One of the departments I work with in our office had a request from their website authors to have a subscribe button for their blog. This was new territory for them and something I personally hadn’t set up for anyone.
The process started first with figuring out what needs a subscription service would fulfill. They currently had email service through Constant Contact that mostly focused on their events, and they wanted visitors to the site to be able to get updates on new blog posts. We decided to consolidate the flow of communication. Any time there’s an event update, they write a blog post. Then in turn subscribers are notified when a new blog post goes live.
From there we needed to evaluate Constant Contact and match it up against Mailchimp. After reading a ton of online reviews, I can summarize them all with this: Mailchimp innovates and integrates while Constant Contact is slow to evolve. Mailchimp was cheaper in the end as well offering a 15% discount to non-profits on top of a 10% discount for signing up for Google Authenticator (a two-step login process that’s a little annoying, but worth the savings). Personally I found Mailchimp easier to use and seemed to have more features than Constant Contact.
Once we knew we were moving toward Mailchimp, I needed to figure out how to actually implement a subscribe feature on their blog. Naturally I used my own blog as a beta test before launching it on their site today.
I found the Mailchimp for WordPress plugin that works nicely with blogs. I wouldn’t say it was absolutely necessary to purchase, but I did like that I had a little more control over the look of a subscription form than the default forms on Mailchimp.
Mailchimp has some nice automation features that come in handy for blogs as well. Even on the free account I’m using on this site, I am able to create an RSS-driven email blast. It’s scheduled to go out every day at a certain time, but only when there is new content. If there’s not a new post, the email stays put. After some tinkering I was also able to embed a post’s featured image into the email as well. Not bad for a free account. If you utilize a paid account, you can unlock more automation features. For this particular department we set up a welcome email to send to every new subscriber. That’s just one of the many automations Mailchimp has to offer. You can find more on this Automation pdf free to download.
In the matchup of Mailchimp vs Constant Contact, there wasn’t much of a battle. For our purposes Mailchimp won us over with pricing, functionality and being seemingly future-proof.