Holiday HTML Email Templates
MailChimp customers - we've posted our free holiday e-card graphics in the Resource Center. Download them, modify them if you want (use something like Photoshop or Fireworks) and then use them inside your MailChimp Postcard HTML email template.
Opt-out hall of shame: No means Yes?
I thought the confusing opt-out example from Equifax that I posted a while back was pretty bad.
This one's a close second:
C'mon. If you don't want something, you say "NO."
Spell Checker Added to MailChimp
After launching a string of pretty powerful new features, this one's just kinda silly in comparison. But I bet it'll be used more than anything we've ever programmed.
We just added a spell checker button to our campaign content editor:
So if you ever need some speling help:
Kroger's Secret Marketing Weapon
It also explains why I'm getting so many coupons for twinkies in the mail.
This isn't directly related to email marketing, but it might inspire you to think about ways you can segment your customer email lists, then run experiments on them...
"At its core, the dunnhumby approach assigns a score to products on Kroger's shelves based on attributes like price, quality, freshness, and the size of the package. (Organic Swiss chard would have a much different score than, say, Twinkies.) Dunnhumby's computers then search for customers whose shopping carts have similar scores, and groups those shoppers together into segments. Kroger right now has seven segments, such as budget shoppers, those "watching the waistline," and so-called "family-focused." Each segment gets customized mailings, and can be further broken down if need be."
Read the full article at CNN Money: Kroger's Secret Weapon
If this kinda marketing stuff gets you excited, and if you're a MailChimp user, you can do this kinda stuff with your email offers too. Here are the tools you'll need:
- MailChimp's API - Sync your customer dB and purchase info with your email marketing efforts
- MailChimp AIM Reports - Track individual user-specific email open-click behavior
- MailChimp List Segmentation - Send campaigns to targeted subgroups based on their purchase behavior
- MailChimp A/B Testing - Test different offers, subject lines, and send times to optimize your results
- MailChimp's Inbox Inspector - Preview your campaign in different email apps and check them in spam filters before you send
- MailChimp Experts - Need help getting all this done? Hire a MailChimp expert. Many of them specialize in databases.
Find a MailChimp Expert
MailChimp has always catered to small and medium sized businesses (and their agencies) who want a simple, affordable way to get their email marketing done. People who just want an easy way to design an HTML email, send it to their list, and get some stats on their campaigns.
But In the last 3 months or so, we added a slew of new power features to MailChimp. These upgrades are attracting lots of larger companies.
That's nice. But because of all these new features, we kinda created a new problem.
Those big customers have been asking us for help getting their internal systems (CRMs, CMS, E-commerce carts, databases, etc) integrated with MailChimp. And since we're a do-it-yourself product, we can't help them with those services.
Find a MailChimp Expert:
So we put together a list of MailChimp Experts. These are developers who know MailChimp, who use MailChimp, and who can help companies integrate with MailChimp. Some of them specialize in super nerdy stuff, like programming and databases and APIs (heck, some of them have actually helped contribute to our API). Some specialize in HTML email design and coding. Most are jacks of all trades and can handle anything. We've got experts from Australia, Austria, the UK, and USA on the list (and it's growing everyday).
If you're a freelancer, or run a web-dev shop and want to get listed (and you have a MailChimp account), we'd love to send some business your way. Go to http://www.mailchimp.com/experts/ , scroll to the bottom, and click the "get listed" link.
Help Desk and Knowledge Base tools?
Can anybody out there recommend a good help desk application? We're currently using Timpani, which has a bitchin' live chat tool (and we'll keep that) but their knowledge base tool is not exactly what we need.
We'd like it to be hosted on our own domain, for one.
Currently, when we send email replies, they come from the Timpani server. Sometimes, Timpani has deliverability problems (hey, we all have occasional delivery problems). But we want control over our email problems.
We'd like it to handle email tickets, but as we answer them, turn them into public knowledge base articles that other people can read. That way we don't have to keep re-writing stuff into the KB.
It needs a good WYSIWYG interface to upload screenshots. As fast as a blog. And those images need to be hosted on our server.
It needs to generate realistic URLs that we can forward to people. No dynamically generated, 500 character URLs that break whenever they wrap in emails.
Oh, it needs to be PHP/MySQL based.
When we first searched for a good ticketing system, the choices were scarce. Now, there's a bunch to choose from. Anybody out there have any recommendations?
Here's what we're looking at now:
- I've always been fond of H2Desk's interface
- Help Desk Pilot looks promising
- ActiveKB looks nice, but it's only a KB system. No issue tracking/ticketing?
- RightNow looks like the 900 pound gorilla of this bunch, but I've found their technology "actually useful" over at the Alienware support site. I loved and used the "notify me if this answer gets updated" feature.
If you've got experience with any of these (or something better), please let me know. Email me at ben at mailchimp dot com, or just post a comment below.
Gmail Breaking Cellpadding
Looks like Gmail recently made some changes to their interface, and it's stripping out table cellpadding and cellspacing in HTML emails. Ouch.
There's a teeny-tiny link at the top of gmail that lets users switch between "old version" and "new version". In the "old version" things work and look fine:
It appears as though using inline-css to define your cellpadding helps. Note that some people in the intertubes are complaining that some inline-css is breaking in gmail too (like line-height).
Since Google is technically a "beta" product, and since it's free, and since they only just recently made these changes, we can't complain too much or react too soon.
I have faith in almighty Google. They will fix this. If they don't do it soon, I have even more faith in "The Chad" (our new programmer). He will modify our templates if we have to. But give it a little time. This kinda stuff happens all the time. Even Lotus Notes fixed most of their HTML email issues (eventually).
API Upgrade (for nerds only)
If you're one of the web geeks who use MailChimp, we've got something you might want to tinker with over turkey day (yeah, we know you're gonna be online).
If you're a marketing person who uses MailChimp, ignore this. We'll be sending out an official email (with cool, pretty pictures) for you after Thanksgiving.
We've just completely overhauled the MailChimp API. If you're using the older API, don't freak---it still works. But there's so much more you can do with the new API.
In a nutshell, the old API just accepted data from you. It was a one-way street. With the new API, MailChimp talks back. A lot...
If you've ever said, "Man, if only MailChimp's API would sync back with my internal database, I could _____. " Then you'll love this.
You can now pull just about any piece of data you want from MailChimp. Some ideas:
- Download unsubs, bounces, FBL reports, etc. from MC to clean your inhouse lists
- Pull campaign stats from MC, and assemble your own crazy reports
- If you've got our A.I.M. Reports add-on, sync recipient email activity (like opens/clicks) to your customer database to do some "behavioral targeting" (make sure you give your marketing person ample warning before you mention this, because they will crap their pants as soon as the words come out your mouth)
- Pass customer status (like subscription info) into MailChimp, and only send campaigns to "active" members
- Do you send campaigns on behalf of clients? Create special pages for them in your CMS, where they can vew their campaign stats
Some new functionality you can do with the API:
- Sending the double opt-in confirmation is now optional for API-imported lists. If you've handled opt-ins on your end, no need to re-confirm them again when passing to MailChimp. But it's on by default, just in case you need it.
The new API makes it easier than ever to add the power of "THE CHIMP" into your CRM, CMS, or e-Commerce system. Oh wait, I thought I was talking to the marketing people again. Sorry. Back to the nerdy stuff...
The API is available in three forms – php, which is what our auto-generated client class uses, using php serialization strings, JSON, and XML-RPC.
You can read the auto-generated documentation at:
(we're not finished polishing these pages, but we thought we'd get this posted asap before the holiday break)
The auto-generated PHP client class can be seen here:
Before You Hit Send, Consult Your Email Checklist
Karen Gedney's got some good advice here about using an email checklist before you hit the "send" button. You know, to prevent those embarrassing mistakes (like sending 5,000 "Happy Thanksgiving" emails on Christmas---not that I've ever done that before).
Some things Karen recommends for your checklist:
- Test your subject line for readability in multiple email programs
- Do the first 15 characters contain the main hook?
- Did you remember a call-to-action in the content?
- Does the link point to the correct landing page?
- Check how your email appears in different email programs (ahem, very easy to do with MailChimp's Inbox Inspector)
And many more really good points. Be sure to check out the full article here:
MailChimp's Pre-Delivery Checklist
If you're like me, you probably get a little nervous when it's time to click that send button. It's kinda scary sending something to thousands of people.
That's why in MailChimp, we've got the Pre-Delivery Checklist. It's a screen where we stop the flow, and give you a chance to review what you've done before hitting that send button:
Here are some of the things
I've screwed up with my campaigns I recommend you check before you send:
- Are you sending it to the correct list? Particularly important if you're an agency sending on behalf of multiple clients. Or, if you just want to send to your test list, make sure that it's selected here (and not your "real" list).
- Is tracking on? By default, MailChimp has it on, but for some reason, people like to turn it off while they're sending themselves tests (I have no idea why). Make sure you turn tracking back on if you want it.
- Are you using the correct email template for the campaign?
- Did you remember a plain-text version of the email?
If we had our way, the little chimp's arm would poke out the Pre-delivery Checklist screen and give you a gentle slap on the face. Just to get your attention.
One last tip (from our customer service guru, Dan): Don't click the "Send Now" button. If you're a nervous nellie like me, always use the "Schedule for later" button. Even if you're ready to send the campaign now, schedule it for 30 minutes in the future. That's because as soon as you hit "Send" you WILL suddenly remember all those things you forgot to do (on Karen's checklist). Now you've got 30 minutes to "go back in time" and fix things.
Maybe it's too early in the morning, but I had a really hard time understanding Equifax's opt-out checkbox:
Why not just say, "Opt-out of email marketing from Equifax"?
I'm still not sure whether I opted-in or out when I checked the box.