MailChimpGroups.pngThis is an open letter to the MailChimp team:

Let me start off by saying that I LOVE the MailChimp service for handling email newsletters. We’ve been MailChimp clients for over years, and MailChimp has been my product of choice for most of the email marketing classes I’ve led over the years.

But the Interest Groups feature in MailChimp is broken. I’m hoping that by demonstrating our problems with the current Interest Groups implementation, those issues will be addressed, and I’ll be able to continue using MailChimp for many years to come. As it stands today, I’m seriously considering moving to another service for our training classes. And I’d really prefer to stay with MailChimp.

Problem #1: Can’t Preselect Groups during Sign-Up

Note: This problem is less important than Problem #2, but we need to take things in order.

We can’t pre-select an interest group in the users sign-up page. If someone signs-up from a page describing “Topic A”, we’d like Topic A to be preselected on the resulting sign-up page. Likewise if someone links from a page describing the benefits of “Topic B” we’d like to be able to have Topic B preselected.

Try this yourself. We’ve created a demo MailChimp account with three interest groups. I’d like to offer you links below that select certain topics for you. But I can’t:

Link 1: I’d Like Topic A Preselected
Link 2: I’d Like Topic B Preselected
Link 3: I’d Like Topic C Preselected

Using interest groups with MailChimp, we can’t do this. The result is many people end up signing up from a sign-up link on the “Topic A” page and don’t realize they were also suppose to check the “Topic A” option in their sign-up.

Problem #2: How Do Existing Subscribers Sign Up for a New Group?

Now try this. Say you signed-up on our sample email list for “Topic A”. Maybe you signed up a year ago.

Now, try to sign-up for “Topic B” from one of our website links:

Link: I’d Like Topic B Preselected

MailChimp rejects anyone who has already signed-up for one of our group topics (our best customers) with a curt error:


That person who is already subscribed to “Topic A” was using our website link to sign-up for the new “Topic B” group. And is soundly rejected.

So, how does an existing subscriber enroll in a new Interest Group that they didn’t check during their initial sign-up?

They could do it from one of our past emails, IF we provided the link in that email to update their profile, and IF they knew that is what they were supposed to do. But that is a terrible approach.

In our case, people will sign up for a single class (say Photoshop) from our website, and then later come back to sign-up for a new class (say Final Cut Pro). If we used MailChimp’s Interest Groups to try to manage those lists, people would never be able to sign-up for a 2nd class without going back through the awkward “update profile” option.

As a result we’re awkwardly juggling a separate mailing list for each class we host.