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Don't get lost in the 'How' - Step 1: Sending

Why planning is so important when you start stepping up your MailChimp game

by | Aug 18, 2018

This is the 2nd of a 5 part series on MailChimp planning. You can read the first post here, and then about storagecapture and the conclusion.
Alternatively, you can get a download of all 5 posts as a easily readable pdf by clicking Here.

Start with the end in mind

The simple fact is that you benefit from email marketing when you send emails… and so you need to start your planning with your output… the emails that you actually want to send. This should drive the entire process. Fundamentally, when it comes to sending emails, there are 3 aspects that will apply to every email you send:

  1. Who – Who will receive the email?
  2. Why – What’s the reason for sending the email?
  3. What – What the objective of the email?

In fact if you want to plan all your emails, you could do worse than create a simple spreadsheet with each of these as a column header. Let’s dig a little deeper into each element

  • Who?
    • When you start out with MailChimp… the “who” is pretty easy… it’s everyone!… but once you start wanting to progress further, then you start to understand the need for relevance. Relevance is about sending a different email to a different person because they are interested in different things or have different circumstances, and thus when they get relevant communication they are more likely to take action.
    • So instead of sending the same email to everyone, you can send one email to a specific group of people (e.g. people who like cars), and then another email to a different group of people (e.g. people who like bikes).  If you know someone is interested in cars, it makes sense to send them an email about cars… it’s much more ‘relevant’ to them… and then don’t want to hear about bikes. Or, if someone is completely new to your business, you want to send them information which helps them get to know you… but if they’ve already been in touch with you for a while, or are already a customer, they don’t care about the “get to know you” stuff… they already know you… so will want different stuff
    • So when we talk about “Who”, we’re not just talking about their name and email, we’re also talking about info about them which will allow us to identify different segments – which impacts on the data we need to capture.
  • Why?
    • You may be wondering about the “why”…  so let’s put some context on it.
    • The why is all about the reason for sending the email – but a “specific” reason… i.e. what’s the trigger that causes the email to be sent?
    • In any email marketing system there are only two triggers available:
      • You – i.e. you are the one that decides when to press send
        • Good examples of this are newsletters and sale announcements.
        • These emails are usually “one offs” and you decide what’s in them and when they get sent.
      • Something happens in your “system” – This is where the “who” takes some form of action which causes an email to be sent automatically – in other words, these are “automated emails”
        • Good examples of this include when people join your list for the first time (and get a welcome email), request a download you’ve offered (and get the document delivered), or even when they register and attend an event (and get a thank you email). They can even be put in series so subsequent emails are sent to people a few days after the initial one.
        • These emails are “evergreen” and once they are set up, they’ll send automatically to anyone who “triggers” them and will only stop when you manually pause them.
    • Any successful email marketing system understands the difference between “one offs” and “automations” and strategically uses both.
    • …but it should be clear to anyone that effective use of automation will save any business masses of time and money.
  • What?
    • The what is a bit easier to understand as it’s simply the contents of the email.
    • …and they are usually one of three types:
      • Transactional emails – emails that are related to a specific transaction.
        • In other words, invoices, receipts, statements… that type of stuff
        • Obviously these are very common in the E-Commerce arena
      • Relational emails – emails that are all about building a relationship
        • e.g. Welcome and brand building emails
      • Promotional emails – emails that are about “selling”
    • There’s nothing stopping you from some form of “cross-over” and having more than one element in an email… but an email which is clear and specific in it’s objective is much more likely to succeed.

So with each email that you want to send, you need to know the “Who?, the “Why?” and the “What?”. …and once you know that you’ll have a clearer idea of what data you actually need to have and store to support them.


So the first step in ANY email planning is sitting down with a blank piece of paper and asking the following questions:

  1. What emails do I actually want to send?
  2. Who gets what email? – The “Who”
  3. What ‘triggers’ the email to be sent? – The “Why”
  4. What’s actually in the email? – The “What”

..and once I’ve got this list of emails… I start looking at how I structure my data in MailChimp to make these emails possible. What information do I actually need in MailChimp? …and how is it structured? …but that’s for the next post in this short series about planning your email marketing.

This is the 2nd of a 5 part series on MailChimp planning. You can read the first post here, and then about storagecapture and the conclusion.
Alternatively, you can get a download of all 5 posts as a easily readable pdf by clicking Here.
Robin Adams

Robin Adams

Robin Adams is a business owner who is passionate about helping businesses build effective marketing systems that work and don't waste money. Having a lifetime of Marketing experience (he's got a degree in Marketing before there were degree's in Marketing!) and having worked for big and small businesses and both client and agency side, he understands not only the theory, but the systems that are required to underpin everything.
51% marketer and 49% geek, Robin is the main man behind chimpanswers.com and the MailChimp Answers Facebook Group - the world's biggest MailChimp User Group. Connect with him on Linkedin.

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