Last week we set up a newsletter and sign-up form for folks to get all of our great content. We promised that we’d give you the walk-through of how we did it – so here it is. And the best part? It’s all FREE.
Step 1: Sign up for MailChimp
MailChimp is a great service that lets you manage mailing lists and send out newsletters. It’s free for the first 2000 subscribers, with a send limit of 12,000 per month. The free option has other limits, such as not allowing autoresponders, but for the beginner newsletter sender, it works great. Just go to MailChimp.com and sign up for a free account. Make sure you add all your contact information to your account; you can even connect your MailChimp account with your social media accounts and with PayPal, so that customers who purchases services will be automatically added to the MailChimp mailing list you indicate. Just hover your mouse over “Account” on the main MailChimp page, then select “Integrations” and fill out the information for your accounts.
Step 2: Set up a list
This is pretty easy; just click on “Lists” on the top menu bar, and then click on “Create List”. Follow the instructions and name the list something that makes sense, like “newsletter members”. Now you need the link so people can actually sign up for your list/newsletter.
Step 3: Get the list link for your website
You need to get the link to the signup form so that folks can sign up to the newsletter. Click on “Lists” on the top menu bar, then click “View List” under the list you want to add folks to. Hover over “For your website” on the menu directly above the name of the list, and select “Signup form embed code” or “Signup form link code”. The first option will give you code you can use to embed a small signup form on your site; the second gives you a link you can embed in your site for people to click on. It will take them to the signup form on MailChimp. Use whichever works best for your site.
Now, create either a page, a post, or a widget that you’re going to use as your sign-up area. You can do multiple areas; we have a sign-up post as well as a widget on the front page that folks can click to sign up. Do whatever works for your site. Either embed the code for the signup form or add the link to the page/post/widget/what have you. Good job – now folks have a way to sign up for your newsletter or mailing list! You can now go back into MailChimp and customize your signup, thank you, and other forms. Just go to “Lists” on the top of the main page, “Select View List” under the list you’re editing forms for, and then on “Create Forms”. You can select which form you want to edit from there.
Step 4: Set up a campaign
Campaigns are MailChimp’s term for mailings. You’re going to want to pick a template, decide which list to send it to, and then put the information you want to send to your list. We’ve pasted a screenshot of our welcome newsletter below, and we’ll explain it so you can understand why we did it the way we did:
First, we uploaded our header so people recognize that the newsletter is an “official” mailing from our company. MailChimp will allow you to edit your template and you can upload your header image at that time. We then changed the colors of the newsletter (you’ll do that in the same area you upload your header) to coordinate with the SiteSmith website. The template we chose had those three columns already set up; all we had to do was change the pictures (hover your mouse over each section to edit it) and the text, and we were just about done. What we did for the welcome newsletter was, we explained what each section of the newsletter will deliver each week. This goes along with our policy of explaining to folks what they can expect next from us. We also added links to the buttons (again, just hover your mouse over them to edit) so folks could click through to the website and find out more.
If you sign up for the paid account, you can also add autoresponders, which are mailings that go out automatically when someone signs up to your list, or does something else. It’s easy to do; just select “Autoresponders” from the top menu, and follow the instructions to customize it. If you don’t set up autoresponders, you’ll have to manually go into your MailChimp account and send newsletters to folks as they sign up, but MailChimp is great because when you do, it will automatically select the folks who have not yet received the newsletter (so you don’t have to worry about sending them to the same person multiple times). Just set up a Welcome newsletter the way we’ve explained above, and when you receive emails from MailChimp telling you someone has signed up for your list, go into MailChimp and send the campaign to them.
Each week (or whenever makes sense for your business) can go into your MailChimp account and create a newsletter. You can create a newsletter from scratch, or simply duplicate one you’ve already created and just change the info you need to. Select the List you want to send it to, and you can even schedule when you want to send it.
That’s it! It’ll take between 30 and 90 minutes to set this up, depending on how familiar you are with WordPress and mailing lists, but if you have any problems don’t hesitate to contact us!