Monday, 18 January 2016

Blogging & MailChimp: getting the news out

(HubSpot, n.d.)
We blog for many reasons, but mostly for connection. If we form closer connection and create more value for our customers, then we retain them, and attract new ones. Almost half of our wired population read posts from at least one blog each day (HubSpot, n.d.).

A business blog is organisational PR, which should be carefully planned for best effect to create subject area expertise and thought leadership. It should give our company a compelling voice linked clearly to our brand and brand values. We have to think through what our customers will want to know; such as industry, local, national or international changes which might affect them. Ensure it creates a channel for us to communicate with our clients, where they can provide us with feedback - and where we respond to that feedback quickly.

SEO (Search Engine Optimisation), how our material is sourced and indexed by search engines, such as Google, YouTube and Bing, thrive on the changing nature of blogging, lifting our website ranking if we post material that is clearly key-worded, aligned to our business, and regular.

The content posted to our blog should form the nucleus that our content marketing strategy is built around. Our blog posts should then be strongly linked via our shout-outs to all our chosen social media platforms.

HubSpot (n.d.) found that more than half of their surveyees read most of their emails: emailing blog updates in a regular html newsletter using images will encourage click through.

We need a tool to get the email word out: a nicely formatted and schedule-able emailer. I think that MailChimp is the best - and free - option currently in the wild.

For the PR requirements of a small business blogger, a free MailChimp account is perfectly suitable. If you don't yet have an account, go to and create one.

Before we start though, we need to sit back and think about how regularly we want to communicate with our clients. We don't want it to be too often: nor so spread apart that our client doesn't remember who we are. Somewhere between fortnightly and six weekly tends to be about the 'right' time.

The next thing we need to do is to think about how much information we want to send to our clients. Click through images with brief text works much better than a wall of words. Fewer items, rather than many, looks 'curated'; and does not present as a deluge that overwhelms.

We tend to remember - on average - around seven things (Purdy, 12 March 2012). So we need to keep our emailer shorter rather than longer.

We can then check out the MailChimp templates - of which there are many - and create a template that is aligned with our company brand image. Getting this right is important, as our mailer is our brand ambassador. We can go to to build a template using a layout structure, a theme, or - if we are a code guru - to code our own mailer template. If we are really on a shoe-string PR budget, we can check out Fiverr to see if a consultant will create us a MailChimp newsletter template for USD$5.

Once we have our template, there some things that we need to have built a system around. We need to:
  • upload all our customer names and addresses into MailChimp
  • either create images for all our blog posts and have them in each post, or buy access to an image library (we don't want to be getting sued for using someone else's image)
  • have developed a subject line standard format for each emailer we send
  • have developed a standard twitter format for each tweet
  • have developed a standard Facebook format for each post
Now it is time to set up our first campaign. A 'Regular campaign' tends to do the trick: it sends an html email (and a plain-text version which can be read). MailChimp will then walk us through selecting which mailing list we want to send to (Recipients), how we want to set up this particular campaign - campaign name, the subject line, to, from, tracking and social media (ie, the Facebook post, the Tweet), then selecting our template, further details on designing our campaign and finally, testing, scheduling and confirmation. I always send at least two test emails before finally pushing the go button.

MailChimp's carefully crafted process walks us through these steps: they have really ironed the bugs out. Additionally, there are many YouTube 'How To' clips - I suggest using LLC Education's clip (2 Dec 2014) to get familiar with the process.

It is amazing what we can do at a very low cost, yet looking highly professional.



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