The Difference Between MailChimp Lists, Groups & Segments

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on January 11, 2018

If you’ve been a long time user of MailChimp, you know how far they’ve come as an email marketing provider! When you compare them to competing solutions like Aweber, there’s simply no comparison. MailChimp is hands down the way to go. But if you’re new to MailChimp, you’re probably wonder what the difference between MailChimp lists, groups and segments is, and when to use them. Allow us to explain!

Email Automation Basics

To set the stage, let’s say you sell vitamins. On your website you talk about nutrition and have a way to order the vitamins you sell. You also have an opt-in form that says “5 Things You Must Know About Nutrition.” The form links to a series of emails in MailChimp, offering nutritional advice while also pointing to your products.

Great! But what happens when you’re dealing with more than vitamins?

Let’s say you sell natural cleaning products too. And you have a similar email series about healthy cleaning. So that’s two email series. Does everything make sense so far? If so, you’ll understand MailChimp lists, groups and segments in just a moment!

The Old MailChimp Lists Method

In the past, to accomplish the above example with a nutrition series and a healthy cleaning series, you had to have TWO lists in MailChimp. One opt-in form placed people in the healthy cleaning list, and another placed people in the nutrition list. Then you’d setup the email automation off the individual lists. MailChimp groups and segments didn’t exist.

What was the problem with this scenario? Well, many actually. But the first problem was that with MailChimp, you’re charged by the number of subscribers. This means that if someone wanted to be on both lists, you paid double for them. If you had 5 lists and someone was on all of them… you get the idea.

MailChimp Groups

One of the big changes to MailChimp in the last couple years was the ability to have Groups with your list. Now, instead of having multiple lists, with one person subscribed to each of them, you can have one master list with groups.

Using the above nutrition and cleaning example, you’d now have one master list with a healthy cleaning group, and a nutrition group. Then you’d set the opt-in forms to add someone to the right group or groups depending on where they were on your site, or what they opted in for. Cool right?

*Note: If you’re a MailChimp user with multiple lists, you can merge them into one. You’ll want to designate the master list, create the groups to contain the people from the other lists, and then merge them together using the ‘Combine Lists’ feature in MailChimp, as shown below.

MailChimp Segments

So while MailChimp groups takes us a huge step forward, we still need one other item for fine tuning email marketing, and that’s segmentation.

Let’s say you have five groups on your list, and everything is organized beautifully. But then one day you need to send an email out to everyone in three of your groups. This is where segmentation comes into play. You can go to your master list, create a new segment and tell it to pull everyone from all three lists, and then send an email to that segment. NICE!

As shown below, you access segments in MailChimp from your list and then the ‘Manage Contacts’ menu. You can also save the segment once created, and have it automatically add or remove people as they’re added or removed from groups in the future.

MailChimp segments also allow you to filter on other items for very precise marketing efforts. For example, you can filter by geographical location, signup date, recent activity and much more! Let’s say you were doing a live event about nutrition in a certain city. You can create a segment that pulls people from the healthy cleaning group by location.

MailChimp Lists, Groups and Segments

So to recap, you have one master list in MailChimp. Then you organize people into groups. And lastly, you create segments to filter people based on their group, or other factors that transcend a group (physical location, etc). Cool right? It’s only been about 3 minutes and you know know the difference between MailChimp lists, groups and segments along with when to use them.

As you can see, MailChimp gives you a wealth of options for fine tuning your email marketing! It’s one of the reasons we’ve chosen to connect Follow Hook™ with MailChimp for managing your customer contacts.

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