Maintaining just the list portion of your newsletter takes work and organization. This article outlines some best practices for managing the mailing list portion of your newsletter. This article came from a consultation I had with a fellow artist who wanted to learn some tips and best practices for getting started with the program.
Importing Contacts: You can import emails from a previous list on your computer. There are apps and computer programs that you can use to upload your list with just a few clicks (instead of manually entering in each contact). This is a list of the apps and programs that are able to upload contacts with.
Using Previous Contacts: You can also manually insert people into your mailing list. When you click on Add Subscriber, a form pops up. You can fill in the information in the boxes. When you enter manually, however, you must have permission to use the addresses. This is due to the Anti-Spam laws. The worst way to get people interested in your newsletters is to take their information or business card and add them to your list without their knowledge. When you check the box that claims you have their permission, you are acknowledging that you know and understand the Anti-Spam laws, and any legal liability is removed from Mail Chimp and is now your responsibility.
Collecting New Subscribers: I created a newsletter sign-up sheet to have out at exhibitions and events where people can sign up to receive my future newsletters. For each event or exhibition, I use one sheet and will label it so I know what event it is from. I keep these sheets as a log of my mailing list but will manually enter the contacts into MailChimp. Since they voluntarily signed up for my mailing list, they have given me permission and I can check the box when I enter them.
When I meet people and exchange business cards, I write down when and where I met them. When I first began using Mail Chimp, I sat down and entered in everyone’s email I had collected over the years. When I sent out my first few emails, I had one angry response from a man who exclaimed he never met me and wanted to be removed from my email address list. So I looked him up in my business records and politely explained how I met him and how I received his information (which was physically handed to me by himself – which is giving someone permission to use their contact info). I found out that I had personally met him in a workshop. He was quite pleased that I could provide this information to him and my mailing list organization quickly resolved this situation. The moral of the story, know where you get your contacts from if you manually add them. To keep this information together on your MailChimp, in each contact’s profile there is a section for notes, this is where I enter in the information on where I met each contact.
Unsubscribers: If someone has handed you their contact info, you can include them in your mailing list. If they don’t wish to receive your newsletters, they can unsubscribe. Expect there to be a larger number of unsubscribers in your first few newsletters. This is just weeding out all the people who won’t open or read your information anyways. Don’t feel bad about it. As people unsubscribe, others will sign up and subscribe to your newsletter.
Newsletter Personalization: Using the merge tag *|FNAME|* or *|LNAME|* personalizes each recipient’s name into the newsletter or the email subject line. Make sure their first name is spelled correctly in your mailing list database. What first and last name you use when you first enter them into your list can show up in your newsletters. If you list “Mary – lady from the workshop,” in the “first name box,” that’s what she will see if you personalize her email. (This is where the notes section in their profiles comes in handy.) What’s great about using these merge tags is that it makes each newsletter specifically personalized to the recipient and will help your newsletter from ending in the spam filter. So, if your email title says: *|FNAME|* *|LNAME|* then the email will read to: Kate Renee
Data Back-Up: What’s great about MailChimp is the free version of the service. With all things free, however, you need to back up your list! You can never predict when a free service will cost money or when you forget your login and you can’t access your information or if the service just ends. After you upload all of your contacts into MailChimp, you will want this data saved elsewhere as a backup preferably to your computer in a file. I tend to both save the file on my computer and have a hard copy print out. There is a way to export your data into an Excel spreadsheet.
Multiple Lists: By staying organized, you can send your newsletter campaign to different segments, or sub-lists of subscribers. This is great if you plan to use your account to send out different newsletter topics out to different people. This means you do not need to have multiple MailChimp accounts to send out different newsletters.