Mailchimp is an email service that allows you to build your email marketing program for free. Their business model is simple: let you build your list there (up to 2,000 people) and send up to 12,000 emails a month, so that when you get bigger and need more, you will choose their service over all the others.  And frankly, their service is pretty darned good. You can put your contacts into an Excel spreadsheet (which is how they come in from LinkedIn) and then just upload them to MailChimp. You can add people one at a time. When you add a person, you can ask MailChimp to verify that they aren’t already on your list, thus avoiding duplication. And unlike sending bulk emails from your personal account, you won’t accidentally display all 78 email names and addresses of the recipients by putting the names in the “To” box instead of the “BCC” box.

When you use MailChimp, you also get the wonderful bonus of a full LIVE report as your email is delivered to your recipients. You will know how many went to bad addresses, how many were opened, and most importantly, how many people clicked on the links in your email. And then, even more importantly, MailChimp will tell you exactly WHO clicked on the links. Imagine seeing that Jane McSmith read your article on potting soil for roses. The next time she comes in the store, you might ask her if she saw the article on potting soil for roses (of course, you know she did), and perhaps find out that she was planning on putting in a dozen new rose bushes, but was ready to buy them somewhere else. How could you turn that conversation into a big sale?

Okay, is that like “creepy spying”? Not really. Imagine you had brochures around your showroom, and somebody picked up the one on potting soil for roses. Is it “creepy spying” to notice this and comment on it? Of course not. It’s perhaps the best opener you can use for a sales conversation, and you shouldn’t take away that ability just because it’s been automated.

The really good thing about the email metrics provided by MailChimp is that you can start to get a good feel for what kind of email subject lines cause your prospects to open your emails. Is it “We now have Bunny Rabbits”, or “See the Baby Bunnies we have in stock right now! (Photos enclosed)”.  By keeping track of this, and then by seeing which links are clicked on most frequently within your email (yes, it also tracks those separately), you can keep refining your article titles and email headlines to get the most out of your program. You should spend time every week reviewing  your metrics and tweaking your program to improve the response.