7 Tactics for Successful Mailchimp Marketing Campaigns

Easy and Mailchimp marketing may seem like a contradiction in terms.

Mailchimp has many moving parts. So many in fact it\’s sometimes hard to figure out how to run better campaigns, how to have higher open and click-through rates (the number of people who clicked on a campaign / number of people who opened the campaign) without spending a tremendous amount of time learning the software.

But after 15+ years working in Mailchimp and Mailchimp marketing, we like to bake success into campaigns at the beginning.

The seven tactical steps listed below can\’t guarantee successful campaigns. If you implement them, review them, and update them on a regular basis — say monthly — your Mailchimp marketing will perform better than most of your competitors.

Why? Because few Mailchimp users don\’t take the time to optimize their accounts. It\’s boring and seems less important than the work of writing and sending campaigns, updating lead magnets, and moving automation emails around to better optimize sales or donations.

These seven isteps combined with a strong unique selling proposition and campaigns that speak to your subscribers needs will deliver for you over and over again. However, let me say again that these steps are tactics that must be updated regularly.

The keystone of Mailchimp marketing is a single, good quality list. Mailchimp likes quality lists. They endeavor to deliver emails from quality lists much more than lists that aren\’t updated, that have high unsubscribe rates, and that are generally ignored by their owners.

Be the business owner that schedules these tasks and understands why you\’re scheduling them. Be the business owner for whom marketing is boring. Be the business owner that implements these seven practices like the boss you are.

Tip #1: One audience only

People new to email marketing often rush to create an audience list. They spend little time reviewing Mailchimp\’s excellent explainer articles, so they don\’t understand the difference between tags, groups, and segments. They may also decide they want to give away two lead magnets. But because they rushed into audience creation and subscriber capture, they have no idea how to differentiate — or segment in Mailchimp\’s term — which audience subscriber received which lead magnet.

\”I\’ll create a second audience!\” This seems like a genius move at the time. Two lead magnets (or two geographic locations, or two _____), two audiences.

Mailchimp marketers using this approach suffer for several reasons.

  1. Mailchimp charges you for every email appearance. Thus if xx@xyz.com appears in both audiences, Mailchimp charges account users twice.
  2. If xx@xyz.com unsubscribes from audience A, they aren\’t unsubscribed from audience B. Guess what that means? Xx@xyz.com gets mad when they receive a communication from a list they though they\’d unsubscribed from and get so mad, they report a campaign as spam.
  3. Mailchimp devalues accounts with spam complaints.
  4. They don\’t know what their subscribers like or want and send email blasts to everyone, all the time.

Over time this behavior can result in a low-quality audience. A low-quality audience means lower open rates, more emails in the spam folder, and possibly even an account hold by Mailchimp, if there are enough spam complaints.

We dissuade people from creating more than one audience all the time. In order to create a high-quality list over time, you must spend some time understanding your audience.

Your list is a large community made up of smaller communities. As a marketer, maybe even the only marketer in your business or religious organization or nonprofit, you\’ll need to get to know these smaller communities.

Let\’s say you own a small bookstore. Some of your customers read literary fiction, others ready romance novels. Some read history and others read philosophy. You wouldn\’t want to send an email about Ernest Hemingway to a devoted reader of Nora Roberts. And an avid Civil War buff probably couldn\’t care less about the latest in American labor history

But this happens all too often. When a client uses language like \”email blast\” or \”we just sent it out to everyone,\” we know at Holy Gusto we\’re working with a business that sends the latest in cook books to mystery readers, and vice versa.

Sending the wrong email to the wrong person can result in an unsubscribe and a spam complaint.

This is why audience management represents the foundation upon which good email marketing succeeds.

I can tell you how to segment and tag and group your audience using Mailchimp. If you don\’t understand why you must do these things, the how won\’t matter one bit. If you don\’t understand how, spending hundreds of dollars on a mobile-friendly template will fail.

The easiest way to think about and get the most out of your Mailchimp marketing efforts is to maintain a single audience AND spend time understanding the how people in your audience fall into distance segments.

How do people in your audience fall into distinct segments? By falling tip #2.

Tip #2: Use audience traits and behaviors to segment your one audience.

Traits describe the who (aka demographic information):

  • Age, gender, ethnicity
  • Marital status
  • Current city of residence
  • Birthday
  • Number of children
  • Alma mater

Behaviors describe the things people like to do, read, and watch (aka psychographic information) and also how they interact with you emails, products, and apps (if you have them):

  • Religious affiliation
  • Hobbies
  • Career changes
  • Health issues
  • Campaign engagement (clicks and opens)
  • Social media interactions
  • Landing page activity (subscribed vs nonsubscribed)
  • Books they like to read
  • Favorite movies

People\’s traits and behaviors change. So does their open and click behavior. Mailchimp will change people\’s contact activity rating based on open and click activity. But you must do the bulk of maintaining a quality audience when it comes to tags, groups, and segments.

As your subscribers change you must change how you interact with them, by changing the tags, segments, and groups that guide your interactions with them.

Let\’s say you run a hang gliding business. You sent out event emails once a week to everyone you\’ve tagged \”0-25 miles\” for all subscribers who live within 25 miles of your facility.

What happens when someone moves 3,000 miles away? You probably keep sending them the same event reminders for their old location.

Would you want to keep receiving event notifications after you\’ve moved? Probably not. But if you keep sending the old notifications, you\’re wasting your time and run the risk of an unsubscribe and a spam complaint.

However, you\’re not that type of marketer/business owner. You know about Mailchimp\’s predictive marketing algorithms. You know Mailchimp produces a location segment — with a high-degree of accuracy — based on the IP addresses subscribers use to interact with your content.

Mailchimp saves you time by automatically updating this location data which helps maintain an updated audience and target people who can attend your local events.

You use this pre-defined segment to send out event notifications.

Tip #3: Maintain proper permission.

We feel somewhat sad at Holy Gusto that people still send marketing emails to people without their consent.

Super pro tip: An interaction with a potential client or lead DOES NOT constitute to permission to add them to your audience list.

The foundation of ethical Mailchimp marketing is built on explicit permission.


Tip #4: Re-engage or unsubscribe inactive contacts.

Any type of email marketing, Mailchimp or otherwise, people\’s interest wane. They stop opening your emails.

Send out a re-engagement email once a quarter to 2-star subscribers. Keep it simple. Ask if they want to continue to receive emails from you. Make it easy for them to unsubscribe. If they don\’t respond from the re-engagment campaign, unsubscribe them yourself.

And remember to ARCHIVE these unsubscribes. Otherwise, Mailchimp will charge you, even though you can\’t send them emails!

Tip #5: Allow contacts to update their profiles.

You\’ve probably seen language in a standard Mailchimp template footer about \”update your preferences.\”

This link sends a subscriber to their preference panel.

You create the preferences panel within Mailchimp. The easiest and most frequent use of the preferences panel is to create a group field that contains the type of communication a subscriber wants to receive.

Remember that business owner who created two lead magnets (and then mistakenly created two audiences)? Let\’s say she decides that each lead magnet will lead to a different type of communication. One lead magnet triggers communications about negotiating skills. The second lead magnet triggers communications about general communication skills.

In her preferences panels, she\’d create two fields.

  1. Negotiation skills
  2. General communication skills

She then tells subscribers they can choose which type of communication they want to receive in a welcome email. She also periodically reminds her subscribers to update their preferences.

Audience members love this option so much. They maintain control of what they\’re receiving and can change the frequency and content of communication from you at any time.

Remember, you can use preferences for anything: Type of pet you live with (if you\’re a pet store owner); type of genre fiction you read (if you\’re a book store); type of health food products, and so on.

Flex your Mailchimp marketing muscles with groups and the preferences panel. You won\’t regret it.

Tip #6: Consider single vs double opt-in methods

European Union laws require a double-opt in process during the subscription process. Business owners in the US often choose single opt-in. This practice makes it easier to get into a subscribers inbox, but it makes it more difficult to prove they wanted you there in the first place.

Choose wisely. We do use a process that utilizes single opt-in during the initial subscription process, then requires a subscriber to click on a link in a series of automated emails sent out after the subscription process. If they don\’t click on any links, we recommend unsubscribing them. These subscribers can\’t then send a spam complaint (because they\’re not receiving any more emails from you) and the practice cleans your list from \”freebie-loaders,\” the folks who sign up for your free giveaways, but will never buy anything from you.

Tip #7:Use reCAPTCHA subscribe confirmation

All those bicycles and fire hydrants and traffic lights you have to find in a 3 x3 square? They keep spammers out of your audience with their low- and no-quality email addresses.

Implementing these 7 tactical practices in your Mailchimp marketing creates the strongest foundation possible for you to achieve your revenue dreams through email marketing.






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