As a small-business owner, you probably get lots of emails from blogs you follow and associations you belong to. If you scroll to the bottom of these emails, you’ll notice many of them are sent with Mailchimp. They have shifted from an email-only platform to a marketing force thanks to some well-executed maneuvers.
By strategically using marketing terms on its web pages, Mailchimp shows up at the top of SERPs alongside marketing-only platforms—the only email platform to do so. Its content, and now its brand, appeals to users who want to run ads, build websites, and upgrade their social media presence, not just to those who want to send emails. Mailchimp has established itself as a strong contender in a competitive (and lucrative) niche.
That important shift means nothing if Mailchimp doesn't capture and convert their new audience. That's what we'll cover here.
In this article, we're going to look at the unique way Mailchimp uses content to attract users and convert them into paying customers. We'll use competitive analysis from SpyFu to understand Mailchimp's organic and paid strategies. Specifically, we'll look at their keyword and Google Ads strategies to see how content attracts and converts users.
Organic performance is off the charts
Mailchimp ranks for more unique keywords than its organic search competitors. The sheer number of keywords Mailchimp ranks for means it attracts a wider audience than competitors like Campaign Monitor or Constant Contact. In fact, people are just as likely to encounter Mailchimp content when searching for email terms as they are when searching for marketing terms.
For example, Mailchimp ranks for keywords about podcasts that link to its Mailchimp Presents content, a podcast and a series of videos that follow the journeys of entrepreneurs. As a result, Mailchimp stands out to small businesses, entrepreneurs, and freelancers who want to learn about business management and marketing—not just email marketing.
Organic keywords: Mailchimp pages show up in Google alongside non-email marketing results
The more organic keywords you rank for—that is, words and phrases that draw people to your site from a search engine results page (SERP)—the better. Organic keywords are free, help improve online visibility, and attract quality traffic.
Mailchimp ranks for 43,234 organic keywords. This is considerably higher than competitors like Campaign Monitor and SendGrid, which rank for 26,300 and 13,290 organic keywords, respectively.
While many of Mailchimp's keywords reference email marketing, some cover other features that their platform offers. These might be their CRM, website builder, survey, and landing page capabilities. That kind of reach has Mailchimp ranking alongside marketing-only platforms on the same SERPs.
For example, Mailchimp is the only email platform on page 1 of Google search results for the keyword “page landing.” Instapage and Unbounce also appear on page 1. But unlike Mailchimp, they aren’t free to use—small businesses that want to build their brand have to pay to learn more about these platforms.
When people click on Mailchimp’s link, they’re taken to a landing page resource guide with free templates, branding options, and analytics.
Throughout the guide are multiple calls to action (CTAs) encouraging readers to learn more and sign up. Once readers sign up, they can create as many free landing pages as they want. Freemium users can then publish their landing pages as is or change the URL by buying a plan that allows them to purchase a verified domain.
When users click on “upgrade your account,” they’re prompted to choose a plan and enter payment information. One of the reasons users who found the landing page guide convert at this point is that Mailchimp was on the first page of Google. The guide ranks high, in part, because of its own URL structure, which includes the target keyword:
When Google ranks pages, it prioritizes sites with short URLs that make the page content clear. Note, Mailchimp’s URL also includes the folder the content is found in—in this case, “features.” When users scroll search results, it’s clear to them the page covers Mailchimp’s landing page feature.
In addition to ranking for thousands of organic keywords found throughout its content, Mailchimp also ranks for keywords that its competitors don’t.
Campaign Monitor and SendGrid are left to battle for a smaller segment of users—all three competitors share 3,568 keywords.
To better understand how Mailchimp uses content to set itself apart from its competition, consider the fact that Mailchimp and Campaign Monitor both rank on the first page of Google for the keyword “re-engagement campaign.”
The Campaign Monitor result links to an article titled “How to Run an Effective Re-Engagement Campaign.” It’s a solid piece that generates lots of traffic. However, it isn’t written to convert readers into paying customers, because it doesn’t contain any CTAs encouraging readers to sign up for the service.
Mailchimp’s guide offers answers to a specific problem; that’s why the page is titled “Re-Engage Inactive Subscribers.” The content is written for users who are ready to level up and improve their campaigns and analysis. Mailchimp stands out because its content is action-oriented. Their content also offers details about how to identify inactive subscribers, how to decide how to target them, and how to use reports.
Also, the keyword density—the number of times a keyword appears in relation to total word count—on this page is strong. The primary keyword “re-engagement campaigns” appears four times, but secondary keywords like “re-engagement tools” and “re-engagement strategy” also appear. Keyword density is another factor Google uses to judge relevance and rank certain pages higher than others.
Freemium Mailchimp users are offered basic analytics like subscriber size, open rate, and click-through rate. But this re-engagement guide introduces readers to more-complex reports—like comparative reports, A/B testing reports, and multivariate reports available only on paid plans.
Paid performance: Low ad spend yields high payoff
Mailchimp uses some of its content budget to promote new content using Google Ads targeting keywords that attract a specific audience and maximize ad return on investment (ROI).
You don’t have to spend a fortune on Google Ads to attract new users. Mailchimp spends $298,000 per month on ads compared to Constant Contact, which spends $329,000 per month.
Even though Mailchimp spends less on ads, it has 31,207 unique paid keywords. Constant Contact, on the other hand, ranks for 27,624 unique keywords (11% less than Mailchimp).
Though Mailchimp spends less on Google Ads than its competitors, they manage to reach more people by buying ads for more unique paid keywords.
Ad spend: careful keyword selection keeps costs down
Choosing keywords based on topics your audience is interested in ensures that your content is relevant and likely to attract clicks. For Mailchimp, this means branded and niche keywords.
The brand has thought of every possible combination of “Mailchimp” + feature or function, and it ranks for 407 branded keywords. (Their competitor Constant Contact ranks for only 114.)
Another example: Mailchimp ranks first on page 1 of SERPs for multiple variations of “landing page templates.” Sites that actually specialize in landing page templates, like Wix and LeadPages, also appear on page 1.
Mailchimp is first on the list because it has a high quality score—which lowers cost per click (CPC).
Mailchimp relies on a landing page that highlights the top five Mailchimp template types and features, like branding and design.
The page also includes multiple CTAs asking new users to sign up, as well as resources about new features to help existing users improve their landing pages.
When users scroll to the bottom of the landing page guide (pictured above), they are drawn toward articles that link to detailed resource pages that introduce features on the paid plan. For example, the article titled “Learn the Best Ways to Share It” talks about the Instagram and Facebook ads feature, which is available on only one of the paid plans.
You’ll also notice that five of the nine articles above include “landing pages” in their titles. Including target keywords on the landing page also improves the quality score and keeps this guide high on SERPs.
Ad copy: Expensive keywords attract specific users
Google Ads (AdWords) let you take a deep dive into keyword research to find search volume, competition, and click rates. When you start using Google Ads, you’ll have to experiment a little to figure out what combination attracts your target audience so your big spend pays off.
Mailchimp targets expensive, low- to mid-volume keywords related to its core business: email marketing. Keywords like “email marketing autoresponder” and “newsletter creator” are used in ads when the company isn’t speaking to everyone, just the people most likely to use the email marketing product and convert to a paid plan. The right combination of expensive keywords is key to stretching their budget—a smart approach for Mailchimp.
The keyword “newsletter creator” costs $7.44 per click, has 1,600 searches per month, and a difficulty of 64. Mailchimp is the first ad result on page 1.
“Newsletter creator” is most relevant to users who’ve done their research and are ready to sign up for a service, so Mailchimp’s landing page is short and to the point—there aren’t any distractions, just a link to a sign-up landing page.
New users sign up and then create and send their email campaign. Not surprisingly, if they want to improve their email open rate, new users must upgrade to a paid plan. That allows them to use features like batch delivery and send emails based on subscriber engagement or time zones.
During almost every interaction in Mailchimp, like creating email campaigns or landing pages, users have the option to unlock more features—for a price. For example, when users schedule their email campaigns, Mailchimp gives them four opportunities to upgrade to a paid plan.
Mailchimp makes the upgrades quick and seamless so that they can return users back to the campaign scheduling page. That removes friction and immediately rewards them for taking action.
Content creation boosts user conversion rates
With the help of organic and paid keywords, Mailchimp has set itself apart from not only email marketing platforms but, in some cases, non-email marketing platforms.
They researched the audience's needs and curiosities, finding knowledge gaps that weren't addressed by other sites. Keep in mind that any successful keyword strategy takes time to show results. Mailchimp’s success is built on consistently learning from its users and adjusting its keyword strategy over time.
Be clear on the benefits you offer, the target audience you want to attract, and the action you want them to take. You’ll find it’s easier to create content that guides users and gets you the results you’re after versus creating campaigns without a clear plan.