How To Set Up and Send Your Newsletter
Now that you've planned out your blog schedule and content, it's time to set up your newsletter management system. "Why can't I just use my Gmail or hosted domain email account to send to my list of addresses?" you ask. All email accounts limit the number of addresses you can send to in one message as well as limiting the number of emails you can send per day. This is a safety precaution to prevent spammers from taking advantage of their servers which would then get them blocked by other email servers. You can check with your email host to see what their limits are. HERE's Gmail's (which also applies to Google Apps). If you don't follow their rules, they will shut you account down.
Newsletter and email marketing services such as MailChimp, Emma, Campaign Monitor, etc. help keep you from getting marked as a spammer by deploying your campaign emails in a way that follows the rules. While there are many great email list services out there, here at Mixtus Media we use MailChimp. These are the reasons why:
- It's FREE for up to 2,000 email addresses and for sending up to 12,000 emails per month (that's six newsletter campaigns for a list of 2,000 addresses per month).
- They have tiered plans as well as a-la-carte services which make it easy to add features as your needs grow.
- The user interface is great, which makes it easy and even fun to create attractive and compelling emails, including functions like responsive templates (which look good even on mobile devices), and mail merge fields to personalize your message for each user.
- You can create unlimited lists and groups to help you send targeted campaigns which will deepen the level of engagement.
- The analytics/reports help you improve how you communicate with your subscribers, and are easy to understand.
- Their autoresponders automatically send your subscribers a personalized welcome/thank you message, in which you can include a free download to sweeten the deal.
- Their servers automatically handle email bouncebacks, taking care of out-of-date or blocked email addresses that come back as undeliverable so you don't have to.
- They integrate with more web services than any of the other email list offerings that we've seen.
- Most importantly, MailChimp makes it super easy to add signup forms to all of your locations on the web.
- As an added bonus, their blog and resources page are also great sources of information to help you with your newsletter and growing your list.
Many of the other services out there offer similar options. But I think MailChimp gives you the best value - especially since they are free for smaller lists and people just starting out.
Ready to get started? Here's what you need to do:
- Click HERE to sign up for a FREE MailChimp account. Scroll to the bottom of the linked page for the sign up button. Follow their directions and add your "company information", etc.
- Once your account has been created, create a list. In the admin panel click on the "Lists" link at the top, then click on the "Create List" button on the left and follow the steps provided. See MailChimp's tutorial video on creating lists HERE. You can also create groups within each list to help you target campaigns to specific demographics of your list. Click HERE to learn more about groups.
- Now that you have a list (and groups), you can add subscribers that you may already have collected by entering each person's information manually, or by importing a formatted spreadsheet. MailChimp makes it relatively painless to add subscribers.
- Make sure to set up your autoresponders so your subscribers feel welcome from your custom message. This is where you can include a link to a free eBook or other downloadable incentive. Learn how to set them up HERE.
- Creating and embedding signup forms may be the trickest part of the deal. But MailChimp tries to make it easy for you. Follow their instructions HERE.
- Now comes the fun part: create and send your campaign. HERE's a tutorial video and instructions on how. Once again, they make the process clear and easy to follow. They even have a fancy new "Drag & Drop Editor" which I find fun to use.
- Don't forget to check back in once your campaigns have been sent and take a look at the analytics that MailChimp provides. Just click on the "Reports" link at the top of your admin panel. If you take time to analyze how your subscribers are interacting with your emails, you can work to improve them to deepen your relationship them, which will then increase website traffic and thus search engine results to help you expand your fanbase and subscribers. If used strategically it becomes an ever-growing cycle.
- For advanced integration with other services, don't miss their Integrations support page listing options to tie in your MailChimp lists and forms with Facebook, Twitter, WordPress, eCommerce and more.
If you hit any walls setting things up, you can either find help in their wonderful Support documentation, or you can get help from their staff via live web chat or email. I've found everything I need in their extensive Knowledge Base, which is chock full of very helpful videos and step-by-step instructions.
With easy-to-use email marketing services like MailChimp and others, you can create and manage your own email subscription list and newsletter yourself with very little effort, and save some money on your marketing budget in the process! So what are you waiting for?
QUESTIONS: What's your favorite email marketing platform? Have you notice which service is being used by newsletters you subscribe to or email communications you receive from online retailers and services? What are some things that they do that are good or bad and how can you learn from the email campaigns you receive? Let us know by leaving a comment below or on Facebook.