Sunday, April 10, 2016

Mail Chimp Rocks!

What exactly is Mail Chimp?   CLICK HERE

An awesome new way to communicate with your troop parents and it is FREE!  Whether this service is used for your Service Unit or your personal troops, you will find this electronic newsletter a dream!  While creating and hosting a troop website is wonderful, it is time consuming and often under-utilized.  Mail Chimp allows you to create professional looking newsletters ABSOLUTELY FREE (I am still shaking my head over this.)  If you are familiar with Constant Contact the transition to this free service is pretty simple.  

For you techy friends there are a few disadvantages: 1) you cannot attach files, total bummer.  I place my files on my website host and point readers to the location using a URL address.  For those of you who don't understand what I just said, I suggest you insert a photo of a PDF file or attachment and sum up the flier in the body of the text box.

Another disadvantage: 2) for whatever reason the program does not like gmail addresses.  So when you enter the from address and you place a gmail address for contact information (and this must be done) it will flag the system every time and you either "accept the risk" or change it to a different email.  I guess gmail has some new security precautions in place that may prevent the newsletter from delivering or being opened by readers. 

Finally the program does take some time to learn.  It is pretty user friendly, but on occasion you may find yourself scrambling to complete an otherwise simple act like sending the newsletter.  It has taken me several times of using the program for it to become intuitive. In other words there can be a learning curve.  

The Good News: you can't screw up the program.  If you are willing to learn and spend some time by trial and error, you can put together an AWESOME looking email in a matter of minutes.  And you will get faster each time you make a newsletter.  It's worth the initial investment of time because in the near future you will be able to publish a professional looking newsletter quickly.  Plus, you can send to a list of readers instantly without having to enter emails over and over.  You can designate groups too.  So in my case I have Troop 4005 and all the parent emails as one group, group #2 4036 and group #3 my service unit leaders.  

TIP:  There is a difference between a "Template" and a "Campaign".  This was confusing for me at first.  Once you create your 1st newsletter save it as a "Template".  Then in the future you can pull up the template erase the unwanted info and add new info and the newsletter will have the same format and look.  Each newsletter that you create and SEND is considered a Campaign.  These campaigns will be saved in an archive so you can see what you have sent in the past or resend it if necessary.

CLICK HERE is a completed newsletter I recently sent to my Service Unit Leaders recapping our recent service unit meeting.  This is a great way to keep your leaders connected and it is easy for leaders to access resources.  Hopefully this will fuel ideas for your own troop(s) and service unit.

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