Jul 24, 2012

v7.4 Release Notes: Jump to top bug squashed with extreme prejudice, plus other things

Every month, we launch new features in MailChimp. Keeps things fun, and keeps us nimble. This month, here’s what’s new:
  • Updated CK Editor (halle-frickin-lujah)
  • Real-time(ish) Chimp Chatter
  • Subscribe/Unsubscribe Summary Notifications
  • Tweaks to the Reports Screen
  • New coder-friendly editor
  • 6 new email templates
  • Logout screen

As always, it can take a few days for all new features to show up in all users’ accounts. We roll them out one data center per day.

One Incredibly Annoying SOB of a Bug Squashed

First and foremost, we upgraded our installation of CKeditor (the WYSIWYG editor inside our campaign builder). That thing’s been modified and hacked so much over the years (in order to make it produce 1990’s-style HTML email friendly code) that it’s been extremely difficult to untangle the wires and upgrade it. Which is what kept causing that horribly frustrating "jump to top" bug for a lot of people. Yeah, that bug. Trust me, that "jump to top" bug made us want to rip our hair out and punch our computer screens too. That’s why it took us so long to fix this. We kept having to replace computers. And get our knuckles stitched. Anyway, it’s fixed.

But wait, there’s more…

Real-Time(ish) Chimp Chatter

When you sign in to MailChimp, there’s an area on the Dashboard we call "Chimp Chatter." The idea behind Chatter was to show you all the different activity that goes on behind the scenes with your list(s):

People are always subscribing, unsubscribing, changing their preferences, and so on. It can be fun to see all those new faces on your list, and to see where they’re coming from. Anyway, we got to thinking: "Why is Chimp Chatter updated really slowly, but then we send real-time email updates when we get new subscribes or unsubscribes?" Seemed backwards. The emails can get overwhelming.  So we changed things. Chimp Chatter is updated every 5 minutes now. This way, if you tweet "Hey, I’m about to send my next email newsletter, so sign up if you’re interested" you can watch people signing up in Chatter. It’s kinda fun.

New Subscribe/Unsubscribe Email Summaries

In addition to making Chimp Chatter more frequent, we launched a new option to make the email notifications per list a little less frequent. Instead of getting a separate email every single time someone opts in to or opts out from your list, you can just sign up for a daily summary instead:

Go to Lists -> Settings -> List Name & Defaults

and then scroll down to:

Getting those notifications can be a fun little ego booster, but after a while they can actually get a little overwhelming. This option will keep your inbox a little more sane. It’s set to "digest" by default. Note that you can still get the "one by one" emails, if that’s what you prefer.

 

Tweaked Reports Chart

We made some subtle-but-super-useful tweaks to this Reports chart:

 

Let’s say I manage several lists. I use the pulldown menu to narrow down all the results to the "MailChimp Blog Updates" email list. Then I zoom in to a data range (click and drag your mouse inside the chart). In the past, you could hover your mouse over the little dots in the chart to see open and click rates, and the date you sent that email. In v7.4, we made it so that when you hover over the dots, we highlight the row for that campaign down below. And we added a new column: "Date Sent" which includes the day of the week. Now I can easily see that my opens go up on Mondays and Wednesdays, but dip on Fridays.

 

New Coder-friendly Editor

We work really hard to make it so that you never have to manually code stuff inside MailChimp. But sometimes, you just want to lift the hood and code your own emails. When you do, we’ve made the experience a little more easy on the eyes, with this new coder-friendly editor:

 

6 New Mobile-friendly Email Templates

We’re always adding more email templates to our "Designer Templates" selection. Lately, you’ve probably noticed a trend: they’re all mobile-friendly and responsive now. In v7.4, there are six new templates in the "Newsletters" and "E-commerce" categories. Fabio will provide an entertaining post about these new templates, so I’m not going to go into too much detail. You can probably guess that the "newsletter" one is designed for content-heavy emails, and the "e-commerce" templates are designed with product photos and "buy buttons" in mind:

and that they all adapt nicely when viewed on a tiny smartphone screen.

 

New, unbelievably exciting "Logged out" screen

MailChimp gets about 5,000 new users every day. Okay, that’s just week days. But still. That means every weekday, there are roughly 5,000 new people who haven’t discovered this wonderful blog, 5,000 people who have no idea who I am,  5,000 people who haven’t received all our past newsletters or feature updates, and 5,000 people who basically have no idea how the heck MailChimp works. Customer education is turning into a full time job here. Seriously, we just started a whole new department for this. We’ve been discussing all the different ways we can teach our customers the joys of MailChimp. We have an email series that new customers can subscribe to (about 1,000 people subscribe to that every day, so thank goodness for the "summary" email option above). We send occasional "system alert" email updates that talk about new features.

We’ve also discussed using sign in "road blocks" to tell customers about new features. It’s tempting, because soooo many people sign in to MailChimp every day. But we decided to reserve those for critical alerts, instead of for marketing. When people sign in to MailChimp, they need to get their work done. Often, it’s work they’ve procrastinated on for weeks (or maybe that’s just me). So they don’t want to be bothered by screens that sell new features. People just want to get in, get their work done, and then log out.

Eureka! The log out screen!

A nice, low-pressure, non-interruptive way to tell our users about new features in MailChimp:

 

Sometimes I think it’s crazy how we seem to spend an inordinate amount of time using data, targeting, and segmentation to get out of the customer’s way around here.