This is part one of a two-part series on…
How to Manage MailChimp, Newsletters, and PDF Files
Kevin asked me, “I’m listening to your advice about not sending PDF’s anymore to people. I already use MailChimp but I don’t blog. I guess my question is: I use Pages to write my newsletters, can I just do a copy and paste my whole newsletter into MailChimp or do I need to reformat my newsletter so it goes into MailChimp? Does that make sense? Thanks for your help!”
Around the same time, Nicki asked, “If using MailChimp to create supporter newsletters how do you convert this into a two-page PDF to mail to those who prefer a hard copy? I know the hard way, but there must be an easier one. Thanks in advance.”
What You Need to Know about Your Digital Tools
I know, I know. You’re eager to find out what I would tell Kevin and Nicki. Trust me. A little background knowledge of why I suggest you do things a certain way will help make more sense of my answers. So wait a little longer for the good news.
Anything you’re reading on a blog post, in a MailChimp email, or as you write in your go-to wordprocessing software has “hidden language” of some sort. That is, unseen computer instructions interpret your formatting choices in completely different ways for Word, Pages, MailChimp, WordPress, et cetera. These digital tools do not use some standard, agreed-upon code for bold, italics, and other formatting so, for example, simply cutting and pasting may “uglify” your beautiful Publisher document when pasted into MailChimp.
Don’t let that discourage you, however. MailChimp has a small button labeled “Clear Styles” for you to remove those hidden instructions. Paste your text in from whatever source, highlight it, and click the button. All formatting code is erased that was carried over from your original newsletter. Now, go ahead with any formatting you want to do in MailChimp. Yes, you’ll have to go back in to do your underscores and such.
In the test I just ran, MailChimp did retain a hyperlink after I cleared the formatting.
What You Need to Know about PDF Files in Particular
If you recall from previous posts, PDF files are essentially a photograph of a document. In a sense, this is like using a scanner or copy machine to create a version of your letter that anyone can read or print. Do you see how different a PDF file is? Pages has it’s own word editor. MailChimp has their version of a word editor and so on, but PDF files are essentially images. Never start your workflow with a PDF file. Think of this copy machine concept I’m suggesting which makes a PDF file the last step in whatever process you choose, if you use it at all.
In this series I won’t tackle the “why” of preferring MailChimp over PDF attachments. See NOTES instead for a post that explains this.
What You Need to Know about Best Communication Practices
You may need to re-think your communication style. The big thing to know is that currently 50% of your readers are checking their email on a mobile device. This percentage will definitely increase, too, and is the main reason PDF files are no longer the best way to send an email letter. MailChimp has templates so your email is easily read on a mobile device.
As you continue on with me to part two, it’s best to think of MailChimp as simply an email with a good photo or two. Don’t try to make it look like a newsletter. Your paper version may, but don’t feel you must force a newsletter look into a MailChimp mold. It’s not necessary. Your readers are still getting the same content.
I recommend opting for briefer (and therefore, maybe more frequent) eNewsletters over longer ones. Remember, half your readers are scrolling. Many will drop off rather than finish a long message from you unless they love you dearly.
Think Less Clicks
Another factor to consider has to do with clicking.
- Whenever possible, present all (or the most essential) of your content you want your reader to see right in the body of your email. The more often they click, the more likely you’ll lose them down that trail.
- By using MailChimp, you’ll be able to track any opens and clicks, letting you know who is reading and what people are interested in.
Thanks for sticking with me for part two, coming next week.
- A how-to post on compressing images on Watch Out for Photos Sizes: A Tutorial.
- A post on why you should replace PDF attachments and consider MailChimp instead: From PDF to MailChimp: Supercharge Your eNewsletters.