Interview with Judy Boniface, CMO at Mailjet. A solution to power your marketing & transactional emails.
At what point did you decide Mailjet should expand internationally?
I guess international expansion is coded in Mailjet’s DNA from the beginning. Our platform, product and support have always been in 4 different languages — English, French, German and Spanish, so it was just the matter of timing to expand our operations abroad. In 2013, when we started seeing lots of traction on Mailjet outside of France, we decided to strategically pursue an aggressive international expansion plan abroad.
What were the different steps in Mailjet’s global expansion?
Mailjet’s international expansion plan is both driven by market demand and strategic direction of the company.
To get this market demand we started to translate our productin various languages by working with translation agencies and internal native speakers. The second step is to get visibility. At Mailjet, Google is our best channel of acquisition. We are working on both SEO and SEM. It’s the best way to get this initial market demand and clients that we can then rely on to expand in a new market.
As we have the ambition to be the European leader in email, we naturally selected the biggest markets — UK and Germany — in Europe.
How do you choose to open a new country? What are the different steps to open and grow in a new country?
First step is Market validation. Do we have existing customers whom we can leverage to acquire more local knowledge? How unique is our solution compared to competition locally? Is there a space for us to play in? This step requires quite a bit of market research and competitive assessment.
The second step is Expansion planning. We seek legal counsel in IP rights, as we’re a tech company at core with proprietary technology. It’s really important to have local employment and accounting specialists to help set up the local subsidiary properly to avoid any legal and contractual liabilities down the road. Then there’s a budget/personnel planning to be approved by the board.
The last step is Recruitment. We’ve learned from our experiences that the most effective way of establishing a solid foundation for a new international office is to have a very strong leadership locally to build out the operation.
What’s your biggest challenge at the moment?
The email industry is a rather crowded space and we have developed a powerful, innovative yet affordable solution to really go up against the big guys. Last year, we are ranked as the 23rd of the 500 fastest growing companies in EMEA, rated by Deloitte. Our biggest challenge now is to expand our brand recognition from France to other countries in the world, especially in Europe, to be known as the email solution of choice for SMBs and enterprises alike.
Is there any serious mistakes that were made in Mailjet international development?
The biggest learning we’ve had on international expansion is on personnel. We tried a few things — sending people from HQ, hiring someone without local market knowledge… and admittedly those were costly mistakes. We now always invest in someone who has good knowledge and experience in the local competitive landscape to help drive our growth.
Mailjet is a cloud-based solution for companies of all sizes to create, send and optimize email. Our customers use our web application and APIs to send both marketing and transactional email.
Mailjet serves customers in over 150 countries from 7 offices worldwide. We are head-quarted in Paris with an office in London, Berlin, New York, Sofia, Toronto and Ho Chi Minh City.
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