundation of a successful marketing strategy. On top of that, the proposed solution needed to require little to no effort.
Not only is Mailchimp’s resource page free and highly accessible, it’s also constantly being updated with trend reports and how-to articles that aim to help underdogs meet their goals. To learn how Mailchimp has taught and continues to approach strategy, I read over 30 articles on their site (some dating back to 2016) and broke down tips and tricks into four broad categories.
Through Crazy 8’s and sketching, I quickly drew out different ideas on what a strategy-centered feature could look like. I started by drawing several types of graphs and pie charts, but even transferring all data into a visual graphic can be too overwhelming to digest.
How much data did users really need to see? And where within the site could this feature live as a main guiding point?
Since the purpose of the feature is to guide users on which tools to use, the Strategy Builder needed to stand out right when users log into Mailchimp. Because the current Mailchimp dashboard was mostly being overlooked by users, I decided this strategy builder best fit into the dashboard.
Based off of Mailchimp’s most frequent tips on how to build a marketing strategy, the new feature first guides users through an onboarding process that helps them establish clear, measurable goals. Users are then guided to their new custom dashboard that offers suggested next action steps based off of the collected data.
I based layouts, typography, and all buttons/shapes on Mailchimp's current branding and onboarding process.
The updated dashboard offers a chart where users can easily track their progress to the goals they set through the Strategy Builder. Instead of having multiple pie charts, diagrams, and other graphs, having one focal graph that serves as their marketing analyst is much easier to digest.
The dashboard also includes a "Next Steps" section that calculates which next marketing actions would lead to the most success, depending on audience statistics, campaign results, and integrated data. To help teams stay on track with deadlines, the dashboard also includes a general reminder to the next deadline, and access to a larger team calendar.
5 participants were asked to test out the prototype to complete the Strategy Builder task flow. Testing was conducted virtually over Zoom on desktop screens. All particiaptns were able to complete the task without difficulty, though the outcome showed some interesting insights on what needed further improvement.
During testing, 60% of participants mentioned it would feel less jarring to have the integrations step at the end. For iterations, I moved the integrations page to the end of the onboarding process. While 40% of participants did not engage as frequently with “Why It Matters”, the 60% who carefully read through its contents mentioned it was “ helpful and reassuring”.