Allowing fans and other people to receive your blog posts by email is one of the best ways to build a following. Some people prefer to get good old fashioned emails rather than twitter, Facebook etc.
WordPress makes it easy to send your new blog posts straight from your WordPress website using several plugins. Subscribe2 and JetPack Subscriptions are among the most popular plugins available. These are okay but they are not very professional or user friendly. Subscribe2 needs a lot of work and development to look decent and professional. Whereas JetPack Subscriptions can’t be branded and only lets your visitors to subscribe to your sites under a single account, which is probably not a good thing for a corporate blog.
Sending bulk emails from your WordPress site can also cause them to be spammed. Adding something like SMTP mail can increase the chance your emails being delivered however WordPress is not a specialist email application. Some companies that host WordPress such as WP Engine don’t allow you to send bulk emails directly from your website as it can crash the server and cause your site to slow down.
A good alternative is to use a specialist mailing list provider that can email your subscribers whenever you publish to your WordPress blog. The servers they use are built to maximise your email delivery which means they are less likely to be flagged as spam. They feature data protection and offer email templates that are not available in most WordPress plugins.
How to Use MailChimp
- Grab your RSS feed URL link
WordPress generates a RSS feed that lists all your blog posts. This is what you will need integrate MailChimp with WordPress.
You can have your MailChimp emails display all posts that are added to your website. If you do this your RSS feed will be http://your-domain.com/feed.
Once you have your URL for your RSS feed you should save it as you will need to paste this into MailChimp later.
Displaying images from WordPress in our MailChimp emails
Images that are included in your main content area of your WordPress posts will appear in any MailChimp emails. Although featured images won’t as WordPress doesn’t output them into the RSS feed. There’s a plugin called Featured Images in RSS w/ Size and Position. This will output featured images into your RSS feed so they are pulled into your MailChimp emails.
Just install and activate the plugin, go to Settings > Featured Images in RSS Feeds in WordPress Admin and change the 2 settings. For best results displaying images you should select ‘Medium’ or ‘Large’ size and ‘Image Centred Above Text’ on the position.
This plugin will use the image sizes you have in Settings > Media so you here you can change the size of your Medium or Large image size. Remember to set your chosen image size to smaller than 600 pixels because if it’s bigger than this it won’t fit in your emails correctly.
2. Allow MailChimp to send your ‘new post’ emails
Create a MailChimp account
You will first need to got to mailchimp.com to create an account. It’s free to set up a new account unless you have very high numbers of emails or subscribers (you can check their pricing to see if a charge will apply to you).
Create a List
On your MailChimp account go to Lists and create a new list. All of your subscribers will be stored here. You can follow the instructions on how to set up a new list.
Importing your subscribers
If you would like to import any previous subscribers that you have into MailChimp you will need to make a CSV file that contains all of the data for your subscribers. Ideally, there should be a column for each field. Column 1 would include your subscribers’ email addresses, column 2 should be there first names and column 3 should contain their surnames, if this is correct and these are the fields you want to store. Creating a CSV file is easy. Simply create an Excel spreadsheet with all of your subscribers information then go to File>Save As and choose ‘.csv’ file type.
Head over to the Lists section of your MailChimp account and click your chosen list. Click ‘Import subscribers’ from the ‘Add Subscribers’ drop-down. Then upload your created CSV file. It will ask you to match the columns in the CSV file with the fields in your MailChimp list. Then you can import. If there are any problems with the data, MailChimp will let you know.
3.Creating a Campaign
A ‘Campaign’ is an email sent by MailChimp to your subscribers. A RSS feed campaign will automatically send your new blog posts to your subscribers.
- On your MailChimp account go to the Campaigns section.
- Next to Create Campaign click the arrow and follow the instructions on how to create an RSS-Driven Campaign
- RSS Feed and Send Timing: You will need your RSS feed URL which you created in Step 1 then choose how often you would like the emails to be sent and click Next
- On the To which list shall we send? screen, choose the list you created in Step 2 and click Next
- On the Campaign info screen you will need to fill in all of the information and click Next
- Over on the Basic tab part of the Select Template screen, choose one of the MailChimp templates with ‘RSS’ in the title eg. ‘Right Sidebar RSS.’
- Now you will need to design the email that will be sent to your fans and subscribers whenever you add a new blog. This is a pretty simple process but you should spend some time getting used to how it works. Here we have some tips:
- MailChimp lets you make various changes to the designs of your emails using the Style tab. You can change things such as the background colour, link colour, fonts, spacing etc. This will allow you to change the email so it matches your brand. Also you can add our logo to the header of each email.
- When you are happy with your design there is a Preview and Test button at the top of the page you can click. If you choose the Enter Preview Mode you will be able to see how the email appears on various platforms such as mobile. Send a Test Email does exactly what it says. It lets you send a test email to yourself. You should test your emails both of these ways before sending them out to your subscribers.
- Once you are happy and everything looks good, click Next.
- Check for errors, if everything is okay, click Start RSS
That’s your email set up, you will now need to create a signup form so readers and fans can subscribe to your blog through email. We find the best way to do this is to add ‘Receive blog posts by email’ form to the right column of your blog.
There are many MailChimp plugins for WordPress that can add a signup form for you including MailChimp for WordPress and Easy Forms for MailChimp. There is a code for a signup form located in the Lists section of your MailChimp account but these don’t look that great so you are probably better off using a plugin.
There are plenty of other ways to build up your mailing list. For example you can auto subscribe people that comment on your blogs, buy through your e-commerce shop or submit your contact form etc. Everyone has a different following and marketing strategy so you should plan your best way to grow your mailing list around that.
4. Your ready to start blogging!
Now that you have everything in place you need to keep adding new posts to your WordPress site and MailChimp will do the rest.
MailChimp automatically check your RSS feed and emails your subscribers at a set time. You should subscribe to your own mailing list so you receive the emails too. This will allow you to keep an eye on them and check if theirs anything you can improve on.