“I believe the culture of a responsible and ethical email marketing is what makes a real difference.”
1. Tell us about your role at MailUp Group and how you got here?
I am MailUp Group’s CEO. I co-founded the parent company in 2002 alongside four other entrepreneurs. The original project was for a digital agency, bootstrapped. Two years later we developed MailUp, an Email & SMS service provider targeting mid-large companies, and I was the product manager. Eventually it became the only service sold by the company (2009) and I became the General Manager. Then in 2014 we went public on AIM Italia (Alternative Investment Market) and I became the CEO. We started an M&A path and in 2017 we created a Group organization with six business units, with offices in five countries and four different business lines.
2. What is it that you found lacking in the email Marketing landscape then vs now?
I believe the culture of a responsible and ethical email marketing is what makes a real difference. Back in time there were no rules and it was quite difficult for us – as a cloud software provider – to vet prospects and clients to avoid spammers. Nowadays there is much more collaboration and trust between ESPs and “receivers” and this makes it much easier to identify “bad apples” and to provide excellent email deliverability (inbox placement).
3. How is the martech industry different from when you first started?
When I started there was no real martech industry, just a few players in different sectors with little interaction. Also the SAAS term was not really used, it was more common to refer to ASPs (Application Service Provider). The ones who understood the value of connecting different tools with open APIs quickly gained more space. Nowadays, also because of low entry barriers, I see a quite chaotic environment where however small startups struggle when they try to address the mid-large segment.
4. Given the changing dynamics of email marketing where do you see MailUp Group fitting in the ecosystem?
We no longer are a pure email marketing software player. We have a product portfolio which spans from a freemium email design tool (BEE PRO), through a freemium email and sms service (Acumbamail, a sort of Spanish/Italian Mailchimp), to MailUp for mid-large clients and Datatrics for advanced omnichannel marketing automation and AI-data-driven customer journey management. Therefore we are able to cover a wide spectrum of marketers’ needs, thus keeping a very open approach to enable integrations with different players, including competitors. Our two further business lines are oriented to IT departments and Developers (B2D): Agile Telecom is an international wholesale SMS aggregator and BEE Plugin develops and sells a software component (Best Email Editor Plugin) that thousands of SAAS businesses already embedded within their applications.
5. How do you differentiate MailUp Group from the competition?
We are able to leverage a set of key factors: first, we cover a wide spectrum of markets, in terms of both geography and company size/needs. Second, being a public company, we can easily raise resources to fund acquisitions and investments. Third, we can rely on a holding/parent company organization where we share services and costs such as IT, HR, Legal, Finance. Every new company that we launch or acquire gains access to those services and know how. Last, we have a large, well-established customer base, market presence and brand reputation in certain key countries, which allows us to gain value from cross-selling campaigns.
6. What changes are you majorly concentrating on to enhance and plug-in a more actionable customer interaction and communication model?
On one side with Datatrics, we collect data from any kind of source in order to combine traditional, manually-managed campaign workflows (i.e. welcome emails, cart abandoned emails…) with automated AI-driven campaigns on any channel (email, sms, website, display advertising, social networks…). Hence highly personalized, relevant content is delivered, resulting in increased conversion rates and loyalty. On the other side, we are adding new mobile channels such as Facebook Messenger, Instagram and Whatsapp to the MailUp platform, to enable multiple “subscription” methods for users, a powerful multichannel broadcasting engine for marketers and easy connections with any kind of ChatBots or ticketing systems to manage the 1-to-1 interaction.
7. What tools would recommend to CEOs and CMOs as a Sales Hack in 2018?
Difficult to reply in a short sentence. I am fundamentally a product guy so I believe it all starts from a good product provided with very good customer support and professional services when needed. Then of course we have different sales techniques in different markets and segments, but no really innovative sales hacks.
8. What do you think are the new standards of tech integrations? How do you manage the dire data complexities that come along with tech integrations?
We have an API team within MailUp who is focused on developing, enhancing and documenting APIs to make it super easy to connect with MailUp. With Datatrics we are a step forward, since it is a platform fully developed with micro-services and with an open-data model approach since the beginning, using state-of-the-art technologies. This allows very flexible and deep integrations, and this is the reason why Datatrics has so many plug-&-play connectors already released. For example, if you connect Zendesk to Datatrics, you immediately can use any Zendesk field to segment clients, to automatically profile them through AI or to trigger specific campaigns or alerts, on any channel.
9. Which startups in the martech and adtech industries are you keenly following?
During the M&A scouting activity we analyzed several potential interesting targets, but I am sorry I cannot disclose the names.
10. Elaborate on your best digital transformation email marketing campaign. How did you measure the performance among your audience?
With Datatrics it is quite simple. We measure the uplift in conversion rate: depending on the case and the industry, the conversion rate grows after a few months from +23% to +60% on average. The best conversion rate uplift was around 1200% on a B2C online store.
11. What book are you currently reading?
In the business environment, I am currently reading “The Psychology of Persuasion”, which is a book that has driven the development of Datatrics, and then a cult book by Warren Buffett (“The Essays”).
12. One piece of advice you always follow irrespective of circumstances
At MailUp Group we recently worked on our company value, i.e. the values which we believe in and would guide my decisions and behavior, as well as those of all the Group employees, headquartered in several cities around the globe. The values we selected are: caring (in a broad sense for employees, clients, investors, environment, community…), trust, passion and open-mindedness; I truly believe these are qualities that can be of help in any circumstance.