Daily App: MailChimp Keeps VARs In Touch

As a VAR, part of your job is to remind customers of your value to their business. Reducing the chore to a monkey's level is MailChimp, a web service that starts out free and could remain that way and still serve the needs of many a small and midsize business. The MailChimp app for Android and for iOS provides access to many of the service's capabilities, and can use the device's location to identify nearby subscribers as an aid to sales calls or pop-ins.

MailChimp centers around the concept of subscribers, which are members of a company's mailing list. The basic service lets companies maintain mailing lists with up to 2,000 subscribers and send 12,000 emails a month, all for free. The most basic upgrade costs $10 a month and removes the limit on emails but clamps the subscriber count to 500. Each subscriber can have a profile attached that contains specified preferences, records of conversations and other VAR contacts, as would any CRM system. These features are available through the browser or mobile apps, so they can be recorded close to the time and place of their occurrence.

The apps also permit an on-the-fly addition of new subscribers' other list management capabilities, can kick off campaigns and view reports. To add a subscriber, simply select Lists from the app's main menu and tap on the list to be updated. This brings up a summary of that list showing its open and click rates, growth history, key clients, number of new subscriptions since the most recent campaign and other key info. Reports also can include geographic location of people opening your email, who's tweeting about it and how much revenue is being generated by a particular campaign. To add a subscriber, simply hit the plus sign and the list's fields quickly pop up with the same field population requirements as defined on the web app.

For organizations that involve multiple people in campaign design and deployment, MailChimp's mobile apps support the account permission levels set forth through the online interface. Among its myriad email campaign tools, the service offers advanced email analytics and a drag-and-drop campaign designer tool with numerous templates to help new VARs get started. To ease in collaborative efforts, there's even a workflow monitor that supports test emails, revision notes and feature checklists. An automatic link checker simplifies final proofs by hovering a thumbnail of the destination site for each link. MailChimp also can be synched with Salesforce and used for email campaign management.

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