Why choose Mailchimp for your email marketing?
We’ve written before about why we think email marketing is one of the most powerful and yet overlooked marketing tools for small businesses. Many small businesses plan to rely on social media promotion to gain followers and as a method of keeping people updated with news about the business. However, while social media is a vital part of the mix and absolutely will appeal to some of your audience – email marketing is still important and very effective.
If you’re planning any kind of structured email marketing activities then you’ll need to use a mass emailing tool such as Mailchimp. There are many other such tools available but we use Mailchimp ourselves and in this post I’ll explain why we like it and would recommend it to most small businesses too.
Perhaps you’re not sending out any emails to customers or prospects at all just now. Maybe you do send them emails but you’re just using your regular email tool (something like Outlook) to send one-to-one emails to hand picked regular contacts or performing a mail merge from your excel list of contacts to send an ad hoc promotion email. You might even be sending a group BCC email with a PDF attachment of your newsletter.
If any of these scenarios sound familiar then you could really benefit from switching to using Mailchimp as it will really help you step up your email activities and make it easier to send professional campaigns in a safe and legal way. Here’s why we recommend using Mailchimp.
You can get started with Mailchimp for free
In the early stages of your email marketing your audience will likely be small. If you have fewer than 2,000 live emailable contacts then you can use the free version of Mailchimp and get a very, very long way with it. Once your email marketing grows to bigger audiences or to weekly emails then you can look at some of the other options based around either a monthly subscription or a credits model. If you’re going to sent out emails frequently (for example sending out a monthly email newsletter or regular campaigns) then the monthly subscription option tends to be the most cost effective, but if you think you’ll only be emailing occasionally then the credits model can work well. Mailchimp gives you the flexibility to chose the best option for your needs.
Mailchimp has a simple, wizard-based interface making set up quick and easy
Setting up your initial free account in Mailchimp is very simple with a few steps to get underway. Once you are in then the menu is easy to navigate and makes good sense with everything driven off the side icons shown here
Whilst Mailchimp offers many options and has functionality that extends far beyond just sending out emails, it’s likely that if you’re just starting out you’ll be spending most of your time looking at Audiences (which is where your contacts will live) and Campaigns (which is where you can see all previous emails that you’ve sent out).
Unlike some tools the interface is easy to follow and will make reasonably good sense to a beginner!
Mailchimp comes with detailed analytics so you can see what’s working and what isn’t
One of the biggest advantages of using something like Mailchimp rather than sending mass emails out using your own Outlook account is that Mailchimp enables tracking of your campaigns so you can see how many people are opening your emails and what they do then. You’ll see the clicks through to your website and get a good idea of what’s resonating with your audience. You can build reports to understand who the most active audience members are and use that information to build segments and retargeting email campaigns. The audience engagement data can be tracked by individual and used to export into other systems such as Salesforce or another CRM system if required.
You can plumb Mailchimp into your website and other collection points
If email marketing is part of your strategy then building and nurturing your email list is a vital part of making that work for you and you should make it as easy as possible for your prospects and customers to get onto your email list. You should also make sure that your internal processes are geared around opting in contacts so you can continue to communicate with them in marketing emails.
Mailchimp offers functionality to put pop ups on your website offering pieces of content or offers when people sign up to your newsletter as well as simple “sign up for our newsletter” pages or widgets. Prospects entering their details here will be asked to opt in then automatically be added to your Mailchimp audience and tagged accordingly. You can also plumb in contact forms and ecommerce systems like WooCommerce and Shopify so that when someone interacts with you in any way via your website then they are captured into your email audiences. If you are driving traffic to your website via your social media, content creation, SEO activities – then you will also be capturing email sign ups and building your email lists every day.
Mailchimp will manage your GDPR processes for you
GDPR can’t be ignored – there are rules about who you can market to and how you should process personal data. Mailchimp is really well set up to manage this for you and reduces the chances that you’ll make a mistake or get complaints. It’s amazing how many people are still manually sending out emails and making mistakes such as pasting email addresses into the CC instead of the BCC field – this is a clear GDPR breach and something that can’t happen if you’re using Mailchimp.
Mailchimp also includes very clear guidance about who you could and should import into your email lists which is worth a read to make sure you have the right permissions for email marketing.
Once up and running, Mailchimp has templates to ensure your emails are being sent with the correct legal information in the footers and will also manage the unsubscribe process – making it impossible to accidentally email someone who as already opted out of your audience another time.
Mailchimp includes APIs which allow you to link it up to other tools
If you use a CRM or other database tools in-house then you can take advantage of the Mailchimp APIs and integration links which allow you to hook up your Mailchimp audience information to your CRM databases (we work with SalesForce and Sage CRM both of which have an integration with Mailchimp). This will allow you to populate your Mailchimp lists with new data and write back useful information about clicks, opens and engagement into your CRM tools.
Mailchimp comes with professionally designed email templates
Mailchimp comes with many, many templates for different types of emails (newsletters, event invitations, product launches, special offers and lots more) meaning that you can send out professional-looking emails without having to be able to code or design anything yourself. That said, if you do want to design something yourself or you have an existing HTML email template then you can easily do that as well – it’s very flexible.
Using Mailchimp also means you can make other aspects of your email look more professional. For example, you can easily personalise the emails with salutation lines (assuming you know the first names of people on your list). If you’re still creating your emails and newsletters as PDFs and sending them as attachments then Mailchimp provides a much safer and more secure method of communication as well as being more professional. PDF attachments often get caught in spam filters and recipients these days tend to be very wary indeed of opening unsolicited PDFs and other attachments send via email. Moving away from this approach and into a simple, easy email tool will not only improve your deliverability but also your engagement levels with your lists.
Next steps if you want to get started with Mailchimp
There are other tools of course which do a similar job to Mailchimp – but this is what we use and all of the above is why we like it! We run a training webinar on how to get up and running with Mailchimp regularly – check the schedule or get in touch to find out more.