Step-by-step Email Marketing using MailChimp for Beginners

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This will be a step by step tutorial to doing free Email Marketing using MailChimp. Email marketing is still an effective and popular way for business, organisations and bloggers to keep in contact with and promote products/services to customers. MailChimp makes the whole process of Email Marketing easy and it’s free to get started. You only have to pay once you have more than 2000 subscribers. MailChimp has tools for collecting and managing the email databases, and for designing and sending email campaigns.

Step 1: Create New Account

Go to mailchimp.com/signup if you don’t already have an account and create a new account. It’s best to sign up using the email address you want to send from and if the email address is for a business domain. For the username I usually pick the same username that I would use for social media, but this username doesn’t appear when sending email so not too important. Once you have signed up they will send an email to activate your MailChimp account. Give the email a few minutes to come and if you don’t see it then check your spam. Click the Activate Account button and follow the instructions, they will ask for more information like name, address, business information etc.

Step 2: Create a Contact List

Before you can send any email campaigns you will need a list of email address to send to. From the top menu select Lists and MailChimp should have already created a list for you with your email address subscribed. You can edit this one or create a new list, you may want to keep one list to just to send test email campaigns. You may also want to create different lists for different types of customers (for example a business list and a consumer list).

To add subscribers to the list go to ‘Add Contacts’ and you will have two options. The first is to ‘Add a subscriber’ and the second to ‘Import contacts’. For ‘Add a subscriber’ you will be able to add a subscriber manually by entering the information in the text fields, you can enter the email, first name, last name and birthday. You must tick the box for ‘This person gave me permission to email them’, so please make sure the person doesn’t mind you emailing them before adding them. Adding too many random email address or emails without their consent could lead to too many emails bouncing, unsubscriptions or reports of spam, which will lead to MailChimp suspending your account.

The second option ‘Import contacts’ will allow you to upload a list of contacts from a txt/csv file or copy and paste from an Excel file. I usually use import an Excel file when there is a lot of contact because it is a lot quicker than entering manually plus you can easily create and copy a list from Excel with the email address and other information like name, phone number, business name, website.

Another way to add subscribers is to add a email subscription box on your website so visitors to the website can enter into the mailing list themselves. This is the best way to do it and I will create a tutorial on how to do this on WordPress using a plugin.

Step 3: Creating our first Email Campaign

Go to ‘Campaigns’ in the top navigation menu, then select ‘Create an Email’ and enter a name for your campaign. At the top you can select either Regular, Automated, Plain-text or A/B Test. Regular is the default and we will use that in this example.

On the next page you will need to select a list to send from, if you only have one list then this will be selected already. You can select whether to send to ‘Entire list’, ‘Saved or pre-built segment’ or ‘Group or new segment’. A segment allows you to only send to certain emails in the list.

Next you will need to enter the Campaign info, for this example and for most email campaigns you will only need to enter information in five of the text boxes and the rest you can leave with the default settings. These are ‘Campaign name’, ‘Email subject’, ‘Preview text’, ‘From name’ and ‘From email address’. For the Campaign this can be anything, just make it something to give you a reminder like ‘June 2017 Newsletter’. For the name I usually use a company or blog name rather than a personal name. The Email subject and Preview test should explain what’s in the email and enticing to encourage people to read the email.

Step 4: Select a template

MailChimp allows you to upload your own email newsletter templates or select from many of their free templates. If you don’t know how or don’t feel like coding your own then use the MailChimp templates. Try searching for a layout that will suit your needs and also matches your brand, but you can add your logo, change fonts and colours to any the templates.

Step 5: Edit Campaign

When you have selected the theme you want to use it will load the theme in the campaign editor pages where you can add text, images, dividers and blocks. A preview will appear on the left side of the screen and you can select different blocks which you can either edit, clone or delete. Selecting the pen icon will load up a WYSIWYG editor on the right side with the text or image that is in the block.

Here you can edit the text or upload an image. You can also edit the HTML code for this block, but most the time you will only want to add or edit the text and images. Once you are finished with a block click ‘Save & Close’. Be aware that if you copy and paste from a website or Microsoft Word it will also copy the text styling. This may be okay if the styling is how you want it, but if you want to copy and paste just the text then sometimes you will need to click on the source button which look like this <>. When you are finished you can click on the same source button to go back to the normal editor.

You will probably want to add links to the Email Newsletter that point to your website or blog. To do this highlight the text or select the image that you want to link then look for the anchor icon button which looks like a paperclip / chain. Click on this and a text box will appear where you can add a URL link to your website or blog.

If you are planning to send regular Email Campaigns with the same layout then it’s a good idea to save the changes as a new templates so you don’t have to keep making the same changes like adding the logo, adding social media links and changing the fonts and colours.

Step 6: Preview & Send a Test

Before you send out the email to everyone in your mailing list you will want to check there are no errors and the email is appearing correcting on different web browsers, email clients and mobile phones.

In the top navigation menu there is a ‘Preview and Test’ drop down menu. Select the first option ‘Enter preview mode’ to be able to see previews for desktop and mobile versions.

If you looks okay then close and select ‘Send a test email’ from the same drop down menu. A popup box will appear where you can enter an email address or address that you want to send the test email to.

Send to an email address preferably that you have on an email client like Mac Mail or Outlook, emails that you will open on a browser like Gmail, Yahoo Mail and Outlook, and to an email that you can check on a mobile device.

Ideally you want to test on all of these, but if you are using the MailChimp templates they should have already been tested and working fine on all of these.

Step 7: Send or Schedule Campaign

Finally, when you have finished the email and tested to see that it looks fine on different devices you will be ready to send. For sending the email campaigns you will have two options. The first is Send which will send the email campaign straight away or the second option is Schedule which allows you to set a time and date of when the campaign will be sent.

Step 8: Check analytics

Once your Email Campaign has been sent you will be able to check the analytics report for that campaign. It’s good to check the analytics to see if your emails are being opened, links are being linked and if emails are bouncing. This will help you to improve your email campaigns so you can get more opens and engagements. When you have sent a few campaigns try to compare the analytics to find trends like, what email titles work best and which links get clicked the most and when is the best time and day to send emails to subscribers.

To see the analytics, go to ‘Campaigns’ from the navigation menu and you will be shown a list of all your email campaigns. On the right side of a campaign click on the ‘View Report’ button. This will load up the email campaigns report with information displayed like ‘Opened’, ‘Clicked’, ‘Bounced’ and ‘Unsubscribed’. From the menu on the reports page there is drop down named ‘Activity’, select a page from there for more in-depth information. For example, the ‘Opened’ page will list the email subscribers who opened the email and how many times they open it.

Summary

In this tutorial we have created a new MailChimp account, created and added subscribers to a mailing list, created and send a campaign, and checked the analytics. MailChimp has a lot more options and features available, but you should now have enough information to get started on Email Marketing. There’s an extensive help section on the MailChimp website so if you get stuck or not sure about anything then have a look on there.