If you are business owner or even just a blog owner, you should perfectly know how vital a newsletter is in the marketing process of your activity. Not only it is vital, but if looked after with particular care it can bring great revenues and, most importantly, a one-to-one connection with your followers, leading them to trust both you and your activity more than ever. Making readers want to sign up to newsletter services is a big issue, as nowadays spamming is all over us and we only want to read interesting information that really appeals to us. And that’s the key, making your newsletter as readers would want it, with all the content that you think they’ll love and all the extras that they can gain by suscribing to your service.
Remember these 4 golden rules:
1. Always state the frequency of the newsletter, so that readers can make a conscious choice;
2. Explain why subscribing will give them extra stuff that just blog readers won’t have and state some examples of typical content they’ll read;
3. Use a simple and un-stressfull opt-in process, asking fundamental data only (probably e-mail and name): you don’t want people running away just because they’re obligated to give their phone number, it’d be unfair and counterproductive.
4. Use Call to Actions! We’ll never stop saying this. Use them everywhere, in the subscribing process, on your shop, in your emails, on your website, on blog posts, on social media.. wherever you can put them, it means you must. People are curious and love buttons!
Once all of this is set, the techy part of setting up the newsletter can be an itch of a problem, but with this step-by-step guide you’ll be able to set up your MailChimp Newsletter in a bit. What we’re going to make will look something like this. The whole process takes up to about 2h of work the first time, the process will then speed up to 1h if you get confident. Let’s dig in!
1. Subscribe to MailChimp and login. Your home screen might look different from ours if it’s the first time you use it. Don’t worry, search for “Campaigns” and hit “Create Campaign > Regular Ol’ Campaign”.
2. Choose the list you want to send you newsletter to and hit “next” in the bottom right corner. If you don’t have any, you should first import email contacts into the “Lists” tab.
3. Let’s give the newsletter a name (which is only for your internal reference), a subject (This is very important! Make sure you don’t repeat your name and you make readers understand it’s a newsletter they’re receiving, not spam mail or they won’t open it. Add an e-mail address to which they can reply and you will actually see it and answer it. Hit “next”.
4. Choose a template. There are two roads to follow: if you know a little bit of Photoshop and image making definitely go for “Basic” and construct your very personal mailer (that’s what we’re doing); otherwise use the “Themes” which require less work but also let us personalize the aesthetic much less. Choose “1 column” and “next”.
5. This is how an empty newsletter looks like. MailChimp already puts a few empty contents for you to fill, or you can add the elements that you need (images, buttons, texts, etc.) dragging them from the right of the screen (under the tab “Content”). If you hover with your mouse on any element of the left part some icons will appear: the dots are to drag the element around the newsletter, the pencil is for edit, the plus sign for clone and the bin to trash the element. Now that you get the gist, hover on the first element (which is a simple text box) and change it’s content hitting the pencil.
6. The content of the selected element opens on the right side and you can type your text. This text box had already been divided into two columns that can be edited or deleted through the “Settings” tab on top. Type this text in column 1: “Please make sure you display the images below for full experience”.
7. Hit “column 2” which is just under the “Content” tab and fill the second column with this text: “Email not displaying correctly?” It should already have a text saying “view it in your browser” so just leave it there. Hit “Save & Close” at the bottom.
8. Now let’s add a header, containing your logo and a title with a custom font. You have to prepare your image as you wish sized 800x533px. Hit the “browse” button inside the image box on the left side of the screen.
9. Drag and drop into this screen your image and wait for it’s upload. It should appear, hit “select”.
10. There you have it! On the right you can add a link to it, which is probably the most important thing on a newsletter, so you must do it! Hit “link” and add your homepage’s URL.
11. Now hover with your mouse on the text box on the left, where “designing your mail” is written, and hit the pencil to edit. Since One O is written in Italian and English, we’d like to divide the text box into two columns to fit both languages. Hit “Settings” and choose “2 columns” from the drop down menu; we choose even splitting layout. Add your text as we did in steps 5-6-7 and you’re done.
12. Let’s add content. From the right side drag and drop an image element under the text box.
13. Add an image from your shop, for example, as we did in steps 8 and 9.
14. Now let’s add section titles. We want to have a section from the shop and one from the blog. Go ahead and drag and drop from the right menu a divider. Copy the options below and hit “Save & close”.
15. Add a text box just beneath it, and type your header and subtitle. Adjust the look by giving the title a bigger font, using capital letters, and align everything centrally. Make your subtitle grey and with a smaller font.
16. Remember to add call to actions! A newsletter without call to actions is like a pie without love, bland and useless 😛 Drag and drop a button underneath the shop image, add text and link to your shop’s homepage.
17. On the right, open the “style” tab and copy the options used here. Don’t you just feel like clicking it now? Yeeeah. Hit “Save & close”.
18. To add the blog title section you don’t have to make it from scratch but we can just duplicate divider and title from the shop section and change the text. So hover with your mouse on the divider and look for the “+” icon that appears: hit to duplicate the element. Do the same with the title. Now drag them (one at a time) all the way down after the shop button using the dotted square that appears when hovering the element. Edit title and subtitle and hit save.
19. Beneath, drag and drop an image box (with or without caption, as you prefer) and add an image from your blog. Remember to add a link to the post so your reader can go ahead and read the rest of the article.
20. You can also add image groups, that basically make images smaller placed next to each other on the same line. The cool thing is that this works only for desktop users, whilst on mobile images are all piled up nicely so that reader’s don’t have to get crazy zooming in and out to view them. Clever, huh?
21. We also have a monthly desktop freebie and love to help readers reach out to its download. So I added a sub-section, “Freebie of the Month”, by adding a text box and using a smaller font than the main titles, but still in capital letters. Add an image of the freebie and link it to the article.
22. Again, call to actions: add a button to drive downloads. Still, you don’t need to make it from scratch, just duplicate the shop button and change text and link.
23. We also have a Fashion Spot at One O, which should have its space on the newsletter. Add another sub-section as we did in step 21, and write a subtitle. Add an image with link to the post just beneath it.
24. Finally, let’s make the footer nicer. Most of the content that is already there is mandatory on MailChimp, so I suggest leaving it as it is. We can add some nice dividers, duplicating them from the ones used before, and place them over and under the footer’s content.
25. We’d like the footer to have the same colour as the background (grey) and not the colour of the box containing all the content (white). To change this, hit the “design” tab on the right menu and select “footer design”. Change the background colour to the same grey of the rest of the email.
26. As you can see there’s something going wrong: also some of the content is now on grey background, which means we’ve mistakenly dragged them into the footer. All you have to do is drag all the things back in the white part. Done!
To see a preview of the result you can click the “Preview and Test” button on the top right of the screen and click “enter preview mode”. You’ll be able too see how the email will look on an email client and on mobile devices. This is obviously an approximation but it gives you an idea of the look and feel and helps preventing big layout mistakes. You can also send a test email to yourself or friends: go to “preview and test” and click “sent test email”; type the email to send your test to and go.
Do you have a regular monthly newsletter? Do you manage to keep everything going? What do you love and what frustrates you most around newsletter issues? Let us know in the comments below.
Chiara & Irene
Chiara & Irene — One O
Chiara Cavagion and Irene Fucci are graphic designers and photography lovers from a lovely town called Turin, Italy. In 2013 they decided to turn their graduation project into a creative handmade business and this is how One O was born. They enjoy designing, handprinting and sewing new soft furnishing as well as experimenting crafty projects to share on the blog. Their mantra is: try to walk slowly and you will find all the (amazing) “things we lost” in the humdrum routine.