Getting Started with Lists

The foundation of great marketing is an up-to-date list of contacts, which includes important data like who has opted in to receive your email campaigns or interacted with your online store. A MailChimp list is a powerful and flexible tool that helps you manage different types of contacts.

We'll cover a few basics about lists in this article, including what you need to know before you start importing contacts into MailChimp, and how to make the most of your list.

Before You Start

The flexibility of your list depends on how it is created, imported, and maintained in MailChimp. With the right data and organization, you can segment contacts based on a variety of criteria and send targeted groups certain types of content. Take a moment to think about your marketing goals, who your audiences are, and what information is relevant to each audience.

Consider, for example:

  • Do you have seasonal-only customers, bargain-hunters, or customers who are only interested in certain types of merchandise, services, or events?

  • Are you an organization that needs to send different content to donors, sponsors, members, or other patrons?

  • Does it matter if your subscribers are local, domestic, or international?

  • Do you sell products or services online, and ask customers to sign up for email marketing in the checkout process?

  • What other variables affect your audience? Determine what information is relevant about your contacts, and include it in a column in your spreadsheet or database.

Get organized before you create your MailChimp list to help you get the most out of it in the long run.

Types of Contacts

Your MailChimp list is designed to help you collect and manage subscribed, unsubscribed,  non-subscribed, and cleaned contacts.

Here are some definitions for each:

  • Subscribed contact
    Someone who has opted in to receive your email marketing campaigns.

  • Unsubscribed contact
    Someone who was opted in to receive your email marketing campaigns, but isn’t currently. 

  • Non-subscribed contact
    Someone who has interacted with your online store, but hasn’t opted in to receive your email marketing campaigns.

  • Cleaned contact
    A non-deliverable email address. Hard bounces, as well as repeated soft bounces, become cleaned addresses.

Contact types determine what kind of marketing they can receive. For example, subscribed contacts are the only ones who have given you permission to send them email marketing, while subscribed, unsubscribed, and non-subscribed contacts can be targeted with ad campaigns. Cleaned contacts have invalid addresses and cannot receive any marketing messages.

Create a List

When you create a new list, we'll ask you for some information to comply with anti-spam practices, and other details you'll use for benchmarking. We prohibit users from sending to purchased, rented, or third-party lists, so be sure to check our list requirements before you begin.

You can add subscribed contacts one-by-one, upload contacts from a file, copy and paste contacts from a spreadsheet, or use an integration to sync your list. Here are some links to help you out.

Build Signup Forms

Each of your MailChimp lists comes with an associated signup form, which you can customize and share to Facebook, your website or blog, or even a mobile app. MailChimp provides a lot of field options for you to choose from, so you can ask for the right information from contacts who subscribe.

Users with Manager permissions and higher can create interest groups for your signup form and list. Interest groups can be assigned by you or selected by your contacts, and can be visible or hidden on your forms.

Your list will grow and change as people sign up, unsubscribe, and update their profiles. Include an Update Profile link in the footer of your campaign to encourage subscribed contacts to keep their information and interests updated. 

Segment Your List

MailChimp allows you to create segments of your list based on almost any criteria you can think of, like signup form data, group preferences, and subscriber activity collected by MailChimp, including opens, clicks, and location.

If you integrate an e-commerce platform with your MailChimp account, you'll also be able to use  purchase activity information to segment.

The segmenting tool supports up to five criteria, and lets you choose whether a segment is static (pulled once and saved) or auto-updated with new subscribers and updates. You can save any segment for future use, too.

Review List Reports

Tracking engagement helps you better understand what your contacts want and don't want. The Overview page of any list shows you at-a-glance information you can use to improve engagement. If you want to download or share list data with a client or colleague, export it.

At the top of the Overview page, you'll see open and click rates, average subscribe and unsubscribe rates, and the number of subscribed, non-subscribed, unsubscribed, and cleaned contacts for your entire list.
contact types and list performance

Under Audience growth, a bar chart shows how the list has grown over its lifetime, which can be filtered by self-subscribers, imported, and existing subscribers. We'll also show you how many subscribers were added, unsubscribed, and cleaned from your list since your last campaign send.

Under Campaign performance overview, a line graph shows you how your list has changed with each campaign you've sent, so you can see at a glance the campaigns that were most successful.
list stats line graph example

Other contact details, like what desktop and mobile email clients they're using, and where they're located, are listed at the bottom of the Overview page.

To get additional information about a single contact, click the Manage contacts tab and choose View contacts. Click an email address on that list to open that contact’s profile.

 

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