Use Merge Tags to Send Personalized Files

To send each subscriber a personalized PDF file, use custom merge tags. You'll insert PDF file URLs in a MailChimp list field, and use that field's merge tag in your campaign.

In this article, you’ll learn how to set up a new merge tag for PDF links that are tailored to individual subscribers.

Before You Start

Task Roadmap

This is a multi-step process. You’ll need to complete these tasks in order, in three different sections of your MailChimp account.

File Manager

List Settings

Campaign Builder

Update Files with File Manager

To begin, you’ll work with MailChimp’s File Manager, along with a spreadsheet application like Excel or Google Sheets. For this part of the process, you’ll upload each subscriber’s individual PDF to MailChimp’s File Manager and paste the PDF links into a spreadsheet file. Later, you’ll import this CSV file to a new field in your list to connect the PDFs to a list field merge tag.

If you have a large number of files to upload and can host the files on your website, skip to step 5 in the section below.

Upload PDFs and Create a CSV File

To add PDFs to the File Manager and set up the list update file, follow the steps below.

  1. Navigate to the Templates page.
  2. Click File Manager.
  3. Upload your personalized files into the File Manager and wait until your uploads are complete.
  4. On the File Manager page, click Copy URL to copy a PDF’s URL.
  5. Paste the PDF’s URL into a spreadsheet file next to the matching subscriber’s email address.

  6. Repeat steps 4 and 5 until every subscriber email is matched with a PDF link.

    Sample CSV file

  7. Save the spreadsheet file in CSV format

Now your update file is ready, and you’ll import it to update subscriber information.

Create and Update List Fields

For this part of the process, you’ll work in the Lists section of the account. Now that your CSV file is ready, add a new field to your list and start an auto-update import to add links from the CSV file to the new list field. Later, this new field’s merge tag will be used in the Campaign Builder to insert your subscribers’ custom links.

Add New List Field to Store PDFs

To add a new list field and import your PDF URLs into it, follow the steps below.

  1. Navigate to the Lists page.
  2. Click the drop-down menu next to the list you want to work with, and choose Settings.
    List settings dropdown menu
  3. On the Settings page, click List fields and *|MERGE|* tags.
    List Fields and Merge Tags
  4. Click Add A Field, and choose Text.
  5. Input a field label, like PDF Links.
  6. Uncheck the Visible box next to the new field so it won’t appear on your signup form.
  7. In the Put this tag in your content field, input a merge tag name, like PDF.
    Add a new text field
  8. Click Save Changes.

Now your list has a new field to store your PDF links.

Import CSV file into Your New List Field

In the next step, you’ll add your subscribers’ PDF links to the list field you created. To add all the links in one large batch through a CSV import, follow the steps below.

  1. Navigate to the Lists page.
  2. Click the drop-down menu next to the list you want to work with, and choose Import.
  3. Click the radio button next to CSV or tab-delimited text file, and click Next. A screenshot of the Import from CSV option.

  4. Upload your CSV file, and click Next.
  5. Match column 1 to the Email Address field and click Save. Match column 2 to your PDF Links field and click Save. Match list fields
  6. After you match and save both columns, click Next to review the import.

  7. Check the box next to Auto-update my existing list.
    Auto Update your List
  8. Click Import.

Now each subscriber has a file in the PDF Links field.

Your New PDF field

Insert the Merge Tag in Your Campaign

To complete the process, you’ll work in the Campaigns section of the account.

Now that each subscriber has a file in the new PDF Links list field you created, place that field’s merge tag into your campaign. When the campaign is sent, we’ll replace the merge tag with the personalized PDF link from the list field.

To insert the merge tag in a campaign, follow the steps below.

Insert and Test Your New Merge Tag

  1. Open your campaign, and navigate to the Design step of the Campaign Builder.
  2. Click the content block where you want the personalized URL to appear.
  3. Highlight the text you want to link to the personalized file, and click the Link icon.
  4. In the Insert or Edit link pop-up modal, input your new field’s merge tag in the Web Address (URL) field. Type the full merge tag, exactly as it appears in your List Settings.
    Insert Your New Merge Tag into a Campaign
  5. Click Insert to add the link.
  6. Click Save and Close.

To test your merge tags, click Enter Preview Mode to open a preview of the campaign. Click Live Merge Info to test your merge tags.

When you’re satisfied with your campaign, send your campaign or schedule it to go out later.

Can I Use Other File Types?

Yes. Follow the same process to send personalized links to any other supported file type.

About Personalized Images

You can also insert personalized image files (jpg, jpe, jpeg, gif, png, or bmp). This is helpful if you want to include a coupon or small, subscriber-specific image in your campaign, without asking subscribers to click a link.

The process to insert a personalized image file is similar to the steps to insert a PDF link with a merge tag, with one small difference. In the List Settings, you’ll want to add a new image field type, instead of a text field. Use an image field’s merge tag in your campaign, and we’ll replace the merge tag with an image, rather than a link to a file. 

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