How to use MailChimp to automatically share new blog posts with your mailing list

Did you know you can connect your RSS feed to MailChimp and send emails to your subscribers each time a new post goes live on your blog? Learn how to set this up in this post!

Do you want to automatically share your new blog posts with your mailing list?

If the answer to this question is “Yes!” then this post is for you!

MailChimp allows you to create an email campaign using your blog’s RSS feed so that every time you publish a new post, an email is sent out to your subscribers. And because it’s automated, once you have set up your initial campaign, you don’t have to touch it again. Amazing!

Connecting your RSS feed to MailChimp provides an easy way for your audience to follow along with your blog and never miss a new post. I actually have this feature set up for my blog. See the form in the footer? If you sign up using that form you will receive email from me each time a new blog post goes live here (but no worries if you’re not interested!).

In this post I’ll show you how to create a campaign in MailChimp that uses your RSS feed to automatically send out an email to your mailing list each time a new post goes live. I’ll also show you how to create a new mailing list specifically for those who want to subscribe to your blog. 

This post was last updated on 11th October 2018. 

1 | Create a new list in MailChimp

Let’s start by logging into MailChimp, and if you don’t already have account then you’re going to need to set one up! It’s free to set up account and it won’t take too long, I promise!

First things first we are going to create a new list. You could use an existing list, but you may find that not everybody on that list will want to receive an email each time a new blog post goes live. And you really don’t want to upset your subscribers, do you?!

To create a new list, log into MailChimp and click Lists at the top of the website.

On this page, click on Create List.

After clicking this button you might be prompted to confirm whether you want to create a new list or segment an existing list. Again, just click Create List.

This will take you to the page where you can set up your new list.

Start by giving your list a name, a default “from” email address (your email address) and a default “from” name (your name). Then write a little reminder so that that people know why they signed up to your mailing list.

As we are creating a list for blog post notifications, we might say something like:

“You are receiving this email because you opted in at {INSERT WEBSITE NAME}, and as a result you will receive an email each time a new post goes live on the blog.”

Next, you can edit your contact information for this list. Sadly, you do need to enter your address!

Then you can choose your form settings. I highly recommend you enable double opt-in and enable GDPR so you are compliant with GDPR which comes into affect on the 25th May 2018!

Finally you can choose your notification settings. If you select any of these options, you will receive email notifications about subscriber activity.

When you’re all done, click Save at the bottom of the page. Your list has now been set up!

I do recommend adding your email address to your new mailing list as you will need at least one subscriber on your list before you can send your RSS feed campaign out. It’s also a good way to test that your campaign is working once you set it up!

To add your email to the list, click on the dropdown arrow next to your mailing list and select Manage contacts. Then on the next page click Add subscriber and fill in your details.

You will also need to create new sign up forms to add to your website. To create new forms, click on the dropdown arrow next to your mailing list and select Signup forms.

2 | Create a new campaign

Now that you have create a new list it’s time to create a new campaign.

To create a new campaign click on Campaigns at the top of the screen.

On this page click Create Campaign.

When prompted to choose what you want to create, select Create an Email.

On the next page, select the Triggered tab and then choose Share blog updates.

Next, give your campaign a name and choose which list you would like to send this campaign to. When you’re done click Begin to continue.

Now we need to enter some settings. Firstly, enter your RSS feed URL. This is usually http://YOUR-DOMAIN.com/feed.

Then choose when you would like the emails to be sent out, and which days you would like to send them out on.

Finally, you can choose whether or not you want images from your RSS feed to be resized to fit the template.

Once your done, click Next in the bottom left hand corner of the screen.

Next, choose who you are sending your campaign to. As we have just set up our list we are going to choose Entire list.

On the next page you need to enter your campaign info. You’ll notice that the campaign name box has been filled in because you’ve already given the campaign a name, but you can always change this here if you wish.

Next, enter your email subject. By default this is set to:

Posts from *|RSSFEED:TITLE|* for *|RSSFEED:DATE|*

If you aren’t familiar with MailChimp, these bits of text that start with *| and end with |* are called merge tags. Merge tags are used to pull in certain information.

In this case *|RSSFEED:TITLE|* will display the name of your blog or RSS feed, and *|RSSFEED:DATE|* will display the date that your RSS feed was last updated.

You can find a list of all the RSS merge tags on the MailChimp websites, with descriptions explaining the roles of each of these merge tags.

Once you’ve entered your email subject, fill in your preview text (the text that appears in an inbox after the subject line). Your “from” name and “from” email address will already be filled in, but you can change these here if you wish.

Scroll down the page a bit more and you will see the tracking options for your campaign. A few of these options are required if you only have a free MailChimp account, so you would need to upgrade to be able disable these.

The final options on this page are related to social media and videos. You can set up MailChimp so that a link to your campaign is shared on Twitter and/or Facebook after it has been sent out to subscribers, but you will need to connect to Twitter and/or Facebook for this to work.

You can also choose whether or not you want MailChimp to auto-convert videos so that they render correctly.

3 | Build your template

Now that you’ve got all of those settings out of the way it’s time to start building your template.

You can choose any template you like to build your campaign; it doesn’t really matter. All you have to do is click on the template you want to use and you will be taken to the campaign builder page.

If you are familiar with MailChimp then you might notice two new content options that you don’t normally see when you design an email. I’ve highlighted them below.

The first is RSS Header. This is used to display information about the RSS feed itself.

If you drag and drop this content box into the email you will be able to see it’s settings. There is a dropdown list that allows you to select which style you would like for your RSS header. The options are as follows:

  • Basic – RSS feed name and description
  • Intermediate – RSS feed name, URL and the date that the RSS feed was last updated
  • Advanced – RSS feed URL, name, description and the date that the RSS feed was last updated
  • Custom – What ever you like!

If you click on the Style tab you can also change the appearance of this content block, including changing the colours, fonts, text sizes, etc.

The second content block is RSS Items. This is used to display information about the actual items in your RSS feed.

As with RSS Header, if you drag and drop this into place on the email you will be able to see it’s settings.

There is a drop down list that allows to select what type of information you would like to display for your RSS feed items. The options are:

  • Excerpts – Blog post title and excerpt of the blog post
  • Titles Only – Just the title of the blog post
  • Full Content – Blog post title, author, date, full blog post content and Twitter and Facebook buttons. It will also add a list of other recent articles underneath.
  • Custom – What ever you like!

Note: If you have set your RSS feed to show a summary rather than the full text, even if you select the Full Content option you will only be able to see the post summary or excerpt. I talk more about showing the post summary in this blog post.

Again, if you click the Style tab you can also change the styling of this content block.

4 | Preview your email

Once you’ve set up your email I advise previewing it to see your merge tags in action.

To preview your campaign, click on Preview and Test then on Enter preview mode.

On the preview page you will also be able to see what the subject box will look like with your merge tags.

To exit preview mode, click on the X in the top right hand corner and you will return to the campaign builder page.

If you are unhappy with anything you can use the navigation at the bottom of the screen to jump to previous sections and make any changes you wish to make.

5 | Schedule your campaign

If you are happy with your campaign and you are ready to schedule your email, click Confirm in the bottom menu (or Next if you are on the design page).

This will take you to the confirmation page where you can see all of your campaign details before you start sending our emails.

If everything looks good, click Start RSS in the bottom right hand corner of the screen (yes, the button that’s really hard to see!).

And that’s it! An email will be sent to your subscribers when a new post goes live on your blog.

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