There are quite a number of options available for email marketing these days. If you’re in the habit of sending bulk email to clients of subscribers, you should definitely be using one of them. Gone are the days when putting a list of emails into the Bcc field of an email and sending it to yourself would get your message through. Your email will, by and large, end up in people’s spam / junk folders not to be presented before human eyes.
There is a completely free way of managing your email campaigns and sending up to 12,000 emails per month to a list of up to 2,000 subscribers on a ‘Forever Free’ plan. That would be MailChimp, currently the biggest dedicated email marketing service and the only one of the main services to offer a free plan. If your needs are greater than a 2,000 list or you want to avail of some of their premium social integration tools, they also do a 15% discount for charities. (I’ve just discovered that you can, in fact, have a list of more than 2,000 emails – the software just won’t let you send to more than that amount of people on any one day. If you’re happy enough to send your emails on consecutive days, you can split your list, duplicate your campaign and work away!)
MailChimp offers bundles of templates for you to use and also has a very easy drag-and-drop interface for arranging the content of your email campaigns. If you want more personal styling, you can make and save your own templates and customise all of the elements of your emails. Making lists and sending emails is just the start, however. You get reports on the rates of opens (provided people view images), clicks on links from your emails and you can automate responses to contact from your customers or clients. The software automatically manages your list for you, cleaning out email addresses that no longer work and automatically unsubscribing those that no longer wish to receive your emails (not mind-reading – just when they click the unsubscribe link).
And finally, they teach you how to do it all at the MailChimp Knowledgebase at kb.mailchimp.com. Whether you like to learn by reading and following instructions, watching videos or just jumping in and asking questions as you go, the Knowledgebase will have you up and running in no time and you can find lots of articles there and on their blog as to what makes an effective email campaign (and plenty of examples of what you shouldn’t do).
MailChimp are very big on protecting their own reputation as being a non-spamming company and so they expect that their subscribers will respect their wishes by not sending lots of unsolicited emails. You have been warned!
Here’s the quick-start, ‘get going on MailChimp’ approach we use at IAYO for new staff and our steady stream of Transition Year students and interns.
- Start your own account at mailchimp.com;
- Create a list of emails that you can send practice emails to:
- Use a mixture of colleague’s work email addresses and some personal addresses to see how campaigns look on different servers (e.g. GMail, Yahoo, Outlook on desktop and online): four or five email addresses is plenty;
- Divide the email addresses into two groups (you manage groups under lists);
- Create a campaign:
- Choose the sub-list you are going to send it to;
- Choose a template, make sure it is mobile friendly. A single column banded one should work best;
- Insert a banner picture, making sure the resolution and crop are correct. See if you can make the picture stretch from edge to edge;
- Add some content, including hyperlinks (web links);
- Send and see the results, preferably in different email clients and on different devices.
Easy peasy lemon squeezy 🙂