Jun 7, 2010

Using Wufoo URL modifications in your MailChimp campaigns

You already know about some of the ways that you can use Wufoo to capture subscription information and connect a form to your list. You’ve also already heard about one of the ways we’ve been using it for a short survey for our email campaigns and givaways. Well, here’s one way you can build upon the method described in the second link for the specific instances where you’re linking to a form in Wufoo from within your MailChimp campaigns. The idea is use Wufoo’s URL modifications to create your own specialized links to help your subscribers out.

Here’s the rough outline:

  1. Set up Wufoo form
  2. Design email campaign
  3. Read up to understand the URL modifications document
  4. Set up your merge tags in the campaign to feed into the Wufoo URL
  5. Test thoroughly
  6. Send out!

So, to start off with this, you’ll need a Wufoo form. Here’s a nice sample one.

Sample Dinner Survey!

If you haven’t used it already, basically it’s a service that makes it easier to design and build online forms. You can find more information about it at the website and check their docs page and information on specific questions.

Once you’ve got a form set up, you can design your email campaign as you normally do. You’ve got a lot of options depending on the purpose, but some great tools for that are either design genius or using one of our predesigned templates. You may even have saved a previous template to use later or dabbled a bit in the template language to code your own. No matter the case, you’ll want a campaign to work on at this point. Here’s the picture of a sample campaign made with design genius. You can click for a larger view.

Sample Campaign click for larget view

Now, if I’m sending out an email asking for food preferences, I better have a way to track that somehow. That’s where Wufoo comes in. I can simply link to the form I created and I’m done.

Hrrm, something’s missing here, though. It’d be nice if I didn’t have to make my users fill in the email address, first name, and last name. Some of that info is on my list database already so maybe I could do a little extra work to help them out. Thankfully, when you create a Wufoo form, it can automatically take encoded information that’s placed in the URL to fill in some of the fields already. The document here has the full story on how to do that specifically but here’s a simple demonstration that incorporates MailChimp’s merge tags.

First, follow the instructions on getting your API information for the particular form. There’s a section which is basically a table mapping numbers to specific fields for input. Those are critical for this. Here’s what mine sort of looked like:

7 Your email
9 First
10 Last
12 Dinner Selection

*Note, all the examples that follow will use the above codes which are specific to a particular Wufoo form. Your own ones may not match up to these so it’s a good idea to check the settings within your Wufoo account for your own*

Basically, the numbers stand for the fields so if you tack on /def/field7=example%40example.com to the end of the URL for the form, you put "example@example.com" in the email address field. Here’s the link. Same thing if you added on def/field7=example%40example.com&field9=Cass at the end like in this one. Oh, here’s what the final link should look like:

http://casschimp.wufoo.com/forms/sample-dinner-survey/def/field7=example%40example.com&field9=Cass

*Another Note, if you’re gonna be playing around with any of these examples, it’s probably a good idea to copy them from the URL after you click on some of the sample links*

Now, that’s great and all, but what’s the point? Well, the idea here is that Merge Tags allow you to send out personalized content to your subscribers. Thus, you can customize the URL for each subscriber using merge tags. List specific merge tags (this kbase article has awesome information on finding your own) is a great way to put content into your email campaigns as well as add a bit of personalization. This is what my personalized URL query ended up looking like:

http://casschimp.wufoo.com/forms/sample-dinner-survey/def/field7=*|EMAIL|*&field9=*|FNAME|*&field10=*|LNAME|*

Kind of useless at this point (outside of an email campaign) but still kind of cool!

WAIT! I almost messed something up there. As noted on the Wufoo URL modifications article listed above, it’s always a good idea to URL encode any special characters in a URL. Basically that means turning the stuff like "@" into "%40″ and the like. Well, you can make your merge tags do that automagically by including the URL: flag in front of the tag’s label. Here’s what that would look like:

http://casschimp.wufoo.com/forms/sample-dinner-survey/def/field7=*|URL:EMAIL|*&field9=*|URL:FNAME|*&field10=*|URL:LNAME|*

*Phew* crisis averted.

From there you should be all set! It’s a specific scenario but it’s a great example of how to use features in both MailChimp and Wufoo to do some neat things. As a final note, do be sure to test out your email tricks, perhaps in the popup preview. Using the live merge info tool in the preview should allow you to test out those live links as well just to make sure they’re working properly.