During the setup of this blog I knew that I wanted to think about my subscribers as well as my readers. I wanted to make sure that I gave them both the same amount of attention to detail in the design process. After all, the last thing that you want to have is a really nice looking, functional website, but you send out really crappy looking, non-functional, email updates to your “email list”! The topic of “Choosing an appropriate email campaign service” will be covered in a future post, so I will not go into detail with why I chose MailChimp for my newsletter subscribers, but I would like to explain to you how to setup WordPress and MailChimp so that every time you write a new post to your blog, your “email list” or “subscribers list” will be notified of that new post.
Did you know that you can use MailChimp to notify your subscribers of new posts to your blog? Of course you can also use MailChimp to send out your Newsletters to those same subscribers! 🙂
Using Your RSS Feed & MailChimp
First you will need to setup your free MailChimp account and customize an email template with your logo, custom wording, etc. Secondly, just create an RSS email campaign. Enter your website’s feed address (if you use WordPress it will be similar to: http://www.example.com/feed), decide whether you want to show entire posts or just summaries of each post using the “RSS merge tags”, then select how often you want your newsletter to send. Any fresh content/blog posts you’ve published since the last newsletter will automatically be added into your newly created, branded email template and sent automatically every day, week or month at a time of your choosing. If there is no new content posted to your blog, the newsletter wont send.
Setting Up WordPress and MailChimp
- Get a free MailChimp account.
- Click on Campaigns tab, then click on the big orange “Add Campaign” button.
- Select “RSS Campaign” from the drop down list.
- Add your RSS Feed address and choose how often your newsletter will be sent.
- Design/customize an email template – Before you create your campaign, you’ll want to customize one of MailChimp’s email templates with your colors, logo, links to your website, images etc. This is all done on site with the MailChimp online editor and it is very easy to use.
- Add Your content, Edit the content section of your template and insert an RSS merge tag (this will be already there if you choose RSS campaign, but you may wish to customize it – E.g. I am using *|RSS_POSTS_HTML_FULL|* – to display the full content of the RSS item into my emails) to display either post excerpts or full posts. You can also insert your Twitter feed, add images, special greetings, etc.
- Send yourself a test email to verify your formatting, spelling, etc.
- Add a Subscriber List – Add any email subscribers you already have by importing the entire list or adding them one at a time.
- Schedule Your Campaign – Select the date you want the first one to send. (E.g. Mine is daily — if there is new content that has been posted to my blog).
Note (1): Unless you want to change the frequency of your newsletter or layout at some time, this is the one and only time you will need to perform the steps above. Everything after your RSS campaign is scheduled is automatic.
Note (2): I highly recommend reading the following: HTML Email Design Instructions from MailChimp. They are provided free to you and they are an invaluable resource if you are new to building HTML emails. Hint: Its not like building a webpage, like you might think.