I don’t usually blog about blogging, but I had to share how I finally figured out how to offer a daily or weekly subscription option in MailChimp*.
If you aren’t a blogger, I apologize. I promise this blog will get back to all the DIY you love, but I’m hoping that more blogs will start to have this option. It was a really difficult process for me, but I realized that it didn’t have to be.
When I first started blogging I used Feedburner, but could never really determine if my list was really growing cause my stats seemed a bit unpredictable. When I realized that MailChimp was free until you hit 2,000 subscribers I switched and love the flexibility it gives me to make my emails the way I want them, and I can see how many people actually open them.
An overview of the process: You are going to be creating 2 email campaigns each sending to a different segment of your list. One segment for those subscribers that want to receive an email each time a post is published (daily subscribers,) and one segment for those that want one email per week (weekly subscribers.) The problem that I ran into when I first set this up was that I created groups. The problem was that when people signed up they didn’t all check a box and so they ended up receiving nothing. Having segments lets you make selecting “daily” or “weekly” a required field in your signup form. So I did a lot of untangling to undo all of my mistakes and I’m hoping that you can just do it right the first time. And finding a tutorial that walks you through each step was really hard to find, so I’m going to do my best here to explain how I did it.
So here we go!
First you will need a MailChimp account*. You can create an account and it will be completely free until you reach 2,000 subscribers.
(*The link above is an affiliate link. If you sign up through my link you will receive $30 in your account to help you out once your account becomes a paid account. I get $30 too 🙂 )
If you are just now setting this up, you will need to import your subscriber list first.
Log into your MailChimp dashboard.
1. Go to Lists and click on your subscriber list.
2. Then click sign up form, and select which ever type of form you have and open your form.
3. Click “Radio Buttons” on the right menu.
4. Fill in the “field label.” I made mine into a question so that it was clear on the form.
5. Check the box for “required field.”
6. Click “visible.”
7. Then add your options. I explained my options in detail because many of my subscribers are not bloggers.
8. Click “save field.”
Now your form should look something like this.
Time to create your segments.
Now go back to “Lists” (on the left)
9. Click “manage subscribers”
10. Click “segments.”
11. Click “create a new segment.”
IMPORTANT: Make sure to check the box for “auto-update” when creating a new segment. This will ensure that anyone that has made changes or been added to the segment will be on the correct list before the next campaign is sent out.
You are going to create 2 segments. One for those who want to receive an email each time a post is published (daily campaign) and one for those who want one email each week with links to all of your posts from that week (weekly campaign.)
12. (You will do this step twice, once for each segment.) When you name your segments, they don’t have to match your signup form. Only you will see the names of each segment. I used “daily” and “weekly” to keep it simple.
When you are done creating your segments go back to your Lists and you should see your “field label” show up as a category. (But the space underneath will be blank.)
Now for the slightly terrible part. (You may want to find a good Pandora station and put in your ear buds for this part cause it could take awhile, depending on how many subscribers you have.) And by the way, there may be an easier way to do this, but I was on live chat with 4 different MailChimp people and this was the best option of the ones given to me.
You need to assign each person in your list to a segment. In order to set up your campaigns (later in the tutorial) you will need to have at least one person in each segment. So I assigned everyone on my list to the “daily” segment so that they would continue to get emails like they do now, and assigned myself to the “weekly” campaign so that I had someone in there. (Then when I was done I sent an email to my entire list letting them know that they had a new option…more on that later.)
To assign each subscriber to a segment…(You are still on your “List” page)
13. Click on the email address of the first subscriber in your list and a new window with all of that subscribers info will appear (see above photo.) Click “edit” next to “subscriber details” and select the segment you want to put that subscriber in. (Again, I put all of mine into the daily segment. Your subscribers can change their preference themselves at any time.)
14. Use the next button in the top right corner to quickly get to the next subscriber. (Remember that Pandora station I told you to get going….yeah…this could take awhile.)
Once everyone is assigned a segment you are ready to set up your campaigns.
If you have already been using MailChimp for your emails that go out each time you have a new post you can continue to use that campaign, you will just need to go in and select the “daily” segment that you just created in the recipients section. (*Remember that in order to edit a campaign you have to pause the campaign.)
This is what my campaign looks like. After adding my header, the only content I have is the merge tag *|RSS:POSTS_HTML|*
Inserting this tells MailChimp to grab my most recent post to send. My emails are delivered with the feature photo and the first 100 words. (That is decided on your blog platform’s dashboard.)
(**Wordpress does not automatically grab your featured image into your RSS feed. You can test this by looking at your blog’s Bloglovin’ feed. If there is no image next to your posts you can add the plugin “Add featured image to RSS feed” and that will force your feed to grab an image. If you want your emails to include an image you will need this.)
Setting Up an Automatic Weekly Campaign in MailChimp
For your weekly campaign you will need to start a new RSS to Email campaign and send it out to the “weekly” segment of your list.
1. Decide which day of the week and what time you want it sent.
2. This time select “send to a saved segment…weekly”
3. Fill in the campaign info.
4. Design your campaign.
My weekly campaign looks just like my daily campaign. Using this merge tag *|RSS:POSTS_HTML|* in the content of your campaign will tell MailChimp to automatically grab all posts since the last campaign was sent out. So for your daily campaign that will just be one post, but for your weekly campaign it will include all posts from that week.
However, it will not grab all of those posts if you don’t have your RSS set up to display more than one post. (You are probably like “huh?’) So you will need to open a new window and go to your blog’s dashboard. I’m on wordpress, so I’ll show you there.
On your dashboard menu on the left go to “settings” then “reading.” In the field “Syndication feeds show the most recent” select how ever many posts you typically do in a week. I selected 5 even though I usually only post 3-4 times per week. Remember MailChimp will only grab posts that it has not grabbed before so if your number is 10, but you only posted 3 times since the last weekly email, it will only grab those 3. What a smart monkey!
You will also want to select “summary” so that the email isn’t too long. Each post will automatically include a “read more” as well as have a clickable title so that your readers can click to your site to read the full post.
Now go back to MailChimp and finish setting up your campaign. And remember to always do a test send. (Multiple posts may not show up on your test send, because there was no weekly email last week to start from.)
Are your eyes bugging out of your head yet?
One last thing. (I waited until I got my weekly email to make sure I liked the way it was set up before I did this part.)
Let your readers know that they now have the option to get emails just once a week!
I did this by setting up a regular ol’ campaign that I sent to my entire list letting them know.
It looked like this.
See how the word “here” is a hot link. You will want to give them a place to go to change their preferences.
This tutorial from MailChimp will explain how to do that.
Ok. I hope you were able to get everything set up. This was a really long tutorial, but I hope it helped you get through MailChimp’s set up a bit easier.
This is my first tutorial like this, so let me know if you have any questions, or run into any bumps.
Have a great day!