What’s new with Mirabel Technologies

Oct 15, 2018

It’s been a while since my last letter, so we have some catching up to do.

There has been a lot going on, therefore I am not going to worry about the length on this as those who are interested in what’s coming can read the full novel. This letter is a little heavy for non-techies, but I’ll try my best at techie translations.

During the past several months, we have been relatively quiet on the release front with some notable exceptions. We have done a rewrite of the AR create invoices page that includes the ability to send invoices in bulk via email as PDF attachments and the ability to, using our templates, send digital tear sheets. We added additional merchant integration options such as authorize.net and card connect, and the ability to let advertisers pay invoices through our new customer payment portal. We released several enhancements to our classified order entry tool dealing with word count and ease of entry. If you haven’t done so already, download our mobile app on your phone, which offers some recent enhancements (access to sales data, automatic notes placed on a client record when making a call and access to your task list, just to name a few). We have upgraded our customer service and support to include a newly designed help page, a more powerful ticketing portal and a new chat feature.

As for what is coming down the pike: There’s a lot. Much of it is behind-the-scenes work that won’t change the functionality of the software, but it is likely to have an impact on the performance of the software and our ability to develop rapidly. For the past several months, we have been restructuring our code base and adding all of the best practices in software design architecture, in addition to updating all of our code libraries. It’s the first time we have undertaken such a project in the 15-year history of the product, and it’s a major undertaking. But, it’s going to allow us to do two things that should have a huge impact, improving the speed of the software and improving the speed at which we can develop new features. It’s a huge project and will take another four to five months, but when everything is done, we’ll have a state-of-the-art, new software assembly line to work with.

We don’t just have new features coming out; we have entirely new products, too. The one that will come first is called “clean your list,” which is an email verification service. This is currently in beta testing and we expect to release it in the next couple of months. Many of our publishers are having problems with getting blacklisted by their email service providers or Internet service providers because they are sending emails with invalid email addresses. What “clean your list” will do is identify bad emails within your Magazine Manager database. This will help clean up bad contacts and stop you from getting “flagged” by an Internet provider. Initially, this will be a service that you can export your list to, but eventually we plan to offer it as a service that can validate emails within Magazine Manager without the exportation of data.

One of the reasons we are focusing on helping you clean up emails is because in the beginning of the year we’ll be launching our own email platform. It’s going to be part of our Marketing Manager product line, which started as a lead identification and website analytics platform and is evolving into a full-blown marketing automation platform.

However, that descriptor will be short-lived because the ultimate objective is to become a complete enterprise-level solution for tomorrow’s media companies including a CRM and billing software package (The Magazine Manager), marketing automation platform that includes email and in-depth analytics, an audience development platform and a business intelligence database of more than 10 million companies that can be used for data appending. It’s all going to be powered by a Cassandra database, which is a customer data platform that is used to manage “big data.” Cassandra was developed by Facebook to manage all of its data characteristics and profiles of its audience, and has been the backbone of our Marketing Manager product for the past year. We are now beginning to tie all of our databases to it to form a unified customer database.  

Publishing companies have many databases including their CRM data and print subscription list, but they might also have subscribers to a variety of newsletters, a software service, trade shows or events, and then a whole list of visitors to various websites. Some website visitors may be anonymous, but many others can be identified (using a system like ours) through a variety of algorithms in order to make a subscribers or prospects database. You want to be able to create a unified database that is your master database, which feeds updates to your other databases (CRM, subscribers list, etc.), as well as tracks the totality of your relationship with the customer (ads purchased, print subscriptions, newsletters, software subscriptions, merchandise, website visits, opt outs and engagement frequency).

The power of the customer data platform is as a segmentation engine that allows a publisher to query that database by a set of criteria normally hosted across many platforms and then to take actions on a targeted list of customers or subscribers. One example would be when you want to put together a VIP party. Using our customer data platform, you could pull up all advertisers with a spend over $20,000; a list of all of the readers who had a print subscription or subscribed to at least three newsletters; all platinum-level trade show sponsors; and all readers who had homes worth at least $2 million based on a third-party residential database you had acquired. You could pull this list up and send them an email, but also run an ad campaign through a Facebook interface ad platform based on email addresses. You could export the list in order to mail printed invitations. The concept allows you to analyze and segment data that is normally hosted in four or five software platforms and then act upon it through multiple distribution channels potentially including email, as well as Facebook, Google and Twitter ad networks, or through your own programmatic channels. The use cases for both your companies and your advertisers are unlimited.  

It sounds like a lot, but it’s not far out. A good part of these offerings will be available by year’s end. We have been quietly working on this for the past three years. A lot of publishers are looking at marketing automation platforms, like HubSpot, because they are interested in being able to segment their databases and send emails to them. If you are interested in that kind of product, hold off for a few months and take a look at what we are launching. There is a pretty good chance Marketing Manager is much closer to what a publisher is looking for and at a better price point. We’ll have the ability to target by order data other marketing automation products can’t easily access, and at a significantly lower price than the HubSpots, Marketos and Eloquas of the industry.

In addition to the crazy stuff, we are concurrently working on a host of CRM improvements, specifically in the areas of activity tracking and opportunity tracking.

Expect those at year’s end. And lastly, my favorite new feature: A new HTML editor that is day-and-night in regards to user-friendliness to replace the HTML editor we currently use. The editor plug-ins have largely been terrible products that have held us hostage for years and generated no shortage of user complaints. In the last year or so, several companies have come out with better products, and we have been testing them. You’ll see the product first in our email platform, and when we come out of beta with it we’ll move it to the Magazine Manager.

That’s all for now, thank you for taking the time to read all of this and most importantly, for being a loyal and valued customer. I am grateful for our time working together and look forward to all the great things we will accomplish together in the future.
Mark McCormick
President, Mirabel Technologies, Inc