This is Part 2 of a 3 part blog series: How to Move from Feedburner to Mailchimp: Full Guide
STEP 3: Setting up your Blog (RSS Feed) to Email campaign in Mailchimp:
The Mailchimp blog also has a great tutorial on how to set up your RSS Feed to Email Campaign but I wanted to show you what I learned through the process.
- Login to your Mailchimp account and Create your Campaign – select RSS-Driven Campaign from the dropdown list:
- Add your RSS Feed URL. Most of the time it is just your email address and then /feed at the end like this: http://cascadevalleydesigns.com/feed/ but if you are not sure just add your website address into the field and Mailchimp will try and find it for you. If you have more specific needs for your blog emails such as sending a certain category or tag of your blog then find the URL to that particular tag or category and just add /feed to the end, like this: http://cascadevalleydesigns.com/tag/wordpress/feed/ . If you want to “mashup” a couple of different blog categories such as your main blog and a custom video blog post you can click on chimpfeedr and combine a few feeds into one email – pretty slick indeed. MailChimp also has some pretty good guides for bloggers and RSS feeds as well so check those out.
- Think about when you want to push out your blog post via email. Think about the type of subscribers you have – your audience. Are they a 9-5 M-F business audience? Then perhaps an 8am email may work or is it a lifestyle blog where your audience seems to read more in the evening? Then send out later in the day. You can always go back and change this so go ahead and test the time and see what works. You can also uncheck certain days – for example, you may not want to send an email over the weekend for the business group yet they will still receive any fresh posts from over the weekend in their Monday mail. For my blog I like the 9am hour for every day. And if you are wondering – the time it is sent out is YOUR local time, therefore if in Seattle sending at 9am, your readers in NY will not receive it until noon. Definitely something to keep in mind. Oh and by the way you can send the email weekly or monthly if you would like…something Feedburner is not capable of:
- In the next step, select the list you set up:
- The next page is the Setup which is very important. Naming your Campaign is something you will only see in your campaign list so that can be anything. It is the Email Subject line that is crucial as that is what your readers will look at in a quick glance and determine if they want to open your email and read it. I do not recommend the default subject line that Mailchimp suggests because it will end up reading the same subject line for every email “Posts from Cascade Valley Designs for January 23, 2013”. Kinda boring!
So what I suggest is deleting that and just replacing it with *|RSSITEM:TITLE|* which will generate the Title of your Blog Post. Keep in mind that if you send a weekly or monthly email of your posts you may want to change the subject title to something like: “The weekly roundup of posts from the Website Solution Blog” but keep in mind you may lose interest over time so change up that subject line occasionally. Here is what my set up looks like. Notice how I made my From Name really specific as well so my readers know exactly who this email is coming from..not just my name:
- Before moving on to the design of the email, look over on the right side of the set up page. There are all sorts of cool tracking and social features here that I will not go into detail about. You can probably figure out most on your own. But what is hidden under the “even more options” link is this “Auto-Convert Video” check box that converts your videos in your posts (if fed through a video service such as Youtube or Vimeo) into a screen shot and link to the video.
Check this even if you currently don’t have video because someday you might. It will just check your posts for video links and if there are none there then nothing happens so it doesn’t hurt. Just to show you what it does – here is an example of my video post last month. If I didn’t check this box there would have been no video image at all – just blank.
- Next is the fun part – selecting your design. You will want to select Predesigned:
- Unselect all options in left column except for RSS-To-Email designed
- From here you will have a variety of styles to chose from. Some of my favorites are the ones that are circled because you have the option of not only including your posts but also more permanent topics on the bottom. You can add a link to your online store, event page, or your about page.
- After you have selected your template, the first thing I suggest you do is select show themes on the right hand side and select Get Colors From My Site. This will pull in the colors from your site as well as a logo if it can find one. Pretty cool, eh?
- If the logo is not what you wanted (Mailchimp pulled the white logo from my site) then click Change to upload your own:
- Also if you don’t like the colors or font sizes you can easily change any of those by clicking show style editor near the top:
- Then you will want to make sure you change the short teaser at the very top. This is important to update because some emails will show this as the first part of the preview so you don’t want to leave the default message in there. This is what I have:
- Don’t be scared by all the code in the email. Most of it you will just leave alone. To find out what all the tags/code means see this RSS Email Tag Cheat Sheet by Mailchimp and that should answer some of your questions. You can also click Open Popup Preview under Preview & Test to see what information is pulled through from your site in live time:
One of the key tags you will want to decide on is if you want to show ALL of your post or just an excerpt. This is a tricky decision because if you write super long posts like me you might want to just set it up with a summary *|RSSITEM:CONTENT|* and a read more link, but then again some of my posts have videos and are short so I want the full post to show *|RSSITEM:CONTENT_FULL|*. But that’s ok you can always pause the campaign, change that one tag and start it again if you know you want to change it up for one particular post.
- After you think you are ready, then Send yourself a test via email so you can make any adjustments that you see.
- Once you are happy with your design you can click Plain-text button. You usually do not have to do anything in this screen. Mailchimp automatically generates a text version of the email for those that do not read emails in HTML (who are those people???) but you need to at least look at this page before going onto the next step which is Confirm.
- Look over this page for any errors Mailchimp provides you, and if all is good click the Start RSS Campaign button. Mailchimp encourages you along the way. It can be scary hitting that button but if everything goes well then you never have to look back and do this again. Although you do have the ability to come back, pause the campaign change the design or settings and reactivate the email. It may be a long process to set up but you will be much happier with the response and ability to utilize your subscriber list.
Good job, you are almost done. Next is the final step of setting up your signup form on your site to connect your new subscribers to this new fancy automatic email you have created. (Part 3: Setting up the signup form on your site, coming tomorrow)