Email list marketing is vital to your online business.

Having an email list for marketing is the same as having repeat regular customers in your store. You know the ones. They are the customers you know by name, and you can make their order without them having to even tell you. [Check out this post for reasons why you need an email list!]

Email marketing software abounds online. From free to high-end, expensive programs, there’s something out there to meet every need. One of the most common, for beginners, is MailChimp. MailChimp lets you create custom sign up forms, manage email addresses, and set up campaigns and autoresponders, all for free, for the first 1000 subscribers. For the beginner, this is perfect!

Using an email marketing software lets you send out mass emails while still being legal and following all the SPAM laws. MailChimp manages all the subscribe/unsubscribe details for you, so that you can just concentrate on creating the most effective marketing out there.

Step One: Sign up or Log in.

When you first go to MailChimp’s website, you’ll see a screen like this. 

Click on the “Sign Up Free” button to create your MailChimp account. Or if you already have one, log in (at the top left-hand corner).

MailChimp will ask you for your identity during the sign up process.

Step Two: Begin to Create your Campaign

MailChimp calls every email you send out to your list a “campaign”. To create an email, you’ll click on the button marked “Create Campaign” in the top left-hand corner. This will take you to the first screen asking you to select what you want to create (email or ad). Click on the email option. Then name your campaign (more about that later).

Step Three: Choose your list

What does it mean to choose your list?  There are different lists? Not really. MailChimp lets you segment your email list into different groups of subscribers. How your list gets separated will depend on what settings you choose. Perhaps you’ll have different lists based on the offer they responded to. Or maybe you’ll separate your audience depending on their time zone or geographic area. You can then tailor your emails to specific types of people within your email list.

Step Four: Name and Title your email

When you click next, you’ll be taken to a screen where you can fill out all the info about this specific email blast you are writing. With MailChimp, you create both an internal name (for your eyes only) and a title or subject line for your email. Be very descriptive with your email name, so that you can find it later. You can reuse emails and tweak them for different purposes. For example, if you create a welcome-to-my-list type email for a specific lead magnet, you can edit that for a different opt-in gift later, without having to create a new email entirely.

Titling your email is different than naming it. This is the “Subject Line” or “Headline” of your email. Now you’ll need to be creative and smart about how you title your email. It’s the subject line that gets people to open the email. So you need to “hook” them with your title. Typically, asking questions that are an immediate yes/no answer will get people to open (especially if they answer yes). Or you can use a version of “clickbait”, where you create a one-line story that is unfinished. That entices your audience to open the email, to finish the story.

Other info to think about

The Preview Text option is what your reader will see next to the subject, before they open your email. It gives a quick highlight for them, and is very often instrumental in getting them to open the email.  You don’t have to fill this in, but I highly recommend that you do. Just put in 3-4 words that tease your reader about the contents of your email. You want them to be curious so they open it right away.

Finally on this screen, you can choose who your reader will see the email is from. You can put your name (recommended) or your company/blog name. And the From email will also be visible. It’s a good idea to have a completely separate email address for your email marketing software, and an even better one to use a custom domain name. You can get a custom domain email through your website host, or you can use Outlook or GSuite to create one. Many popular email providers will send mass marketing emails from hotmail or yahoo addresses to spam filters, so be careful what you use.

Step Five: Choose a layout

Now that the technical stuff is mostly finished, you can get creative. The next screen lets you choose between templates, or even custom design your email.  MailChimp offers a drag-and-drop design feature, making professional looking emails easy for the beginner.

You have a few options here. You can pick one of MailChimp’s predesigned layouts for your email. They come with helpful tips in how to use the content blocks, and what to put in them. You can also use one of MailChimp’s theme-designed email. These have images, backgrounds, colors, and fonts already added, so all you need to do is edit the content itself. There’s also a generic template option, where you can simply choose from columns and image combinations, to customize for yourself.

Then, once you’ve created your own emails, when you come back to this screen, you can use previously saved templates or past campaigns as a layout for the new one.

For this tutorial, I chose the “Tell your Story” layout option.

Step Six: Customize your Email

It’s time for the fun part! You get to design your email and write the copy.  MailChimp divides the design screen into two parts. On the left-hand side will be the email you’re working on. And on the right-hand side will be the area you do the actual work in.

MailChimp lets you design your emails in “blocks”. No matter what template or theme you choose, you’ll have design blocks you can customize. Each block can be tailored to meet your needs. You can choose image blocks, text blocks, combination blocks, or even lines/dividers for your email. You can also drag the blocks around to change the order they are in.

A. Set up your brand

First thing, brand your email. Near the top of your email, put a header or logo, so that your reader will instantly know who the email is from. In the “StoryTime” template I’m using, the logo is an image block right at the top of the email. When you hover your mouse cursor over the block, you’ll see a window appear, with a black border, black title bar and three icons on the right hand corner of the title bar. The icons let you edit, copy or delete the design block.

For the logo, hover your mouse over the content block. When you do that, you’ll get a little box pop up, that lets you choose a background color, or an image. I’m leaving the background white. Click on the edit icon, and then you can upload your header or logo, and add the image to your email.

Note:  Your ideal image size in MailChimp is under 800 px. Keep your images small, both in pixels and in file size. Bigger images will be hard on email inboxes, and therefore less likely to be read. ***

A good header image size is approximately 600 x 200 px. Do make sure that if you use MailChimp’s resize button, your image retains its sharp quality. A blurry image will turn your reader off, and looks unprofessional.

B. Load your Copy

Your email will obviously contain text! To add copy to your email, you’ll want to add or use a text content block. You can use a variety of designs here: plain text, text with images, text on a colored background, text and image on colored background, etc. It will depend on what the purpose of your text is. Use colored backgrounds to highlight special offers, important notices and things you want to draw your readers’ attention to. Do NOT use colored backgrounds as the main text block — it’s hard on the eyes and your reader won’t want to look at it.

To add copy, select the edit icon on a text content block. This brings up the text editing screen on the right-hand side. Now you can type in your copy and format it using the options on screen. You can use HTML tags, but it isn’t really necessary.

MailChimp allows you to edit the copy itself, the style of the copy (ie. the alignment, font sizes, etc), and how many columns your text will be in (settings option). For best marketing, keep it simple.

C. Add images

The next step for your email is to add the images. Simply add in an image or image plus text block, click on the edit icon, and use MailChimp’s uploader to insert your images. Remember to keep them small, but sharp and clear.

D. Insert call-to-action

A good marketing email always has a call-to-action. MailChimp lets you insert links directly into your text, using the insert link option on the text editor. Or you can create a button!

To create a button, select the button content block. Customize the button with the edit screen. First, in the content screen, edit the text of the button and put in your link.  Then click on the style screen to change the color of your button and the size of your font. Finally, use the settings screen to change the size and location of the button itself.

Step Seven: Schedule your email

Finally, you’re ready to send your email out. When you’re all finished editing and designing, click on the next button to get to the sending screen. Now you can confirm who is going to get the email, your reply address, your subject line and when your list will get the email. You can even preview and test it, to make sure everything looks the way you want it to, and all the links work.

To schedule the email, scroll down to the bottom and click on the schedule button, on the far right hand corner (right next to send). This will open up a new section on the screen above where you can choose date and time to send the email. Once you’ve determined that, click on “Schedule Campaign”, to finish.

Email Marketing Tips

Writing and sending an email to your email list is one of the best ways you can directly market to your target audience. The people who sign up to your email list have told you up front that they like what you have to offer and want more. Do them the favor and give them more!

The key to good marketing is to be consistent. Don’t email every day for a week, and then go silent for the next month. Pick a time and date, and email weekly or monthly, until you find your rhythm. Check your stats (how many people open your email, how many click on the links in your email, how many sales you get, etc) to see what’s working and what’s not. Then you can tweak your emails to better suit your audience, helping them and yourself.

If email marketing seems beyond your pay grade, let’s connect. I can help you set up your autoresponders, write copy for your emails, and help keep track of your marketing stats. Schedule your time to chat with me today!

How to: Send an Email through MailChimp to your Email List

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