Of course, you will have a sign-up box on your website to collect names and emails, but what about when you are first starting out? You may want to let the following types of people know about your newsletter and get them added to your mailing list in a way that decreases the possibility of unsubscribes and reports of spam:

  1. People who are already confirmed to a cold list (inactive list).
  2. Your current customers.
  3. Friends and colleagues.

This is not meant to be a way to send mail to people on purchased mailing lists or culled from mailing lists of organizations or other such sketchy methods. MailChimp has little tolerance for users who receive even a small percentage of unsubscribes and spam reports from a singular mailing. Your account could be suspended right out of the gate if you send to a cold list or a list whose permission you don’t have.

For your legitimate groups of people, I suggest creating custom “Warm Up” messages to send to each of the groups you would like to add to your email list. You will send these out through MailChimp as plain text emails. If you follow the process below you can add people to your list with little chance of being flagged for suspension.

  1. Export all of your contacts into an Excel spreadsheet. Remove all columns that you won’t need and keep their first names in one column and their emails in the next column.
  2. Think about the different categories in your list. Examples: Inner circle such as friends and family, recent colleagues, customers, and networking contacts.
  3. Create a separate Excel spreadsheet for each category. Carefully go over your master Excel list, separating the names and emails onto each appropriate spreadsheet. Create separate named lists in MailChimp for each of these groups.
  4. Import the names and emails from each spreadsheet into the appropriate MailChimp email lists. (Cut and paste.)
  5. Draft separate messages for each group using the tone and content you would use when writing to a representative person from each group. Begin the message with the type of opener you would use if you were only sending a single email to that individual. Tell them what you have been up to and that you are starting a newsletter. Describe the type of content you will be sending out in each newsletter and let them know how often you’ll be sending it out. Inform them about any specific benefits they might receive from getting your newsletter.
  6. The ending of the warm up messages will vary depending on the group.
    • If you know you have permission to mail to a specific category, such as your family, then you can tell them in the message that you have already added them to your newsletter list. Then let them know that you will totally understand if they would like to unsubscribe and provide the link right there. If your family members do not unsubscribe, you can also add their names to your main newsletter list.
    • If you do not have permission to mail to a specific category, then invite them to sign up and include the link to your main newsletter list so they can do so.

Under no circumstance should you export your entire email address book into MailChimp. Seriously, there will be email addresses in your contact list that don’t like you or that you probably don’t even know. And MailChimp will close you down if you get too many unsubscribes or spam reports from a mailing, knowing that you most likely pissed the sh*&t out of people. (For more information on not being a sketchy spammer: http://eepurl.com/hcqX).

Next: Overview of Sign Up Forms

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