In recent times, marketing and IT support has become an increasingly important part of any VA role and as a popular tool for small businesses, knowing how to use MailChimp is a pretty essential skill. But I bet there’s lots it can do that you might not even know about…

I was recently asked by a customer to look at a way to email a copy of her most recent blog out to her contacts as soon as it is posted, to encourage them to read the useful information that she is sharing. I wasn’t surprised to find that this is already a handy feature of Mailchimp, but not something that everyone takes advantage of…

So there are two ways to merge your blog content into a campaign email:

  • Use an RSS driven campaign
  • Use the *|FEED|* merge tags as part of any other type of campaign

The way to send out your blog posts by email automatically when they are posted in using an RSS driven campaign. We’ll look at using feed tags in any other ordinary campaign in the next article.

Setting up an RSS Driven Campaign (RSS-to-email)

So this this type of campaign is most useful if you want to automatically send out your latest blogs at regular intervals,or as they are posted. Using RSS-to-email you can ensure that your readers will get the latest information even if they haven’t had time to log onto your blog recently. It’s quite easy to set up a campaign like this, here’s how:

Log into your Mailchimp account and navigate to the campaigns area (from the left hand menu select ‘campaigns‘)
From the campaigns page, select the drop down button to add new campaign (on the right hand side of your screen) and choose ‘RSS driven campaign

RSS Driven Campaign (1)

You’ll then be moved into the campaign setup wizard which guides you through a series of steps to set up your email and link it to your blog.

First, you are prompted to enter the URL of your blog feed. The location of this can vary and so if you don’t already know it, you should check your blogging platform help section to find it.

TIP: I find the easiest way to find your feed URL is to look at the HTML source code. To view the source code, navigate to the web page you want to view the feed URL for and right click then choose ‘view page source’. Search the code for ‘rss’ using the find function and then examine the code to find the feed URL which should be preceded by the words ‘href=’

As you’ll see in the example below, the feed URL for our magazine is http://www.vapromag.co.uk/feed/

 

RSS Driven Campaign (2)

 

Next you can choose how often you want Mailchimp to check your blog for new posts and send out an email. The clever thing about using an RSS driven campaign is that it won’t send an email unless there is new blog content since the last time it checked which is a very handy feature!

RSS Feed 6

Click ‘next

The next steps are similar to setting up any campaign in Mailchimp. Select the list that you’d like to send to, and choose a segment if applicable.

On the next screen you can choose who the email will be sent from, and you have the possibility to use RSS merge tags in your subject line if you would like to. In the example below, I have set the subject line to show the feed title and date that the latest blog was posted which is handy if you will be sending these out regularly.

RSS Driven Campaign (3)

 

The next step is where you can start getting creative. Choose an existing template from your collection, or set up a new one if you’d prefer. You can add text and images to the content area as you would normally, then at the area where you would like to add in your blog post content, you need to use the RSS feed tags to draw the content through.

To do this you can simply drag and drop the  content block ‘RSS feed items’ as in the example below – this adds a default block of content showing the article title and a short excerpt of the content.

RSS Driven Campaign (4)

There are also a few other feed tags you can use to add in modified content if you would prefer:

  • *|RSS:POSTS_HTML|* or *|RSS:POSTS|* – Creates a progressively generated set of all of your posts in HTML format
  • *|RSS:POSTS_TEXT|* – Creates a progressively generated set of all of your posts in text format
  • *|RSS:POSTS_FULL|* – Displays the full content of your posts in HTML format, if available
  • *|RSS:RECENT|* – Show links for the five most recently published entries before the posts in the email

Check out the Mailchimp help section for even more information on Merge tags for RSS

When you are happy with the look and feel of your email, hit preview to see how it will look with your blog content in it. Then click next to confirm all of the details and set your email live!

RSS Driven Campaign (5)

 

Next time we’ll look at adding blog content into a standard email campaign and more advanced RSS merge tags. In the meantime, happy blogging!

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