Jun 21, 2012

Add Blog Posts to a Regular Campaign

If you’re a blogger, the business or blog question can be like the chicken and the egg­–which came first? Whether your blog is your business, you run a business through your blog, or you blog for your business, you can incorporate both into your regular MailChimp campaigns. After all, if someone’s reading your newsletter, they’ll probably be interested in following your blog too.

The easiest way to keep your customers up to date on what’s going on behind the scenes is to add your blog’s RSS feed to your template using Merge Tags. One option is to use a basic FEED tag, which will pull in certain pre-determined elements from your RSS feed, depending on which variables you include.

Here’s an example using the MailChimp blog. I want to include the last three posts as links only:

*|FEED:http://blog.mailchimp.com/feed/ [$count=3, $content=titles]|*

And this is what it looks like once it is populated with our blog content:



If I want to give people a better idea of our blog content by including excerpts of the last three posts instead of just links, I’ll leave out the $content=x variable so the FEED tag looks like this:

 *|FEED:http://blog.mailchimp.com/feed/ [$count=3]|*

And here, again, is what it looks like once it is populated with the blog content:

You’ll notice that when I did that, a bunch of information was automatically pulled in—title link, date published, author, a short excerpt, link to comments, link to read more, Facebook like button, Google +1 button, and Tweet button—which you may not want or need.

For more control over the content that’s pulled in, you can build your own FEEDBLOCK with item-specific merge tags. You’ll need to create beginning and end tags for your RSS feed:

*|FEEDBLOCK:URL|* and *|END:FEEDBLOCK|*

Whatever you put in between those tags will be pulled in for that specific RSS feed. You can pick and choose which FEED:ITEMS to include—title, author, date published—but you’ll want to make sure to end those with an *|END:FEEDITEMS|* tag, too. It might look something like this:

*|FEEDBLOCK:http://blog.mailchimp.com/feed|* *|FEEDITEMS:[$count=2]|*

*|FEEDITEM:TITLE|* By: *|FEEDITEM:AUTHOR|*

*|FEEDITEM:CONTENT|*

*|FEEDITEM:TWITTER|* *|FEEDITEM:LIKE|*

*|END:FEEDITEMS|*

 *|END:FEEDBLOCK|*

Side note– I tinkered with the layout a lot to get it to look how I wanted it to. Voila:

I also wanted to make sure the *|FEEDITEM:TITLE|* tag linked back to the blog post. To do this, highlight the text or merge tag you want to link and click on the Link icon at the top of the content editor.

A link properties box will pop up. Click <other> in the Protocol drop-down, and change the URL to *|FEEDITEM:URL|*

Now, when your subscribers click on the title, it will link them directly to the specific blog post. And you’ll probably attract more readers to the rest of your blog, too!

If you write for a blog network or want to highlight more than one blog or topic, you can easily include two or more blog feeds in your campaigns. Just browse the template gallery to find the best template for you, repeat the steps I outlined above in each individual text box, and make sure to change the URL for each blog or topic.

For an extensive list of all of the FEED tags and their use, check out this article from the Knowledge Base.