How to set up Mailchimp with Feedburner and launch an RSS to Email campaign

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You know that you need a list to succeed in the internet marketing world these days. Pat Flynn, along with many others, has said that if he would do one thing differently, he would have started his list earlier. Subscribers are a vital component to your success online, nothing new there.

But getting it set up can be a hassle.

You want your content delivered straight to your subscriber’s inbox, right? You like the way those emails look that show up in your inbox each time Michael Hyatt posts something new to his site too.

Here are the steps you need to take to get Feedburner and Mailchimp set up on your site.

First you have to set up your Feedburner account. Can’t get too far without this. So if you’re going to use Feedburner, you need to go to feedburner.com and burn a feed now. In order to do that you need to know what your feed source is.

For WordPress it’s here: http://yoursite.com/feed/

For Drupal sites it can be any number of places, but I’ve created mine using Views and have two different feeds – one for media, one for my blog.

If you’re not quite sure you can learn how to set up your Feedburner feed.

Now that you have your Feedburner feed set up, you need to go to your Mailchimp account and set up a new campaign there. The campaign type that you’re looking for is an “RSS-Driven campaign.”

In order to get this part set up, you need to add your Feedburner address from the previous step to the “RSS Feed URL” field, then select the time that you want it to go out every day.

Now, here is one part you need to pay special attention. The next question is “When Should We Send?” The big thing you need to pay attention to here is that the emails will be sent at the time you sent in Greenwich Mean Time. I’ve got my campaign set to send every day that there is new content at 10 am which corresponds to 2 pm GMT.

By default Mailchimp will check your feed every day to look for new content and will only send the emails on the days where there is new content. You can also select weekly or monthly.

Next you need to select a list of subscribers to send your emails to, if in fact, you already have a list. If you don’t have a list already set up you’ll be presented with an option to create a new list. You will likely want to send it to your entire list, so select that to proceed.

After you’ve selected your list, it’s now time to set up your campaign info. Here is where you name your campaign, set your “from” info, your reply-to address etc. You’ll also have the option to automatically tweet out the email, as well as share it on Facebook. I sometimes use my list for special deals for my subscribers, so I do not have these options selected.

You can also set up Google Analytics to see how the campaign is performing for your website.

Next up is selecting your design. I personally didn’t do anything fancy here – just the facts. I selected a basic template, customized it a little with my logo and colors, made it a single column, and that was it. No frills, just the basics. But just because I chose to go the simple route, doesn’t mean you have to. There are predesigned templates too, and you can use those. If you’ve saved a template previously – which I highly recommend doing once you get one the way you like it  – you can choose that too. Mailchimp has its own WYSIWYG editor so you can play around with the design and work with the tags here.

Next, you can check and configure a plain text version of the email for those who don’t use or allow HTML through their email.

Finally, all you have left is to test it out and then start your campaign. Make sure you test and make sure everything is working correctly. I had to go back a couple times to make sure my list info, disclaimers, links, design, etc. were configured correctly. Once you’ve finished testing it out, you are ready to go! Click the start campaign button, and you’ll get a “are you sure you’re ready to do this” dialog box, but once you click that you’re done!

A couple things to remember:

Make sure that when you’re presented with the option to test out your new campaign that you take a minute to test it. Don’t get in a hurry here. Just test it out, make sure it’s working correctly and then move on to the next step.

At each step in the process you have the option to “Save & Exit”. I recommend making sure you have everything saved as you work through this process. If you get overwhelmed, which can happen sometimes, save it, and come back to it later.

If you’re new to Mailchimp, take some time to familiarize yourself with their interface. If you spend a little time up front finding your way around, you’ll save yourself a headache later.

Once your campaign is up and running, check your campaign stats and see how it’s performing. You will be able to look at stats on how many subscribers opened your email, how many clicked on the links, among other things, and will bench mark your list against industry standards as well as your own campaigns.

This will give you the ability to work through trial-and-error type issues, and see what works best, and what doesn’t.

Now that you have your Feedburner account set up, and your Mailchimp campaign ready to go, you need to get a sign-up widget on your website.

For WordPress users, using the Mailchimp WordPress plugin will help you get a sign-up form to place in your widgets.

For Drupal users, you can use the Mailchimp module, which is what I use, and it’s available and stable for both Drupal 6 & 7.

That’s it! Once Mailchimp is integrated in to your website you’re ready to go. Let me know how it goes for you, and if you have any trouble getting set up.