You've got a lot going on. Maybe you're recording an album, or booking shows, or playing shows, or juggling tours for three acts you manage, or making videos, or signing multi-million dollar recording contracts. How do you keep track of it all? And how do your fans keep track of it all? MailChimp's tools make it fun and easy to send email newsletters, manage your mailing lists, and track your performance. Have a new song or video to share? Hoping to grow your email list through Facebook or live shows? MailChimp can help. Curious about where your most loyal supporters live? You can find out with just a couple clicks. In this guide, we'll cover all those features and more, and we'll show you how to use them effectively.
Did we mention you can send to 2,000 subscribers, every month, completely free? No credit card, no expiring trial, and no hidden fees or commitments. And if you need to send more, we've got affordable monthly plans and a pay-as-you go option.
This is an introductory guide to MailChimp's features for musicians. There's a lot more we can do, and you may have questions about some of our other features. If that's the case, contact our support staff at mailchimp.com/support.
Build Your Mailing List
With MailChimp, you can present your fans with lots of opportunities to sign up and receive email updates so they know about your shows, release dates, and free songs.
You can easily add a signup form to your website or blog with plugins for WordPress, TypePad, Moveable Type, Expression Engine, and Drupal. Go to connect.mailchimp.com for downloads, descriptions, and installation instructions.
If you don't use one of the services above or like to customize your signup form to put on your website or Facebook page, you can easily create a form in the MailChimp application. Here's how:
- From the MailChimp dashboard, click the Lists tab.
- Choose which list you want connected with the signup form, and click Forms in the list options.
- 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, header, and more.
- When the form is finalized, copy the Link to Subscribe Form located in the middle of the page, and link to it from the website you choose.
If you’d rather keep your fans on your own site than direct them to an external landing page to sign up for your newsletter, use our embed code to create a customized signup form on your website. The embed code provides more customization options than the signup form. Creating the code is easy, and it'll make signing up for your newsletter easier for your fans.
Just follow the steps for building the subscribe form. Then click Create Embed Code for Small Form next to the link to subscribe form in the signup form builder.
Copy and paste the code into the appropriate place on your site. If you’re a TypePad user, you can send the code directly to your blog with the Send to TypePad button.
Facebook signup form
After you've linked your MailChimp and Facebook accounts, you can add a signup form to your Facebook page. Here's how:
Go to Account > Integrations.
Click Facebook to open the Facebook integration details. In the configure page drop-down menu, chose the page you want to configure. In the list to use drop-down menu, choose which list's signup form you want on the page. Click yes for use signup form to activate the tab on the page.
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 your MailChimp-hosted form. If you select Facebook-esque, your form will blend into Facebook's overall look more.
Mobile signup forms
Looking for an easy way to collect email addresses at your shows? MailChimp's iPad app, Chimpadeedoo, collects email addresses and stores them locally on your iPad—even if you're not online. When you connect later, it automatically pushes the addresses to your MailChimp list.
If you'd like to learn how to set up Chimpadeedoo with your MailChimp account, just follow these instructions.
Once you've followed those instructions, you'll be ready to sign up folks at your next show. Just don't forget to toss your iPad (gently, now!) into the van when the tour starts.
Extra credit: Schecter Guitars took Chimpadeedoo on tour, and grew its email list by more than 22,000 users over the course of 32 dates. Not bad!
Thanks to our integration with CASH Music, a nonprofit, open-source tool for musicians, you can incentivize your fans to sign up for your email list by offering them a free download in return. By integrating your MailChimp list with a CASH account, you can immediately deliver your fans a download of your choosing whenever they sign up for your MailChimp list.
With the help of CASH's simple mode, available in the public beta of their hosted version, if you've got a MailChimp account and five minutes to spare, you can set up your own email-for-download campaign. Check out our blog post for more about it.
Create An RSS-To-Email Campaign
If you have a tour diary or another blog connected to your website, you might want to set up an RSS-to-Email campaign to automate the process. RSS stands for “really simple syndication,” and it’s an easy way for people to follow your blog updates without having to check in routinely to see if you’ve posted anything new. It’s 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-to-Email 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-Driven Campaign.
Enter the URL of your blog.
Decide how often you want the campaign to be delivered. You can choose when you want to send campaigns by hour for daily campaigns, and by day and hour for weekly and monthly campaigns. Click Next.
Choose the list and/or segment that will receive the campaign. Click Next.
Name your campaign, give it a subject, and review additional options on the preferences screen. There’s also an option to auto-tweet your campaign from this screen (more on auto-tweets in the Social Sharing section). Click Next.
Choose a template for your campaign. You can design the template yourself, or let MailChimp help you. If you have custom HTML, you can upload that as well.
Use our handy merge tag cheat sheet if you want to customize how your RSS feed is displayed in your campaign. Click Open Popup Preview under the Preview & Test pull-down menu to pull in live content and see exactly how your campaign will look when it’s delivered. After you’ve completed the template, click Next.
We’ll prompt you to automatically create a text version of your campaign for readers who use mobile devices or have HTML disabled. Click Next.
Confirm the details of your campaign, send a test, and if everything looks good, click Start RSS Campaign. Your first campaign will be delivered after your next blog post and at the frequency you determined in setup.
Why should I use MailChimp instead of FeedBurner for RSS-to-email newsletters?
FeedBurner is a great product, but we can do some things that it can’t. We provide tools like fully customizable templates, open and click tracking, bounce management, list cleaning, and spam-filter check. You can auto-tweet your campaigns from MailChimp; you can tie your Google Analytics account to MailChimp and see how your site traffic is affected by your email campaigns; you can even send email in a mobile-friendly format for people who read on their phones. Need more convincing? FeedBurner doesn’t allow you to choose when you send your RSS updates, but you can choose when to send by hour with MailChimp. You can personalize your newsletters with MailChimp’s merge tags; you can segment your campaigns by frequency and interests—and it’s completely free for lists under 2,000 subscribers. Plus, if you just love the look of FeedBurner emails, you can use MailChimp’s FeedBurner template.
You may even want to use FeedBurner with MailChimp—not just as an alternative. For example, you can use the two services together to add advertisements to your newsletter. We’ve got a step-by-step tutorial about how to do that on our blog. You can also use FeedBurner to fix a feed that doesn’t play nice with MailChimp (see the next question). We’ll even add your MailChimp subscribers to your FeedBurner count so you can monitor your overall subscriber count.
My RSS feed isn’t working. Am I doing something wrong?
Our application cooperates well with RSS feeds, but every once in a while, customers have issues with feeds not working correctly. Make sure you’ve added the correct URL for your feed (especially if you’re having problems when you just add your blog’s URL). If it still doesn’t work, we recommend running your feed through FeedBurner and giving us that feed instead. Go to feedburner.google.com and create a feed for your blog. Once you’ve completed the simple steps there, copy and paste your new FeedBurner feed into the Feed URL field in the MailChimp campaign builder.
Will my old posts be emailed out in my first campaign?
No. We’ll start sending email when new content is added to your feed.
Will my campaign go out if I haven’t posted anything?
Nope. We only send campaigns when there’s new content in your feed. So if you’ve set your campaign to go daily but didn’t post anything today, a campaign won’t go out tomorrow.
How can I update, edit and pause my RSS-to-email campaigns?
To update your campaign, go to Campaigns from the dashboard. In the left column beneath Create Campaign, you’ll see folders containing all your campaigns. Navigate to the RSS To Email Campaigns folder, and you’ll see a list of all your campaigns. Click the one you want to update, and the parent—the template for your all your emails—will be the top item in the folder. Click Edit to make changes.
Socialize Your Campaign
Social networking sites give you excellent opportunities to promote your music and connect with your audience, but we don’t think they’ll replace email marketing any time soon. In fact, our data suggests that social media and email complement each other nicely. Social media and email work so well together because they have different strengths. Social media is great for networking, quick updates and linking to articles; while email campaigns are better for delivering content and providing more in-depth updates. As a musician, you want your audience to be engaged, and a blend of social media and email marketing will give your fans several ways of following your music. MailChimp offers several ways to integrate social media with email marketing.
Auto-posting to Twitter and Facebook
The simplest way to get social with your email marketing is sending out a link to your campaign on social networks like Facebook and Twitter. As you're creating your campaign, simply click the boxes to auto-tweet and/or auto-post to Facebook, and MailChimp will broadcast your newsletter automatically when you send it.
Social Share merge tag
In addition to sharing your own campaign, MailChimp lets you offer your fans a way to share your campaigns. When you place the *|MC:SHARE|* merge tag in your template, MailChimp will add links to more than 20 social networks. If you want to limit the networks in the social share merge tag, you can use *|SHARE:SITENAME1,SITENAME2|* to specify which sites are included. For example, *|SHARE:Facebook,Twitter,Digg|*.
Facebook Like merge tag
Our Facebook Like merge tag allows your fans to “Like” your campaign and share it with all their Facebook friends. Place the *|FACEBOOK:LIKE|* merge tag anywhere in your campaign and it’ll turn into a handy little image that says “Like.”
When a fan clicks the Like button, they’ll go to your campaign archive page, which will then show up in their Facebook feed for all their friends to see.
Tracking Likes and tweets
MailChimp’s Social Stats allow you to watch your campaigns make their way around Facebook. To find out how many people like your campaigns, click Reports in your MailChimp dashboard. Select a campaign and click Social Stats.
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. Good to know!
Twitter stats are located in the same place as Facebook stats: Click the Reports tab in your MailChimp dashboard, and you’ll see a list of all your campaigns. Select a campaign and click Social Stats.
Under Twitter Activity, you’ll see how many times your campaign has been tweeted and retweeted, who did the tweeting and a timeline of all tweets. Only tweets that include the automatically generated EepURL for your campaign are included in this report, so you might have even more tweets than you think.
MailChimp’s AutoConnect templates automatically generate content from your Facebook Twitter, Yelp, Etsy, iTunes, Amazon and eBay accounts, so you can promote your business on social networks—all from within MailChimp. As a musician, you’re probably interested in the iTunes template. You can use the template to update your fans when your latest album gets listed on iTunes. The template pulls in your album cover, includes a Buy button, and lists all your songs. Write a custom note asking for a review, or just thanking your fans for making it possible. Here’s how to activate it.
Choose Pre-designed from the template gallery in Step 3 of the campaign builder. Then choose AutoConnect. From there, select the iTunes template. We’ll ask for the artist and record name, and we’ll fill a template with your iTunes info.
Share Your Music
While we can’t let you attach huge files to your emails and send them to thousands of subscribers (that would be annoying for your subscribers, not to mention incredibly expensive), we have a fast and simple way to achieve the same effect—we’ll host the files for you and link back to them in your emails, all from inside MailChimp.
Want to send a new song to your newsletter subscribers? Here are three easy steps to including a file in your MailChimp campaign.
Highlight the relevant text in your email. For example, you might highlight a sentence like “Download the new song” or “Check out the video.” We suggest indicating the size and file type as a courtesy.
With the text highlighted, click the link button.
Select the Upload tab and click Choose File to grab the file from your computer (it must be less than 10 megs). Once you’ve found the file, click Send it to the Server.
That’s it. We’ll host the file for free on our CDN servers and track how many times it was clicked. And we’ll even let you know who clicked to download in your Subscriber Activity reports.
All your uploaded attachments are accessible by clicking Insert Link and then Browse Media from within the text editor. You’ll see your uploaded files in a folder called—you guessed it—Files.
Share Your Videos
As a musician, you might want to embed videos into your email campaigns. The truth is, embedding videos into HTML email is unreliable and often dangerous, but MailChimp has a better way.
The safest option is to generate a screenshot of the video player, insert that image into your email, and link it to the actual video landing page. Sounds complicated, but we automated the process with our YouTube, Blip.tv and Vimeo merge tags so you can do it in two quick steps:
- If it’s not already there, put the video you want to use on YouTube, Blip. tv or Vimeo.
- Get the video ID from YouTube, Blip.tv or Vimeo. Can’t find it? A video ID consists of letters and/or numbers, depending on the service provider. You’ll find it at the end of the video’s URL. Occasionally, the video ID will be presented within a long URL.
- Copy the video ID into our handy video merge tag.
Here’s the YouTube merge tag before we included the video ID:
And you’re all set. MailChimp will find the video, grab a still image and overlay some video-control elements to make it look playable. When subscribers click on the image, it’ll take them to the hosted version of the video.
Target Your Audience
MailChimp makes it easy to get the word out about shows to the fans who want to know. Say you’re playing a show in Atlanta—you can send a targeted campaign exclusively to people near Atlanta, rather than sending to your entire list.
Segment by city and state
If you have city and state as fields in your signup form (you probably do), then you can easily segment your list based on those interest groups. It’s perfect for concert announcements. Here’s how:
- From the MailChimp dashboard, click Create Campaign.
- Select which list you’d like to send to and select Send to Segment.
- If you have City and State set up as fields in your signup form, you can segment by those independently. From the drop-down menu, select City | is and type the name of the city you’re playing. You may also have address as one field in your signup form, in which case you can select Location | is within distance and enter a zip code.
The list count will update to reflect the number of people in the segment you’re sending to. Now you’re ready to let your fans know when you’re playing near their town.
Looking for another great way to segment by location? With our Geolocation tool, you can set up a campaign to send to anyone on your list within a 150-mile radius of any point on the globe. Here’s how:
- Segment your list by specifying a location.
- Select a radius of 50, 100, or 150 miles around that location.
- Click the magnifying glass to verify the location on the map. Click Use this location.
You can segment by lots of other criteria, too—anything that you have set up in your signup form can be used to segment your list. For example, if you’re playing an all-ages show, you can segment by age to let your younger fans know that they’ll finally be able to see you live. You can also segment by Date Added to send a thank-you note to everyone who signed up at your last show. There are tons of ways to target specific groups within your audience.
Extra credit: Learn about how Rockhouse Partners uses geolocation to promote music festivals.
Engage Your Fans
As a musician, your mailing list is a valuable resource. The folks on it care enough about what you’re doing that they want to be regularly updated, so it’s important to track your interaction with them. MailChimp has several features that give you better idea of where your fans are coming from and how your campaigns are reaching them.
A great way to find out if your subscribers are engaged is to track which links they’re clicking within your email. Our Click Mapping feature allows you to see which links are clicked the most in an individual campaign. Check it out:
- Go to the Reports section of a recently sent campaign.
- Select Click Map to view the stats for each link in your campaign.
With click mapping, you can experiment with different types of links to see which are more successful for your list. Do people respond better to links near the top? Do they like to click on images of products? Try different layouts to find out what works best for you.
Lots of great musicians and music companies use MailChimp. Below are a couple examples. Visit inspiration.mailchimp.com for many more.