MailChimp 101 - Part 3: How to Send Newsletters
After you created your first list and subscription form in MailChimp, you are ready to start sending emails to your subscribers. To do that, click on either ‘Create’ or ‘Create Campaign’ button — both will open the same pop-up window.
In the pop-up window, select ‘Create an Email.’
This will open several options — Regular, Automated, Plain-text, and A/B test. For a beginner, ‘Regular’ is all you need. Later on, when you are more comfortable with the whole thing and your list starts to grow, you can also explore ‘Automated’ and ‘A/B test’ options.
I do not advise using ‘Plain Text,’ though, since it’s too limiting.
Give your campaign a name, such as ‘Newsletter,’ that will make it easy for you to know what the campaign was about. This name is for your own personal use only.
In the next step, though, you will have to put in the data that will be visible to your subscribers, namely, who sent them the newsletter (including your email address) and the subject line. So try to put yourself in the shoes of the recipients when filling out these fields.
Click ‘Add Recipients’ in the first (To) section and choose the list of subscribers you wish to sent your newsletter to.
Next, and before you continue with ‘Content,’ scroll down to where you can choose to also share your newsletter on your social media accounts. You can turn this option on for both Facebook and Twitter.
You will need to connect social accounts before creating campaigns to be able to use this option. If you didn't take care of that yet, click the arrow next to your account name and select ‘Profile.’ Then click on ‘Integrations.’
To get back to your campaign/newsletter, click Campaigns on the top left menu, and then open the campaign draft to continue with the setup.
The time to create your newsletter has finally come! Still, you better prepare yourself for more work.
Go to ‘Content’ and then click ‘Design Email.’ This will open numerous options that may seem overwhelming. There will be layouts and themes for all sorts of different purposes, including the option to code your own email.
These options can be great if you are a designer or have a shop, but as a writer who is only going to send out an occasional newsletter, you don’t need most of this. Based on my experience, it works best to go with the simplest possible solution (if you want to know why, read this post).
Here are some of the MailChimp newsletter layouts you will be able to choose from:
You will be able to add and remove elements (pics, text blocks etc.) in the MailChimp newsletter editor, so it doesn’t make much difference which layout you choose — other than not having to waste time on removing too many blocks when you opt for the simplest one.
Tip: You can also check the preview for every template before you select it by clicking the search icon in the top right corner of each layout.
For the purpose of this post, I selected the ‘Basic’ / ‘1 Column’ layout.
Clicking the selected layout will take you to the drag and drop editor where you can create your newsletter. You will see the preview of the newsletter on the left, and drag and drop builder / editor on the right.
You can build your email using text and picture blocks, buttons to create calls to action, and social icons to encourage following or sharing.
Start writing and editing the content by placing the cursor on the selected text block and then clicking the pencil icon. This will open a word processor with the interface similar to MS Word.
Tip: Sometimes, there can be issues and glitches with text formatting in MailChimp. In such cases, use ‘Clear Style’ option to erase the formatting.
MailChimp will automatically keep saving your work every 20 seconds, but nevertheless click ‘Save & Close’ button when done.
Now take care of each block. To link the social media icons properly, for instance, click on that block and then insert the links to your social accounts.
Tip: Unless you know how to code, don't touch the code in the footer (see pic below) to avoid messing things up.
When done writing the content, you can redesign the template. To do that, click Design in the top right header section. This will open the list of different parts of the newsletter you can customize.
You can easily spend hours playing around with trying out different fonts and colors. Unless you have too much time on your hands, remember that the simplest solutions often work best.
Tip: Simply keeping MailChimp's default settings will do for a start and you can always explore and experiment later on.
Tip: Click ‘Save’ after you finish designing each section but do NOT click ‘Save & Close’ button in the bottom right corner just yet!
When you are finished with the content and designing, open ‘Preview & Test’ option in the main menu. From there, you can send yourself a test email to see how it will look in the subscribers’ mailboxes.
Tip: Taking the time to send yourself a test email is highly recommended.
It’s also a good idea to use ‘Link Checker’ in ‘Preview and Test’ section to make sure all of the links in your email lead to where they are supposed to.
Finally, take care of ‘Social Cards.’ Clicking ‘Social Cards’ will open another editor. There, you can upload the image you’d like to display when MailChimp shares your newsletter on social media. Enabling social cards will allow you to select the images and write the accompanying text. Don't forget to click ‘Save & Close’ when done.
Since you probably won’t wish to go through the same torture every time you send a newsletter, save your work as a template so that you won’t have to design it every time all over again.
Now you can finally click ‘Save & Close’ button in the bottom right corner. If MailChimp detects any issues with your newsletter, it will let you know and you will have to resolve them before being able to click ‘Send.’
Note: You can see ‘MonkeyReward’ badge among the issues in the pic below. This means that MailChimp logo is missing. With free accounts, the logo is a mandatory part of every email. If you don’t add it, it will be added automatically so you don’t have to worry about this one.
If there are no other issues, hit ‘Send’ and you’re done!
This concludes the MailChimp 101 series for absolute beginners!
Cover image: kamboopics
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