mailchimpOnce your website is up and running, it is time to start considering how to driving traffic towards it.  This can be done in several ways, but email campaigns are the tried and true method.  The question most people have is: how do they start an email campaign? There are many ways in which one can acquire email addresses, but those addresses will likely need to be handed over to a service that focuses on email marketing, such as MailChimp.

The List

There are numerous ways to build and integrate lists into MailChimp.  It is possible to import lists from Salesforce, Highrise, Google Docs, a CSV file, FreshBooks, or Excel. MailChimp even offers generated forms that can make the sign-up process easier.  For those that require extra flexibility, an API is available that allows for tech-savvy website owners to program a custom front-end that people will see, while all of the data is passed directly on to MailChimp.  All of MailChimp’s forms include a double opt-in process which could potentially reduce the number of people in a database, but it does significantly reduce the number of spam emails and that can be important when considering the CAN-SPAM criteria.

At Triple Moons Design we manage all of our email campaigns and newsletters with MailChimp. Take a look at the subscribe box to the right to see how users can get signed up with our email program. MailChimp makes it easy to get a subscribe form integrated into your site.

Using the Data to Create Emails

Once the contact information is imported, it is time to start building the mailing lists.  Mailing lists can be broken down by a number of criteria, should you need several mailing lists. For  example, MailChimp can handle your branding requirements for different products and services all within one account.

Creating the actual emails is simple thanks to the intuitive and powerful user interface of MailChimp.  Several templates are available to inspire or serve as the base for your email campaign.  Custom HTML emails specifically designed to match your existing marketing materials can be created and imported.

Getting Connected

There are several add-ins and plugins available with this email marketing tool.  WordPress, Twitter and Facebook, just to name a few. MailChimp has embraced social networking in a way that few other email marketing websites have.  Tracking details are easily monitored about your email marketing campaigns.

Campaign Management

A summary list of bounced emails, opened emails, click rates, and unopened emails is presented both in terms of percentages as well as raw numbers.  All data can be exported to Excel for any further use one may have.  Google analytics integration offers a nearly complete picture of how individual recipients respond to emails as well as broader view of the list as a whole. This can be vital information for anyone trying to fine tune their marketing campaign.

Pricing

Nothing is free, but with a few limitations, MailChimp is.  A free account can store up to 1,000 subscribers and send no more than 6,000 e-mails per month.  Alternatively, there are monthly plans that start at $15 for an unlimited number of emails per month as well as a pay-as-you-go plan that starts at $9 per 300 emails and only gets more affordable.

February 8th, 2011 Update! MailChimp has now doubled the number of subscribers and sends for free account holders. You can now store 2,000 subscribers and send 12,000 emails each month!