Technical tip: E-newsletters and Mailchimp

By Ian Darke

I have a novelist friend who has a contract with a major publishing house. One of the clauses insists that she must be active in social media and produce regular news. No one is exempt. Writer, editor or designer: we all need to know how to communicate well using electronic media.

If you are going to send newsletters every month or so, develop a recognizable style. You may want a masthead, also key information to be included each month.

If you’re serious about growing your communications, the management of your mailings is critical. As the number increases, you will naturally get more bounce messages or issues with servers, which can consume valuable time. Further, most email systems limit the number of messages you can send at one time, as a control against spam.

One simple, free and popular solution for mailing lists of up to 2,000 people is MailChimp. Its multiple options can appear overwhelming. So, find a calm couple of hours to develop a “Campaign.” Keep a pencil and notepad on hand to jot down options and ideas.

One section deals with the creation of your mailing lists, which can be imported from your own email program. Once created and in order, friends can add themselves, and recipients can update their own address or even unsubscribe without the embarrassment of having to tell you! MailChimp automatically handles “bounced” messages.

A huge number of ready-made templates are available to use and adapt, according to your style and needs. You can test these on a small group who can help you make your e-newsletter as readable as possible.

MailChimp has many other advantages: readers can open the email in their web browsers; they can access previous mailings online; it’s easy to link with Facebook; and you have access to statistics so you’ll know how many people actually read it!

Writers may use MailChimp to keep in touch with a fan base; publishers can circulate details of new books and authors; and ministries could use it to send out prayer news.

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Ian Darke
is the coordinator of the Latin publishers network, Letra Viva, which links 40 publishing ministries across Latin America.