Falling in Love With MailChimp [en]

A long time ago (at least it seems so) I got a newsletter from my friend Euan Semple. A couple of years back I had decided it was time for me to have my own newsletter (old skool can be good) but I have to say I’ve been less than regular at keeping my subscribers updated on whatever I was doing. Maybe partly because Google Groups is a pain in the neck, and also because I decided to make the newsletter bilingual-translated (a lot of work).

I still think newsletters are a good idea, when done well. When Euan sent me his, I asked him what he was using: MailChimp. I’ve been wanting to try it ever since and have recommended it to clients, but only yesterday did I decide to dive in and really get things going.

I love the UI and the tons of tutorials available. I managed to import my subscribers from my Google Group without too much trouble. One thing I like is that MailChimp allows you to make groups of subscribers inside a list: in my case, I made one for French and one for English. People can chose their preferred language (or even sign up for both). You can also add in custom fields, which I did to allow people to sign up for local (Suisse romande) news.

One thing I’m not quite happy with is that there doesn’t seem to be a way to batch-edit subscriber settings. For example, when I imported the list I set everybody to plain text e-mail, and now I want to switch them over to HTML. I’m also not sure to what extent people can edit their subscription settings once they’re subscribed, if at all.

MailChimp has all the tracking and segmenting features you can wish for. Under 500 subscribers and 3000 e-mails a month, it’s free.

It also has RSS to e-mail, which in my opinion is really precious. I’ve started to see how many people sign up to receive blog posts in their mailbox since WordPress.com implemented the feature. It would be a shame to miss out on that!

Now, the question that’s left for me is the following: do I create just one list, and let people choose options like “subscribe to blog”, “newsletter only”, “receive delicious links” — or do I create separate lists? I’m leaning towards just one.

Update 18.06.2010: Eeeps! I forgot to give you the link so you could sign up to my newsletter. Silly me!

Google Groups Pain in the Neck [en]

[fr] Google Groups trouve qu'il n'est pas raisonnable de vouloir ajouter plus d'une dizaine de personnes à la fois à une newsletter nouvellement créée.

I’ve used Google Groups to set up a newsletter for Going Solo.

Here it is, with added proof (if needed) of my hopeless lack of design sense.

When I set up the group, I did what most normal newsletter creators would do: went through my contacts to invite those who might be interested in joining. I selected 30 or so people to start with.

My action triggered a flag for review, as I might be a potential spammer:

Your request to invite X new members has been flagged for review by our staff.

In order to protect our members from unsolicited email, Google manually reviews invite requests which meet various criteria. Your request will not be reviewed unless you provide us with more information in the form below. Reviews generally take 1 – 2 business days.

Please provide an explanation for where these new members come from and why they would want to be part of your group. Note that Google takes a very dim view of Spam. The people you invite must know you and be expecting your message. If they complain, you will be banned from our service and your group will be deleted.


Well, I wrote up an explanation, saying I was setting up this newsletter so that people could stay informed about Going Solo (registration is closing soon btw), and that I was going through my address book to let people know about it.

Anything wrong with that, in your opinion? I think not, and Google obviously didn’t think there was anything wrong either, because they let my invitations go through after a few hours.


Now, each time I invite even one single person, my request is flagged.

Google Groups: Threatening!

What a pain! I’m going to be inviting people many times a day over the next week, as I dig out e-mail addresses. And obviously, just announcing the existence of the newsletter is not enough to get people to sign up — ever heard of lower the barrier to entry? If I’m creating this newsletter, it’s because I’m finally coming to my senses (!) and realising that not everybody follows Twitter, subscribes to blogs, hangs out on Facebook or upcoming, and that good ol’ e-mail still has some good days before it when it comes to getting information out to people.

I am really annoyed at Google Groups for making this so difficult. Shouldn’t there be a way for me to get the limit “lifted” for my group, by offering proof I’m not a nasty spammer, but a businesswoman (OMG!) who is very much aware that she will very quickly use up her social capital if she spams her network with irrelevant stuff? And therefore, that I actually need to send out invites to a few hundred people?

Also, look at this form:

Google Groups invite members

Don’t you think that “e-mail addresses” field invites a reasonably large number of addresses?

I went through the help, and it wasn’t very encouraging, but I did learn a few useful things:

So, please. If you have friends working on Google Groups, please draw their attention to this post and issue. It’s a bloody pain in the neck.

Oh yeah — and please sign up for the newsletter. I’m going to have trouble inviting you 😉 — [email protected] also works.