Email marketing is still one of the most valuable marketing channels for any business. The only way of owning your audience and customers it to maintain email lists of your customers, followers, future prospects, and leads.
If you have a business that depends on product sales then you need to start a mailing list. If you want to communicate with customers about your services and products instantly, get started with email marketing!
- Free (up to a certain number of subscribers – perfect for early entrepreneurs and businesses)
- Fairly easy to use. Important when you're just getting started.
- Stable and proven – the company has been around for many years and isn't going anywhere.
The Best Email Marketing Solution?
There are many alternatives to MailChimp. Email marketing is big business. And there are marketing platforms for all budgets, from free to thousands of dollars a month. These expensive platforms can also be very complicated to set up. MailChimp's low barrier to entry offers small business a quick way to get started. That's not to say it's the best solution overall, but you get my point. It will get you started on the road to email marketing success. To learn more about MailChimp alternatives skip to here.
Will Email Marketing Die?
Email, as a marketing channel, is going to disappear for a long time. Despite the regular predictions of email's demise, it is just as strong as ever. You could bet your marketing campaign budget on Twitter and Snapchat but who knows if they will still be around in a few years. Even total computer novices have email. People might ignore Facebook ads, tweets, and Pinterest pins, but always read their emails.
If you'd like to jump right in and start experimenting with the software then you've come to the right place. This quick start beginner guide to MailChimp will tell you everything you need to know. I've also included step by step instructions on how to easily integrate Mailchimp with WordPress.
Email Marketing Service
MailChimp lets you create eye-catching emails, save templates of your preferred layouts, and reuse your designs. You can also directly share the content of your newsletters and emails on social media.
Track open rates and clicks with easy to use reports.
Send emails to a large number of recipients without worrying about mail server spam filters. If you were to send hundreds of emails from your email account, you'd need to split the recipients into smaller groups. Even with this precaution, your ISP or email service may not allow large volumes of emails to pass. This is a spam prevention measure. Don't get marked as a spammer! MailChimp's core business is mass emails.
Embed customizable sign-up forms on your website.
Automate email campaigns with ease. It's a fact that some other email marketing platforms have perfected the automation of email campaigns and left MailChimp a little behind. However, MC opened automation to everyone for free in 2017 and for the price tag, it's a sweet deal.
Split your email subscribers into segments. Geotarget subscribers
Retarget visitors to your e-commerce store that abandoned their shopping carts with marketing emails.
Blog feed (RSS) to email. A great time saver is the ability to create emails automatically from every new blog post.
Getting started with MailChimp
1. Go to http://mailchimp.com
2. Click the red Sign Up Free button
3. Enter your email, choose a username, and enter a secure password. MailChimp will send a confirmation email that contains a link you will need to click to continue.
4. To get started with building an email list go to Lists in the top menu bar.
5. Click Create List at the top right
6. You’ll then be presented with the Create List form.
Enter something descriptive for your List name. If you're creating a list of subscribers to your fashion blog then call the list ‘Fashion Blog Subscribers' or something similar.
7. The Default “from” email is the email you would like the emails to arrive from.
8. The Default “from” name should be something like ‘Fitness Blogger’, or ‘Bob from BobsTips.com’
9. The Reminder should say something like “You signed up for the Health and Wellness Blogger email so here’s our latest update”.
10. The company can be the blog name or whatever you like.
11. The address should reflect something professional.
12. The phone number is entirely optional
13. If you’re starting a new list and expect a small number of signups you can select the Daily Summary or One-by-one notifications so see signups as they happen. If you’re expecting a lot of signups this will just create email overload. A good one to select is the ‘One-by-one – unsubscribe notifications as they happen’ to see if your last update caused a lot of people to unsubscribe.
14. Click Save and your list will be created.
From the Lists page again we can now see the list you just created and options to add subscribers (with their permission), view statistics, import mailing lists you might already have, and create signup forms for your website.
Creating a Signup Form
Let’s create a signup form that you can insert into a WordPress site as a widget or as part of a page.
1. Click the down arrow to the right of the list name (beside the word Stats) and select Signup Forms.
2. Select Embedded Forms from the following page.
3. If I’m adding a signup form to a widget I usually make it as simple as possible. Select Naked to use the simplest, non-styled form.
4. Select ‘Show only required fields’ to remove any other fields such as First Name and Last Name.
5. Deselect all other options until you are left with the title, the email address field, and a subscribe button. These are the simplest options for people to sign up. You can make it more elaborate but the more fields that people have to fill out the less likely they will do it. Test this out and change your forms as you discover how your audience interacts with your forms.
6. Highlight the code in the box titled ‘Copy/Paste onto your site’. Copy it.
7. In your WordPress admin go to Appearance > Widgets and select a Text widget. There’s no need to title the widget as it’s already in the MailChimp code. Paste the code you copied from MailChimp and click Save.
8. You should have a working MailChimp signup box on your WordPress site.
Creating an email campaign
Now let’s create an email campaign for any subscribers to your list.
1. Back in MailChimp click Campaigns at the top of the page.
2. Click Create Campaign
Note: you have the option to create different types of campaigns but for first-steps purposes, we’ll choose the regular campaign.
3. Make sure you have selected Regular Campaign and then choose the list to use. We’ve only set up one list so far so this will be the only option. Select the list and then choose to ‘send to entire list’. The other options are for more advanced list manipulations.
4. Click Next at the bottom right of the screen.
5. The Campaign Info page is where you can personalise the subject line of the email, create a name for the campaign to remind you what it was about, and to choose whether to track if the emails were opened or not. For now, create a descriptive name for the campaign. Add a subject line such as ‘new eBook available’ or ’20% off all products this week’. The From Name and Email Address fields should already be populated.
6. Leave the ‘Track opens’ and all other options at their default settings.
7. If you’d like to use social media to promote your email campaign you will need to connect to Twitter and Facebook via the connect buttons under ‘Auto-tweet after sending’ and ‘Auto-post to Facebook after sending’ and then select the check boxes for each. The tweet and Facebook posts will contain links to the email in HTML format.
8. Click Next
9. Select the type of template you’d like to use for your email. The choice of templates can be a bit overwhelming as there are a lot to choose from but I would first think about how I want my information to appear on the email. Are there photos to include? Calls-to-Action? Multiple offers to promote?
Choose wisely, Indiana Jones, and click Select beside the template.
10. The next screen might the most confusing to a newbie but let’s choose the simplest options to get our email template ready. The left-hand side is a representation of how your email will look to the subscriber. The right-hand side is used for manipulation of the images and settings. You will probably want an image or a logo to include on the email so click the Browse button on the left, then browse on the right and select your image or logo to include in the campaign. The Upload button on the top right lets you upload an image directly but you can also import images from a URL such as your website front page. You might need to try some different image sizes out to find one that works well.
11. Once the image is in place it’s time to write some text. Mail chimp’s template has already inserted some text so click anywhere in the text section, and select the little pencil to edit the text. The right-hand side of the screen will change to show a basic text editor very similar to the one WordPress uses so users of WordPress will understand how this works. Edit your headings, text size, columns, links, and images in the main body text here and click Save & Close at the bottom.
12. If you scroll down on the left-hand side (the preview of the email) and roll your mouse over the email you will see that there are sections making up the entire email. One for the image, another for the body text, then a social media icon section, then the footer. You can select each one individually and edit it just as before. Select the social media icon section and click the pencil icon. The right-hand side will change to show you the social media URLs and link text that you can use to customise your email. When you’ve finished editing the relevant account icons click Save & Close.
13. In most cases, you can leave the footer section as it is. You must leave the unsubscribe from this list option but you can manipulate the other settings to suit your particular campaign. As this is a quick guide to MailChimp I won’t go into it here but will mention that the text that the settings display are created by short-codes or merge tags as MailChimp called them so you will need to understand how these are formed before attempting to change them. More info here.
14. Click Next and have a look at the checklist that MailChimp provides to make sure that your campaign is set up correctly. If all is OK click SEND at the bottom right and pat yourself on the back, you’ve successfully sent a mail chimp campaign.
Campaigns can be reused so there’s no need to create a new campaign every time if you are sending similar information. Small changes to the template and campaign you previously used will save lots of time.
Adding video, images, and buttons to emails are simple tasks and can all be done in the design part of the email setup. It’s worth experimenting to learn how your audience responds to different forms of email communication.
How much does MailChimp cost?
Isn't MailChimp free? Yes, as long as stay under 2,000 subscribers and/or 12,000 emails a month.
Once you hit those limits you're going to have to take out the credit card and pay a subscription fee. Pricing starts at $10/month but then things start getting complicated. The company has gone down the path of offering a confusing pricing structure. It probably makes sense to them but here's the general plan.
If you have 2,000 subscribers and never go over 12,000 emails (6 emails per month per subscriber) then you can remain on the free plan. If you would like to send unlimited emails per month then you can do so for $10 but only up to 500 subscribers. For every 500 subscribers over this number, you will pay an extra $5/month for unlimited emails.
500 subscribers = $10/month
1000 subscribers = $15/month
And so on.
Can You Embed A Video In MailChimp?
Yes, you can. Although it's not recommended. Most email clients either remove the video or can't play them so if the video is integral to the message, your email might look strange.
The video content block (in the campaign builder) is what you need to add videos to an email. Vimeo and YouTube integration is available and you can upload your own videos using the media manager.
Can I Use MailChimp With Gmail?
Use Zapier to add email addresses from your Gmail account to your MailChimp lists.
Integromat lets you send new subscribers a welcome email via your Gmail account. It also lets you create new subscribers to your list by labelling them in Gmail.
How Is MailChimp's Customer Service?
If you're using the free plan, don't expect much. There's a decent knowledgebase on the site. But browsing the help files it's not the most intuitive way of learning how to use the product (which is why I wrote this blog post). You can't call anyone for help. If you're mail service suddenly stops working you can either figure it out yourself or move to another provider. For businesses with almost 1000 subscribers, this can be a shock.
The alternative is to get a paid subscription. There's still no access to a MailChimp phone number of any sort, but you will get access to email and chat support.
MailChimp Alternatives – Free and Paid Alternatives
As I mentioned earlier, MailChimp competitors offer pricing structures and features that are definitely worth looking at. If you're just starting out or have less than 100 subscribers then I will still recommend MC but once your business starts to grow you might need something more robust, feature-packed, or cheaper.
Active Campaign has been around since 2003 but has really made some noise in the last few years. The company originally offered several products but then narrowed the focus to email marketing. It seems to have paid off as ActiveCampaign is now one of the most recognizable names in this industry.
ActiveCampaign offers a free trial and a competitive offer called the Lite plan: $17/month for unlimited sending. The next step up is called the Small Business Plan and it runs at $49/month but offers custom branding, 25 user support, and more. Think of it as more of a CRM and central marketing area rather than just a vanilla mailing list app.
Try Active Campaign
Constant Contact offers a 60-day trial and pricing starts at $20/month. This gives you 500 contacts. Paying in advance (pre-pay) gets you a discount.
Up to 2,500 users costs $40/month and pricing increases to $90/month for 10,000 users. It might seem expensive and it might be out of reach for small businesses but Constant Contact comes with some quality features. It offers more advanced options for surveys and event promotions. Managing these options is also easier than MC. I actually prefer the interface too, but purely for aesthetics. Email tracking tools are pretty sophisticated and automated emails are a breeze.
Try Constant Contact
A third option is ConvertKit which costs $29/month for up to 1000 subscribers. ConvertKit is one of the new kids on the block. Built from the ground up by a design expert. It shows. The forms are very nicely presented and customizations are a big part of the software. Hitting 5000 subscribers will set you back a cool $79/month so why opt for this email marketing tool over Mailchimp?
Hitting 5000 subscribers will set you back a cool $79/month so why opt for this email marketing tool over Mailchimp? Well, there are too many to go into here but briefly, I would say that the tagging features, automation, and landing pages are standouts. The lowest level includes all the features. Pricing is set based on subscribers. I definitely like this.
GetResponse offers some features such as automated segmentation of your email list based on mail opens, landing page builders, and webinars. MailChimp has none of these so if these features are useful or will be in the future I'd recommend checking out GetResponse's offer.
There are 4 levels of pricing and the most basic starts at $15/month but this level does not cover webinars or automated segmentation. Moving up to the next level (called Pro) will cost you $49/month but offers most of the interesting features. You can have 5000 subscribers on the Pro plan. This is a similar pricing that MC offers for the same number of email subscribers.
And finally, if you're looking for a free MailChimp alternative that's robust and user-friendly, I highly recommend MailerLite.
Note: I haven't covered more expensive options here as these 5 alternatives along with MailChimp should give enough variety for most business options. Start with MailChimp and progress (or not) as your business grows.