In this ultimate guide, I’m going to show you how to set up MailerLite and get started with email marketing. We’ll cover everything from signing up for MailerLite to creating a signup form that you can embed in your website.
Not sure if you should be spending time on email marketing? Trust me, you should. Whether you’re a blogger who’s just getting started or a multinational organization, email marketing is one of the most important parts of a successful marketing and business growth strategy. That’s because it gives you a direct line of communication with your customers and potential customers, which helps you stay top-of-mind, and build a strong and genuine relationship with your subscribers.
So what do you need to get started?
- You need a free offer or incentive to get people interest and encourage them to sign up. This could be a downloadable printable, an MP3, a video series – anything that is highly quality and which your ideal subscribers would want. To find out more about what makes a good freebie, check out this post. You may also find this post useful and this one.
- You need a signup form to capture your subscribers’ email addresses. This can be as simple as a form on your blog sidebar or something with a bit more detail like a dedicated landing page for your free offer. We’re going to create one of these in this tutorial.
- You also need an email marketing service provider to not only manage your subscribers and email campaigns but also to keep your email marketing efforts legal—sending marketing emails through your hotmail account is a big no-no that carries serious penalties! MailerLite is one of my favorite email marketing providers, and it’s the one we’re using in this tutorial.
- Most email marketing service providers, including my favorite provider MailerLite, require you to have a professional email address as well. This would be something like [name]@[yourwebsitedomain][.com]. Mine, for example, is email@example.com. Having a professional email address increases credibility and trust as well as email deliverability rates, so be sure to get one set up even if your email marketing provider doesn’t require it. To set one up, you have a few options:
- Ask your website hosting company to help you get started.
- Sign up for a GSuite plan.
- Set up your email address using Cpanel.
- To comply with spam laws, you’ll need to provide a full mailing address in all of your emails. If you aren’t comfortable using a physical address (if your business is home based), then you’ll need to get a PO box.
If you’ve got all those things ready, it’s time to set up your MailerLite account.
Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. This means I may receive a commission at no extra cost to you if you make a purchase through one of my links. If you do sign up through one of my links, thank you so much! Please see the Disclosure section of my Disclosure for more details.
What I love about MailerLite
- The free plan is pretty awesome. It’s totally free for up to 1,000 subscribers and 12,000 emails per month. Don’t be put off by the limit on the number of emails. It’s likely to be sufficient even if you had the maximum 1,000 subscribers.
- The free plan includes all of the most important features you’ll need to rock your email marketing. This includes multi-step automation, A/B testing, and advanced subscriber segmentation.
- When you need to upgrade, the paid plans are very affordable. Premium plans start at $10/month or $84 if pay annually.
- Each subscriber is only counted once. This means that even if someone signs up for multiple offers on your website, she’ll only be counted as one subscriber even if those offers are hooked up to different subscriber groups/lists.
- Mailerlite is easy to use and the dashboard is easy to navigate. Some of the more advanced features have a gentle to moderate learning curve but support and tutorials are readily available, which brings me to my next point.
- Email support is available 24/7 even for free plans. Paid plans also have access to live chat.
- The free plan includes access to the drag-and-drop editor and rich text editor, which makes it easy to create attractive, professional looking signup forms, landing pages, and emails.
- You’re allowed to include appropriate affiliate links in your emails if you want to recommend a product or service to your subscribers.
- MailerLite is an all-in-one solution that’s great for beginners and non-techies. With just one tool, you have everything you need to get started with email marketing. You can collect email addresses, send emails, set up automated campaigns for email courses and time or action triggered emails, and create gorgeous, mobile friendly signup forms and popups—all without needing to custom code anything or find obscure workarounds to get things to look good and work properly.
How to set up your MailerLite Account
It’s super easy to sign up for a MailerLite Account. Make sure you’ve got all the things I mentioned above to get started with email marketing, but other than that you don’t need anything else – not even your credit card number! (They only ask for that once you exceed 1,000 subscribers.)
Step 1: Sign up for a MailerLite account
Just head on over to the MailerLite website and hit the sign up button in the top right hand corner. Fill in the requested details.
If you are not incorporated, you can use the name of your blog or website or your name in the Company or Organization field.
While it’s possible to sign up using any valid email address, such as a Hotmail or Gmail address, you should use a professional email address with your own domain name; otherwise, you won’t be able to access certain features in MailerLite.
When you’re ready, click on the “Create my account” button and voilà! You’ll be taken to your MailerLite dashboard.
Step 2: Get your account approved
After creating a MailerLite account, you’ll need to request approval for your account.
To do this, you’ll need to do two things:
- Complete your profile by providing additional information, including your name, address, time zone, number of employees and industry; and
- Verify your website domain by providing your website URL and domain email address ([name]@yourdomain). MailerLite will send you an email at this address with a confirmation link that you’ll need to click.
If you don’t have a website, you can provide information about your business and how it operates, but the approval process might take longer.
You should receive an approval email within 15 minutes to 4 hours, but it can sometimes take up to 1 day.
Step 3: Create your subscriber groups
In MailerLite, lists are called Groups. There is also something called Segments, but let’s keep things simple and stick with Groups for now. You’ll find that Groups can be used for almost all types of emails that you might send in MailerLite.
To create a new group, you need to click on “Subscribers” in the top menu and select the “Groups” tab. Click the orange “Create new group button.”
A popup will open asking you to name your form.
I recommend setting up at least 2 groups to start with. One should be your main list, which you’ll add all of your subscribers to, and the other(s) should be for each of the freebies that you want to offer as separate opt-ins. This makes it easy to send an email blast, like a newsletter, to all of your subscribers without having to select multiple groups.
For example, if you offer a free MP3 of a guided meditation and you also offer a “How to get started with Meditation” email course, then you would have 3 groups in MailLite (named however makes sense to you):
1. Main/Newsletter List (all subscribers including those who signed up for the meditation and/or the email course)
2. Meditation group (subscribers who opted in to receive the meditation audio file)
3. Email course group (subscribers who opted in to receive the email course)
Step 4: Create a signup form
You now need to create form to capture subscriber details (usually name and email).
MailerLite has 4 types of forms to choose from:
2. Embedded forms – these can be added to a page or area on your website
3. Promotion popups (only available with paid plans; include countdown popups and survey popups)
4. Landing pages
The first 3 forms are all found by clicking on the “Forms” tab in the main menu. Landing Pages are found by clicking on the “Sites” tab.
Let’s create an embedded form.
1. Click on the orange button “Create embedded form.”
2. Give your form a name. This is for internal use only (subscribers won’t see it).
3. Next you need to choose which group to connect the form to. When someone subscribes to using this form, they will be automatically added to that group you’ve selected. You can choose multiple groups if appropriate. If you’ve set up a “main list/group,” I’d recommend selecting that group i addition to the group you set up for your freebie. That way, subscribers will automatically be included in the main group. (And because MailerLite doesn’t count duplicates, you don’t have to worry about subscribers being added to your main group multiple times.)
Then click the orange “Save and continue” button below the list of groups and you’ll be taken to the form builder to design your form.
Designing your form.
So when the form builder opens, you’ll see a very basic looking form. Don’t worry, it’s very easy to transform the form from bland to grand!
The first thing to do is to decide which layout you want to use. MailerLite currently has 3 layout options:
- Default (form fields are placed one on top the other above the submit button
- Horizontal (form fields and submit button are all next to each other, with the button on the right)
- Card (a little more attention grabbing with image options)
You can change the layout by clicking the “Change” link near the top of the right hand panel.
Once you’ve got the layout you want, it’s time to start editing the content and design of the form. Pretty much everything is editable so make sure sure to have your brand’s color palette and style guide ready to refer to.
You can customize the form colors and design in the right hand panel. Just click on the little circles and an options box will open. Depending which element you click on, you’ll be able to change colors, font family, font weight and size, border radius and hover color.
Next you’ll want to change the content of the form so that it entices people to sign up to your list. When you hover over or click on the various elements of the form, you’ll see a pencil icon and a trash icon appear. Click on the pencil icon and a new panel will open up on the right hand side of your screen. Go ahead and edit the text so that it refers to your freebie. If you want to remove an element, just click the trash icon.
By default the form will only have an email field. If you also want to ask subscribers for their names, you’ll need to add a form field. To do this, hover or click on the email field and then click the pencil icon. You’ll see this panel in the right:
Click “Add field” and by default a Name field will appear. I don’t recommend collecting any other details besides email and name. To move the order of the fields, hover your mouse over the hamburger icon (3 horizontal lines next to the field name) and drag and drop the fields in the order you prefer. Clicking the pencil icon lets you edit the field settings.
Finally, make sure to edit the wording on the subscribe button. Customize the wording so that it suits your brand, your subscribers and the freebie you’re offering.
Once you’re happy with the content and appearance of your signup form, you need to edit the success message that appears after someone hits the subscribe button. Look at the black bar at the top of your screen and you’ll see “Subscribe form” and “Success message” situated next to each other in the middle. Click on “Success message” and you’ll get some options to edit the message wording and appearance.
When you’re finished editing the form and success message, hit the green “Next” button and you’ll be taken to the form’s overview/stats page.
Form dashboard/settings page: Here you’ll be able to do some very important things, including:
- See your form analytics, including how many people have subscribed through your form
- Get the code to embed your form on your blog
- Turn the double opt-in on/off, and if it’s on, you can edit the messages.
If the double opt-in is switched on, MailerLite will send your new subscribers an email asking them to confirm that they want to sign up. If they don’t click the confirmation button in the email, they won’t be added to your list.
To turn off the double opt-in, just slide the green button to the right.
If you want to edit the confirmation email and thank you page, you can do so by clicking on the tabs “Double Opt-In Email” and “Double Opt-In Thank You Page” and then hitting the “Edit” button, which will open a simple design/content editor.
- Set up an automated email to be sent to your subscribers.
You can use this to welcome your subscribers and give them access to the freebie you promised them when they signed up (more on that below).
Make sure your freebie will be delivered automatically and immediately to subscribers
Before you proceed with this step, make sure your freebie is uploaded to the web and that you have the URL of where it is stored. I recommend using Google Drive or Dropbox to store downloadable files like PDFs and .zipped files/ If you’re providing access to a video file, it’s usually best to upload the video to a site like Youtube or Vimeo and then either embed it on a page of your website or simply share the Youtube URL once people subscribe.
Once you have the URL, you have 2 options for delivering your freebie.
Option 1: Create an automated workflow
1. In the form’s dashboard of MailerLite, click on the Automation tab and then the “Create a workflow” button.
2. Click the plus sign and you’ll be given a choice of 4 triggers: Email, Delay, Condition and Action. Choose Email.
3. You’ll now see the email settings panel on the right side of your screen. Add in your subject line and who it’s from (that’ll be you but you can choose how you want your name displayed), and then click the “design email” button.
You have a few options for designing your email.
- The drag & drop editor lets you add formatted text, images, buttons, countdown timers, and lots of visual design elements.
- The rich text editor uses content blocks and lets you add formatted text, hyperlinks, images, tables and dividers, but it has limited other features.
- The legacy rich text editor lets you add text with simple formatting, hyperlinks and images.
- Custom HTML editor (only for paid plans and you need to know how to code)
All of these options will work fine for delivering your freebie. Pick one and go for it! You can always delete the email step in your workflow and start again with a different design editor if you need to. Just hover over the top right corner of the email in the workflow diagram and a X will appear. If you click on it, you’ll be prompted to confirm that you want to delete it.
4. Once you have the email editor open, add in your message and a hyperlink or button linked to the URL to your freebie.
When you’re happy with the email, hit the green “Done editing” button in the top right corner of your screen. You’ll be taken back to the workflow page.
5. You now need to activate the workflow and you do that in the right hand panel. You’ll see a sliding button at the top next to your form’s name. Slide the button from off to on and it’ll be activated (the button will turn green.)
6. Now when someone subscribes using your form, they’ll receive this email straight away. 🙂
Option 2: Use a custom Thank You page
If you’re using single opt-in
If you aren’t using a double opt-in, you can choose to have a custom thank you page instead of the standard thank you message. With this option, after someone clicks the subscribe button, they’ll be taken to a page on your website where they can click on the link to access the freebie. You could also redirect them straight to the URL of your freebie.
Here’s how you set it up:
First, you need to create the custom page on your website and grab its URL. If you want to send subscribers directly to ta PDF, grab the link to where its stored (on Google Drive, Dropbox, your website etc).
Go back into the form editor, and open the settings panel. Select “Custom success page” and you’ll see a section appear where you need to add in the URL of the page you want subscribers to be sent to after they complete the form. Once you’ve added in the URL, hit the green “Next” button.
If you’re using double opt-in
If you’re using a double opt-in, you can give your subscribers access to the freebie by customizing the thank you message that subscribers see after they confirm their email address. Here’s what you’ll need to do:
Click on “Double Opt-in Thank You page.
You’ll then see the Thank You page message and you’ll have 2 options.
- Edit and use MailerLite’s default Thank You page -> click on the Edit button
- Use your own custom Thank You page -> add your URL where it says “Or use your own Landing Page.” For this option, you first need to have set up your thank you page on your website.
This is what it looks like if you choose to edit MailerLite’s default Thank You page. You can edit the text to include a add a link to your freebie. Just hover over the text and click the pencil icon.
If you prefer, you can drag and drop another element into the message and hyperlink that instead. You can do this with a text box, image or button. When you’re done, press the Next button. 🙂
How to get eyeballs on your opt-in form
By now, you’ve set up your subscriber groups, created a sign up form and connected it to your freebie, either through an automated email or by using a custom Thank You page or customized MailerLite Thank You page. You’re almost done, but not quite yet!
You need to get people to see the form so that they can subscribe. There are a few ways you can do this.
1. The easy but not recommended method
In the form dashboard, you will see a section that says “Share URL.” If you share that link on social media or any other platform, people who click on it will be taken to your form.
It’s not the best method because you should ideally be driving traffic and potential subscribers to your website, where they can not only subscribe to your email list but they will also see other things that might interest them and keep them on your website. But, if you don’t yet have a website, you could definitely start building your email list by directing people to the form’s URL.
2. Add A code snippet to your website (trust me, this is easy!)
As you’ll recall, the kind of form we created was an embedded form. To get the form embedded in your website, you’ll have to add some code to your site. One easy way to do this is to grab the code, which you’ll find in the form dashboard, and add it to a custom code or text widget. If you use a text widget, make sure to add the code into the text tab, not the visual tab.
Take a look at the video for a step by step guide of what to do.
3. Use the MailerLite plugin for WordPress
If copying pasting code isn’t your thing, or you want more flexibility as to where you place your signup boxes, then you’re going to love MailerLite’s WordPress plugin!
The plugin is 100% free and it lets you embed signup forms in widgets, blog posts and pages.
Once you’ve installed the plugin on your WordPress site, you’ll see MailerLite in your WordPress menu (left sidebar.) Go ahead and click it and go to Settings.
Enter your MailerLite account API key. You’ll find that in your MailerLite account by clicking “Developer API” link in the bottom of the page.
Embed a signup form in a post or page
Once you’ve added the Developer API key, the plugin will be fully integrated with your WordPress site and if you’ll have access to all the signup forms you create in MailerLite.
Now when you go into the page or post editor you’ll see an option to add MailerLite signup forms – look for the green MailerLite icon.
Click on it, select the form you want to embed, and click “Add shortcode.”
Use the MailerLite widget
Once you have the MailerLite plugin installed, it’ll generate a “MailerLite sign up form” widget for your WordPress site. Go to Appearance, then click on Widgets. Drag the widget to the sidebar or other widget area of your choice. Then all you need to do is choose which signup form to display.
What if you need to update a signup form?
Because your WordPress site and MailerLite account are connected, if you ever update a form in your MailerLite account, it will be instantly updated everywhere that is appears on your website as well. Pretty nifty, huh?
One thing to note: When you go to insert a signup form or when you’re looking at all your forms in the MailerLite dashboard of your WordPress site, you’ll probably also see an option to create a new form. I don’t recommend this. As much as I love the MailerLite plugin, this is one feature that doesn’t work so well and has limited features. Create your forms in MailerLite and use the plugin to help you embed those forms on your site.
Okay, that’s it for now. I really hope this post helps you to get started with email marketing. I have lots more guides and tutorials coming up so stay tuned. 🙂
If you haven’t already done so, you can sign up for a MailerLite account over here. Even if you’re not completely sure it’s the right option for you, I’d encourage you to give it a try. It’s totally free for up to 1,000 subscribers and 12,000 emails per month and you don’t need to provide any credit or debit card details.
Next in my MailerLite series, I’ll show you how to send a newsletter to your peeps.