5 Steps to Starting Your Email Marketing Plan – PreVeteran

Orange Mail SignNo matter where you are in your small business startup, you should always be trying to find better ways to communicate great content with your followers. Whether you are selling a product or providing a service, the method for how you deliver that content is becoming as important as the content itself. For new small business owners, here is a list of the more standard ways to provide information to your followers: Social media channels such as Facebook and Twitter, a Blog, and e-mail marketing.

It may not be obvious, but when you provide information to your customers and followers via social media, Facebook and Twitter take care of how the content is delivered. It is part of their service to you. Likewise with a Blog, popular website applications like WordPress, Joomla, and Drupal make blogging simple and also have plugins, templates, and modules that can give your blog a polished and professional look without you having to do any backend coding. Again, it is their service to you and has become a widely used standard for business use.

Email Marketing – A Different (Old) Animal

Email marketing has been around a long time. The idea of collecting email addresses and sending information about your business to your distribution list is as old as the Internet (literally) and still bears some scars from the early years. Because of email’s simplicity (and that is was the only show in town in the early years of the Internet) it was highly overused in marketing. Actually, this might be an understatement—go check out your email Spam box. Making matters worse, some companies sell your email address to third parties as part of their revenue model.

Despite the scars from the early years, email marketing remains a very powerful method to communicate with your users. And similar to social media and blog applications, services exist to help you create and send out professional emails. More importantly, they have also become the standard. If you are a PreVeteran (active duty, Guard, Reserve, or spouse) entrepreneur just getting started, and don’t know about this service, consider this your introduction.

PreVeterans, Say Hello to Mail Chimp

Mail Chimp is the largest, most widely used FREE email marketing service on the Internet, allowing you to send up to 12,000 emails to 2,000 recipients per month. If you exceed the 12,000 emails per month, you will enter a pricing plan based on the number of subscribers you have.

Once you subscribe, Mail Chimps’ simple, intuitive interface allows you to design polished and professional emails with their built-in, customizable templates.

Getting Started is Simple!

1). Create an account: Visit the Mail Chimp website and input your email address and create a username and password. Visit the email account you used to set up Mail Chimp and click on the link in the email to activate the account. Once you activate that account, they direct you to a Mail Chimp page where you can create a more detailed profile.

2). Create a List: Once you complete your profile, Mail Chimp will take you to the user dashboard. From there, create a list of subscribers. This can be from a list you put together or from your website or blog. You can input the names into the system manually or from an Excel or CSV file. Note* If you have some website experience, you can utilize Mail Chimp APIs to automatically add subscribers to your list when they sign up at your website.

3). Create a Template: Once you complete your list, click on templates, then click on create a template on the top right of the screen. From there, pick the template you want to use to best communicate the information to your followers. While the templates are simple to use, it will take some time to get familiar with how the website wants you to work with the templates.

4). Create a Campaign: Once you have a list and the email you want to create, you can build your campaign. For most PreVeteran entrepreneurs, using the Simple Ol’ Campaign will be the one you want to choose.

5). Track Your Performance and Make Adjustments: Mail Chimp also gives you useful metrics on your emails. It tells you how many people open your email and how many links (if you have any) users clicked on. Using this feedback, make adjustments to your email marketing. Try different things and use social media to get feedback from followers.

Have something to add? Please sound off below in the comment section.

  • Thanks, Jason. Great step by step instructions… I can refer clients to this! I love Mailchimp. You can do so much with the free features and I’ve just gotten into using automated email workflows with them, which is a very affordable solution compared to other platforms.

  • Chris

    Perfect! I fell on mailchimp after getting a mailing from another business. I’ve been using it since and I’m very happy with the look and feel of it coupled with the analytics it provides. I’ve also added mailchimp “popup” signup forms to my website and they have been surprisingly very effective at growing our mailing list. Great article Jason!

  • Meg, totally agree with your assessment on Mailchimps’ free features and their ease of use. It is the perfect solution to any new PreVeteran small business!

  • Chris, thanks for the feedback and thanks for pointing out the “popup!” I am going to have to give that a shot for this website. Hope you keep turning in for our new blogs. If you have any suggestions for topics, fire away.

  • Matt

    Great blog post Jason! I just added Mail Chimp to my website about 3-4 months ago. I plan to use it for sending new blog posts and product discount/specials.

    As far as new blog ideas…I’m currently researching pay-per-click ads on search engines. I don’t know much on them but am considering them as part of my marketing plan.

  • Matt, that is awesome! Thanks for sharing. When you learn more about pay-per-click, please consider sharing it with the audience to help others with their small businesses.