Clicks in Emails – Can you update a record from them?
I just want to tag all these people who’ve said their interested… is that too much to ask?
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Everybody ‘loves’ Mailchimp!
I’ve been using the loveable scamp for over 10 years now and have gotten to know it rather intimately (hey… my business is called Chimp Answers!) and still love what it can do for me and my clients.
Mailchimp is extremely easy to get into and get moving on, which is why it’s the most used email marketing tool (according to Mailchimp, with over 60% market share!!!).
However, with a tool that’s designed for the masses, once you start pushing the limits, there are a few things that you may find a little frustrating.
Usually there’s a ‘work-around’ for these things, and eventually Mailchimp make an update to their system, but sometimes that update never comes and those of us who want to take things to the next level are left with ‘making do’.
…and one area that continually comes up in the Mailchimp Answers Facebook Group (not a member yet? why not!) is “How do I update someone’s information based on them clicking somewhere in an email?”
The Elusive ‘Tracking Link’
For many of us who want to push their Mailchimp usage to the next level, the one thing that we’d like is for the powers that be at Mailchimp HQ to incorporate a ‘link tracker’ into the system.
(as an aside, a long time ago, they did have something called ‘goooal’ which did the job… but alas it got archived and is no longer available ☹️)
Let’s give you some examples of what I mean:
- You send someone an email which asks them if they like “widgets”…and to click the link if they do – which then automatically adds them to a tag in Mailchimp for widgets.
- An automated email goes out asking if you want to receive emails weekly or monthly and has a link for each option – and when clicked, the appropriate group in Mailchimp is automatically updated.
- An email is sent asking if someone is male or female, with links – and when clicked a field in Mailchimp is automatically updated accordingly with the information.
- Someone gets bored of receiving information about widgets and they can click a link at the bottom of the email which, when clicked, automatically removes the tag for widgets from their record.
Unfortunately, as it currently stands, you can’t do any of these easily in Mailchimp…
…but as ever, there are a couple of workarounds which might help.
Option 1 – The New Form solution
Forms are something that, if you’re using Mailchimp a lot, you get to know quite well.
…and when you find a tool that integrates with Mailchimp from your website nicely, the pain of form creation drops away rapidly!
…and we all know that forms are a great way of updating existing records.
(Of course, if you know Mailchimp, you know that Mailchimp’s embedded forms don’t give you the option of updating a record – which is why most Mailchimp experts won’t recommend them).
So one workaround (not ideal I’ll admit) is to create a new form (e.g. in a Mailchimp landing page) and when they click the appropriate link, send them to a page with the form on which they can confirm their choice.
The form does the update to the record and you’re happy.
(n.b. if you use tags, I’d suggest Mailchimp landing pages, if you use groups, I’d suggest you use your own form software that allows for groups to be updated)
It’s not a perfect solution, as it requires at least 2 clicks and someone to complete there email again (unless the form can be ‘autopopulated’ – see note) but it does work and is something that many Mailchimpers use… at least until Mailchimp gives us the holy grail!
(Also, depending on which tool you are using, you might be able to ‘autopopulate the form’ so that all they need to do is click the ‘confirm’ button. And if your form software is especially clever you can even hide the fields so all they see is the “confirm your click” button – nice!)
Option 2 – The Profile Update link
If you’ve used Mailchimp recently and started using 3rd party form tools to capture and link with Mailchimp, you may not be 100% aware of the profile update system Mailchimp has.
From a specific merge tag in an email – *|UPDATE_PROFILE|*, when someone clicks this link in an email, they are redirected to a Mailchimp hosted ‘profile’ page where they can change their own information.
You can certainly give them the options there to add/remove themselves from groups and update their field information (it doesn’t do tags currently).
You can edit how your page looks in the signup form >> form builder section of your audience, so it can be branded and made to look nice.
…but again, it requires someone to click at least twice to confirm their preferences.
…and it might mean you need to change some of your information and how it’s stored (e.g. information you ‘don’t’ want to show in the profile update form).
Plus, for many, the Mailchimp Hosted forms are a bit ‘old school’ in their styling.
So again, not an ideal solution, but at least it’s an option!
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Option 3 – The ‘Automated Post Send Action’ workaround
OK… so we’re now moving into something a bit more advanced that ‘will’ work on a single click, but it’s a bit ‘convoluted’ and might not work directly for your requirements.
It’s called the ‘post send action’ option and works like this…
- You create an email with a specific link in that you’d like, when clicked, to update something in Mailchimp (a tag, group or field).
- You then create an ‘automated’ email with the trigger “that specific link in that specific email is clicked”.
- The link will have to have some destination to go to, so you’ll need a “we confirm your click and you’ve been updated” page somewhere.
- In the automation you use the ‘post send action’ option to update the record with whatever changes you want to make.
- The automated email gets sent – it can say something like “thanks for letting us know you’re into widgets”.
- …and the post send action updates the record accordingly.
It’s not the most ‘elegant’ of solutions, but it does work. It does however have a downside.
The biggest downside is that you have to create this for every single link AND EMAIL you want clicked. So you can’t just set it up to work every time someone clicks the link in any email… you need one for each email which has the link in.
If you’re doing this just in a welcome email – then not too much of an issue – but chances are you’d like someone to tell you their interested in widgets in lots of your emails… and if so you’ll need “lots” of these automations.
So technically, it works, but it’s not the most practical solution.
Option 4 – Automation Leave & Join Merge Tags
Another way you can ‘workaround’ is to use automation leave and join merge tags.
These merge tags, when clicked will automatically add someone to an automation, or remove them from one.
…and using a similar process to that used with the “Automated Post Send Action” above, you can assign tags/remove tags after the first email in the automation is triggered.
If you want to use this option… it’s less ‘clunky’ than creating a specific automation for every email/link you use… and is therefore a much better option.
…but you still need an automation for each element you want updated in a record, and, like I said, it’s rather clunky.
(for reference, the merge tags to use as links are:
and of course you need to use the right campaign id to do this)
The remove will “remove them from the automation flow” but it won’t update their records – as there’s no automation to use the post send action on.
So …better… and probably the best option we’ve all got at the moment (until Mailchimp get things sorted).
…is there any other way?
Option 5 – Chimplinks
What’s a Chimplink I hear you ask?
Well, there something I created a while ago to allow me to do exactly what we’re all looking for.
Essentially, I create a link (with a url chimpl.ink/chimpanswers/link123) with the email merge tag appended to the end of the link.
…and then in my system I set it up so that the record gets updated with the appropriate information (tag/group/field) and when clicked, the individual gets’ redirected to a thank you page.
It’s slick and it works for me and I use it for many of my existing clients.
Unfortunately I can’t get it to “remove” a tag or group (so if I want to have someone opt out of some communication I create an “opt out” tag), but it gives me the option of creating segmentation links in my emails which don’t need an automation directly linked to them!
I’m considering making these available to users at a low cost (e.g. 3 links for 1 year for £20) and if you’re interested, click here to let me know directly and I’ll let you know when they’re ready to roll out.
So there you have it.
Being able to segment on a single click in an email is something many of us want… it’s just it’s not something Mailchimp has available… yet.
There are several workaround which you can probably use… and I’ve even created my own option.
…but until the chimps in power add this option, we’re all just waiting!!!
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Robin Adams is a business owner who is passionate about helping businesses build effective marketing systems that work and don't waste money. Having a lifetime of Marketing experience (he's got a degree in Marketing before there were degrees in Marketing!) and having worked for big and small businesses and both client and agency side, he understands not only the theory, but the systems that are required to underpin everything.
51% marketer and 49% Chimp, Robin is the main man behind chimpanswers.com and the Mailchimp Answers Facebook Group - the world's biggest Mailchimp User Group. Connect with him on Linkedin.
Struggling to understand who your customer actually is?…and what motivates them?
Use this FREE Customer Avatar Worksheet to develop your marketing activities with a specific person in mind and ensure you know what to say and where to say it.
Want to know more essential Mailchimp stuff?
We’ve written a series of “must read” articles on things we consider essential when it comes to Mailchimp – To make the most of Mailchimp, you need to check them out.
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