Teague Gives MailChimp a Spin

Paul Teague Email Marketing with MailChimpPaul Teague.[1] MailChimp Unboxed: Set-Up Your Account Correctly, Add New Subscribers, and Use the Best Email Marketing Techniques! Manchester, UK: Clixeo Publishing.

Review by Stephen W. Hiemstra

Nearly all marketing books advise independent authors to develop an email mailing list of readers who enjoy your books and raise the likelihood of repeat sales. The implication is that you have a well-defined audience eager to subscribe to your mailing list and that you understand marketing to them well-enough to write catchy newsletters that appeal to them. Unfortunately, audience information is illusive and the tools to reach them are often poorly documented for right-brained, creative types, as would describe most authors.

Why Invest in a Book about MailChimp?

In my case, I have been using MailChimp for about four years, but never really got comfortable that I knew exactly how to use it effectively. The online documentation is thorough and well-written for middle-of-the-day use, but in the wee hours of the night when I typically wrote my monthly newsletter it appeared almost incomprehensible. In this context, I welcomed Paul Teague’s how-to book, MailChimp Unboxed when it appeared earlier this year.

Teague introduces his objectives with these words:

“I have written this book because I want to show you why email marketing is so powerful and I also want to demonstrate how you can get started immediately, using only free tools.” (4)

Teague’s audience is the small business operator and his zero-to-sixty metric starts with no knowledge and ends up with explaining targeted Facebook ad composition. The focus, of course, is on becoming familiar with MailChimp as an email and customer-relationship-management (CRM) platform (3-4), although Teague clearly has experience working with a wide range of alternative email marketing tools.

Basic Concepts

Although I have been managing an email list for over a decade, email had not been invented when I attended my last marketing class in the early 1980s. Teague’s explanation of basic concepts proved helpful for me. The motivation for email marketing arises through “repeat sales, cross-sells, and upsells” (6), which is quite different from keeping in touch with an author through a newsletter focused on what’s been happening lately. Spam is unrequested and unstoppable email, while “proper email marketing is always permission-based.”(7)

In some sense, email marketing is all about the life-cycle of participants in a database list who share common interests. How do you find and motivate people to subscribe, open, and click on your emails rather than unsubscribe from the list or report your emails as spam? (7-9) Emails “bounce” when they cannot be delivered because of incorrect or old addresses, full mailboxes, technical problems, or are blocked (9).

Moving On

Once Teague reviewed the basics of email marketing, he began walking through the MailChimp sign up process and performing basic functions. As with any how-to computer book, I found it helpful to sit in front of the computer and walk along with him to make sure that the easy stuff was really easy for me. I always find this arrangement challenging because every time Teague taught me a new trick I wanted to run and play with it.

An example of this problem occurred last night. Having reviewed how to set up welcome-to-my-list and unsubscribe-from-my-list, I found myself implementing this framework for a men’s group mailing list that I maintain. I used to warn people that “itis easier to get on than to get off my list”, but not anymore! I sent an email to list members inviting them to invite men to subscribe or unsubscribe, as they see fit.

Who is Paul Teague?

Paul Teague is an author and web-designer living in Manchester, UK. He writes online that he has “worked as a waiter, a shopkeeper, a primary school teacher, a disc jockey and a radio journalist and broadcaster for the BBC.” He wrote his first book at the age of nine.

Assessment

Paul Teague’s MailChimp Unboxed is a helpful book on how-to start with and utilize MailChimp for email marketing. He limits his discussion to features available in the free version of MailChimp with the small business operator in mind as his target reader. He generally avoids delving into the integration of MailChimp with other email tools used by professional marketers. Teague writes clearly and uses screen shots to illustrate his points.

Footnotes

[1] https://clixeo.com. http://self-publishing-journeys.com.  @PaulTeagueUK.

Teague Gives MailChimp a Spin

Also see:

Scott Writes Pro Email Newsletters 

Books, Films, and Ministry

Other ways to engage online:

Author site: http://www.StephenWHiemstra.net, Publisher site: http://www.T2Pneuma.com.

Newsletter at: http://bit.ly/2zRkNMJ

Continue Reading

Scott Writes Pro Email Newsletters

email marketingEric J. Scott.  2016.  Email Marketing: Tips and Tricks to Increase Credibility. CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform.

Review by Stephen W. Hiemstra

The first widely circulated, bound book (a codex)[1] was the Greek New Testament; the first major, printed book (circa 1455 AD) was the Guttenberg Bible.[2] In both instances, Christians were early adopters of new technologies and used them to advance their evangelism. For example, the codex was important to missionaries because it was easier to transport than a scroll; the Guttenberg Bible was a priority for protestant reformers because Bible was considered to be the sole authority for the church’s teaching. In today’s environment it is therefore not surprising to see evangelists and churches being quick to exploit email and other social media in promoting the Gospel. But, how is that best done?

Introduction

In his book, Email Marketing, Eric Scott observes these business values as helping establish credibility in email marketing:

  1. “Precipitate positive change in the world.
  2. Resolve all types of issues…
  3. Be a moral agency.
  4. Generate enthusiasm in employees and clients.
  5. Make things happen. Have a positive outlook…” (2-3)

Supporting these values are internet standards like:

  1. “Customer service—how you treat your clients.
  2. Transactions—the amount of time purchases take or the way they are handled.
  3. Handling of currency—the protocol you follow in case of theft, where you store money, and who is allowed to handle the money.
  4. Client demands—the requests of your customers.
  5. Marketing—the way you advertise your company.
  6. Organizational tasks…” (3)

The drift in all of this is that in an environment where time is precious and expectations are high, many details are involved in establishing the trust of customers. Scott observes: “People these days see everything as black and white. You are either trustworthy or not.” (4) Today’s readers are a tough crowd to please.

My Email History

Although I have had an email newsletter since my early seminary days (circle 2009), I never really understood how to use the medium properly. When I graduated in 2013, I had three separate lists of supporters who I would write periodically which I merged into a common list and started using MailChimp to manage each month. I established a blog (T2Pneuma.net) with the hope that my email readers would migrate to it, but really few did. Email remains more familiar to people and, because they resisted migrating to the blog, I got into the habit of writing both a monthly newsletter and the blog. Only in the past couple months did I come to realize that I needed to focus more on the newsletter and treat it as central to reaching my most dedicated readers. This realization led me to Scott’s book, which  focuses on email marketing.

Scott’s tips are priceless and it is helpful to think of the book as posing a conversation with you about your email practices. For example, Scott writes: “In your welcome email, make sure you have an about you.” (20) I certainly did not have an “about you” in my welcome email (which I crafted only last week), in part, because I have always written to an audience of friends and family who obviously know me. As I encourage other readers that I do not know me personally to read my newsletter, it is helpful to insert this “about you”, even if ever so brief. In some sense, Scott’s book substitutes for the lack of a consultant able to tell me such things.

Email Hang Ups

Some of my email hang ups arise because my identity as an author is changing. As I have upgraded my internet presence to reflect a “professional author” persona, attitudes about merchandising need to be amended. For example, my newsletter (and my publisher Facebook account) now sport buttons encouraging readers to purchase my books, which Scott certainly encourages (21). However, surprisingly he cautions the newsletter writer to focus on being a friend (24). Friends are helpful, truthful, and friendly. (25-27) This advice transfers across technologies. Other authors encourage online entrepreneurs to be social on social media, rather than treat social media like another advertising forum.

Scott’s tips are in many ways confirmation of many of the practices that I have evolved myself over the past few years. For example, he cites the “90/10 rule” which reads that 90 percent of your content should be helpful advice and other things while only 10 percent should consist of sales pitches (36). This rule is, in effect, an application of the social part of social media.

Assessment

Eric Scott’s Email Marketing is a helpful book. The focus on building credibility with your audience is actually critical when you consider how easy it is to unsubscribe from a newsletter—reminders are help. Scott’s book is short and easy to read, but don’t discount its content. Newsletter writers will want to take a look.

Footnotes

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Codex

[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gutenberg_Bible.

Scott Writes Pro Email Newsletters

Also see:

Books, Films, and Ministry

Other ways to engage online:

Author site: http://www.StephenWHiemstra.net, Publisher site: http://www.T2Pneuma.com.

Newsletter at: http://bit.ly/2zRkNMJ

Continue Reading