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MailChimp – haute-couture or prêt-à-porter.
We support our clients for their email campaigns. MailChimp is a very popular mass mailing service due to its user friendlyness and its support for the creation of email templates. You can use it as is with its different builtin functionnalities for your clients to subscribe, update profile, unsubscribe. Its analytics reports are filled with information to evaluate the success of a campaign. It has an elaborate application programming interface that is well documented and that allows to use the services from within our web site or to put in place automations that will implement various business rules. Our only concern with the service is that it is not made for truly multilingual Web sites.
That's it! You have chosen MailChimp for your email campaigns. Before sending your first campaign, you need to configure the system: create a list, edit the settings, verify messages for all forms and automatic email confirmations that will be sent by MailChimp.
Once basic configuration is done, it is time to build the mailing list. First you need to determine which custom fields you want to add. You might also to build some groups. Those will allow you to eventually segment your list and send messages that are targeted to the specific interests of you list registrants. Once configuration is finalized, you can let people register to populate your list or else import contacts coming from an external system.
To allow people to register to your list (or to change their preferences), you will want to put a link to MailChimp public form or integrate a registration form on your Web site. MailChimp already offers general forms, but the code can also be integrated on your Web site with their embedded form models. For those with more specific needs, we can use the application programming interface (API) to configure very precise business rules in the registration process. We also use this technique when we want to have top notch multilingual subscription forms.
Your list is finally in place and populated. Now you need to think about how you want to present your content for your campaigns. If you know the rules underlying email newsletters, you could do a simple copy and paste of the HTML code coming from your CMS for your messages. There are some conventions that need to be respected to bring it in, but MailChimp will take care of the details once you import your code. It is also possible to build your campaign within MailChimp's authoring tool. There are two options for that. First option, that we will qualify as "prêt-à-porter" is to customize one of the various rich templates offered by MailChimp. Second option, that we qualify "haute-couture" is to build your own responsive HTML templates (for emails that will adapt for reading on a mobile device, for instance) and incorporate specific template commands to obtain editable regions, repeatable regions, choose alternatives and include into your content various configuration values or data related to the recipient.
Your list is configured, your templates are ready, many people from your target audience have registered to the list: it is now time to create your campaigns. Once your content is written and laid out, you are now ready to prepare a campaign. For a targeted mailing, you will need to combine one or more segments. Once segments are in place, you are ready to send your campaign. You need to give it a name, put a subject (that's what people will see in their inbox), choose recipients (that's where segments are useful), enter content in the template if using MailChimp authoring tool, verify and send. That's when you click on that red button. You're ready? Click. Sent!
Your campaign has been sent. We are sure you are curious to see how it went. That's where you will want to consult the campaign reports. What was the opening rate, the click rate, which links were the most popular in your campaign, how many unsubscribes have you got and why? How do you compare over time to the rest of your industry with respect to the success of your campaigns? Answers to these questions will allow you to build more effective campaigns in the future.
Sometimes it is not possible to do everything we want, the way we want, with the tools offered by default with MailChimp. For instance, you might want to batch import records, but according to certain business rules, only retain some of the fields when importing. Another scenario would be to synchronize two data sources: CiviCRM and MailChimp for instance. That's when we can help by making custom development using MailChimp's very rich application programming interface or API.