Below is a summary of the research I did regarding Mailchimp in an effort to deliver better CRM marketing (Customer Relationship Marketing) to my clients. Just to note, all things related to the legal side would ideally be checked by a legal expert as there are layers of requirements, and infinite complexities, yet this article mainly hopes to set you on the right course, wherever it may lead.

Sending an Email

When you want to send an email, you are welcome to do so to anybody. They can always ignore you, or mark it as spam, and your account will likely get a really small spam ranking demotion (I made this term up, but the idea is that your account can eventually be seen as one that much spam originates from).

Sending a “Mailer”

If you run a business, you more than likely want to tell more than one person about a competition, a special, your new business hours – anything really. Do you want to send each email separately? Unlikely. Do you want to send it to all the people whose emails you have accrued over the years who would be interested in receiving it? Yes. Then, just send a bulk email using your email service. Gmail used to have a limit of 20 mail addresses at once to limit spamming; there are more than likely protocols set up on most mail hosts for something similar.

Sending a Newsletter

If you don’t want to send a once-off mail to all previous customers, but rather send them perhaps a monthly email, then you need to use an email marketing tool. The power these tools give is well worth the paltry monthly sum they charge, and considering that it may really help your business grow traffic or sales, or both, it is well worth the investment. There is one major difference between sending bulk mails though, and sending newsletters: for something like a newsletter, people need to have opted-in. They must provide consent. It must not be unsolicited. Else, perhaps a solicitor will come and get you. Read to the end to hear more on that.

After doing much personal research, I have found Mailchimp to deliver what I need, and do it really, really well, so I use them. I am open to changing but considering te hours I have put it, and the time it take to learn a new system I highly doubt it. Plus, nowadays these huge companies just learn what their competition is doing, and add their cool services, too. If you want to know this all for yourself, just do research on ‘What is the best email marketing tool?’ to see all the pros and cons, and make your own choice. See a comparison of three here. Personally, after going through five or so of these, my collective “expert” opinion is that if you are running campaigns in English only, utilise Mailchimp. So…

Why Mailchimp?

You can read more about why Mailchimp here, but mainly:

It is an easy-to-use platform that gives you built in analytics and an array of pre-built templates to work with.

There are a number of pricing plans to choose from. It is recommended to get started with the ‘Free’ option while you are still learning as this gives you 30 days of free access to a very efficient help desk. Once you feel comfortable with the platform you can look to upgrade to a paid option and commence your email CRM campaign.

Mailchimp provides some great resources with everything you need to know to get started and some guides and tutorials. If you scroll down on this link you also can click on a link to “get chatting with their support team”.

Once you are logged in to Mailchimp you can click on the help button (it will be at the top right, at least, when this was written in November 2019) and you can search for anything you need guidance on.

Privacy

A key consideration when you are engaging in CRM marketing of any form is that you respect your customers and potential customers’ privacy and adhere to privacy policies in the region you are marketing in.

Not adhering to policies can in some regions result in major fines or even imprisonment.

Furthermore, Mailchimp has strict policies that need to be adhered to. Mailchimp is located in the USA and their email platform complies with CAN-SPAM (the US law that regulates commercial and marketing emails).

A key policy before you commence sending emails to individuals via Mailchimp is to have the recipients’ written consent archived before commencement of campaigns.

Consent aids in avoiding being blocked/blacklisted by ISP’s (this can occur if too many people mark your email as spam).

Below is a breakdown of how Mailchimp defines permission:

“Although people talk about permission in a variety of ways, it’s something very specific when it comes to email marketing. Permission is express, verifiable consent to receive marketing communication. Express means that when you asked for permission, your question wasn’t tied in with another agreement. For example, a separate checkbox for “I would like to receive marketing email from XYZ company” is express and clear. Because permission should also be verifiable, we recommend getting written or otherwise archived permission from each contact. When you use Mailchimp’s signup forms, we track and record the date and time of submission, so you have verified permission.”

Below is an overview of the Mailchimp spam requirements for email:

  • You must agree to the Mailchimp terms of use
  • You must tell them where you got your contacts
  • An unsubscribe link must be in every email campaign you send
  • You must include your contact information in every promotional email you send, including a physical mailing address or P.O. Box where you can receive mail.
  • You may not falsify your contact information or subject line.
  • You’re subject to the terms of use for any integration or connected e-commerce platform you use.
  • Emails you send through Mailchimp must comply with the U.S. CAN-SPAM Act, even if your business is outside the US.

Here is a nifty link for a compliance check.

If you are doing business in South Africa (as I do for about 60% of my clientele) then you might be thinking: “This does not apply to me as I am not in the USA”. A few comments:

One, your clients may be in the USA, and browsing your website.

Two, the software you use (eg. Mailchimp may be USA based – and is – and so you likely will have to comply with their requirements)

And most convincingly, thirdly, the nice thing is that generally speaking if you comply with another country’s laws that is more “intense” than you (just imagine all the law suits in the USA) then you very likely will be fine in good ol’ third world Africa.

Word on the street is Canada is the most strict (termed: CASL), and to learn more about that, and another tool we use (on behalf of our clients) read this post about Privacy, GDPR, POPIA, and must more. And, if you thought this blog post was long and over the top, just you wait for that one!

Helpful, last notes:

Mailchimp has a great summary of requirements for CASL here.

Mailchimp provides insight on GDPR here.

Mailchimp also provides an option to collect consent enabling GDPR fields.

And in general, the inevitable…

TL;DR

Below is a summary of the steps you need to take to get started on your Mailchimp journey:

Step 1: Build a sign up form on Mailchimp. You can do this via Share your signup form.

Step 2:  Build a database;

(1) Email the sign up form link directly to your database,

(2) post on social media,

(3) get a link set up on your website *in this step ensure that you are GDPR/POPIA/CASL compliant so that contacts you collect are compliant and can be utilised for your CRM campaigns*

Step 3: After you have gathered some subscriptions, commence your email marketing campaign via Mailchimp. They should automatically appear under ‘subscribed’ audience members if this has been set up correctly on Mailchimp.

My hope is that this writing helps you know what to do but also demonstrates how useful Mailchimp can be to you, as they manage so many of the boring admin we’d rather not do in life. No wonder they are so rich!

Lastly, feel free to reach out if you have any questions on the above or anything else I can do to help.