Monday, 28 July 2014

Part 07: Mili Fay Wonders--GMail or EMail Service?

During May 2014 I attended a wonderful Book Marketing Challenge, and I have come up with ideas to make Mili Fay Art better, and to have it run smoother.  As promised, in this blog I will share the ideas I'm implementing.

According to experts who guided us in the challenge, the best way to make an impact online is by growing our e-mail list.  Social Media is great, but only a true fan will hand over their e-mail address so they can be sure they do not miss any of your work or news.  These are the people who may actually purchase something from you, and may help your business stay afloat by clicking those Likes and Sharing the information with their friends.

Reading this, I nodded in agreement.  I have a small loyal following on my e-mail list.  I appreciate them, and they appreciate my e-mails.  So, I figured I could check this item off my colossal to-do list. However, just as I was reaching for my pen, I got hit with information that I should have an e-mali service account, such as MailChimp or AWeber.

E-Mail service account?  Why can't I use my beloved GMail as I have done in the past?

The experts went on to explain that an e-mail service lets you create those beautiful HTML e-mails top professionals send out clogging your Junk Mail folder.

Well, GMail can add pictures, links, and formatting, why should I not use GMail to create my e-mail?

Because GMail is not obsessed with keeping track of who opens your e-mails, reads them, and actually clicks on the links you so carefully created to guide the people on your list to services, gifts, and other things they should not miss.

After listening to the pros and cons of e-mail marketing, I added signing up for an e-mail service on my to-do list. 

There are many people who were more than willing to help me take initial steps in the Facebook Gold Member Group.  Sandra Beckwith had a blog article where she listed several emailing services.  After collecting suggestions from members and from Beckwith's blog, I went through each service carefully.  I have already heard of MailChimp, so I decided to leave that one for last, hoping that other services would provide more service for my buck. 

Of course, in the end I signed up with MailChimp.  

My saved MailChimp Template.
I'm very visual, and I found MailChimp's interface appealed to me more than any of the other services I looked into.  Also, I love that they allow you to have a free e-mail account until you grow your list to over 2000 people, and that you can send upto 12000/month absolutely FREE for life!  It is a wonderful plan for someone who has just started a business and does not have lots of cash to throw around.  Of course, there are services such as Auto-Responders that are only available to paying accounts, but if you are just looking to send e-mails to your list MailChimp is great (besides you can add a link to your sign-up auto responder)!
If you are a programmer (which I'm not, though I was forced to learn a bit of HTML), you can program your own e-mail templates.

Otherwise, you can choose from a selection of templates available to you.  If you can copy and paste, you can make a beautiful HTML e-mail using your own photographs and art.  For those people on your list who do not like (or do not have room) to receive HTML e-mails, there is an option for just a basic text e-mail (the one that looks like a MS Notepad document with no links).  I wish MailChimp had an option to turn your HTML e-mail into plain text e-mail, but they do not.  You have to recreate your HTML e-mail into a plain text e-mail, or as MailChimp likes to call them "Campaigns".  (That word makes me feel like a sleazy politician, but what can one do.)

After you are done creating your "Campaign" you can save the look of the e-mail as a template and use it in the future, so that you would not have to worry about formatting ever again, I also love the check list option that walks you through the process so that you know you are doing everything right.

So far, these features are more or less matched by GMail; where an e-mail service superiority shows is with regards to what happens AFTER you mail your "Campaign".

MailChimp tracks e-mails that bounce and eventually automatically deletes the people who are not receiving or opening your e-mails!

If you do not want MailChimp to delete those e-mails, you will have to go in there and tell it not to, but if the people are not receiving them, what is the point of having them clog up your e-mail list?  If you have other ways of contacting them, you can check to see if they may have cancelled their account, but I only request an e-mail and a name (doesn't even have to be real) for my e-mail lists. 

MailChimp also tells you who reads your e-mails and who clicks on the links in your e-mails.  If people do not open your e-mail, eventually they too are deleted and you do not have to worry about keeping track of them either.  What's great about this is that MailChimp ensures that only the people who are your true fans stay on your e-mail list.

MailChimp also has a simple Unsubscribe Link at the bottom of every e-mail.  With GMail a person would have to send me an e-mail for me to delete them from my list.  Here, they click on the link and I get notified that I have lost a subscriber; a sad thing for every business, but if I do not provide the service/information they need, why should they have my e-mails clog up their mail box?

Sign-up form!  

Sign-up form found on this blog.
This is my favourite feature of MailChimp (and other e-mail services).  With GMail I had to collect every e-mail by pen and paper and add them to my account.  Now, if people like my work all they need to do is fill out a simple form: name, e-mail, choose if they want to receive an HTML or PlainText e-mail, and if they want to be a member of my Fan Club and/or Review Club.  Their e-mails are added to my account, and their preferences are sorted in something MailChimp calls Groups.  So many times I was not able to read someone's handwriting and those people never got to hear from me or to receive their welcome gift.  Now if they find me though social media, they can just add themselves if they so wished.  (I gift my fans once a month FYI.)

Using MailChimp Groups, you can also create Segments, which allow you to send e-mails only to people who are interested in a particular service rather than the whole list.

So there you have it.  The reason why you should get yourself an e-mail service over your GMail, Outlook, etc. personal account.  I'm still keeping my GMail for personal use, but for sharing the news about my business, events, and services, it will be MailChimp from now on.

If you have any questions, you know what to do! ;-D

If your list numbers less than 2000, why not give MailChimp a try.  It really is easy to use, and it is FREEEEEEE!

P.S.  In June a new anti-Spam law was passed in Canada.  If you are going to send an e-mail to a stranger, just make sure you have their written permission. :-)

Mili Fay, a Toronto-based artist, classical animator, illustrator, writer, and singer, is an award winning graduate of Sheridan College and Art Instruction Schools.  In November of 2011 she created Mili Fay Art determined to support the world one artwork at a time.

Her latest published work is Animals In My Hair; a story about a boy who goes for his first haircut only to find endangered animals falling out of his hair.  Recently chosen for the INSPIRE! Toronto International Book Fair’s Programming (November 13th – 16th, 2014) out of 700+ submissions, Animals In My Hair, is the world’s first ever Artwork Book; a new type of picture book that seamlessly combines the best features of fine art, picture books, activity books, and educational books.  In accordance with Mili Fay Art’s vision, 30% of all profits from Animals In My Hair book and merchandise will be donated to wildlife conservation.

To find out more about Animals In My Hair, and/or to purchase the few remaining FIRST EDITION copies of the initial print run, visit:

Mili Fay Art: “Together we support the world one artwork at a time.”


  1. Mili, thanks so much for the shout out and for offering such helpful, detailed information here!

    I'll add just one other reason to go with an e-mail management service such as MailChimp instead of sending messages to large lists through your e-mail system: If you're going to communicate with your list more than a few times, you need to let people opt-in to your list -- you can't add them without their permission. When you use a template on your website as you've described, you're inviting people to opt-in and give you permission to send them multiple messages.

    You must feel great about making this decision. Hooray!


    1. You are welcome, Sandra. Discovering your blog has changed my life. Without your e-mail, who knows when (or if) I would have found out about the Book Marketing Challenge.

      It is the best decision I ever made to switch my Fan email form GMail to MailChimp. I'm trying to share this new-found knowledge everywhere! :-)




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