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ExactTarget – setting up a submission form

I recently redid our email submission form and was blown away to find that directions on how to do so are not widely available online. ExactTarget has some directions on their wiki, but if you don’t know that their subscription system is called web collect, well, good luck finding it on Google.

So to say I’m going to walk you through the fairly simple process I took to add a very basic ExactTarget signup form to our Drupal based website.

Gather Information & List Setup

You’ll need the following to set up ExactTarget Web Collect:

Get List ID

To find your list ID

  • click into your subscribers tab
  • select “my lists” in the right hand pane
  • click the check box next to the subscriber
  • click “properties”

In the main pane you should see a table with ID (which is what you need), size, created. modified, and sent dates.

Set List to Public

While on the list properties screen, make sure you select “public” under “List Attributes”. This is required for web collect to write to your list (I don’t know why).

Get your member ID

You can find this right under your “logout” button at the top of your ET page.

Create your error page

This should be self explanatory. Save the URL.

Create your success page


Think about requirements

What are your email requirements? At the moment we’re not personalizing emails very much. In fact, we don’t personalize at all (much to my chagrin). As such we don’t require a whole lot of information, in fact the only required information for our newsletter is an email address. Of course, we may want to use other information in the future, but it’s a trade off: potentially useful information in the future, or ease the subscription process now? Tough choice. I chose the latter.

Also, do you want text and HTML versions? I’ve watched how many text only people are on our list, and compared that to the amount of headaches it has caused (they cause some link tracking errors sometimes), then I looked at the prevalence of smartphones, and decided that we don’t really need a text version.

If we did have other required information, it would be fairly easy to create a form item to send that data back.

From ET’s wiki page, here is an example of a drop down menu

You can see that a lot of this is fairly basic. Name should be what the “name” column in the profile management pane lists. Value would be the recorded value. You can also use radio buttons, check lists, etc.

Creating your HTML Code

ET has some examples of how to create a subscribe/unsubscribe forms on their wiki. However, their examples, well, suck. WIth the knowledge that my only requirement was an email address, I started cutting the form down any way I could.

First I removed the tables and labels.

Now I know what you’re thinking: why would you remove labels? Well, I want to place this in our sidebar, and there isn’t room in our sidebar for labels and nice big text fields, so instead I’m opting to use a little javascript to pre-populate the field with an instructional entry that will vanish on click. There are many ways to do this, and I suggest you use Google to find the best way for you.

I also don’t want people unsubscribing from this page, nor do I need data such as “user defined”, so I’ll take those out. I also want HTML only so I’ll take out text.

I also want to move as many options as possible to “hidden”, so that they submit a predefined value but don’t give the user more options to stall them up. Also I don’t need “checked” in a hidden option…

Finally, I could disable “name” as a required field in ET (in fact I have), but just to keep the name field populated I’ve replaced it with “VKI Subscriber”.

And for styling purposes, I’ve added some classes and ID’s.

Finally you just have to fill the blanks (eg. your thank you page URL, your list ID, your member ID), style your form, and you’re set.

There you have it, now you just need to place it on your page (or in our case in a block) and style it.