Dear Spreadsheet Whisperer,

I’ve been adding to the info I track on my newsletter Mailchimp list so that, for example, when I come to Seattle in April, I can email all the people on my list from Seattle. Just now I registered for my own list to make sure all was well, and my confirmation included all the data that is not on my registration form but which Mailchimp is current tracking. How can I make is so that new registrants don’t get this whole [form] and just confirm their email addresses?

From, Confirmation Confusion

Dear Confirmation Confusion,

First of all, I want to congratulate you on adding info to your newsletter subscriber list!  I think we could all learn a lesson from you on that front.  Also, it’s a wonderful way to connect with your people to have them opt-in to your newsletter by clicking a sign-up button (PS if you haven’t signed up to follow The Data Are Alright, you can do so on the homepage!).  Confirmation Confusion, it sounds like your data are alright!

I’m going to begin by describing some of the basic functions of Mailchimp programs like it (Constant Contact, Campaign Monitor, Emma, etc).  These tools are great for organizers and changemakers, especially when we use them effectively.  They’re collectively called ESP’s (Email Service Providers) but unfortunately they definitely DON’T read our minds!

  • First and foremost, ESPs let you manage email lists and send graphic-design-y emails (all marketing emails with background colors and photos are pretty much sent through ESPs)
  • ESPs provide some basic address book management features, like letting you add and track custom information about your people (functions a lot like a CRM database!)
  • ESPs keep track of information like whether or not a particular person has opened an email, where they were when they opened it, and what kind of device or browser they used
  • ESPs let you summarize info about emails you sent, like Open Rate % and Click Through Rate (if any of your recipients clicked on your hyperlinks).
  • ESPs automatically “de-duplicate” your data for you (so it won’t send the same email to someone twice, even if they are on your list twice, unless you manually re-send it).

Ok, now that we have that out of the way, let’s get to your specific problem.  You created a Newsletter List in your ESP and you added custom fields to keep track of different things about your Subscribers.  What do they care about?  Where do they live?  You also created a Sign Up button on your website so that people can keep in touch with you.  When folks sign up, you don’t want them to see your extra fields (although in some cases, it’s really nice to have folks provide info so you don’t have to fill it out later.  A common one is, “how did you find out about me/us” with a drop down men).  In this case, however, you need all of the fields to be invisible.  This sounds like an excellent case for The Spreadsheet Whisperer!

Here’s the good news!  I was able to fix your problem through a combination of reading help documentation and trial and error.

  • First, I tried to subscribe and I saw the same problem.  That’s always a good reality check!
  • Then, I logged in to your Mailchimp account and found your Signup Form.  Yep, there they are, those private data tracking fields that you don’t want your Newsletter Subscribers to see.
  • Since I’ve never used Mailchimp, I did some Google searching.  Here’s my personal google search: mailchimp + subscribe form + hide fields.  I like to include it here because the better you Google search, the quicker you’ll get help.  The best resource for me was the third link Google returned.
  • It turns out that I was able to drag and drop fields from the form builder menu.  When I dragged the unwanted fields away, they turned blue with the text “Hidden.”
  • Finally, I saved the changes that I made and tried to log-in again.  Voila!

When I emailed you the solution, I was elated to see your quick response — “Now I can go to bed in peace!”  Confirmation Confusion, you are well on your way to Confirmation Champion!

And if you ever get stuck, I’m just a “Submission Form” away.  You got this!

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