What is MailChimp?

Simply put, MailChimp is our favorite email newsletter platform.  It has other uses, from announcements to invites, and anytime in between when you might need a slick looking email.  If you are subscribed to our newsletter, you’ve already seen it in action.

mailchimp newdesign
MailChimp recently overhauled their site with a new look and more user friendly functionality, so today seems like a good day to show it off and let you know a little bit more about why we use MailChimp in most of our projects.


Do I need a paid account?

No! Unless you have a database of over 2000 emails. When you hit that benchmark you can upgrade to a paid account. Also, congratulations on having a huge database. Not everyone knows how to put that kind of volume to good use, but I’ll get to that in a moment.

Just one reason I love MailChimp
Just one reason I love MailChimp

When you find your account approaching the 2000 email mark, it’s a good idea to scrub out the lower value subscribers and make sure your list is truly high quality before upgrading. No reason to get a paid account if your list sucks, dig?

How do I build my email list?

There are many options. We’ve had success in the past by offering promo codes for discounts ranging from 10% to 20% off purchases in exchange for a subscribe. Mailchimp makes this extremely easy. Once you have set up the promo code, all you need to do is include it in the final welcome email, found under “Lists”.

Or, wait a minute.  This was extremely easy a week ago, before the redesign of their dashboard.  I’m going to have to turn this over to the experts:

Did I mention the support team is awesome?
Did I mention the support team is awesome?

Another method is to include a check box on your check out page that allows folks to opt in to the newsletter just by clicking on it. If they’re fans of your products, they will. Subscribers generated through this method are awesome, because you know for a fact that the customer wants to hear from you.

Some folks will buy lists, but that’s a spammy move and the quality of the contact info just isn’t there. Don’t waste your your money.

How will an email newsletter help increase business?

Even if you’re not technically an e-commerce site, a newsletter can be the most effective, most efficient way to stay in contact with folks that have already bought from you before.

This is really marketing 101 here. A newsletter should have news, obviously, and whatever you’re selling shouldn’t be as obvious.

Some newsletters should leave out sales entirely, as in the case of an alumnus of a workshop. They don’t need you to sell the same workshop to them, and will unsubscribe if you try. However, a well crafted newsletter may warrant forwarding to friends that haven’t taken to program.

Remember that you build your list from folks that have bought from you before. All you need to do is remind them of the satisfaction they get from using your product/services, and maybe entice them with the promise of future satisfaction.

There are many ways to accomplish this, and it will vary from project to project. If you want more specific advice, you know who to ask.

How do I maximize the outcome of my newsletter efforts?

NEVER SPAM. Seriously. If you promised folks one monthly newsletter, best not to surprise them with two. It can be tempting to send extra blasts when you’re desperate, but all you’ll get from it is a flood of unsubscribes. So don’t do it.

You should, however, observe all the usual copywriting best practices, e.g. scannable copy, clickable images, bullet points. Make it useful. Make it fun. Change up your calls to action to reflect the attitude voiced by your writing. Make it personal.

mailchimp segments

Another extremely handy tool to maximize your effort is the power to divide your list into segments. Knowing which segments you can sell harder to and which you can’t can help you create multiple versions of the monthly newsletter, each tailored to a different market. Each subscriber still receives only one email, but the’ll love you all the more for knowing what they’re looking for and giving it to them.

How do I design a great template?

The right template for you will evolve over time. The drag and drop editor makes creating your first draft easy/awesome.

I also highly recommend using the image cards rather than embedding images in the text blocks, as this will allow the images to scale for mobile users, which is pretty much guarantees to be a majority of your audience.

Make sure it looks good in preview mode for computers and mobile devices, and go through few drafts with your team to ensure quality. Then send it!

Give it a few days and check the report. You’ll be able to see what parts of the email were enticing enough to click on, and you can incorporate more of those elements in your next newsletter.

Click map from part of our May newsletter - Trying not to take it personally that no one clicked on the TARDIS.
Click map from part of our May newsletter – Trying not to take it personally that no one clicked on the TARDIS.

You can use your last newsletter as a template for the next one simply by choosing “replicate campaign”, and then make your edits from there.

My open rate is abysmal! Help!

When it comes to your open rate, there are three factors you need to consider:

1. Subject line

It better be enticing enough to merit opening the email. If you’re subject line is too boring, you won’t get many click. Fortunately, MailChimp has a tool for researching terms you might want to use in your subject line, comparing their performance from previously run campaigns. That’s just cool.

2. The preview area

This little box contains the text that folks will see as a preview of the email that shows up after the subject line in their inbox. Make sure it rocks!
This little box contains the text that folks will see as a preview of the email that shows up after the subject line in their inbox. Make sure it rocks!

3. Previous history of receiving emails

Some folks will sign up for a newsletter and then never open it. Repeatedly. You can probably drop them from your list, or set their info aside in a segment that you won’t send emails to.

Some folks, on the other hand, might have seen previous newsletters and decided they don’t seem very interesting anymore. I’ve been this guy myself before, and sometimes I’m just to lazy or too attached to unsubscribe. Not much you can do about it, except for make your newsletters better and hope they start opening them again.

Remember that any open rate above 20% is actually pretty good, so don’t cry if not everyone on your list opens the thing.

There’s a lot more to MailChimp than just this stuff, but as always, leave further questions in the comments and we’ll answer ’em! Thanks for reading!