4 Simple steps to customise MailChimp signup process to follow your branding
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MailChimp is one of the most popular tools to manage e-mail lists. One of the main reasons is that it is free for up to 2,000 subscribers, so it’s an excellent option to use when you start building your e-mail list. It is quite easy to use also; you just need to create your free account and link that account to the opt-in form on your website (if you need help with this, I cover the set up of the opt-in form and connection to MailChimp here). Then you can start collecting e-mail addresses straight away. However, I think that it is well worth spending some time customising the messages that MailChimp sends your subscribers to provide a more professional feel and align them with your branding.
The default MailChimp templates look something like the image on the left below. After a few customisation changes, you can change them to follow your branding. The picture on the right is an example that follows my current branding.
The signup process
Let’s take a look at the signup process that a user will follow to signup to your website:
The green boxes represent outputs from MailChimp that your subscriber will see. Each one of those is a pre-defined page/e-mail from MailChimp that you can customise.
1 – Update general settings
Before we start looking at the specific forms and e-mail templates, let’s start by changing a few of the main settings:
1 – Log-in to your MailChimp account
2 – Click on “lists” on the top
3 – Select the list that you want to customise. By default, MailChimp creates one e-mail list with one e-mail subscriber, the e-mail provided for your MailChimp account.
4 – Select “Settings > List name and defaults.”
Here we can configure some of the main settings for the e-mail list:
– List name: Make sure that the e-mail list name is descriptive, as it’s what will appear in the subject line of the emails sent to your subscribers. A good name for the e-mail list is the name of your blog, so subscribers can plainly recognise what they have subscribed to.
– Form settings: there are a few options in this section.
Double opt-ins: I would recommend using double opt-ins. This means that everyone that subscribes through your opt-in form will have to click on the automated e-mail sent to confirm their subscription. It’s an additional step for the users, but it’s a good way to make sure that you get subscribers that are really interested in your content.
Enable GDPR fields: this only works if you are using MailChimp’s own opt-in forms. If you are using a different plugin to create the opt-in form, leave this disabled.
Enable reCAPTCHA: I started with this setting enabled, but I have currently switched this off as it adds another step to the signup process.
– Default From name: The name that you want to appear in the “from” field on the e-mails sent by MailChimp.
– Default From e-mail address: the e-mail address that will appear in the “from” field on the e-mails sent by MailChimp.
– Default e-mail subject (Optional): You can leave this blank.
– New subscriber notifications: choose if/how you want to get notified of subscribers subscription changes. I have this set up to send me a weekly e-mail. You just need to add the e-mail address where you want the information sent to in the relevant box.
Setting up the right list name and the correct data in the “from” field will make it easy for subscribers to know where the e-mail is coming from and understand what page they are subscribing to.
Make sure you save the changes clicking on the button “Save list and campaign defaults” at the bottom.
Now that you have set up the main settings, we can take a look at how to configure the different e-mail/forms that are used during the signup process:
4 – Go to “signup forms.”
5 – Select “Form builder.”
6 – If you click on the grey drop-down you can see the different e-mails and signup pages that can be customised. We are only going to take a look at the ones used during the signup process, but once you understand how these are tailored, you can use the same method for all the others.
We are going to follow the elements in the process chart above in order. I’m going to skip the signup forms, as I use a WP plugin for the opt-in form. You can find how to configure the opt-in form with the plugin here.
2 – Update e-mail confirmation web page
When a subscriber signs-up, the website will re-direct him to another web page which is displayed automatically by MailChimp. At this stage, the user has not yet signed-up, as the user still needs to confirm the e-mail address entered. Let’s take a look at how to configure this web page:
Within MailChimp’s form builder, select “Signup thank you page.”
The default web page presented by MailChimp is a bland page in blacks and greys with a default message. You can either change the format of the existing default page within MailChimp or ask MailChimp to re-direct users to a page within your own website. The second option is easier to set up and presents users with a page that will have the same look and feel as your website. To do this, you need to:
1 – Login to your website’s WP dashboard
2 – Go to Pages > Add new
3 – Set up the title and text to inform users that they need to confirm their e-mail address to confirm their subscription. You can use the text in MailChimp’s default page as a guide, but remember that this page is also part of your website, so try to make it sound natural.
4 – Once you’ve finished the page, save and publish it.
5 – Copy the permalink on the top left of the page
6 – Log back into MailChimp and go back to the Form builder (click on lists > select the list > click on signup forms > select form builder)
7 – Select “Signup thank you page” from the drop-down menu.
8 – Paste the permalink into the above box to re-direct MailChimp to your own web page.
You have successfully created a new “signup thank you page” for your subscribers!
Now let’s look at the following step in the process: the e-mail sent by MailChimp when the subscriber first signs up.
3 – Update confirmation e-mail
Select “Opt-in confirmation e-mail” from the drop-down.
You need to change the default confirmation e-mail to something that fits better with your overall brand:
There are three options to configure:
Build it, where you can select the different components and edit the text.
Design it, where you can select fonts, colours, borders and change the overall look.
Translate it, which allows you to translate the main text into different languages.
The first few parameters for the e-mail header come from the default settings that we have updated above (the “from” field and list name); you can change the title of the e-mail:
Now let’s look at how to customise the e-mail content.”
1 – E-mail’s header: If you use a banner for your website, use that as a header in the e-mail. It will make the image of your e-mails match that on your site and follow your overall branding. To do this, hover to the right of the header until the options appear as below and select “use image.”
Click on “upload” and upload your banner image.
2 – E-mail’s text: You can edit the e-mail’s text in this same tab.
3 – E-mail’s design/appearance: Now let’s take a look at how to change how the e-mail looks:
Select “Design it” to get the options to change fonts, colours, and other design elements:
Start by changing the background colour to something that is consistent with your branding. I have it white as the background on my website is white.
Click on the different elements and customise the e-mail content. Make sure you change the primary colours to match your website’s branding. Default font types in MailChimp are a bit limited, so choose those that are closer to your branding.
4 – Update final Confirmation page
Once the user clicks on the button on the e-mail to confirm the e-mail address, a new web page opens to confirm subscription.
As with the first step above, the web page is a default MailChimp page with a minimal appeal. As above, you can re-direct this MailChimp page to your own website, so follow the same steps explained above in detail to create a new page on your own site and re-direct this MailChimp page to that page. To perform the re-direction in MailChimp, you need to select “Confirmation thank you page” in the drop-down menu within Form builder.
These are all the steps that my subscribers follow when they subscribe. Your subscribers may follow different steps if you have different settings. For example, if you enable reCAPTCHA this will add an additional step, so don’t forget to configure the relevant form. If you select to send a final confirmation e-mail, then you will also need to configure that e-mail selecting “Final welcome email” in the Form builder.
You can also go through the Form builder’s drop-down options and see that there are a lot of other possible options that you may want to configure now or at a later date as your list grows.
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