I am confident that you have read the first post in the series, MailChimp for Small Businesses Part 1. If not, take a second to read it. It is important that you understand the basics of email marketing before going on. Getting in the right mindset is a good start to your strategy. I apologize if the series goes a little slow, but I want to be sure that every small business is able to understand and get themselves going.
Why a Platform?
As we discussed in the last post, there are many email marketing platforms out there, but for ease of use, cost and the fun aspects, I always recommend MailChimp. Why use an email marketing platform instead of just sending everything from Outlook? First and foremost, the email marketing platform will keep you legal (for the most part) regarding the CAN-SPAM Act. You won't have to worry about whether you have included everything you should have and as the laws change, the providers will adjust.
Second, you have a better chance of your email actually going out and not hitting spam boxes. If an ISP sees a large number of emails coming from your IP address they may think you are spamming and block future emails from leaving the server. Additionally, the email marketing providers like MailChimp have agreements with ISPs so they are aware of which IP addresses will be sending out large number of emails.
Third, list management. You don't have to worry about removing people that opt out and you can place a sign up form on your website so you don't have to worry about adding people to the account manually. This can be a huge benefit for someone that already has a full plate at work.
Finally, the enterprise level features you will be getting that Outlook or another standard mail service cannot provide. In my opinion for a small business the most important are the analytics, which we discussed in Part 1 and will have a better understanding later and you can carry over your branding with a professional look and feel. Having a professional looking email template may sound minuscule, but it can make a difference whether the recipient purchases, contacts you, forwards the email, or unsubscribes from your list. We will discuss creating a template later on.
Let's Get Started
Now you understand why you should use a email marketing platform, or at least the basics of why. I apologize for giving you homework, but honestly it is for your own good. Here it goes...go to MailChimp.com and click the "Sign Up Free" button at the top left. Enter your email address, your work one, a username (your business), and a password. If you did this correctly you should be getting a verification email to your inbox and a thank you message on the MailChimp screen. It's ok, you can trust the MailChimp email...go ahead and click the big red "activate your account" button.
Unfortunately you are going to have to fill out one of those annoying captchas...but they wan't to verify that you are a human.
So here's the homework. Finish setting up your account and take a look around. You don't have to send any emails, but I would like you to spend 10 minutes looking around your account and getting familiar with the interface. This will help us move along a little bit quicker in the future. After you finish looking around stay tuned for my next post which will be Friday!