7 Easy Steps to Set Up Your First Email Campaign

Posted on July 19, 2013

Whether you’re running a gardening blog or a full-fledged online business, at some stage you’re going to have to set up a regular email campaign to keep your readers informed of new posts or special offers available on your site.

Without sounding like a running advertisement for the Atlanta-based company, I’ve found that MailChimp is by far the best tool for this purpose.

It features an incredibly user-friendly interface, a huge range of customizable email templates and extensive options for importing customer and reader lists from a host of different platforms.

But perhaps MailChimp’s best feature is that it’s free up to 2,000 subscribers, which makes it a fantastic tool for smaller blogs and websites that are just starting up.

Interested in a quick and easy way to set up that first email campaign? Here are 7 simple steps to getting started:

1) Sign-up for an account on MailChimp

Sign up

You’ll need to enter your basic information as well as a business or personal address.

It’s important to note that this address will be displayed in the footer of every campaign you send our to your subscribers. The email address is specifically put there to comply with CAN-SPAM Act and international spam law.

Mailchimp is not about facilitating spam, its about allowing brands to provide a service to their subscribers. So use it as such!

2) Create a list

Create List

You can make multiple lists for all sorts of different camapaigns, such as weekly updates, blog notifications, giveaway offers etc. Lists can then be split into groups for A/B testing or to better track open rates and mail analytics.

A good tip when setting up a list is to give it a usable name. This is because when readers subscribe to a list, the list name is usually displayed in the subscription confirmation: “You have successfully subscribed to XYZ Blog.”

Choose wisely as mailtest2739274927 might not look as appealing to subscribers as Joe’s Weekly Updates.

3) Import your existing subscribers


Importing couldn’t be simpler. You can grab the contents of an Excel sheet or upload directly from another file. MailChimp also allows you to import from a selection of other list providers like Salesforce and Google Contacts.

As mentioned above, MailChimp has a very strict policy on who you can email through their service. In order to import contacts to your new list, they need to have consented to being contacted. Either by signing up on your website or agreeing to receive more information.

4) Pick a campaign template


There’s a whole range of free templates to choose from or, if you’re a bit of an programming whiz, you can always code one yourself.

Color schemes, layout and fonts are all customizable, so you can fashion your new email template to match your website or brand profile. Layout and content boxes can be edited simply with a drag and drop feature while you’re setting up your campaign template.

5) Enter your content


Now for the fun part. Once inside your new campaign, click on the Setup tab and whip up a brilliant headline to put in the subject line. MailChimp offers you all sorts of help in this area to make sure your opening gambit doesn’t come across as too spammy.

Then get to work on filling all the content fields in the Design tab. Photos can be uploaded with a simple click and text is easy enough to enter and move around the campaign template. It doesn’t get more user-friendly than this!

6) Test it out


Once you’re done entering and formatting your campaign email, fire off a test to your personal inbox. In the Design tab you’ll see a drop down menu entitled Preview & Test. Click on that and select Send a Test Email.

This handy feature will allow you to send a test version of your campaign to any email address you enter. Great for spotting bugs and checking the overall layout of your campaign before you launch it at your followers.

7) Schedule your message and send


It’s as simple as it sounds. Go to the Confirm tab in your campaign and click on Schedule. You can then enter the time and date you want the email to send as well as the timezone it should be sent in.

Then hit Schedule and it’s good to go! (Don’t worry you can always jump back into the campaign before the send time to make slight changes. Just remember to reschedule once you’re done.)

photo credit: Tim Morgan via photopin cc

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