No internet marketing strategy is complete without email campaigns. Sending regular branded emails to a subscriber with top quality content will build recognition and loyalty like almost nothing else online.
It is possible to sign up with MailChimp and add a sign-up form to your blog in seconds.
MailChimp (and other email providers) will shut down your account if too many people complain because they can’t remember subscribing. It is really important to send your subscribers regular content and a great way of doing this is to email every blog post you write.
RSS and WordPress
RSS stands for Real Simple Syndication and is a standardized format used to publish frequently updated works. Every blog has an RSS feed, if you go to your main blog page and type “/feed” after the URL the browser will output the RSS feed. In order to set up your RSS feed correctly in WordPress, go Settings > Reading, by “For each article in a feed, show” make sure you have the radio button on “Full text”. I think it’s best to give your subscribers the full blog post by email.
MailChimp RSS to Email Campaign Set Up
This is my video tutorial on how to set up a campaign to send out your blog posts with MailChimp.
Create an RSS-driven campaign
Once signed in to MailChimp, select RSS-driven campaign from the drop-down menu when hovering over the Create Campaign button. You are immediately asked for the RSS Feed URL.
If you don’t want to send all your blog posts to your email subscribers, you could create a new category in WordPress and enter the feed of that category. You can enter multiple category feeds or multiple feeds from different sites if you wish by using ChimpFeedr or Yahoo Pipes to aggregate the feeds into one URL.
Choose a time of day (I prefer 9am GMT) for the email to be sent out, meaning your subscribers (in Europe and the US) will receive the post the morning after you publish it.
You can then choose the list to which the blog post email is sent (if you are new to MailChimp, you will only have one).
Make it personal
The emails that you send out to your list should be as personal as possible – almost as if you are sending an email to a friend or colleague – so your campaign information should reflect this. Here you are introduced to MailChimp merge tags (of which more later).
- name your campaign this is just for your benefit to identify the campaign
- message subject* this is the subject line of the email that your subscribers will receive. The default merge tags give the name of your blog plus the date. You could leave this as it is or change it to a permanent “Latest from my blog”, for example
- from name* I would make this your full name
- reply-to email * I would make this your personal email
- personalize the “To:” field info check this to make the email addressed personally – for example, the merge tags
*|FNAME|* *|LNAME|*will show “To: Bob Smith” instead of “To: firstname.lastname@example.org”.
Here you can also specify how the visits from these emails are recorded in Google Analytics which is very useful. You can also auto-tweet and auto-post to Facebook, if you wish.
Styling and creating your email
MailChimp being MailChimp, they have a host of pre-designed templates to choose from. I prefer to ignore these and choose the Basic (500px) template and style it up in the next phase.
A very user-friendly interface follows where you can add your logo and match colors and branding from your website. But it is very important to enter some merge tags in here to make sure the email actually sends out your blog posts.
One option is just to enter the following default RSS merge tag into the text edit area of the email editor.
But unfortunately, this does not give you full control of the way the blog post is reproduced in the email and it does not send the full content of the blog post which I don’t like. So I use the following merge tags to deliver the title and full content:
But even this isn’t perfect as I would like the user to be able to click on the title and go to the blog post to leave a comment. So, with
*|RSSITEM:TITLE|* selected click the link icon at the top of the text editor, and in the resulting pop-up box enter the “URL”
*|RSSITEM:URL|* making sure the protocol is “<other>” rather than “http://”. Here is an image of possible uses of the MailChimp merge tags:
That (apart from adapting the plain text version and starting the campaign) is more or less it. Creating an RSS-driven campaign may not sound like the most glamorous thing you’ve ever done but, once set up, it is an amazingly powerful marketing instrument that can run on auto-pilot driving traffic to your website and interest to your brand.
MailChimp RSS to email tutorial
Why not use Feedburner to do this?
You can, of course, use Feedburner to get subscribers and receive your feed. But the primary benefit of using AWeber or MailChimp to send you blog posts by email is your ability to send other emails to your list. This is a huge benefit as you may want to send your subscribers specific messages later on.
And there are many, many other features (for example the ability to brand and design your email exactly how you want it) that also make this a better idea.
What about you?
Do you send your blog posts out as emails? Which service do you use to do this?
I wrote this blog post because Andrew Kelsall – a blogging buddy of mine for longer than I care to remember – asked a question in a comment on another post. If you would like me to write a blog post about any specific topic, don’t be afraid to ask!