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Guide to using Mailchimp and your blog together

This post describes how to link your WordPress blog with a service called MailChimp. MailChimp is an online tool that helps you manage your list of contacts and send nice-looking emails to them. We presuppose that you have a blog with OIT. Read our WordPress “Getting Started” guide if you would like one.

In this article:

If you run into trouble with any of the steps, let us know!

Big picture

Why do it?

Using MailChimp and WordPress together allows you to send updates, alerts, and news to your subscribers by email — just by posting to your blog. This setup works well for faculty, teams, programs, and counties who have semi-regular updates to communicate. It prevents having to manually send emails, lay out PDFs, or do much design work at all.

Maybe best, MailChimp allows you to track how many people opened and clicked on your content! Those numbers count as direct engagement, not just media circulation.

How do subscribers sign up?

In order to get new contacts, you’ll simply “embed” a sign-up form on your site.

In order to get your existing contacts entered into MailChimp, send them a link and ask them to subscribe. OIT can help create the link if you need help.

And of course, you should encourage folks to sign up whenever you give a talk, or do a training, or otherwise come into contact with interested folks.

We strongly recommend against subscribing people to MailChimp without their knowledge. It can lead to you being marked as a spammer and prevented from sending emails.

What will subscription emails look like?

Your emails can look as fancy as you want, but some of the best are very straightforward: Your site’s name in a top banner. Then an excerpt from each post you’ve written with a link to read more.

The 4 steps to set it up

1. Create a MailChimp account and give us permission to help manage it

2. Create the email “template” in MailChimp and hook it to your blog.

Overwhelmed already? Just let us know and we’ll be glad to help. We’ll set it up for you. Otherwise, read on…

  • Log in to your MailChimp account, select “Campaigns” from the toolbar, then click the “Create Campaign” button.
  • Select “Email,” then “Automated,” then “Share blog updates.”
  • In the “RSS feed URL” field just enter your blog site’s base URL.
  • Select how frequently updates should be sent. We recommend sending new content once a week, at most.
  • Continue through the steps until you reach the “Template” section. Keep things simple and select the “Basic – 1 Column” option for now.
  • Drag the “RSS Items” element into your newsletter’s body.
  • Next, look on the right side for RSS Items Style. This will determine how much of each blog post will be copied into your newsletter. We suggest that you select “Excerpts.”
Maichimp Design Section: RSS Items Style
  • Make sure your email is branded with the appropriate logo. Download logos from the CAES OCCS website.
  • Click “Preview and Test” from the site navigation, then “Enter Preview Mode.” This will allow you to see what your newsletter looks like when people receive an email on desktop or on their phone. Click the “X” to leave the preview.
  • Click the “Next” button. If you don’t see any issues and you’re ready, then click “Start RSS.”

There are some optional steps you can take.

  • Add a sidebar to the template.
  • Add information about your team, county, or program to your email.
  • There are tons more options, and MailChimp makes it easy to learn!

3. Put a subscription form on your WordPress site

4. Write some posts!

  • Post frequently! Make sure your subscribers come to expect emails on a regular basis.
  • Use excerpts and featured images! You can make sure that your posts look great in the subscription email by including an excerpt and featured image for each post. Make sure the excerpt is catchy! Make sure the image is good!