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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.

November 20, 2007 in MailChimp Customers | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack plans for hearty holiday push

Congrats to MailChimp customer GourmetStation, who was just featured in this great article over at DM News. You might compare your holiday email marketing plans to GourmetStation's plans. Donna has been a pioneer in email marketing, and is very realistic about her company's email spending and ROI. Things I found interesting:

  • When they plan to really make the holiday push
  • When to stop the push (when it's too late for shipping gifts on time)
  • When to switch messaging to email gift certificates, which are instant

A quote from the article: will be competing with the likes of 1800Flowers’s gifts division, Omaha Steaks and Harry and David for their customers’ attention and still plan to use e-mail.

“It’s not about having a clever subject line,” Miller says. “I think that to get consumers to open e-mails during the busy holiday season you have to have a strong offer and be clear about communicating this offer. The design should be less busy and include bullet points instead of copy.”

October 5, 2007 in MailChimp Customers | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Detaching MailChimp's Arm

Looks like someone discovered a little tiny hidden UI "easter egg" in MailChimp. Ah, the dismembered monkey. We get occasional phone calls from new customers right when they discover this trick. We pick up the phone, and hear giggling, and then they say, "I just ripped out your monkey's arm! Bye!"

Funny thing is, our web/UI designers never did this---it was our programmers that worked it in one late night. We call that kinda stuff "monkey love" around here. No telling how many other hidden monkeys they've worked into the UI.  I'm almost too scared to ask.

September 21, 2007 in MailChimp Customers | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

2007 Pixel Awards Nominees Announced

About_logos_2 The 2007 Pixel Awards Nominees have been announced, and we noticed a few MailChimp customers were on the list (we do tend to attract a lot of perfectionists and design snobs).

Congratulations to:

The Pixel Awards themselves use MailChimp to send out their announcements, so we're proud to be one of their sponsors. Good luck to all the nominees (but mainly to the MailChimp users)!

September 17, 2007 in MailChimp Customers | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Welcome Email Ideas

Spotted this "welcome email" design from MailChimp user

It's a nice idea that's not too hard to implement: when people subscribe to the RealTruck email newsletter, the welcome email contains a $10 off promo code:

Realtruck welcome email

How many of you actually took the time to customize your own welcome emails this way?

Do your welcome emails have nice gifts like this for your new subscribers, or do you just have the boilerplate, "welcome, this is the info we have on file, and click here to unsubscribe in the future, blah blah blah."

When I saw this welcome email, I got a little self-conscious of my own welcome emails for our MonkeyWrench newsletter. I went back to look at what I did, and boy was I embarrassed...

Here's what my own welcome email looked like:



I guess I was more excited about customizing my beautiful HTML email templates and signup forms, so the poor little welcome email got no love.

I used the example from Realtrucks as my inspiration, plus these ideas from Mark Brownlow to totally redesign my welcome email (click for full screen):


The main thing I added (besides some color!) was a link to past issues of our newsletter. MailChimp makes that really easy (details here). 

Then I got to thinking - one reason I kept my welcome email so plain (besides laziness and stupidity) is I thought that cramming too many images and links into a "transactional" email would get it blocked by more spam filters.

So I ran my welcome email through our Inbox Inspector tool. It made it through every single spam filter, except---you guessed it---Postini. Postini said that it looked like "make money fast" spam. Here's my spam filter report:


Hmm, Postini thinks this is "make money fast spam"? I looked at my copy and noticed this line:


Maybe that is a little too spammy.

I removed that line, ran another Inbox Inspection, and it passed Postini!

I never would have known about Postini, let alone been able to get past it, without the Inbox Inspector. Unless, of course, I purchased my own Postini server for email testing. Big, big thank you to the geniuses at ReturnPath for coming up with this technology.

Do your welcome emails need some love? Are you missing out on the best opportunity to make a great first impression with your new subscribers? Do you know if your transactional emails make it past spam filters?

May 17, 2007 in Email Design, MailChimp Customers, Tips, Tricks, Best Practices | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Ruby on Rails integration with MailChimp

The folks at have created a way to integrate MailChimp with Ruby on Rails applications. It's open source, and posted at:

They've even got it checking an inbox for MailChimp's automated "This user has just subscribed/unsubscribed" email alerts, so they can take appropriate actions on their own hosted database.

Thanks, ProjectLocker!

May 15, 2007 in MailChimp Customers, MailChimp News, Tips, Tricks, Best Practices | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

MailChimp Customer Showcase: Mad Rollin' Dolls

Mrd We could showcase some of the large, well-known corporations who use MailChimp. But where's the fun in that? We'd rather show off some of the cool, hip, offbeat, wacky customers who use MailChimp, and maybe send some traffic their way...

The Mad Rollin' Dolls is "Madison Wisconsin's one-and-only all-girls         flat-track roller derby league." I'd certainly pay to watch teams like The Reservoir Dolls and Vaudeville Vixens duke it out in the 'ring. You know, for charity. They donate a portion of their proceeds to charities like "Mustaches for Kids."

Check out some of the cool merchandise in their online store. Send that kick-ass girl friend of yours (or your tough-as-nails mom) a kick-ass roller-derby t-shirt.

May 4, 2007 in MailChimp Customers | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

LEGO Jewelry

Lego_ring_2 From time to time, we like to highlight our cool customers, and some of the offbeat stuff they sell...

Giant Robot uses MailChimp. I found this LEGO jewelry page on their website. Yes, you can snap real pieces to that ring. I love LEGOS. Speaking of LEGOS, Brickworkz uses MailChimp too. Check out some of their insane LEGO mosaics.

April 30, 2007 in MailChimp Customers | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

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