MailChimp How to Create a Campaign and Your First Newsletter

Yesterday, we spoke about creating a list from your dashboard within MailChimp. Today, we’ll continue with the 2nd step by creating a campaign to compliment that list. Since I’m writing an e-course, I want to schedule the follow-up posts one day after each in chronological order. To do that, I will go into the autoresponder section and just add the e-mails I need to send out.

Let’s get right into the process now. You might want to refer to the previous post on creating a list to familiarize yourself with the first part of the process in setting up MailChimp. Learn how I created the signup form which is where readers will decide if they want to opt in or not. As mentioned yesterday, there were two mock signups which were made – signup with copy and simple signup. Which one do you think would convert best?

From there we’ll start the second part today.

Creating a Campaign

You’re going to start off with the Campaign Builder. Here you have 4 choices:

  • regular o’l campaign (HTML e-mails with alternative plain text version)
  • plain-text campaign (no pictures or formatting)
  • A/B split campaign (best titles, time of day, from, etc.)
  • RSS-drive campaign (pull posts from your RSS feed)

MailChimp Campaign Builder

Depending on what you’ve chosen, there will be 5 steps taken which will finalize your settings. I went ahead with the regular campaign as I want the best of both worlds – HTML and text.

The first step starts with choosing which list you want to send the campaign to. I chose the Unleash the Blogger in You E-Course list for this exercise. You can either send to segment or send to entire list.

MailChimp Campaign - Choose Your Designated List

Next, you’re going to fill out the required information which will include the:

  • name of your campaign
  • message subject (required)
  • from name (required)
  • reply-to e-mail (required)
  • personalize the ‘To’ field with merge tags

Then over on the tracking end of the page, you have the option to:

  • track opens
  • add Google Analytics to track all URLs
  • authenticate the campaign (to prove it’s not a forgery)
  • send to Twitter, share on Facebook or even allow comments
  • add Ecommerce360 tracking for Ecommerce Store owners

Because I have a FREE account for now, the option to NOT monitor the clicks and plain-text clicks are not available. It’s only provided to premium customers. That’s the only difference you’ll see here.

MailChimp Campaign Builder Form 1MailChimp Campaign Builder Form 2

Designing the Newsletter

Just like creating a list, there’s two parts to creating a campaign. Thus, you’re going to design your newsletter next. With over 50+ templates spread out to over 15 categories, there is likely to be one that will fit your blog or site. Just going through the sections slowly, I found one that fitted my need eventually.

MailChimp Newsletter Templates

Entitled the ZEN template, I tinkered and modified it to compliment Blogging For’s theme. Because I wanted to write an introduction newsletter to my readers before taking them to the first lesson, I had that written, pasted and formatted appropriately. Thus, when you’re formatting your newsletter, make sure it also relevant.

The final result was a working template that will continue to be the one readers will see upon every newsletter that goes out. Here’s a visual of the final design.

MailChimp Final Draft of Newsletter

Now, you don’t have to go through all these options. There are other ways as well. Through the design genius which allows you to pick a header or upload one yourself, you can remix the templates so that you have two of your favorites. Then just choose an e-mail layout of your choice.

MailChimp Design Genius

I didn’t feel the need to use this section but it might be something attractive for those who are more artistic and creative to give it a try. There’s also the softwareyou can download separately onto your computer’s hard drive to design within Windows.

Called High Impact eMail, with the latest version of 5.0, the file is about 95M, so that’s about a 15-20 minute download depending on the speed of your internet connection. The complementing file, holiday-themed e-mail templates, are also available for download from MailChimp‘s site FREE. Altogether you’re looking at about a 400M worth of downloads. So set some time aside to let the files finish.

You can get the software from the banner below. Just scroll down to the middle of the page.

High Impact eMail 5 Download PagePin It

Adding Mail to the Autoresponder

I found this part quite easy as all you have to do is choose which list you want to send your follow-up e-mails to, how long after the subscriber joins a campaign and add a name to the email if any.

MailChimp Add Autoresponder E-mail

Thus, what e-mails you have will be seen from your autoresponder’s list as below. From here you’ll create the e-mail you want to add to your newsletter. Notice that I already have lesson 2 waiting for readers who are interested in the e-course.

Moreover, the whole process is not hard. Writing content for it is very similar to blogging – just more flexible. That’s because readers really want to know what you’re sending out. Thus, you have more power but you don’t want to overload them with so much junk information you’ve already said before. More on the less side as they have a lot to read already.

From a blogging perspective, I think it would be nice to promote older articlesand also suggest relevant products down the line, but if you’re starting out, it’s all about giving readers value through good advice, tips and useful freebies. This may mean giving twice as much even if you’re not going to make a sale to start. So you kind of have to think about that as list building is not about spammingyour readers but retaining them.

Thus, if you think MailChimp is something you might like to try, set aside some time to explore your options and play with the many features. Most importantly, you need to have fun while you’re doing all this. It can get tedious as the point and clicking can become overwhelmingly time-consuming to learn. When that does happen, take a break when you can. :)

MailChimp Autoresponders List

Viewing Reports

At the moment, there isn’t much activity in my report section. However, I want to show you what is inside so that you can get a clearer picture of what statistics you can gather. Users of Google Analytics will find that the reporting page is quite similar as you can track the open, bounced, unopened and click rate.

Thus, if conversion-tracking is something you’ll be doing down the line, this section is really helpful. Especially as you test new campaigns and whatnot. More specifics on deliveries, forwarding, unsubscriptions and even social network shares can be seen.

MailChimp Reports

My favorite part is the section on the upper left top corner called click map which will be particularly useful down the line to monitor where your readers click around. This can help you better format your later newsletters. So you always want to test, test, test.

MailChimp WordPress Plugins

Before we end today’s post, I want to also mention that MailChimp has plugins for WordPress users as well. There are about 3 mentioned and all makes use of the autoresponder’s framework by implementing it’s API.

You can find them in WordPress’s depository or go to the following pages below:

  • MailChimp Archives – use your old newsletters and turn them into posts
  • MailChimp WordPress Plugin – add one of your signup forms as a widget
  • AutoChimp – add, remove, update users on a list, make campaigns from posts

The API number can be found in MailChimp under:

Account -> API Keys & Info

If you don’t have one, just add a key and you should have a valid key to work with.

Whew! We’ve finally made it. I hope you’re much more aware of what you can do with MailChimp now. Not only is it easy to use, you need to take a little time to play around with the features. I’m sure there’s more I haven’t yet tried.

However, with both walk-throughs on creating a list and this on creating a campaign, you should have the basics to get yourself starting with building a mailing list on your blog in no time.

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