Irreconcilable differences: eCommerce stores caught in the crossfire of Shopify and MailChimp Split

No eCommerce store owner likes the sort of Black Friday delivered last week by Shopify and MailChimp. The eCommerce and email marketing giants stunned small and mid-sized businesses across the globe with news of their acrimonious breakup over data security concerns on both sides.

Effective May 12, 2019, MailChimp for Shopify will cease to function, eliminating the native integration that provided easy, inexpensive and timely email support for Shopify store activity.

Some in the industry believe this is a sign of things to come as more apps tighten controls over how APIs and connectors pass consumer data. Can anyone else hear the chorus of “I told you so’s” emanating from IT departments across the world?

Software as a Service (SAAS) and cloud providers have been developing functionality in ludicrous speed for more than a decade, trying to meet agile marketing demands and satisfy insatiable work-from-anywhere requirements. All while trying to maintain some semblance of data security.

Linking complex infrastructures with APIs, app exchanges, webhooks, and native connectors is the norm. In many cases, especially for smaller businesses, only a passing nod is given to the layers of Ts & Cs and privacy policies supporting these infrastructures.

Is it all a house of cards?

Probably not. With regulations like GDPR and the California Privacy Act leading the charge, solutions providers are tightening their own governance of data in anticipation of global requirements for consumer data security. But, we should all stay-tuned, stay nimble and continue to look at the platform as a means to an end, not the basis of our marketing strategies.

Unless your options are already restrained by severe regulations like HIPAA (MailChimp was not for you to begin with), keep your options open: stick with annual vs multi-year contracts; document your workflows outside of your platforms; maintain a list of the core functionality you depend upon; and keep your email marketing automation programs in a portable position.  

In the evolutionary world of marketing technology, more fallout is likely between one-time BFFs like MailChimp and Shopify, but data security may not be the only motive.

The Silver Lining

No one has time for this, but these closed doors open others. It’s now a great time to re-evaluate your marketing automation strategies and identify if moving away from MailChimp makes sense.

MailChimp has been an easy, affable choice for so many eCommerce stores. But behind that cute monkey, limitations with workflows/automations, deliverability and Facebook form integrations are hindering basic progress that other slightly more sophisticated automation tools deliver easily.

The price tag may be a bit higher, but it really is time to take email more seriously. With an ROI of $38 to $1 year after year, cutting corners with a cheaper email marketing tool often is short-sighted.

Where do we go now?

Sticking with the Chimp?

Ok, if MailChimp is the best fit for your business at this time, get familiar with connectors like Zapier and Some of these out of the box integrations are easy to manage, but the devil is in the details. You’ll likely want to hire an expert or set a course to develop your in-house expertise before the May 12 deadline.

Remember to watch out for duplicates and be sure to sync individual marketing permissions within both Shopify and MailChimp. Oh, and you’ll need to rethink your transactional strategies as well, especially for things like abandoned cart email series.

Ready for a change?

For this article, we are assuming most people are more likely to consider changing their email marketing platform vs leaving Shopify. Bad news for MailChimp.

In that case, you have a number of solid options to consider:

  • HubSpot
    • Best for mid-size and up, this is a great option to just get it all under one roof. You can link multiple advertising platforms to a variety of sophisticated workflows. You have access to chat, exit intent pop-ups, landing pages, smart forms, coordinated analytics, awesome 24/7 phone support, and a host of other robust features. The two-way Shopify integration allows users to sync, segment, personalize, automate messaging, and report on all of this activity in one place. The design tools are more complex than MailChimp, but once you are familiar with them, they offer greater flexibility without resorting to custom HTML.
  • Klaviyo
    • Best for SMBs, if you aren’t looking to get all of your services under one roof just yet. this option brings most of the same basic eCommerce-Email Marketing Automation functionality to the table, but with more information exchange than Shopify for MailChimp. Klaviyo doesn’t include a landing page builder or hosting. Speaking of possible ulterior motives, the top leadership connection at Shopify and Klaviyo is tight. We predict this integration will continue to blossom. Functionality-wise, this is more of a lateral move from MailChimp, though the workflow automation builder and the predictive analytics are a step-up.
  • Other players in this crowded field to check out include:
    • Privy – A long-time top pop-up app for Shopify, Privy has started to expand its services to a more one-stop shop for email marketers.
    • Omnisend and Conversio also are popular on the Shopify Marketplace for smaller businesses.

If you are looking to improve your email marketing ROI, increase conversion and/or upgrade your marketing automation capabilities, we’re here to help. Our experts have worked with numerous email marketing platforms, CRMs and automation resources throughout the past 15 years.

Our process typically begins with an audit of your business’ current performance, buyer journey, and objectives. From there, we make recommendations about best-fit platforms and strategies to help you achieve your goals. Contact us today, we’re ready to listen. 

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