So I tried to write this post up before, but it was lost in a freak web browser accident. You should see the other guy!
Back to the topic at hand. I've been trying to migrate my email list for some time and by "trying" I mean thinking about it, doing nothing, thinking some more, doing nothing, and so on and so forth. People don't seem to be that into email since Myspace, Facebook, Twitter and Shouting Random Syllables Out Of Moving Cars became the preferred form of communication. However, the good old-fashioned email list still has a valuable place. Yes, email is old-fashioned, like buggies and Polio.
I've been relying on the social network tools to keep my people up to date on media appearances, tour dates and other announcements, but the advantage of email is that I can "own" the connections. By "own" I mean I'm not dependent on the behavior of some company to maintain it's existence -- if Facebook disappeared tomorrow, it would be more than a pain to reconstruct my network. By "own" I also mean "slavery."
For the past few years, I've been using a mailing list service developed by a geek friend, but he's since moved his focus to other endeavors, and I'm ready for an upgrade. Enter Mad Mimi. I first saw this company's name mentioned on Twitter over a month ago but could not remember it. Yesterday, I decided to try again to find it, and voila. There it was right on Mashable. The company is just 11 months old which means the people are still inspired and under pressure to innovate. They have a really kick ass newsletter builder tool, but honestly, I went with the company because its logo is just so damn adorable.
Look at it. Really, go over there right now and LOOK AT IT. Doesn't it just scream "I totally want to help you maintain valuable connections with those outside your Monkeysphere!?" Well, that's what I hear.
The signup was a breeze. The importing of my old list, however, gave me some trouble. That's when I fell in love with the company. They use the Campfire live chat service to provide support, and it's extremely high quality. My experience was so good, I'm just going to paste the transcript here for you to see.
Welcome to the chat. You can see who's currently in the room by looking to the right. Say "Hello" to everyone by just typing in the box below and hitting return.
Baratunde T. has entered the room
Baratunde T. hello
Support Hi Baratunde. Dean here
Baratunde T. great to meet you dean. so i've just signed up for the 5,000 plan
Support What can I help with? :)
Baratunde T. have tried many times to import my existing list via CSV but the formatting is turning out quite nasty
Support OK, I'll take a look at it. Just upload it here (there's an upload link on the right)
Baratunde T. madmimi.csv
Support Ah...One sec while I fix some thing up
Baratunde T. ok cool. FYI, it was produced by Google Spreadsheets which just opens a webpage with the text file. i then pasted this into textedit on my mac and appended .csv
Support Well the export is almost fine. The problem is that Google docs left out a comma. if there is no cell phone data for that row. Which means Mimi is getting confused. I'm going to try and fix this fast
Baratunde T. oooh. i should have tested it at cleanupdata.com/ thanks
Support No worries its very easy to fix. One other thing...
Baratunde T. yeees
Support The header "first & last name"... You could just say NAME. Mad mimi would then automatically recognize first and last names
Baratunde T. that would be better. i adopted that label because your manual "add 5 names" option labeled it that way
Support The & sign might be confusing her.
Baratunde T. instead it duplicated the data under First Name and Last Name
Support Ah I see no worries I'll take care of it
Baratunde T. so while you're doing that, lemme throw out another question you can answer when you're done. Search seems only to search the email address and not the other fields. Is there a way to find/filter/sort by fields beyond email? I have geo data in there (obviously :) and would like to make sub-lists based on people in NY for example
Support Yes there is a way (sorta) First, here is the file ready for upload:
Baratunde T. ha ha, you said "sorta"
Support madmimi_edited.csv. OK so next to the search bar, you'll see the text: "search tips" click on that
Baratunde T. ahhh!!
Support You can search any of those fields" city, zip, organizationname, title, country, lastname, firstname, phone, address, state, and email Thus if you want to be able to search Gender
Baratunde T. DUDE
Support rename it "title" and you can search title:Male or title: Female. hopefully soon we'll add fully customizable search fields
Baratunde T. oh ok. a little limiting, but better than i was able to do before. most important to me are city, state, country
Support you can search those :) Alternately, I could cut your list into Male and Femal i mean female And keep those as their own two segmented lists anyway if needed
Baratunde T. right. that's actually not an important field anyway. geo is the main thing due to my touring.
Support You can group your overall list into as many sub-groups aas you'd like =. ah fair enough :)
Baratunde T. and i assume the size is measured by unique entries across all lists correct?
Support Well you should be all good then :) Yup. Dupelicates don't count toward your total
Baratunde T. how long has this company been around?
Support About 11 months. We're youngun's :)
Baratunde T. nice. ok i'm going to play with sending a message later today. so far i'm very impressed. i like young companies. they have the latest tech. this campfire chat is brilliant and effective. thank you so much. tell your bosses you did great. also, i found your service via mashable though it was a mention on twitter many weeks ago that put the name in my head
Support Thanks so much. Please explore the Gallery and also make use of "themes" when composing a newsletter Themes give you "the look"
Baratunde T. roger that. have a nice evening dean
Support Cheers Baratunde, you too!
Over the course of ten minutes, my problems and questions were answered. Dean fixed my file and was pleasant the entire time. I wish every company/government I had to deal with worked so smoothly when things didn't work so smoothly.
The previous service I used had three distinct advantages over Mad Mimi that I've noticed so far. It allowed me to edit a contact's attributes without re-importing (Mimi lets you edit existing attributes but not add them). It allowed me to define lists based on a radius around a set zipcode (very, very useful for touring artists). And, it allowed me to visualize my list on a google map.
Considering how young and motivated Mad Mimi is, I'm sure they can technically provide these features as well and hope they do. In the meantime, what I've seen so far gives me enough to provide a wholehearted endorsement of this service.
And, I just sent my inaugural email. People love it. Check it out for yourself.
In fact, the company makes sure your initial message isn't spam. You can't joint, dump in a bunch of harvested email addresses and blast people with penis-enlarging, barely legal free credit reports. During the few minutes this took, I got an email from the ever-friendly Dean:
Mad Mimi. Do it.