Some things feel like they never change: a great email list is still your most valuable marketing asset. It’s literally a group of people who have given you permission to talk to them about your company, your products, your services, and yourself. What an opportunity!
Often, though, it can be hard to know how to get that list started. People have to know what they’re signing up for first, and then you can build trust and pitch them your offerings later. No one signs up just to get sales emails. So, how you do you get going?
You can leverage content you’re already putting out to give value to people and build your email list by emailing out your blog posts. People get the convenience of reading your content without visiting your site to check for new posts, and you get an invitation directly into their inbox.
One fantastically easy way to get this going is with a signup form on your website and MailChimp’s RSS-to-Email feature—it’s all set-it-and-forget-it. Once it’s set up, you don’t have to do anything but keep creating great content. Your blog posts will be automatically put together into a daily digest and sent each day to everyone on your list.
I’ll give you the rundown on one way to set this up. If you’re an Evermore customer, you don’t have to install anything. Just activate and go!
(If you have an existing MailChimp account, skip on down to “Creating a List”.)
Start by signing up for a new MailChimp account. It’s free! Once you submit your information, you’ll get an activation email in your inbox. Click that and walk through the steps of putting in your information.
When you’re done, you’ll find yourself on your fancy new Dashboard.
Creating a List
You’ll need to create a new empty list of people to send your posts to. Click on ‘Lists’ on the left side of your Dashboard, and then click the ‘Create List’ button in the top right corner.
Fill out the information required, but do note that your subscribers will see a few things you fill in here. The ‘List Name’ should clearly state what this list is—something like ‘Your Company Name Blog Digest’ should do fine. The email you set up as the default “from” email should be real, because that’s what folks might reply to. Lastly, a good example for the ‘Remind people how they got on your list’ field is, “You signed up to receive Your Company Name’s blog posts by email.”
Once you’re done with everything, click ‘Save’.
The Magic: Setting up the Subscription Form
From here, you’ll have to do a few minutes of fancy footwork. But remember, you only have to do it once! And, Evermore customers, you can feel free to contact us for assistance if you have trouble.
Start by clicking “Signup forms” (you can see it on the screenshot above), or go back to your main Lists page, click on the dropdown menu for your new list, and click ‘Signup forms’.
Select ‘Embedded forms’, and then choose the ‘Naked’ form option.
Now, look for the ‘Copy/paste onto your site’ section, which has a bunch of gobbledygook code in it. Copy everything in that section, open a text editing program (like Notepad, TextEdit, or Word), and paste that whole bunch of code in there. We’re only going to get one URL out of it, called the “form action”.
Look for a bit of code that looks like:
<form action=”//aprilseal.us9.list-manage.com/subscribe/post?u=48ad14a990cc034f28fe42378&id=4b42c87bc0” method=”post”
What we want is the URL between the quotation marks. So, in the example I gave above, it would be:
Now, hold on to that URL. You’re doing great! And, now you can tell your friends that you worked with code. 🙂
Now, log in to the backend of your WordPress (Evermore) website. Once logged in, head over to the ‘Plugins’ section and activate ‘Genesis eNews Extended’. If you’re not on Evermore, download and install the plugin. This is a widget that will power your subscription form.
Now, go to Appearance > Widgets. Find the ‘Genesis – eNews Extended’ widget on the left side. Click it, and choose which area to add it to. I recommend either the ‘After Entry’ area if you have it (which places it below your blog posts), or your primary sidebar.
Great! Now, you’re going to fill in some details. A screenshot of a correctly set up widget is below, but here’s what you need to know:
- The ‘Title’ and ‘Text To Show Before Form’ fields are yours to customize. Tell people what they’ll get when they sign up!
- Ensure that ‘Email Field’ says ‘EMAIL’—it needs to be all capital letters.
- Finally, in ‘Form Action’ paste that special URL we just worked on a minute ago. This will tell the form to send the email address to MailChimp.
Click ‘Save’—you’re all set there!
Creating the RSS Feed Campaign
Before setting up your RSS campaign, here’s all you need to know: your ‘RSS Feed URL’ will be your website, with ‘/feed’ added to the end. For example: yoursite.com/feed.
Pro tip: If you want to only include posts from a category, you can do that, too! For instance, if you only want to send posts from your ‘Business’ category, simply make the RSS URL yoursite.com/category/business/feed.
Instead of repeating everything here, read MailChimp’s instructions on creating an RSS-driven campaign or watch the handy video below. You’ll have a beautiful template set up for your digest in no time!
Make sure you send a test email to yourself, just to see it all working. Use the ‘Preview & Test’ dropdown menu while editing your campaign and send a test email.
Once you’ve clicked ‘Start RSS’, you’re all set up! Excellent! Now, folks can sign up to your email list and automatically get your blog posts—and you have their email address!
Now, we should clearly state: don’t abuse that privilege. They signed up to get your blog posts, not your marketing emails. Don’t spam them! You’ll not only lose subscribers, you’ll seem untrustworthy. Writing great content will do your selling for you over time.
Bonus: Improving Images
To really clean up your emails, use the Send Images to RSS plugin to ensure all your images are the right size for your email template. It’s magic!