Apr 27, 2009

MailChimp v4.1.1 Features List

Hi folks, this weekend we’ll be launching MailChimp v4.1.1. It’s a bunch of cool features, a few interface enhancements, and some server upgrades that we meant to launch in v4.0 and v4.1, but we didn’t want to risk launching too much at once. No application downtime is planned for this launch, nor will there be any interruption of delivery and tracking. Here’s a list of what’s coming…

Image/File library – We’ve always had free image hosting, but we’ve never had an image gallery where you can store photos on MailChimp and re-use them from newsletter to newsletter. This is actually a little more than a simple image gallery though. You can also upload files (so long as they’re under 10 megs) and then link to them in your emails. For example, if you ever wanted to link to a PDF file from an email campaign, but had to upload that darn thing somewhere on your own server. No more. Just upload to MailChimp. Free.

iStockPhoto.com integration – the image gallery will have an option where you can seamlessly search iStockphoto.com’s collection of over 4.6 million high quality stock photos, then purchase them for as low as $1 each, without ever leaving MailChimp. More details here.

Import-by-Email – Ever wish you could construct MailChimp campaigns from Outlook, or Apple Mail, or Thunderbird? In v4.1.1, every list will have its own secret email address. You can send a message to that address from your favorite email program (or mobile device) and MailChimp will turn it into an email campaign with images and everything in place (we’ll even host the images free). If we don’t detect one already, we’ll add an unsub link for you. Finally, we’ll save it all as a draft. All you need to do then is log in, proofread everything and then hit send. This is the perfect solution if you want to let that dude in HR send emails to your internal company list, but you don’t really want him to have access to MailChimp. Or, say, you’re helping your condo association send out newsletters to the community, but the manager is a little web-app-challenged. Anybody can open up Outlook and send a simple newsletter. They can even use nice stationery if they want. We’ll handle the rest.

Google Analytics API – We were one of a few companies on this list that got to play with the new Google Analytics API. Man that was fun. In a nerdy kinda way. What this means for you is our Google Analytics360 plugin will no longer be using the "scrape your Google emails" method, and instead be integrating directly into your Google Analytics account. The possibilities are insane. Thank you Google. More details here.

Autoresponder improvements – Our new autoresponder tool is one of the fastest growing features we’ve ever launched. Took us a little by surprise. Anyway, whenever you setup an autoresponder, or make little tweaks to the schedule, there will be a new link that pops up a window and shows you who will receive it on the next delivery. It takes the mystery out of troubleshooting your autoresponders.  We’re also tweaking the interface to make it easier to send emails on the day of an event (like a birthday). Basically, if you’ve had to schedule an autoresponder to go out "zero days after birthday" and you thought that was weird, we fixed that.

Plain-text email footers – In the past, we’d copy all your content from your HTML email and automatically build your plain-text version. Worked really well, except for the fact that it never carried over an exact copy of your footer. By default, it gave you something really large, which sometimes required tweaking. Well, we fixed that. If we see that you’ve modified your footer in the HTML version of your campaign, we’ll copy it over to plain text. It’s one less thing you need to worry about (I always say that phrase in my Gump voice).

Server upgrades – We’ve been building out a cluster of servers at a 2nd data center for quite some time now. In the email delivery business, this is not something you can just flip ‘on’ like a switch. You have to gently warm up your IP addresses to build up a reputation (hopefully a good one). We’ve been warming up data center #2 for many months now. It’s not quite handling 50% of our volume, but we’re almost there. When we turn that data center on to full speed, it’s going to rock. In the meantime, our customer base keeps growing exponentially, so we have to just keep adding more and more servers to our "data center #1." 3 new servers are being added to data center #1 in the next few days. We’ll also be moving all image hosting to our primary CDN (we also use a backup CDN), and we’re optimizing our background processes and list upload process to take a little load off the app.

After launch, we’ll be posting videos and tutorials of each of the new features so you can see them all in action. We figure we’ll begin the launch process sometime over the weekend, and it may spill over into Monday for some accounts.