MailChimp Blog Moving
FYI, I'm in the process of moving this MailChimp blog over to MailChimp.com. If you're one of the 7 or 8 people who actually read this blog, please bookmark (or RSS or whatever) the new location:
Warning: It's really, really ugly right now. I'm working on it.
We've switched from TypePad to Wordpress, and so far so good. I love TypePad, because it made it super easy to get started with blogging. But I want the traffic for all this blog content on our own domain. I'm just greedy that way. And I want to be able to customize the design any way I like (which is starting to sound more theoretical than practical).
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.
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:
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.
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:
A/B Split Testing Made "MailChimp Easy"
People in the email marketing business (myself included) are always talking about running experiments with your email campaigns. Test different subject lines to see what works best with your subscribers. Test different send dates or times. Test different from names. Test different content.
The most common form of email testing is the A/B Split test. You take your list, split it into 2 random groups, and send two different campaigns (Group A vs. Group B). Later, go back and check your stats. Whichever one got the better open rate (or click rate, or whatever you're tracking), use those settings on your "real" campaign (learn more about A/B Split tests at Clickz and at MarketingExperiments.com).
But have you ever actually tried to run an A/B split with your email campaigns? It's a lot of work! Very few email services even offer A/B testing. If they do, it's some complex process where you "generate random slice segments" or "even/odd" lists, then setup two separate campaigns, then check results, then send yet another campaign based on what you learned from the test.
Never mind the fact that most small business owners barely have time to send one campaign. The real bummer is you're supposed to be doing this all the time.
Well, we just made A/B split testing "MailChimp Easy" by automating the entire process. It's a pretty unique way of handling things (so unique it's patent pending), and we think you'll find this a very useful, powerful tool for optimizing your email marketing.
System Upgrade This Weekend
As announced in our recent System Alert, we're launching a major upgrade to MailChimp this weekend. I personally think it's the greatest thing since sliced bread, but we'll see how it all plays out.
The upgrade will begin sometime around Saturday morning at 12am. We've alloted the entire weekend for the upgrade, and should be live again Monday morning at 9am EDT. During the upgrade, we'll still be processing bounces, unsubs, and campaign stats. Scheduled campaigns will go out fine as well. You just won't be able to log in over the weekend.
If anything happens (to delay re-launch), we'll be posting updates here on the blog.
Campaign Previews With Images Off and Vert/Horiz. Preview Panes
We just updated the MailChimp Inbox Inspector to include an additional 20 campaign preview screenshots, saving you even more time testing your email campaigns.
Now you can preview your email campaigns in different email programs like Yahoo, Hotmail, Outlook, Lotus Notes, etc., PLUS see them when images are turned off, PLUS see them in different preview pane configurations (vertical preview panes vs. horizontal).
Anybody can use the Inbox Inspector to test their campaigns (whether you're a MailChimp customer or not). Sign up for it here.
Click below for some examples. You spend so much time working on an HTML email design, only to find out a tiny sliver is actually displayed (if at all).
Here's a recent MailChimp campaign we sent to our customers. That's how it looks in an ideal setting, with all images on, and inside your nice, big browser window.
But I used our Inbox Inspector to see what it looked like in different email programs...
Mozilla Thunderbird, vertical preview pane:
The entire right column of my newsletter (where all my press release links are) is hidden from view for recipients using the vertical preview pane setting.
Mozilla Thunderbird, horizontal preview pane:
Only a tiny little 220px sliver peeks out from the preview pane here.
AOL 9, images OFF:
My logo is entirely missing when images are turned off in AOL (which is AOL's default setting).
Yahoo Mail, images OFF (vertical preview pane):
Here's a full screen preview of our campaign with images turned off, and inside Yahoo's default vertical preview pane.
Knowing how your HTML emails look in all these different configurations will help you optimize the designs of your templates. You've got to make sure your logos "peek" out from the preview panes (in horizontal AND vertical settings). You've got to use alt-text (you can put CSS on that alt-text too) on your images. The new Inbox Inspector campaign previews can save you a ton of time troubleshooting under all these conditions.
If you'd like to use our Inbox Inspector to test your email marketing campaigns, click here for more information.
MailChimp + SurveyMonkey like peanutbutter and chocolate
We just recently partnered with one of our most favorite websites ever: SurveyMonkey. The partnership basically offers their customers email marketing services that they can combine with their online surveys.
SurveyMonkey (recently featured in Inc. magazine and MarketingSherpa) is hands down the best, most affordable, online survey tool out there. We're very proud to be working with their team (we use SurveyMonkey all the time at MailChimp, and we think everyone should make online surveys a regular thing with their subscriber lists). Plus, I mean, c'mon: Monkeys and Chimps? It's fate!
New & Improved MailChimp
Some extremely cool, super-useful MailChimp features just went live over the weekend:
- List Segmentation - Now you can target a sub-group of subscribers within your "master" lists on MailChimp! Examples and details here.
- Point-and-click customization - Customize every single step of your double opt-in process with our new template design system and pre-built themes to match your brand (no HTML coding required)
- Interest groups on signup forms - Let subscribers specify their interests when they signup for your list
- Video demo of new features
And as an added bonus, we upgraded our Inbox Inspector to include even more preview screens of the different email programs. More on that (plus some screenshots) in a later post.