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10 tips for creating effective MailChimp campaigns

By Laurie Murrah Hanson, 4-H Agent, Fulton County

  1. Take time to set up your audience. Use groups and tags to organize your contacts (could be by activity or role such as 4-H member, volunteer, teacher, donor, etc.). Information could be collected through a signup form (such as role) or tagged through the audience list. This will help you know who is who, but also allow you to segment your audience for different email campaigns.
  2. Use sign-up forms. You can post forms on your county website or social media to encourage people to sign up for your email newsletter. You are required have permission to add people to your audience list, so don’t forget to ask people to sign-up for your newsletter when they register for classes or other Extension programs.
  3. Set up a simple, but clean looking template design to create consistency. OIT will set up a basic template for your newsletter that includes the correct UGA Extension logo in the footer. You can modify the template’s header graphic, social media links, and sections with standard text that are included in each email, like “Contact our office at…” Avoid making frequent changes to your template layout. You want readers to immediately recognize that a newsletter is from your program by the graphics, title, or other branding you choose. If you constantly change the colors, photos, headers, sections, or other components of your newsletter, it will cause confusion and your readers won’t recognize your newsletter and may potentially ignore or discard it. The only thing that should change month to month is the content and information in your newsletter. Improving upon your template when needed is a good thing, but try to keep major changes to the look and feel of your newsletter infrequent and only when necessary.
    • Use UGA Extension’s Canva for Teams account to create your newsletter’s header graphic. There are branded templates located under Newsletters > E-newsletters and Mailchimp.
    • Keep the correct UGA Extension logo in your footer and branding in your newsletter template.
    • Choose a catchy title for your newsletter.
    • Be consistent on the frequency of your newsletters – monthly, biweekly, weekly, etc.
    • Use photos, videos, and graphic elements to keep your newsletter interesting — but DO NOT use just graphics (such as an image of a flyer) and follow accessibility requirements. If someone’s email defaults to not loading graphics, then the only thing they will see is an email with big blank spaces. Find a good balance between graphics and text. No one wants to read a newsletter that is all text either!
    • With that said, make sure your header graphic includes alt text to translate the brief header text in the image for accessibility. Alt text can be set up in the image’s settings in the template.
    • When emailing, use effective subject lines and preview text (which appears directly underneath the subject line in the inbox).
    • Include your contact information and links to your website and social media in the footer.
    • Make sure fonts are not too small and are easy to read.
  4. Use reports. View “opens” and “clicks.” Evaluate your data and see if you can figure out what successful newsletters have in common — is it the content, time or catchy subject line? Also, who is opening up your newsletter and how often? Is it mostly parents, donors or other groups? Finally, what links are they clicking on the most? This information will help you with future campaigns.
  5. Be consistent. Scheduling functions allow you to prepare newsletters in advance and send them out at times that are optimal for your audience.
  6. Use UGA Extension resources that are already available. You can link to a publication, blog post, article, or resource that is available on UGA Extension websites (such as the new Healthy Georgia newsletter).
  7. Try to keep your newsletters brief. Only include the most important information in the newsletter and then if more information is needed, link to an attachment/download or your website. Make sure the link is clearly marked so that it is easy to click for those who want to read more about a particular program or resource.
  8. Use strong calls to action.  If there is a next step you want people to take, such as to sign up for a class or program, make sure that call to action is clear (buttons are key to use for this) and easy to accomplish (e.g.: “Register now” or “Read more”).
  9. Double check your grammar and spelling before publishing. It is always a good idea to have someone else in your office read over your newsletter before you send it out to make sure any links or other content areas are working.  Send a test email to yourself and at least one other person to check over the grammar, spelling, design elements, and links in your newsletter before emailing it out to your entire list. You will often catch mistakes in a test email that are more difficult to see when you are in the Mailchimp editor.
  10. Promote your campaigns on social media. You can publish newsletters directly to social media like Facebook and Twitter and add a link to it in your bio on Instagram.