Nazzareno Gorni is the co-founder and Business Development of NWEB, the Italian company offering MailUp, a popular e-mail marketing service. Nazzareno is a friend of BAIA and I invited him to participate in the following interview:
Nazzareno, can you tell us a bit about yourself and your company?
I'm 34, I have a PhD in Management Engineering, and I'm recently married. I worked for 5 years as a consultant in marketing and communications technologies, and then I founded NWeb -- a web engineering company -- in 2002 with 4 friends.
NWeb has developed an ESP (email service provider) named MailUp. MailUp is a .NET application for sending newsletters and email marketing campaigns, up to millions of recipients. We are market leaders in Italy thanks to our unique features and innovative pricing model (truly flat fee). We were ahead of our US competitors so we decided to export MailUp in the US, and later we arrived in San Francisco.
Can you tell us how MailUp is approaching the global market, and what are the plans for the future?
MailUp is currently available in three languages: Italian, English, and French. In Italy we have important customers like IULM College University, the Alfa Romeo Racing Team, Venice City Hall, MyAir.com, La Perla Group, Fiera Milano International, Coin, and EURO RSCG. Also, IBM, Oracle, Symantec, Jaguar, Mercedes-Benz, and many others now use our services, through MailUp resellers, to send newsletters. In the US MailUp is used by Laplink (Washington), IACCW (Los Angeles), BAIA, BrasilSF, and Novedge (San Francisco).
MailUp is investing in R&D and we will release the new MailUp release 6.0 in a few weeks. We believe that email will be the real killer application in the mobile phones market. If we look at the global picture in 2006, about 34% of the world population has a mobile phone (source), while only 13% of the world population has a PC with an internet connection (source). For several years to come the mobile phone will be the primary way for most people to exchange data and information. And we have several ideas on how to develop MailUp in that direction. When the network PC and the IP connection become widely available, I think email will maintain its role as a keystone in communication.
We are quite a little company (our revenues are about $700,000) and we are growing, in Italy alone about 40% per year. This explains how hard it is for us to invest outside Italy as needed, even if we have a very good service, with nice margins and a good outlook (like many SaaS services). The war against other worldwide competitors is very challenging due to marketing investments which need to be measured very carefully.
As an Italian company, do you perceive the (English-Italian) language barrier as a protection for your domestic market or as an obstacle for a global growth?
I don't think Italian is a big barrier to protect our domestic market from foreign companies. It's more of an obstacle for an Italian company's global growth for two reasons: the first is that many managers in Italy do not speak or even understand English, and the second reason is that Italy is famous for food, fashion, culture, and mobile phones, but not for IT solutions. There are no US competitors in Italy; I think mainly because our market is too small for those companies.
E-mail is quickly becoming just one of the many options to communicate with customers. How is MailUp dealing with this always changing landscape?
I see that email is still the preferred option for communication. It's easy, universally used, fast, available on many devices, and with low or no cost. I'm sure that once mobile push-email is affordable not only at a business level but also to the larger number of consumers, email use will increase even more. Just think of the possibility of easily sending a picture, video, or broadcasting an application. It could be the real revolution, after the MMS (Multimedia Messaging Service) failure.
Do you have any suggestions for a successful e-mail newsletter?
If we are talking about a B2B newsletter, I suggest:
a) Send a newsletter only when you have something really interesting to say to your contacts.
b) Pay attention to compatibility. Your message needs to communicate effectively in the preview panel, even before image downloading. So be careful while defining your sender name, your subject, and the first part of your message.
c) Track your activity. Don't say everything inside the message, be short! If interested, the receiver will click and continue reading on the web site, and you will learn which topics are the most important ones to your recipients.
What is your connection with BAIA? Did MailUp benefit from that connection?
BAIA is very important for us. After just one BAIA meeting I had one customer and one partner! I remember the first BAIA meeting I attended last year. I met a lot of interesting people, thanks also to Matteo Fabiano. I was so excited that the day after I opened my personal Blog (sorry but it's in Italian), in order to let my friends and colleagues know about my experience in San Francisco. I also met Massimo Arrigoni, founder of Early Impact. A successful partnership was born from that meeting, which is still growing and creating new business opportunities. Thanks BAIA!
I would like to thank Nazzareno Gorni for taking the time to speak with me today. If you have any questions for Nazzareno or for BAIA, please leave a comment below, and we will be glad to answer.