Jul 13, 2010

Social Profiles Connects your Email List to the Social Web


MailChimp’s Social Profiles Addon

You want to know as much as you can about your email subscribers so you can send them stuff that’s actually useful.

But how do you learn more about them without overloading your signup forms or sending surveys with tons of questions about age, location, etc?

Well, you do what business people have been doing forever. You talk to your customers. Go to events. Get to know them. Ask them how the kids are doing, how’s the weather, and how’s their health. You know: you get social.

Only now, all that "socializing" is happening on social networks like Facebook and Twitter. You could go to every social network and plug each one of your subscribers into their search boxes over and over until you find them all.

But that would take forever. Which is why, as part of our ginormous v5.2 "Let’s get social" release, we’ve created the Social Profiles add-on:

Social Profiles is a powerful tool that automatically syncs your MailChimp list with social networks like Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin, Flickr, and Myspace to give you more insight about your subscribers.

All this social data is extremely cool all by itself, but when you combine it with some of MailChimp’s powerful email marketing features, it gets even better.

See how social your email subscribers are


Are you trying to make the case for doing more social media marketing at your company or client? Knowing the percentage of your subscribers who are actually out there on social networks might tell you if it’s worth it (tip: it’s worth it). You can even send all your "more social" members a targeted campaign to get them to follow your company on Twitter and Facebook (tip: you’ll have to make it worth it for them). Perhaps you can show them some of the funny/useful/interesting conversations happening on your fan page, or use our built-in twitter merge tags and twitter template to get jump started.

Learn which social networks your subscribers are on

But each social network has its own unique characteristics. So you’ll want to know exactly how your list breaks down by network.

Also, stuff gets shared differently on Twitter vs. Facebook. Facebook users share more on weekends, and respond better to certain writing styles and certain types of content. For example, Facebook users click and share videos more than Twitter users (probably because Facebook gives you an automatic thumbnail preview, while Twitter only presents a short URL). I got that from: The Science of Facebook Marketing by Dan Zarrella and Sharing on Facebook vs. Sharing on Twitter.

Just as people sign up to receive different kinds of content from different email accounts, people want different experiences, depending on which social network they’re on:

With fragmentation will come focus. Inboxes are everywhere! From Facebook, Twitter, SMS, and the Web, more inboxes will increase competition. But this will also create opportunity for marketers to create targeted experiences as subscribers delegate certain functions and habits to different inboxes. – Stephanie Miller, on Clickz

With Social Profiles, you can send specialized content to segments of your list based on which social network they’re on:

MailChimp shows you which social network your subscribers are on

MailChimp shows you which social network your subscribers are using

Know which subscribers follow you on twitter

Think about that. There are customers who signed up for your emails, and they want to hear what you have to say on twitter. These are some seriously loyal people:


See the subscribers who follow you on twitter

You should send them something awesome, just for being so loyal. At MailChimp, we send plushies:


And yes, that’s exactly why we added the "send to" button there (I actually wanted to call it the "send plushy" button). Oh yeah, back to Social Profiles.

Loyalty + Email Engagement

You can combine this criteria with MailChimp’s built-in engagement scoring to create a new group of ultra-loyal, ultra-engaged subscribers:


The screenshot above shows a segment of my list who follow us on twitter, and open and click my newsletters a lot.

I could use the geo-targeting functionality that we introduced back in our v5.0 release to narrow it down to local ultra-loyal fans:


then use our Eventbrite integration to send them an invitation to a meetup (ahem, or "tweetup" as the kids say now).

Please note that this particular data point relies heavily on twitter’s API. When you activate Social Pro, the data may not immediately display. Give it some time.

Get to know your most influential subscribers

We’ll show you the members on your list who are the most-connected (aka the "influencers"):


So if you’ve got a stack of tickets for great seats at some event to give away (in a hurry), maybe you send these people a private email so that they can pass the awesomeness on to their followers.

Influence + Geolocation

Maybe you’re throwing a grand opening party in a new city, and you want to use our built-in geo-targeting to send them an invitation.

Why not scan that segment of your list for the VIPs…


…then check out some of their profiles in MailChimp and memorize some faces in case you meet them IRL:


Member profiles updated w/avatars, social data

In their profile page, mouse over their twitter handle to see their hover card.


The hover card will show you their Twitter profile info, plus some of their latest tweets. Using the example above, now I know Aarron likes artisan coffee. If he were a super VIP client, I’d be checking up on the coffee my caterer is supplying for the event, and maybe even get some Blue Bottle myself.

Now, before you start thinking about sending targeted campaigns to the influencers in order to get their endorsement for something, you should reconsider. The funny thing about influencers is they really don’t want to be influenced. Instead, use this tool to learn everything you can about them. What makes them so influential? What inspires them to inspire others? What, about you, inspired them to subscribe to your list? Know who they are, and what makes them so special.

Generate reports on age and gender of your subscribers

Social Profiles even gives you a breakdown of your list by gender:


and see how your list breaks down by age group:

(LOLcats & fart jokes are less effective the further to the right of the x-axis)

Are you writing age-appropriate content?

If you sell advertising in your emails, now you can show your advertisers some basic demographics of your subscribers. While we’re on this topic, you could include your list’s overall engagement level and A/B testing stats, too.

Demographics + Purchase Activity

If you’re an e-retailer, you can combine previous purchase history from your store with our e-commerce360 feature to target "expensive purse buyers" like this:


How it works, how to get it

Again, all of the social data that’s synced with your list is data that you could obtain yourself, for free, by manually typing in every email address on your list and searching through twitter, facebook, etc. But there’s a service called Rapleaf that’s already aggregated all that data. They’re sort of a behind-the-scenes data warehouse that powers a lot of the social integrations that you see out there, and we’re using their service at MailChimp for Social Pro. By integrating with them, we’re able to sync this data up with your list more automagically.

Activating the Social Profiles Add-on

Because some of our customers manage different lists for different clients who have different privacy policies, we didn’t want to make this a "one-click, and it’s activated for all lists" kinda thing. We made this an optional add-on that you install on a per-list basis. Under the add-ons screen in MailChimp, activate Social Pro for each list that you want social data on:



The price is 20% above whatever you currently pay every month to manage that many subscribers in a list. If you’re a pay-as-you-go customer, then the price is 20% above whatever you would pay every month to manage that size list on MailChimp. Yeah, even I don’t fully understand what I just typed. But basically, if you currently pay $100 per month for MailChimp, and you turn on Social Pro for all your members, your new monthly bill will be $120. One reason we called this "Social Pro" is because it’s a power tool that’s integrated with your MailChimp list, and it’s always on. If you see yourself as more of a casual user, then you might be more interested in Flowtown’s integration with MailChimp. They offer pay-as-you-go and monthly plan options plus very deep integration with MailChimp’s segmentation functionality (here’s another review of Flowtown used in conjunction with MailChimp).

This is just scratching the surface

We all know that social is here to stay. It’s powerful stuff. And it’s even more powerful when paired with email marketing, because — in a nutshell — it can help you form even deeper connections with your customers. But I think that SocialPro, and all the other social features we’re launching with v5.2, are just the beginning.

I highly recommend reading about the "Social Web" in this presentation from a Google researcher Paul Adams: The Real Life Social Network v2.  It’s huge, so just read slides #17-32 if you’re short on time:

Social is fundamentally changing the way we all use the web, and it’s changing the way we build websites and interactions.

Like it or not, the Social Web is here to stay.

Tectonic Shifts

TechCrunch describes these  "tectonic shifts we’re seeing in mobile platforms, the social graph, and online commerce" as the "3rd Disruptive Wave" (yet another article I highly recommend, because we’ll be addressing mobile’s disruptive impact soon). Some even say there’s a war brewing between Facebook and Google, and that Facebook’s Like button is their "shot across the bow." Others say that’s just crazy talk.

Whatever the case, this is only the beginning, so we’re not going to pretend to know where these changes are going to take us.

It’s not our style to speculate anyway.

We’re just here to make sure our customers don’t miss this wave.

We’d love to hear your feedback. We’re listening on Facebook, and taking suggestions in the Jungle.