One of the greatest challenges that start-ups and entrepreneurs face is email marketing. We know that it is critical to communicate with your prospects via email and keep your brand top-of-mind in order to drive revenue, especially during the earliest stages or leaner times.
Just how important is email marketing? Very! In fact, this awesome article for solopreneurs on how to write high-converting emails explains that 72% of adults in the US prefer to communicate with businesses via email.
While there are many powerful enterprise-level email marketing platforms with professional templates and automated workflows that can accomplish this, the problem is that they’re very expensive. In fact, they’re often cost-prohibitive for very small businesses and solopreneurs.
Here is my solution: Combine Mailchimp email templates with the Mautic open source marketing automation platform. Mailchimp provides industry-leading, beautiful templates and a powerful user interface, while Mautic gives you the automation platform, completely free of charge.
(It is true that Mailchimp is a paid subscription service, but Mailchimp being the amazing company that they are, they do not charge you a penny to use their templates – they only start charging when you import email addresses into their system.)
The process is not that time consuming, and especially worth it since, as I mentioned, it is 100% free.
Here’s how to set it up. As an example, I’ll use a newsletter subscription confirmation email from my other website lowglycemicindexplan.com.
Create your email template in Mailchimp
1. After you create a Mailchimp account for free, login and in the admin menu go to Templates > Create a Template.
Select a starting point for your template. I wouldn’t over-think this one much. If you know the basic type of email you want to create, use their standard layouts as a start. Since I was creating an email subscription autoresponder, I used the “Follow Up” template. But there are also a million (probably) templates to select under the Theme section. That’s why Mailchimp is such an incredible tool; you can choose from a ridiculous number of highly professional looking templates.
2. Use the simple drag and drop interface to place images, text, and other content into your template. Drag the icons from the right into your email editor on the left. Super easy. Play around with layout options, colors, etc. I used a cool gif from Mailchimp’s library to communicate my welcome message.
Create an email in Mautic
3. Create a Mautic account and install Mautic. This is somewhat of a lengthy process, but is a one-time setup only and will be well worth it once you are running a full-fledged marketing automation system to communicate with your customers.
4. Create an email and use “Code Mode”
Under the main main, go to Channels > Emails, then select “Create an Email.
Mautic will ask you whether you want to create a “Template” or “Segment” email, which refers to different capabilities in Mautic. I selected Template here because I want to send the email automatically whenever someone completes a form (Yes, Mautic supplies you with the subscribe form as well, along with many other assets, 100% free).
Under the New Template Email screen, you’ll then be promoted to select a base template (note the difference here between the templates available in Mautic, which are not that user friendly, and way fewer and less professionally-designed that those in Mailchimp). Here, select “Code Mode”. Then click “Builder” (as I write this, located in the upper right), and this will take you to the email template build screen, which is split between a graphic preview of the email on the left and a raw html code editor on the right.
Import the html of your Mailchimp template into Mautic
5. Go back into Mailchimp, under Templates, and export the html of your template by finding your template, and selecting Export as HTML under the Edit drop down toggle.
This will create an html file that will be automatically saved in the downloads folder of your computer.
6. Now, you’re almost there, you just need to open the html file that was exported from Mailchimp using an html editor. (There are many free ones available for download; one of the most commonly used tools of this type if Notepad++, but googling “Free html code editor” will take you to an abundance of options.)
7. Once you have the html file open and can see the html code, select all, then copy/paste all the html code from the file into the html editor area of Mautic (make sure you first remove all the default content that was there originally).
Boom, that’s it! Once you have created the email, you can send it from the Mautic platform using all the email sending and automation functionality of a first-rate enterprise platform. In the example I’ve provided, the email is sent automatically once someone completes the newsletter subscribe form on the site. This is set up in the Mautic admin menu under Components > Forms. When you create a new form, you are able to completely customize the fields and select actions that will execute whenever someone fills out the form. Here you can select Send an email, and choose the email template that you just created.
With this basic setup in place, you have a very easy-to-use, flexible platform that will let you send automated, professionals emails to your audience, all 100% free of charge, forever, no matter how many contacts are in your database.