How To Find Newsletter Subscriber Counts (if they use MailChimp)

A week later and MailChimp has fixed this by allowing you to turn off the chiclet feature… they are some fast monkeys! So with that said this article will only apply to anyone who has left their privacy setting to “public”, which would most likely be any newsletter that already exists as of 4/1/11.

Did you know that the Ted newsletter has over a half million subscribers? I find that impressive especially after starting my own newsletter, Hacker Newsletter, and seeing just how tough it is to get subscribers. Every week I get feedback on how great and useful my newsletter is and always see +50% open rates, but penetrating inboxes is a lot harder than I had imagined (but a fun challenge!). I started wondering how other newsletters were doing and although some publish there subscriber counts most don’t. It just took me a minute to realize that if they were using MailChimp like I am, all I would need to figure out is how the subscriber count javascript chicklet that MailChimp provides works.

That turned out to be very easy since MailChimp uses two parameter variables to track everything: u and id. So to find those I just needed to either sign-up for their newsletter or, better yet, just find any MailChimp related links on their websites (like for the signup form or archives link) to find those parameters.

Using Hacker Newsletter as an example:

Hacker Newsletter Javascript Chicklet

That is created by adding the following javascript to your page:

<div class="chimpchiclet">
  <script language="JavaScript" src="http://us1.list-manage.com/subscriber-count?
    b=2&u=faa8eb4ef3a111cef92c4f3d4&id=e505c88a2e" type="text/javascript">
  </script>
</div>


So to find the count for any newsletter you just need to find u, id, and the server it is located on, which in my case is us1 (us2 being the other one that I have seen). Plug those into the URL in the javascript code above and open in your browser to see the number… or see below for an easier way to do this.

I love MailChimp and highly recommend them as they provide a really great service that is just plain fun to use. On top of that, the ability to start using them for free while your list is small (currently < 2000 subscribers) made it possible for me to start my newsletter. It does seem like they need to come up with a better way of doing this though, or at least let customers clearly know that their subscriber count is public.

Do you want to find out how many subscribers any MailChimp powered newsletter has? If so, forward one of their newsletters to newsletter@simplerise.com. I have a simple script that will process it and email you back the count and add it to this page. If they don't use MailChimp it will let you know that as well.

Popular Newsletter Subscriber Counts (as of 3/30/11)