When you log in to your MailChimp account, the Dashboard greets you.
I remember my first time here thinking, “OK… What do I need to do first?” I tried that Create Campaign button way at the top, but part way through the process, it told me I needed to create a List first. That was a tad confusing, so I’d like to spare you the headache.
What’s A List And What’s A Campaign
A campaign at MailChimp describes what you want to send; a list tells MailChimp who to send it to. Each prayer letter you send can be a new campaign. And you’ll send that campaign to one list of prayer supporters. Think of a list much like a contact group in your email program. You set that up once. Then each time you write a prayer letter, you send it to that group. Same thing with sending a campaign to a MailChimp list.
So, let’s skip past the campaign stuff for now and focus on setting up that list. Go ahead and click the Create a List button on your dashboard.
You Have No Lists
Thank you, MailChimp. I have no lists. I know; I’m trying to create one.
Besides the moving arrow pointing to the Create List button at the top, this screen does give some interesting information about what lists are and how you can use them. In later posts, we’ll discuss some pretty cool list management things you can do with segments and groups.
It’s too early to be thinking about segments and groups right now, so click the Create List button, and we’ll move on.
On To The Good Stuff
Here’s where you tell MailChimp all about your mailing list. It’s also where some of the analogy with an email group starts to break down. A lot of the reputation management and email law compliance happens here. I’ll explain as we walk through the form.
- List name: This is for you. You can create multiple lists, and this name helps you tell them apart. I recommend “Prayer Supporters” for now. You can always change it later.
- Default From email address: With normal e-mail, you’re usually logged into just one account and every email you send comes from you. If you’re a bit more advanced, you may have multiple accounts. If so, each time you send an email, you have to decide which account you’re sending from. This email address is what your recipient will see in their own email program as the sender. Rather than having to choose this every time you send an email (or campaign), you can set it up once here on the list. You’ll be able to change your mind when you send each campaign, but you won’t have to.
- Default From name: Same thing, but with the name instead. Put your real name and email address in these fields.
- Remind people how they got on your list: This one’s important. As part of the reputation management and compliance that MailChimp takes care of for you, they include “unsubscribe” and “report abuse” links in each outgoing email. If too many people click those links, the offending sender will get warnings from MailChimp. If it goes on too long, MailChimp can suspend or even cancel the sender’s account. That’s how they keep their reputation (and yours!) clean enough to get your email delivered. As long as you’re not adding people to your list without their permission, you should be fine. Still, some people sign up for things that they forget about. Or they may sign up with an email account they share with others. You’ll want to remind them that they asked for your prayer letters. If you always sign people up the same way, you can be even more specific about how or when they signed up.
- Contact information for this list: This is more compliance and reputation management stuff. This will show up on the emails you send, so make sure it’s correct. You can click MailChimp’s Why is this necessary? link for more detailed information if you’re interested.
- Notifications: When you use your own email program to set up a group, you have to enter every email address. But with a MailChimp list, there are many different ways that people can add themselves to your list – saving you a lot of work. In fact, it’s better that way because MailChimp can then double-check their email address for you. In later posts, we’ll get into how you can create signup forms. For now, MailChimp just wants to know how and when to let you know when someone signs up. I would suggest signing up for the daily summary. That will give you an opportunity to reach out personally to thank those who sign up – if you choose to do that – and it keeps all the signups for a single day grouped together into one email. (You’ll be glad for this automatic summary when thirty people sign up on the same Sunday.)
When you’re finished making your choices, click the “Save” button.
And here you are. In the next article, we’ll start adding to this list from email addresses you already know.
Create your Prayer Supporters list in MailChimp. Remember, none of this costs you any money, and it can help you tremendously in communicating with your supporters.