How to Use Mailchimp: The Definitive Guide
Last Updated on July 10, 2020 by Santhosh Muralidhar
Email marketing involves a lot of processes and steps like list building, list segmentation, template creation for campaigns, automation setup, spam testing, A/B testing, cleaning email list and so many other things.
The thing is that you will need a great tool to do all your email marketing activities properly.
Mailchimp is one such tool which helps in executing all of your email marketing campaigns perfectly without any flaws.
Infrastructure plays a very big role in email marketing.
Because you need a good tool/software for creating an email list and securely store the data of your email subscribers.
And you must ensure that your Email IP has a good reputation and it isn’t blacklisted.
Every email that you send must be properly verified and validated.
This can be achieved by properly setting up SPF & DKIM records.
In my view, all these above-mention things are the core components of the email infrastructure.
Mailchimp provides all the features and infrastructure that are essential to create a great email list and send out targeted emails to your subscribers.
Let me now give you a detailed explanation about using this Mailchimp tool.
Step 1: Signup and choose a plan.
You can create a Mailchimp account by registering on their website.
I suggest you sign up for Mailchimp by providing your email id that is associated with your website domain name.
Next, You will get an account activation email from Mailchimp.
Upon successful activation, your Mailchimp signup process will be complete.
Mailchimp provides both free plans and paid plans.
The below-given screenshot shows the plan pricing details & features of Mailchimp packages.
Free plans will support up to 2000 subscribers and allows you to create one audience list.
The free Mailchimp account will offer basic design templates and a single step automation feature as well.
A free Mailchimp plan is sufficient for beginners. With a free Mailchimp account, one could create a list, segment the subscribers, create a basic template, and send out basic email campaigns.
You can upgrade to paid plans if your email list is very large and you want to launch multi-step automated email campaigns.
For example, nurturing leads through emails, sending journey emails to your subscribers will involve multi-step email automation campaigns.
The paid premium Mailchimp plans include other benefits like Built-in templates, more features for branding and design, higher subscribers limit, higher audience list limit, phone support, multivariate testing, etc.
Step 2: Create and Manage List in Your Mailchimp Account.
The List will be the place where all the subscriber’s email id will be stored safely.
You can segment the list based on multiple factors like date added, contact ratings, Location, Tags, Email marketing engagement rate (high open rate, CTR, etc).
So, in that way for example if you are owning a digital marketing blog you can segment your email list into two segments one containing people who downloaded social media marketing ebook and the other having subscribers downloading the advanced Google Ads ebook.
Mailchimp will allow you to import subscriber’s data and organize it properly.
You can import data from CSV spreadsheet files or 3rd party apps to your Mailchimp Email list.
You must ensure that your email list is always clean by regularly removing unsubscribed contacts.
Mailchimp will also automatically clean up and remove emails that have hard bounce issues or unclean/grammar errors in data.
Create Email List
To create an email list in the Mailchimp you need to follow the below steps.
Go to your Mailchimp Dashboard.
Click on the Audience.
Then Click on Audience Dashboard.
Next Click on the option which prompts you to create a new list.
Free account users can create only one Email List.
Add a relevant name for your Email List.
While creating the List you can select if you want to send a double opt-in verification email to the subscribers.
You can add the audience field for your email list.
This will help you to add the contact details, name, address, and profile details of your subscribers.
And then you choose the Merge tags which you want to be visible for your Email content.
For example, I have enabled the merge tag corresponding to the first name and last name for my email list.
This helps me to personalize my email communication with my subscribers by greeting them with their first names in my email message.
You will have to select suitable GDPR settings for your email list.
After entering the required information for creating the list and selecting the setting your email list will be successfully created.
Managing the Email List
In the Audience section, you will need to click on the “Manage audience” option to manage your email list.
I would like to take you through every feature in Mailchimp list management.
Adding a Subscriber in MailChimp
So, Under manage audience, You should click on add a subscriber.
This will let you manually add a subscriber’s email id and contact details to your email list.
You will have to manually enter all the details of the subscriber including first name, address, phone, email id, tags, etc.
After entering all the details you just click on the subscribe button.
And then the subscriber would have been added to your list.
Next again you go back to the audience dashboard.
Import Contacts in Mailchimp
Then if you want to import contacts from a file or 3rd party tool just click on import contacts feature.
So, upon clicking the import contacts option you will be asked to select the source of your contacts imports. In this step, you would see 4 multiple options.
If you are using software or tools to collect leads on your website then you can choose the last option known as integrated service.
Else, if you are importing subscriber details from an excel spreadsheet or a text file then you could choose the second or third option respectively.
You must ensure that you have a clean database file of your subscriber’s info and contacts.
Because any uncleaned subscriber details or grammatical error in email id will get treated as a hard bounce and subsequently it will be removed from your list.
Upload the required file to import contacts.
After importing the subscriber data you will be asked to match & organize the data.
So, here you would select and match the particular columns, field, and the associated data which you want to be imported and shown in your Email list.
You can skip any column that is not relevant to your email list. Such columns won’t be imported into the Mailchimp list.
Here your job is to ensure that all the desired subscriber data, columns, and information is being properly structured and organized in your Mailchimp email list.
Finally, you can just finish the import contact process and all the subscriber’s data will be instantly imported into your Mailchimp account.
Creating Signup forms in Mailchimp.
Signup forms are useful if you have any product/service offering and an attractive lead magnet that can convert your website, visitors, into potential customers.
From the audience select the signup forms button.
Now you will find various choices to create a signup form.
So. you can select the form builder option. This allows you to create a custom form by choosing your template.
You could design the form on your own and customize it properly to make the form look highly converting and responsive.
After clicking on the select button you will land insider the form builder.
There are 3 sections in the form builder namely build it, design, and translate.
So, in the build section, you would add all the essential components for your signup form and integrate the infrastructure for the form.
You could drag and drop the required fields from the right side.
The logic here is that your subscribers will enter their information and provide their data inside these fields.
And then the subscriber’s contact details will be transported from the signup form to your email list in Mailchimp.
For example, if you want fields like email, first name, and others that capture data in the textual format then you should first select the text field from the right side.
And then you will have to label the field suitably like for example email field, first name, address, etc.
Similarly, if your field content is numeric then you would have to choose the number field.
If you want to give any type of choices or options for your subscribers then you can make use of the radio button field.
Mailchimp also provides many inbuilt fields like birthday, website URL, image, drop-down, image, phone, etc.
Design It Section:
The design section of the form builder usually deals with color settings, background color, fonts, text style, size, etc.
So, this design section deals with the visual aspect of your signup form.
In the translate selection, you can choose the option to auto-translate your form into other languages.
Or another choice will be to set the default language for your form like English, Arabic, Hindi, etc.
And then under default language settings, you would add the translated words that are corresponding to the English words.
To manage all of your subscriber’s data you should click on manage contact option under manage audience.
If you choose to view all contacts you will be able to see every subscriber on your list and their associated data like email, phone, contact rating, first name, etc.
The contact rating column will indicate the loyalty of your audience in the five-star rating system by measuring the open rate, CTR, deliverability rate, etc.
Usually, a subscriber who regularly opens your email and clicks on the links inside the email will have a high 4 start or 5-star rating.
Next, you have the choice to manually add and subscribe people to your contacts.
I have explained the process regarding the same while telling about importing contacts.
Sometimes people do unsubscribe from an email list if they find the emails to be irrelevant, pushy, or spammy.
In that case, you will have to comply with the laws and honor the unsubscription request.
Segmenting Email List
Next, you can even create segments for your subscribers.
To segment, your list follows the below steps.
From the Audience Menu choose segments.
Click on the Create segment button.
Next, choose the option based on which you want to segment your subscribers.
For example, you can segment the subscribers based on their date added, contact rating, location, language, tags, etc.
You can even add multiple conditions to your segments. For example, you can add a segment like a contact rating above 4, and the location is India.
So, what this does is that it will segment and show the subscribers on your list who are from India location (technically it is people who have India country IP address) and have a high contact rating of 4 stars.
Basically, in this example, you would segment all those people from the India location who have high engagement rates with your emails.
And then you could even choose whether you want the segment to satisfy only one condition or match both conditions.
You might need to regularly have a look and get an insight into your email contacts and subscriber’s activity, details, etc.
And in some cases, you would wish to see a segmented view of your email list and subscribers.
Next, you can select the preview button and visually see all the subscribers who match and fall under your segment condition.
Creating Groups For the Audience in Mailchimp
Groups actually in a way lets you categorize your subscribers based on their interest.
The benefit of creating these groups is that it allows you to send custom-tailored emails and targeted content for your subscribers.
For example, you might be owning a fitness blog. Some sections of your audience might only be interested in weight loss related content and have downloaded an ebook regarding the same.
Another section of your audience might only be interested in building muscle strength and have downloaded an ebook regarding the same.
So, in this case, you must group both the weight loss ebook subscribers and powerlifting ebook subscribers.
This would enable you to send only specifically targeted weight loss related content to the weight loss audience.
And similarly, the subscribers who want to build muscle strength would get beneficial articles on the same topic.
To create a Group follows the below steps.
Click on Create a Group from the audience Menu.
Select how you want to show Groups on the signup form. You could either choose it to show it as a drop-down, checkbox or button.
You could add the main topic or category of your content as the Group category.
For example, if your website is about Digital Marketing content then you can enter Digital Marketing as the group category
Next, you could enter the sub-topics as the group name.
So, under digital marketing, there could be multiple sub-topics like social media marketing, search engine optimization, etc.
This will allow your subscribers to choose the exact topics and related content about which they wish to see in their emails.
In the end, you could Save your Groups and finish the settings.
Step 3: Authenticate your Domain & Integrate your Mailchimp account with Applications
Usually, a website visitor submits his email id on your website form or popups.
You might use WordPress forms, Mailchimp forms or any application like Hello Bar to collect the emails on your website.
So those emails collected on your website through the app must be safely sent to your Mailchimp audience list by using synchronization techniques and API keys.
These API keys will provide full access to your Mailchimp account for other integrated applications and tools like WordPress, Hellobar, etc.
To begin with, you must first log in to your Mailchimp account.
Click on Account under your profile menu dropdown.
Next Click on Settings and Choose Domain.
Click on Verify domain name.
A Popup should open up now on your screen.
Ensure that you enter the email associated with your website domain name properly.
Click on Send verification email.
Then you will receive an email from Mailchimp which would instruct you to verify your domain name.
Upon clicking the domain verification link Mailchimp will authenticate your website for your account.
Integrating Signup forms and applications With Mailchimp
Signup forms are the most convenient ways to collect website visitor’s emails.
Because you can use plugins like WP Subscribe to easily configure and setup forms in WordPress website.
You should generate an API key for your Mailchimp account to integrate WordPress forms.
To do that go to your account settings.
Click on the “Extras” menu tab.
Under that Select API keys.
Next, you should click on Create API keys.
This will now automatically generate an API key for your Mailchimp account.
You will have to enter the same API key in your WordPress Signup form settings.
Integrate Mailchimp With WP Subscribe Plugin
You must ensure that the plugin which you are using to create forms is being supported by the Mailchimp platform.
I have used the WP Subscribe plugin in the past for my website.
And I found it very easy to create forms and integrate them with my Mailchimp account swiftly.
Beginners who are learning how to start a blog can use this plugin to create forms for their blog website without needing any HTML or coding knowledge.
So, follow the below steps to integrate your WP Subscribe Signup forms with Mailchimp.
Login to the WordPress dashboard and Go to the Appearance section.
Click on widgets.
Drag and drop the WP Subscribe widget to your blog sidebar.
Choose the WP Subscribe widget dropdown and now you will be able to see the settings section of WP Subscribe.
Select Mailchimp under Service.
Next, Enter the Mailchimp API key in the field. You must carefully copy and paste the API key which you generated in your Mailchimp account earlier.
Then choose your Mailchimp list. This would be the email list created in the Mailchimp account in which you want the email id of your subscribers to be stored.
If you want you can enable double opt-in and include name fields for the form.
Enter the required form fields and customize them properly.
Finally, Save your WP Subscribe form.
Integrating Applications with Mailchimp.
In the account settings, there is a section named as integration.
You can choose various applications like WordPress, Magento, drupal to integrate with your Mailchimp account.
The process is simple and not very complicated.
You will just have to log in to your application and permit the tool to access your Mailchimp account.
For example, I use the hello bar app to get email subscribers on my website. This tool helps me to create responsive top bars and popups which easily collects email id of my website visitors.
Step 4: Create Customized Templates In Mailchimp.
After you start building an email list, the next step will be to create a targeted email campaign that would give great results for your brand.
It is always a good practice to create customized templates for sending out email newsletters and messages.
Follow these steps to create a template in the Mailchimp.
Login to your Mailchimp dashboard.
Click on Campaigns and select Email Templates.
Next Choose Email Templates Option
Click on Create Template.
Select a Layout of your choice for the template.
For basic template creation, you can choose the 1 Column – Full-width Layout.
You can also think of using customized themes or code your layout as well.
Next after selecting the layout, you can start to customize your template.
You can very easily drag and drop the required blocks into your template layout.
For example, if you want to add your brand logo or any photo in your template then you will just have to drag and drop the image block into your layout and upload the relevant images onto the block.
Likewise, you can drag and drop text blocks, social sharing button blocks, and Call to action blocks into the layout.
Then you can start adding the required information and data into each of those blocks.
For instance, you might want to add your email message or story inside the text block.
And then inside the social sharing button block, you might want to add links to your brand’s social media profiles.
And finally, at the bottom of the template, you can add a footer block to mention details like copyrights policy and address.
After you finish customizing the template you should click on save and exit.
Mailchimp allows users to easily edit and manage their existing templates.
From the template section, you can choose to edit and customize an existing template.
Step 5: Creating and Launching an Email Marketing Campaign
To launch an email campaign you will first have to ensure that you have an email list and a template.
By launching an email campaign you will be sending out emails to your target subscribers and measure the campaign results like open rate, click-through rate, etc.
You would also be able to check the campaign reports in your Mailchimp dashboard.
In Mailchimp, you can create an email campaign using two methods.
One way is to create an email marketing campaign from scratch by choosing new settings and templates.
By this method, you could choose between launching an automation campaign or a regular campaign.
Another way is to create an email campaign for an existing template.
This method is suitable for people who want to quickly launch and send a one-time email newsletter by using their custom templates.
I will now take you through the steps to launch email marketing campaigns in the Mailchimp through both ways.
Go to your Mailchimp dashboard.
Click on New.
Next, choose the email option.
Now select whether you want to launch a regular campaign or an automated email campaign.
An automated email campaign can be used to send a welcome email for new subscribers, send course emails, nurturing campaigns, journey series, etc.
Enter a name for your Email campaign.
Click on Begin.
Next, select the target group of subscribers for whom you want to send the emails.
Targeting the recipients
You could even segment your email subscribers and target them for your campaign.
Click on Edit recipients.
Here you can segment your audience.
For example, in my campaign, I can choose the segment as subscribers with the tag “blog readers”. Or else I can select a segment like new subscribers.
Select if you want to personalize the To field.
You can add merge tags to your emails for making your email communications more personalized with your subscribers.
For example, if you choose the merge tag *|FNAME|* for your email marketing campaign then this will allow you to greet your email subscribers by using their first names in your email message.
Click on the Save button after choosing the audience settings for your campaigns.
Next Click on Edit From Button.
Here you can enter your name and website email address. This would be shown to your subscribers.
Then Click on Add subject.
Enter a relevant subject line and pretext for your email campaign.
Make sure that you add a catchy subject line that is relevant to the topic of your email message. A good subject line could have a positive impact on your email open rates.
Click on Save.
Next, select the Edit design button.
Now you can choose your saved templates. And you could even choose to design a new template as well.
You could customize the template and add relevant text blocks and image blocks.
Click on save and exit after finishing the template customization work.
Next click on send a test email option.
This would send one test email of your campaign to your email address.
Check and ensure that everything is correct in your email message and subject line.
There shouldn’t be any errors, grammar issues in your email body.
You could also check a preview of your email design/ body.
Finally, Click on the Send button to send your emails to the subscribers.
So, in this method, you will follow an alternative path to launch an email campaign in Mailchimp.
This method is ideally suitable for sending one-time regular email campaigns.
Go to the template section.
You could edit/customize any of your templates and make it tailored for the campaign
Click on the drop-down mark associated with your template.
Next, Select create a campaign.
Now you will be asked to select all the campaign settings which we discussed earlier in method 1 like selecting an audience, entering the subject line, sending out test emails, etc.
If you are having a pro-Mailchimp account then you can even use the A/B testing method for your campaign.
Step 6: Reporting in Mailchimp
To get insights and details about the campaign performance you should check the reports section.
By analyzing the reports you will be able to easily determine the delivery rate, total opens, and the total number of clicks for the email campaigns.
Also, you could identify individual subscribers with most email opens, countries with the highest opens, and other relevant information.
Choose reports under campaigns.
Then select the “View Report” option for the campaign in which you want to analyze the reports.
Now you will be able to see a summary of the reports.
Along with analyzing campaign open rate and click-through rate, you could get insights about various parameters like clicks per unique opens, the total number of bounces, and unsubscribes.
Also, you can see the charts for the 24-hour performance of your email campaign.
This can help in determining at which time your campaign had the highest opens and clicks.
Mailchimp reports will also give data about the top links that were clicked by your subscribers.
There is also another unique feature in the Mailchimp reports. It is known as Click Map.
The click map will visually suggest the percentage of clicks attributed to every specific link present inside the email body.
Under Analytics 360 reports you can check the email domain performance for the campaign.
In my campaign, For example, the reports suggest that 36 of my subscribers were using Gmail domain addresses. And 7 of the Gmail subscribers opened my emails and only 2 of the Gmail subscribers clicked on my links.
I hope you got some great insights about practically using Mailchimp for promoting your brand through emails.
Mailchimp provides one of the best features to segment and group your email list.
The tool makes it very convenient and easy for marketers to leverage emails for their brands.
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