We will now look at how to activate a mailing list provider in WordPress. This will allow us to communicate and work proactively with our readers later on.
After all, when we do get visitors to our website we need to find ways to make them return visitors.
Remember, it is the combination of a steady inflow of new visitors and repeat returning visitors that will make our website successful,
Activate a mailing list provider & start asking for email addresses
One of the most effective ways to keep in contact with your visitors is to ask them for their email address. We will talk more about the how later, but for now we just want to get the email service up and running.
Because you do need a service to help you.
It makes little sense to maintain manual lists of email addresses or to create mailings in your standard mail program should it be Gmail, Outlook or something else.
There are several options but for now we will focus on the Mailchimp Marketing Platform.
Mailchimp is free for up to 2000 contacts and offers easy and seamless integration with WordPress.
You can read the instructions below or watch a video clip by signing up to our mailing list.
Step 1: Sign up for the Mailchimp free plan
With Mailchimp we will store the email addresses we collect in a list that is referred to as an “Audience”.
And one “Audience” (or mailing list) is sufficient to start with.
Step 2: Find, download, install and integrate Mailchimp in WordPress
The plugin is called MC4WP (MailChimp 4 WordPress) and after activation the Mailchimp plugin will ask you for a Mailchimp API-key. No problem. Just read on.
Step 3: Retrieve your Mailchimp API-key
To get your API-key you login to your Mailchimp account and simply generate the key under Account > Extras > API Key.
Step 4: Connect your website with Mailchimp
With your API key at hand you copy and paste it into the Mailchimp plugin (step 2) and click save. You are now connected to Mailchimp.
Step 5: Insert form to collect email addresses on your website
The final step is to set up the form that will collect the email addresses and then – finally – to verify the setup by signing up yourself.
To create the form we simply login to WordPress and click on MC4WP and select Form.
Form Preview will show you what the form looks like right now.
If you want to add additional fields you simply click the button in the “Choose a field to add to the form” section.
Clicking “Last Name” will for example bring up the menu below where you simply click “Add to form”.
When you are happy with the way the form looks you click “Save”.
Now you have a completed form that is connected to your Mailchimp account.
To insert the form on your website you simply use the shortcode that is generated for you.
The short code will look like the snippet below and you paste the entire short code including brackets into the place where you want it to appear.
But there is no rush to add the short code to your website at this stage. We will look more closely at producing content in Chapter 7 and it will make more sense to you when we do it in context.
We will now move on to the next step. All the steps we have undertaken so far create the framework of our website. And they have one thing in common: we will only need to set it up once.