Newsletters are great way to increase visitor count on your WordPress blog. However most of the newsletter solutions are either paid and quite complex. There are free options available but most of them have very limited features and are complex to configure.
Here we are going to check MailChimp which provides its services free for upto 2000 subscriber and its quite easy to use. This makes it is a great option to start with newsletters for your WordPress website.
MailChimp offers three types of accounts – Entrepreneur, Growing Business, High Volume Sender.
Entrepreneur is a free account type which allows you to send upto 12000 mails to 2000 readers every month for free.
Once you login to MailChimp you will get a dashboard. Following are the steps required to configuring MailChimp and integrating it with a WordPress website –
1) Create Mailing List –
Open the ‘Lists’ and click on ‘Create List’. Fill-up all the information and create a new mailing list. Once the list is created, data can be filled in multiple ways. You can –
> Manually add a subscriber
> Import your existing subscribers list
> Create SignUp Forms – Signup forms can be created for multiple purposes such as for sending as a Fill up forms, embed in Blog, post on Twitter, Facebook etc.
However currently you do not need to worry about any of these things, just create a new Mailing List and do nothing else. We will be using our WordPress website for adding new subscribers in it.
2) Integrate MailChimp with WordPress Website –
Now open your WordPress website dashboard. Here you have to go to Plugins Menu > Add New Plugin.
Now search for ‘MailChimp’, here the first result should be ‘MailChimp List Subscribe Form’ by MailChimp and Crowd Favorite. This one is the official plugin for WordPress and provided by MailChimp.com.
However there are other third party plugins also for integrate with MailChimp account. These third party plugins may have additional functionality which are not given by the default one. You may like to check them also at later stages.
However here we will be checking the official MailChimp plugin only.
Once you open settings for ‘MailChimp List Subscribe Form’, you get a ‘Connect’ button which will take your MailChimp login credentials and will connect your WordPress website to it.
Once connected you can choose which list you want to populate. After this you need to provide additional information. Such as if you want to take subscribers name also along with their email address.
You can also choose custom text or custom color for Widget which will show. Once you are done with all editing and when you are ready to display this Widget go to Appearance Menu > Widgets option.
This will open Widget configuration page of WordPress. Here you will see ‘MailChimp Widget’ available, drag and drop this widget onto sidebar. This will start to show Newsletter Subscription box on your website.
Now anyone who comes to your website will see this Newsletter widget. If they fill their email id and click on subscribe button, their details will be saved in linked MailChimp list which was created in the 1st step above.
3) Start Campaign –
Third and final step is to start a campaign and schedule it to send Newsletters on set frequency (such as daily or weekly).
Go back to your MailChimp account. Here on the dashboard you will see campaign option on the left hand menu.
Now on the ‘Start Compaign’ button click on the arrow, this will show you a list of different types of campaigns which can be created.
Click on ‘RSS Driven Campaign’, this will start compaign creation wizard of MailChimp.
On the first screen it will ask you to provide RSS feed URL of your website (which is usually – http://www.YourWebsite.com/feed/rss/ ). Also select frequency of your Newsletter, such as everyday at 4PM.
Click on Next and in second step select the subscriber list to whom you want to send your newsletters. Select the list which we created in step 1, and click Next.
Select a Name for your campaign and also decide what will be subject of your Newsletter and also what email id should appear on From field of your newsletter.
Next screen gives you option to choose a template for your Newsletter. This is one of the most important steps, because here you decide how your Newsletter will look. You should choose a theme or template which is close to color and design theme used by your website. However you can edit this theme in the next step. So select one layout and click on ‘Select’.
Next screen is design screen. Here you can customize everything related with your Newsletter design. You can change body color, font color, Header color etc. Or you can add your companies logo and add new segments in Newsletter’s body.
One important thing is that you can use merge tags to set dynamic content for your email body. Such as show your articles using *|RSS:POSTS_HTML|* or *|RSS:POSTS_HTML_FULL|*. You can customize the content as per your need, complete list of MailChimp Merge tags can be found here.
While designing you can preview final output by clicking on ‘Preview And Test’ menu > ‘Enter Preview Mode’ option at the top of the screen. This will show Newsletter preview for computer as well as for Mobile.
Once you are done with designing, click on Next button and it will show you the confirmation screen. Once confirmed, your campaign will go live and all newsletter subscribers will start receiving mails.
MailChimp provides you additional services also, such as tracking your Newsletters and Reports. You can check the reports and know how many of Newsletter receivers are actually opening your mail and reading it. It will also tell you how many of the users click on the links given in newsletter.
MailChimp have multiple mobile apps for iOS and Android to provide you all these functionality over mobile also. You may get a list of all these mobile apps here.
Overall MailChimp is one of the best newsletter publishing services available for free. You must try it if you have not started newsletters for your Website yet.