You’re getting ready to launch your blog or site and it’s come time to sign up for an email marketing platform account and get your mailing list integrated onto your site. You might be thinking – What do I choose and where do I even begin?
I see a lot of bloggers and small business owners initially check out Mailchimp, and shortly after switch to something more bare bones. This is a shame, because Mailchimp rocks! With a free account you can have up to 2,000 subscribers and access to almost all features. They have beautifully designed ready to go themes, and are one of the only platforms that allows you to upload and utilize a custom coded branded template – that can then be used with their drag & drop interface.
I totally understand the initial frustration with the platform, because it’s so powerful there is a lot of tools at your immediate disposal! As a longtime Mailchimp user, coder, and email geek, I’m going to break it down for you and show you the areas to focus on as a blogger or startup.
Here’s where to start:
Step 1: Create your List. This is a bit hidden in the platform and is labeled as ‘Audience’. You want to navigate to Audience > Create Audience.
In the List Details, make sure to choose a List name that you don’t mind other people seeing – this will be the main title on your sign up form page.
Step 2: Design and configure a sign-up form for your list to go onto your site. You can also add a pop-up modal if you so desire.
Still in the Audience section, on the right click the ‘Manage Audience’ dropdown. Here you will see options for the sign up forms to embed onto your site.
Click the first option which is the Form Builder. There are a TON of options in the dropdown, all you need to focus on is the regular Signup form (should be selected) Then you can edit and arrange the form fields, as well as styling the form to match your site and branding. All the styling you add will automatically be transferred to the other forms and emails for this list.
Take note of the Signup form URL – this is the link you can share directly with your network if they’re interested in opt-ing in.
Step 3: Add the embed code to your site. Go back to the Sign up forms heading, and move onto ‘Embedded forms’. Here is where you will grab your generated code to put the sign up form onto your site.
Choose the type of form you’d like, I usually stick with classic. Grab the code under the form preview.
Depending on what platform you’re using, this next step varies. As a general rule, it’s great to put your newsletter sign up in the footer or sidebar of your site because it is visible on every page.
In WordPress for example, this would easily be done by adding a custom HTML widget to the footer or sidebar area. This is in Appearance > Widgets.
Check out how it looks! If you have other form elements already styled on your site, it should fit right in visually once you add it.
There are also some WordPress and Shopify themes (and I’m sure others) that already have a pre-built newsletter sign up block. The theme option will usually just ask for your list ID.
That’s it! This is all you need to do to start collecting signups and building your list.
If you want to get a head-start on setting up what you’re actually sending to your audience – read on! Here’s some next steps of what you can do:
• Create a welcome email that gets sent when someone signs up for the list
• Automatically email subscribers about blog updates, powered by your RSS feed
These are both auto-generated emails that can be created via Campaigns > Create Campaign > Email > Automated
• Send a monthly newsletter
this is called a ‘regular’ campaign (non-automatic) Here you can make a one-off email that will go out to your selected audience at your chosen time. Campaigns > Create Campaign > Email > Regular
Some marketing strategies to tackle after that:
• Set up a landing page, with or without a freebie opt-in
Campaigns > Create Campaign > Landing page
• Check out your stats
‘Reports’ is where all of your stats live! Here you can see your audience changes and engagement for all campaigns tied to your list (regular emails, automated, landing pages etc)
As a recap, here are the areas of Mailchimp to keep on your daily radar:
- • Audience
- Used to be referred to as simply ‘lists’. Keep lists to a minimum and instead organize your list by tags and segments.
- • Forms (Audience > Manage Audience > Sign up forms)
- To be placed on your site – embedded form and/or a pop-up modal
- Design it
- Grab the code
- • Automatically sent emails (Campaigns > Create Campaign > Email > Automated)
- Welcome email
- Blog Updates
- • Regular, non-automatic emails (Campaigns > Create Campaign > Email > Regular
- • Reports
- This is where all of your stats live! Here you can see your audience changes and engagement for all campaigns tied to your list (regular emails, automated, landing pages etc)
- • Optional: Landing pages (Campaigns > Create Campaign > Landing pages)
- The new(ish) landing page feature is excellent.