How to Build an Email List From Zero & Send Your First Newsletter: A MailChimp Tutorial To Rule Them All

By    Last updated October 22, 2016   Web Development

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Note: This is a 10 minute guide to setting up your email list, sending your first newsletter and creating a lead magnet that will draw you tons of subscribers.


Did you know that email marketing drives traffic and sales better than:


Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, online advertising, snail mail, the latest craze…




Email lists are the best way to connect with customers. And they’re a great way to boost sales.


There’s a reason why the leaders in the marketing industry rely on it so heavily. Have a look at what they’re saying about the power of emails:


Noah Kagan

Appsumo is a seven figure business, and 90%+ of our revenue comes from emails – Noah Kagan, Appsumo


Derek Halpern

Had I built an email list, when a publically traded company approached me to buy out my blog, I could have asked for 7 to 10 times more money than they originally offered. – Derek-Halpern, Social Triggers


Neil Patel

Out of all the channels I tested as a marketer, email continually outperforms most of them – Neil Patel, KissMetrics, Crazy Egg, QuickSprout


Wise words!


So why exactly does email marketing work so well?


  1. It’s personal
    You can reach right into your customer’s inbox and connect with them. You step right into their world.
  2. You’ve got permission
    With email, your customer has given you permission to come into their life. It builds trust. You’re welcome in their inbox.
  3. They’re already interested
    Customers have already shown interest in your company or product. They’re already halfway there!


Email marketing drives traffic. It builds loyalty. And it sells products.


So, how do we get started?


Let me introduce you to MailChimp…





…Your new best friend.


MailChimp is the platform that will help you send thousands of emails at once. You’ll collect email addresses, store them, and analyse the results.


Best of all, it takes something that’s a little dull and quite complex, and makes it nice and easy.


Let’s dive straight into the process.


What we’re going to learn today:


  1. How to put an email signup box on your website and start collecting addresses.
  2. How to design and send your first ever email newsletter.
  3. BONUS: How to boost subscribers by creating a ‘lead magnet’.



PART 1: How To Get Your First Subscribers


Step 1. Sign up to Mailchimp FREE


Sign Up MailChimp for Free


MailChimp is totally free until you hit 2,000 subscribers. So it’s a great way to get started without worrying about the budget.



Step 2. Create a new list


Now, we’re inside MailChimp. You’ve got a few options here. We’re going to assume you’re starting from scratch, so go ahead and click the third option: Start building your audience.


Start building your audience



Next it will ask you to ‘Create a List’. This is where you’ll store all your lovely email addresses.


Create a list


Below, you can see what one of my lists looks like.


This is so important, because it ranks my best subscribers. It shows me who always opens my emails. It shows me who clicks through to my website most. This list tells me exactly which customers are most valuable to me!


Subscribers Activities


Step 3. Create a signup form


This is the important part. The signup form is the bit that goes on your website and asks for people’s details. Here’s what my Bitcatcha signup form looks like.


Bitcatcha Sign Up Form



You can put this little box all over your website to pick up lots of signups. Want to know the highest-converting locations?


  • Top of your sidebar
  • A pop-up/feature box
  • A header bar at the top of your site
  • After your blog content
  • In the footer


We’re quickly going to make one for your website. MailChimp makes it easy, and they give you three different options.


MailChimp Embedded Form


We’re going to choose ‘embedded’ forms which is your signup box. This means you can place it on your website like I showed you before.


MailChimp will help you style your signup box or form, and then give you a small piece of code. Keep it handy, because we’re about to put it onto your website.



Step 4. Embed onto your website


If you’re working with WordPress, the easiest way is to download the MailChimp plugin. It gives you tons of easy options to embed the signup box on your site.


MailChimp Plugin


If you’re self-hosting the site, simply paste the code into your HTML file where you want it.


It’s as easy as that!


Every time someone signs up, their email will go straight into your MailChimp list. They’re just waiting to get your first juicy newsletter.



PART 2. Sending your first newsletter


Now that you’ve starting building a subscriber list, let’s send your first newsletter!


Step 1. Start a new campaign


MailChimp offers you four different campaigns. We’re going to choose the regular ol’ campaign. It’s the one you’ll use almost every time.


Create an Email Campaign



Step 2. Create a design


Now for the fun bit; putting your design together!


Don’t worry, it’s super easy. In fact, you can choose from tons of pre-set themes and layouts. Or you techies can code your own from scratch.


Create A Design


Let’s choose the Boutique theme; perfect for online fashion store owners.


Step 3. Make it your own


MailChimp is easily the best platform for customizing your email newsletters. You simply drag and drop the bits you want.


Watch me drag and drop a new image box right into the email.


Make It Your Own




Then just upload the image you want. You can do the same with text boxes, social media buttons and videos.



Step 4. Send a test (please, please make sure you do this!)


Send a Test Email


Before you hit the magic send button, make sure you send a test email. Send it to all the different email addresses you have. Try a hotmail address, AOL, yahoo, gmail, and a personal address.


Check what it looks like in each browser and (importantly) check it on all the devices you can (smartphones, laptop, tablet).


MailChimp are pretty fantastic, and I rarely have a problem with things looking out of place. But you never know.


IMPORTANT: Get someone to read through your content for mistakes. There’s always one. ALWAYS one.



Step 5. Send!


This is the terrifying bit. Sending your email to (hopefully) thousands is always a scary moment.




Don’t worry, it’s totally fine to hit the preview button six more times. And send yourself another three test emails.


Just to make sure.


Step 6. Breathe a sigh of relief. Then check the stats!


The coolest thing about MailChimp is that you get instant stats in real time. As soon as your email shoots off, you’ll start getting feedback.


Most of your opens will happen in the first couple of hours.


Check the stats!


More Email Stats


Congratulations! You just sent your first ever newsletter.



BONUS PART: How To Get More Email Subscribers


Now that you’re confident about sending emails, you can work on boosting your subscriber numbers.


The magic key to thousands of email addresses is a ‘lead magnet’. This is a tasty little extra you’ll offer in exchange for their email address. It could be an eBook, or a video tutorial. It convinces people to hand over their details.


You’ll have seen ‘lead magnets’ like this all over the internet. In fact, you’ve probably signed up for plenty of them yourself!


Create A Lead Magnet


You’ll get double, even triple the number of signups by using one of these lead magnets. The trick is coming up with bonus content that is super useful to your audience, and then giving it to them for free!


Learn more: How to Create an Irresistible Lead Magnet That Boosts Email Signups



Step 7. Setting up the lead magnet on your website


You can make one of these yourself in no time at all. All we need to do is set up an automatic email that sends your subscribers a link to their free stuff.


Let’s quickly dive back into MailChimp and head to the ‘create a signup form’ page. This time, choose ‘general form’.


General Form


We’re going to create that automatic email your subscribers will get after they’ve entered their email address. MailChimp call it the ‘Thank You’ page.


Thank You Page


On the ‘thank-you’ page, simply include a link to the secret, juicy extra content! Whether it’s a downloadable eBook PDF, or a private YouTube tutorial, that part’s up to you.


MailChimp will do the hard work, and send this thank you email to every new subscriber, complete with free content. Easy!


It’s simple, effective, and it keeps your subscribers happy. With a good lead magnet, you’ll start collecting tons of email addresses.



Sending newsletters is going to change your business entirely.


You’ll start to develop a strong loyalty among your subscribers. They’ll get to know you and trust you. They’ll look forward to hearing from you!


Hopefully, you’ll soon be managing thousands of email addresses. That means you can send them all your latest offers, exclusive discounts, or general news and content.


Email drives traffic back to your site. It creates trust, and it sells products.





Daren Low

Daren Low is the founder of and co-developer of the free Server Speed Checker. With a decade of experience in website development and internet marketing to his name, Daren is considered a premier authority on all things related to building and managing an online presence. Feel free to pick his brain by connecting via and Twitter.

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  • Sharon Pettis McElwee

    One of my favorite features of MailChimp is the RSS that automatically sends new blog posts to my subscribers so I don’t have to 🙂

    Great article for newbies, Daren!

  • Very nice tips tahnks Éric

  • Beautifully described on such an important issue for all bloggers. I am a new blogger and i realized the importance of email marketing by reading this article. I would like to thank you for this hard work.

    Blog Ornate