Most of us have been reached out by the deposed king of Nigeria, Muammar Qaddafi’s helpless daughter, or some random widow from Burkina Faso with offers of quick riches. Though these might just be schemes, sometimes you come across legitimate discounts, be it from a brand you like or a university you were looking at. And behind the scenes, powering that technology, is our startup this week.
Mailmunch is a startup based out of Lahore and San Francisco that offers lead generation and marketing tools to businesses. You can just sign up, integrate your website, and get started. It lets you build forms for email subscription (think newsletter sections of online publications), choose their templates or placement on the page.
You can also create a campaign, segment your audience, broadcast the email or opt for auto responder. Then simply type the text, subject and choose the list of addresses to be sent to or schedule it for a later time. What if someone doesn’t have a website to begin with and still wants to send out mass emails for, say, a promotion? Don’t worry, MailMunch has that covered too. Just use their landing page feature, which lets you create a similar form using a unique URL and collect leads.
The startup was founded in 2015 by Adeel Raza and Zain Zafar, two software engineers by profession. “I was attending a conference on marketing in San Diego where the debate was between choosing social media and email campaigns,” Raza recalls.
“There were already a number of options for sending out emails en masse but with respect to collecting emails list and generating leads, there was a gap. So I pitched the idea to my co-founder and we launched this,” he adds. Initially the duo started out with bloggers as their target market but given the segment’s general inability to pay for such a solution, they soon shifted their focus towards e-commerce where brands are always on the look to acquiring more customers.
Raza, now residing in San Francisco, neatly fits the serial entrepreneur label and is running two more startups: Minder, the Tinder-inspired matrimonial platform for Muslims, and Unlayer, a plug and play email editor.
Mailmunch works on a freemium model, offering a free basic plan with limited options, and a tiered subscription model with pricing starting from $10 a month. There are also add-ons for extra features such as team accounts or whitelabel solutions.
Throughout its five-year history, the venture has been bootstrapped. “I have never taken the funding route for any of my startups. In fact for SaaS companies, you really don’t need external capital for growth,” says the CEO.
The email marketing industry is perhaps best personified by its leader Mailchimp, a US-based company founded in 2001 with estimated revenues exceeding $800 million. Then there are others, including the venture (and growth capital) backed Constant Contact and Active Campaign.
How does Mailmunch hope to make gains in such a saturated market?
“Pricing is a key difference, with our plans as much as 50 per cent cheaper than those of Mailchimp. In terms of features, there is more or less a parity in the industry where we lead in some - such as the landing page - and lag a bit in others, like email automation,” explains Raza. The fact that they have integrations with most major email marketing platforms in the industry give the impression that despite whatever competition, there is a healthy level of collaboration within this space.
Enough about the supply side, what’s even more important are the demand dynamics. Considering the relatively nascent internet business landscape in Pakistan, is there any market for such a solution locally? After all, we only have a handful of major (whatever that means) e-commerce players - that too with a heavy reliance on social media and SMS marketing — and the lesser said about online publications, the better.
“We have a few clients in the country such as Shaukat Khanum and Techjuice, but Pakistan as a market doesn’t really feature anywhere on our list. Around 60pc of Mailmunch’s customers are from the US, while the remaining are spread out over Europe, New Zealand, Australia etc,” the founder tells Dawn, adding that the startup has over 100,000 active users currently.
You might also be wondering whether email marketing is really an effective means of promotion? I mean given how intrusive it seems, does it work after all? “It’s much more valuable to have 1,000 email addresses than 1,000 likes on Facebook for example. Here you have more control with open rates even up to 25pc, whereas on social media, algorithms keep changing and that messes up your reach,” Raza says.
The writer is member of staff:
Published in Dawn, August 30th, 2020