Intial Thoughts on OnStage by MailChimp

Posted in: Marketing, Work on August 20th, 2011

Those who have read my email marketing ramblings over at the Zhoom Blog know that I am a bit of a MailChimp fan. The other day MailChimp launched a pretty cool new service called OnStage, “An App for Collaborative Email Design”. Basically it is a way of showing your email campaigns to colleagues, clients, executives etc without having to send tests. The collaboration aspect allows those who you invite to mark your email with little “To-do” tags and it also includes a chat client so you can discuss changes between yourselves. Then once you have decided on changes, the campaign owner can go off, make the changes, then import the new version into OnStage for further comments. Rinse, repeat, recycle… send…

Naturally, being a tinkerer, I had to have a play… I created a campaign called TEsting Campaign (yeah, yeah.. typo, I know), and then had a chat with an imaginary friend I know well named Bob.

Here are some screen shots of the actual collaboration screen. The full screen is split in half vertically and I have taken a screenshot and split it in half so it fits in this blog post.

The first screen shot is of the chat client and to-do list.

OnStage Chat Section
OnStage Chat Section (right half of screen)


And this half below  is the actual campaign that we are collaborating on. The yellow tag relates to the unchecked to-do list item.

OnStage Campaign View Section
OnStage Campaign View Section (left half of screen)


Things I like about OnStage:

  • The user interface is simple enough for your mum to figure out.
  • It helps avoid version control issues that used to occur from sending tests to multiple people, emailing comments back and forth then making changes.
  • The chat and to-do lists are simple but usable, and really all you need to finalise an email campaign design. I can just imagine this being done by other tech companies who would go overboard with features, buttons and all sorts of other crap you don’t need.
  • The copy within the app is classic MailChimp and makes me giggle.
  • Comments can be filtered by person are automatically sorted by “Act” (version) to help keep versions in check.

Improvements that would be cool:

  • Inviting people is a [code] a href=”mailto:…” [/code] link. I would prefer a simple lightbox form with email field, name and maybe a message box.
  • OnStage logo is a little funky chicken and sometimes covers the whole left side of the window when scrolling (in Chrome). See screenshot:
OnStage Logo Covering Screen
OnStage Logo Covering Screen

Overall, I think this is another kick-ass addition to the already awesome MailChimp platform. I reckon this will be super useful for those who manage email campaigns for clients, or who work remotely.

To get started you’ll need a MailChimp account, an API key and some friends to collaborate with. If you don’t have any friends, give Bob a call.. He’s usually available!

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