** This is a guest post by Amy Ellis of MailChimp **

At MailChimp, we put a lot of effort into making sure you can find out the basics for creating an account, uploading a list and creating your first campaign. I highly recommend checking out one of our beginner Online Training sessions. We offer them at 11am and 4pm EST every day. We also have lots of videos in the MailChimp Academy and How-To Guides in the resources section of our site. Since its easy to get the basics of using our application, I want to go over a few other insider tips and tricks that will help you get off on the right foot. 

1. Create an Email Marketing Plan 


Most of us aren’t writing experts or email marketing naturals. However, instead of thinking, “How can I drive x amount of sales to increase my overall ROI?’ (although we do have some nifty tools to help you measure that) maybe stop and ask yourself, “How can I make my email campaigns useful to my audience?” Taking 20 minutes to complete an Email Marketing Plan (a.k.a. a Plan of Action) helps keep you focused on achieving your goals by defining your audience and outlining a content strategy. We have a short guide that takes you through this process in just a few steps. Don’t worry, its not as painful as it sounds! 

2. Start Building a Permission-Based List 


We are a permission-based email delivery service and tangible proof of opt in is a requirement to use our service. By setting our standards high we are able to provide excellent deliverability to all of our users. So, take some time to create your sign-up form, add it to your web site, Facebook page and anywhere else you can think of, so that you’re consistently building a list of people who really want to hear from you. This will result in few spam complaints, better open and click rates and a more dedicated subscriber base in general. 

Speaking of building your list, you definitely want your customers to be able to easily opt in to receive emails from you when they’re purchasing from your Shopify store. Luckily, we have a great integration with Shopify that will make syncing your customers to your MailChimp list super simple. Its called Chimpified and you can read more about it here in our Integrations Directory.

3. Think of Your Subscribers as Humans, Especially When Writing Your Content 


Even though our mascot is a Chimpanzee, we’re big fans of acting like humans and treating our users like humans too. In our experience, people really appreciate that our communications take a more ‘human’ tone rather than a very formal or ‘marketing’ tone. They even find it easier to relate to MailChimp and form a bond with our brand (a.k.a. ‘brand-loyalty’ as they say in marketing school). 

As someone with ‘traditional’ marketing training, I know how easy it can be to slip into ‘marketing speak’ when I start writing email content. I usually have to take a second and re-frame my brain to think about how I would write this if I were talking to my friends or if 10 of my best customers were sitting with me at dinner. When I do that, I usually come up with much more human content. 

Another great reason to focus on creating ‘human’ content is that spam filters look for content that seems spammy. And spammy content doesn’t read like it was created by a human. For example, it is usually a good idea to stay away from all-caps sales copy like “BUY NOW!!!!” or “LIMITED TIME OFFER!!!” in email. 

Spam filters look at a long list of criteria to decide whether or not an email is junk. These items are almost always on their lists of spammy criteria. 

  • Going crazy with exclamation points !!!!!!!
  • USING ALL CAPS –ITS LIKE YELLING IN EMAIL.
  • Coding sloppy HTML (usually from converting a Microsoft word file to HTML).
  • Coloring fonts bright red or green.
  • Using the word “test” in the subject line.
  • Creating an HTML email that’s nothing but one big image, with little or no text. 

4. Don’t Stop Building Your List 


The sad truth of the matter is that some of your subscribers will only stay engaged with your newsletter for about 4 months. At that point, they may unsubscribe or they may just stop paying attention. There are some ways to help extend the attention-span of a subscriber, but more importantly, you want to always be thinking about building your permission-based list. We’ve got some nifty tools for getting your sign up form out there and encouraging subscriptions. 

  • Add Your Subscriber Form to Your Web site and Blog: Find your CMS and/or blog platform in our integration directory and see how easy it is to add a good-looking sign-up form to your web site and blog.
  • Chimpadeedoo: Chimpadeedoo  is a free iPad app that makes it easy to collect email address on your iPad and sync them with your MailChimp list. 
  • ShortStack: ShortStack makes it easy to create custom tabs for your Facebook Pages. Use it to add a MailChimp subscription form to your page plus create special offers or run contests to help drive sign-ups.
  • Text to Subscribe: If you’re traveling to any trade shows or events, let your customers know they can subscribe just by texting subscribe to your special short code. 

That’s probably enough to get you started. Keep an eye out for more blog posts from us to help you cultivate a really lucrative email list and take advantage of that.


Amy Ellis (@amy_e_ellis) is Head of Integrations and Partnerships for MailChimp.com and is chock-full of awesome information. Before she became a chimp wrangler, her background included marketing and public relations for nonprofit organizations.

MailChimp helps you design email newsletters, share them on social networks, integrate with your Shopify store, and track your results. It's like your own personal publishing platform. For more info on integrating with MailChimp, check out the Chimpified App.