May 13, 2010

Using Wufoo (and Plushies and Facebook) with MailChimp

plushyA while back, we created the MailChimp DesignLab. Its mission, like the other lab here at MailChimp, was to "come up with awesome."  So they work on cool stuff, like our MailChimp plushies, the crazy login screens you see sometimes in our app, these not-so-whitepaper covers, and a bunch of other top secret projects I’m not allowed to disclose. They also help other teams here, like when our MarketingLab (more on them later) did this SXSW project, or when our VideoLab did our Ugly Sweater Christmas Photos, or when our TweetLab did our t-shirt giveaway.

Anyway, I was talking to Ron, who heads up the DesignLab, about how he should create an email list and send occasional sneak-peeks at what they’re working on. I think there are a lot of creatives who use MailChimp, and who’d be interested in some of the insane stuff they do. The only problem, he said, was that he had no followers. Age old email marketing dilemma, right?

So here’s what I did to help…

I remembered our t-shirt promotion from a while back. We basically gave away 1,000 of these MailChimp t-shirts (also by DesignLab) via twitter. It worked great (interesting twitter stats here), but there were a few complaints from people who couldn’t respond in time. So we eventually posted an email subscribe form, where people could sign up to receive advance notice (ahem, unfair advantage) of future giveaways.

It had 727 subscribers on it.


In reverse chronological order, here are the steps I took:

Step 3: Send Email Link To Survey

I put together this email, and sent it to the list on a Friday.

The email showcased our new plushie, and told subscribers that if they took a quick survey, I’d select 10 random people and send them a plushy.

I actually gave subscribers 2 chances to win:

  1. They could click the survey link in the email
  2. I told them I was planning to post another link the next Monday on our Facebook Fan Page. So this gave our subscribers a secret, unfair advantage over the general public (the whole point of them signing up to the list, remember?)

At the bottom of the email, I mentioned another piece of schwag we were working on, along with a mention of our DesignLab.

Step 2: Create survey in Wufoo

But in order to send people to a survey, I had to um — create a survey. Problem is, I’m a busy man. I’ve got golf to play, and stocks to sell, and money to count while wearing my monocle & tophat, and other stuffs that important people do.

That’s exactly who Wufoo is built for.

So I ran over and built this survey in about 2 minutes:


You’ll notice, at the very bottom of the survey, there’s an opt-in checkbox to receive newsletters from the DesignLab. The idea is, "Hey, if you like these crazy prizes, wanna see who builds them, and how they’re built?"

That’s using Wufoo’s new integration with MailChimp, which sends a double-opt-in confirmation over to people, to make sure they really, really want to be on that list too. The integration with wufoo was amazingly simple. You just give them your MailChimp API key, then Wufoo connects to MailChimp. Then, you just tell Wufoo which list to send emails to:


One "pro tip" I learned the hard way: Make sure you tell Wufoo to send people to the correct list. It kinda helps.

BTW, that "one question" that I asked in the survey? That was inspired by this "Inside Pixar Leadership" interview that a co-worker pointed out to me. There was a brief discussion about why companies fail. A couple of his comments, particularly his "hubris doesn’t explain anything" and his "misperceptions of how we got there" ones, made me want to explore that topic further with my own customers.

But I digress.

Step 1: Setup a subscriber list for DesignLab

Okay, we’ve got an email list, we’ve got an email that points people to the survey, and now the survey needs to point people over to the DesignLab signup form.

So you guessed it, I had to setup the DesignLab’s signup form.

If you’re a MailChimp customer, you already know how to do that. Only thing I did differently here was to make it kind of ugly, so that the DesignLab would hate it, and would want to change it soon:


I know this is eating at you, Ron.

The Results

So I sent my email out to the Marketing Promo list (727 subscribers).

It got a great response:


I sent it at 4:31 PM, which was so close to quitting time, that I was worried what the response would be.

Turned out pretty good! 68% opens and a 45% click rate is nothing to be ashamed of. Understandably for a prize/giveaway list, 7 people unsubscribed (see how I’ve since customized that experience too).

Best of all, by 5:30 (one hour later), I had 149 entries waiting for me in Wufoo. And Wufoo makes it really easy to just click through each entry to read the feedback:


I got a smile every time I hit "next." Wufoo also makes it easy to export the survey results to a spreadsheet, which I did, and emailed to everyone in our company.

So when Monday rolled around, I had to announce my 10 winners to the list, AND do my 2nd round of giveaways on our Facebook Fan Page (some of the subscribers were starting to ask me about it). But I got so far behind in my day, I never did tell my subscribers in advance what time I’d be posting to Facebook. Oopsie. So I had to address that in my email too.

This is what I sent them:


In total, I got about 250 entries to my survey. helped me pick 10 random numbers between 0 and 251, and then I basically correlated those numbers with Wufoo’s "entry" numbers:


But here’s the thing. I didn’t want to send this email to everyone on the list. If someone didn’t really care about the giveaway (hey, some people don’t like plushies — gasp!), they certainly wouldn’t care about winners getting picked. So I sent this notification to a segment of the list who clicked the previous email:


I figured if they cared enough to click something (especially the survey) in the previous email, they might want to hear about the winners getting selected. Otherwise, they don’t care about this plushy promotion.

So I sent that email announcing the winners, and I gave subscribers a few hours advance notice before posting this to Facebook at 6:02pm:


Which got a pretty decent response, too.

The survey responses from Facebook came in slower than the responses from the email campaign.

I got 64 in the first hour, as opposed to 149 via the email campaign. Of course, this could’ve been because I posted it late in the day.

The Final, Final Results

After all was said and done, and all the plushies got mailed, we’re starting to see tweets from winners pop up, like this one:


and this one:


which begot this:


and begot this:


which meant we had to explain with:


which pointed to this blog post, which, of course, pointed back to my original opt-in form for the marketing promos list:


which got even more subscribers. See, everything on the Intertubes basically ends with LOLcats.

Oh yeah, back to the original problem.

Our DesignLab now has 256 subscribers on their list. What now? Well, now they can basically create more awesome stuff, and then possibly do even more giveaways to customers. First, they’ve got to re-design that horrible subscribe form I did for them!

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