|From our Tech Guru: Using MailChimp for Research Uptake Communication|
|Friday, 20 May 2016 09:47|
An important tool for directed Research Communication is email. Mailchimp is an excellent emailing service that allows you to set up multiple subscriber lists and manage mass emailings as well as track usage. Our Tech Guru, Caite McCann, gives us the low down on designing and sending Mailchimp newsletters.
The great thing about MailChimp as a place to begin managing your Research Uptake communications is that it has three levels of service and the startup level is free for up to 2,000 subscribers and 12,000 emails per month. Once your lists start to grow beyond that there are several options for different pay services as well as optional add-ons for monitoring and evaluation the effectiveness of your communication.
Planning your newsletter
MailChimp is easy to setup but making changes can be tricky. It is a generic service, so to use it effectively there are a number of items you need to think about and plan, before you setup your account. Setting up any new account is time consuming and the better you plan beforehand, the easier you will find the process. Don’t forget to make notes of the decisions you make regarding your account setup and customization. This will become part of the Standard Operating Procedure (SOP), or organizational guide, for your institutional MailChimp account.
There are some questions to be asked before you setup your MailChimp account:
Step One: Preparing your subscription lists
In preparation to setup your account, setup a mailing list of people you would like to invite to join your newsletter. Online etiquette is that you never add a person to a subscription list without their permission, but there is also a technical consideration. If you set up a list and the people who you have signed up trash your emails or report them as spam, the email address for your account, and possibly your entire domain name will be “blacklisted”. This means that the major email service providers such as google, yahoo and microsoft outlook, will note that that address sends out spam emails and the automatic filters on these services will send your email directly to spam and all other emails from the same domain will be treated as suspicious. Since this is automatic, it is incredibly hard to un-blacklist or “whitelist” an email domain. Therefore, never put anyone on your initial emailing list who might not what to be there.
Your best plan is to separate your email list into groups. The first group are those who will definitely need to be included (eg. staff), to whom your first email should always be a welcome email, giving them the option to unsubscribe.
The second group are those who might be interested or who you want to include and who might choose not to join. Sending a link to your signup form via social media or a personal email is a good way to do this.
The process for preparing your lists to be added to MailChimp is as follows:
Step Two: Setting up your Template
MailChimp has a variety of base templates that can be customised and then saved to use repeatedly. Or if you are adventurous and have the skills/time you can try designing your own custom html template.
Prepare templates for each type of email campaign you plan to send out - Newsletters, Briefs, Alerts, Reports, etc. Consistency is important when sending mass emails, you can be flexible but it is a good idea to set up base templates that fit the corporate identity of your organization (most universities will have a Style Guide with preferred fonts and text styles as well as rules for use of university logos and correct layouts. Often the press office or IT management division will have a copy of this and they can help with checking the final templates).
Another thing to note here is that images need to be appropriately sized for email, as an image that is too big and has a big file-size may fail to deliver. This needs to go into your SOP, since it also applies to images that go in the campaigns (in MailChimp emails sent to your groups are known as Campaigns).
Step Three: Creating your newsletter
On your Mailchimp Dashboard you will see “Create a campaign”
When you click on it you will be taken through the steps required to create a campaign/newsletter. These are:
Then you can review your draft publication – either as it would appear in an email, or you can email it to yourself and anyone else that should review it.
That’s it! This is exactly how this DRUSSA Digest is created!
Step Four: Admin of the MailChimp Account and Reporting
So, as you can see, it’s pretty easy, but it is important to make sure you have the admin side properly managed:
I hope you found this useful, as promised here are all the links to the help pages referred to on MailChimp. Good Luck!
Links to Resources and Guides on MailChimp
Getting Started With MailChimp
Create Signup Forms and Response Emails
Share Your Signup Form
Manage List and Signup Form Fields
Create a New List
Image Requirements for Templates
Upload, Add, and Edit Images in Campaigns
Templates: Basic and Themes
Types of Custom Templates
Manage User Levels in Your Account
Caite McCann is the Information Systems Manager for OSD and the DRUSSA Programme