Email Marketing Tips and MailChimp Tricks

You know you should be doing a lot more in the way of email marketing to grow your business, but there's just so much to know and so much to learn. Where do you begin? Do you need to shell out lots of hard earned money to use a fancy email distribution service, or can you start for free? What content should you include in your emails? When should you send your newsletter to your subscribers? Speaking of subscribers, how do even get people to sign up?

This special episode of How Business Really Works features Pamela DeRitis and colleague Kyle Rollins, owner of Mammoth Solutions digital marketing agency in Atlanta, GA. Pamela and Kyle cover all the big questions of who, what, when and how in your email marketing efforts. Plus, they give lots of tips and tricks on how to use Mailchimp specifically in your email campaigns (hint: it's free for your first 2,000 subscribers!).

There are some specific guidelines and tactics you should know -- and some you must know -- in order to conduct effective email campaigns so join us in this discussion! Let us know in the comments below any tips and tricks you may have when it comes to email marketing.

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Video Transcript:

Pamela:  Hey everyone.   It’s Pamela,

Kyle:  and Kyle from Mammoth Solutions.

Pamela:  And we are here to talk about your email marketing.  We are going to give you some tips today on how to do an effective email campaign from using templates, to building your content, to knowing when to send your emails.

We’ve got a lot of great content today to help you out with your email marketing efforts, so let's get started.

So all right let's start at building your list.  What do we need to know about that?

Kyle:  The first thing to do is start immediately.  Take your contacts from your email, export them to file, a CSV spreadsheet, anything like that and get it into a system.  I always use MailChimp.  They’re local company and the best thing about it is they let you start with two thousand users for free.

So if you're not…. you don’t have any excuse not to get started.  If you got more than 2,000 then you can start looking at their plans and that sort of stuff but I was feeling that if you have over 2,000 contacts ready for your list you're probably already doing this.

[Time – 1:14]

Pamela:  I do use MailChimp.  It's really easy to use.  I have not exported my contacts, though.  So why should I do that?   Like, walk me through that.

Kyle:  Yeah so there's a lot of do's and don'ts with that right.  You love it when suddenly you start getting an email from someone and you haven't opted in.  So the first opt-in there, this was a big thing that I know we talked about before we got here, is how to make sure somebody's giving you permission to be on that list.

Pamela:  Yes.

Kyle:  So MailChimp has a feature that's really easy to use and when you import the contacts there's a button that says, “This person gave me permission to add me to the list”.  And you can really easily say yes and they will not get an email.  That's what you don't want to do unless you're taking a list from another program.

If you're building a list for the first time, you want to not tick that because if you import the list and you haven't ticked it, it's going to send them an email saying, “hey Pamela has imported you into her list” and do you want to opt in now.  And then they have the ability to say yes I want future emails from this person or company.

[Time – 2:20]

Pamela:  And that's that preferred way to do it?

Kyle: That is the way to do it.  Opt-in.   You always… there are things called opt-in and double opt-in.

A double opt-in is the next part.  Let's say you you've imported 500 emails from your outlook contacts.    And now you're going to go to your website and you've got a contact form or a subscribe form, anything like that.  You would have… a double opt-in would look like a little button at the bottom before you press subscribe or send me an email and it would say, “I want to be on the newsletter.”  That's the first opt-in in a double opt-in.

The next one would be them sending an email saying, “Hey you just got subscribed to this list.  Click here to confirm.  So that's the MailChimp standard double opt-in.

[Time – 3:06]

Pamela:  Right, okay and I do use that for my list and I just actually want to make a point about opting in and getting permission.  I've had it happen to me probably three or four times lately.  Where I meet somebody at a networking event, we exchange cards…

Kyle:  And now you’re on their spam list.

Pamela:  and the next thing I know I'm on their email list.  And it really irritates me because not only did I not give them permission.  I didn't even know they had an email list frankly.   I just found myself on and all the sudden.  So it's really your irritating for me because I'm getting more email that I have to deal with but it also creates work for me to remove myself from all these lists.  And I just think it's not polite you know, it's just not polite to do that to your contacts that you hardly know.  So please don't do that.  Please don't do that.

Kyle:  That brings up two new topics for two new videos doesn’t it?

Pamela:  Yes I know.

[Time – 3:55]

Kyle:  Do’s and don'ts of networking.  Don't just start harvesting emails and the other one is how to actually effectively get rid of that.  There's the nice way, which is what has worked for you.

No, the nice way to stop that is to say click here to unsubscribe and then get all that.  The really not nice way is to say spam and if you're using Google Apps or Gmail or something like that, then you mark it as spam, then they're in trouble.  And they get enough of that they'll get blacklisted and things like that.  So the reason we're telling you some of this stuff is we don't want you to get blacklisted.

Pamela:  Yeah we don't want you to get blacklisted.  We want you to build your business, but we want you to do it the right way.  In a way, that won't piss people off.  So yeah rule number one.

So what about…

Kyle:  building a template.

Pamela:  building a template?  Yes, next topic.

Kyle:  So I have a marketing agency.  I think it's really important. We do these for customers for about 500 bucks.  That's at cost.  It takes about five hours to do something like this, sometimes it takes more.  But you want to have a professional-looking template to send the emails from MailChimp.

[Time – 5:00]

And here are some things to think about.  One, you want to have it on-brand. When people get it visually doesn't have the same colors and logos the rest your style guide?  And that's pretty straightforward to do.  You can do it yourself.  MailChimp gives a lot of mobile responsive templates.  These look good on cell phones that sort of stuff.

But it's really easy to start getting in there and messing stuff up.  So I personally think it's worthwhile if you're going to get started on email marketing, to make the investment to be on brand and have a good template.

When you do that you want to start thinking about segmenting your audience.  And this is something we could have talked about we're talking about importing your contacts into the system.  You may have some people in there that are customers, some are just people you met at networking events that you want to do biz dev with and things like that.  You don't have to do,… don't let that stop you from importing and building your list and getting started.  That’s probably why I didn't talk about it first.

[Time-6:00]

But when you start building a template, you can think about what are the key messages I want to have in here.  I don't want to necessarily send one email to everybody that only talks about one thing.  I may have three different audiences I want to talk to.

I'm going to do a little teaser to sponsors about this.  I want to do something to partners about that.  And instead of giving them the entire bit of information, all the content.  I want my template to be built to say here's a little headline about each of these sections.

And I use the 80-20 rule on visual.  It's a teaser style.  You say here’s eighty percent picture and twenty percent text.  It has a nice clear call-to-action.  Has a nice headline so when they see the message in your email, the headline.  And they click on it.  And they open it up.  They see maybe two or three segments with really easy to understand, “oh that's what I'm looking for.”  Click on it go to your website.

[Time – 7:00]

Pamela:  So one thing I noticed in MailChimp’s program is that they have a lot of predefined templates that you can use.

Kyle:  They do.

Pamela: and are those any good?

Kyle:  They are.  They're also limited.   You want to know, you want to pick something that fits your business and if it doesn't, then don't try to start with it and keep it just to save money.  I mean find something just completely plain instead of something with a car and some coffee or something like that because you can't get that stuff out of their templates.

 Pamela:  Right and I've tried.  I have tried.

Kyle:  Yeah, yeah, it's all hard coded in there.  So if you are going to do it yourself start with something vanilla but mobile friendly.   And get your headline in there.  Try to get a logo in and build out your sections.

Pamela:  So what about adding content?  Content is king, right?

Kyle:  Content is very important.  I don't try and give it all away in the email.  A lot of people spend a lot of time writing a long, you know, blog post in the email or taking everything from the website putting it in there.  I think of this is a way to drip feed your audience.

[Time – 8:03]

Pamela:  Oh, that’s a good analogy.

Kyle:  You just want to tease them a little bit and get them to your website.

So you've spent time writing some blog posts.  Some people subscribe to your social media.  You've been sharing those regularly and maybe they've gotten them maybe they haven’t.  Maybe they haven't been tuned in that well.

So now instead of every day, every week, whenever your frequency is on blogging and sharing on social media, someone who has been dialed out sees an email come through and says “Wow, I'm not that tuned in.  I will now have an opportunity to catch up.”

This is the monthly or bimonthly, you know digest of here’s all the headlines of everything that's been happening since the last time I got an email and how am I going to catch up with this source I’ve subscribed to.

[Time – 8:52]

So I try and keep it… I've got a non-profit I do the newsletter for called AMMO and we have the headline of the monthly event that we host.  We have a section on events that are in the area that related to what we do.  And people love to, you know, share with events with us that we can share with our list.  And then we have a section for the sponsors.  And that's a really easy placed update.  We've got sponsors that change every month for the events.  We've got the events, that change every month, that are happening around the community and we have our headline.  And our headline just has the name of the event, a picture of whose presenting, and a bit of information with the link to the website so they can come find out more.

Pamela:   Right, yeah, and I do the same thing.   I have my newsletter which you subscribe to.  And I'm going to have to take some of your tips about not writing too much text.  But I’m going to work on that.  But I do some articles sometimes and those are fairly well received.  But I’m experimenting.  So I’m experimenting with the videos.  I’m experimenting with articles.  And right now it's kind of a 50-50 split.

[Time – 9:57]

So I'm still feeling out what works for my audience and what I have found helps me is to send out a survey.  So I’ve sent out a survey.  I’ve done one so far.  And I've got a bunch of responses.

And like I said, it's pretty split evenly down the line of people who want to see videos, people who want to read articles, and also the topics that they want to see.  But at least it's giving me some idea of how readers are responding to me and what they click on.  So I think that's a good way to do it.

I use SurveyMonkey and SurveyMonkey integrates with MailChimp, so it's really easy to set up a survey. And they have pre-written, like pre-written questions that you can choose from.  So you don't even have to write your own questions.  These are tested questions and they’ll help you build the survey really quickly, get it out to our subscribers, and just see what they have to say.

When you send out a couple of newsletters, send them a survey and say, “hey you know do you like what I’ve sent you so far?”  And hopefully, they will give you some good feedback.

Kyle:  Good qualitative feedback.

Pamela:  Yeah, that's my tip for the day.

[Time – 10:59]

Kyle:  I'm turning this one over to Pamela.

No, she brings up a good point.  This isn't, I'm not giving you the rules for every email, all the time.  It's just guidelines, the best practices for most businesses.  But you know Pamela is at an interesting stage where she's learning her audience and doing a lot more intense development of who she's talking to so that two-way feedback through email with surveys is great research.

Pamela:  So what about sending emails?  When do you send them?  You mentioned you know don't send them on a Sunday night when everyone's asleep.

Kyle:  Yeah there's a lot of research that, and again these aren't for every audience in every nook and cranny, but a lot of B2B I think in general is what I focus on.  Retail can be very different and I think most retail people know their audiences very well especially for e-commerce so I'm not going to touch that.  Yeah, that's my caveat on all that I spew today.

[Time – 11:54]

But in general Tuesday and Wednesday morning seem to be the best and there's a lot of research behind this and why that seems to be the case.  And it does go back to people what their habits are at work and what they’re doing, and when do they have time to read it.  And if you put yourself in these shoes and you think about your own situation, it starts to really make sense.  You maybe come to work on Monday.  What's the first thing you do?  You got a lot of spam or things you subscribe to not real spam.  Things that you don't have time for and the week starting and the cliff is getting back into the rhythm of work after two days off can be challenging.  So what do you do? Delete, delete, delete anything non-essential.  Maybe even stuff your boss sends you.  But we’ll have another session about that.

Pamela:  We won’t tell anybody.

Kyle:  You just delete it all.  So don't be in that delete box.  Don't do it on the weekend just because you have the time to.  Spend the time to look at your open rates.  Look at the analytics that you have. MailChimp gives you all these tools to see, okay I sent it out.  Who open it, when did they open it.   How frequently do they click on it?   Those sorts of things.   And say, “alright I know that Tuesday and Wednesday mornings are great.”  And for most businesses that seems to be the case.

[Time – 13:12]

There are times where you can try to get into somebody's lunch hour some events it's five o'clock and afterwards on you know, middle of the week and that sort of stuff.  But the message really is, learn your open rates, but experiment.  Don't think that you've got to get it right the first week or you have to know everything about this immediately.  I would stay away from most weekends just depending on what you are…

Pamela:  Yeah, people are doing other things and they're not…

Kyle:  They're not dialed in.

Pamela:  Right, right. I have a question for you.

So what I have been doing is sending out my email newsletter and I wait maybe two or three days and then I will post the newsletter on social media so that anybody can see it.  And I’ll send the link to Twitter. I’ll put it on Facebook etc. etc.  Do you think that's a good idea?

Kyle:  The link to your email?

[Time – 14:00]

Pamela:  Yes, so what MailChimp does, is it gives you the EEP URL they call it – E E P URL.  And so it's just a URL to your e-mail newsletter.  If anyone has that URL they can go look at it.  And so technically they could go look at it at any time after you send it but obviously, they're not going to know what the URL is because there's some jumbled lettering, whatever.

Kyle:  It’s a shortened URL.

 

Pamela:  Yeah, yeah, so I make that URL available publicly on social media after I send my initial campaign, maybe 2-3 days later.  I think that it helps to get word of my newsletter out there but I’m not really like I'm not basing that on anything.  So what do you think about that?

Kyle:  I like the fact that you wait until everybody else has already had a chance to read it.  You don't want the numbers that come in from that to cloud your analytics on what's already been sent to.  Because the key information you're trying to get there is who's opened it, whenever they open it, did they click through?

Pamela:  Who on your list has opened it?

[Time – 15:00]

Kyle:  Correct.  And when you start sharing the other URL, you are you're going to get opens, but it's not going to be tied to anyone.  The really neat thing again about, so you've decided on some days a week Monday Tuesday Wednesday, sorry, Tuesday Wednesday Thursday are probably best.  And then you said ok now what time of day am I going to send it?

MailChimp’s got a really cool tool because they've got everybody's email somewhere and they know what lists they’ve subscribed to and they've got this big data cache.  They have a tool where you can say let MailChimp optimize this for me.  And you can tick that and it's going to say ok I know who's on your list, I know what they do with the rest of the emails that we send them they open.  What is the best time for us to send your email?  And they're going to tell you what time it is for that day.

Pamela:  That's great, but is that available to the free version or only to the paid versions?

Kyle:  It should be.

Pamela:  I haven’t seen that but I will look for it.  I will look for it.

Kyle:  I’ve got a lot of free accounts.

Pamela:  Could be that I just…

[Time – 15:57]

Kyle:  Every two thousand users I starting a new free account. No, I’m just kidding.  I’m just kidding.

[Time – 16:01]

Pamela:  And there’s another way to get around costs.

Kyle:   Sorry.  I know the guys at MailChimp.  No, I don't!

Pamela:  So there's a tick mark that will tell you the optimal time - or checkbox that will tell you the optimal time.

Kyle:  I think it says send with time warp and there are some other options down there at the very bottom and one of them is let MailChimp choose the best time and you can still change the day.  But every time you change the day, the time of day changes.  It won't tell you the best time of, the best day of the week and the best time.  It will only tell you the best time of the day that you selected.

Pamela:  Interesting, interesting, I’m going to try that.  I think it's very valuable.  Great okay, so what about how often should I send email newsletters?

Kyle:   That's again going to be up to you and how hyperactive you are.  If you are the type posting something on social media to your audience every day then you're probably in rhythm we're sending it you know once or twice a month.  It just depends on you know how much you have to say.

[Time – 17:01]

Some people, as you said, don't wait until they've accumulated three or four things to talk about.  They send an email every time just to make sure they blanketed every avenue.  There's nothing wrong with that.  The key is just, get to know what you feel is best if you were in the shoes of somebody subscribing to your content.

That's the litmus test for any UX or user experience.  And try to empathize with your own audience and put yourself in their shoes and say what is it that people want from me and what kind of communication strategy to I would put together.

Pamela:  Anything else?

Kyle:  Yeah.  The thing that I skipped over was headlines.

Pamela:  Oh yeah.  We didn’t talk about headlines.

Kyle:  Super important. When we were talking about content, I skipped the headline message, the title that comes through. That's really big and I felt bad that I was skimming over it.  I kind of thought about it in the middle of the last bit.

Yeah, that's what people see and that's what decides whether they're going to open or not.  What is your teaser text?  What are you saying?  What are you letting people know?  Do you have a product?  Do you have a valuable resource?  Is there something you're giving away?

[Time – 18:04]

There's a… MailChimp has the tools that will tell you “is this spam related?”  You know you got to be careful with the words that you're putting in there because that's what determines whether or not you end up in somebody's inbox on their spam filter.  So words like “free” you want to stay away from.  Things like that.  Anything that you would consider spam is probably not best to put in there.  But just be simple, be descriptive, and again trying to tease your audience a little bit and get them to think “Oh what is this all about?”

Pamela:  So what do you think about asking questions in your headlines?

Kyle:  I have not done that.  That's a good idea.

Pamela:  I do that sometimes.   I have not noticed that it has given me any higher open rates but it hasn't hurt me either.  So I like it because I like to write about things or make videos about things that are questions that people are asking themselves.  So that's what I would put in my headline you know “how do you deal with…”

Kyle:  Email marketing.

[Time – 19:01]

Pamela:  Email marketing?  That would be for this channel.

Kyle:  That's what we're going to send this out as.  If you open this and are watching it because you saw an email you said: “I'm a sucker for how to do email marketing.”

Pamela:  Well, and I think “how to” is a big thing too.  When I see “how to” in a headline, even if it's something I know how to do, I tend to click on it because I want to see what other people think about that thing.  You know, how to, for instance, I just did a video that I'm about to release “how to stay healthy on a really busy schedule.”  It is a question that so many people cover.  I mean of course this has been done to death practically but some audience members wanted to know my take on it.  So you know that's the question I put in the video, and that's the question I answer there, and that's the question I will put in my email headline.

I hope we've provided some valuable tips for you.  Please leave me a comment.  Leave a negative or positive review I don't… you know I’m going to do care if it's negative or positive. But I just want to hear what you think so please give me a thumbs up.  Share this video. Engage in the comments and let me know what you're thinking.

And this is again Pamela DeRitis.  And my guest today…

Kyle:  I'll Kyle Rollins with Mammoth Solutions and you can give me at Mammoth dot Solutions.

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