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Tanker Tips: Going Bananas with MailChimp

· 6 min read

We get asked often by our users what can they do to sharpen up their backup marketing and overall messaging in the face of rising competition. To answer this best I turned to Nicola Devine over at Tanker Creative to not only answer how you can improve it and attract more customers but for actionable steps that any busy backup provider could undertake. Below is part 2.

MailChimp’s mascot Freddy – sending emails from all corners of the globe


By Nicola Devine, Tanker Creative

Last time I was here I threw some light on the basics for websites, today is all about MailChimp. Intrepi**d mascot Freddy (above) and MailChimp has been around since 2001, and is a gem for small businesses wanting to get the word out to clients via branded email. Infact, they send over a billion emails out daily – so jump on the email train and let’s go for a ride.**


Why MailChimp? For starters exercising your marketing muscle with MailChimp can be very cheap – free forever even – if you have a database of under 2000 email addresses and send less than 12,00 emails per month. They’re professional and helpful. MailChimp want you to have a great experience, so there’s plenty of online support to help you through the emailing process and make sure it’s easy for you comply with best practice and spam laws. It’s also simple to design emails. They have pre-made templates and you can build your emails (they call them campaigns) using super easy Drag+Drop functionality. Sold? Let’s have a look at the different MailChimp zones so you can fall in love even more.


Once you’ve signed up and logged into your account one of the main areas you can explore is Lists. This is were your database action happens: you can add, import and manage contacts, as well as create signup forms for your website or social media channels.

MailChimp are seriously serious about subscriber permission. Before you start importing or growing your list, it helps to a look at these articles about their default, double opt-in process for signups, and other best practices for list management.

And once you’ve got your lists ready to go have a think about their whether you’re going to be sending emails to particular locations, departments or interests groups (for example). You can add these as extra fields to your lists to segment them in the future.


Once you’ve got your list under control it’s time to sort a generic template design that you can use over and over for email campaigns. MailChimp has super simple Drag and Drop functionality that makes it quick and easy to load up content. When you’re developing a templates there’s a few secrets to success. Top of the list is that oldie but goodie: Keep It Simple! Your template will be generally be viewed on multiple screen sizes, devices and email apps that’ll want to do all sorts of formatting tricks. Next on the Must Do list is Brand Consistency. Use your website as your inspiration – colours, fonts, buttons should all be matchy-matchy. Third big kahuna of template commandments is Balance. One sure-fire way to get caught up in a spam filter is to over do it on the text – or have image-only content. Make sure you mix it up!


Now we’re talking! Once you’ve got your lists and templates locked down, shit gets serious! Head over to campaigns (or Champagnes as I call them) and select the Create Campaign button. MailChimp will guide you through the process to get your email out. If you’re just starting out a Regular campaign is the way to go, then you’ll be asked to decide what list, or segment to sent it to; your campaign name (for your reference only); a subject lineworth reading up on best practice tips; a snippet of preview text; a from name that’ll be instantly recognisable to your list (company names are often a good idea); and a from address – you'll want to use your business domain, so The Chimp will need to send you an email to get verified. Now you’re too legit to quit. After that mission you can choose a template, kinda handy that you already have a saved one… and finally, you’ll be ushered onto the content utopia that is the design page. Once you’ve added your content – keep those piccies to a max of 600px wide, people – you can preview, send up to six test emails and use the link checker to make sure all your images, text links and buttons are going to the right place. Once it’s all looking like a true masterpiece we’re onto the final confirm page. Here’s where MailChimp runs through your subject line, from, etc settings and allows you to schedule to send in the future, or if you’re not one to muck about, then you can press the button and be damned. Actually, if you change your mind you can step back from damnation and cancel after sending but there’s a few conditions you’d better read up on first.


Once your campaign has been sent it’s time for some data geeking out behaviour. MailChimp reports can be an Aladdin’s Cave of helpful intel: from open rates over the first 24 hours, that can give you a hint of other times for optimsing sending; to hard and soft bounces; who opened when and how often – through to clickthrough rates and the nifty lil clickthrough map which can tell you a lot about how readers are behaving: if your content is too long or if you’ve forgotten to link your images (do it if you can!). This is the type of info that will help you to continue to refine your design and content to appeal to your readers. And if you feel the need to share you can even download a customised report.

And that’s a wrap for today. Make sure you head back here next week for when I’ll be getting off-the-chain about LinkedIn.

See y’all then: Peace Out!

About Nicola Devine

Originally trained as a graphic designer in the 1990s, when iPhones were still a twinkle in Steve Jobs’ eye, Nicola has been involved in both print-based and interactive media since her time studying at Wanganui School of Design.

Tanker Creative, Nicola’s design and marketing her business, was founded in 2003, and works with a mix of corporate, luxury and creative clients on strategy, development, implementation and reporting.

Nicola is an avid follower of new technology in marketing, design and communications. She is also a contributor to Design Assembly, an organisation promoting conversations in graphic design. Her claim to fame is being on a train in Spain, on the plain, in the rain.