How to manage subscribers with FREE email marketing software

Posted on Posted in Blog Posts, Content Production

Welcome to the Email Marketing Showdown Week 2: Managing Subscribers! Last week we talked about how to get people on your list using the signup forms and landing pages that come in the free plans in MailChimp and MailerLite. This week we’ll talk about what the heck you can do with those people once you have them on your list!

We’ll cover:

  • how to group subscribers by their interests using MailChimp and MailerLite
  • how to use your signup forms in MailerLite as a way of gauging your subscribers’ interests
  • a brief explanation of the “tagging” features available on paid email software plans
  • ideas for what to send your newsletter subscribers to keep them interested + engaged

Let’s get started!

Start with a List, then Divide

When you first create your email list, you may not have a lot of people on it, so you probably didn’t think about segmenting those people. After all, if you’ve got 10 subscribers, are you going to send 3 emails to groups of 3 people? Probably not! However, when your list starts to grow, it’s a great idea to segment it out and tweak (or change entirely) the content of your emails based on those sub-groups. So if you start your list by setting up those group options, when it gets to a point of being large enough to divide, you’ll already have the information you need.

Here are some options for dividing your subscribers from one main list into smaller groups:

Tagging (My personal feature wish list item)

This is one area where MailChimp and MailerLite both fail the showdown compared to their “big boy” competitors like ConvertKit and Active Campaign. Those paid programs allow you to tag your subscribers when they do almost anything; this is like slapping a label on each name that tells you exactly what that subscriber is interested in. Tagging allows you to add a label to a subscriber any time she does anything, from signing up using a form to clicking a link in an email. It’s awesome, but you’ve gotta pay for it.

If tagging is a really valuable feature to you, then it might be best to go with a paid email software (I recommend Active Campaign; it’s cheaper than ConvertKit but has a ton more features. If you prefer a more simplified format, though, ConvertKit is also great!) If not, read on for how to use similar features in MailerLite and MailChimp!


Segments and Groups

In MailChimp and MailerLite, you can create a group of your subscribers. The problem is that people have to opt into these groups using the signup forms, or you have to create a group when you create a signup form. The process isn’t quite as easy/automatic as tagging, but it still works!

With MailerLite, you can use multiple signup forms for the same email list, and you can also see who opted into each of those forms. That way you are able to track which opt-ins were the most popular, or how many people signed up to your list from a certain form. You can also create a unique “group” (basically a list) for each signup form, and then you can send automations or campaign emails to specific groups. In MailerLite you don’t get “charged” if a subscriber signs up to more than one form or group, so you don’t have to worry about running over the free plan subscriber count.

How to use groups in MailerLite:

  1. Create a new form.
  2. Choose a group to send this form to; in my case I make a new group just for the form (the one at the bottom of this page, for instance, is “newsletter content opt-in”), and I put all forms on my main group list as well (“Emails from Jess”).
  3. Now you can set up broadcast/campaign emails and automated emails to go out only to people who signed up for this form.

With MailChimp, you only get very basic information about how people signed up for your list. You can create multiple embedded forms for your website, but like we discussed last week, you can’t add individual opt-ins to each one. This also means that you can’t see who opted into your list using the different forms. However, you can add interest fields to your signup forms and use those to divide a list into groups based on those interests. It makes the signup form larger, but in the long run the payoff is that you can identify what your subscribers care about.

How to use groups in MailChimp: 

  1. When you create your main signup form, choose “check boxes” in the “add a field” section on the right. Include a checkbox for your particular opt-in on the form.
  2. This automatically creates a group you can use as a trigger in Mailchimp’s campaigns and automations. (The down side being that if you’re going to create several opt-ins, that’s a lot of checkboxes.)

What to send your email subscribers

Want some ideas of what you can send your e-mail subscribers? I’ve put them together for you in an easy-to-download PDF! Just enter your e-mail into the box below to get it:

How are things going with YOUR email list?

Do you have questions about how to use email software? Ask them in the comments and I’ll cover them in a post at the end of the month!

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