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MailChimp for Small Business Part 3

Moving on in the MailChimp series, let's get you another step closer to sending out professional email marketing messages by creating your list If you haven't already please read the first 2 parts in my MailChimp series:

Email Marketing vs. Permission Marketing

Why Use an Email Marketing Platform?

Create Your First List

I assume you have already created your account and put in your contact information, industry, and chose the Forever Free plan? If so you should arrive on a screen that says, "Getting started with MailChimp is easy...". If you are on this screen click the GO button to the right of create a list. If you do not see this screen click the "Lists" navigation item at the top of the screen, then the large orange "create new list" button on the left. From here you will want to add details about your list. Remember that in the future you may want to have various lists for various types of emails. For example, you may have a list for people that signed up to receive specials and promotions and a list for people that are interested in your monthly newsletter. It will be easier to keep these lists separate now than segmenting them in the future. Other things to keep in mind are your from name, reply email and default subject. This can be different by list, and often times they should be.

The email reminder is fairly important as sometimes recipients forget why or when they signed up to receive emails from you. To avoid immediate unsubscribes be somewhat descriptive, but you don't have to write an entire essay on why the subscriber signed up.

Finally, make sure that your business name and address are accurate. These will go in the footer of your email. You can have separate addresses for lists if need be. For example if your customer relations department is in Moosejaw but your public relations department is in Phoenix, it might make sense to have their specific address in the footer. Once you finalize your list details, you can confirm and move on to the next step.

One nice feature MailChimp has provided is an easy way to import your current lists into your new MailChimp account. The option I use most often is copy/paste from excel and uploading a csv file. You are able to upload lists from Constant Contact, Salesforce, Highrise, Google Contacts and many more, but you often find yourself cleaning your list prior to uploading which is generally easiest from Excel.

Is Your Allowed?

Remember one of the reasons you are using MailChimp is to comply with the CAN-SPAM Act, so please ensure that your lists are acceptable to be used in MailChimp. These lists must be people that have given you permission to email them either through your website, offline, or internal employees. MailChimp does a great job explaining in simple terms what is and what isn't allowed.

Specifying Your Fields

When you import your list remember that you may want to use Merge Tags (we will talk about later) to personalize your emails to your subscribers. Make sure that you assign the appropriate name to the column...MailChimp will not allow you to move forward without mapping each column or deleting unnamed columns first. Now you are free to click "All Done".


You have imported your first list. You can easily add or remove people from this list as well as view list analytics. I am sure you will have a few more lists to add and before you know it you will be a pro at importing and editing your lists. The next topic we will talk about is creating a custom template to match your company's branding.