I previously wrote on how to start a free mailing list for your website. Now let’s set it up so an email goes out automatically anytime a new blog post is published. Since we used MailChimp for building the list, we’ll walk through the settings specifically to use MailChimp in sending the new post notifications. So, here is it, how to use MailChimp to send an email for new blog posts…
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Create a campaign
You’re going to start out by logging into your MailChimp dashboard with your specific username and password. From the main dashboard click on the Campaigns link at the top of the page:
Then click Create Campaign and Let us guide you. No reason not to let them guide you for this first interaction!
Now expand the Connect with your contacts section and scroll down to Share blog updates and click that box.
It will ask you for a Campaign name – I entered “New Blog Posts” for mine but you can call it whatever you want.
Select your list
It’s also going to present you with a drop-down list so you can select which mailing list you want to use for the campaign. In my case I only had one list and it was automatically selected. If you have set up multiple lists, select the one you want to get email for new blog posts.
And your RSS feed URL
Now it needs to know the RSS feed URL for your site.
What does RSS mean? It stands for Really Simple Syndication.
It’s a special URL for your site that presents XML-formatted data “describing” the posts on your site. Don’t ask what XML means – it doesn’t matter at all for what we’re working on.
The RSS URL for your WordPress website is going to be http://YourDomain/feed/ (or https if you’re running a secure SSL site as I described how to accomplish).
Define your schedule
On the same page it lets you decide when emails should be sent. By default it is everyday at 4am eastern time (or at least that was the default for me).
From the drop-down list you can choose Daily, Weekly, or Monthly emails to be sent. I chose daily so whatever day a new post releases, an email will be sent the next day to notify my community.
There are also checkboxes. So if you want it to check for new posts every day, but you only want the email to be sent on Friday, you can clear all the boxes except for Friday to enable that schedule. I left all the days checked.
Once you complete the areas on this page, click Next.
Everyone or group/segment
Next you are asked if you want to send to the entire list, a saved or prebuilt segment, or group or new segment.
Skip this for now. Just select entire list and Next.
Mailing services like MailChimp have features that allow you to tag or segment members of your list. So if someone has interests in SEO (for example) you can tag them with “SEO”. Another member might not care about SEO but is interested in security – well then you can tag them with “security”. Having these tags let’s you reach out to just portions of your list with topics that are of confirmed interest to them. Getting into list segmentation is beyond the scope of this post though, so let’s move on…
You’ll be presented with some default Campaign Info now. I recommend a few changes here.
First I would change the email subject.
The default value for this is:
Posts from *|RSSFEED:TITLE|* for *|RSSFEED:DATE|*
So the email subject line might be:
Posts from Blog – WordPress Blogging Today for June 7th 2017
That’s not idea. I changed is so that the title of the actual post would show up in the subject line. I changed it to:
New post: *|RSSITEM:TITLE|*
So a reader can easily see that the email is notification of a new post and what the title of the post is. If they are interested in that topic, they can read it – if not, it’s easy enough to know they should discard it just from reading the title.
I also check the box to personalize the to field.
This means that the email will be sent to whatever merge field you enter. Most commonly this is the person’s name. If you are collecting both first and last name, you can use that option. I’m only collecting the first name so that’s who I’ll be sending emails to.
Here is what the screen looks like after I’ve made my changes:
Now click Next.
Choose a template
You need to tell MailChimp how you want the emails to look. I’m not a fantastically creative person so I’m going fairly basic. There are some REALLY NICE looking MailChimp templates that people have created. Just click that link to see how fancy you can get – if you’re more creative than myself.
Just to get this done without spinning my wheels trying to be creative when I’m not, I went with the basic 1-column template.
From the next screen (template designer) you can customize the template to look however you want.
There are a number of “blocks” on the right hand side of the page that you can drag and drop into the page. You can also drag and drop existing blocks to rearrange them on the page.
To customize the details of a block you can click on it and then the pencil icon.
Go ahead and play around with this for a while.
When you think it might be close to how you want it to look, you can do a preview from the menu at the top of the screen. From that same menu you can send a test email to see exactly what it will look like when it is delivered.
When you like it (“enough” in my case since this is a weakness for me), then click Next. You’ll get a final confirmation page and you need to click Start RSS to enable the campaign.
After you’ve started the RSS, you’re done. Your MailChimp list subscribers will automatically get an email for new blog posts as they’re released.
While I’m definitely NOT a designer, I will (as always) try to help out as much as possible. If you have a question about something just leave it in the comments below and I’ll help as much as I can.