Email newsletters are powerful.
In my previous role managing the email marketing channel for an international retailer, I saw first hand that email was one of the cheapest and most effective marketing channels across the whole company.
And what’s more is that anyone can do their own email marketing using a (usually) free tool like MailChimp. It’s free up to 2,000 contacts.
Just a note on this, free doesn’t mean bad here. MailChimp is powerful and can become expensive once you exceed 2,000 contacts. However, by then you will hopefully be making decent return on your email marketing efforts to cover your costs.
To setup MailChimp for your service is quite straightforward. Make an account on MailChimp.com, verify your domain, create a list, add contacts and create a template. Then you will be ready to run your own email newsletter.
Here’s the detailed how.
1. Setup your MailChimp account
Go to MailChimp.com and enter your email, desired username (for your account) and password.
Something to keep in mind is that MailChimp works on an account and user structure. So if you want more than a few people to run your account, you’ll probably want to create one account for your business using your business email and then invite users (including yourself) to access it.
If you’re a solo, creating one account would be fine.
After this you will receive a confirmation email where you need to click the link to verify your account.
2. Add organisation details and verify your domain
When you log in for the first time you will be asked to add your organisation details including a physical address. This is actually required for anti-spam regulation in most countries.
Now you will see the regular dashboard.
Go to the top right hand corner, click your profile picture then the account label. Once you’re in your account area, click on the settings tab and the ‘verified domains’ label. Press the large ‘verify domain’ button.
This will send an email to your inbox with a link that you need to click to verify your domain.
Whether or not your domain can be verified affects the deliverability of your email – it is kind of a big deal. Deliverability affects whether your messages end up in inboxes or the spam folder, or nowhere at all!
3. Create your first list
Before you can start any email newsletters or campaigns, you will need contacts to email. Contacts in MailChimp are organised by lists.
To start, to go the lists page (or click the main tab at the top menu) and click create list.
For now, we will focus on making one list for all your future database contacts on the lists page. Don’t worry, later you can segment these lists either within the list itself for specific segments.
It is not generally a good idea to instead create multiple lists and add contacts to one or more. MailChimp treats duplicate contacts count as multiple as far as MailChimp’s 2,000 free contacts is concerned. Just stick to the one for now.
Fill in the required details.
When you are create your list, you will be given the option of choosing a sending address. Sending from a personal email at your business can improve open rates of your email. It also means that people replying will reply directly to you.
For the sender name, you can either put your firm name or your personal name if you are well known to your contacts as provider your particular service.
Emails sent by ‘a person’ rather than a business do get better open rates, however it may not be clear to readers who the email is really from if they are unfamiliar with your personal name.
Finally, check ‘enable double opt in’. Double opt in means MailChimp sends an email to any new subscriber asking them to confirm they want to join your newsletter. This will help ensure that your emailing stays compliant as well as avoiding spam bot subscribers and low quality contacts from getting on your list.
4. Add your first contacts
Now that your list and your opt-in confirmation email is complete, you can now start the process of adding subscribers to your list.
On the list’s page you will see a little person with a plus icon. Click this to manually enter the details of a subscriber.
Adding contacts manually is perfectly fine provided you have consent from these people to be added to your newsletter.
To build your list, consider adding contacts from:
- Current clients
- Prospective clients
- Other relevant industry suppliers or contacts
I usually just ask during conversation whether they are fine for me to add them to my monthly newsletter so we can keep in touch.
5. Create a newsletter template
If you are creative, this is the fun part.
Go to the template page (or navigate there from the main menu). Click create a template.
MailChimp has a bunch of great predesigned templates that you can choose from an customise for your business. Choose one and add your logo, business colours, social media links and desired font styles.
However, personally I am believer in using plain-text emails so that my emails feel more personal. To copy this, just select the last template (plain) and add your email signature to the bottom.
Finished? Congratulations! You are now fully setup and ready to run your first email newsletter!
6. Ready? Send your first newsletter
Alright, so everything is ready to go. You just need to send your first newsletter.
Go to the campaign page (or navigate from the main menu) and click create an email.
You will be lead through a series of intuitive prompts to pick the type of campaign you want to send. Just choose regular email for now.
First you will need to choose the list to send your email to. Choose the list you created previously.
Next you will be able to enter the settings for your email such as subject lines. You can keep this simple, such as “Ben’s March Newsletter” or you can try to make your subject line more catchy to make more people open.
Once you have completed this, click next and you will be lead to choose a template. Choose the template we just created.
Now you can add your contents.
A super simple newsletter template can be thought of in 3 parts. Introduction, body, conclusion.
In the introduction you can write about what is currently happening in your business in a way that is interesting to your clients. Try to create a mental link between you, your clients and your business.
In the body you can add a list of links or short articles that may be of interest to your readers. Perhaps a link to your latest market update on your blog or a note on your latest promotion and where they can apply.
Finally in your conclusion, write your sign off and call to action (CTA). I like to let people know that they can approach me anytime by responding to the email.
Once your content is complete, click the next button and you will be led to the scheduling page.
Choose a time to send your email. Choosing the best time to send an email is a data science all to itself, but generally 9:30 am is a solid time to send. You can send it right away (eager?) or at a certain time in the future to try create a bit of consistency.
Click schedule and you’re done! MailChimp will automatically send out the email at the time you set.
MailChimp is an easy option for running your email newsletters. Follow the steps above to get setup on the platform by creating your account, list and template. When you are ready, use the campaigns page to create your first newsletter and schedule it to send.