There has been a lot of talk recently about privacy shield, as there has been a ruling from the EU Court of Justice around privacy and the use of this. This has potentially big repercussions for businesses using Mailchimp as their mailer software.
In this blog, we’re looking at what this means, and should the worst happen, how you can move away from Mailchimp to a different mailer package.
What is privacy shield?
This is basically an agreement between the EU and the US allowing safe data transfer between the two geographical areas. There has been a recent ruling, the Schrems II case, which has said that this is now invalid.
What does this mean for a small business?
Essentially this means that any software which you are using, that stores data in the US, is potentially not deemed to be safe. However, a number of companies that transfer data in this way use other layers of protection on top of Privacy Shield.
We got in touch with the ICO for some advice. At the moment, they are suggesting to carry on as normal. They’re working with the government to look at how this ruling is going to affect us going forward.
The last update at the time of posting was on the 27th July. You can read that here
A bit about Mailerlite
Most mailing packages are pretty similar to be fair. They usually offer some sort of free version. Mailierlite is no different.
The big thing to note however is that you can only have 1000 contacts on the free version. For most small businesses this may be enough, however, if you wanted to have more contacts, say up to 2500, then you’re looking at the first tier of the paid-for version. This cost for this is $15 per month.
This gives you extra functionality too. But for most people, the free version should be more than enough. After all, most of us send pretty clean and simple looking newsletters!
Moving your audience
First of all, you’ll, of course, need to sign up with a new package. We’ve chosen Mailerlite for this example as the sign up is straight forward. You’re asked some questions about your business, and then your account needs to be approved. This literally took less than 5 mins to do.
With Mailerlite, you can choose to either link your Mailchimp account and import your contacts that way. Or you can export them to a CSV file, and import that.
We’ve exported to a CSV file. To do that, you go to the audience tab in Mailchimp and then click the export button.
You’ll receive an email from Mailchimp once this has been done, you can then download a zip file, which will then contain two files. There is a subscribed list and a cleaned list. We imported the subscribed list.
It’s worth noting, that some of the fields will not automatically be picked up in Mailerlite, so you need to tell it what they are. This happens a bit with CSV files. For example, we have a field for the hosting which a client is on, this was not picked up. All you need to do is to pick a new text field from the dropdown, then say what you want the field to be called. Simple!
Creating your newsletter
We’ve been using Mailchimp for our newsletters, so we set about recreating it in Mailerlite.
The first thing to note is that the interface is pretty similar to Mailchimp if anything it’s actually easier to use. It gives you the option of how you want to use it to create your newsletter. We are using the drag and drop designer. Just the same as Mailchimp, so it should look pretty familiar to you!
The different blocks are down the left, and the settings appear on the right. There are options to change font, colours and edit images all within the main design screen, just like Mailchimp.
We were easily able to recreate our last newsletter in under 30 mins. As with Mailchimp, once you’ve got a template, you can replicate that every time you send a newsletter. So while you need to fiddle a bit in the first place, you’re good to go from there on in.
We could probably go on for ages about this, but we’ll spare you, as this blog is going to be huge otherwise!
What about email signup forms on my website?
Of course, most of us are going to want people to still be signing up to our newsletters. The good news is that Mailerlite works with WordPress, so whilst you’ll need to make some changes, it should all work fine.
There is an official plugin from Mailerlite and other forms plugins such as WooCommerce also support it.
Our final thought on this is not to panic. At the moment, we’re fairly confident that you’re not going to need to do any of this right away. Sarah spoke to the ICO and they have said you’re safe to keep that is using Privacy Shield. For example Mailchimp, but just don’t sign up to anything new.
If you’re interested in what we’re doing in terms of training, then take a look here