WordPress and Mailchimp were made for each other like peanut butter and jam, like Mario and Luigi, like Jay Z and Beyonce. WordPress plugins make it dead-simple to add subscribers to a Mailchimp mailing list.
While there are literally thousands of Mailchimp WordPress plugins to choose from, very few are that useful beyond the basics. What makes a WordPress plugin for Mailchimp useful, you might ask?
A great Mailchimp plugin for WordPress considers:
- Easy setup. Good ones require your API key (which may sound like a made-up acroynm but is as simple as cutting and pasting).
- Full customization. Your signup form can’t stick out like a sore thumb, since no one wants to sign up for sore thumbs. You’ve got to be able to customize it to match your website or at least have it inherit the styles from your theme.
- Allow for updated addresses. Most plugins simply let subscribers signup for your list once. The problem is that if you want to offer freebies, bonuses or content upgrades, people should be able to signup for each of those with the same address—updating a subscriber, not just saying “You’re already on the list”.
- Hidden but not-creepy data. You should be able to collect a bit of information about subscribers when they signup, not in a weird way, but in a useful way. For example: what page they signed up on, or what their interests are, or what content upgrade they should receive for personalization, automations and even ecommerce tracking.
- Redirects. You should be able to tell the WordPress plugin which page to redirect to after someone successfully signs up.
With all that said, let’s look at which plugin makes the most sense for any website to use.
The best Mailchimp WordPress plugin, period
The best Mailchimp plugin for WordPress is actually called Mailchimp for WordPress (MC4WP for short). It covers all of the bases above with it’s free version, and offers a PRO version if you want more than one form (say you’re doing content upgrades) or want additional styling (beyond pulling styles from your theme).
Why is it the best? First, it takes a few minutes to use it on a basic level, and only a few minutes more to use it in advanced ways.
- Easy setup. Once it’s installed you plugin your API key and it’s ready to use.
- Full customization. You can write what you want any of the messages to say, pick colours and fonts (in the PRO version) or just let the style match your theme.
- Allow for updated addresses. MC4WP let’s you update subscribers who sign up again, so they can be on your list and still get content upgrades or register for webinars.
- Hidden but not-creepy data. You can create hidden merge field data with MC4WP, to populate merge fields on your list (more on how to do this in Chimp Essentials). This can be used to trigger automations or create segments on your list. You can also use variables that MC4WP comes with, like number of subscribers or page URL.
- Redirects. You get to pick which page is loaded after someone subscribes if you use MC4WP, for myself, I like to throw some confetti on it:
Sure, you can use Gravity Forms and Mailchimp on your website, but Gravity Forms isn’t for newsletter subscriptions, it’s for collecting data, from things like contact forms. To integrate with Mailchimp it requires 2 separate plugins and some work to set it up. And even then, it simply lets you add a checkbox to subscribe to a list, after you fill in a form (it’s not just a newsletter signup form).
MC4WP also has amazing support—even for the free version. They’re a great company that puts out a quality plugin. It’s one I use on every website I run, and I trust my business with it, since my business runs on mailing list signups from my WordPress sites.
Embed Mailchimp in WordPress, using MC4WP
Here’s a quick tutorial to walk you through setting up a Mailchimp subscription form on your WordPress site using Mailchimp for WordPress. If you haven’t yet set up a Mailchimp account, my basic Mailchimp setup tutorial is a great place to start.
- In your WordPress admin area, go to Plugins, then New Plugin and search for “MC4WP”.
- Click “Install Now”, and then the blue “Activate” button once it’s installed.
- A new link on the right will appear, “Mailchimp for WP”, so click on that.
- Where it says “Get your API key here” click that, and create or grab your API from your Mailchimp account.
- Click “Save Changes” and then it should say CONNECTED beside “Mailchimp API Settings”, and you’re done!
Now all that’s left is creating your first Mailchimp signup form.
- Click on Forms, then “Add new form”
- Select the list you want the form to add people to, and give it a name.
- From there, you can customize what you want on your form, and how you want it to look.
- Add your new form to your website as a widget, or to any page or post with the shortcode by clicking “Get shortcode”.
- You’re done!
If you’re wondering whether or not you should by the PRO version to embed Mailchimp in WordPress or stick to the free one, the PRO version comes with the following extra features:
- You can create infinite forms.
- Forms get submitted via AJAX, which just means the whole page doesn’t need to reload when the form is submitted.
- You can connect ecommerce from WooCommerce to Mailchimp (using Mailchimps powerful ecommerce360 features).
- You can build forms using their built-in style builder.
- There are reports, so you can see who signed up using which form on what page.
For myself, it’s well worth the $59/year to get all the functionality I need to collect emails for my Mailchimp list from my WordPress sites.
To conclude, WordPress and Mailchimp are like a wonderfully delicious sandwich you can eat while listening to Crazy in Love. While there are thousands of WordPress plugins to choose from to connect your site to your Mailchimp list, Mailchimp for WordPress is by far the most powerful and easiest to use.
If you’d like to learn how to use those hidden merge fields or MC4WP variables to help personalize and segment emails in your business, check out Chimp Essentials, which will walk you through exactly how to set that up.