There are several ways to create a newsletter on WordPress but we can retain two main strategies: use a 100% integrated service in WordPress or use a service independent of WordPress. A few months ago, we started to test Mail Poet, a plugin entirely thought out for WordPress that sends emails directly from your blog. However, we still wanted to try an independent service that has proved itself to thousands of users in the world: MailChimp.
MailChimp is a highly popular newsletter tool used by professionals. It is free for up to 2000 subscribers and after that it becomes a paid account. However, when you have a list of more than 2000 subscribers, it is generally monetized (via affiliate or other) so this limit seems more than reasonable.
MailChimp offers a WordPress plugin that makes it easy to use their service from your blog. In this article, we will explain how to install and configure MailChimp to start sending your newsletters without wasting time!
Installing and Configuring the MailChimp Plugin
We start by installing the MailChimp for WordPress plugin and activating it.
As MailChimp is an independent service, we will first have to retrieve the API key, which is a code that allows us to use the MailChimp in WordPress plugin. In the admin area of your blog, find the newly created “MailChimp for WP” link in the left side of the menu and go to the “MailChimp” sub menu. Click the “Retrieve Your API Key Here” link.
You are then taken to the MailChimp website where you need to create a new account if you do not have one. Once signed up, you will receive an activation email with a link that you must click to validate your registration.
Once received, you will need to complete a form with your name, postal address, time zone, and information about your activity that will allow MailChimp to offer you comparative statistics with other sites operating in similar segment as yours.
As you can see, the MailChimp service is more professionally orientated than other mail services. One of the most imperative aspects of MailChimp is the postal address you use, as it will be displayed at the bottom of all emails sent. Having your postal address is also a method of fighting against spam and is an obligation fixed by American law (MailChimp is an American company), which can expose offenders to prosecutions and consequential fines (more than $15,000 dollars).
Once you have created your account, you can also import your subscriber list from another service if you would like to.
How to import a subscriber list?
To import a subscriber list, click the “Import your list” button on the homepage of your MailChimp account. Next, the form prompts you to name the list, and then choose the sending email address and the name of the sender that appears in the mailbox of your subscribers. You also have a “Remind people how they signed up” field where you have to enter a small message reminding subscribers why they receive your e-mail, for example: “You received this email because you have subscribed to the XYZ blog newsletter.”
Finally, check the boxes corresponding to the notifications you wish to receive. Your options are a daily summary of new subscriptions and unsubscriptions or “real-time” emails to follow the registrations and unsubscriptions to your list.
Confirm by clicking on “Create List and Go to import.”
The second page opens, allowing you to choose how to import your subscribers – either from a CSV file, by copying and pasting from an Excel file, or from a supported third-party service such as Zendesk, Google Contacts, or Salesforce.
Recover the API key
Now that you have imported your subscribers (or skipped this step if you are creating your newsletter for the first time!), navigate to the main MailChimp website.
At the top right, click on your name then on “Profile”. Then click on, “Extras > API Keys” in the menu. Click on “Create a Key” to create a your API key, it should look like a sequence of letters and numbers with no apparent meaning.
Once you have your MailChimp API key for WordPress, copy it and return it to your WordPress blog in the “MailChimp for WP > MailChimp” section of your menu. Paste the key, save, and voila! The blog is now integrated with MailChimp.
Your blog can now send newsletters using the MailChimp service!
Create the Subscription form to your MailChimp newsletter
This is done in the, “MailChimp for WP > Forms” menu. After you have named your subscription form, you can completely personalize it:
#1 Fields tab – Choose the fields that subscribers will have to fill in to subscribe (their email and name).
#2 Messages tab – These are all the messages sent to your subscribers when they sign up, make an error by completing the form (invalid email address, a mandatory field not filled in, and more), or unsubscribe.
#3 Settings tab – Here you can decide on the general settings of your subscriber list, such as requiring subscribers have to confirm their e-mail address (so-called “double opt-in” to avoid spam). Or if your subscribers are redirected to a specific page after they are registered (like a thank you page).
#4 Appearance tab – Decide on the design of your subscription form using the design of your blog or a default design offered by MailChimp.
Once you are done customizing, you just need to click on the “Get shortcode” button under the title of the form. Simply copy it and paste it to the place where you want the registration form to appear on your newsletter.
MailChimp offers other options such as adding a checkbox near your feedback form so that all “Commentators” on your site can subscribe when they post a message. You can find these options in the “MailChimp for WP > Integrations” section.
That's it for the installation of MailChimp on WordPress!
To create a newsletter, it will happen on the home page of your MailChimp account in “Create and send a campaign.”
Create and Send your first newsletter
Now, it is the time to send the first newsletter!
Click “Campaigns” at the top, then click the “Create Campaigns” button at the top right. Several options are available to you, but we recommend you to use Regular Campaign. Select the list to which you wish to send your newsletter to and click the, “Next” button at the bottom.
At this point, you choose a name for your campaign (this information is only for you, and it will depend on your organization), indicate the subject of the email (keep it attractive to get higher open rates), and check that the other parameters corresponding to what you want. Try not to waste too much time on these settings, concentrate more on the subject. Let’s move on to the design of your newsletter!
This is where MailChimp differs from other free newsletter plugin offers. MailChimp makes it very easy to make highly customized newsletters. First, you need to select a template, as it is the backbone of your newsletter. Think about what you want to put in your email and choose the most suitable template.
Once you have selected your template, you can add your content. The top picture is the perfect place for your logo. On your right, you will find that there are several options available (buttons and separators). We suggest you to play around and explore all the options as that is fastest way to master the tool.
If you click on “Design,” you will be able to modify the fonts and colors that you will use for your newsletter. I recommend you stay in the same color codes as your website and your brand. There should be uniformity and consistency in your design.
Once you have created the perfect template, click “Save as a Template” at the top.
What Content should you include in your newsletter?
The content of any newsletter depends on the blog and website niche. In general, there is a welcome introduction and links to the relevant content published on the blog. Once your newsletter or “Campaign” as MailChimp calls it, is ready, click “Next” button at the bottom. Review that everything is correct and once you are ready, click “Send” button to send it immediately. If you have a specific time you would like to send the newsletter, click “Schedule” button to schedule the newsletter to send at a later time.
Once done, you can check the status of all the campaigns from the dashboard and create automations to schedule the emails after every couple of days.
MailChimp is a versatile tool that offers many extensive possibilities and options. Even in the free version, MailChimp has offers advanced features compared to a plugin like Mail Poet, that are unmatched. Users enjoy the extra features MailChimp offers, like a choice between the many templates, options to relay your newsletters on social networks, tracking of newsletter open rates, records of clicks on the embedded links, and so on.
From a beginner blogger to a seasoned one, MailChimp caters to all kinds of email newsletter needs.