It’s amazing how far you have come.
You now know how to create a subscriber list and put a signup form in your sidebar. You know how to create a template for an RSS campaign and a newsletter. You know how to separate your list into groups and segments.
You are making great strides. You really are mastering MailChimp.
It’s one thing to know how to put all the pieces together. It’s quite another to use those pieces to create a healthy, vibrant email list.
You can design a newsletter template, but you also need to send out a regular newsletter to your readers.
So, how do you move from knowing to doing?
It’s not as hard as you think.
An effective newsletter is one that helps the reader. Sure, you can put a bunch of links in a newsletter that all point back to your site, but what if you link to other people’s sites and focus on sharing useful information that makes your readers’ lives better?
Here’s where it’s important to step outside your own blog box for a minute and think about your subscribers. What do they really need?
How can you be part of the solution?
Start to explore the pain points of your target audience.
If you don’t know who your target audience is, it’s time to find out. Take a few minutes to create a profile for your target reader. Download this printable worksheet to help you get started. It’s okay to have more than one. I have three and they all have names, ages, and backgrounds I have made up. Each one helps me write blog posts that are right on target every time.
When you know who your audience truly is, you can start to give them information and resources that make their lives better.
Here are my top ten tips for creating a killer newsletter with MailChimp.
1. Make it about your readers
Get to know your subscribers and where they need the most help. Is it quick recipes? Easy cleaning tips? An encouraging word? Give your readers what they need. Forget about the junk and the fillers. Make your newsletter crazy useful and your subscribers will love you for it.
I know my readers don’t have time to scour the internet for articles about blogging. So, I do it for them. Then I share what I’ve found. It’s a win-win for all of us. I learn new things and my subscribers get the best info available served right to their inboxes.
2. Don’t reinvent the wheel
If you like how someone else does their newsletter, copy it. Put your own flair and personal touches on it, of course, but you don’t have to come up with something completely new. There is no trademark on newsletter layout.
Each week I send my readers links to the three best articles I’ve read during the week. I link back to my own blog at least once and include my two favorite pins of the week. I almost always make sure these are related to blogging or social media. Finally, I write a small blurb about my life and my family, to make it personal and remind people I’m a regular gal with regular challenges and responsibilities.
My newsletter isn’t fancy, but it is incredibly useful.
3. Limit your content
People are inundated with emails. A simple, quick email with limited content will get a higher percentage of opens than an email with long, complicated, and boring text. Be helpful, but also be mindful of other people’s time.
For each article in my newsletter I write a short blurb about why I’m recommending it. I let my readers know why I found it useful and how it might help them. A good teaser is imperative for getting people to click on your links.
I receive a weekly newsletter from a business professional who states exactly how long it takes to read her emails. 45 seconds, 3 minutes, 28 seconds. Each week, it’s different, but I appreciate knowing exactly how much time I need to invest in her emails.
4. Be redundant
Every time you send a newsletter your readers should be able to expect the same layout, the same colors, the same format. Don’t try to be unique with your basic formatting. Change up the content and the information, but don’t change the overall look and feel of your newsletter more than once a year.
My readers know what they can expect from every email I send. They know I will be to the point and give them useful information. My goal is to make their reading experience relaxing and fun. I don’t use wild colors, huge headlines or crazy fonts. My readers know when they open my emails they will benefit from at least one thing inside. But honestly, it’s usually much more than just one.
5. Don’t be afraid to throw out the duds
Every email you send out in MailChimp comes with a report. The report tells you how many people opened your email, how many people clicked on your links, and who unsubscribed after receiving your email. Keep your eyes on this, especially in the beginning. If you aren’t seeing a good open rate, change up your content. If you start to see a decline in clicks, rethink what you are sharing.
As your list grows your open and click-through rates should keep up. If they aren’t, you need to figure out what’s not working and throw it out. It could be your subject line. It might be some of your content. Don’t be afraid to toss out anything that isn’t working.
I have a consistently high open rate for my newsletters. If I see my numbers start to dip, I make changes immediately. I want to offer my readers good information with every single email I send.
I recommend sending out a yearly or bi-annual survey to your subscribers. Ask them if they like what you are sending them. Use their answers to tweak your newsletters for success.
6. Be your own advocate
You have an email list because you have a blog. If you aren’t sharing your own content, what’s the point? Be your own cheerleader. Talk up your content and your site like it’s the best thing since sliced bread. If you don’t believe in yourself, no one else will. Don’t be afraid to show off what you’ve been working on. Your hard work deserves to be in the spotlight.
I always direct my readers to the posts I want them to read and share. I don’t send out an RSS email, so if I have new posts I always list them.
I also ask my readers to share my content. They are my best source of advertising.
If I’ve got a new product or service, I’m never afraid to list it in my newsletter. This is what I do, if I can’t sell it no one else will.
7. Share the personal stuff
Big bloggers with gigantic email lists can afford to be impersonal. They have products to sell and affiliate links to push. So be it. But if you are a small blogger, you need to find ways to connect with your readers. Especially if you are what I call a soul blogger. If you write about faith and marriage and parenting you need to connect with your readers to help establish your authority and expertise in these areas.
Share your wins and your losses. Tell stories about what’s happening behind the scenes. Be open about your mistakes and celebrate your successes. Be real and your readers will be loyal.
You don’t have to share personal information. Use your best judgement. Show your readers you are a real person with real life struggles and wins. They will appreciate your authenticity.
Each week, I write about what’s happening on our “ranch.” My readers know about our skunk problem and they know I take care of these black and white kitties myself. Read here, I am the exterminator.
They know how crazy my dog is and when my kids are celebrating their birthdays. They even know about my struggles with my health insurance company and when I accidentally wear my house shoes to church. I am who I am and I’m not afraid to be vulnerable. Read here, I am a knucklehead.
One of the fabulous newsletters I receive is crazy-simple. The author includes three helpful links each week and a short personal greeting. Her links mirror her tag line and I always find something helpful in at least one of them. You don’t have to send a lot, just concentrate on sending quality content for maximum results.
8. Save the best for your list
Use your newsletter to share content and tips you don’t share anywhere else. Be exclusive with your list. Give subscribers a reason to read your emails and not just your social media shares. Let them know you only share this info with members of your list. Make them feel like they are part of something special.
I share exclusive content with my subscribers. I love giving them special access to the info I find most helpful. Sometimes I share it later on social media, but often no one else sees the exclusive content I share with my list.
This has also helped to grow my list because people talk on social media about what I’ve shared and others want to know how to get in on it. Sign up and you get to know what I know.
[clickToTweet tweet=”Sending a newsletter with MailChimp is easy. These ten tips will also help. #BlogTips” quote=”Sending a newsletter with MailChimp is easy if you prepare well, search out great content, and commit to being consistent. These ten tips will also help.”]
9. Have fun
Newsletters are an important part of your blogging success, but they are also one more thing to do. If it’s too much, don’t do it or at least don’t do it as often. Start with an RSS campaign that sends automatically. Take the pressure off yourself.
You don’t have to do everything right now. Feel free to work your way up to sending a weekly newsletter as you have time and demand from your readers.
Most importantly, have fun. Use this as a way to connect with your readers on a deeper level.
Some of my most meaningful friendships have come out of my connections with subscribers. We talk and interact on social media. Some of us have even gotten to meet in real life. It’s definitely been worth the effort.
10. Be consistent
Committing to a newsletter is a big responsibility. To be successful you must publish consistently. This may mean starting with a monthly email. Don’t try to send something every week if you don’t have the time to gather content and send it in a timely manner.
Make sure you are sending your emails regularly, based on whatever schedule you choose.
But feel free to play with when you send your newsletters. Try sending it at different times of day to see when you get the best response.
This will take a few tries, but if you watch your reports you will discover exactly when people are opening your emails and when they have time to click through them. Remember, it’s all about them. MailChimp makes it easy to schedule your emails at just the right time.
When I first started sending newsletters I sent out monthly blogging assignments. I had my subscribers work on different aspects of blogging and I gave them a month to do it. Over time I was collecting such great information I couldn’t wait to share it. So, I turned my monthly email in to a weekly offering and I’ve never looked back. My favorite part of blogging is my newsletter.
Don’t be afraid to start sending your own newsletters. Your voice matters and your readers want to hear what you have to say. Give them useful information that improves their lives and your newsletter will be a success.