Mailchimp’s Partnership Principles

Joni Deus

Posted by Joni

• 10 min read

Note: We ask all of our partners and potential partners to read this, so they can understand how we approach strategic partnerships and how we can work together to serve our small business customers.

Mailchimp exists to empower small businesses. We do this by democratizing cutting-edge marketing technology for them. We take powerful marketing tools that are usually only available for enterprise, and make them user friendly and package them up for growing businesses in our all-in-one marketing platform.

Strategic partnerships and product integrations are an indispensable part of how we serve our customers and how our customers prefer to use Mailchimp. As we continue to build and scale our platform, they’ll become even more important.

We get a lot of questions about how we approach partnerships, especially as we expand our own product offerings. We’re happy to share more about how we approach partnerships, and how we define strong partnerships.

We’re independent and impartial

Finding and growing an audience (not to mention building a business) is hard enough on its own. At Mailchimp, we believe our customers should have the ability to use whatever marketing solution is right for them, and to use Mailchimp along with other tools to help them grow. There are a lot of potential solutions that our customers will want to use and that we need to support. We want our customers to have access to the best third party platforms for them. That’s why we try to be like Switzerland when it comes to the tools and platforms we integrate with.

While we have high standards for quality and won’t partner with just anyone, we support open standards and let our customers make their own choices. That means we go to great lengths to avoid entering into exclusive partnerships that limit our customers’ choices. For example, you’ll see that we support and work with multiple e-commerce solutions, and we tend to gradually add options over time (even in instances where we might start with just one integration of its kind).

Another example of this approach is that we have a free directory of popular integrations with our API. We don’t adjust directory results based on the economic benefit of the partner—we make it as easy as possible for customers to find what they’re looking for.

And importantly, when we launch features or capabilities that overlap with what our partners offer, we continue to support the partners and give our customers a choice. If customers are happy with their current configuration, or if they’re looking for something more specific than what we offer, that’s great. We respect each partner’s right to set their own vision and roadmap, and we don’t want our shared users to have to choose between Mailchimp and another tool. Mailchimp isn’t a walled garden.

Finally, we don’t restrict our service partners by forcing them to work with Mailchimp exclusively. Many of our service partners are agencies who support a variety of clients across a number of different platforms, and we want them to have the flexibility to offer choices to their own customers. We see this flexibility as a good thing, even if it means that they sometimes choose our competitors. This isn’t grandstanding, and this isn’t because we’re inherently nicer—it’s because growing businesses change and pivot frequently on their path to product-market-fit, and they need flexibility in both the tools they use and their service agencies.

We don’t lock customers (or their data) in

We’ve had a public API for more than a decade—more than half our company’s existence! Developers and agency partners are able to use our public API to do just about anything inside the Mailchimp application. We invite third parties and other companies to build integrations on our API, and we encourage creativity and experimentation. We don’t lock our customers into specific functionality or limit their access to other platforms’ functionality.

Along these lines, we feel strongly that our customers’ data belongs to our customers. We keep it in one place for them, help them protect it, and use it to inform their marketing and recommend next steps to help them grow—but we never lock it in. Our customers have complete control of their own data and can export it at any time. Data portability is now enshrined in the GDPR, but we’ve always seen it as an essential part of how we make it easy for our users to integrate with other platforms and services.

We care deeply about data privacy, and only request data that will help us serve our customers. We empower our users to choose what types of data they gather and how it’s used within our platform. While we don’t expect our partners to completely agree with our approach to data portability and privacy, we do ask that they respect our positions. We won’t compromise on these points.

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We’re always looking to do more

Today, we integrate with more than 3,500 different apps and platforms, and we’re proud to call almost 200 different companies our partners.

But technology is always changing, so we’re always looking for ways to improve and better serve our customers and partners. As an example, we’re now in our third iteration of our API, with the latest changes and updates built around user feedback. We wanted to provide a world-class experience for developers, and we knew that meant soliciting and incorporating feedback. The API playground allows developers to see HTTP requests and their return values, so they can use it for debugging and learning purposes.

Right now, we have multiple efforts underway to create additional co-marketing benefits and build out additional tools and resources specifically designed with our partners in mind. Our motto is “listen hard, change fast,” and we mean it: If you have feedback for us or an idea of how we can improve, let us know at partnerships@mailchimp.com.

We’re also looking out for new partnership opportunities with companies interested in helping us serve our mutual customers more effectively. Interested in becoming a partner? Send us an email at the same address.

We stay true to our values

We’re here to empower small businesses, and we want to make the world of marketing technology more open, more human, and more customer-centric. When a partner decides to move their business in a direction that doesn’t align with the principles shared above, we may need to part ways. For example, earlier this year, we announced our decision to end our longstanding partnership with Shopify. We didn’t make this decision lightly, but we can’t work with partners who want to restrict our ability to innovate or serve our customers. The way we see it, either we take our values seriously and we’re prepared to act on them, or they’re only words on paper, and they’re not our values at all.

At the same time, even though Shopify takes a different approach and we can't continue to be strategic partners, we're not going to block them or their users from the Mailchimp ecosystem. So we’ve worked hard to find solutions so that current Mailchimp-Shopify customers don’t need to leave either platform, but instead can make their own decisions about what data they share and what tools they’ll use to run their businesses.

We love our partners

To us, strong partnerships are built on mutual trust, mutual respect, and mutual freedom. From small, one or two person agencies to large tech platforms, we value all of our partnerships. Strategic partnerships are critical to how we run our business and how we serve our customers. We’re on a mission to help millions of small businesses around the world grow, and we welcome new partners along the way.