If you’re like me, coming up with good content for your email marketing and your blog is an ongoing challenge. Case in point, I haven’t written a new blog post for about a month now, nor have I sent an email newsletter, with the exception of announcing my web and graphic design specials that I’m offering for the New Year. Sometimes the issue is just finding the time, others it’s coming up with really good content that people will find useful and informative.
Anytime you can consolidate your efforts in this area, you are saving precious time, yet still reaching your audience with your unique message. To this end, I created an RSS (Really Simply Syndication) driven Email campaign in MailChimp, so that my blog posts will automatically go out to my newsletter subscribers. This way, if I don’t create an actual monthly newsletter, I’m still keeping in touch with my readers. I’ve set this up to run once a week, only if there are new blog posts generated within that week.
Here’s how it works:
- Begin by making sure you have an RSS feed setup (I use Feedburner). Feedburner is a free service provided by Google that syndicates your blog posts to a group of people that have subscribed to your feed. (Click here for full instructions on how to set up an RSS feed on your website.) Create your feed by typing your feed address into the box and click Next. Your feed URL is most often your main URL followed by /feed. Feedburner will generate your new feed URL for your Feedburner feed automatically. You can then customize your feed within Feedburner, however this blog post will not go into that detail.
- Log in to your MailChimp account, or create one if you haven’t already. If you’re new to MailChimp, spend some time looking around, create your list (so that you can add names to it) and create your Email newsletter template. If you need help with this, I offer Email Marketing Packages which provide you with a professionally designed header graphic and template, using your branding so you are immediately recognizable. Once all your company information is complete and you’ve created your first list, it’s time to create your RSS campaign.
- From your Dashboard, click the big orange Create Campaign button in the upper left corner. From the drop down menu, select RSS-Driven Campaign.
- Add your Feedburner feed address into the box as shown and select how often you wish to send your campaign. On the next screen, you will be asked which list should be used to send this campaign to. Select your list and click Next.
- Provide your campaign information. The campaign uses merge tags to pull data from your feed as shown below. You can create a static subject that will be used in every email, or you can pull the title and the date from the most recent post, as shown. You can also pull the first name of the recipient to personalize the email even more. For a detailed list of all the merge tags available, click here.
- The next step is to design your campaign. Here you can use select a template that you’ve already created or use one of MailChimp’s predesigned templates. I highly recommend customizing your template with your own branding. Add a greeting before the name merge tag and include a short paragraph explaining that this is your weekly blog update, make sure the feed merge tag is in the correct place and click Next. Note that the posts will be inserted as you have them set up in your Feedburner account. So, if you have it set up to show the feed as excerpts with links to the full post, that is how it will be pulled into your email campaign.
Once the design is complete, you will be taken through the Plain Text set-up, which is pulled from the content of your design, and then you’ll be prompted to start your campaign. It won’t send until your scheduled date and time unless you select the option to Send Now & Start. You can also preview and test your campaign in this screen. Testing involves sending yourself a copy of the email so you can make sure that everything is displaying properly.
I hope this helps you stay in touch with your audience a bit more effectively. If you find this post useful, please share with your friends! If you have questions or comments, please leave them in the comments section and I’ll be happy to address them.