FREE Library Email Newsletters? Try Mailchimp
By: Jennifer Fording, MLIS
Harris-Elmore Public Library
Most libraries out there have some kind of newsletter that they send out–whether it be for staff announcements, director’s notes, or promotion of library materials to the public. It’s excellent PR to let your patrons know what new books are coming out at your library, or what programs you are planning for the week. Many of the larger libraries and I’m sure some small ones as well use classy and seamless products like “Dear Reader” to produce these newsletters and announcements for them. But at what cost? Monthly newsletters could total up to $1000 per year, which is a struggle and frankly a nonessential cost for many small libraries. So how can we have pretty promotional materials without the cost?
Our library found the answer with MailChimp.
Mailchimp allows you to create, send, and track very professional and attractive email newsletters. You can create signup forms that match your library’s’ look and feel, and send your subscribers event invitations, announcements, and promotions (just to name a few). You can also use their analytical reports to improve your campaigns and learn more about your subscribers. Also if you are short on time, you can put the newsletters on auto respond with it sending it at the date and time of your choice. Best of all? MailChimp is FREE for lists of up to 2,000 subscribers. Yes, you heard correctly–free.
MailChimp is quite user friendly, letting you choose through a number of pre-made templates to design your newsletter. For those of you that are techy, you can create your own designs as well. Here are a couple that we had picked to promote our new books for April–and of course October. There is also space to add additional announcements or programs in each newsletter.
It also lets you create sign up forms for your specific newsletters (we have 10 currently to send out monthly) that you can put on your website. All the patrons do is put in their name and email address for each newsletter that they wish to subscribe.
MailChimp deals with all of the emails and makes out reports to you. They also send you an email every time there is a new subscriber for your newsletter and will send you monthly updates on the reach of the newsletters, making it easy to track for your own reports.
It is easy to follow and to get started–there are many tutorials and videos to help as well!
There are also paid options on MailChimp that will give you even more features or if you happen to send newsletters to more than 2,000 subscribers per month–but most of probably will not.
I would urge all libraries to give it a try. It can be a little time consuming at times to put in all of the information and new titles into the monthly newsletters, but hey–it’s free. Plus, those other vendors don’t have a cute chimp mascot do they?
Our patrons have been quite pleased with the newsletters and I honestly think they are comparable to the other paid subscriber resources. Happy Writing!