How to deliver a reader magnet to new subscribers using Mailchimp

This is the fourth and final post in a four-part miniseries covering what content authors need to start building a large following of readers hungry for their book; whether it's their first book, or their seventeenth.

Last time, in Part 3, we looked at how to turn readers into fans with a reader magnet - a free incentive that encourages readers to join your email list. Today, we’ll cover the tech details of how to set up Mailchimp so that your reader magnet is automatically delivered to your readers as soon as they subscribe to your list.

What you need to get started

This post assumes that you already have a:

  • Mailchimp account

  • Existing list with subscribers in Mailchimp

  • Signup form installed on your website

If you don’t have those, here’s a tutorial on getting started with Squarespace and Mailchimp.

And a tutorial for getting started on Wordpress and Mailchimp.

When you click on lists in the top navigation, you should see something like this. Here I’ve got a list “Lori Puma’s Books” with a single subscriber.

When you click on lists in the top navigation, you should see something like this. Here I’ve got a list “Lori Puma’s Books” with a single subscriber.

Creating an Email Message to Deliver Your Reader Magnet

In Mailchimp language, the email messages that you send to your subscribers are called “campaigns”. There are two types of campaigns that you will send as an author just getting started with email marketing – Regular and Automated.  Regular campaigns are what you’ll use to send out updates about your blog or a message that your latest novel is available for pre-order. Regular campaigns are sent to everyone on your email list at a specific time that you can schedule in advance. Say, every Tuesday at 4:30pm Eastern time.

Automated is what we’re going to create today. Automated messages get sent to your subscribers automatically based on activity. We’re going to create one that gets automatically sent to new subscribers when they join your email list.

Step 1. Create a campaign.


Step 2. Choose "Create an Email".


Step 3. Choose "Automated".


 Step 4. Select “Welcome new subscribers”.

If you don’t see "Welcome new subscribers" under “Featured” you can also find it underneath “Subscriber Activity”.


Step 5. Give your campaign a name.

If you have multiple mailing lists, select the list that you would like to use from the drop-down menu. Then choose “Begin”.


Step 6. Change the default setting so that your message sends immediately.

For some reason, the default setting is for your message to send to a subscriber 24 hours after they subscribe. Not ideal. We want our message to send immediately. Click “Edit trigger” so that you get the option to change that setting and send your message immediately.


Step 7. Click the drop-down menu and choose "immediately".

Then click “Update Trigger” in the upper right corner.


Step 8. Time to design your message.

Now that the Trigger is set to “Immediately after subscribers join your list”, you're ready to create the email that will deliver your reader magnet. Click “Design Email”. 


Step 9. Fill in your details.

When you've entered your email subject, then click “Next” in the lower right corner.


Step 10. Choose a template.

Scroll to the bottom of the page and select “Simple text”. (We’re going to use “Simple Text” because it’s the easiest. If you’ve got a cover image for the story you’re giving away you might want to choose “1 Column” instead.) Then click “Next” in the lower right corner.


Step 11. Edit the email.

Mailchimp emails start out with filler content. The left-hand side of the screen shows how an email will look in a subscriber's account. When you hover over a section on the left-hand side of the screen, you will see three options: a pencil icon for editing, a plus sign for duplicating a section, and a trash icon for deleting. When you click the pencil icon, you will be able to edit the text using the controls on the right-hand side of the screen. 


Step 12. Edit the text.

Hover over “It’s time to design your email.” and click the Trash icon to delete. Then hover over the text section that starts “Now you’ve selected a template…” and click the Pencil icon. You should see text and formatting options appear on the right-hand side of the screen.


Step 13. Edit the text on the right-hand side of the screen.

Type your message to your new subscriber on the right-hand side of the screen. The left-hand side of the screen will update with your text. Include a link to where the subscriber can download the reader magnet. For an ebook, you can link to a Google Drive or Dropbox folder where you can place different formats (.mobi, .epub., PDF). For shorter pieces, you can use a direct link to a Google Doc or link to a PDF. What is important is making it easy and for your new subscriber to get what you’ve promised to give them. When you've completed your message, click Save & Close at the bottom right corner.


Step 14: Personalize your message.

If you’d like your message to use your new subscribers first name, type in this message:

Hi Friend,

Here’s your copy of [NAME OF YOUR STORY with link].



Then select “Friend” in the text and click on “Merge Tag” and choose “First Name”. Now your greeting will say

Hi  *|FNAME|*,

This code will turn into a person’s first name when your emails are sent out. When you’re finished, click “Save & Close at the bottom of the text editing side of the screen.


Step 15. Almost there! Click Next in the bottom right corner for the final steps.


Step 16. Click “Start Workflow”

The "Start Workflow" button tells Mailchimp that you are done editing and ready to have your new welcome message send out automatically. When you click “Start Workflow” a pop-up window will come up. Click “Start Workflow” in the pop-up box.


Step 17. Whoohoo!

When you’re done, you’ll get a celebration screen.


Step 18.  Test that your workflow is working properly.

This is the last step. I recommend signing up for your list through a form on your website.

You can send yourself a test message in Mailchimp, but if you use merge tags (like we did with First Name), you won’t be able to tell if they are working properly. The test will say something like Hi <<Test First Name>>.

It’s super embarrassing to send out messages saying "Hi *|FName|*", so I go through the extra step of signing up on my website to send myself a copy of the message and make sure that my name shows up correctly.

Have you set up an email to deliver a reader magnet to your new subscribers? Share your experience in a comment.