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Mailchimp Segmentation: Tags, Groups, and Segments

Many new email marketers wonder what the difference is between tags, groups, and segments. All three are Mailchimp segmentation tools for audience organization. However, each tool is slightly different and is best suited to unique applications. Here’s a basic breakdown of all Mailchimp segmentation options.

Mailchimp Tags are Labels for Your Contacts

Tags are Mailchimp’s simplest segmentation tool. Tags can be added automatically through imports, integrations, and automated journeys. They can also be assigned to contacts manually from the audience page. 

When you add a tag to a subscriber, Mailchimp attaches it to the contact’s records like a label. Then, you can send targeted campaigns to all contacts who have that label attached. Tags can also be used to trigger automations, or as a simple way to store & organize data about your contacts.

Some example uses for tags could be: 

  • Manually tagging all contacts who attended an event 
  • Tagging any contacts who purchased a particular type of product
  • Automatically tagging subscribers that sign up through a particular form

Need help creating your tags? Try a strategy call with one of our email experts.

Create Categories with Mailchimp Groups

Similar to tags, Mailchimp groups can identify your contacts based on their interests or characteristics. However, groups are organized into categories, while tags have no hierarchical organization. 

It can be helpful to visualize groups as a multiple choice question: the group category is the “question” subscribers answer by selecting one (or more) of your group options. Visible groups allow contacts to opt into the kinds of emails that interest them. However, groups can also be hidden and used internally to organize an audience into general categories. At Pure Firefly, we often use groups during audience consolidation projects. Contact us to learn more!

One example of a hidden group would be a category for “State Employees” with the groups: State Representative, Senator, and Staffer. 

Segments Are Filters: They Change with Your Audience

A Mailchimp segment is a filter composed of a series of logical statements. When you set up a segment from your All Contacts page, segment page, or campaign builder, you choose the characteristics the filter should search for. Then, Mailchimp continuously updates your saved segment with any audience members who match these characteristics.

These characteristics may include any of the following elements:

  • Information about your contacts: Name, email, location, etc.
  • What contacts have done: Campaign activity, e-commerce purchases, etc.
  • Groups and Tags

Compared to groups and tags, segments are “stretchy.” They adjust with your audience. For example, a segment with the conditions: “Campaign activity > Has opened > All of the last 5 campaigns” will continuously change as different contacts open your emails. The segment may contain 100 contacts, and then drop to 80 if you have deliverability issues on newer campaigns.

Mailchimp’s segment builder is updated frequently, so keep an eye out for new segmentation options or set up a call with one of our email specialists to step up your segmentation game.

Pure Firefly Can Help You Set Up Effective Segmentation

If all of Mailchimp’s segmentation options make your head spin, don’t worry! Pro Partners like Pure Firefly can help you set up segments, tags, and groups to maximize your potential engagement. Schedule a quick training call for one-time segmentation concerns. For more extensive projects, contact us any time.

Our Mailchimp audit is a great way to check that all your segmentation options are used to their highest potential.

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Does Mailchimp Go to Spam? 5 Deliverability FAQs

New Mailchimp users often ask: Does Mailchimp go to spam? The answer is, it depends. Who a user sends to, what they send, and how they send it all factor into their email deliverability. The good news is that Mailchimp takes several steps to help its users’ emails stay out of the spam folder.

When Does Mailchimp Go to Spam?

There are many reasons why a sender might find their emails are ending up in the spam folder. Believe it or not, the exact requirements inbox service providers check for spam are kept secret. This helps to prevent spammers from gaming the system. However, there are some guidelines which can help you make progress towards better deliverability.

If you’re wondering why your Mailchimp emails are going to spam, try the following steps:

  • Use a balance of images and text
  • Remove any all-caps from your subject line & email body
  • Watch out for common spam-triggering words and phrases
  • Check any custom HTML for errors
  • Ensure your DNS records are configured correctly

One major benefit of using a platform like Mailchimp is that deliverability guidance is built in. Mailchimp offers helpful tips, and will alert you if it detects a red flag on your account.

Why Does Abuse Prevention Matter for Deliverability?

Abuse prevention does more than keep Mailchimp’s public image strong. Deliverability and abuse prevention go hand in hand. By preventing abuse, Mailchimp keeps its users’ sender reputations high. This improves the likelihood that all Mailchimp emails will land in the inbox instead of the spam folder.

Did Mailchimp Put a Block on My Account?

If Mailchimp’s Compliance Team finds a red flag in your account, you’ll find a warning under your account settings. Typically, Mailchimp will also provide you with steps to resolve the issue. Be forewarned: multiple red flags can lead to permanent suspension.

Common red flags include:

  • Fake or anonymous account information
  • Using a free email service like gmail
  • Importing subscribers who haven’t opted in
  • Noncompliance with Mailchimp terms of use
  • Spikes in bounced emails, unsubscribes, or abuse reports

How Can I Monitor My Mailchimp Deliverability?

While Mailchimp takes several steps to help its users’ emails stay out of the spam folder, there are still some actions that you can take to monitor and improve your deliverability. Here are a few tips to help you get started:

  1. Monitor your email campaign statistics: Pay attention to your email campaign statistics, including open rates, click-through rates, bounce rates, and spam complaint rates. These metrics can help you identify any issues and adjust your email content and send frequency accordingly. If subscribers find your content valuable, they are less likely to report it as spam.
  2. Keep your email list clean: Regularly remove inactive or disengaged subscribers from your email list to improve your deliverability. Mailchimp offers a variety of segmentation tools to help you manage your audiences and clean the old emails out. Plus, a list cleaning software like ZeroBounce can provide added insights on your audience.
  3. Authenticate your domain: Authentication methods, such as DKIM and SPF, verify that your emails are coming from a trusted source and can improve your deliverability. Authenticating your domain with Mailchimp is one important step in this process. Consider a Mailchimp training if you need authentication support.
  4. Test your emails before sending: Use Mailchimp’s preview and test tools to ensure your emails look and function as intended across different devices and email clients. Testing your emails can also help you identify issues in the code, which can have an impact on deliverability.

Where Can I Find More Deliverability Help?

For deliverability assistance, including domain authentication and audience analysis, consider working with a Mailchimp Pro Partner like Pure Firefly. Our email experts are trained in the most up-to-date deliverability guidelines. We can also help you identify why your emails are going to spam. Mailchimp & WordPress are our specialties, and we have familiarity with several popular domain registrars. 

Our Mailchimp audit is one of the most valuable services to ensure your account is optimized for deliverability. Reach out for a free quote any time!

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Nonprofit Email Marketing: Where to Start

Nonprofits on a tight budget should never overlook the potential of email marketing for their work. By harnessing the particularities of email marketing for nonprofits, you can effectively boost engagement, attendance, and donations.

The possibilities are vast, and starting is simple. Here’s our beginner’s guide in 5 simple steps.

1. Curate Your Email Marketing Audience

Before you start sending, you need an audience! The good news is that nonprofit organizations often have a head start on audience building through in-person events and volunteer connections. You may grow your audience through any of the following tactics:

  • Have people sign up using pen & paper at your next in-person event
  • Invite past volunteers to subscribe to your list
  • Include an opt-in form wherever you collect donations
  • Share a signup form with your social media network
  • Add signup forms to your website using popups or landing pages

To start email marketing on the right foot, focus on organic growth. Start with your most loyal community members, and make opting in and out simple. Be sure to clean any large audience list before importing.

Above all else, never buy, rent, or “scrape” an audience. If you send to contacts who haven’t agreed to receive your emails, you may see a spike in unsubscribes and spam reports and run the risk of sending to spam traps. Spam traps are false email addresses that service providers use to keep spammers at bay.

If Mailchimp detects spam traps in your audience or sees a spike in abuse reports, your account will be put under investigation and may be terminated. It’s better to start small than to lose your progress altogether because of poor audience acquisition practices.

2. Plan Out Your Email Marketing Strategy

Once you have an email marketing audience, it’s time to brainstorm about what email updates you’d like to send. Take a moment to think over the following questions as they relate to your nonprofit:

  1. What’s one key action I want subscribers to take?
  2. What does my organization offer to subscribers & the world at large?
  3. How does my organization serve the present moment? (day, year, or decade)

Your organization’s core goals and values should drive any email marketing campaign. They make up the “why” of your email strategy: Why am I sending this email? 

Once you know why you’re sending, consider what you’re sending. Monthly newsletters are a common place to start for nonprofits. A monthly newsletter provides space to share the latest updates on your work, as well as a calendar of events, relevant news articles, and more.

Consider how you can use segmentation in your email marketing strategy. Many organizations now are leaning towards targeted emails over longer general updates. Consider creating different kinds of emails for different portions of your audience. For example, event invitations could be a great fit for local community members, but less relevant to donors overseas.

Most email marketers send a mix of segmented & unsegmented emails to engage their full audience effectively. Try starting with one general newsletter and one targeted campaign to build your experience in both areas.

3. Build Your First Email Marketing Campaign

Designing your first email campaign doesn’t have to be daunting. Email marketing services like Mailchimp provide no-code options for building any email. You may even contract an agency or designer to create mobile responsive templates you can customize with updated content.

Whether you work with a designer or build your first template yourself, always keep in mind that people tend to skim emails, and over 40% of subscribers now open emails on mobile devices. This makes concise text, large headers, and relevant images essential. Use a hierarchy of information to plan your first email design, and direct subscribers toward a specific call to action.

For your first email design, consider creating a welcome email. Welcome automations are essential for any organization with an email list, as they provide an opportunity to connect with subscribers as soon as they sign up. Some other options for your first email could be a simple “hello” letting your audience know what you’ll be sending or a first newsletter with your most important updates from the past year.

4. Test, Test, Test

Once your first campaign has been sent, set aside some time to review its performance. For Mailchimp users, a report is generated on every campaign and updated in real-time. Consider these key metrics to analyze the success of your email campaigns:

  • Open Rate: Shows % of subscribers who opened an email. This can measure subject line & preview text efficacy, as well as send date & time.
  • Click Rate & Clicks per Unique Open: Click rate shows the % of subscribers who clicked on any link in an email, while clicks per unique open (also known as click-to-open rate) shows the % of openers who went on to click on an email’s links. These metrics are helpful for measuring the effectiveness of an email’s content and design.
  • Bounces & Unsubscribes: Track the health of your audience by following trends in your bounces and unsubscribes. A sudden spike in either of these metrics indicates that your audience needs to be cleaned.

5. Develop Your Nonprofit’s Email Marketing with Pure Firefly

If you’d like a hand with starting an effective email marketing strategy, consider working with Pure Firefly. We offer one-on-one strategy calls, copywriting & design, and in-depth audits to ensure you’re making the most of your Mailchimp account. Check out our services to learn more, and contact us anytime for a quote!

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