Gediminas from MailerLite

Gediminas10 min readTips and resourcesJuly 24, 2019

Send super-duper relevant emails using groups (aka subscriber tags)

Send super-duper relevant emails using groups (aka subscriber tags)

Like you, your subscribers are dynamic and interesting people who don't fit into one particular box. You all have diverse interests, buying behaviors and habits.

How can you use these individual subscriber characteristics at scale to send more relevant emails? 

While subscriber segmentation is the first step in dividing your list into smaller, more targeted groups, you still need the flexibility to reach people within different segments that share common interests. 

MailerLite’s Groups (also known as subscriber tags) allow you to add custom labels to your subscribers, giving you the ability to reach people based on specific traits.

For example, you might have 5 different segments based on geography, but within all those segments are individuals who buy Xbox video games. By using groups, you can send those people emails about Xbox without the need to set up completely new segments. 

Sound good? It gets better. 

We’ll show you all the cool ways to use groups in MailerLite so you can start benefiting from this targeting superpower.

For those of you familiar with subscriber tagging, groups in MailerLite work similarly.

MailerLite groups is tagging

You can create a custom label (tag) and assign it manually to different subscribers. Or, you can assign groups automatically based on subscriber behaviors, such as when they fill out a form or make a purchase.

Let’s say you manage a newsletter covering sports. During the subscriber signup, you can ask people to choose the sports that they like. When they submit the form, they’re instantly tagged with their chosen sports.

Now, instead of sending a bulk email that includes all the sports, you can send targeted emails to each group based on one sport.

You have the flexibility to organize your subscribers in almost any way you need to deliver the most relevant messaging possible.

MailerLite makes it easy to create and assign custom labels to create groups.

Here’s our fun-email-loving colleague, Marcin, to give you step-by-step instructions for setting up groups. 

The difference between segments and groups

While groups and segmentation are both ways to break up your subscriber list into smaller groups, each serves a different purpose. 

Segmentation is dictated by a ‘rule’ that you can create with a filter. Only the subscribers who comply with the rule or set of rules are added to the segment. 

Segmentation example

You create a segment based on a rule: include only subscribers that signed up in the last 30 days. So when the 30 days is up, the subscribers are automatically removed from the segment because they no longer comply with the 30-day rule.

Segments are more dynamic because subscribers are continually being added or removed automatically based on the rules you set.

group and segments MailerLite

Groups, on the other hand, are custom labels you attach to a subscriber. They are not based on a rule and you can assign them to any subscriber across segments. 

You can add and remove subscribers to a group manually, or set up an automation to move subscribers using an Action step

Tag your subscribers based on their interests, such as hobbies, job title or buying behaviors.

Let's say you want to send an email to all the web developers on your subscriber list. You can select the 'web developers' group in subscriber management and your email will reach every subscriber within that group. 

Groups help you organize your subscribers based on the characteristics that make sense for your business. When you create your labels, think about the interests and behaviors that are relevant to help you meet your email marketing goals.

Group examples

Let's say you run an online store. You can create labels based on the types of products purchased so you can send them new emails in the future that focus on similar products.

For a B2B company, you might want to group subscribers by sales channel, such as trade shows, blogs or advertising. You can then send more personalized emails based on how they discovered your business.

The best yet most challenging part is that you get to create any group you want. 

If you create the right group, engagement will soar. But if you create too many irrelevant groups, you will have trouble managing all of them. 

One way to get groups right is to harness the power of automation.

Let subscribers dictate their groups based on their behaviors. When interest groups are populated automatically, you remove your objectivity from labeling your subscribers. The people in those groups are there because of what they did. 

Here are a few ways you can create groups automatically in MailerLite.

1. Use link triggers

A link trigger is a link that you place in your newsletter or on a form that activates an automation workflow. When a subscriber clicks on the link, MailerLite can automatically copy them to a new or existing interest group. 

MailerLite automation contains an Action step that allows adding, moving and copying subscribers to groups. This action triggers a workflow if the group has an active automation workflow.

Let’s say you add a link to your newsletter, directing readers to a new product offering called “Trends.” From that moment on, that reader is added to your “Trends” group and you can send them specific emails based on that interest.

link triggers example

You can also group people that don’t click on any of the links. If people aren’t engaging with your newsletters, you can tell MailerLite to automatically add them to a particular group and follow up with them later.

2. Let subscribers self-select using forms

Getting new subscribers is tough. One strategy to getting new people is to give them the power to select the types of content they wish to receive.

self select form example

You can design your signup forms with pre-selected topics. Then, MailerLite will place your new subscribers into the various groups based on their choices. You can also activate an automated email campaign to start building your relationship with each group right away.

If you want to keep your forms short and sweet, you can attach a group to the form, so everyone who signs up with that form is placed in the group of your choice. This will be done automatically, without users needing to select the group.

3. Group subscribers based on purchases

Mailerlite’s e-commerce integrations with Shopify or WooCommerce allow you to add people to interest groups based on the products they purchase.

For example, you have some customers that buy running shoes. Create a group just for them and send them relevant emails that you know they want.

purchase group example

By sending emails to your subscribers entirely tailored to their interests or behaviors, you’ll make them happy! They’ll look forward to opening and reading your messages.

More ways to add people to groups

Go to this help page to learn more about adding and removing subscribers manually, through action steps or an API.

The main question that many of you ask is: what group labels should I use?  

There is no easy or right answer. Everyone’s business and audience is different. Choosing the best labels will be unique to you, which is the reason we let you completely customize your groups.

That said, there are some standard best practices, depending on your email marketing goals, that we can share to get you started. Here are a few examples of group labels.

Group labels using your newsletter and/or forms
  • Newsletter opens
  • Newsletter clicks (engagement)
  • Clicks on product notifications
  • Clicks on special offers
  • Shares newsletter
  • Clicks on social media icons
  • Registers for a webinars
  • Signup source (from social media, website, etc.)
  • Downloads content
  • Attended event (an option if emails were collected offline)
  • Happy customers or disappointed customers (NPS surveys)
Group ideas for your e-commerce business
  • Purchases specific product types
  • Prefers a product category
  • Uses coupons
  • Likes promo deals
  • Ships overnight

While the above labels are more standard, you can get even more personal using labels like:

  • Job titles (Designer, Developer, Writer, etc.)
  • Interests (Traveler, surfer, watches Stranger Things, etc.)
  • Partner / vendor types

Of course, you need to have this subscriber information available or collect more information about your customer’s interests. One way to get more data is to use embedded surveys in your newsletters.

As you get to know your subscribers better, you can create super-targeted groups.

However, don’t stress about collecting a lot of data right away. It can be overwhelming and even counter-productive to have too many interest groups. Start small and as you add more labels, make sure to review and update old labels to keep your subscriber list and your marketing team sane.

Let's talk subscriber management. Group filters can help you manage, sort and find your subscribers with ease.

subscriber filters MailerLite

When searching through your subscribers, you can add filter conditions of groups based on:

  • Belongs to all
  • Doesn’t belong to all
  • Belongs to any
  • Doesn’t belong to any
  • Is not in any group

By filtering by groups, you can see how they are performing and determine if you need to revise or add new groups.

 Within MailerLite’s subscriber management interface, you can filter beyond groups, such as: 

  • Fields: Email, name and all other custom fields (equals, does not equal, contains, does not contain, is set, is not set)
  • Segments (belongs to, does not belong to)
  • Signup source (is, is not)
  • Signup date (is before, is after)
  • Time zone (is, is not)
  • Campaigns (was sent, was not sent, was opened, was not opened, was clicked, was not clicked)
  • Automation workflows (active in, not active in, has completed, has not completed)
  • Email inactivity (have not opened or clicked any of their last X emails)
  • Time inactive (have not opened or clicked an email in the last X days)

Then, with one click, you can save your filter conditions as a segment and use it for future campaigns.

What are you waiting for? 

Creating groups is a great way to start managing and improving your subscriber relationships. You have to go beyond broad email targeting to get more personal and authentic with your audience.

Customize your groups to highlight anything you think will make that deeper connection. Start slow with some standard labels, and gradually build your group structure in a way that makes sense for your business.

Editor’s note: This post was originally published on May 2017. We updated with new features and examples.

How do you use groups? Share your tips in the comments below. 

Gediminas Andrijaitis

I’m Gediminas, CPO at MailerLite (not to be confused with C3PO from Star Wars). I work across all departments to ensure MailerLite is always working and helping you create the best email experience possible. The only thing I love more than building products is riding motorcycles—really, really fast.