Part 11 – Semi-Automatic Welcomes

Exhausted after days of furlough travel, you fetch your clipboard with the handwritten email addresses of a dozen new prayer partners. Somewhat settled in your temporary home, you’ll do two things with that clipboard. First, you’ll add those email addresses as subscribers to your MailChimp list. Second, you’ll send individual welcome emails personally thanking each one of them for joining your prayer team.

Wouldn’t it be nice to make that welcome email go out automatically? Of course it would, but you’re still using MailChimp’s “Forever Free” plan. You haven’t paid for the automation features.

You can still save loads of time on those thank-you emails to new subscribers with a “semi-automatic” approach.

For free.

I’ll show you how.

Why should I send a thank you through MailChimp?

By giving you their email addresses, these new prayer partners have shown their interest not only in your ministry, but in you personally. Reaching out with a quick thank-you helps you keep that connection alive and prepares them for your regular reports.

There are two other great reasons for using MailChimp to send an email campaign to new subscribers:

  1. The thank-you email can help you learn if you have misread one of those handwritten addresses. Look for the “Bounced” emails on the report for your thank-you email campaign. With clipboard in hand, you can make any necessary corrections before your next report goes out.
  2. Add this line to the bottom of your email. “I want to make sure I entered your address correctly. Please reply to this email to let me know you received it.” In addition to being an extra check for correct addresses, clicking Reply will help many email clients know that messages from your MailChimp account are not SPAM.

What does “semi”-automatic mean?

With the full automation offered by a paid MailChimp account, when a new prayer partner is added to your list, MailChimp will send out your welcome or thank-you email without any further action on your part. I’m assuming you haven’t upgraded to a paid plan, so I’ll show you how you can get the next best thing for free.

With my semi-automatic approach available on MailChimp’s Forever Free plan, it takes just a few clicks to send all of your thank you emails at once, no matter how many new prayer partners you just added.

How do I set it up?

There are two main steps required to get your MailChimp account ready for semi-automatic welcome emails.

  1. Create a MailChimp segment to find new prayer partners.
  2. Write and send your first “Thank You” campaign.

Find Your New Prayer Partners

In our previous MailChimp article, we talked about how to use a segment to send emails only to members of a certain group. When we did that, the segment we used to send that campaign didn’t stick around to be reused later.

Today’s segment will be different. We’ll name the segment we create today so that we can use it over and over again to find new prayer partners – those whose email addresses have been added since the last time we sent a campaign.

To get started, log on to MailChimp, click “Lists” from the main menu, and click the name of the list you use for your prayer supporters. If you followed our example, this would be “Prayer Supporters.”

Manage Segments of Subscribers
Manage Segments of Subscribers

Next, choose Segments from the Manage Subscribers menu for that list. You’ll see the following screen:

Click "Create Segment"
Click “Create Segment”

Click the Create Segment button at the top (not the little arrow beside it).

Creating a segment lets you describe for MailChimp how it can find only those subscribers that meet certain conditions. In this case, you want to tell MailChimp to find only your new subscribers – that is, those who were added to the list after your last report was sent.

To describe this segment, change the dropdown options to match any of the following:

  • Date Added … is after … the last campaign was sent
Find subscribers added after the last campaign was sent.
Find subscribers added after the last campaign was sent.

If you haven’t yet used MailChimp to send anything to your list, then there is no “last campaign was sent” date, and MailChimp won’t give you this option. You’ll need to come back later and create the segment after you send your first campaign.

If you’re still with me, click the Preview Segment button to move to the next step.

Click "Save as segment"
Click “Save as segment”

The next page shows you everyone who currently qualifies for this segment. At the top of the list is a section that tells you how many subscribers currently qualify. Click the Save Segment button in that section.

Name Your Segment

In the window that appears next, name your segment New Subscribers.

Be sure to leave the Auto-Update checkbox checked. If you turn that off, then this segment will always and forever refer only to the subscribers that meet the criteria right now. That wouldn’t be terribly helpful.

By leaving Auto-Update checked, you’re telling MailChimp that you want it to do a fresh search for new subscribers every time you send an email to that segment.

When you’re done here, click Save.

Great! You’re done with Step 1 of the setup. You have successfully taught MailChimp how to find those new prayer partners that you want to welcome with a thank you email.

Write And Send Your First Thank You

We want your future thank you emails to go out with just a few clicks. In order for that to work, you’ll have to have that welcome email already written up.

Let’s do that now.

Back in the main MailChimp menu, click Campaigns. At the top of the page, click Create Campaign, and select the Regular Campaign choice.

This next series of steps in creating your welcome email is almost identical to the process I described in MailChimp for Missionaries Part 9 – Send It. There are a couple of nuances to consider.

First, when MailChimp asks you what list should get your email, choose the Saved or pre-built segment option, and click the New Subscribers segment to select it.

Choose your new segment
Choose your new segment

Click Next at the bottom of the screen to continue preparing your outgoing email.

Next, when naming your campaign, you’ll want to give it a name that you’ll be able to find easily when it’s time to send this email again in the future. In the example below, you’ll see I called it Welcome – with today’s date. Whenever you send out a new welcome to new subscribers, you can give it a different name. Note that this isn’t the same thing as the email subject, so make it something meaningful to you.

You’ll also want to make sure that the from email address is actually your real email address, and not a “no reply” address. Why? Because you’re asking people to reply. You want to make sure their comments come back to you.

Name your Welcome campaign
Name your Welcome campaign

Go through the rest of the steps to compose and send this first welcome email, just like you did in MailChimp for Missionaries Part 9 – Send It.  This time, your message will be sent to everyone on your list who hasn’t yet received a MailChimp email from you.

Next Time Is Semi-Automatic!


Next time you add subscribers to your list and you want to send them a thank you message, the process will be much quicker.

Log on to MailChimp and click Campaigns from the main menu.

From the list of past campaigns, find your most recent “Welcome” email. In the dropdown on the far right, choose Replicate.

(If the Replicate option isn’t available, it’s because you don’t have any new subscribers since the last time you sent a campaign to this list.)

Keep the recipients the same (send to your “New Subscribers” segment), and click Next.

In the Campaign Info page, if you added a date to your campaign name, update that date, and remove any “copy” information that MailChimp may have added.

From here, MailChimp will offer to take you through the entire sequence of steps again, but you can shortcut the process by clicking directly on the steps you want to address.

Click on the on the Confirm link in the navigation section at the bottom of the window. This will let you jump all the way past the rest of the details and send your next welcome email exactly like you sent the previous one.

Jump To Confirm
Jump To Confirm

By creating a “New Subscriber” segment for your thank-you emails and replicating your previous welcome campaigns every time you add new prayer supporters, you can create a semi-automatic welcome email for your prayer letter mailing list – without having to upgrade to a paid MailChimp plan.

Take Action

Before your next regular report, create a New Subscribers segment in MailChimp and send your first Welcome email.

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