Don’t have a communication plan for your audience yet? MailChimp isn’t sophisticated enough to set up a fully functioning communication plan, but it makes your manual emailing job so much more streamlined (and your messages look prettier, too!)
What MailChimp can do for you
If you have a small(ish) audience, MailChimp will work for you. You can have up to 2,000 subscribers for free, and send out 12,000 monthly emails.
MailChimp can help you track your audience segments, brand your messages, and run analytics on who’s viewing your emails.
Where to start
Outside of MailChimp, think about your communication plan. What messages do you want to send, and when? Think about timing and dates that affect your organization. It might help to lay out all of your communications in a Google Doc or Word so you can make sure you’re repeating key information, but not the same messages.
Templates: consider creating templates that reflect your brand. Images are great, and MailChimp makes inserting them easy. You can’t embed videos into MailChimp, so link out – if your audience is international, remember YouTube doesn’t work in some countries.
See Torque's guide for image size requirements. You can also resize images within MailChimp.
Lists: You can create lists for distinct audiences. In your lists, you can create segments to differentiate groups of members in the same list. For example – do you have a prospect email list? You can create segments of students for different sources and input dates.
The easiest way to import contacts is copy/pasting from an Excel or Google Sheet – identify your categories and go! You can also create a signup form to host on your site.
Campaigns: This is where the magic happens! Create a campaign – making sure to think of a catchy subject line. Choose your audience, design your template, and send or schedule. If you have a batch of email templates developed and your audience defined, you can schedule them to go out on a set schedule, taking future work off your plate.
You can also replicate past campaigns and send to new lists or segments to save time.
Reports: See how you’re doing, and adjust your campaigns accordingly.
Things to consider
Though not as sophisticated as a communication plan management software such as Hobsons or Sales Force, MailChimp can get you by if your lists are small.
When you’re creating a template, check out the “design” column. You can set fonts and colors here, rather than coding block by block. Create one template and design it fully, then replicate it for following campaigns.