Idiot’s guide to creating a #MailChimp #EmailMarketing campaign

I was going to title this as an Idiot’s guide by an idiot, but an idiot’s guide by a first timer is perhaps more appropriate. Having said that I’ve used MailChimp for many years, but this is the first time, I have spent significant effort to get it right as much as possible, including scheduling, A/B testing and auto responders.

Deduping Contacts


The exercise started many weeks ago at CapsuleCRM where I’ve literally went through each of the contacts to remove duplications, sometimes quadruplications or more. The number of contacts with emails dropped from about 11,000+ to nearly 9,000, as I have built the contact database over many years.

Syncing with CapsuleCRM

mailchimp capsulecrm

It’s vital to sync your mailing list with your CRM. Once I deduped the contacts, I used the CapsuleCRM side of the MailChimp integration to upload contacts to MailChimp.

This could have been done the opposite way as well, but I had some help from Rachel at CapsuleCRM.




Create the Newsletter or Email Template

As this is our first email, I wanted it to be really personal. Most if not all subscribers have engaged with me directly in the past through either my companies, met in person or through social media. So I created two versions of the same text, one without images and the other with images and additional links.

Setting up A/B

I’ve never done A/B testing before. Our MailChimp plan allows us limited options here. You can either select to A/B test email subject or the content. You cannot do both. Secondly for content, you can have up to three variations. I’ve opted for two. I chose settings to send out to the 25% of the list, of which 50% to Template 1 and the remainder to Template 2. Remaining 75% will be sent to the Template that gets the highest open rate. I’ve then setup a timer between the two actions, in my case 3 days to give me breathing space to deal with the outcome of the first 25%.


Here are the steps:

  1. Click Create Campaign
  2. Select a list [Note to myself: Add contacts from other lists, as this is the first campaign]
  3. Setup variables, one from subject line, name, contents and send time. I selected contents and 2 variations from a maximum of 3.
  4. Select the percentage of recipients for the test. I selected 25%
  5. Select a period to determine the winning combination. I selected 3 days instead of few hours, as I wanted a decent spread.
  6. Add Campaign info. There are a number of selectors here giving you significant options of tracking including direct feedback into CapsuleCRM.
  7. If you want to get feedback from URL clicked, you need to add Goal, javascript. I’ve selected a plugin from WordPress to manage this, which is straight forward for a non techie like myself.
  8. Select the two Templates to setup the content.
  9. Add social card – I’m not 100% sure of the benefits yet, but I went with the flow.
  10. Schedule send time. As I ran out of time today, I selected the date and let MailChimp auto select the time. I’ve opted for Sunday 8 pm for the first 25%.
  11. All set to go.

Automation or Auto Respondents

Next is to add some magic dust. Our email has links to three sites, as I am using it to tell a story, very much about me. However, MailChimp only allows me to track one URL through Goal, so I selected our website URL as main link.

mailchimp 1


  1. Click on Create Automation Workflow
  2. Select the contact list
  3. Add the trigger for the workflow. In our case, when a subscriber visit our website.
  4. Auto email goes out day after the visit
  5. Second auto email goes out 2 days after the first email.

What I’m not 100% sure at present is what will happen if we send a second campaign and the subscriber visit our website again. Of course sending the automated responses as above for the second time is not something we want.

Segmenting the List

What I would ideally like to see happen is the list gets automatically segmented based on the actions of the subscriber. I’m not yet sure how to achieve this yet.

Update 1 – 2016 Jan 23

Unfortunately Auto Responder 1 went out this afternoon before the campaign confusing everyone. As I suspected, somehow I have not connected the campaign to the auto responders correctly. What’s a mess! Many apologies. I’ve suspended all other auto responders for the time being. Unfortunately irreversible damage is done.

Update 2 – 2016 Jan 24: Recovery Plan

In order to recover from mass unsubscriptions, I am taking the following steps:

  • Send the A/B test at 4:00 pm today.
  • Without waiting for 3 days, send the winning template to 75% (the remainder) 4 hours after.
  • Cancel all automations. These would need to be thought through based on the results.
  • Reach out to those who unsubscribed before the Campaign was sent via one to one. Ensure this does not upset them. Again need bit more thought.
  • Try to find alternative emails for those bounced contacts. This require checking their Linkedin profiles. In some cases, the contacts in our CRM has multiple email addresses. So its a matter of deleting the bounced email and adding the next one to a new list and resend the campaign.

Image shows the outcome just before the Campaign email went out.


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