It seems that whenever the topic of email marketing comes up in a group of bloggers, at least one person says something along the lines of, “I made an account but it looked hard so I never did anything with it.”
That makes me sad. Why?
Because simple email marketing tactics like RSS-to-email campaigns and monthly newsletters are really simple to make and pay off big time. The problem is that getting started is the hardest part.
I want to help.
Take RSS-to-email, for example. I have several of these set up in my MailChimp account: one for the entire blog, one for Bumblings Blog Tips, and one for Be a Better Blogger. They each took me about 15 minutes to set up, and they’re done. No need to do anything to them, ever, if I don’t want to.
But the first RSS-to-email campaign I ever set up, for a different blog? Yeah, I struggled with that mofo for hours. It’s not plain and simple when you log in and start looking around. It’s not actually hard, it’s just time-consuming to find what you need to.
So let’s get started.
Note: Obviously, I could never explain the ins and outs of these email marketer providers as well as the support/help sections on their own websites, so always check there or contact support for help. I know from experience that both Mad Mimi and MailChimp have great support teams.
Step 1: Choose Your Email Marketing Provider
There are tons of email marketers you can choose from, but I’ve written a post on the best email marketing providers for bloggers. Since book bloggers are usually on a budget, I’m going to focus this post on MailChimp and Mad Mimi.
They’re both free up to a certain number of subscribers, and still very affordable after that. Unless you have one of the biggest blogs in our niche, the most you’d probably have to pay is around $15/month.
MailChimp is what I personally use. I think it’s easy enough to use, integrates with everything I need it to (even Twitter cards!), and its list of features is longer than any other service in it’s pricing tier.
Your signup forms and email designs can be as simple or as complex as you’d like – while it’s easy enough for beginners, you can also get advanced with it. That’s perfect for me, since I’m not super advanced, but if there’s an idea I want to implement, I’ll learn the skills needed to do so.
However, I know other bloggers who aren’t as tech savvy and are intimidated by MailChimp’s features. The people I mentioned in this post’s intro, who’ve mentioned email marketing being hard? I usually find out that MailChimp was what they tried and abandoned.
Mad Mimi has most of the MailChimp features that are most important to bloggers, but overall it’s a lot simpler.
In my opinion, most of the book bloggers I know would probably be better off with Mad Mimi because of it’s simplicity.
There are less features and less options, but there’s still enough to make a good newsletter or RSS campaign. There’s one design layout, instead of hundreds.
2. Fill Out Your Blog’s Information
To comply with CAN-SPAM laws, there’s a few things you need to tell your email marketing provider so that they can include it in your footer: a physical address, website, etc.
You’ll also want to set up things like what email replies to your campaigns should be sent to, maybe your social accounts, etc.
3. Create Your Opt-In Forms
Now it’s time to set up a way for people to sign up for your mailing list. Both MailChimp and MadMimi offer hosted signup forms (where they give you a URL and you customize the page), embedded forms (where you embed them on your own blog pages), and integrations with plugins like SumoMe and HelloBar (more on these tools in a post later this week).
4. Design Your Newsletter or RSS Campaign
With Mad Mimi, this is very simple. You choose a theme (a premade set of colors, or your own set), then add an image or two and a social button. With MailChimp, you first have to choose a layout, then the content blocks, then the design and colors. If you want a lot of customization, here is where MailChimp has the advantage. But if you just want a simple way to get your blog posts or newsletters into people’s inboxes and aren’t that tech-savvy, look into Mad Mimi.
5. Create Your First Campaign!
Now the fun part begins – writing emails, growing your list, etc. We’ll go more into improving your email marketing in future posts.
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