If you are a blogger and new to MailChimp, you might be wondering how email marketing can benefit you. As it turns out, there are great opportunities for increasing audience engagement when bloggers introduce email.
People have different preferences when it comes to consuming information. Some want to visit your site directly and browse your latest posts. Others prefer skimming your content via RSS without ever navigating to your site. There’s another group of people, however, that would rather read your latest blog updates directly from their email client. Maybe they don’t follow enough sites to warrant setting up a feed reader. Or, maybe they just like the convenience of getting new content delivered right to their inbox.
A service like MailChimp helps you identify your audience and actively track their engagement by how often they open your emails, what they click, and what they share with their friends. In addition to promoting your regular blog content, there are other ways you can use email to engage your audience and track the effectiveness of your communications, too. You could send exclusive content to your mailing list—like special articles or sales. You could inform them about updates and news that may be outside the scope of your typical blog postings, or new items that might be for sale in your online store. The bottom line is this: When people sign up to receive updates from you, they’re saying, “I’m interested in what you have to say.”
This guide will explain everything MailChimp offers for bloggers. If you have questions or concerns that aren’t addressed here, please feel free to contact our support staff. We’re happy to help.
Build Your Mailing List
The foundation of great email marketing is a clean, up-to-date list of subscribers who have opted in to receive your email campaigns. MailChimp makes it easy to present your readers with a variety of methods to sign up and receive email updates so they can keep up with everything happening on your blog.
Do you want to send out a special email to your subscribers on their birthday? Would you like your subscribers to be able to choose the frequency at which they receive your email updates? MailChimp has you covered there as well. Use groups, fields, and segments to send timely, relevant content to your readers when it’s most convenient for them.
When you create a list in MailChimp, we will automatically generate a hosted, customizable, mobile-responsive signup form—along with an entire series of other forms and response emails—for you. You can share the link to this form on your website, across your various social media channels, or even with a QR code. Here’s how to create your form in MailChimp:
- From the MailChimp dashboard, click the Lists tab.
- Choose which list you’d like to work with, and then select Signup forms from the list options.
- Select General forms.
- Next, customize the details of your form. Use the Build It tab to determine what information you collect in the form and the Design It tab to change the colors, add a header image, and more.
- When the form is finalized, copy the Subscribe form URL located in the middle of the page, and link to it from the website you choose.
Looking for more details on designing your form and response emails? Check out this article from our Knowledge Base.
In addition to the hosted form, we’ll provide you with customizable embedded forms that you can add directly to your website, making it even easier for your readers to subscribe to your mailing list. From the Lists > Signup forms page, select the Embedded forms option.
If you are interested in creating and hosting your own signup forms, you'll find more information here.
Subscriber popup form
The subscriber popup is a customizable form option that automatically displays a MailChimp signup form in a popup modal on your website shortly after someone visits the page. The form can be designed, previewed, edited, and updated directly though the Form Builder, and all of your changes will be reflected in real time.
Signup form plugins
Is your blog powered by a service like WordPress, Squarespace, Tumblr, Moveable Type, Expression Engine, or Drupal? Would you prefer to integrate with Wufoo or CoffeeCup for an even more robust set of form design options? There are MailChimp signup form plugins available for these (and many other) programs that can help make integration a breeze.
Visit our Integrations Directory for download and installation instructions.
Facebook signup form
Social media can be a vital tool for keeping in touch with your readers, and MailChimp makes it easy to add a signup form directly to your Facebook page. First, you’ll need to connect your MailChimp and Facebook accounts. This can be done from the Account > Integrations area of your MailChimp account.
The initial connection will need to be made with your personal Facebook account. Once connected, the MailChimp form can then be added to any Facebook “page” that you administer.
When the connection between Facebook and MailChimp has been established, you can customize and assign signup forms to your Facebook pages directly from the Facebook section of the MailChimp Integrations page. In the Page to use drop-down menu, you’ll select which Facebook page you want to configure. In the List to use drop-down menu, choose which list's signup form you want on the page. Then, to activate a Signup form tab on the Facebook page, select the Yes radio button.
In the Form theme drop-down, choose which form style you'd like. If you choose My List's Theme (default), your signup form will look like the MailChimp-hosted form you’ve designed. If you select Facebook-esque, your form will blend more naturally into Facebook's overall appearance.
Importing your list
- Uploading a CSV or tab delimited text file.
- Copying and pasting your list from Excel.
- Importing contacts from your Mac Address Book with the help of our OSX app, MailChimp Import.
- Importing directly from a third-party application or program that integrates with MailChimp. For more details about our available integrations, visit our Integrations Directory. If your contacts are stored in an application or program that doesn’t currently integrate with MailChimp, refer to that program’s support documentation or customer support team for assistance in getting a CSV file of the contacts.
- Importing contacts using MailChimp’s API. Keep in mind that the API is for experienced programmers and developers. If you do not currently have someone available to assist with this, consider reaching out to one of our third-party, for-hire MailChimp Experts to lend a hand.
If you only need to add a single email address to your list, you can do so by clicking the add subscriber icon on the Lists page.
Set Up an RSS Campaign
Building up a list of loyal subscribers is a great start, but now what? MailChimp offers a number of different options for creating beautiful email campaigns so you can stay in touch with your readers and provide them with your latest updates and most recent blog posts. In this guide, we’ll focus on a few of the tools that can be especially valuable for bloggers.
RSS stands for “really simple syndication,” and it’s a great way for people to follow updates to your blog without having to check in routinely to see if you’ve posted anything new. A blog can be a great tool, but many people prefer to read updates in their inboxes instead. We think email and RSS work beautifully together, and we recommend that bloggers allow their readers to choose how they consume new content. MailChimp’s RSS campaigns provide an easy solution for automatically sending your new content via email. Here’s how to create one:
From your MailChimp dashboard, click the Create Campaign pull-down menu, and choose RSS campaign.
Enter the URL of your blog’s RSS feed and decide how often you want the campaign to be delivered. You’ll have the option to choose between daily, weekly, or monthly updates, you can choose the day(s) and time you’d like the campaign to be sent, and you can choose to automatically resize your RSS feed images so they fit within your template.. Click Next.
In the Recipients step, choose the list—or segment of a list—that will receive the campaign. Click Next.
Name your campaign, give it a subject, and review the additional tracking options on the preferences screen. There’s also an option to auto-tweet or auto-post the campaign to Facebook from this screen. Click Next.
Choose a template for your campaign. MailChimp offers a variety of Basic templates and Themes in each account.
- Basic templates provide you with a highly-customizable blank layout, so you can easily add your own styles and content using the drag and drop functionality of our Email Designer.
- Themes are predesigned, preconfigured templates that don’t require any programming or design knowledge to get started. Simply pick a Theme, plug in your content, and you’ll have a beautiful campaign. Themes come in two varieties—“drag and drop” and “classic.” Drag and drop themes offer functionality similar to that of Basic templates, while only the color and content of the classic templates will be editable within the Email Designer. The template type will be displayed below each Theme, so you can easily differentiate between the two.
You can add our RSS merge tags to any style of template, but we do offer a few different templates that have been specifically designed for RSS campaigns. On the Basic tab, you’ll find a Basic RSS and Right-Sidebar RSS template options available. On the Themes tab, simply select RSS-To-Email from the template categories drop-down menu to view all of the available options. If you’d prefer to design the template yourself or you have custom HTML that you’d like to upload, you can do that here as well.
Use our handy merge tag cheat sheet if you want to customize how your RSS feed is displayed in your campaign. Click Enter Preview Mode under the Preview & Test drop-down menu to pull in live content and see exactly how your campaign will look when it’s delivered. You can also use Inbox Preview to see how your campaign will look across more than 40 different email clients, send tests of the campaign, or use our Link Checker tool to make sure all the links in your campaign are valid from this menu. After you’ve completed the campaign design process, click Next.
Confirm the details of your campaign, send one final test, and if everything looks good, click Start RSS. Your first campaign will be delivered after your next blog post and at the frequency you determined during setup.
Adding RSS content to a Regular Campaign
If you’d like to add blog posts from any number of RSS feeds in a Regular campaign, you can utilize our *|FEED|* merge tags to do so. We’ll cover merge tags in the next section, but this article from our Knowledge Base will give you a full walkthrough of adding RSS content to a regular campaign.
Customize With Merge Tags
Merge tags are pieces of code you can place in your email to add content dynamically. Instead of using copy-and-paste or manually entering information, drop a merge tag into your email and the information will be added for you.
Merge tags are especially helpful for RSS-Driven campaigns because after you add them to your template, you’ll never need to worry about your campaign again. MailChimp will do all the work of collecting new content, formatting with merge tags, and sending at your specified times. That way, you can spend more time focusing on your blog.
Below is a sampling of the merge tags MailChimp offers for RSS-Driven campaigns. For the full list of RSS-related merge tags, check out this article. For a list of all the merge tags that can be used in MailChimp, take a look at our merge tags cheat sheet.
Preformatted RSS merge tags
MailChimp RSS merge tags relate to tags in your RSS feed, including the title, URL, and description of your blog and its individual posts. The group of tags in this section allows you to embed preformatted lists, summaries, or full content of your posts in an RSS-Driven Campaign.
*|RSS:POSTS_HTML|* or *|RSS:POSTS|*
Displays a list of your blog posts and their summaries in HTML format
*|RSS:POSTS_HTML_FULL|* or *|RSS:POSTS_FULL|*
Displays a list of your blog posts and their full content in HTML format
Displays a list of your posts formatted in plain text
Displays a list of your posts and their full content formatted in plain text
Displays a linked list of the five most recent post titles made prior to the new posts pulled into your campaign since the last send
Displays a linked list of the most recent post titles made prior to the new posts pulled into your campaign since the last send, based on the number given for "xx”
RSS channel merge tags
These merge tags pull the content from your RSS <channel> tag, which represents your blog as a whole. They can be used to customize how your RSS post list appears in your RSS-Driven Campaign.
Displays the title of your blog or RSS feed channel
Displays the date your RSS feed was last updated
Displays the URL of your source RSS feed or channel
Displays the description of your blog or RSS feed channel.
RSS item merge tags
These merge tags pull the content from your RSS <item> tags, which represent your individual blog posts. They can be used to customize how your RSS post list appears in your RSS-Driven Campaign. For the full list, refer to our Knowledge Base.
*|RSSITEMS:|* and *|END:RSSITEMS|*
These tags do not display anything, but are used to open and close the customized formatting for individual RSS items.
Displays the title of the RSS item, usually a blog post
Displays a text link to the RSS item online, which can be displayed as text or used in a hyperlink
Displays a summary of the RSS item in HTML format
Displays the full content of the RSS item in HTML format
Displays a summary of the RSS item in plain text format
Displays the full content of the RSS item in plain text format
Feedblock RSS channel merge tags
When you need to pull RSS content into different types of campaigns, you can easily embed or customize it using Feedblocks. These tags can be used to customize how your RSS post list appears in Regular, Plain-Text, and A/B Testing campaigns. The most widely-used tags are noted throughout the next sections, but for the full list, refer to our Knowledge Base.
*|FEEDBLOCK:URL|* and *|END:FEEDBLOCK|*
These tags do not display anything, but are used to open and close the customized formatting for your feed content.
Displays a linked list of your five most recent blog post titles
Displays a linked list of your blog posts, with optional settings for number shown and content type. “$content=full” displays the post’s full content. Leave it blank to display the post’s summary instead.
Feedblock RSS item merge tags
When you pull RSS content into a campaign using *|FEED|* tags, you can control which details appear and how they are formatted.These tags can be used to customize how your RSS post list appears in Regular, Plain-Text, and A/B Testing campaigns.
This tag doesn’t display anything, but is used to open the customized formatting for your RSS items. "$count=x" represents the number of items from the feed that you would like to display.
This tag doesn’t display anything, but is used to close the customized formatting for your RSS items.
Displays a summary of the RSS item
Displays the full content of the RSS item
Displays a summary of the RSS item in plan text format
Displays the full content of the RSS item in plain text format
Frequently Asked Questions
My RSS feed isn’t working. Am I doing something wrong?
If you’re seeing a message that says your feed is invalid or the feed doesn’t seem to be pulling the expected content into your campaign, there are a several factors that could be at play. This article covers the most common problems that users experience while setting up their RSS campaigns in MailChimp.
Note: Sometimes, even when you've been careful to avoid all the common RSS pitfalls, a temporary connection-related issue will crop up just as you're ready to send, preventing the delivery of your campaign. So, when an RSS campaign fails to send due to a connection-related issue with the feed, we'll attempt to send the campaign 3 additional times. The first retry attempt will occur immediately, followed by 2 subsequent attempts in 20-minute intervals.
Will my old posts be emailed out in my first campaign?
When you first set up an RSS campaign, MailChimp displays the last post that was added to your feed as an example. For daily sends, we won't send an email to your list until there's a new post in your RSS feed. Likewise for the weekly sends: If you've not posted for over a week, we won't send a weekly post until you make a new post. And similarly for monthly scheduled RSS campaigns in that if you've not posted for over a month, we won't send a monthly email until you make a new post.
If this is your first send, we only send the posts from 24 hours before your campaign was activated for daily, from the last 7 days for weekly, and the past 30 days for monthly. If you'd like to include those older posts, consider adding the *|RSS:RECENT|* merge tag to your campaign.
Will my campaign go out if I haven’t posted anything?
Nope! We only send campaigns when there’s new content in your feed. If you’ve set up a daily RSS campaign but didn’t post anything new today, a campaign would not go out tomorrow.
How can I update, edit, and pause my RSS campaigns?
To update, edit, or pause your RSS campaign, go to the Campaigns page from the dashboard. Click the Filter button and choose RSS campaign from the Type drop-down menu. Locate the campaign you want to update, and click Edit to make changes. If the campaign is currently active, you’ll need to Pause it before you can make any changes. This can be done by clicking the drop-down menu next to the View Report button for the campaign you’d like to edit and choosing Pause.
Keep in that mind once a campaign has been paused, you’ll need to revisit the Confirm step of the campaign builder and click Start RSS before it will start sending again.
When you preview and send the email, you’ll see your design populated with all the content from your feed. You can move the merge tags around, add more or delete some of them, or you can create your own template from scratch.
Social networking can be an excellent medium for promoting your content and connecting with your audience. Through the use of our sharing features, merge tags, and integrations, MailChimp makes it easy for email marketers to use social networks to their advantage.
Use merge tags—along with the Social Share and Social Follow content blocks in our Email Designer—to give your subscribers an opportunity to share, like, or follow your content and activity across various social channels.
Social Profiles is an optional paid add-on for lists that gathers publicly available social data about your subscribers that can be used to send targeted emails to them based on their age, gender, or their presence on social networks.
Track and Report
For a lot of email marketers, the best part of sending email newsletters is looking at the stats after a campaign goes out—it’s kind of like checking out your blog comments. How many people opened your newsletter? How many clicked? What did they click? What didn’t they click? Did they like the content?
Review your report information for every campaign you send—it’s full of clues and feedback that will help you make adjustments and improve your future newsletters.
MailChimp's standard reports use neat, easy-to-read graphs, tables, and maps to show you things like opens, clicks, bounces, and unsubscribes. We even offer maps that show you where your readers live and which links they’re clicking the most. To access your reports, go to the Reports tab in your MailChimp dashboard and click View report next to the desired campaign.
MailChimp’s Social Stats allow you to watch your campaigns make their way around Facebook and Twitter. To find out how many people have Liked your campaigns, visit the Reports tab on your MailChimp dashboard. Select a campaign and click Social.
The Like stats are located under Facebook Activity and organized by subscriber. You can see how many times each subscriber liked your campaign, and how many other likes they generated.
You’ll also notice an EepURL Activity section on the Social page of your campaign reports. When you auto-post or auto-tweet your campaign, we’re sharing a shortened EepURL link instead of a long campaign archive link. We’ll track all of the clicks those links receive, identify the top 10 referrers generating traffic to the link, and display the locations worldwide where the click activity has occurred.
Comparative Reports and Predicted Demographics
Comparative Reports will provide you with the flexibility to interact with your data just like our own research team would. You can analyze your performance over time by aggregating and comparing campaign results, or discover hidden trends by creating advanced segments within your reports—after sending a campaign. MailChimp does all the heavy lifting for you, eliminating the need to export and combine all of your data manually. When you’re done, you can share your findings and schedule your reports to automatically regenerate as new results come in.
Predicted Demographics uses data science to predict the gender and age range of your subscribers. This data appears in subscriber profiles, your list overview page, and campaign reports. You'll have more information about the makeup of your audience, and you'll learn how specific demographics interact with your emails. You can then use this data to refine your strategy and send more relevant content to your readers.
In this guide, we've discussed many of the features and tools that can help bloggers get the most out of MailChimp, but there are a few more important topics left to cover.
Make sure the intent of the signup form is clearly stated. All potential subscribers should understand that, by submitting their contact information through the form, they are agreeing to receive bulk email from you.
“Contact Us,” “Apply For A Quote,” or “More Information” forms are not considered an acceptable opt-in method for bulk emails. These forms generally indicate a one-to-one email, not permission to be added to a bulk mailing list.
Email addresses collected verbally, from personal address books, from business cards, or from social media/LinkedIn followers are not considered viable opt-in methods, due to their lack of tangible, verifiable proof of consent.
We do not allow any kind of third party lists in our system. This includes publicly available, purchased, rented, or partner lists.
Tools and integrations
MailChimp offers a number of other tools and integrations that may also be a good fit for your blog. We've highlighted some of them here in this section, but for a full listing, visit our Integrations Directory.
MailChimp Snap is an app for sending quick, photo-based email campaigns directly from your iPhone or Android phone. Once you’ve downloaded MailChimp Snap and connected it to your MailChimp account, you’ll take a photo—or select an existing photo from your camera roll or Instagram account—and add a quick link, title, message, and call to action button to your campaign. Then, select one of the available layouts, choose your recipients, and you’ll be ready to send the campaign. Once sent, you'll have the option to share the campaign across your social media channels from directly within Snap, and the campaign will appear within both the Campaigns and Reports pages of your regular MailChimp account so you can track its progress.
Collecting new subscribers on your blog is easy thanks to MailChimp’s signup forms, but what about when you’re out meeting people at conferences or festivals? With MailChimp Subscribe, you can sign up new readers using your iPad or Android tablet without an internet connection. Simply design a customized form for your device, let users sign themselves up, then sync with your MailChimp account when you’re back online.
If you want to include your blog posts in a newsletter without using MailChimp's native RSS-Driven campaign features and merge tags, or you would like to curate blog content from multiple blogs, Flash Issue might be a good integration for you to explore. Flash Issue allows you to pull in content from specific RSS feeds by dragging and dropping within the integration. Save yourself time while still creating a custom newsletter and sharing all the hard work you put into your blog posts.
Education and Support
Bloggers always seem to have email newsletters on the top of their to-do list, but getting started can seem daunting or time consuming. We understand, and we offer a wide selection of educational materials to answer all of your questions and make the process as painless as possible. Type a keyword or question into the search bar on the top of the MailChimp site, and you’ll be directed to a list of blog posts, Knowledge Base articles, features pages, demo videos, and guides that can help.
If you need one-on-one attention with your MailChimp account, you can contact our friendly in-house support team by visiting http://mailchimp.com/contact/support.