Get a little Mailchimp mojo and you might be surprised at how much you like email marketing. Learn how to get your list setup, signup process customized and a welcome email on autopilot.

Using step-by-step tutorial approach and video demo in this article and you’ll be confident and ready to start growing your email list.

Why Mailchimp?

Choosing an email service provider for your business can be confusing. There are many options to choose from and the array of features can be dizzying.

Besides the fact that Mailchimp is free for your first 2000 subscribers, it also contains essential features such as the ability to send automated email campaigns, create groups, tags and segments as well as create landing pages. You will find that the free version of Mailchimp will provide more functionality than you can likely master early on.

Another benefit of Mailchimp is that because it is very popular, most tools you will need to run your business will easily integrate. From plugins and other software solutions you select for your business, easy integration with your email service provider is essential.

If you develop a strong set of email marketing skills using Mailchimp, they will apply to any email service provider.

Let’s get started.

1. Setup Your Account

Before diving into creating campaigns and signing up new subscribers, there are few important tasks to complete.

Verify Your Domain – after signing up for an account with Mailchimp, you will receive an email to verify your domain. By clicking the link in the email, your account and email address will be verified.

Once your account and email address have been verified, you can send campaigns to subscribers. However, before sending emails, there is an often missed step in the setup process that will be discussed next.

Authenticate Your Domain

Why? Your emails will show from you rather than strange email address, less likely to be directed to SPAM and images will show automatically. More about the benefits here.

How? You must add a couple of DNS records with your domain host (where you bought your domain name).

To access your account, click the menu in the upper right hand corner after logging into Mailchimp.

From your account page, choose settings, then domains.

From the domains area, you will see a list of domains and their status.

For specific instructions, click hyperlink to complete the verification or authentication process and choose “View setup instructions.”

  • Tips:
    1. If you have trouble, call your domain provider’s support and they will help you.
    2. Remember that your domain and hosting provider can be different
    3. You must have a domain specific email address (i.e. not a or in order to authenticate.

Note in the image above that the domain shows as verified and the domain is authenticated.  Emails sent to my list are sent from [email protected]

2. Choose Single vs. Double Opt-In

There are two options for adding new subscribers to your email list.  The difference between the two is important and should be something you understand as it will have an impact on your list growth and subscriber experience.

When you choose double opt-in, new subscribers are sent an email that requires they confirm they want to be added to the email list.  This is the “double” element as it is sent after the initial request to be added to your list.

With single opt-in, subscribers are added to your email list immediately after providing their email via your sign-up form, landing page or other email capture tool.

Which to Choose? Single gets people on your list faster. Double can be easier for GDPR compliance and anti-spam laws in Canada (CASL). A comprehensive comparison is beyond the scope of this article, but you can read more on this topic here.

How? To change your list from single to double opt-in (or the reverse), you will access list settings.

Navigate to Lists –> Settings –>List Name and Defaults

Once in the list settings area, update the form settings and campaign defaults. Pay attention to the default from name and from email address.  These will be included on all the response emails sent to subscribers during the signup process.  You want to be sure that they are easily identifiable.

If you want to select double opt-in for your list, check the box next to double opt-in.

Tip: If you are worried about robots signing up without double opt-in, turn on reCAPTCHA. To enable reCAPTCHA, click the button on the form settings.

3. Customize the Sign-up Process

Don’t be Boring!

Why? You don’t want your sign-up process to feel like a robot wrote it. Update the default Mailchimp text and design to match your brand voice and colors, etc.

The image below shows a comparison of the default list sign-up form vs one that has been customized.

Your list in Mailchimp has a specific URL that displays this sign-up form.  Once you have customized this form, you can link to this URL from social media or other posts.

In addition to the signup form, customizing the response emails your subscribers receive after they’ve confirmed their email address or successfully navigated the reCAPTCHA requirement, allow you to add a unique and memorable experience.

Don’t use the robotic and boring-sounding default language provided by Mailchimp. Additionally, you will want to adjust the colors and fonts to match your brand/website so the signup process feels like a natural extension of your business.

How to Customize Signup Forms and Response Emails

Navigate to the list sign up form.  Lists–>Options –>Signup Forms –>Form Builder –> Signup Form

To customize the sign-up form, you will use the 3 tabs available, Build it, Design it and Translate it.  This article will cover a few basic items, but there are many additional options available.

Signup Forms Build It Tab

Update the list name text or change to an image. Hover over the existing text and you will see options appear.

Next, add a message for subscribers describing the value that your list will provide.  Avoid saying “subscribe to my list” as it is unlikely that anyone wants to join you list. You need to give them information about exactly what they will receive and why to provide their email address.

Here is an example to consider.

After updating the list name text or replacing with an image and adding a message, the last important consideration on the Build it tab are the fields to include on your sign-up form.

You want to make it as easy as possible for subscribers to join your list so avoid requiring any information that isn’t necessary.

For example, first and last name are added to the signup form by default, but it isn’t necessary to require new subscribers to provide this information. Email is the only required field on your signup form.

Hide fields from the signup form rather than deleting them as you may want to include this information about subscribers in your list.

To hide a field on your signup form, click the field and then choose field settings on the right hand side of the page. Choose the “hidden” radio button instead of “visible.”

You’ll notice that hidden fields show on the build tab, but have a watermark behind with the text “hidden.” If you visit the signup form URL, you will see that hidden fields will not be visible when being viewed by potential subscribers.

The next step after making changes to the “Build it” tab is the “Design it” tab. Don’t worry if you’re not completely confident that everything is done correctly. You can always revisit each tab to make additional changes.

Signup Forms Design It Tab

The “Design it” tab allows you to change nearly every design element of the signup form and response emails. From the background color, font, button color and more, you can create a signup form that is has some serious design style!

We’ll touch on a few basics that will give your signup form a great start and you can dive more deeply into the design options if you’d like.

First, change the background of the signup form from the drab Mailchimp grey to white or a color that matches your brand. If you’re not sure what color to use, white is easy and always looks great!

The next important design element is to choose a default font.  You want the font to look similar to the style of font that you use on your website or brand materials.  The font can always be overridden if you want to make adjustments.

After selecting the font style, you will next update the button color.  This is the button that subscribers will click to signup for your list.

You can choose both the button background color and the text color. Make sure that it matches your brand colors and that the text color will show up and be easy to read.

The last essential element is to update the MonkeyRewards icon that is included with free Mailchimp accounts.  The default has a black background and stands out on the signup form.  By switching it to the option with the white background, it typically blends in more with your form.

Signup Forms Translate It Tab

The default text for the button on the signup form is “Subscribe to List.”  This is incredibly boring and you can do much better.

The “Translate it” tab allows you to customize the default text with your own language. This means that you can use your own brand voice and give your signup form some personality.

Scroll down near the end of the list of until you find “Subscribe to List.” On the left hand side in the editable text box, change the text. Once you’re satisfied, save the translation settings.

Below shows an example using “Send it on in!”

Preview Your Form

Congratulations on customizing your signup form! Now you need to preview the signup form as it will be displayed to subscribers. Make sure that all the elements and design are exactly how you want them.

Copy and paste the signup form URL into a browser window and admire your work!

For an example, this is a preview of completed signup form compared with default Mailchimp signup form. Such a huge difference with a few simple changes.

Customize Response Emails

After you’ve finished customizing your signup form, next turn your attention to the response emails. It’s important to also update the boring, default text included on these messages to reflect your brand.

Depending on if you have selected single or double opt-in for your list, the response emails will be slightly different.  There are more in the double opt-in process.

The design changes such as background color, font, logo and other design changes you made on the signup form carry over to the response emails.

The next section of this article is dedicated to creating the final welcome email.


Customize the Final Welcome Email

The easiest way to send new subscribers a welcome email is to use the response email in the signup forms area of your list.

Another popular way is to use an automated email campaign. A campaign is just a fancy word for an email.  Automated email campaigns are sent based on subscriber behavior.  Joining your list is a behavior trigger.

However, for this example, we will use the simplest option and use the response email to send a welcome email to subscribers.

Why bother to send a welcome email?

There are a number of reasons including the fact that welcome emails have one of the highest open rates. When a new subscriber joins your list, they are expecting to receive a message from you and most often open it!

This means that your welcome email is incredibly important and deserves more than just a courtesy message thanking them for joining.  It should provide them with valuable information and make sure they feel that subscribing to your list was a great decision.

Your welcome email will set the stage for future message you send.  Another benefit is that once you create the message, it will be sent to every new subscriber with ZERO action on your part.

To send a welcome email, choose “Final welcome email” from the signup forms drop down list and then check the box “Send a final welcome email.”

Be sure to update the subject line of the email from the default provided by Mailchimp. You want to make sure that every element of the signup process reflects your brand and voice.

Next, change the content of the email.  To help you find inspiration, think about email lists that you’ve joined in the past and what type of a welcome you received.

To give you an example, the message below is sent to new subscribers for my email list. Note that I provide a great deal of value including links to blog posts. Additionally, I give them information about what to expect next.

This approach increases their likelihood to open the emails they receive as part of the onboarding sequence that each new subscriber receives.

Don’t worry if you don’t have your welcome email text perfected. You can always update the information as you study best practices and develop your skills.

Test the Signup Process

TEST!! Once you have finished customizing the signup process, it is essential to test it.  You want to be sure that the voice and branding is exactly how you want it. Pay careful attention to each step that your subscribers will experience and make any adjustments needed.


Getting started building your email list can feel overwhelming. Start out with confidence by customizing the signup process for your subscribers to reflect your brand. By personalizing each step from a design and content perspective will help you stand out from others.

Utilize the 3 steps provided in this article as well as the detailed tutorial video to get some Mailchimp mojo!

Ready to get started?

This 4 page checklist covers each step in the article. Stay organized with a step-by-step quickstart worksheet. Track your progress and be confident that your list is setup and your signup process is running smoothly.

This site and the products and services offered on this site is in no way sponsored, affiliated, endorsed or administered by, or associated with, Mailchimp.  Nor have they been reviewed tested or certified by Mailchimp. Mailchimp is a registered trademark of The Rocket Science Group LLC.

Megan Boitano

About the author: Helping dietitians leverage their expertise and generate passive income with digital products. Hi, I'm Megan, the founder of RD2RD, a digital marketplace for RDNs to purchase and sell original, digital goods such as nutrition handouts, presentations, webinars, books and more. In my private practice, I specialize in pediatric nutrition and sensory-based feeding issues.

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