Aug 5, 2008

MailChimp v3.2 – RSS-to-email, Analytics, International translations, API, and more…

We’re launching MailChimp v3.2 this weekend (the 9th). It’s a free, automatic upgrade for all MailChimp customers, and is chock full of time-saving enhancements and innovative features that will make your email marketing smarter and easier. We’ll be posting more details after launch, but here’s a sneak-peek…

  1. RSS-to-email: When you create your HTML email newsletters, do you find yourself simply copy-pasting from your blog a lot? We did too. So we figured we’d make that process faster by just creating an automatic email newsletter from your blog’s RSS feed. Now you can just publish news, events, or documents to your website or blog (or anything else you publish with RSS) once, and then we’ll send that to your subscribers automatically. And unlike other RSS-to-email tools, MailChimp lets you create eye-catching HTML email templates around your feed, insert targeted advertising using our advanced merge tags for dynamic content, and then track your opens and clicks. Yes. Pretty designs, targeted advertising, and tracking. In your RSS feed.
  2. Analytics 360: We’ve made some enhancements to our Google Analytics integration that eRetailers in particular might find useful for tracking your ROI.
  3. International Translations: Whenever you setup a new list in MailChimp, the entire opt-in process is now available in 16.5 different languages. The translations include signup forms, landing pages, error messages, welcome emails, forward-to-friend pages—everything that your end users see when they opt-in to your lists. Our agency users across the globe might find this useful for setting up their local clients.
  4. Batch Unsubscribe: Used to be, you had to unsubscribe people one at a time in MailChimp. No more. Now you can copy-paste a big list of people, and we’ll unsub them all in one swoop.
  5. MonkeyRewards expanded: A while ago, we quietly launched MailChimp MonkeyRewards, which was a simple affiliate program where if you refer customers to MailChimp, you and the customer get $30 in MailChimp credits each (which you can use for purchasing add-ons, email credits, whatever). Now, we’ve expanded that program to include free Inbox Inspections. For every $100 the people you refer spend new customer you refer, we’ll give you 3 free inbox inspections. All you have to do is stick a MailChimp badge in your email campaigns, and help us spread a little monkey love.
  6. Smarter Bounce Handling: In the past, MailChimp categorized bounces in black and white (hard vs. soft). These days, there are all kinds of shades of gray when it comes to bouncebacks. There are spam filters that bounce back emails with embedded "if you’re human, try again later" messages. There are ISPs that bounce back emails with embedded "whoah, slow your deliveries down" messages. And there are improperly configured email servers that just bounce back garbage. Many of these new servers and spam filters are ignoring standard SMTP header protocols. In short, there’s a lot of trickery (and a little stupidity) going on out there, so sometimes we have to clean emails from your list that don’t necessarily need to be cleaned. So we’ve scanned hundreds of millions of bounce backs on our servers, looked for patterns, and classified all the different bounce messages. The net result is your lists will be cleaned a little more "gently" moving forward.
  7. B.A.R.F. Download: Okay, I made that name up just now. Until someone thinks of a better name, that’s what I’m going with. It’s a Big A$$ Report File that you can download from the Reports page, and see all your stats across all your campaigns in one spreadsheet. We heard a lot of you were creating spreadsheets like this by hand, so we thought we’d save you a step. Just click a link, and we’ll barf out all your stats at once, so you can compare them side-by-side.
  8. Mini-signup box: When you setup a list in MailChimp, there’s a new mini-signup box that you can customize and copy-paste onto any page of your website (instead of linking people to a totally separate page that we host). Think of it as a signup form, but really tiny and cute, and we give you all the code.

MailChimp API enhancements:

  1. API v1.1: The MailChimp API has been overhauled and beefed up so that now you can do almost anything with the API that you can do in the app’s interface. We’ve added A/B split testing to the API, along with segmentation, the CSS inliner, merge vars and interest group management, the ability to import a campaign from a URL, and more. There are even some things that you can do via the API that you can’t do from our app. Like build a campaign with 10 different segments (instead of the standard 3). See this email announcement to our API list for more info.
  2. OpenSocial API Integration: MailChimp can now be integrated with any application following Google’s OpenSocial standards, like MySpace, Ning, Orkut, and more.
  3. More code samples and help: We’ve added 60+ error codes, and added more code examples to the list. So in addition to PHP, XML, .Net, and Ruby, we’ve added a little documentation for LOLCODE, an emergent programming language that’s taking the world by storm (some say it’s more scalable than Ruby, will probably replace the ARPANET completely, and may become the foundation for web 3.0). KTHX!

We’ve also made some enhancements to the MailChimp interface:

  1. Inbox Inspector Campaigns: Some of you use other email marketing services (and they’re perfectly fine. seriously.) and you just use MailChimp for our inbox inspector tool. Problem was, we assumed you were also sending campaigns in MailChimp, so we required all the special MailChimpy tags, like for the unsubscribe link. This could get really annoying if you already had your own unsubscribe link in place. So we’ve created a new "inspection-only" campaign type that lets you jump straight to the Inbox Inspector, without having to insert any special tags whatsoever. Note that you won’t be able to send anything from this campaign type—only inspect.
  2. Accessible opt-in forms: We’ve made some minor tweaks to the opt-in process to make all signup forms, confirmation pages, etc., accessible by WCAG 1.0 standards. Technically, you could customize and modify our built-in signup forms to be all crazy and non-accessible, but that would be mean. So don’t do that.
  3. Jump to "My Templates" from Dashboard: You can jump over to your saved email templates now, without having to go through the entire campaign building process. If you’re a creative professional who just wants to setup a bunch of email templates for a client, this makes things extremely easy for you (see: 7 HTML email templates every email marketer needs).
  4. Add border around template: In the template designer, you can now add a border around your email design.
  5. 128-bit Secure Login: The login process is done over secure lines, so your username and password are a little safer when you sign in.
  6. Mini Signup Box: You can now embed a tiny version of your list signup form onto any page of your website. We’ll supply all the code you need. Just copy-paste. Also includes TypePad blog integration.