Email in Membee – Part 2: Using MailChimp for Promotional Emails

Welcome to the second of our three part series describing Membee’s strategy for handling emails to your members.   The purpose of the series is twofold.  First, to provide background information about different types of messages and how they can be handled now in Membee.  Second, to provide an overview of what we’re doing to …

Welcome to the second of our three part series describing Membee’s strategy for handling emails to your members.   The purpose of the series is twofold.  First, to provide background information about different types of messages and how they can be handled now in Membee.  Second, to provide an overview of what we’re doing to make each type of email message as easy as possible for you and your colleagues to manage. 

In part one of the series we described how Membee is intended to handle each of the most common types of member email.   In this second post, we will describe how Membee can work with the tremendously popular MailChimp email marketing tool to send your promotional broadcast emails to all of your members (or large segments of your membership).  In most cases, these emails are promotional in nature (such as email newsletters, advertisements for upcoming meetings and events, etc.) and thus are likely to be subject to email marketing legislation such as CAN-SPAM.

Why not use Outlook or Membee’s Upcoming Integrated Email System?

Many people have asked us why it’s better use an email marketing tool to send your large scale promotional messages – why not just use Outlook or Membee’s upcoming integrated email system?   While there are a number of reasons, the most important two are:

  1. Deliverability – Broadcast email marketing tools offer a number of techniques  to ensure that your messages make it through spam filters and protect your organization’s email system from being black-listed as a “spammer”.   Although no Membee users send messages that would be considered spam by any conventional definition, it’s quite possible to be branded this way unintentionally.  MailChimp provides a number of tools to improve the deliverability of your messages.  Membee’s upcoming integrated email system uses your existing email server to send messages and is intended primarily to allow you to quickly send messages to smaller groups (committees, groups, event attendees and individual members).  Most Membee customers will encounter a limit in the number of messages that you can send at one time from Outlook or from Membee’s Integrated Email System since both employ your existing email server.  Using an email marketing tool will avoid this limit.
  2. Performance tracking – When sending an email to all of your members, it can be helpful to get some idea of how many people are reading your message and clicking on links.  When you first start using these tools, you can use the initial results to set performance benchmarks that you can work to improve on over time.  Most email services offer reporting on email performance, and MailChimp has one of the strongest offerings in this area.  Membee’s upcoming integrated email system is designed for smaller scale email messages that do not require these advanced performance tracking capabilities.

Why MailChimp over Other Email Marketing Services?  

Here at Membee, we are big fans of MailChimp.  It is easy-to-use, reliable and they offer a feature list that rivals all of the major players in this category of software.  The pricing of the MailChimp service is also more compatible with the budgets and member email delivery patterns of membership-based organizations. 

As you read on, you will see how Membee takes advantage of MailChimp’s Application Programming Interface (API) which saves Membee users time and steps when sending an email to a large group of recipients. Other email marketing tools may get close to some of MailChimp’s other features but none can compare to MailChimp’s ability to work seamlessly with products like Membee. Other email marketing tools require you to repeat an “export, modify, and import” process to get information out of Membee and into the tool. To us, its all about reducing complexity for our users.  With something as important as your promotional email messages, we want to work with a tool that makes it easy to build great-looking messages and send them quickly and easily.

Membee isn’t directly affiliated with MailChimp, so you’ll need to visit their site for details about the product.  To give you a quick overview, we’ve embedded an overview video below.  

Learn more about MailChimp / Sign up for a free trial account >

You can also learn more about how to use MailChimp by viewing their getting started videos.

How Does Membee Work with MailChimp? 

Membee’s integration with MailChimp is intended to reduce the time required to manage a list of members in MailChimp, while also allowing you to take advantage of Membee’s advanced member segmentation and selection capabilities.   In the following section, we’ve provided a brief overview of the how Membee’s integration with MailChimp works.

In addition to its email formatting, tracking and performance analysis features, MailChimp is also designed to store lists of the people to whom you would like to send email messages.  For most of our users, the most up-to-date list of members is actually stored in Membee.    Our integration between Membee and MailChimp is designed to make it easy to keep the information in MailChimp and Membee synchronized.

The one-time set-up for this function takes just a few minutes:

  1. Set-up an account at MailChimp
  2. Create a list in MailChimp – remember the name of the list, you will need to tell Membee which list you want to synchronize
  3. Define the list of fields that you would like to have available in MailChimp for personalized merge emails (another cool feature of MailChimp).  You can choose from a variety of fields that are available to synchronize with Membee – simply set up a corresponding field in MailChimp for each.  Available fields include: 
    • First name
    • Last name
    • Full Name
    • Address
    • Phone 1, 2 and 3
    • Mobile Number
    • Email (required by MailChimp)
    • Organization Name – the name of the person’s employer
    • Organization Category – The category of the person’s employer
    • Doing Business As – The commonly-used name of the person’s employee
  4. Go to the Admin menu in Membee and open the “Bulk Email Integration Set-up” item

    Email set-up in Membee's Admin Menu

  5. Enter your MailChimp API Key and choose the list you would like to synchronize with Membee – simply look for the list that you set up in step 2
  6. Match the fields you set up in MailChimp with the fields that are available in Membee.

Now that the one-time set up is complete, you can simply follow a few steps to synchronize your list before each email you send.

  1. Generate a report in Membee that contains the list of people you would like to include in your first email.  For example, generate a list of all members using Membee “Organization Contact Details" Report. 
  2. When the report is done processing and the PDF version is available, click on the PDF and make sure that the list looks correct.  Membee will provide details on this report regarding people who cannot be included in the list sent to MailChimp because of data issues (such as the absence of an email address).
  3. Click the MailChimp icon beside that report and Membee will synchronize your list in MailChimp with the list you just created in Membee.
    Click the MailChimp icon in Membee to synchronize your list  
  4. Go to MailChimp and create a campaign
  5. Select the list you want to use and choose the appropriate segment that was just created by Membee (details about how to do this are available here – Membee username and password required).

For a detailed review of how this function works and steps needed to get it set up, we’ve created a few topics in the Membee help area (Membee username and password required for access):

  1. Overview of MailChimp/Membee integration
  2. Setting up MailChimp/Membee integration
  3. Sending a list to MailChimp in Membee

What about Other Email Marketing Tools?

There are many other companies that produce email marketing software, most of which can be used with Membee fairly easily to send an email to your entire list of members (although none as easily as MailChimp).   If your preferred email marketing platform includes the ability to import data from a CSV file, you emulate our integration with MailChimp by simply importing your Membee data into your email service with some frequency to ensure it is accurate and up-to-date.   The ability to synchronize and send to segmented lists is often more difficult; please consult your email software provider to determine the best way to do this. 

NEXT:  Part 3 – Membee’s New Integrated Email System

In the final part of our three part series about email in Membee, we will look at our upcoming Integrated Email system in more detail.  Watch for that final post in mid-February!

1 Comment
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Matt @ Local Internet Marketing

I just started using MailChimp so this is a helpful post. Thanks!