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It’s worth $12 billion but you can have it for free

A mother chimpanzee with baby on its back

Intuit announced it’s buying email marketing company MailChimp for $12 billion. Founded out of Atlanta in 2001, MailChimp currently has about 1,200 employees, so that’s $10 million for each of them on average (the founders kept most of the windfall, though). At that rate, if MailChimp had as many employees as Google it’d be worth $1.4 trillion, three quarters of Alphabet’s actual market cap. It’s very impressive for a privately owned company like MailChimp.   

Intuit is the maker of QuickBooks and TurboTax, so we assume they ran the numbers. Still, you might be wondering why pay that much for an email marketing shop. Isn’t email dead? (Everything is always dead). Their answer: AI. Turns out MailChimp robots run over two million predictions every day for their 13 million global users. That may not sound like that much compared to Facebook, but MailChimp users are almost all small businesses, Intuit’s exact segment.

Intuit must know that automating small business services is hard. Automating marketing is a headache for giant corporations, imagine for a small business. At Verb we don’t have to imagine it because we are a small business, and we use MailChimp. The reason is simple: MailChimp is free for up to 2,000 people in your email list. You get some of their best automation at the only cost of letting them advertise their services with a discrete logo at the bottom of your messages.

Intuit says the acquisition will help tackle any small business’ key problem: getting and retaining customers. That’s what we use MailChimp for at Verb. Some of our customers are large organizations and they hire us for help with their email marketing, so we know more about it than the average small business. Here are a few examples of how MailChimp uses its AI to give their small business customers some of the tips larger organizations get from expert companies like Verb.

Clever Monkey 7 Ways

  1. Segment the market: They say that if they catch you sleeping in marketing class, the answer to any question is always “segment the market.” That is also true of email marketing. MailChimp helps you automate that by offering to personalize the “To:” field of every message you send out. For example, your message to me will be addressed to Victor Aimi instead of This detail is important because it helps you think of why you’re emailing the person first, an excellent habit that will make your messages more effective.   
  2. Write better subject lines: There are many theories about how to write better subject lines, too many to remember, because subject lines have a huge influence in the number of people who will open your messages. The average email open rate is 21% but we know (from MailChimp) that the number can vary a lot. MailChimp automation will give you tips as you write your subject line, with text and flags of different colors for when you did a good job or need more work.
  3. Always include previews: The preview is that line of text that you can see under the subject of every message in your inbox. Most email marketing tools will let you edit the preview separately so that instead of reading “Hello, I hope you are doing well” or some other greeting, you tell your recipients why it’s a good idea to continue reading: What do they get? By when do they need to respond? What do they miss if they don’t? Again, MailChimp automation will read your preview as you edit it and give you tips on length, clarity, and effectiveness.
  4. Create compelling messages: So, you got people to open your email and now it’s time to tell them what it’s all about. That can be a lot, especially during the pandemic, when “the fit is hitting the shan everywhere” as Ann Handley says. MailChimp will not write your messages for you, but it will offer some templates that will make it easier to put out consistently good emails with a clear call to action. That is a good place to start using email to replace your in-person events, meetings, and store visits.
  5. Avoid spam: Once your message is complete, MailChimp will analyze all the content and give you a “spam score” so that you know the likelihood of your email ending up in the junk mail folder.
  6. Connect your website: As MailChimp cofounder said when announcing the sale, they worked hard to sprinkle their magic beyond email. One thing we use at Verb is a bit of clever automation that will check our blog and email our list with our latest post every Saturday morning. You can subscribe to our list here.
  7. Grow your list: You can also use MailChimp to create an easy landing page for people to sign up to your email list. You can host that on your website, or just host it on MailChimp and post a link on social media. You can use the same functionality to create a “Contact Us” form that will send the information to your company’s MailChimp inbox.

ROI: Infinite

How does MailChimp make money if it offers all of this for free? Apparently, if you use all their automation your business will outgrow the 2,000-name limit of your free account. In fact, MailChimp has over 800,000 paying customers. Even if you consider the time invested to grow your list, getting the AI support you needed to guide you there at no cost for sure improved your ROI.

MailChimp founders started their email marketing service as a side business to their original corporate website design firm. They later realized that selling to small businesses was more lucrative than selling to corporations. Of course, Google and Facebook also grew by providing small businesses with digital marketing tools. You might think that email is dead, but for both MailChimp owners and their customers, email marketing still had pretty good ROI.