I love the Squarespace newsletter block because it's customizable and easy to implement. HOWEVER. You can only capture a subscriber's full name with the newsletter block and I think it's safe to say that most of us only want to use the first name. Also, many people hesitate to subscribe if they are asked for their full name. In my case I decided to just collect the email address and no name at all and I know that this is what many others are doing as well. As an aside I have always found it a bit odd to get newsletters that greet me with my name, like we are good friends, when in reality the person sending the newsletter has no idea who I am.
Nonetheless, I do see the appeal of using the first name and when this subject came up in one of my e-courses this week I decided to investigate other options, namely using the form block which allows you to add a text field and call it First Name. Easy enough, right? Well, not quite when it comes to sending the content of that text field, i.e. a person's first name, to a Mailchimp list. That's because Mailchimp expects the first name to be sent via the First Name field and not a text field.
Welcome to the good old world of data mapping!
Which, incidentally, is something I've worked with many times during my corporate career. I never had any formal training in database management but I always enjoyed getting stuck into my databases and creating reports and form letters using data mapping. So that's what I did with Mailchimp and played around with their list fields and merge tags until I figured it out!
1. Create form in Squarespace
Insert a form block, or use the form on a cover page
Delete all the fields except Email Address
Add a text field and call it First Name
2. Configure the Mailchimp list fields
In your Mailchimp list go to > Settings > List Fields and *|MERGE|* tags
By default there are three fields: Email, First Name, Last Name. Delete the First Name and Last Name
3. Submit a subscriber
Go back to your form and submit a new subscriber, entering a first name and email address
In your Mailchimp list go back to Settings > List Fields and *|MERGE|* tags. You will see that the text field for First Name was added and given the merge tag name *|TEXTYUI_3|*
4. Use the new tag in your campaigns
Now you can add the tag *|TEXTYUI_3|* wherever you want to use someone's first name in your campaigns. You can either select it from the Merge Tags dropdown list or type it in.
5. Use the new tag in IF-statements
You can use the IF-statement when entering the first name in your form is optional, i.e. some subscribers will have a first name, others won't. With the IF-statement you can ask Mailchimp to add the first name if there is one, or to use a different salutation for those who did not give a first name. I have never used the IF-statement in Mailchimp before and I am so glad Kerstin Begley, a fellow Squarespace designer and student in my Squarespace Classroom course, told me about it because it's simply brilliant! Here is how to use the IF-statement with the TEXTYUI_3 tag:
So if I submitted my first name the email I'd get would say Dear Kerstin, otherwise it would just say Hello there. Love it!
6. Add First Name column to your list
Go to your list view and click on Toggle Columns
Check First Name and save