Don't get lost in the 'How'

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

by | Aug 17, 2018

This is the first of a 5 part series on MailChimp planning. You can also read the other posts about sending, storage and capture and the conclusion.
Alternatively, you can get a download of all 5 posts as a easily readable pdf by clicking Here.

When you start with MailChimp, it’s usually for one thing – to send emails.

MailChimp is designed to make it easy to send emails to lots of people at the same time.

You can upload your email addresses, design an email and send it. Once you get the hang of it, it’s pretty intuitive (and if you’re not sure here’s a link to my MailChimp beginner walkthrough video – long but worthwhile!)

…and if sending batch emails is all you want to do, then you should be sorted and you don’t really need to continue reading this article. But… what happens when you want to do more?

Things like:

  • Capture people’s data in different forms.
  • Segment your data to send different emails to different people
  • Automate your marketing systems

…leaving you the time to concentrate on your own business and the things you are good at…

MailChimp can do all of that (and much more)

…but once you decide to take a step into the bigger picture, you can’t just wade in.

In a recent conversation with a prospective client, she explained that she wanted to automate her process… and was getting bogged down in the ‘how’. …and that’s the problem once you move forward… it’s so easy to get bogged down in the ‘how’ that you ignore something much more important.

Building a clear plan and working towards it is so important – if you don’t know where you’re going, how do you know when you get there?

The old adage “fail to plan = plan to fail” is never truer when it comes to building a system with MailChimp. …and in the next few posts I’ll walk you through the entire process I go through with all of my clients to ensure that they’ve a robust email marketing plan.

My first client session

When I sit down with a 1-2-1 client for the first time, I usually put aside time in the meeting for a “MailChimp Marketing Planning” (MMP) session.

In it, I try and understand their business and the bigger picture, and then drill down into the specifics of email marketing and how that will support their overall plan.

I use an analogy based on the old Mousetrap board game (which you can read here) to explain that email marketing is only a part of the bigger picture, and that everything needs to connect together for things to work.

Generating leads in email marketing and cultivating them is fine… but if you haven’t got a way of taking these people and converting them into customers, what’s the point!, or no way of actually getting people to the point where they want to give you their email address and become leads in the first place…

…but the idea of a process is just as important when you are looking at the specifics of email marketing – and once we’ve got a view of the bigger picture, we drill down into the email marketing and I focus on 3 specific elements which need to be addressed thoroughly when working with MailChimp (or any Email Marketing System for that matter).

It’s easy to get distracted by the “How”… as in “How do I set up an automation?” or “How do I create that form?”… but at this point you need to “Park the How”… and focus on the 3 elements that will underpin your email marketing success.

The 3 elements of any Email Marketing System

So what are these 3 elements I hear you ask?

  1. Output (Sending) – what emails do you want to sent?
  2. Storage (Database) – how will you store the data and what data do you need to send the emails you want to send?
  3. Input (Capture) – how will you get the data you need and put it in the right place to send the emails you want to send?

Wow… (I can hear you sarcastically say)… Input, Output and Storagethat’s not exactly revolutionary… I know… but you’d be surprised how easy it is to mist over each of these elements and get bogged down in the detail too early. I’ve seen it so many times.

Let’s focus on each individually and how I help my clients get their head around how to build their system (before you even start thinking about the  ‘how’).

…and in the next post, I’ll focus on the first element – the Output.


This is the first of a 5 part series on MailChimp planning. You can also read the other posts about sending, storage and capture 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 degrees 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% Chimp, Robin is the main man behind and the Mailchimp Answers Facebook Group - the world's biggest Mailchimp User Group. Connect with him on Linkedin.