MailChimp is an appealing and catchy-named mailing list/newsletter/autoresponder software. It’s web-based, so there’s no software to download and you can get to it from anywhere and share lists with colleagues easily. I’ve been using it for my business and my clients’ businesses for years now.
Today I want to share how I used MailChimp to solve a client’s needs to track both adult and children’s birthdays at her two restaurants. At these restaurants, they print at the bottom of each receipt a place for patrons to write down their contact information. They take the receipts and enter them into Word (gasp-not even Excel!). So after time, you can imagine how disorganized and random these lists were with no good way to sort. Actually, one restaurant did put their names in Excel, so it could have been worse!
The owner saw that the system was not working well and she wanted a more streamlined way to manage their lists. I chose MailChimp because it’s web-based, free and actually pretty flexible with the ability to add my own column headings for sorting purposes. After the database is created, there are ways to segment, or sort the lists to get to the data we need.
I created my first account and then went right to the ‘Lists’ section and I entered in several dummy names, addresses, etc. in order to show my client how things work.
What I needed was a name, address, email and birthday, birth year (for kids), and a drop-down selector to note if they were in the Kid’s Club or not. MailChimp was more than adequate for this as I could build my framework with all the choices you see below: Just click on the ‘add a field’ and experiment with what you need to accomplish. I used the Drop Down feature to segment the Kid’s Club from the Adults because that list was going to be used in a different way, but we wanted the complete list together.
Here’s a look at how my practice list turned out. I needed the month and day in the same column and the year in a separate for ‘segmenting’ or sorting purposes. Now that I have my columns set up, I was ready to show my client how it worked. To do this, you start by clicking on ‘Segment’.
Segmenting, or Sorting Your List
For our purposes, we needed to sort by month and by Kid’s Club member. So it was a simple matter to segment first by birthday and the month of June. For this sort, I wanted to segment all the adult birthdays for the month of June. The Kid’s Club didn’t need to enter into it. I got two results from this sort. Going forward, names can be added and a sort done at the beginning of each month to get that month’s birthdays ready. I hope this gives you an idea of how this can work for your business and perhaps give you more ideas on how to use MailChimp..
Send an E-Mail Campaign
Now that the group we want is segmented, we’re ready to send our June birthdays an email telling them to come on in and have a free dessert – or whatever the owner chooses to do. I won’t go into how to send out a campaign, but MailChimp makes it pretty easy, stepping you through the process of creating a template that can be personalized with your company’s branding.
For our purposes, the owner wants to mail out a postcard to the kids. She said the kids like getting something addressed to them in the mail and the parents feel better not giving out a child’s email address. For the adults, they get a personalized email with the restaurant logo/branding inviting them to come in any time during their birthday month for a dessert or other menu item.
MailChimp has tutorials and help screens along the way, so if you’ve been thinking about establishing a database for your business or even personal use, give MailChimp a try. If you have a unique situation you used MailChimp or a similar product for, leave a comment.