Do you have an email mailing list working alongside your blog? If not then you definitely should think about setting one up. But, how do you going about doing so?
Thankfully there are plenty of options available when you are ready to start your email list or newsletter. You can compose the email content yourself, hire writers to do so, or maybe you can’t even think about starting an email campaign because your daily to-do list just won’t handle another task to accomplish.
If that last scenario sounds like something you can relate to, then this post will show you how you can start emailing out a list of your most recent blog posts to your subscriber mailing list, at regular intervals – all on autopilot.
By the end of this article, you will know how to set up an RSS to email campaign for your WordPress blog. This post will teach you how to use the RSS feed from your blog to create email campaigns, helping you to see why you can’t afford not to be working with an RSS-email combination.
Let’s begin by talking about why starting an email newsletter for your WordPress blog is such a great idea.
Email Marketing and the Crystal Ball
Several years ago, when Facebook was at the peak of its popularity, there was much talk in the online marketing industry that email marketing was dying out. Facebook, it seemed, had the capacity to replace everything email had to offer.
So how does that prediction look now? Not so great!
Today, internet marketers who put in the work to start an email newsletter, are often very pleased with the results. To establish whether an email newsletter campaign is successful or not, marketers have many statistics they can check to evaluate its effectiveness.
These statistics include the number of email subscribers who open the email, how many of those readers respond to the call-to-action in the message, and of course, the delivery rate of the email.
The good news for anyone running an email campaign is that there are several reliable tools available to help you send out your messages, and evaluate the success of your email campaigns.
The Tremendous Success of Marketing by Email
Litmus is considered one of the most dependable tool for helping marketers track the success of their email campaigns. It’s a web-based tool that works with any mailing program, such as MailChimp and VerticalResponse.
One interesting statistic that Litmus provided last January 2015, was the success of email campaigns, comparing the current health of email marketing to that of years past.
The report showed the staggering success of mobile email campaigns – a 500% increase of emails being opened, compared to the last four years. This means almost half the emails sent to mobile devices are read, or at least, opened by subscribers.
Why Use RSS To Create Your Email Campaigns
RSS (Rich Site Summary) is often referred to as Really Simple Syndication, and with good reason. Since RSS employs a standard XML file format that makes it compatible with various platforms – both software and hardware – it’s the perfect choice to make life easier when running email campaigns.
RSS gives a recap of constantly updated data, like news headlines and blog entries. In the case of WordPress blogs, RSS utilizes a set of web feed formats to automatically create and syndicate the text content and metadata (the author’s name and date the post was published) of each blog post.
The IT world was buzzing about the death of Google Reader, an RSS/Atom feed aggregator, back in 2013. Its demise, however, hasn’t pulled the switch on the usefulness of RSS, with free services such as Feedly stepping in to take its place.
Track Your Subscribers’ Habits Using Email Data
If you’re using an Email Service Provider (ESP) to send emails to your blog subscribers, there’s plenty of data you can gather – data based on how those subscribers react to the emails that are sent. Through ESP’s, using RSS to create email campaigns is surprisingly hassle-free.
Get Better at Writing Email Content
You can learn from the actions that your readers take. An ESP will tell you how many emails were opened and the rate of click-throughs for each email. From this you can also tell which blog titles work, which are ignored, and which blog content convinces readers to go with the proposed call-to-action most effectively.
Optimizing Mailing Times
The majority of RSS email campaigns allow marketers to set a scheduled time and date for the content to be mailed out to their list. Most good service providers will allow you to see which time of the day results in the highest rate of emails being opened, for your particular group of subscribers.
Save Invaluable Time
Time saved, a most precious commodity, is one of the main reasons you should use RSS to create your WordPress blog’s email campaign. With RSS, you don’t need to manually produce an email whenever new content goes up. RSS to email campaigns are automatic.
Recommended Email Marketing Service Provider: MailChimp
If you are looking for a free and easy way to setup an RSS to email newsletter service, then adding the MailChimp email marketing service to your toolbox is a great option.
MailChimp, created back in 2001, is a popular email marketing service provider that has over 7 million users. The service sends out more than 10 billion emails monthly. They have free packages to help you get started, and the service can be easily scaled as your needs grow.
Setting up an RSS to email campaign with the web-based MailChimp is surprisingly easy.
Start Your RSS to Email Campaign with MailChimp
To get started, log in to your MailChimp account. If you don’t have one, create one for free – no credit card information is necessary to make an account.
Next, click the Create button located on the top-left. A page will appear, containing a Create Campaign gray button on the right. Click the arrow to the right of this button and select RSS-Driven Campaign.
Schedule Your Campaign
The RSS Feed and Send Timing page will pop up, asking for your RSS Feed URL and scheduling details, specifically the time and days of the week you want to send out an email.
Fortunately, you don’t really need the precise URL of your RSS feed. Typing in the main URL of your WordPress blog will do. MailChimp will then find the RSS feed URL for a WordPress site.
Proceed to select the days of the week and the time you want emails to be sent out. Click Next, located on the lower-right portion of the screen.
Send a Test Email
After clicking Next, the following page allows you to send a test email to yourself, or choose the option to Create a New List.
If you already have an email list created on MailChimp, all you have to do at this point is select the mailing list to send the email campaign to.
Add an Email Newsletter Opt-in Form
If you haven’t started your list yet, don’t worry. You can use the MailChimp plugin for WordPress to start encouraging your readers to subscribe. This free plugin adds an email opt-in form to your website that makes it easy for your visitors to input their email address and sign up for your mailing list.
If you are looking for a more powerful option for growing your list, then the premium OptinMonster plugin comes highly recommended.
Creating Your First Email List
When creating an email list that you plan to work with RSS, it’s a good idea to give the list a meaningful name, such as “Updates from DesignWall” or “WordPress themes on Sale Now from DesignWall”.
Once you’ve created and chosen a list to send scheduled emails to, click Next and MailChimp opens up a page. Here you will set up the email campaign from RSS feed.
On this page, enter a campaign title, a subject line, and set up tracking options. MailChimp’s blog recommends that the most important field to consider here is the campaign’s title. An extremely descriptive title can significantly increase the open rate of your message.
Proceed to clicking Next on the lower-right when you’re done, and you’ll be offered a variety of design options to work with your RSS content. You can use a pre-made template or create a new one.
After this page is one more screen that provides more design options. This includes the header image and social media buttons that you want to include in the email.
Click Next when you’ve made your choices and a page with the summary of the email campaign will appear.
From the summary page, you can click Preview and Test and then Send and Test Email. Don’t forget to click on Save and Exit when you’re satisfied with the RSS to email campaign you just designed.
Invalid RSS Feed URL
If you receive an RSS Validation Error message, this is usually because the RSS feed URL inputted is invalid. It’s typically a formatting error where the RSS feed is concerned.
MailChimp is not that fussy about the RSS feed URL. If you’re getting this validation error, chances are there’s a major error involved in the RSS feed’s format. To help you validate your RSS, check out W3C’s Feed Validation Service.
Enter your site’s URL on W3C. This handy site, aside from checking RSS and Atom feeds, can also check the mark-up validity of Web files– including HTML, XHTML, SMIL, and MathML.
If the RSS feed URL is valid, W3C will tell you “Congratulations, This is a valid RSS feed.”, as well as providing HTML code you can copy and paste to your blog if you wish to display a banner proclaiming the site’s RSS feed is certified valid.
If your RSS feed is found to be invalid by W3C, the service will open up a page displaying the reasons it’s considered to be so, citing specific possible causes.
If you’re new to email marketing, I highly suggest you work with Email Service Provider, such as MailChimp that offers automatic RSS to email marketing.
Even as time passes, the power and effectiveness of email marketing fails to diminish. The value of having an email list of your own subscribers remains great, and with RSS making the whole process so easy, there’s no reason you shouldn’t add it to your website.
If you have any questions about setting up an RSS to email campaign, or if you have any tips to share to other WordPress bloggers, feel free to add them in the comment section below.