Setting up on Mailchimp

Sssh – secret content only for our email subscribers!

Two weeks ago we told you about why we started an email list (available here if you missed it).  This week is about the how…

The first question is which email provider to use.  There are several reasons to use an email provider.

  • It gives you much more flexibility over the format of the emails you send
  • The emails are less likely to be classed as spam
  • You get much more info on what people do with the emails (number that open, which parts are clicked on, etc)
  • You can segment subscribers into different lists, sub lists etc

We use Mailchimp.  Why?  Well, we did some research and decided that, whilst there are probably better solutions, Mailchimp is good enough for our needs at the moment and it is free.  If we get to the stage where Mailchimp no longer works for us and/or we hit the number of subscribers where we have to pay, then we will take another look and may move.  Yes, it will be a hassle to move, but it could be an expensive mistake to start on a paying platform if email marketing doesn’t help our business the way we hope it will.  Besides, we will have a much better idea of our future needs once we have used it for a while.

The first thing we did was to create an account on Mailchimp (https://login.mailchimp.com/signup/).  That bit was easy!  We then needed to verify the account – again easy – and add some details.

There are then two key areas – your first email and your first list.

Now, we cheated a bit and outsourced the creation of the template we are using for our emails.  We could have done it ourselves, but we knew exactly what we wanted and knew it would take time to create this – and it would take us more time than someone who does this day in and day out.  It wasn’t expensive (if you want to know who we used please just email us and we’ll send you the details) and was well worth it (although we changed some of our branding after going through this so had to make amendments!).  But you can just follow the Mailchimp instructions and set up your own.

Lists (click on the top menu of the Mailchimp page to set one up).  We set up two lists actually.  One for people who sign up by downloading our “opt in” (more on this next time) and another for people who sign up through our website.  Why separate them?  We did this because we wanted to send a different welcome email to each.  With the benefit of hindsight, one list would have been better…

We wrote our first email and then scheduled it to send to our list at the time we wanted it to arrive in their inbox (first thing Monday morning).  Once it has been sent we then have to send a copy of the same email (we don’t have to rewrite it thankfully!) to our other list.

In two weeks time we’ll address how we got people to sign up…