New Knowledge Base Launched
As a small part of our Version 2.2 rollout, we just swapped out our old MailChimp Help Center (which was way too hard to update) with a powerful new knowledge base hosted by Timpani. The new system is way, way, way easier to update with new articles, plus it's searchable. We hope it helps our users find what they're looking for faster. Give it a try, and tell us what you think!
Dan, who's in charge of customer service here at MailChimp, sent me this feedback from a customer he helped...
"You SAVED MY LIFE. I actually thought to myself, this email will never be
answered. Not only was it answered, but you actually helped me out. Who
says that online customer service stinks. You have proved the critics
wrong." - Michael
Now that's some nice feedback.
It's worth noting that the customer we helped was sending a newsletter about "Online customer service" being in a dismal state, and some technology out there that's designed to help.
That reminded me to post some details about enhancements we're going to be rolling out soon at MailChimp...
We've begun work on MailChimp v2.2, and along with some major new functionality (which I'll detail in another post), we're going to be rolling out a couple of Customer Service tools to help make the overall MailChimp experience even better:
- Enhanced Knowledge Base. No matter how simple you try to make your product, there are always questions. And when you have thousands of users, you get lots of questions. So it's really important to have a tool in place that lets our entire team add answers, research, hints, tricks, and tips online super fast. The knowledge base will be chock full of articles, open to the public, searchable, and available online 24/7.
- Live Chat. This one's exciting and scary at the same time. We're always looking for ways to make contact with our audience. And our audience---the "design-it-yourselfers" as we like to call them---don't like telephones, don't use fax machines, and they don't know morse code. These hip young whippersnappers like chat. Chat can be a huge time-saver, but it can also be a huge time-waster (remember the first 2 months after you got your grandmother setup on instant messenger?). Until we work out all the kinks and get our process down pat, we're going to take this one in slow, deliberate phases (don't worry grandma, you can chat with us too).
- Issue ticketing. Yeah, we all hate those, "Need help? Submit a ticket..." systems. They're so canned and impersonal. But it's the best way to track issues, and to make sure every single customer is helped. We're going to try to make our ticketing process as seamless and personal as possible. Email us. Chat with us live. Call us on the phone. Every single question or issue is going to get answered. Fast. By a human.
We realize a lot of companies implement measures like this to "reduce call volume" or "cut customer-interaction costs." But we've never had a problem with that.
The whole idea behind these enhancements is that we actually want to increase customer interaction---we don't consider it a cost at all. It's an investment. Anytime we can come into direct contact with a customer---either on the phone, or by email or chat---that's an opportunity to learn more from our customers, and to spread the joy that is MailChimp.
What better way to showcase your streaming video technology than posting a clip of a karate chimp doing jump spinning hook kicks? Nice viral marketing attempt by the folks at ClipStream. Go ahead---you know you want to send that to a friend. Monkeys are always funny.
Opt-out Links in Your Header?
A recent Web Trends email campaign I received put opt-out instructions at the top of their email newsletter, instead of burying it in the footer, like most people do. It's a nice decoy to keep your lazier recipients from clicking their "this is spam" buttons instead of properly opting out.
I looked through a bunch of my opt-in subscriptions, and found lots of examples of marketers placing these "functional" type links in their headers.
Examples after the link...
More and more marketers are placing their "opt-out," "white-list-me," and "trouble-viewing?" links in the headers of their email newsletters, instead of their footers.
It's a really nice idea, because it keeps some people from clicking their "this is spam" button because they're too suspicious---or lazy---to scroll down to your footer and click "unsubscribe" (this actually happens about 13% of the time, according to Jupiter).
We recently took this approach ourselves, when we helped a client send their campaign to a list of opt-in recipients that they only market to once a year (for a big annual event). Since their campaigns are so infrequent, we knew there'd be some forgetful recipients that would think the email was spam (even though they opted-in). At the top of the email, we advised the client to place opt-out instructions, plus "you're getting this because..." copy in order to avoid getting lots of spam reports. The result? Lots of recipients unsubscribed, but they didn't get one single spam complaint. Not bad, for a list of 10,000 that they only contact once a year.
Wondering how much of a trend this is, I sifted through my own inbox for some good examples...
How to Beat the Spam Filters
Some good tips at MarketingProfs.com on how to avoid getting your emails trapped by spam filters.
Here's the article:
And a handy, free tool that scans your email for trigger words:
False Positives & Deliverability Report
There's a nice PDF from Pivotal Veracity posted on MarketingSherpa. They analyzed permission email campaigns from reputable organizations like The Red Cross, AARP, CNET, IBM, and the Wall Street Journal and found that most of them were erroneously being classified as spam. The report lists some really interesting findings, like:
- Email to confirmed-opt-in lists were 20% less likely to be classified as spam
- 18% of spam-filtered email was actually transactional---receipts, welcomes, opt-ins.
- Being a bonded sender didn't help much w/Yahoo, Gmail, and Hotmail
and tons more stuff. Download the 33-page PDF here while it's still free at Sherpa...
Client Showcase: University of Calgary
The University of Calgary Alumni Association uses MailChimp to send their monthly "arch*e" newsletter.
We love how they keep their overall layout the same, but change their header graphic every month to something fun and intriguing.
They try to lead each newsletter with the story that has the most interesting visual. Seems to work. Their open rates are above 50%, which is great for a monthly newsletter.
Safari WYSIWYG Support
Update: Goodness! In just a few days the fundable project reached its goal, and our friend got enough for his Mac. Just a matter of time before we finally get a Safari-compatible WYSIWYG! Thanks to all in the open-source and Mac community who helped!
We're donating a shiny new Mac to the hard-working open-source programmer over at FCKeditor, in an effort to finally get a WYSIWYG tool that works on Safari. If you're a web developer, you know where we're coming from, and you can help too...
If you're a web developer, you've no doubt worked on a CMS-related project where you needed to install some kind of browser-based WYSIWYG editor for one of your clients. It's pretty much a rite of passage for us geeks.
And you've experienced the frustration that comes with most browser-based WYSIWYGs (broken plugins, JAVA errors, browser incompatibility, etc). The best one we've come across so far is an open source solution called FCKeditor.
We like it because it works on PC and Mac, and even Mozilla Firefox. The only thing missing is Mac Safari support. Well, Apple just released a new version of Safari, finally making it possible for FCKeditor to work in that browser!
There's only one problem. The creator of FCKeditor, an independent programmer based in Poland, doesn't have a Mac to work on.
Help Us Send Frederico a Mac!
To help speed development of Safari WYSIWYG support, and to hopefully better the Mac web-developer community, we're donating enough funds for this guy to get himself a new Mac Mini. If you help us by joining in at Fundable.org, maybe the guy can upgrade to an iBook with wi-fi and lots of RAM...
More info here:
Help donate here:
Client Showcase: Velocity Kickboxing
We love the way they use the email newsletter to promote upcoming events, interview special guest fighters, and provide results from recent matches.
They even provide a "fitness tip" and "move of the month" which are great ideas to keep recipients looking forward to each new issue.
They get great response, plus traffic to their website (also designed by ICE) spikes and sets new records each month. It's really viral, too---recipients are always forwarding the emails on to their friends, generating 20-30 new signups per campaign. Another nice touch is the coupon for a free week at the gym. That's one of the ICE Design guys in the picture, locking the other dude with that crazy upside-down leg move there.
Email Marketing for Nonprofits
Eve Smith Consulting lists "7 Essential Elements for Email Marketing Campaigns" in this nice article for non-profits.