Oct 14, 2009

App Sketchbook Uses Email for Feedback, Doubles Twitter Followers

appsketchbook-thmI just found out that one of our guys at MailChimp, Steve, has sort of a side gig: App Sketchbook. (it was recently featured on The Unofficial Apple Weblog). Here’s where he came up with the idea:

"After being asked to design some iPhone® applications, I started to search around for design tips and information. There were PSD files, stencils and other paper prototyping tools available, but I’ve always sketched my ideas first. After printing out wireframe templates on sheets of paper (and ultimately losing my sketches), I decided to design my own sketchbook."

Turns out Steve’s also using MailChimp, along with our Paypal integration, autoresponder tool, and social networking in a pretty unique way…

MailChimp’s PayPal integration

First, Steve linked his PayPal account to a MailChimp list (here’s how to do that), so that anybody who purchased a book from him was added to the list.

Does buying a product from you mean that people automatically want email marketing from you? Not necessarily. But check out how Steve is using the list…

Request Feedback

For a while, Steve didn’t send any messages to this list at all (he was too busy packing and shipping sketchbooks!) The email addresses were just collecting in his list. Finally, he had some time to put an email campaign together. No, it wasn’t a sales offer to buy more sketchbooks.

It was a request for feedback. He genuinely wanted to know how customers liked his product.

Here’s what the email looked like:


And here’s what I thought was really smart about his design:

  1. Archive Toolbar: Steve gets orders from all around the world. So he’s turned on MailChimp’s free archive toolbar, which provides instant translation options (using Google Translate). The archive toolbar also lets viewers get to previous newsletter issues, or to share it with others.
  2. Permission Reminder: Since it took Steve a while to send this first email out, the first thing he wrote at the top of his message was a quick permission reminder. People forget stuff. You need to remind them (and the other secret people that are reading your emails) how you got their email address.
  3. Feedback Link: Steve doesn’t try to sell you stuff. Not on his very first email communication to you, at least. Instead, Steve asks if you have any feedback. What’s beautiful about this is that he’s using a free Wufoo form (see also: MailChimp integration with Wufoo).
  4. Social Sharing: Yeah, we all know social sharing links are the next big thing in email (MailChimp has got more social integration options than just about anybody out there), but I rarely ever see any links to flickr.  Steve’s actually asking customers to post pictures of themselves using his product. Brilliant idea! Wishing we used this during our big tshirt giveaway.
  5. Friendly closing. Sometimes the hardest part of a newsletter to write is the ending. Nice touch how Steve thanks his customers for their support. BTW, check out this handy list of letter endings.

Great Stats, Feedback, and More Followers

According to Steve, he got tremendous amounts of feedback and suggestions for improvements (which he’s working into future editions), and his twitter followers doubled after this campaign.

On top of that, his email campaign stats were phenomenal (74% open rate, 13.3% click rate):



Hmm, since the followup email worked so great, why not just automate all this? MailChimp’s autoresponders are perfect for this.

Steve turned his manual followup email into an autoresponder campaign that goes out 2 weeks after every new purchase:


The Cost of all this Awesomeness?

It was all free. For now, App Sketchbook is just a one man operation (well, his daughters help pack envelopes sometimes), so everything he’s using is free. Paypal, Wufoo, Twitter, Facebook, and flickr are all free. And thanks to MailChimp’s Forever Free plan, even his email campaigns are free, at least until his list goes over 500 subscribers (which he’s fast approaching).

Maybe we’ll cut you some kind of employee discount, Steve.