Thursday, April 18, 2013

5 More Tips for Using MailChimp as Missionaries

MailChimp is a great tool we as missionaries can use to send out our ministry updates. We just have to understand a little more how it works.

Last month, I gave you 5 tips for using MailChimp to send out your ministry update emails. To be honest, I had a hard time narrowing them down to just those five. So here's 5 more!

1. Update your contact list. Last month I discussed how MailChimp allows your supporters to subscribe and unsubscribe from your list. They can also update their contact details. This can be helpful for you since it's all done in MailChimp. You can then take that information and import it into your address book or other contact management program (such as TntMPD). It saves you the effort of having to go through your contacts to update every so often.
2. Segment your list to send emails to certain groups of people. My husband and I have a prayer team who receives special prayer emails more regularly than our ministry updates. MailChimp makes it easy to send emails to just those people by allowing you to segment your list. You can also send emails to specific people if you're going to be in a particular state in the US while you're on home assignment/furlough.
2. Do a little research before you meet with supporters. One of the things MailChimp does is keep track of who opens your emails (based on who viewed the photos in their email program). We may not want to admit it, but let's face it: As much as we would like to think they do, some of our dearly loved friends don't read our emails. So before we meet with a friend or supporter, we like to check MailChimp to see if that person has been reading our updates or not, and whether or not they are subscribed. It may sound sneaky, but it helps us to know what we should be talking about in our meetings.
4. Connect MailChimp with your blog. If you have a blog, you can add a sign-up form. You can then point people who aren't receiving your updates to sign up via your blog! You can visit my blog if you'd like to see an example of how the sign-up form is used.
You can also display a list of past ministry updates for people to read. Some people who may not be familiar with your ministry may like to go back and read past updates. As well, supporters who missed past updates can access them as well. Again, please feel free to check out how we've used it on my blog. (I promise this isn't a plug for my blog!!)
MailChimp has codes available to put these things on your blog.
5. Keep track of bounced emails. You know, those one or two emails that come back to you right after you hit "send?" Then you sit there wondering whether you should unsubscribe that person or contact them to see if they still want to receive your emails. MailChimp makes managing those bounced emails a little easier. Whenever an email bounces, MailChimp will decide whether to unsubscribe that recipient or not.
There are two types of "bounces" that they use to determine whether a recipient should be unsubscribed: soft and hard. Soft bounces are emails that get returned for no reason or the recipient's inbox is full. These might get sent again. Hard bounces usually mean that the email address is no longer valid or the email server flat-out refused the email. My husband and I use this information to decide if we need to contact a given supporter to see if they still want to receive our emails. It's a good way to reestablish a relationship with that person, especially if you haven't heard from them in awhile!
Hopefully you find some good ideas for how you can use MailChimp for your own ministry updates. If you need more help, there are plenty of resources available from MailChimp.

How have you found MailChimp helpful? Let's chat in the comments!

Also, if you have any questions, please leave a comment as well. I'm more than happy to try and answer some of your questions. If you'd rather contact me by email, you can do that chrysti (at) heddingsomewhere (dot) org.

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