This post contains affiliate links that I could make commission off of. All opinions are my own.
If you want to grow your email list, it’s absolutely critical that you offer content upgrades to your readers.
You’ve probably been told that the best way to send content upgrades is through programs like Leadpages and ConvertKit, right? While these tools are great, they’re really expensive. We’re talking $25/mo and $29/mo each, minimum.
Yeah, no thanks.
I’ve talked before about how to give out content upgrades fo’ free, but that involves a redirection away from your blog post. Not ideal, but it’s doable when you’ve got a nonexistent budget.
So, what if you wanted to send content upgrades with MailChimp, so it sends the new subscriber an email? Luckily, it’s 100% possible to send content upgrades with MailChimp, and as long as you have fewer than 2,000 subscribers, it’s free!
Set Up Your Audience
First things first, let’s set up your list! In MailChimp, it’s called an Audience. I have one audience called And Possibly Dinosaurs Newsletter that I use for content upgrade deliveries and newsletters each week.
You could create a new audience for each content upgrade, but then you’d have to send out 50 of different copies of your newsletter if you had 50 different content upgrades. So, you want to use the same audience for everything, but you still need something to trigger an automated email. To do this, you’ll use groups! You can create one group per content upgrade, so a) MailChimp can trigger the correct email to go out to your new subscriber, but also b) so you can see what content upgrades are the most popular.
To do this, simply click on the “Audience” link at the top of the page and select the grey “Create Audience” button. If you don’t see this, it’s because you already have a list! If you want to create a new one, go to where it says Current Audience and click on the drop-down menu. From there click View Audiences, and you’ll be redirected to a page where you can create a new audience!
NOTE: You used to have to upgrade your account to get automations, but you don’t have to any more, so you can do this with the Forever Free account until you get more than 2,000 subscribers!
Create Your Group(s)
Once you’ve got your audience set up, we’ll need to create some groups for your content upgrades!
At the top of the page, go to Audience, then find the drop-down to the right that says Manage Audience. Select Manage Contacts from the drop-down. On the new page, scroll down and click on Groups. Before you can create a group, you’ll need to create a section that organizes your groups.
To create this section, click on Create Groups. Title it whatever you want (I simply call mine Content Upgrades. The simpler the better, in my opinion.) Then, create as many Groups as you have content upgrades for. (If you only have one, simply click on the minus sign next to the extras to delete them.)
You’ll also want to check the box that says “Don’t show these groups on my signup form.” This will be something we use behind the scenes, so we don’t want it showing up on your forms.
Here’s what it should look like (replacing Content Upgrade 1, Content Upgrade 2, and Content Upgrade 3 with the titles of your content upgrades).
Once you’ve got it filled in, hit save! You’ll see a message appear asking if you want to import subscribers to your new group, but we don’t want to do that, so simply click “Done For Now”!
Create a “Joins List Group” Automation
Now that we’ve got your group(s) set up, it’s time to send content upgrades with MailChimp! We do this by creating an automated email that’s triggered by someone joining your list group.
Automations are a type of Campaign, so they’ll live under the Campaigns menu at the top of the page. To create a new one, you can either go to Campaigns and click Create Campaign, or, more easily, simply click Create at the top of the page. From there, select Email, and then choose Automated.
You’ll then see different options for automation type. Choose Subscriber Activity, and then Respond to Subscriber Updates. The first option should be Added to Group, which is what you want!
Next, name your automation (I typically just do the title of the content upgrade so everything is clear). Select your list from the dropdown and click Begin!
At this point, MailChimp is going to auto-populate two different emails for you. We only need one, so go ahead and delete the second email by clicking on the arrow next to “Design Email” and hitting “Delete Email.”
Now that we’ve got our one email set up, we want to set up the trigger. Above the email, you’ll see a line of text that says “Trigger: 1 day after subscribers join the grouping, * | Select List Group | * – Edit Trigger.
Click on Edit Trigger, because we’ve got some changes to make!
First of all, we don’t want people to have to wait an entire day for their content upgrade. They want it now! So make sure the “Delay” is “immediately,” and select the corresponding group under Settings.
Once you’ve got the trigger set up, click Update Trigger! Now we’ve got to design the email!
Design Your Email + Link to the Content Upgrade File
To design the email, simply click the “Design Email” button on the right side of the screen.
First it’s going to ask you for information about your email, like the name, subject, etc. To keep everything simple, I use the title of the content upgrade (again) as the name of the email (it’s only going to be seen by you, so keep it easy to understand), and I use the same subject for all of my content upgrade delivery emails: “Your free downloads are inside! 😍” (Because honestly, who doesn’t love a good heart-eyes emoji?)
I also keep my From Name and From Email Address the same as my regular settings.
I have a saved template that I use for everything, but feel free to design your email however you’d like.
The main thing you need to include is a link to the content upgrade! You’ll want to upload it to the Media portion of your website and then find the URL. Simply click on the file once it’s been uploaded, and find “URL” on the right side of the Attachment Details popup. Copy the URL in that content box.
Once you’ve typed in your message in the body of the email, create a link (using a button or some text, it’s up to you) and link it to that URL. Once you’ve done that, click Save and Continue to return to the workflow!
Send Content Upgrades with MailChimp Automation
Once you’ve got your trigger set up and your email designed (with the link to the content upgrade!), click “Next” in the bottom right corner of your screen. This will take you to a review, where you’ll want to ensure that everything is set up correctly.
If it is, click on the blue Start Workflow button in the bottom right!Trying to send out content upgrades with MailChimp? Here are step-by-step directions!Click To Tweet
Set Up the Content Upgrades Forms to Add Subscribers to the Corresponding Group
Now that the workflow is started, we have to make sure your subscribers are joining that group when they sign up for your email list.
The instructions for this will change depending on what you’re using to gather their information in your blog post.
If you’re using the Layered Popups plugin to create fake Leadpages popups (see the tutorial here), you’ll want to go to the Integration tab on the Edit Popup page. If you scroll down a little bit, you’ll see all of your account’s groups. Simply check the appropriate one and new subscribers will be added to that group.
Conversely, if you’re Mailmunch (see tutorial here) so you don’t have to pay for the Layered Popups plugin (although it’s only $20, so I recommend using the plugin if you can!), your setup will be very similar. Once you get to the Integrate part of creating your form, you’ll see your groups listed. Once again, just select the appropriate group and the subscribers will be added to it!
While this may seem like a long process the first time around, it’s actually much easier once you’ve got it set up!
The next time you need to send content upgrades with MailChimp, create a new group and go back to the Automation page. Find the email you’ve just set up, and click on the down arrow next to the word “Edit” on the right side. Once the dropdown menu appears, click “Replicate.”
From there, you’ll simply click Edit on the replicated email, edit the trigger, upload your content upgrade to your website, and edit the email. Bam! Much easier that time, right?
You don’t need to spend a fortune on your blog to grow your email list or treat your audience to free goodies! Don’t feel the need to go out and buy expensive software like Leadpages or ConvertKit if you don’t have the budget for it!
Oh, and don’t forget to track all of the content upgrades you’re creating so you can promote them! Check out the tracking spreadsheet I’ve got for you FOR FREE below!