MailChimp Tags – Do They Serve a Purpose?

by Aug 10, 2018List Management, Mailchimp

by | Aug 10, 2018

On 31st July 2018, my heart skipped a beat…

MailChimp “finally” was introducing tags to their system!


Tags are something I’ve been hoping for pretty much since I started using MailChimp… The ability to easily “tag” someone, and communicate with people with the same tag… that would be awesome.

…and now 10 days later, they’re finally available on my account… and… well…  I’ve got a big “emperor’s new clothes” feeling about them. 

The Emperor’s New Clothes.

I know it’s a well trodden fairytale but for those of you not immersed in western culture and Hans Christian Andersen (MailChimp is a worldwide thing!), here’s a quick overview.

A totally vain emperor who wants to wear only the best clothes hires a new tailor – The tailor is a conman who convinces the emperor that their new material is so fine it’s invisible. The emperor gets sucked in, the tailor gets paid but doesn’t have to make anything, as cloth doesn’t actually exist, and all those around the emperor, not wanting to step out of line all say that they look amazing. The emperor goes on a parade wearing the suit, most of the city folk, again not wanting to appear stupid, don’t say anything… until a little kid says something along the lines of “he’s not wearing anything” and the emperor realises he’s been conned.

…and I’ve got a feeling that MailChimp announcing tags is very, very similar to a set of clothes that don’t exist, unfortunately for us.

But first… the good news

OK, so as a MailChimp maestro, I’m not into biting the hand that feeds me regularly… and from a functionality point of view, for many, Tags will give them a chance to organise their data in a different way.

At their core, Tags are “rebranded static segments“, with a bit of extra padding and tarting.

You can create tags within the “Manage Contacts” section of your list and once created can either manually, within the list view, ‘tag’ people, or use a bulk action (either pasting in emails, or uploading from a .csv file) to assign the tags.

You can also assign tags when you are uploading data generally from the import data option.

Once you’ve got your data classified with tags, you can then identify specific groups of individuals and send them specific emails.

MailChimp envision you use tags as a way of “classifying” your data, i.e. customer, prospect, opinion leader, etc. which then means if you want communicate just with those people it’s easy to do.

…and if you’re using MailChimp at a basic level and just sending out manual emails to groups that’s all well and good…

…but if you are a more advanced user, then I’m afraid you’re going to be a bit disappointed

To the heart of the matter

Unfortunately, for those of us using more advanced MailChimp features, such as multiple data capture points, automation and conditional merge tag blocks, Tags are truly the emperor’s new clothes.

When I envisioned tags, I was hoping that I’d be able to do the following:

  • Capture people’s details in a form and immediately tag them.
  • Automatically move people from one tag to another within MailChimp based on them taking some form of action.
  • Trigger an automated message to someone based on them joining or leaving a tag.
  • Be able to display variable content within an email based on how someone is tagged.
  • Not have to do any manual adjustment of Tags in MailChimp.

Unfortunately, the rebranded tags don’t do any of that.

At it’s core, all MailChimp have done is renamed ‘static segments’ as ‘tags’, and added a little bit of front end “tarting” to make them appear more visible.

You can’t even ‘automatically’ update them (which you can with auto-updated segments).

So unfortunately, just the like the emperor’s new tailor, MailChimp is trying to sell us on something that in fact won’t really help us at all…

I guess I’ll just have to continue my wait for tags a little longer

…or will I???

A tag by any other name

The thing is, although I may have looked down on the new development… the fact is MailChimp already has a fantastic tagging function… it’s just they don’t call it tags… they call it groups!

Groups are MailChimp’s not very well marketed, real ‘tagging’ function.

Groups let you do all of the things I mentioned above, and are, in view, one of the best ways of taking MailChimp away from it’s roots of a basic system and actually become quite an advanced marketing tool.

In fact, I wrote a whole article on how Groups were ‘the missing link’ which you can read here (and if you want to take your MailChimp to the next level, I’d recommend you do!).

So don’t bemoan the fact that MailChimp’s tags are a little underwhelming and focus on getting to grips with Groups.

In other words, instead of going all out to purchase that new set of clothes that your new tailor convinces you is “in this season”… head back to the closet and dig out that gem of an outfit that when you dust it off a little and look at it from the right angle, makes you look like a million dollars.

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.


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