I first started using Mailchimp back in 2010. Since then, I’ve become a Mailchimp expert and have grown from an email marketing freelancer into operating a full service email marketing agency.
There’s quite a few Mailchimp tips and tricks that I’ve picked up along the way. In this post, I’ll list out my top ten tips that will help you get started with Mailchimp and get the most from your email marketing campaigns.
Here are my top ten Mailchimp tips and tricks:
1. Utilize Mailchimp’s Outstanding Customer Service
The reason why I love Mailchimp starts with their product and ends with their customer service. They have an extensive knowledge base they’ve created over the last decade, and offer the best customer service through online chat of ANY company I’ve ever come across.
My #1 tip is if you ever have a question about your Mailchimp account, chat with one their customer service reps. You’ll receive an immediate answer, and they’ll be able to walk you through the entire process by looking at your account with you.
Plus, every customer service rep assists you with style and grace. You’ll not only walk away with an answer to your question, but you’ll also feel better about your day with each interaction.
2. Create and Import Your List
Successful email marketing starts with your subscriber list. Open rates, click through rates, and most importantly – results – are all directly impacted by who is receiving and taking action on your emails.
Since Mailchimp’s monthly rates are based on your total subscriber count, you’ll want to make sure that your list is clean, compliant, and doesn’t include any duplicates. Proper list creation and importing is the most important step for any Mailchimp user.
For email list cleanliness, make sure you follow a few guidelines.
- If you’re going to include previous or existing customers to your mailing list (which we think you should), make sure they have been active within the last 6 months.
- Start with addresses that have requested to be added to a list. This does not include everyone who has submitted their email address through a “Contact Us” form, is a LinkedIn contact, or is a part of your email address book.
- Use an email verification service before you upload your list to make sure your email addresses are still active and won’t result in high bounce rates. For a cheap and reliable option, try Bulk Email Checker.
Once you have all of your email addresses in a CSV file, upload your list to Mailchimp. To create a list in your MailChimp account, follow these steps:
- Choose Lists from your MailChimp dashboard, then click the Create List button in the upper righthand corner.
- On the List details page, you can choose a name for the list, set the default From name and email address, and write a short “permission reminder” to remind your subscribers how and why they’re receiving email from you.
- When you’re finished, click Save.
- Select “Import” and then “Import from a CSV or TXT file.”
There are several different ways to import subscribers into MailChimp, but a CSV seems to be the easiest option for the majority of clients we’ve worked with.
3. Utilize Mailchimp’s Drag and Drop Email Templates
Unless you are comfortable with editing code and CSS or paying hundreds of dollars to get a custom template design, we’d recommend utilizing Mailchimp’s drag and drop editor to build your email template.
Although the drag and drop method does have limitations and isn’t as customized, the majority of customers can create an email template they’re happy with.
To create an email template in your MailChimp account, follow these steps:
- Choose Templates from your MailChimp dashboard, then click the Create Template button in the upper righthand corner.
- On the Templates page, you can search through the predesigned templates if you’d like, or you can select a template from the “Basic” section and go right into the drag and drop editor.
- Drag and drop elements from the right hand column into your email template on the left.
- Play around and edit the elements until you have an email template you like.
Mailchimp’s drag and drop editor is a great way to avoid code and build a nice looking HTML email template.
4. Utilize Mailchimp’s Preview and Test Tool
Depending on your list, the majority of your subscribers will open your emails on a mobile device. Prior to sending your campaign, it’s crucial to use Mailchimp’s Preview and Test tool to see if your email is optimized for mobile devices.
This simple Preview tool has saved me many times. The last thing you want to do is send an email that can’t be read on a mobile device. Users who view an email that isn’t optimized for mobile will not take action on your emails and have a higher probability of unsubscribing and ignoring your emails in the future.
There are a couple of ways to use Mailchimp’s Preview and Test Tool. Follow these steps:
- Choose Templates from your MailChimp dashboard, then click the dropdown menu next to the “Edit” button on any template. Select “Preview” to see how subscribers will view your campaign.
- When creating a campaign on the “Design” step, click the “Preview and Test” option at the top of your screen and select “Enter Preview Mode.” This will show you how your email will appear on both desktop and mobile devices.
- When creating a campaign on the “Design” step, click the “Preview and Test” option at the top of your screen and select “Push To Mailchimp Mobile.” This will enable you to preview your campaigns on your mobile device with the Mailchimp mobile app.
- If you don’t want to install the Mailchimp mobile app, click the “Preview and Test” option and select “Send a Test Email.” Open the test email on your mobile device and see if any adjustments need to be made.
Using the Preview and Test Tool is a great way to ensure your emails have the highest level of readability.
5. A/B Test Your Email Subject Lines
The only way to really find out is through continual A/B testing of your subject lines. Fortunately, Mailchimp makes this really easy for customers.
Note: A/B testing is only available to users on paid plans.
To create an A/B test of your subject lines, follow these steps:
- Choose Campaigns from your MailChimp dashboard, then click the Create Campaign button in the upper righthand corner.
- On the Campaigns page, select “A/B Split Campaign.”
- On the A/B Split step, select “Subject Lines” under “What would you like to test” and select “Open Rates” after 1 day under “How should a winner be chosen?” (Since results take several hours to come in, Mailchimp recommends waiting at least 4 hours for the best A/B split results)
- Under the “Setup” step, create two different email subject lines to test against one another. Mailchimp will run your test on a segment of the list. When the winner is determined, they will send it to the remaining portion of the list.
Instead of putting everything on yourself to determine the best subject line, A/B testing is a simple way to let technology determine what subject line will result in the best performance.
6. Utilize Mailchimp’s Send Time Optimization feature
The next common question email marketers usually have is when is the best time to send emails to subscribers? Fortunately, Mailchimp has created a tool that analyzes your subscriber click activity history to see when they’re typically the most engaged in your campaigns. Mailchimp then compares that data to every other subscriber in your list. From this information, the Send Time Optimization feature is able to calculate the time when subscribers on your list are most likely to interact with your campaigns.
Note: This feature is limited to paid accounts.
To schedule a campaign using the Send Time Optimization feature, follow these steps:
- On the last step of creating your campaign in the Confirm step, select the “Schedule” button.
- Select your delivery date (preferably any other day besides “today”).
- Select “Let Mailchimp optimize send time for maximum engagement
- Click “Schedule Campaign”
I love this feature because it takes the guesswork out of determining the best time to send a campaign.
7. Utilize Mailchimp’s Automation Features
Whether you’re a sole proprietor or a multi-billion dollar international corporation, Mailchimp Automation has something for you. Mailchimp gives you the ability to provide timely, relevant information to your customers with a “set it and forget it” approach.
We’ve created several different automation email campaigns for companies of all sizes. Everyone has their reasons for setting up an automation campaign, and it usually goes back to one thing: time.
Save more of your time.
Provide timely information.
It’s a win-win.
A few of the common uses of Mailchimp Automation include:
- Instantly send welcome emails to new customers
- Personalize emails based on customer interests
- Send emails based on customers’ website activity and behavioral targeting
- Provide product recommendations based on previous purchases
Automation is too robust to fit into this post. Download Mailchimp’s Automation Guide as a PDF to learn more.
8. Integrate Existing Technologies With Mailchimp
Connect Mailchimp to the web services you already use, sync your data, import content, and see how your newsletters are influencing your business. Integrations are awesome for automation campaigns, list growth, and to increase engagement for subscribers. Overall, integrations just make life a lot easier.
A few of our favorite integrations include:
- Salesforce by Mailchimp Integration: Integrate CRM records with MailChimp lists
- PayPal: Update your list with each new purchase (great for eBay store owners)
- Wufoo: Integrate all of your Wufoo forms into your Mailchimp lists
- Mailchimp for Shopify: automatically add customers and purchase activity to your MailChimp list
For a full list of integrations available, visit the Mailchimp Integrations Directory.
9. Understand Your Reports
We’ve analyzed millions of emails for clients and combed through our fair share of Mailchimp reports. Beyond analyzing open rates and click through rates – which are nice for measuring the effectiveness of subject lines, your list strength, and call to actions – the features we like looking at the most is the eCommerce360 report and performance compared to the industry average.
Activating eCommerce360 allows you to track sales and revenue generated through your email campaigns. If you’re selling products, keeping this feature on for campaigns helps shape the future of your email marketing strategies and determines what truly motivates your subscribers.
The industry average for open rates and click rates are nice numbers for marketing managers to include in reporting. They help illustrate to stakeholders how your email marketing performance can be put into context on the industry level.
Taking a few steps back from eCommerce360, the “Overview” report is where you’ll find stats on how your campaign performed with details about opens, clicks, social engagement, unsubscribes, and bounces. We highly recommend keeping track of these reporting numbers each month in an excel spreadsheet and analyzing performance by campaign and by month.
By analyzing your reports, you’re able to see how well your email marketing is working. You’ll be able to see if an increased frequency of email sends positively impacts sales or negatively impacts your unsubscribe and compliant rate. You’ll see if segmenting your campaigns to specific subscribers was worth the work, or had no impact.
Each report should help shape your email strategy and get you closer to the results you’re seeking.
10. Find Mailchimp Experts In The Directory
As you can see from this post, there’s some pretty amazing things you can do with Mailchimp. If you need help connecting an integration or creating a custom project for your business, then use Mailchimp’s Experts Directory to hire someone with the appropriate skills. Search by location or keyword, or browse by topic. As I mentioned, Markitors is a full service Mailchimp expert – feel free to contact us if you have any email marketing needs.
Brett Farmiloe is the Founder of Markitors – an internet marketing company specializing in email marketing audits. Understand and improve your email marketing efforts today with an email marketing audit.