Poland-based email marketing company GetResponse will be opening its first US-based office in Boston this September, the company's CEO Simon Grabowski told PCMag in an exclusive interview. GetResponse is investing $6 million in the expansion, which Grabowski hopes will improve its ability to develop relationships with potential clients.
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As part of the expansion, GetResponse is in the process of hiring a Director of North American Operations who will be responsible for overseeing the company's US-based marketing and sales organization. The person who gets the position, which Grabowski said is very close to being filled, will be responsible for growing an office that will staff 15-20 employees within its first year, and up to 30 employees within its first two years.
Although the US market is GetResponse's biggest customer demographic, totaling roughly 40 percent of the company's business, Grabowski thinks there is an opportunity to take clients away from competitors such as Constant Contact and MailChimp. "We've been lazy," Grabowski said, explaining the reason why the company hasn't already moved into the US. "We've enjoyed the excellent talent in Poland, which has some of the best developers in the world. And we've got so much going on in terms of our products and other markets. So we never rushed it."
The time has come for GetResponse to get into the mix and try to poach MailChimp's and Constant Contact's market share. Today, MailChimp owns 38.33 percent of the email marketing market share in the US, according to Datanyze, with Constant Contact trailing at 30.3 percent. GetResponse ranks sixth, at only 2.17 percent. Grabowski said he isn't worried. "Clearly MailChimp has done some very b-llsy things and they've achieved great success," he said. "But we've got a product that's more advanced.
"The faster that MailChimp grows, the faster we grow," he added. "When a person uses MailChimp, they're going to discover its limitations. We see an upgrade path with a lot of MailChimp users who choose GetResponse because they need more. They need a landing page creator, a form designer that is light years ahead [of MailChimp's], a webinar software solution integrated into the platform, and marketing automation. So they jump ship to a product like ours. I don't see it as a face-to-face WWF [World Wrestling Federation] battle; I see it as a transition path for users. It has been one of the best referral mechanisms we've had."
Poaching market share isn't the only thing on Grabowski's mind. He said he chose Boston as the company's US hub due to its "European style" and "vibrant" feel, which he said makes him feel "right at home." However, he also said the company's proximity to Constant Contact provides a nice alternative incentive. "Boston is also the home office of Constant Contact," he said, "so it makes it easy for us to cherry-pick good candidates." [Constant Contact and MailChimp did not respond to a request for comment.]
Grabowski isn't solely relying on bluster to help move the needle in the US. GetResponse is completely updating its software and releasing a new version within the next two months. The update will streamline email creation and workflow automation, and provide an all-in-one marketing software experience. GetResponse is even working on building a native customer relationship management (CRM) application, which will go live shortly after the relaunch.
Grabowski said GetResponse's US-based communications will emphasize its diverse capabilities, which he thinks deserve more than the typical "email marketing" classification. He doesn't think of GetResponse as a classic marketing automation suite; he said it's definitely more than just standard email marketing. He referred to it as a "multiple component marketing system that replaces the number of integrations companies need to run a cohesive marketing organization." It's something he doesn't think MailChimp and Constant Contact have yet to provide their customers. [Constant Contact and MailChimp did not respond to a request for comment.]
He also sees one other area in which email marketing and marketing automation companies have yet to deliver: integrating email automation with social media data and marketing. "It makes so much sense [to tie the two together], but the reality is, once you start drawing your ideas and designing how these integrations look, a lot of them are sh-t," he said. "There isn't that much interesting synergy between email and social. These two channels are not always intertwined correctly and it's not easy. Often, social media APIs [application programming interfaces] don't allow for it; that part I will defend. But a lot of opportunities are not fulfilled and there is a lot of low-hanging fruit to be grabbed."
To continue providing solid customer service, GetResponse is also thinking about adding helpdesk staff to the Boston office or to subsequent satellite offices in California and New York. However, plans for additional staff and offices haven't been finalized.