Importing Excel into MailChimp for Mailing List

Yesterday I was presented with the challenge of taking an Excel xls file and bringing those contacts into MailChimp for a mail merge. I won’t go too much into the specifics since I’m sure it’ll change rapidly, but this should give you a headstart.

First, I had to split the PatronFullName column into two columns which were relabeled “Last Name” and “First Name.” Before I did this column to text divide, I had to add two blank columns to the right of PatronFullName. Why? If I tried to divide the column without two blank right columns, the data in the adjoining column would disappear. Once the column was split in two, I deleted the second empty one. The first empty one now held “First Name.”

I then had to remove the $ sign from the next column. I checked the formula and the dollar sign was not in there, so this simply wasn’t a case where I could just remove a single symbol. Instead I had to convert the column to just text which did the trick. The ones place in the numbers then disappeared, but it turned out that MailChimp automated the ones place back in, so this was fine (also I was working with 10s, 20s, 30s, etc. so it was okay for the zero to drop off).

Finally, I had to export the file out as a CSV.

Now over in MailChimp, I created a new list for this data. Then under settings, I added custom fields to match the ones on my CSV. Pro-tip: change the auto merge tag to something useful. By default the merge tags will be “MERGE1,” “MERGE2” and so on. When you go to import, if your field names match up exactly, you can breeze on through. However, if your CSV has a field your list doesn’t have, you will have to skip it (or add a new field in MailChimp on the fly).

I then created a Regular Ol’ Campaign. Once I got to the design step, I wrote up the entire email then went back in to substitute my mail merge values. For example, *|FNAME|* (or is |*FNAME|* ???) became the person’s first name. By clicking on Preview at the top of the screen, then clicking on Header Info then Live Mail Merge, I could then arrow through several emails to make sure the data was correct. As a final touch, I pulled up our ILS to check that the data was correct.

To round out this display, I preceeded to be very stressed out until after we hit send and then waited for the replies to come rolling in!

The UX Intern

I am fortunate to have the opportunity for an UX intern. He’s a local high schooler and while his “bread and butter” task is to work on a digitization project, I also try to provide him with plenty of other educational opportunities:

3D design in TinkerCAD and printing using a MakerBot Replicator printer
Image editing in Photoshop
Vector graphics design in Inkscape — he’s learning to look at images and then reproduce a version of them
Photography skills
Observational study of usage patterns in the Library
Raspberry Pi — we’re working on finding him a particular project for this
Learning local history through his digitization project

Upcoming projects:
Video editing
Setup an Omeka site
Write metadata

The feedback I received from his parent was very positive, so I think I’m on the right path.

Working with an intern is also exhausting work. Much of his work is done away from me in the DML, so I have to go in and check on him. Unless I have a very busy day like today, I usually sit with him, ask him what he’s working on, what is he learning, and how I can help.

First UX Project: Flowchart and Personas

In my final year of college, I took an interactive design class. As part of the deliverables, I had to create a workflow, personas, storyboards, UI, and wireframes. I worked at a major retail store at the time of this class and wanted to design a better way to wire money. A large chunk of time was spent every day watching people slowly fill out the wire transfer forms. This project was thus designed to speed up that process.

Flowchart of actions



Persona 1.5

Persona 2.5